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Summers Here....... And so's the New Kit !

Gorgeous Weather, Riding Every Day....... lovin' it !

Well I tell you what, its soooooooo much more fun riding in the good weather. I've done far too much in cold, wet, icy conditions, or grinding away on some Siberian static suffering cycle........ I'd almost forgotten cycling was a pleasure!

But after landing in the UK on Thursday (having a quick MRI scan on the knee) and basically being told to "toughen up soft lad" (but don't push too hard) I've been riding every day and having a great time in the new kit!

4 days, 4 big rides..... and planning to keep this up for at least 10 days (including the Tour of Wessex).

So here's the kit ....Shell sponsored factory rider!

Looking Good - Factory Rider !

And then the next day in my newly arrived Tour de Force Kit.....

Descending Rapidly in TdF Kit Asceending not so rapidly in TdF kit

Descending "Rapidly" in Tdf Kit...........................................and Ascending "Not So Rapidly", but still smiling!

But most importantly ENJOYING the pit stops with Adie and the lads in the Cotswolds.

Practicing for France (that's a croissant that is!)

That there is a Pain Au Chocolat, I'll have you know! It took us 120km and 3 pubs to find that.... and I even turned down a pint of bitter for some French lagery stuff. I call that dedicated (French) training. Hope you are proud of me?

On a more serious note here's what I've done, building up slowly confidence in the knee and trying not to push it too hard. (I've also been experimenting a bit with chamois cremes, and even tried a gel seat which I might put on for the first 40km each day to ease any "chaffing". Hmmm... and I read that the legs REALLY should be shaved (to ease the pain during massages in the eves apparently...... still a hung jury on this I have to admit!)

Thursday (landed in UK, MRI scan). 

Friday Day 1: 150km (relatively flat 1,200m) steady ride.

Saturday Day 2: 100km (flat-ish but felt hillier,  650m, and with a hangover - well so would you after a month in Russia with no alcohol)

Sunday Day 3: 165km (hilly  2,200m) feeling more confident

Monday Day 4: 65km (hilly  700m) recovery ride ready for big ride tomorrow.

Tuesday Day 5: 180km of hills (2,000m) to Rogers and back.........  (and I beat the rain.....just!)

Wednesday Day 6: 140km small hills (1,200m) .....Tired now.........sore bum too  

2 days rest and then....... Tour of Wessex (3 days, 350 miles (550km) and lots of hills! If I can survive that I think I'll be OK!)

Charity total: A gnats whisker off 4,000 pounds, so doing really well.  Always ready to accept more though (I want to try to raise 5,000 pounds as my stretched target), thats what we do all this training for (day in day out, rain or shine.)  Thankyou !!!!         http://www.bmycharity.com/iangreasbytourdeforce

Sore Knee or Not Sore Knee......

....That is the Question.

The good news is the knee is feeling a LOT better. It's recovering slowly now. Big relief 

I've done a few gentle 30 min and 1.5 hr rides (and my fave TV series "The Professionals" featured on the lap top for the past 2 nights too, so things really MUST be looking up!).

The dog crash clearly affected my knee a lot worse than I initially thought, but I think I conquered the summit of "Col de Knee Pain" and its just a downhill cruise from here.... I'll still call in at the specialist when I land in London, for a quick check to make sure I don't do any more damage (cos I have a LOT planned for my final 2.5 weeks in UK), but..... for a first time injury I think I've been lucky.  Phew.

It's been kind of weird not doing any gym work here in Siberia for a week or so, but I reckon the odd week off here and there isn't going to affect my fitness at all. That butchers dog will still be coming in 2nd place in any fitness challenges!

In this "months" 3 week Siberian Sentance I've just completed, the numbers are:-

Static cycle: Total of 300 units (km or miles? - who knows!) over about 14 hrs (each session on average 1.5 hrs)   Run: 6k,8k,6k     Alpine ski: 4x30 minute sessions, and 10 macho sessions: Lifting weights, straining sit-ups and genrally looking at myself in the mirror like all the other "he-men" pumping iron!!

