17 June 2012

How does your garden grow...

Mary Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row.

Oh, the things they teach you in school! Here’s me thinking that the above was a nice little rhyme about growing pretty little flowers in your garden, when all along it’s about graveyards, torture, murder and executions! 

Any way... our little garden is trying its best to hold its head up and keep on fighting against all that the weather keeps throwing at it. Strong winds, heavy rain and cool temperatures are all trying to make a mess of things but the plants keep on coming back for more! Roll on summer... even if it is 2013 when it arrives!


10 June 2012

Climb every mountain...

Okay, so it wasn’t really a mountain, but at the time it felt like one! Today, I took a ride out to Alport Heights, the first hill over 1,000 feet you come to when you head out of Derby. And, when you take the route I did, it’s damn hard work! Were the views from the top worth it? The jury is still out on that one!

So, back to the start. I set off at just before 7:30am and heading through the outskirts of Derby the weather was dry, but cloudy, with little or no wind to speak of. The traffic was more or less nonexistent - as you’d expect for a Sunday morning - and I soon found myself in open countryside to the north of Allestree and heading for Cowers Lane. From there I carried on to Idridgehay before turning off the Wirksworth road and taking to single track lanes that headed up to Alport.

It was at this point that I started to think that it may have been a good idea to have checked the GPS data a little more closely for the route I’d plotted, the road in front of me was ramping up at a rather alarming rate! In the final mile to the car park at Alport I climbed over 450 feet, at an average gradient of 7.6%. At one point, my Garmin 800 registered the gradient at 22%! I don’t mind admitting it, I left my legs and my lungs on that climb today! When you add the rough surface of the road, the amount of grit, the grass/moss growing down the middle of the road and the water running down the hill it makes for a killer of a climb!

Garmin screen capture.

If anyone reading this fancies having a go at the route I chose to reach Alport, you need to travel towards Wirksworth on the B5023. Around 1.2 miles after passing through Idridgehay take the right turn into Barnsley Lane. Enjoy the short bit of downhill road before Storer Lane, Taylor’s Lane and then Malinscommon Lane remove first your legs and then, a short time later, your lungs. Enjoy!

On a more positive note, the view from the top was rather nice and having a number of Curlew displaying, and calling, overhead just added to the atmosphere.

The Cannondale Bad Boy takes a well earned break!

 The view from Alport Heights.

Radio masts at Alport Heights.

The Alport Stone.

From Alport it was a quick, and easy, run back down into Belper (top speed of 33.7mph) before following the A6 all the way back to the edge of Derby. A mix of cycle paths, parks and river paths got me around the city centre before picking up one of my routes from work back home. In all, I covered 40.48miles at an average speed of 16.3mph and climbed just over 1,830 feet in total. Not my quickest ride, but not all rides have such a killer hill on the route.

Stats from the Alport ride...
Total distance - 40.48 miles.
Total time - 2hrs 28mins 56secs.
Max speed - 33.7 mph.
Average speed - 16.3 mph.
Calories burnt - 1752.
Average heart rate - 156 bpm.
Max heart rate - 186 bpm.

05 June 2012

We need the rain, right?

Another month goes by and I’m still trying, without success, to get in some regular long-distance bike rides. Every time I have the hours free that are needed to ride for more than 50 or 60 miles, it rains. Still, it’s good for the garden I guess!

May did at least turn out to be a little drier than April and, as a result, I managed to notch up a total of 620.66 miles. Almost all of that was made up of commuting mileage with just 114 miles being ridden whilst not on the way to or from work. The longest of the rides was a 57.73 mile trip over the border into Nottinghamshire, to test out the GPS routing on my new Garmin 800.

Taking a break for food and drink.

Stats from the Nottinghamshire ride...
Total distance - 57.73 miles.
Total time - 3hrs 57secs.
Max speed - 33.1 mph.
Average speed - 19.1 mph.
Calories burnt - 2058.
Average heart rate - 156 bpm.
Max heart rate - 179 bpm.

Garmin details.

Having only used the Garmin to log the distance of my rides up until this point I decided it was time to jump in at the deep end and see just how good the guidance feature of it really was. The evening before the ride I plotted a route that included as many roads and junctions that I’d never ridden before as possible to give me a route that would fit in with the free time I had. If it all went wrong I’d be left high and dry as I’d have no idea where I was! Need I have worried? Not a chance! The Edge 800 performed faultlessly. Over the next few weeks (weather permitting) I’ll post a Blog update devoted to my experiences of living with a Garmin. I’m still learning just what this clever little bit of kit is capable of but so far so good.

So, after five months of mixed weather, and a shortage of ride time, my mileage at the end of May had reached 2465.26 miles. I’m a little behind were I’d like to be but at least I’m over 270 miles ahead of this time last year. The 6,000 mile target for the year is still on!
This past weekend I had hoped to make the most of the quiet roads, whilst most people enjoyed the Jubilee celebrations, and attempt another 100 mile ride. The weather put paid to that idea and, in the end, the only chance I had to get out was for a very easy 17 mile loop around Derby and Alvaston this morning. Not a great start to June but at least I have all summer to look forward to! Maybe!

Beauty & the beast... nature fighting back against
industry on my ride this morning.

The plus side to all of this changeable weather is that the garden is doing rather well out of it. Pretty much all the summer bedding is doing well and many of the perennial plants are coming into flower too. All we need now is for the temperature to pick up a little and we may be able to sit outside and enjoy it all - after I’ve been out and ridden one of my bikes that is!