Apologies for the delay in getting around to writing about my last day of the Festive 500 and my first ride outdoors.

The day started well with a fantastic breakfast of scrambled free range eggs on oat bread and a cup of tea in my favourite mug:

The weather forecast for the day didn’t look too good with both wind and rain forecast but I wasn’t going to let that put me off. Thankfully, it didn’t put Nathan, Jamie or Megan off either although Megan did bring enough spare clothes for an arctic expedition and despite being very mild, Nathan wasn’t ever going to take of his new Rapha Belgian hat and Jamie was looking as fit as ever despite protesting about the excesses of Christmas. I’m both fortunate and very unfortunate to get to cycle with such a competent fast and strong group of cyclists. They just about manage to kill me every time.

We all met up and I was already feeling the lack of real cycling in my legs – the exercise bike is no substitute for actually getting on a bicycle and never will be. It’s an almighty climb from the centre of Leeds, out of the city to the North and into the countryside. Our route took us through Hawksworth and up and over the moors to the famous Cow & Calf – it’s a stiff climb up there and we stopped at the top for a welcome break and a banana. It breaks my heart cycling past the famous Cow & Calf pub after such an effort but with many more miles to enjoy, it’s for the best….

Nathan was kind enough to take a couple of (non action) shots so I shall add these when I see them.

We continued out ride down into Ilkley trying not to get swept off the road by the vicious cross-wind – a fantastic descent with the added excitement of a cattle grid and a mini roundabout to negotiate just at the moment you start to reach terminal velocity. It makes it all very exciting.

From there, we cruised through Ilkley and to the quieter (and much more muddy and floody) back roads out towards Bolton Abbey. The extra couple of miles out to Bolton Abbey for a coffee and a cake is necessary for the return journey, especially as we were to tackle the double chevron’d 20% joy that is Langbar. There’s a car park which is always populated about halfway up, at the steepest point so it’s important to make this part of the climb look effortless, which isn’t easy. unless you’re Jamie who sprinted past me and onto the top in a beautiful display of climbing.

The descent, again into Ilkley is superb, with a couple of technical S bends to both check your speed and test your skill. It’s certainly a favourite part of the ride before the relatively flat and fast section following the river along the valley before a gentle climb through Askwith and to the prize – the Cock Pit Farm Cafe – a beautiful oasis of cakes and calm with custard that can only be made from EPO judging by the performances after the stop.

It’s the kind of place that I never want to leave, especially when the weather started to take a little turn for the worst and drizzle was felt in the air. This didn’t last long, just long enough to fool us all into putting our rain jackets on and nearly cooking to death on the ride into Otley…

Another relatively flat section through Otley and Pool before deciding not to climb the brutally steep Black Hill and take a the slightly easier option up into Adel before the section back into Leeds, stopping at The Stables for a quick pint before home whilst there was still enough light to get home with.

All in all, it was a thoroughly lovely day, hillier than I’d planned but also shorter at 76.1 kilometres to give me a final total of 703 km and 127th place overall in the league table. I’m pretty happy with that considering the circumstances.

Happy and dirty, I arrived home in a great mood and ready to start the new year celebrations!

That little taste of freedom and the wind in my hair means that the middle of February, when I go on leave for a couple of months, can’t come soon enough. There will be some serious cycling to catch up on. Until then, it’s just me and the cave but once per day will be enough from now on!

But wait…. Was it the ride for redemption? I did weigh myself on Friday and I’m pleased to report, although not surprised that nothing has changed. I weighed exactly the same as when I started so I guess I was indeed redeemed and all my Christmas treats were well and truly pedaled away:

I’m still a little bit surprised at how odd my feet look. I need to make sure I keep these hidden in future….

So, congratulations to all of those involved who made the distance and those whose blogs helped me and kept me going through the dark cold days in the cave.

Same time next year?

Due to working this morning, another sleepless night and travelling home, today has become a rest day.

I’m a little disappointed and a nice round 150% would have been good to finish on but hopefully it’ll leave my legs a little bit fresher for tomorrow which, quite honestly, can’t come soon enough!

I really didn’t want to get up this morning for my pre-breakfast session but, there’s quite a few people really taking this seriously, especially at the top of the leaderboard and, if you’re going to do something, you might as well make a reasonable effort to do the best you can.

My rest day wasn’t particularly restful with call-outs both last  night and the night before (a fire alarm and problems with the moorings) so sleep hasn’t been easy to get.

Nonetheless, I had some kilometres to pedal out and they won’t do that by themselves! So, a further three hours and another 100k (and a bit) added to the total. Tomorrow, I’ll only manage one early morning session and then on Saturday, it’s out on an actual real life bicycle.

The photographs are, as is now usual, up on Flickr.

I do seem to have sparked a little bit of interest in going to the gym, both the Captain and the First Mate have now been spotted sneaking in there and I’ve definitely heard the whirr/clunk of the bike when the door has been closed so maybe there’s a secret Festive 500-er on board and I don’t even know about it. (Unlikely!)

My cumulative total is now 626.4 so with tomorrow morning and hopefully another hundred (real) kilometres on Saturday I’m hopeful of a 750 total which I’ll be happy with.

There’s a few more finishers today too so people are really putting in the effort. I spent some of my free time checking the Fb page and reading the blogs and stories and there’s some great ones.

If you’re nearly there, don’t stop now!

Miss you baby:

Wait for me, yeah? I’ll be back soon.

I decided that it’d be better to push through today and complete the remaining distance (my total is now 522km) instead of having a rest day.