It doesn't sound much when you consider a good ride in the UK = 200km over 8 hours, but I can assure you 1.5 hrs on this funny old static bike thingy is a fair old workout! I've been doing a bit of standing practice too which should be good for the Alps/Pyreneees....and that 25% "Col de Jenkin Road" at the end of Day 2 near Sheffield - BRING IT ON !!!

Oh, and regards the charity stuff......  Donations are almost at £4,000 so please if you find a few spare spondoonies........ here's the link  www.bmycharity.com/iangreasbytourdeforce     

Merci bien  

Will my Bum look big in this?

From Jeans & T-shirt to Fashion Guru....perhaps?

Nobody is going to argue with me when I say "I've never been the snappiest dresser in town". Ha ha. No, thought not.

And looking at most of my cycling photos I also observed that well, I'm just a boring 'ol bloke with black shorts and a red top (Oman club colours and then another forced red one for a British Heart Foundation ride I did). And that was basically it. Oh and black shoes, black helmet. Hmmm. Not very inspirational am I? Whereas mates all around me are in SKY / HTC replica kit, or bright greens, yellows, blues, and even sporting white shoes? (What are white shoes about though, I ask you???).

Anyway..... Not wanting to be THE most dull and sombre dressed bloke on TdF I broke a LIFETIMES TRADITION and treated myself (OK.... my Mum treated me) to a rather sexy Rapha TdF BLUE shirt and a stunning pair of (last years!!) TdF team bibshorts.... (well it wasn't my fault..... there were only last years available by the time my wallet came out of hibernation). But I was trying..... honest.

AND THEN ..............ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls............... look what happened!

Shell shirt front Shell shirt rear Shell bibshorts front Shell bib shorts rear

Oh yes, Branded Corporate colours! I am ..... a Sponsored Factory Rider, ha ha ha. Bring it on.    

Glorious hey !??

Thankyou, Shell Russia.

OK, so why all this fuss about clothes and not the usual drivvel about static cycles, i-pods 80's films? Well, that crash I had 3 weeks ago with the dog, has been haunting me. I kept going to the gym for the first 10 days here in Siberia but the knee twinge got more and more. For the past week, I have done no cycling due to severe pain in the knee afterwards, which is worrying me enormously. I've booked to see a specialist the day I get home. This little inconvenience certainly won't stop me but I might have to walk round every pharmacy in Oxford and buy as many pain killers and anti-inflams each shop will legally let me. Hmmmm.

But on the positive side, I'm rather hoping this new kit will really increase my speed!!! (I'm sticking with black shoes though, sorry, there are limits!).

7 weeks to go...........Oh heck, thats only 49 days..........

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It Wasn't All About The Bike........

Mr Woof and our Sweep Truck - with Customers Loaded  Spring In the Cotswolds, just before the pub stop

Well here I am sitting in the Moscow Airport Lounge waiting for my flight to Siberia......  after an excellent month of freedom.

A month off work, and if I'm honest a (very welcome) couple of weeks off cycling! (naughty naughty). Apparently though, April is the month where the main bit of training should have taken place.....oooops.

The month-off started with a quick whizz on the Yamaha R6 to Holland (so much easier than pedalling!), followed immediately by nearly 2 weeks in Oman and AbuDhabi doing what only Cav, Froomey and Wiggo can dream of....... eating pies, guzzling copious curries, downing gallons of beer and riding various peoples pride and joy motorcycles whilst thrashing the pants off a 4,500cc Nissan Patrol 4x4 through the desert for a week! Tough life.

I call it carb building.

