2014 Cycling Summary

Time to look back at my 2014 cycling stats.

The major achievement of the year was completing Randonneur Round the Year which is an award for completing a 200km or longer audax in each of twelve consecutive months.

In total I cycled 5,080 miles (8,176 km) which easily surpassed my previous best in 2014 of 4,516 miles. The cumulative monthly mileage is shown in the graph below.

2014 Cumulative Mileage

Other than May 2009 which includes my LEJOG I was ahead of every previous year. I cycled 847 miles in June, my highest monthly total since May 2009.

A heatmap of my cycling in the UK for 2014 shows where I cycled. Areas of yellow and orange show where I cycled most frequently. Purples are roads I cycled once or twice.

2014 UK Cycling Heatmap

As is usual the ‘hottest’ part of the map is close to home including my commuting routes. Several audax rides can be picked out in the Midlands and away rides with CTC Wantage can be seen scattered around the country.

I also went to France with CTC Wantage where we cycled near to Carcassonne with one memorable ride on the French and Spanish coast. One ride in central France isn’t shown in this map of the rides from that trip.

2014 France Cycling Heatmap

In summary my stats for 2014 were as follows.

Rides 172
Days Ridden 120
Total Distance 8,176 km (5,080 miles)
Total Climb 68,274 m (223,996 ft)
Total Time 359h 29m 50s
Longest Ride 276 km (171 miles)

My plans for 2015 took a blow when my brother died suddenly in December, we rode together and had planned to ride the National 400 audax together in July. However I’ve kept my run of 200km audax going and I might attempt back to back RRtY. I also want to try and ride a 300km audax to complete Randonneur 1000 for the season.

Longest Cycle Ride

Yesterday saw me complete my longest cycle ride to date, 222.2km (138.1 miles). I’m trying to do Randonneur Round the Year (RRtY) which is an achievement in audaxing for completing a 200km event every month for twelve consecutive months. I did start in November and then couldn’t do one in December, so I’ve started again in January. I find 200km rides tough, mentally and physically. It’s a long time to be on a bike (around 9-10hrs cycling) and most of it on your own so your mind starts thinking thoughts you don’t need, like ‘why am I doing this?’ and ‘am I enjoying this?’.

This was a normal and pretty easy 100km Audax I’ve done several times before but I made it into an Extended Calendar Event (ECE) by cycling to and from the start (57km each way). This is one way of making recognised 200km routes and rides that count towards the RRtY achievement. I was right on my limit, physically and mentally for the last hour back home. Knowing exactly how much further I needed to go on very familiar roads made the distance seem to stretch out forever!

Next up will be a London-Oxford-London (LOL) ride in March. Wonder if I’ll be LOL at the end of it!

2013 Cycling Summary

With the start of 2014, it’s time to look back on the previous year’s cycling. I’ve been keeping accurate records since September 2008.

Last year was my best ever in terms of distance with 4,516 miles cycled (7,267km). Easily beating my previous record of 3,432 miles in 2011. Despite a poor spring (especially March) we had an excellent summer and I beat my previous mileage records in Apr, Jun, Aug, Sep, Oct and Nov. The graph below shows the cumulative mileage for the last five complete years.

cumulative mileage
Cumulative Cycling Mileage

In 2009 I cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats and you can see that in the abrupt rise in May of that year. However, a consistent mileage through the late spring and summer in 2013 saw me overtake that line in July. Monthly mileage fell in the autumn with fewer opportunities to get out cycling, but I was pleased to beat my previous best November and had my second best December. I also completed my personal goal of completing at least one 100km or longer audax each calendar month in 2013 although I’m still waiting for my December one to be validated.

A heat map of my UK cycling shows where I cycled in 2013.

Heat Map of UK cycling 2013
Heat Map of UK cycling 2013

Yellows show where I cycled repeatedly. Dull purple is where I only cycled once. Clearly the ‘hottest’ part of the map centers around my commute from home to work in South Oxfordshire. The heat bump to the west of this is club rides with CTC Wantage which usually start from Grove. You can see some away rides, e.g. a 160km audax in the Midlands and rides in the New Forest, Isle of Wight and Mendips. The cluster towards Cambridge was during the family summer holiday. The other obvious route was May’s cycle tour with my brother-in-law along the Welsh Border from Chester to Chepstow.

In addition to the UK miles, I joined the CTC Wantage club trip to Uzes in France. Here we did several rides out from the town. We also did an away day to climb Mont Ventoux.

France Cycling Heat Map 2013
France Cycling Heat Map 2013

In numbers my stats for 2013 were as follows.

Rides179
Days Ridden123
Total Distance7,267 km (4,516 miles)
Total Climb56,504 m (185,301 feet)
Total Time14 days 5 hrs 34 mins
Longest Ride214 km (133 miles)

It’s going to be a tough mileage record to beat especially if we have bad weather in the spring and summer when most of the cycling gets done!

