Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Training rides for the Lejog ride.

I've been doing quite a few miles as training for the Lejog ride. I'm averaging about 150 miles a week and the longest ride I've done was 102 miles. For Some of the rides I'm using the penny farthing but mainly I'm riding a basic fixed gear road bike.

The thinking behind this is that the road bike is easier to fix at the road side should anything go wrong and it's keeping the miles off the penny farthing which is a much more fragile machine. The fixed gear bike is good training anyway as you are forced to keep pushing on up hills and you don't really get any rest coming down them.

 It's actually fairly similar to the penny farthing. I'm doing as much riding as I can sat down to get used to long periods on the saddle as it's not possible to stand up on the pedals when riding the penny farthing.

So the fittness is building nicely although I'm not doing any intense efforts, for the penny farthing Lejog it's all about long slow days so that's how I've been training. This won't have helped my performance in a recent cycling hill climb up Shelsely Walsh as that was a flat out effort of 4 minutes. With specific hill climb training i'm sure I could have gone a bit faster but you can't train properly for everything. I was still the 2nd fastest of the over 40's so I didn't do too badly.

The other thing I've been spending a bit of time on for the Lejog ride is making sure I don't run out of phone battery life. I really want to record the whole ride to strava. Strava is used by cyclists to log training rides and races. It's great as it also uses gps to track and record you onto a map so you can see exactly where you have been. Using strava on my phone Zapps it's battery a bit and as I also plan to use the phone for photos and uploading to here and twitter on the ride I needed to look into ways of charging it on the move.

What I've come up with is this. I've made a new rear wheel for the penny farthing, using a 20" rim that is a special for penny farthings and I've built it up onto a shimano dynamo hub that was ment to go in the front wheel of a brompton folding bike. I used the brompton hub as it is really narrow and it fits into the rear forks of the penny farthing without having to modify them. I've fitted a solid tyre onto the rim so it's still pretty authentic. To convert the power generated from the hub to a phone charger I bought a device from the USA. It's called a sinwave revolution . Basically it converts the dynamo output to a USB socket so I can now charge anything that normally charges from a USB cable.

I've been using this set up for a couple of months now and it easily generates enough power to keep my iPhone on full charge. Even when the screen is on constant, I'm using a sat nav app and strava running in the background the battery doesn't drop. I've tried running the battery down on the phone first and then using it and it recharges it fine even with everything running at the same time.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Tour of Britain road trip

I spent last week following the tour of Britain bike race, a friend and I hired a van and took bikes to follow the race. I rode my penny farthing as training for the Lejog ride. The first day we rode the last 20 miles of the stage and then 20 miles back to the van. The roads were quite hilly and proved a good test of both my climbing and descending skills! Other race fans waiting to watch the tour seemed to enjoy seeing the penny farthing in action and gave me some good encouragement.
The second stage I went to watch was the 3 rd stage off the race and was a mountain top finish on a climb called the tumble. It's about 5km long at an average gradient of 10% so it was pretty tough going on the penny farthing! Coming down the hill was also fairly difficult as it's hard to control the speed of the bike on downhills. My bike only has a front brake that is just a spoon that pushes down onto the tyre. All it really does is get hot and wreck the tyre rather than slow you down!
The next day the race started in my home city of Worcester so I went down to watch the start, I even got a mention from the announcer for being the current british penny farthing champion!
Worcester was great but then the race moved on to Devon, I went to watch on dartmoor. The riding was again pretty hard but good training for the lejog ride.
The weeks riding was great practice and also enabled me to test out my newly built rear wheel. I have built it up on a small dynamo hub that is conected to a USB converter. I used this to charge my phone while riding. It worked really well and enabled me to record my rides to strava without draining my battery.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Reaction to the announcement of my end to end ride.

Well, since I officially announced that I was going to ride lands end to John O'groats (lejog) on my penny farthing the reaction I have had has been fantastic!

I posted on twitter and Facebook as well as telling friends in person. Everyone was really interested in my plans. Generally, my family think I'm a bit mad, twitter people are convinced I'm a bit mad and friends from my cycling club must think I'm superman as they are encouraging me to try for a record time.

The penny farthing record of 5 days 8 hours and 15 minutes is not something I will be going for! I will be more than happy just to complete the ride, 14 days will do me. Even at that pace it's about 70 miles a day.

Within a few hours of telling people about the lejog my justgiving page had received plenty of donations, some from people who I have no idea who they are who must have seen a retweet about the ride on twitter. I'd like to say thanks to anyone who has donated, it's very kind of you.

If anyone would like to donate, here's the link..

During this week I've been cycling quite a bit, on Sunday I did 76 miles on the penny farthing with my friend Mickey , who is going to be joining me on the lejog ride. Mickey will be on a normal, modern road bike but he will be carrying all of our kit. We are not having a support vehicle.

Tuesday night after work I was out on the penny farthing again. I rode out to a local 10 mile time trial and raced it against modern tt bikes. Obviously I came last, but my time of 39 minutes for a 10 mile course that is quite hilly wasn't too bad.

Wednesday was my day off work so I went out on my modern road bike for about 50 miles. I intend to do most of my training for the lejog ride on this modern bike. I don't want to put too many miles onto the penny farthing in the build up as repairing any breakdowns is not as easy on the penny farthing as it is for a standard road bike.

The other training I am doing is walking, on steep hills I will have to push the penny farthing so I thought it might be an idea to get used to walking a lot!

Tonight I popped out for a quick ride on my fixed gear bike after work and Tomorrow, Sunday, I'll go out on my road bike again for about 4 hours. At this time of year the training is easy as the weather is still being kind!

Well I guess that's enough of an update for now, thanks for reading and come back soon!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Lands End to John O'Groats

Well I've not been on here for ages so I needed a good reason to get blogging again.. I've talked about this for long enough and now I've actually got some plans in place to do it. In April 2015 I'm going to ride my penny farthing from Lands End to John O'Groats. That's about 1000 miles and I'm going to do it in 14 days.

Between now and the ride in April I will update this blog with how my plans are developing and how my training is going. When the ride finally gets here I hope to have a bit of time each night to post daily updates. This will depend on internet connection, phone battery, and my physical ability to blog after riding a penny farthing all day!

I've decided on doing the end to end as I've pretty much achieved what I wanted to achieve regarding racing the penny farthing. At long last I managed to win a big race. Earlier in 2014 I won the pennies in the park race which , luckily for me, has gained the official title of the British Open penny farthing championship. I've not managed to win the Smithfield London Nocturne but it's a race I may have to let go as it's so short and doesn't really suit my strengths. I'll keep entering the race but I'm pretty sure it's one I will not win.

So, back to the end to end ride. I'm going to be raising money for the national deaf children's society. My wife was born deaf so that's why I have chosen this charity.

I've set up a just giving page should anyone feel generous enough to make a donation, here's the link to it.

Thanks for reading! Updates will follow!!