Then in the final week of my month off I stayed in England, and returned to my "usual for the past 6 months" of cycle, cycle, cycle..... I managed 850km in the week (with over 10,000m ascent) including back to back 150km and 200km local rides and the Santini Cotswold Spring Classic (162km - 100 miles, 2,500m ascent) Sportif. This wasn't a race "allegedly" but if you sort the results I came 20th out of 175 who finished the long 162km route. Pretty chuffed with that. A total of 850 people rode the 3 distances (162km, 102km and 54km) so I was pretty impressed with my performance. Especially as I experienced a spoke breaking and thus a fairly bent and very wobbly front wheel, for the final 50km. But most importantly.... I beat the rain! I reckon this sort of ride is fairly representative of a typical TDF day.....of which there are 21 (hmmmm).

My first major crash occured in Cornwall this month, as I was descending pretty quickly down some hairpins into Boscastle. A huge dog jumped out of its owners car, and ran accross the road straight into my path. The dog was fine (bouncing around and wagging his tail, as I was picking up the pieces. He even started licking my wounds!). I bashed my knee and elbow quite heavily but I'll live. The knee ached a bit at the Santini Sportif, but its resting nicely now!

A major highlight was taking Matt on two 10km Mountain bike rides on his new 8th birthday BMX bike...... He even rode up the Crawley Hill without assistance......its 11% and 200m long. Well done mate! (He's also learning to wheelie, and performs some pretty impressive downhill skids!)

Matts 8th Birthday BMX

So..... only 3 weeks this time in Russia...... the static cycle awaits me.... ....... oh, and so does some work!

Back to reality.....

 

My March Madness

F A N T A S T I C !!!

No more sitting on the Siberian Sufferlandrian Static Cycles! It's all done and I'm on my way home.

Bye bye snow, ice, work and noisy old uncomfortable sit up and beg gym bikes.

This month is REST MONTH ! (I know, not ideal timing and probably not what most personal coaches would recommend, but……I don’t have a coach so I can do what I want!)

I'm off driving a 4x4 pick-up flat-out through the desert at the UAE Desert Challenge Rallye for 6 days. This will involve plenty of pies, curry and beer before, after and possibly even during (pies, honest!) That and a fair bit of motorcycling planned will refresh the mind and rest the legs.......... and get some weight back on, cos I’m getting too skinny!.

I've just calculated the numbers for this month in Russia, and amazingly it’s almost the same as last month...... but slightly more:- 

500 km's over a total of 24 hours on the Gym/Room bike (at high cadence). A 6km run in 28 mins each Friday and 20km over 3 hours on the ski machine (on max load). And about 10 x 20 minute blasts on weights.

This month 2 England rugby games, the Qatar MotoGP and yes....... several more episodes of The Professionals and a few Sufferlandrians helped me through!

The sponsorship money has slowed down, but I have some cunning plans to try to reach the new target of 4,000. But just in case your pockets are burning….. here's the link   www.bmycharity.com/iangreasbytourdeforce  Thanks. 

After Abu Dhabi I've got a plan to do 4 or 5 days one after the other which all ends in a big Sportif at the end...... bring it on.

My Life Behind (the bear fence) Bars

Bedroom Bike The Chain Gang Gym Bike

Option 1: Bedroom bike                   The Chain Gang                 Option 2: Gym Bike .....  choices, choices

Well after a long and enjoyable "Outdoors in the UK" February……it’s back to the reality of being “Sentanced in Siberia”……

Thankfully not the hard labour camps of old, but it’s definitely prison like being kept in behind the bear fences. And even if we were allowed past the fences, with the need to work from 6am till 8pm, Seven days a week, it’s always dark anyway…. Oh and pretty deep in snow!

But all is not lost. Although no Mountain bike, or Road bike to choose from...... I have the unenviable luxoury of either

a)      my Room Bike or

b)      the Gym Bike !!

Wahoooo!!  - variety, dear friends.......is the Spice of my Life!

The Room Bike has a half eaten seat, the height is stuck far too low, one of the pedals is held on with zip ties and duct tape, but .....I can watch the lap top whilst pedaling.

The Gym Bike actually fits me AND I can listen to my 80’s i-pod music all night (glorious?).

