Let The Training Commence…

With the goals for 2016 having been set the training must now begin!

Christmas and New Year have now passed and with that a return to normality which means that the over indulgence now has to be kept under control and the focus must be regained. (Although it is far easier to focus after letting your hair down and having a good time!)

I had planned to get back on it on the 2nd/3rd of January however holiday high jinks had got in the way (illness) so the bike was put on the back burner until I felt better.

The weather has been nothing short of horrific and due to the dark nights I have been jogging in the evenings rather than cycling. Due to a fear of cycling in the dark. Well, not standing out enough to car drivers enough in the dark. I had joined a cycling club that went out in the evenings but it just didn’t feel right cycling the dark even in a group. I think it was due to the, sometimes, erratic cycling of club mates.

It was great to get out on the bike for a couple of rides this weekend. The first was with Prologue, who are my local bike shop. They head out on a Saturday morning. The second was on my own.

The Prologue ride headed out through some small villages to Brimham Rocks and then down to Glasshouses and up “The Raikes” over Dallow Moor to Laverton and then to Ripon. We would then head back to Harrogate.

This ride was great fun and thanks to company on the ride kept the motivation high. Looking outside at 8.45 it was very grey. Getting down to the shop at 9.00 it was spitting. It was clear that this ride was only going one way and it wasn’t the nice, warm, dry way.

Once we got going I warmed up quite quickly and had opted for the Gabba due to the hope that it would be a passing shower we would get caught in.

No. Such. Luck.

Reaching Burnt Yates, just before Brimham Rocks, the heavens really opened up and it became quite foggy. As we got over Brimham Rocks the Gabba was soaked but at least it was keeping me warm!

We then descended into Glasshouses which was quite a sketchy descent in the rain. Not especially technical but plenty of ramps followed by relatively sharp corners which needed concentration and some good braking.

Once we got to Glasshouses we had The Raikes to climb. I had never been up this particular climb before. Well, when I say “climb” it was a short sharp rise. The steepest part of the climb is around 16% and during the ride it was more reminiscent of a river due to the channels flowing down the road. Needless to say it was nice to have something to take my mind off the rain. The climb then continues over the road, at a more relenting, gradient to the top of Dallow Moor.

Once we got to the top of Dallow Moor there was a nice, long descent into Ripon.

However….One of my friends hit a mechanical reaching the top and we had to stop.

On the top of the Moor it was around 1 degree C and freezing! Being so exposed the wind was catching us too! The body temp dropped and the remaining half of the ride was horrendous due to not being able to warm up and my overshoes and gloves acting like sponges!

It was the first time I thought hypothermia was a real possibility on the bike!

On to Sunday.

Today I decided to wait until the weather cleared which was the correct decision as the wind was strong today so going out in that and the rain would have been soul destroying on my own!

The loop today took in Leathley, Pool, Arthington (up a little gem of a hill called Black Hill) and then down to Weardley, KO, Sicklinghall, Wetherby and back.

As I don’t train by power I find  it quite difficult to judge how hard I am working. I normally just go on feel and heart rate. Today I was just taking it easy and trying to get some base miles in.

However, it turned into a struggle due to the wind as I was needing to keep pushing to make any headway. As this was the case I threw caution to the wind (excuse the pun) and just decided to go as hard as my legs would allow.

Having missed the rain the sun (yes, that thing we do not often see) decided to make an appearance.

The first wheels for 2016 have now been turned.


2016 Goals

To build upon 2015 I have set myself the following goals for 2016:

  • Ride “The Struggle”
  • Complete a ride from the Lake District to North Yorkshire
  • Cycle 4000 + miles for the year
  • Climb more than last year

The Struggle (http://www.ridethestruggle.com/) is the big aim for the year. This event is a 110 mile ride through the North Yorkshire Dales and bills itself as the UK’s toughest, newest sportive. It takes in some of the toughest climbs around North Yorksire such as Park Rash, Malham Cove and Two Stoops.

It will be my biggest ride to date and most amount of  climbing within one ride also so I am looking forward to giving it a go.

It will certainly be…interesting.

The climbs of The Struggle


Lake District to North Yorkshire – The route is still currently being planned so it there will be a proper write up when I eventually decide when it takes place and the route it takes.

There’s no pressure on this ride. I can just enjoy it as I only really need to be back by the time it gets dark. Or I get hungry.

This post will be updated sporadically during the year.

The Castelli Gabba 2 (All Hail The Gabba)


That is the verb I would choose to most fully describe the Gabba 2.

At this point I feel it is important to nail my colours to the flag regarding kit and cost. Firstly, having moved to Yorkshire 2 years ago the county has rubbed off on me as I look for value for money from my kit purchases. Secondly, I will look at reviews of multiple similar products to try and ascertain whether or not there is something on the market that does a comparable job at a cheaper price.

Anyway now that is out of the way back to the review.

Having ordered the Gabba 2 for a good price around the Black Friday sales. The perfect time of the year to put it through it’s paces.

When it arrived it was delivered in it’s own separate box (?!).

It is clear that this is not just a jersey.

Rosso Corsa – Castelli’s Premier Line

When I ordered the Gabba 2 I went up one size from what I normally wear (in cycling terms). This for me meant I was going for a size Large. When I was opening it up the Gabba looked very small so I was a bit apprehensive and thought, for a split second, that I should have gone for an XL.

When I put it on those worries were allayed as it was the perfect fit. The Gabba 2 is cut in a performance fit and is the best fitting jersey/jacket I have. There is absolutely no excess material on the arms, shoulders or body that flaps about in the wind which makes for a reduction in drag. In terms of fit I cannot fault this jersey at all.

