Thursday, July 30, 2009

Glorious Goodwood

With John in foreign climes and Billy-Bob suffering from a cold and a shortage of brownie points it was left to Jon and Al to bear the TCA standard. It had been a sunny day punctuated by heavy showers but the clouds had cleared by the time Al got over to Chichester for the traditional pre-ride tea and cakes.

Two's Company

Leaving at 18:30 the pair headed for the trundle and followed the route of the recent Chichester Challenge up towards the South Downs. Notably Al was 'King of the Trundle' for the first time in many a month; hearing the familar sound of Jon crunching his gears with a few hundred yards to go Al made a victorious break for the line! The good weather, early start and the fact that Al had committed to stay at Jon's for the evening meant that they did not have to watch the clock this week so we reviewed the map once we had got firmly into the countryside.

Jon Checks the Route

Typically our circular routes would bear west along the South Downs way before returning to Chichester but we fancied a change; heading east towards Cocking we made for firm TCA favorite, the Fox Goes Free at Charlton.

On the ascent from Cocking we met with another cyclist, laden with an enormous rucksack, filling his water bottle at one of the municiple taps strewn along the South Downs Way. Our new companion explained that he had travelled from Sheffield that morning and was tackling the route from Winchester to Eastbourne with tow friends. Having done most of his biking in the peak district the cyclist explained that he had underestimated the difficulty of the constantly undulating terrain, and that they were running at least a couple of hours late.

Lush Greenery of an
English Summer Ride

As the one cyclist caught up with his companions the TCA turned south for the long descent to Cocking which felt well deserved after spending most of the evening peddling up hill so far. It was not long before the pair were enjoying pints for Harvey's Sussex Bitter. Cocking was awash with Range Rovers and sozzled race goers - this week marked the opening day of Glorious Goodwood at the race course high on the hill above us.

Toast to Absent Friends,
The Fox Goes Free

Leaving the pub we hit the tortuous climb by road up the northern approach to the Trundle. We were afforded views across the the race course and the usually quiet back road with taxis ferrying racegoers back to Chichester from the various country pubs around the estate. As we approached the descent on the homeward leg of our journey is was time to light up for the first time in weeks.

The Royal Oak was packed full of race-goers in all their finery enjoying a meal after their day-out. Jon and Al looked only a little out of place splattered with mud in their cycling gear - more like jockeys we suppose! In any event the pair found a table outside and enjoyed two pints of Horsham Best from W.J. Kings.

Homeward Bound
in the moonlight

It was properly dark by the time the beers were sunk and it was lights all the way home. Slow-cooked lasagna was dish of the day back at Jon's, accompanied by a bottle of Arundel Sussex Gold. We struggled to find anything of a suitable genre for TCA viewing on the TV but eventually plumped for The Beach on Film Four. On an evening evocative of those 'good old days' the lads had clocked up 19 miles on an outstanding new route, had one more beer than strictly necessary and turned in just a little too late for a school night at 23.30.

Route Map (1): Southern Section
(click to enlarge)
Route Map (2): Northern Section
(click to enlarge)

Elevation Profile
(click to enlarge):

(Posted by: Al)

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Back to the Old Routine

Jon and John arrived at Al's to tackle Hambledon's #1 route. It was comparatively mild compared to previous evenings and JP and JH appeared to have too many layers on for a summer ride. Recent rain had left the trail quite muddy and overgrown too in places!

Bowman's Elderado was the tipple of choice at the White Lion, Soberton. John got a little left behind on the old railway and Al was the olny cyclist who managed the embankment challenge. More Bowman's (and a pint of the black stuff for JH) before the ride home.

Tee's Chilli (extra hot this week) was order of the day over which various share-trading strategies were discussed.

(Posted by: Al)

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Chichester Challenge 2009

A firm fixture in the TCA calendar a hard core of veterans assembled at the start on a overcast, rainy morning. A departure from previous years the ride would set off from Lavant some distance north of Chichester. The organisers announced too that this year would be more of an orienteering event, with less marshalling and signposting around the course. This would cause chaos to riders less familiar with the area throughout the day.

Jerry and Ade were off out of the blocks on the gun, closely followed by Jon. Billy-Bob and Al brought up the rear. The route would be familiar to the TCA - following closely the regular rides of yore from the Parsons Pad. The first punishing climb up Chalkpit Lane was certainly all too familiar and the riders soon got spread out on the ascent.

Billy-Bob and Al split where the 30km and 55km routes diverged - Billy-Bob taking on the shorter route due to recent illness and family commitments. Billy-Bob obviously got back first but Ade was close on his heels. Jerry (who suffered an off, which resulted in a broken rear brake) came in second and at 4h 33m Al finished just as the Billy-Bobs and Ade & Julie were packing up for the day. Rather bizarrely Jon came in last after taking a wrong turn in the wooded section of the route.

Tee arrived later with Jimmy and accompanied Jon and Al to Whetherspoons for a post-ride pint. Thankfully the weather held off and another excellent day was had by all.