So…....that’s been my life since returning. I’ve managed a spin almost every day in the 2 weeks completed. The longest was whilst watching and streaming the England /Wales rugby “live”. (Well done boys). But 'cos the internet is so slow here, and kept locking up, my planned 1.5 hrs turned into 2.5 hrs….. without me noticing - every cloud / silver linings…..and all that!

I have to admit, the novelty of Sufferfest Sufferlandrian stuff has rapidly waned….. but pre-recorded episodes of The Professionals and the film“Who Dares Wins” (remember that one from 1980?! ha ha) certainly helped keep the monotony at bay!

The numbers for the first 2 weeks here:-  18km run (3x6km), 300 km's cycled over 14 hrs (various 30 min, 1 or 2hrs), and 3 x 30 mins on the pesky ski m/c.  As I've said before...if that doesnt sound much, try it yourself after a 14 hour shift! If it wasn't for Lewis Collins the numbers would be a lot lower!

2 more weeks to go…….One more Rugby International, the F1 season starting......and the whole of Series 3 (Professionals!) still unseen! You've got to be jealous?

The money is still dribbling in...... peoples promises slowly arriving...... and a whole team of friends on the other side of the world are doing a 21 hour (1 hour for every day I'll be cycling!) spin-a-thon for WWMT's benefit....more on that next month! Thanks to all the "Good Men" out there.    

And to everyone else....please don't forget if your wallet is burning a hole..... www.bmycharity.com/iangreasbytourdeforce

Thankyou ! 

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February Training..... tired

 Cotswolds in Feb - Very cold! MTB-ing in Cornwall in Feb.....FREEZING!

So another month of freedom reaches its end..... I set off back to Siberia tomorrow.

I'm almost embarassed to admit how much cycling has taken place.......

According to Garmin in the past 23 days I've completed:-

1,500km, with 12,000m of ascent, and I've been cycling for 62 hours! And burnt 32,000 Calories! (When I told Nina - my 16yr old daughter - about this last statistic today she was very jealous...... so come join me in April darling!!!)

I've completed 11 Sufferfest Sufferlandria turbo sessions (approx 1 hour each) which are killers but a necessity when its pouring with rain. I've had 8 major rides of between 100 and 150km. (In Cornwall, the New Forest, Cotswolds and the Chilterns). And I've been out on the MTB twice for two long 50km slogs through deep mud, rivers and a puncture fest due to all the hedge trimming. Grrrrrr.

Oh, and I've had two little 10km runs, and I took Nina and Matt up Snowdon, which was really rather tough with all the snow and ice. (We slept overnight in the van, so kudos to them, no moans, plenty of hot porridge, snug as bugs ..... in a van !)

Thankfully no record of the number of curries or beers I've consumed but rest assured theres been plenty, and to be honest I'm ready for the alcohol free month in Siberia (he says as he sips on a Corona with a slice of lemon before the final British curry!)

In total I've had 7 puctures, bought a new bottom bracket due to bearing collapse, had seriously numb fingers and almost hypothermia once. I've ridden through numerous fords, and flooded roads, had my picture taken cycling through Aston which was according to the signs, "impassable to traffic". I've carried my bike over a field in the Chilterns due to a really flooded road and closure. I had to clean out the brakes and gears twice from road gunk and washed the bike about 10 times. Oh, and I fell off once on ice descending a single track road at 10am last weekend, trying to prove it was Ok to ride. Oooops, Ouch. Apart from that, its been a pretty uneventful month! Unfortunately I didn't make it to Harrogate as planned to visit my mate Ean, to try the two Yorkshire TdF stages, as the weather really was showing ice and freezing fog over the Pennines so being a soft lad I went to Cornwall and the New Forest instead. (The New Forest incidentally involved a particularly good curry, and some fine Ale! Thanks DBS). Yorkshire will happen in April. Get ready Ean.

No training for the next few days due to planes, trains and automobiles taking me from Oxford to Western Siberia via Moscow, Khanty, Tyumen to renew Russian work visas and other such luxouries...... is it a crime to admit I'm really rather looking forward to the hotel breakfasts???    but not the 80's static cycle, with a broken seat and an unadjustable stem... in the Siberian gym.