Barbury Bash 110km Audax

This was my third Audax for the 2011 season and the first I’ve entered without my brother. The start is only a few kilometres from my front door so it is a very convenient event for me to enter. There are 110km and 200km events but I’m not quite ready for the step up to 200km so entered the 110km event. The route heads westwards from Milton in Oxfordshire across the Vale of White Horse to Barbury Castle in Wiltshire on the North Wessex Downs.

I was lucky to have a fellow CTC Wantage member to tag along with. He’s ridden the event several times so knew the route well. This meant I didn’t have to refer to the route description sheet at all. He’s also a very strong rider so we held a quick pace.

The route westwards to Wantage along the A417 is a familiar one and also beyond on the B4507 past White Horse Hill, Ashbury and Bishopstone. This is an undulating road but you can keep a good steady pace.

The weather was pretty grim along here, strong headwind and rain but nothing really terrible.

After Bishopstone I was in new territory so I’m glad I had company so I didn’t miss any turns. After several picturesque villages we arrived at the foot of the climb to Barbury Castle. A narrow and straight road means you can see it from a long way away. This is the first time I had climbed the hill so I wasn’t sure what to expect, or how long it was. It’s steep (about 15%) but not all that long so it wasn’t too tricky. At the top was the control point, cakes and refreshments (the café is currently closed).

After a brief stop we took the descent rather steady due to the wet road and loose gravel and stones. After retracing our steps to Chiseldon, quickly now the wind was behind us, we headed to the next challenge of Snap Hill. I found this one quite a bit harder, it’s longer and steeper (17%) than Barbury Castle but once over the top you are rewarded by a very long and fast descent, we kept a constant 30+ mph for quite a distance to Aldbourne.

The third major hill on the route is Marridge Hill. This one is barely worth a mention, much shallower than the other two, quite long but not a severe test other than the legs are pretty tired by this stage.

Big black clouds threatened to drench us as we headed to Eastbury and Great Shefford where we arrived just before the shop shut to grab a sandwich and provisions. We were pretty lucky and missed the worst of the downpours which effected some of the riders behind us on the event.

The final stretch home via Farnborough and West Ilsley is again familiar territory for me. We passed one of my table tennis venues on the way. The A34 was new to me though, a road I have always avoided cycling along as it is extremely busy and basically a motorway in all but name.

The short link between Chilton and West Ilsley is the only way across the Berkshire Downs at this point though (until a new cycle route is hopefully opened nearby). We cycled fast and hard in the rain to get it done quickly. It’s only about 1km and we encountered no lorries.

I put a spurt on for the last few kilometres but rather annoyingly suffered a puncture on Milton Hill with the finish almost in sight. After cursing my rotten luck I stopped and quickly replaced the innertube hoping no other riders would pass me.

The delay was about 10 minutes and I arrived back at Milton as the 3rd finisher in a total time of around 5h15m (I’ll know what time I’ve been given when I get my card back). It was also my quickest 100km cycled in 4h5m37s.

A really good route and an Audax I’ll be doing again. Hopefully the weather will be a bit nicer next time. Not that rain bothers me too much to be honest, once you are wet you are wet. Battling against a headwind is worse.

I’ll be trying to do another two 100km Audaxes this season for the Brevet 500 award.

Cotswolds Cycling

Snowshill Lavender
Snowshill Lavender

Great ride with CTC Wantage today. The Cotswolds (if you don’t know) are an area of outstanding natural beauty which straddles Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. The landscape is rolling and peppered with picturesque villages with houses built from the golden oolitic limestone which the hills are made from. Oxfordshire is not well known as being a hilly county but the Cotswolds offer some tough climbs, especially on the escarpment side. Even on the dip slope side you will rarely find a road that isn’t going up or down, sometimes steeply.

We started in Burford, one of the larger towns in the Cotswolds and a popular tourist destination. Its iconic feature is the steep high street leading down to the River Windrush. It also has a large free car park. We followed the river to Bourton-on-the-Water, which is hugely popular with day trippers and tourists. On a sunny summer weekend afternoon it can be heaving with visitors. It is very picturesque but pick a quiet day to visit.

The rolling terrain led us past the Snowshill lavender fields to Broadway Tower which stands over 300m above sea level, the second highest point in the Cotswolds. The tower itself is a folly tower built so that Lady Coventry could answer the question whether she could see it from her house in Worcester! She could.

From the tower we took more rolling and quiet lanes to Bibury, another village popular with tourists, before heading back to Burford.

We were just shy of 100km for the day and over 1100m of ascent. I found it quite tough today as I hadn’t got my climbing legs with me but had a 2nd wind at around 55miles and could have kept going for a bit longer. It’s another ride towards my target of E50!

If you’ve not cycled the Cotswolds before it’s well worth doing. The route we chose offers a good tour of some busy and quiet villages sticking to minor roads. A good sample of what the Cotswolds offer without tackling any of the really tough climbs.