Pre-challenge Assembly:
(From Left) Jon, Ad, Jerry, Al
Billy-Bob, Stef, Eli-Bob, Islay

(Posted by: Al)

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

TCA Get Professional Help

In a moment of madness John H signed up to competing in the New Forest Duathlon which takes place at the end of October. Now, being a rather portly chap (some would say fat bastard!), he thought he had better loose weight - secondly learn about competing in such an event and training correctly. So, after a successful Google search, he came across a company called British Duathlon, and after a number of email exchanges with Jon (the owner), coach, bottle washer, etc, a date was set for a weekend's Duathlon training camp. Jon P had also signed up for the event and also thought he had better learn how to approach the task.

A weekend’s course was set up around JH and JP’s total lack of knowledge and experience in training properly for such an event. The first thing to surprise us was the requirement to fill in a weekly diet sheet. Clearly easy for JP: Pizzas; burgers; KFC; and slow cooker meals. For JH on his attempted health kick it has to be said quite a good diet sheet was submitted. Next a typical weekly exercise schedule was asked for: JP was unsure as to whether his daily work activity of scratching his balls for 3 hours counted or not. A couple of weeks later the weekend’s agenda was sent through by the intrepid couple. This created a great deal of debate, not least of which there were words we did not understand and the planned physical activates meant we probably would need a pre-, pre-Duathlon training camp!

A required kit list was also sent, which meant Wiggle made yet more money from the TCA. Eventually, with nervous anticipation, the pair set off (as is TCA tradition) an hour late - JP was customarily late as usual. The debate on the way up centred around who else would be on the course, how fit they were, and how embarrassed JP and JH would get. It was speculated that perhaps a team like the national Swiss Duathlon team could be present on their carbon fibre bikes, with matching lycra clothing, statures of a brick shit house and wish to yodel at 5am each day.

We finally arrived, even later no thanks to the wonderful M25, to be met by Jon (JC) and Sarah in their wonderful house and base in a small village called Emberton (near Milton Keynes). Bikes and kit were soon unloaded, and our fears subsided when we were told that it was just the two of us on the course. However nervousness crept in again as we were asked to stand on a set of Tanita body composition scales. These scales would tell us,how fat we were, where the fat was, how good our metabolic rate was and even how our muscle was around our limbs, how many calories we needed to keep alive and several other facts. JP went first, and was pleasantly surprised to hear that his 'metabolic age' was 35, a fact which we all were to hear about many times over the weekend, and no doubt will continue to hear about! JH approached the scales carefully as he did not want them to blow up and state that only one person at a time should step on them! Stats more or less confirmed what he knew, i.e. an old fat bastard! Joking aside the stats seemed to be more or less the same for the both of us (apart from Metabolic age), in fact spookily close. The four of us then went out for a meal.

JP and JH clearly weren’t fooled by this tactic to catch us off guard, so both ordered healthy options. Talk over dinner was about the planned activities and aims of the weekend. JP was most upset that each day he had to get up at 7am. JH discovered that JC worked alongside Harley Davidson and was ex army, so JP had to put up with more biker and squadie stories.

Day one consisted of,a 50k cycle ride, 7 k run, and weight lifting sessions , interspersed with theory on diet, nutrition, setting training plans, and excellent nutritious food and suitable fluids.
That night after an excellent meal cooked by Sarah, in true TCA tradition we had to avail ourselves of the beer in the local pub. We had to drag JC over kicking and screaming (well not quite true!) JP had a couple of Spitfires and JH and JC Guinness. A fairly early night was had by all, and the TCA chaps slept like logs.

Sunday started with a 8-9k run, incorporating a 5 hill training session, and a measured mile speed run, this session was quickly followed by a 20k speed cycle. The rest of the day was spent on core body training with Swiss balls (so the Swiss were present after all!) and more theory on setting training schedules, nutrition, and target setting. Lastly we both had to stand on the scales again to see what effect the weekend had had on our make up. Suffice to say JP’s metabolic age got better by 5 years, and JH’s got worse by 2 years! JH was also told off for not drinking enough (water). A pattern was emerging here having been told I am lightweight when drinking is concerned!

All too soon it was time to pack up and head off. JC and Sarah are consummate professionals, are dedicated and very knowledgeable, importantly they also are very nice people. Their knowledge is based on scientific fact and principals but also very importantly on their own experiences. Both have competed in many triathlons, duathalons, marathons, etc. The walls and shelves of their house are adorned with medals and trophies. So we both were very happy with the course content, its execution and the whole weekend. Now we each have to set our training schedules and continue to motivate ourselves to get off our arses and train. Without any doubt we would recommend this course, or any other hosted by them, or for that matter you approaching them for any bespoke course requirements.

John & Jon take a step back and
admire their modern art sculpture

(Posted by: John)

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Summer Slackers

With John complaining as usual about low energy levels and whining that he had to get home on time, Al rapidly planned a shortened route. in was a glorious summer evening - a cloudless sky and temperatures well into the mid-twenties centigrade. Climbing out of Hambledon along the eastern side of the valley it was not long before they were at the Bat and Ball. We enjoyed pints of Seafarers Ale then picked a mainly off-road route back down the valley for a cheeky pint in the Vine before dinner back at Al's.

Summer in Hambledon

(Posted by: Al)

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