Thursday, 31 May 2012

Caledonian Etape 2012

On Sunday 13th May, my good friend Finlay Kerr and I completed the Marie Curie Caledonian etape, racing 81 miles across Highland roads, through our wonderfully inclement summer weather. A huge thank you to everyone who donated so generously to our fundraising on behalf of Marie Curie Cancer care. Currently the online total is well over £950 and with the cash I’ve collected so far our grand total is already past £1300, which exceeded any expectations I might have had before undertaking the grueling training program and much more enjoyable race from Pitlochry.
For the race itself, we endured a fairly strong wind and just a wee bit or rain – nothing like the Central belt suffered that day – belying the weather forecast which was for torrential rain during the race. Only around Loch Rannoch, just after the 1st feed station, did I have to ride into the wind with rain falling at the same time and fortunately that was a fairly short leg to the end of the loch, where the rain stopped and the wind became my friend blowing me on down to feed station 2, just before the Schiehallion climb.
The climb was less onerous than many I’d already endured in training so it was with great joy that I blazed past feed station 3 and onto the descent. Alas, the 5 miles directly into the wind, which was by then blowing a real gale, along the Fortingal Loop directly up Glen Lyon had me regretting that missed food stop, amongst other things. My unprotected Hi-tec Squash shoes from the 80’s also had me wondering whether there might be an outdoor clothes shop somewhere along the line, as my feet were like blocks of ice by now. Fortunately those 5 miles into the strong headwind were more than adequately compensated for as the next 15 miles or so back down the glen through Aberfeldy were on fast sealed roads and joyfully accompanied by the now helpful tailwind.
I nearly skipped Feed station 4 as were buzzing along so well by now, but having cursed my decision to skip feed station 3, I forced a flapjack down and took a quick top up to the water bottles. Just as well, for the final sting in the tail was waiting from Logierait with a couple of nasty wee climbs up through the woods as we cut away from the main roads and back onto track. I’d like to think I usefully burned those fresh syrupy calories there. Chivas Regal Royal Salute Whisky Sweepstake With Finlay finishing in 5 hours 28 min and my chip time at 5 hours 53 min, the bottle of Royal Salute whisky is rather poignantly won by John MacFarlane (no relative) of Furnace in Argyll. I’m sad to say that John’s family is just one of the many that I’ve encountered in this journey who are learning first-hand how important the Marie Curie organisation is, as his son Gordon battles bowel cancer from his home in Northern Ireland. Kudos to Chivas Regal, who have supplied some consolation prizes in the form of 3 bottles of 12 Year old Chivas Regal whisky, which have been won by Carol Croft (East Kilbride), Louise Greenan (Glasgow) and Ian MacMillan (Paisley). It’s not too late to donate to the Justgiving fund if you haven’t already done so

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Glasgow Southside Cycle route - 40km

As per the 20km route heading out along Kilmarnock road from Shawlands cross, up through Clarkston and Waterfoot, along Floors Road past Linn Hi-fi and up to the roundabout at the end of Floors road onto Humbie Rd. This time turn left, going under the A726 - tough wee climb here! - and follow that road along to Eaglesham.
There's a cracking wee descent into Eaglesham where Humbie Road meets Gilmour St. Turn right into Eaglesham, look for Polnoon street on your right side before you get to the end of Gilmour St.

You're now heading into ~10km of uphill slog up the Bonnyton moor road, past the Windfarm and up to the old A77.

Once you get onto the A77 there's a cycle path / pavement all the way down to Newton Mearns. That's the hard part over.

Glasgow Southside Cycle route - 20km

Nice easy run out from Shawlands along Kilmarnock then Fenwick road. There are bike lanes most of the way, sometimes they disappear, but mostly at the traffic lights there is a reserved section up front.Sneaky wee shortcut down Otterburn road in Giffnock to avoid the roundabout at Eastwood toll. Be careful rejoining Eastwood mains road, as the cars come over the hill behind you at a decent rate - but you're on a wee downward bit here, so should get going no bother.
From Williamwood rail up to Clarkston it's a bit of an uphill slog, but not too bad. Through Clarkston and onwards to Waterfoot, where the road surface can get a bit crappy and drivers a wee bit impatient trying to rush to their next set of lights... Just at the far end of Waterfoot, turn right into Floors road, where there is a short steep section going around the corner, and then a less steep 1km or so up to the roundabout. Turn right at roundabout to then enjoy a mainly downhill return to Clarkston through Mearns Kirk and down the old Mearns road - Take care for cars coming out onto the road and turning right, as you'll be doing a fair old skite by the time you get onto Mearns road.
I cross my prevoius path here and take Clarkston Road down to Merrylee, then cut through Newlands to get back to Shawlands - where the road at Pollokshaws East Railway defies belief - It's like they've prepared the inside lane for resufacing, but only resurfaced the outside lane.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Garmin GSC10 - Installation and Accuracy

There's a family history and a bit of a yarn, as ever, associated with my history of Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) ownership, but this post is going to concentrate on the installation and use of the Garmin GSC10 Speed / Cadence Sensor on my bike.

I happen to own the Garmin FR60 sports-watch as a result of an entirely different need where I wanted to combine an HRM with a foot-pod for my jogging training - again, there's probably a reasonable blog, based on the decision making process I followed for that purchase, but the bike Speed / Cadence sensor wasn't actually a big part of it. Anyway, cutting to the chase, my fantastic family managed to slip the GSC10 into my Christmas stocking and I've been eager to give it a blast ever since.

It's a kind of strange looking device and if you ever try to get some web help for it, you'll probably find as I did that the way it gets attached to the bike frame isn't exactly obvious. Further to that, some of the product complaints about the design led me down the wrong path in installation.

