Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Festive 500 2014

Its that time of year where I dust off this "blogg" to share my festive 500 escapades.

This, being my 4th Festive 500 means that I know what it takes to be able to complete the challenge. With this in mind I actually got in some base miles in November and I decided that I would plan my routes through places that I could take some interesting pictures even if it meant a lot more hours in the saddle through some of the toughest conditions,temperatures and climbs we have down here in the coastal area of southern Norway.

To be sympathetic to my family I decided to set out so that I would always be home at the latest 12 noon. My kids are a little older now and that meant spending valuable christmas time together at the breakfast table. This meant some very early starts and 4-5 hours in the dark. This also meant that, weather permitting, I should capture some nice sunrises and nice lighting conditions that only artic winter could produce.

After my November miles I worked out that I would have to struggle in the snow and ice at around 18-20km/h, any faster just isn`t possible. On the hills I couldn`t stand or the back wheel would spin and downhill I just didn`t dare riding fast and on some days the wind chill factor was literaly unbearable at higher speeds.

I`ll throw up some stats here first and post some pictures at the underneath.

Average speed for the whole challenge : 20.8 km/h
Total hours out on the bike                    : 26hrs (plus another four warming hands at petrol stations)
Total meters of climbing                        :7200metres
Average temp                                         : -7 celcius
Lowest recorded Temp                           : -17 celcius

Lucky for me there was almost no wind, no mechanicals, no punctures and only a couple of low speed tumbles.

I set out hoping to find a little adventure and Wow, what an adventure this year proved to be. I have had some great rides, 2 of which were 130km long. I had to dig deep sometimes but the rewards were well worth it.

Before you look at the pictures, please bear in mind that it took on average about 20 minutes of riding before I could feel my fingers again, albeit stingely so I just wanted to take the pics fast and get my gloves on again.  Thanks again for the motivation Rapha and Strava. See you next year.

Its -15 Celcius and dark. The sun slowly appears over the horizon and although the only warmth it produces is warmth in your soul, its just feels great.














 There are more pictures over on my instagram account under manx71

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Mind games.

YES! YES! YES!

As you might work out by the above statement, I have made the 500km mark.

I have promised my wife that I will make reindeer stew for all our guests we have invited to celebrate new years tomorrow, so I decided to bag the the last 70km`s this morning, giving me time to peel spuds and stuff tomorrow.

When my alarm went off at 06.30 today I really struggled to get my weary body out of bed, especially with the fact that i could hear hailstone battering down on the bedroom window. I consequently pulled the duvet back over my head but with a helping elbow from Anniken I finally managed to roll out of bed at 07.30.

The temperature outside was -2 degrees and the sleet/hail had died somewhat. Today I decided that I would just ride a loop around my village on the roads that were almost ice free that I had spotted yesterday.

The loop is 7.5km`s long and I would have to ride it 10 times to get the needed km`s.

After round nr.2 the storm eased off a little and I found a photo opportunity.


Not soon after I shot the picture, the skies turned black again and the sleet returned and the wind picked up.

I was pretty miserable by round 5 and stopped at the local petrol station for a coffee. I grabbed a customer and asked her to take a picture. The result was my head inside, and her legs outside.


The ice on the roads was almost completely melted where the car tyre tracks were, so I could either chance riding on rotten slush, or a gully full of water. It was raining so much at this point that I kept my wheels firmly in the gully and put my head down. " I am not wet, or cold", "I am not wet, or cold". "Only 20km`s and I can get a shower" were about the only things I thought about round the last few laps of S√łgne.


The ice and rotten snow was blocking the escape routs for the accumulated water mass.

Hehe. Childish i know but these signs still make me snigger.


All in all I am very pleased with myself and I am not going to pretend I havn`t had some tough times over the last week. Its been pretty hard at times due to the conditions and the fact that i have been solo on my 13kg cyclocross bike with studded tyres. (and with an average temperature of -6 Celsius)

Iv`e spent 31 hours 32 mins 54 seconds out on my bike, 26:6:03 of actual moving time. (a lot more than last year, even though i`m a little fitter) and My 2 minutes of fame being that i was on top of the Norwegian leader board on Strava when I uploaded my final ride, with one less ride than my "rivals".Brilliant!



As per usual today Strava log is here and my Instagram photos are here

This has got to be the best base mile week I have ever had, so if i doesn`t help me out next racing season, I really am a basket case!

Thanks go to Strava, Rapha and my family for the motivation.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

And now for something different...

One of the Scandinavian weather traits is how fast the temperature can rise and fall. Most people who ski or climb mountains know that extra dry clothing is a must. I say this because after riding in -13 Celsius yesterday i woke up to rain and 6 Celsius today, that's a whopping 19 degrees difference in just 6 hours.

I had planned to ride about 50km`s but had to cut the journey short because although I don't mind most weather, being reduced to have to walk my bike just rubs me up the wrong way! Especially on the bike paths that are right beside a road that is totally snow and ice free. Arrgghh! The reason why it annoys me is that the government are all pro-cycling. They love campaigning to get more people on a bike and out of a car, especially commuters. The problem is that although they love us in their campaign, they simply don't look after the cycle paths... OK, rant over.

Sheet ice with rain on the top. A bit of a nightmare to tell you the truth. I didn`t fall today so I put it down to my Schwalbe marathon winter tyres. Top dog for winter commuting and training.
                           Did I say I hate walking my bike?




I got a Rapha hardshell off my wife for Christmas. A really good jacket for the rain but I have to say that my soft shell is still my all time fave.



