The Team have been up to all sorts of different and exciting things over the past 2-3 weeks on their journey towards the 4321 Challenge. Here are a few of the highlights:
For the last two or three weeks I’ve had a real mix of lovely running and cycling training – increasing time spent on the bike, getting up to the 7-8 hour mark on my lovely single-speed bike, riding hills and staying steady. I’ve been returning to running since November after a long lay-off, so have been more cautious about building too much distance, and have been running short and fast – for me – as well, to concentrate on core stability and strong legs.
Overall it’s been “just keep moving” – early mornings and late finishes, getting up and starting again. Replicating some of the practical, physical – even emotional! – demands of 4321challenge while still trying to function as a normal human being with a job! I had a great test on the weekend just gone, partly deliberate and partly not…didn’t sleep too well Friday night, then cycled 90 miles down to Ottery St Mary into a headwind the whole way, over plenty of hills on one gear, then largely did a Zombie impression Saturday night! Then it was off to Seaton on Sunday morning for the Grizzly, a 20-mile VERY hilly trail run – my longest run in about 2 years! Though expecting to feel very shonky, I managed to get warmed up and though I never felt skippy, the legs were solid on the hills and I got round feeling good in just under 3 hours, which I was very pleased with. So, good signs that while I’m not fast I am getting stronger!
As soon as Chrissie was liberated from her plaster cast she fled the unrelenting UK rain to spend some time chasing her friend and elite triathlete Cat Morrison over the hills of Southern Spain. Her smile seems to be broadening as she re-discovers her cycling legs.
Alex’s Weekend in Wales
My weekend started at 2.30am on Friday morning. Myself and Neil Bromwich (a friend who also needs his head seeing to) set out on our fixed wheels (the ones with no gears) from Bristol. Destination: Snowdonia straight up through the middle of Wales.
The early morning night cycling was novel and exciting until 5am when the rain started.
By 7.30 we were into the heart of Wales, hungry and cold, so stopped for an essential but sadly rather unsatisfying breakfast.
Heading northwards the weather cleared and we enjoyed a lovely, although still chilly day taking in the beautiful mid-Wales scenery.
Progress was good until steeper hills, mechanical issues and fatigue set in, and daylight started to run out. Eventually we reached our final climb up to Pen y Pass, but nightfall was already upon us. A great but dark climb and then down, by torchlight to Llanberis, our destination.
Our 200 mile day finished with a mountain of steak and chips, washed down with a bottle of Chilean red.
Saturday was Snowdon recce day. Joined by good buddies and weekend support Fe and Dave, we ascended Snowdon up the Miners trail in a chilly gale and poor visibility. I tested my legs with a trot on a few sections, but was rather more impressed and outdone by the effortless progress of the friendly 3 legged dog, who was also climbing Snowdon with his owner. Plenty of snow on the ridge made climbing a little tricky but with a bit of a stomp we got there.
Having summited we then descended only for the clouds to lift and allow us great views of where we had just been. More steak and red wine followed.
Sunday was back on the bike. After demolishing the worlds biggest breakfast at Pete’s Eats, Neil and I took on the hills again heading east out of Snowdonia. Happy that our legs felt reasonable we made good progress on our 55 mile journey to Ruabon, where we picked up a train for a snoozy ride back to Bristol.
Things I learnt:
-Staying warm is essential, but so difficult in poor weather and no shelter.
-I need to eat eat eat!
-Friends to join you on crazy journeys makes it a whole lot more fun
-Support crew rock! (Thank you so much Fe and Dave)
-Fixed Wheeled bikes and Snowdonia are not a perfect match!
-Epic weekends and adventures are good for the soul.
-I think I’m getting fitter
The wet and windy weather of the past few weeks have meant that I’ve not been too disappointed to have to spend yet more time in the garage on the turbo. But more recently as the sun has decided to make an appearance I’ve had to peer mournfully out through the door before pulling out another DVD to keep me going for a few more hours stuck inside. The cast has to stay on for another 3.5 weeks (at least) to make sure I have full strength across the bone before I can subject it to the knocks and vibrations of actual, proper cycling outside of the indoor sweat box. As a good friend told me, there’s a reason why the term for someone who is ill or injured is ‘patient’ and it’s a virtue I’m trying hard to develop.
On the plus side, the additional focus on running about in the woods has meant I’ve found some good strength and speed in my legs that I have been putting to the test at a few races. A new half marathon PB, top ten finishes at a couple of local road races and 8th at the brutal Grizzly 20 mile multi terrain race have left me wondering whether ditching the bike and running all of the 4321 Challenge might be a better idea. How well this speed translates into 3 huge mountain climbs remains to be seen but running fast is undoubtedly fun and so I intend to keep doing as much of it as I can.