Anyway, to make this blog entry as succinct as possible, check this out...

NOT how to fit the GSC10 to your bike

That's kind of how it comes out of the box, and web reviews of the product made mention of the slight wheel speed sensor and how the easiest of knocks might cause it to get entangled with the spokes... I was in a bit of a rush to get it installed and get out there, so I just thought - "yeah! that is a bit shit!". But there was a nagging doubt in my mind. "People who make products as good as Garmin, generally wouldn't out a product if it wasn't reliable, I've got something wrong..." The staggering inaccuracy of my first run was testament as to how wrong.

Compared to the Endomondo results using the GPS on my phone.

Double the disctance at twice the speed... you'd have to be happy with that... unless you knew it was total ballocks.

I've had to have a right good talking to myself about the 3 fundamental errors I've made here.
1. Rushed to the installation
2. Rushed the installation
3. Rushed away from the installation , without testing it... without even having a plan to test it!

The first big mistake - and it's an embarrassing one too! is that the bloody sensor arm shouldn't be pointing up in the air like some sort of phallic, tenement flat TV aeriel, it folds round the back of the frame to get protected by the frame from being bumped into the spokes... like...
Rotate the sensor arm around to protect it with bike frame
Doh!!! That's better!
On the accuracy thing, well I have 2 thoughts. One (less likely) is that the Speed sensor was also picking up the pedal magnet, thus giving more than one magnet pass per wheel revolution. The 2nd is that when I started turning the pedals and my watch said it had picked up the bike sensor without me needing to run the 'pair' operation - I assumed that it had picked up the right bike sensor and I didn't need to run the pair operation... you know what they say about 'Assume'... and there I am.. a great stonking ass!!

'Paired' them up just to be sure and went for a couple of short test rides along the road. FR60 now agrees with the Cateye Mity 8 - which is a perfectly good bike computer - that came with the bike. So, now I have my Heart rate, cadence and speed fully integrated... Workouts can be exported to Endomondo... but what I'm really looking for now is an ANT+ enabled phone, running Endomondo and talking to all my Garmin toys... that would be sweet... but for now, I'm a happy camper... Although I suppose I'd better get that chain oiled soon...

I still think the instructions suck though!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Start of program Stat Porn...

Well, back to the gym for a few wee tests just to get a feel for where we are.

Weight84.5 kgExpected result - must lose some weight
Treadmill Fit test (est VO2 max)44.0Great result! - m/c must be broken
O'Neill Rowing test985mBelow Average - typical result though
60 second Press up test41Rubbish :-)

Disappointed with the Press-ups, but otherwise not too bad. I'm fairly sure the cardio-vascular truth lies somewhere between the treadmill test and the O'Neill one, but the strength result tells it's own story... That should be easy enough to improve upon though, seeing as those would have been the first press-ups I've done this year...

Friday, 17 February 2012

Just giving page

That's the just giving page up and running now...

Spin class at Garmin Connect - Details

Just seeing how this looks. I got a Garmin FR60 with footpod, Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) and Bike Speed / Cadence Sensor package last year. The bike stuff is still in it's packet, but I think it could be a worthy training tool. Using Garmin Connect, which is the default online tool. Just now I'm really just trying to get a feel for how many calories the individual activities I have planned actually burn and how different cycling is from running in terms of heart rate. could it be that cycling will be a good solution to the problem of finding a low intensity but longer exercise time activity... Common sense would suggest that to b e true... Let's see how the Science works out

Spin class by jim.macfarlane at Garmin Connect - Details

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

On yer Bike!

Well, it's been a while since I've thought much about fitness - arrival of a beautiful baby girl last year seemed to take over the entire house and if that wasn't enough the boy is now 4 and a total headbanger to boot... but enough of my excuses. What are we up to this year?

Having soundly won Challenge 40 with a 00:50:06 10km in Inverness - the highlights of which were watching Bruce MacGregor stumbling over the line in utter agony and John McFetrige's (55 min) claim that if he'd known I was only 5 minutes ahead, he'd have run faster. We moved onto Swim-Bike-Run in Nairn for 2011. Novice Triathalon was enough for us to gain the utmost respect for the big boy Triathletes. After being soundly thrashed, my excuse being one of equipment (Clapped out, weighs a ton, mountain bike Vs Lance Armstrong model Trek road racing bike) paled into insignificance as Finlay's wee sister (ok, she had a triathlon suit and something called a transition box) soundly cuffed us. 2012 brings us a new, bigger biking challenge. Finlay often talks about 'threads of performance' and if you're not prepared to organise your equipment to facilitate you reaching your potential, you get no sympathy (being married, it's an unfamiliar concept anyway!). But, he's right! If you're going to run with the big dogs, you need to play by the rules and learn your lessons. Fortunately, a work colleague just so happened to have a Bianchi (no, I'd never heard of it either) Italian, thoroughbred, road racing bike and assorted equipments for sale at a most reasonable price.

Thoroughbred Italian Beauty

You can hardly rage against the gods when they're literally throwing Manna at your head, so I'm now the proud of owner of this wee beauty. It's a totally different ride from the mountain bike (actually I think I might post on the trials of buying a new bike for the technically minded, commitment-phobe) and I really should have taken it somewhere safe to at least get competent with it before endangering my life on the roads around Glasgow, but you really can get going on it too. I've circled up to East Kilbride and home one weekend and had a cracking 25km ride out through Waterfoot and up to the top of Newton Mearns before skiting (51km/h max speed recorded) home on a glorious downhill return leg.

On other matters, I haven't really changed my mind about the components of fitness I surmised in this post . I suppose I'll have to get more cycling specific - if only to get used to the idea of sitting on the barely blnted razor blade that passes for a seat saddle.