The best thing I noted about my ride today was how fast I racked up the miles on my garmin edge 800, even with the walking. If it wasn`t for the freezing garmin abnormalities I had on the previous rides I would have completed the challenge already today. Strava logg here , and Instagram account here

Friday, 28 December 2012

Ride four!

Today it was a fresh -13 Celsius when i set off, and the temperature sank down to -15 Celsius before rising to around -7 during the day.

I was worried that my bum was going to hurt today but I used loads of rapha chamois cream, and it really does work wonders.

(Note to self: apply chamois cream BEFORE rubbing your legs with winter embrocation)

 Legs were good, but we didn`t get any sun today. I am amazed that I managed to do the whole 160km`s today and I am well on my way to completing the festive 500 challenge.

Unfortunately, Garmin stole another 30km`s (so, no, it isn`t a myth that Garmin Edge doesn`t work too well at low tempratures). This ride gave me 160km`s during last years Festive 500 but it was warmer last year. Never mind, I suppose its only fair to the other arctic riders out there that we a playing on a level field.

I hit the most spectacular scenery when the temperature gauge was at its lowest, so unfortunately I didn`t fancy taking off my gloves 60km`s away from the nearest place to get warm again. Although this was my longest ride, I took the fewest pictures.

Here are todays photo`s...


A frozen fjord


Fun,fun,fun! Twisty turnies.

Lunch bought at my half way point, whist I had a little de-frost.

So, according to my strava log found here , I did "133km`s" today and have racked up a total of 388km`s on my four rides. Average speed is off because of the missing km`s but moving time of  7 hours and 12 minutes is correct. I had a few more stops than I planned, simply to de-frost my bottles.

I have tried to rally some support from fellow riders but to no avail, so it looks like it will be a 100% solo affair this year for me, Billy no mates.... hehe.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Amateur dramatics

I`m such an idiot sometimes!

Yesterdays mini thaw, was joined by today's deep freeze. This made the roads really scary. I broke with my front disk brake going over some washboard ice and fell flat on my face and bent my front mudguard so it dragged on my wheel which I just bent back in a manner of fashion. The nice thing about ice is that it is really forgiving if one should have hiccup. No damage to me or clothing as I slid about 10 metres on my side.

Anyway, it gave me a scare so I took the rest of the day gingerly. The roads were very icy so I had to keep my bum firmly on the saddle on the climbs for traction and what turned out to be 60km`s of washboard gave my wrists and bum a real pounding....So i`m sitting on one cheek while I type.

I had a few scary moments and I used these as photo opportunities. The weather was gorgeous, the sun was out, the wind was kind and the temperature varied from -7 Celsius down to around -9 Celsius in the shade.

Like I said, I took loads of pictures, so without further ad do, here they are.


                                                                       Late start, same ritual.




 Bent front mudguard. These Lake winter shoes are a godsend. Today I used Rapha`s deep winter tights, as I normally do all winter.
        
            Mugshot. I was really pleased I got a shot of the gnarled bumpy ice created by the ploughs with snow chains.





The largest dilemma of the day was, do I (a) stick my freezing water bottle up my jacket to prevent it from freezing or (b) just don't drink. I opted for the latter and ended up with a headache. Doh!
 
All in all, I just plodded around taking photos and enjoying the beautiful weather today. Now I`m at the halfway point, and really hoping I can complete the challenge. Well happy. The strava log for today is Here. 


Wednesday, 26 December 2012

A festive day three, ride two

Another early start and today I was determined to get in about 120-30km`s.
 
 
 

I was expecting pretty hard going because we have had a mini thaw. Just enough to soften up the top layer of snow but not enough warmth to thaw the ice under the snow. I encountered a myriad of challenges and conditions. I got about 80km`s of sheet ice with a thin layer of water on the top, 30km`s of 20cm deep slush, I encountered some sleet and right at the end of my ride I got rain and actually saw some black asphalt patches even though the mercury was telling me it was -3 celcius.

 
 
 
Not really the worst place to fall on my face, although trying to get hands out of Bar-Mitts can be troublesome. It`s a bit like the good ol`SPD fall, but with your hands, instead of your feet.
 
 
I love this shot! 40km`s from home and the sun is just peeking through the mist.
 

Another shot, about 20km`s from home. The blurry effect isn`t something I have added but as mentioned on the above pic, It was pretty misty.

 
The going was painfully slow today but I decided not to let the speed bother me and just get my head down and do the miles and keep my studs facing terra-firma as much as possible.
One thing that does bother me slightly, is my Garmin 800 got the holes under it, blocked by snow. This ride is normally 128km`s long with 2200m of height gain. Today Garmin gave me 571m of height gain and only 108km`s.
 
Still, chin up! over a 3rd of the challenge complete. Yay!
Strava log Here

Monday, 24 December 2012

Epic!

I havn`t got time to write much because I used an hour more than planned and I have to get cracking on Christmas dinner....

What I can say is the first two hours were spent riding in porridge in the dark. I got hit by a blizzard and the temperature was lower than expected at around -7 Celsius at the half way point.

On the way home, night turned to grey and the snow plough lads were out in full force which made the going home just sweet. Meandering down the valley through the pine tree forest was Epic enough for me to stop and take pictures and to block my freezing fingers at the back of my mind.

Wouldn`t have missed it for anything, gorgeous and pure fun!




As you can see, not much to see the first couple of hours.




 
Today's Strava log HERE showing 70km`s layed down. Chuffed to bits. :)