Eddington Number

Sir Arthur Stanley EddingtonSir Arthur Stanley Eddington is well known as a British astrophysicist of the early 20th century. The Eddington limit, the natural limit to the luminosity of stars, or the radiation generated by accretion onto a compact object, is named in his honour. He is famous for his work regarding the Theory of Relativity. He was also a keen cyclist.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Stanley_Eddington

 

The Eddington Number is defined as E, the number of days a cyclist has cycled more than E miles

For example an Eddington Number of 70 would imply that a cyclist has cycled more than 70 miles in a day on 70 occasions. Achieving a high Eddington number is difficult since moving from, say, 70 to 75 will probably require more than five new long distance rides since any rides shorter than 75 miles will no longer be included in the reckoning.

I stumbled upon his interesting cycling statistic the other day and was curious as to what my Eddington number might be. I only have accurate distance stats from 2008 but I rarely if ever did long distance rides before then so I’ll just discount anything earlier.

Interestingly it works out that my current Eddington number is 49 (E49) and I’m only 5 rides of greater than 50 miles to achieve a milestone E50.

Not sure whether discovering this little statistic was such a good idea, I’m now motivated to do those 5 rides but then when will it stop? I’m not that far off E60 either!!

P.S. Eddington himself died at E87.

UPDATE – On 25th September 2011 I completed a 171km Audax ride which was my 50th ride over 50 miles. I’m now officially an E50 cyclist!!

UPDATE – On 9th June 2013 I reached E60! It’s going to be tough from here, E65 is probably achievable fairly soon, E70 will take much longer.

UPDATE – On 20th July 2014 I reached E65! It’s still a long while before I achieve E70.

UPDATE – As of 9th November 2015 I am E67. It will still take me a while to get to E70!

Aberystwyth to Liverpool

I’m about to embark on part two of my and my brother-in-law Andrew’s coastal tour of Wales which may or may not end up being extended further around the coast of Great Britain.

In 2010 we cycle camped from Aust on the English side of the Severn Bridge to Aberystwyth in a week. Including some tough cycling along the Pembrokeshire coast.

In 2011 we plan to start from Aberystwyth and head north sticking to the coast as closely as possible whilst avoiding silly hills and main roads wherever possible. We’ll head along the Lleyn peninsula and right around the coast of Anglesey. We aim to finish at Liverpool after cycling around the coast of the Wirral as returning home by train is a bit easier from there than from our initial destination which was to be Chester.

We’ll be camping each night and aim to cover around 50-60 miles (80-100 km) per day.

If you want to keep an eye on how we get on I’ll hopefully be doing daily diary entries on crazyguyonabike.com and I’ll be tweeting from the road.

Tour of Wales

Next week we’re off on a cycle tour of Wales exactly a year after our LEJOG. The plan is to cycle from Chepstow – Swansea – Fishguard – Aberystwyth – Shrewsbury using NCN routes. About 450 miles in seven days (60 miles/day). We’ll be camping and carrying all of our equipment.

Follow the journey on my twitter feed (http://twitter.com/jochta/) and I will post images along the way.

Day 17.1 – Wick

thumbnail imageHas it sunk in yet? No! What a day.

We were so anxious to get started we were both up before 6am packed and ready to roll at 7am! There had been a couple of sharp bursts of rain during the night but the morning was trying to be bright but with the niggly but not strong northerly breeze still.

We were headed east though so it didn’t bother us too much. We have been very very lucky with the weather. The last two days would be very tough with bad wind and/or rain. Our friend Sam who we shared a day with back in Devon had the wind so bad from Bettyhill it actually knocked him off of his bike and he had to push for a short stretch.

The A836 is wide, smooth and almost deserted. Great cycling road with views of the sea to our left. It’s hilly for the first 20 miles though. It climbs headlands between little sandy bays 4 or 5 times. Quite tiring but nothing really too bad or steep.

Before Thurso it flattens out with just one small climb before the descent into town. We didn’t linger and cycled straight through. According to the welcome sigh the only thing it’s famous for is being the birthplace of the founder of the Boy’s Brigade.

After Thurso it was just a case of getting the job done. We were on mileage countdown, each sign greeted in despair when it only indicated one more mile done when it felt more like three! The weather was getting sunnier and sunnier, we’d had two very brief bursts of rain during the ride. Too chilly to take off jackets though.

It’s a pretty flat easy run in and soon we could see the dilapitated hotel and we rode side by side down the slope to the finish line. A punch of the air and we’d done it!

We got the required photo done with Andrew’s cycle computer mileage of 1071 miles which has been reading a little under. My Geko GPS reckons 1083 miles but who cares we’d done it! I’ll go through the GPS trace when I get home and get ‘official’ distance, ascents and average speeds.

After ringing home we had a coffee in the caf