Oh....and finally. I'm currently at 2,660 pounds sponsorship, and received a personal note of thanks from Rick Wates (trustee of the WWMT) which is what all this effort is about really. I hope people will keep sponsoring and I can perhaps reach my new target of 4,000 pounds.

 

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Tour de Force Target Achieved and Surpassed !! Yeah.....

Well I cannot believe it. 

After only a couple of weeks and 3 emails to my mates......the sponsorship stands at over 2,500 Pounds. Amazing. And with loads of promises of more to come. THANKYOU so much.

This is great news and as the money goes immediately to the William Wates Memorial Trust ( www.wwmt.org ) it means the disadvantaged kids are reaping the benefits already.

It's also stimulating me to make sure I keep training despite the awful wet, windy and cold weather. 

In the past 6 days at home  since getting back to the UK on Thursday I've been:-

1) Out on the Mountain bike for 6 hrs - 4 punctures and nearly got hypothermia...... fixing punctures with numb fingers almost impossible :-(   Man, that was awful.

2) Indoor turbo training twice..... trying this Sufferfest stuff. Hard work, and v sweaty! Better than the Siberian gym bike though

3) Got a bike fit, and found out that actually my bike was pretty well set up and I even have the perfect seat, so the new seat I bought which was recomended will be a spare.... just in case.

3) 150km 1,900 m ride to my brothers and back in the freezing wet weather. Ice on the roads in places and blowing a gale. My brother wasn't even in when I got there as he got a last minute call, so no warm coffee of biscuit, just a turn around and ride back. Tired legs due to the wind.

I've had a few beers too in the evenings..... Well y'know, rude not to an' all that!

If you want to contribute please go to www.bmycharity.com/iangreasbytourdeforce

You want to see the route? This is it..... all 3,650km in full glory. Can't wait !!!

2014 Tour de France Route

Tour de Force Sponsorship Charity Donations coming in brilliantly

After just 1 week since my first email to a few mates from the Oman Dirty Bikers, and a few days later to the Oman PDO Pirates rugby club boys I'm already over half way to my target!  We've raised just over 1,500 pounds for the William Wates Memorial Trust ( www.wwmt.org )

It's absolutely amazing.  I am so chuffed. Everyone has been so generous, with their wallets as well as their words.

I've also had many, many promises of donations once people find time to get onto the web and donate. An incredible response.

Surprised also, to receive two contributions from people I have never met! Thanks to those who pass on my note.

It's got me kind of nervous too..... I now have quite some obligations to fulfill....... better get back to my static bike....... gotta keep fit!  

if you want to donate too, then just visit   www.bmycharity.com/iangreasbytourdeforce Smile

Thanks!!

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January 2014 Training.......... in Siberia -40degC

In Siberia............. in January

450 units cycled so far (no idea if they are km or miles....!) 22 hrs anyway.

All done either on the gym bike or 80's static bike in my room that I rescued and repaired. (toe clips held together with zip ties, seat too low, slips under high torque)

Re-discovered a passion for the TV series The Professionals. Watch 1 or 2 episodes per session in my room. I also followed Chris Froome up the Tourmalet on YouTube!!  Tend to ride for 1 hour or 1.5 hrs. Riding 5 or 6 times a week for 1 to 1.5 hrs. Did 2 x 2 hour sessions.

Anyone think this is slack? You try doing this after a 14 hour day at work!

Concentrating on keeping to 95 cadence and low heart rate (80% max) as the Grand Master Youcef advises. I do listen mate, honest.

Run 6km every Friday in around 28 mins each time on the treadmill. Good pace, relatively easy.   Twice a week on the alpine skier for 30 mins each time as well. 15 mins of weights after every gym session.

Going home in 3 days time...... 2 good things about that.. 1) I'm going home. 2) I get some decent food in the hotels and I can't do any training for the 36 hrs it takes me to get home!

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