I’ll have a full rest day tomorrow before doing some more on Thursday, perhaps a little on Friday and then, hopefully, I’ll be ready for a real ride on Saturday. I’ve chosen a very hilly 100km route around Yorkshire so I want to be able to do it without too much trouble. I also want to spend the day doing wheelies and skids – it’ll be like my first time on a bike all over again -I’ll do one for Dancing James at the very least. His blog of the Festive 500 is well worth reading too.

I have the most amazing and understanding girlfriend ever who, when I told her I was riding on Saturday, my first day off, didn’t even bat an eyeld despite not seeing me for weeks/months. I shall have to make that day up to her.

So, the first 34.8km today went without a problem although, despite not feeling any stiffness, my legs simply felt weak. Perhaps today would have been slightly better for a rest day but with being so close to the target it’s too tempting so I pushed on.

My entertainment system came through once again and made the boredom a little easier to take but the time still drags. There really is nothing like the scenery and terrain of the roads to make hours disappear and feel effortless though. (Until the bonk.)

So, the pictures are up and I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve done so far – three hours per day for five days is more than enough for now so I’ll enjoy my rest day tomorrow.

That’s 522km in total and from the leaderboard I’m the 15th person to complete the distance so I’m pretty happy with that. I don’t know what my total will be yet but hopefully I can add another few km onto that by the end of the 31st.

I’m going to spend tomorrow reading more about how other people have been getting on so I’m looking forward to that. There’s some impressive distances being logged!

Today really is the day to work off the excesses of Christmas but I decided to postpone my early morning session in favour of something a bit more creative. I set about building my boredom relieving device this morning out of the finest materials known to man (and what was close at hand) 1/2 inch marine plywood. Behold:

 

As you can see I have taken great care and even shapes the front corners just to add a little flair. Now, it might not look like much but it’s really going to come in handy over the next few days.

 

 

What is it? Well, it’s a table and it fits onto the ‘handlebars’ like so:

I think you’ll agree, it’s pretty good…..

Or perhaps not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So now, I have a view that looks like this:

I may get to watch Rocky III after all and I now have more music at my disposal then before.I’m hoping that this will ease the boredom issues.

 

 

 

There isn’t a lot to say about the first session this morning, it was a little bit more enjoyable and I tested out my new set up. So, that’s another 34.8 km in the bag and a little bit closer to the target. I see from the leader boards that some people have reached and breached their goals already – chapeau!

The only other problem other than boredom is chafing. Again, this isn’t something I was expecting (although I’m not surprised) so I’ve had a rummage around and broken out the vaseline.

The machine is currently making a little bit of noise too – an internal clunking on every pedal stroke that makes it sound more like a train than a bike so that’s something I’ll need to investigate if I still want to be sane at the end of this, although anyone that knows me knows that as long as nothing has fallen off my bike, I usually put up with odd knocks and noises, creaks and groans until they provoke me into attending to them with either a total failure or a dangerous loosening. I suppose having mechanical issues does make the experience seem more ‘real.’

So, onto this evening and the double. I used my new on bike entertainment to great effect and watched (most of) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (original Swedish version) and it definitely helped. Perhaps it wasn’t the right film to watch – it didn’t leave me feeling particularly happy but it helped with the passing of time. The two hours only felt like two hours which is a big improvement.

My system of photographically logging the rides is still in operation and their uploaded onto Flickr, although I forgot last night to upload the middle ride, and I nearly did the same again tonight. I don’t think I’ll bore anyone with them here from now on as that seems to be working.

My only decision now is whether to have a rest day tomorrow or carry on through and beyond the 500km – I can then have a rest day and a couple more sessions before my proper ride on Saturday – I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that!

Today, again I go off to a good start and straight into 34.8 km just after six am as usual. It went well and I think my legs (and the rest of me are getting used to the machine now as there wasn’t as much stiffness as I experienced yesterday… Unless it’s in the post for later?

I completed my first ride and then uploaded it to Strava which, for some reason unknown to me, decided to count it twice so I was left with an extra 34.8 km on my total. Now, this isn’t right but there doesn’t seem to be a delete function (unless it’s just me that can’t find it – I’m not finding Strava particularly user-friendly compared to runkeeper which I normally use.) Strava also won’t let me comment on the ‘bonus’ ride either to explain…

So, although I wasn’t planning on doing any more today – I have some work to do and then we’re having Christmas dinner at 1400 (and I won’t want to do anything after that, I couldn’t leave my total as being inaccurate so I pushed myself back into the gym and talked myself into pedalling out the claimed 34.8 km just to keep things right. That, happily, put me just over halfway to the target of 500km.

Except, once I was in there, and knowing I had an extra hour spare, I figured I might a well just carry on and do the third hour to complete the day. I’d much rather be riding my bike and, it had been suggested that I take the Lifecyle outside for a more realistic experience but if I do that there’s a very real danger I might throw it in the dock. A fine for pollution would be a little more than my pocket could handle at the moment, despite the temptation.

As you can see, I’m persevering with the post it notes until I get confirmation that the time/date stamp is visible on the photographs uploaded to Flickr which incidentally is here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/72732329@N07/

Now, earlier talk of watching movies for inspiration has led me to devise a cunning which is something I have spent a little time thinking about…. More later as I expect I’ll have some time this evening to fabricate a special boredom relieving device.

So far, everyone has been positive and encouraging despite my slightly avant garde interpretation of the rules so I’d like to say thanks as that’s really helped – it really is as joyless as it looks and I can’t wait until Saturday when I can get out and actually ride.

Anyway, to cut to the chase as it were, here are todays glorious snapshots. I feel they really capture the mood of my Festive 500 so far and I’ve managed to include a little bit of scenery into the first one. Enjoy:

I’m now going to go and eat more than I can eat. I hope everyone’s having a great day!

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