For the first real test of this jersey I waited for it to rain and be windy. In other words, foul weather. That wait did not prove to be a long one being based in Yorkshire. In November.

Rosso Corsa – Castelli’s Premier Line

As I left the house and got on to the bike my first thought was “wow, this is cosy”. As a result of the windproofing absolutely nothing was getting through. I only had a long sleeve base layer on underneath and it was the perfect temperature. The ambient temperature outside was around 7-8 degrees C to put that in some context.

My main concerns on the first ride were A) not being warm enough but as I was rolling down the hill that was never going to be an issue. And B) getting far too warm to the point where I would boil.

The first ride, and subsequent rides that I have used this on, have been undertaken at a good tempo as they have been training rides. As the first ride went on the idea of taking off the long arms never crossed my mind as I was at a very comfortable temperature and during any efforts the Gabba 2 was breathable enough for me not to overheat.

The rain repellency  was very good during the intermittent showers and hail that I encountered. These were not for prolonged periods (only around 30 – 40 mins) and it coped admirably with the water hitting the material and beading dripping off, or staying stationary, but not absorbing.

Obviously, this is not a fully waterproof garment and as such will not keep you dry in heavy persistent rain. When this has been the case I have worn a rain cape over the top of it. Even in 2.5 hours of heavy persistent rain, when the rain cape was breached, the Gabba 2 kept me dry and warm.

The storm flap on the back of the jersey would be very useful if I did not have full mudguards on my winter bike as it fully covers the behind when on the bike.

Having been on subsequent rides, particularly, in changeable conditions and unseasonably warm conditions (14 degrees C in December?!) this jersey is immense with the breathability and ability to remove the arms. It really does give it an excellent window of usability in terms of both temperature and also weather conditions.

In conclusion then:

The Gabba 2 convertible is an excellent jersey that really is (almost) do it all. It feels like excellent value for money as it can be used in many conditions and may just be the only jersey that is required during the winter.

The only word I can use to describe it is wow.

Ripon Revolution 2015

2015 was the year of the Century for me.

Well, let me clarify. I did one (and only one). I realise that opening sentence makes it sounds like I did a few.

No, one was enough for me.

But what an event it was!

Having started cycling in October 2012 and then starting on Strava mid way through 2013 I would see people do a century ride (or more) and think they were crazy! I had just started out and thought 15 miles was an achievement. This just goes to show how much progress has been made and how goals evolve.

Anyway, back to the ride…

The Ripon Revolution begins in Ripon (unsuprisingly) at the Racecourse.

Ripon Revolution Edited
Ripon Revolution 2015

The ride then meanders to Masham and along Fearby Lane up on to the top of Trappings Hill and then drops (off what feels like the edge of a cliff) to Lofthouse.

This first part of the ride felt very comfortable. I deliberately took it quite steady and tried to see whether there were any groups I could get into. Unfortunately, at this point there were no groups to be seen. People were either too fast or too slow.

Not to worry though…steady pace was required.

When unpacking and getting set-up at the car at 7am I had two split second decisions to make. The first one: Which door do I go through to get changed? And the second: Do I put on a water proof gilet?

Unfortunately, I made the wrong call when I went in to the Ladies toilet to get changed BUT I did put on the waterproof gilet.

What. An. Inspired. Decision. That. Was.

As we made our way onto the bottom of the ascent of Trappings Hill the wind got up, there was a fog and some rain. With it being so open up there I was glad of the extra protection that this provided. Going up and then down Trappings Hill was quite straightforward apart from the wind, rain and fog.

Once we dropped in to Lofthouse we had the run round the reservoirs, through the Valley to the village of Pateley Bridge and the first feed stop. I had a quick stop at the feed stop to restock on water bottles and then it was onwards up Greenhow Hill.

The bottom of Greenhow Hill

Greenhow is quite a fun climb out of Pateley Bridge and hits about a 16% maximum gradient. As I was ascending it there was several other riders ahead of me whom I could focus on and try and catch. I always think I climb better with someone ahead to focus on.

Mid way climbing Greenhow the most annoying thing happened…The Garmin started telling me the gradient was only 5%. Even though it was well over 10%. The rain must have affected it. I have never been more irritated when on a bike! It must have been the OCD kicking in!

When reaching the top of the hill which is around 2.5 miles in length you appear at Greenhow village and then have the descent through Duck Street and Padside until Summerbridge is eventually reached.

At Summerbridge my girlfriend was awaiting me with food and drinks! This was very much appreciated.

Little did I know that I was about to start to hit the wall for the first time. On the third climb which is up Blazefield Bank and then another left up on to the top of Dallow Moor I hit the wall.

It’s a weird feeling to describe as my legs felt sore but we were only at mile 50. However, I didn’t feel like I was about to “bonk”. This was all psychological.

The next feed station was in Grantley. I took the opportunity to stop and fill up the water bottles and have a few jelly babies! When I pulled up there was a group of other cyclists so I decided to hang on and leave with them so I could get into a group.

When we left the legs were sore but at least I had company!

The last “climb” was the ascent up to Brimham Rocks. This isn’t a steep climb by any stretch of the imagination but the wind was in our faces which made it very tricky! It was at this point I again hit the wall! Thankfully there was a group of people with me who looked like they were suffering more than me so it took my mind off my pain for a little bit.

Once we reached the top of Brimham Rocks it was all downhill or flat for the last 35 – 40 or so miles.

In this group we managed to tick off 25 miles pretty quickly and reach the 3rd and final feed station. I decided to stop and use the toilet whereas my group carried on.

It was then back to solo riding for the last 20 miles. However, there were many people around as the routes had merged again.

Although the remainder of the route was pan flat around the Vale of York, I actually found this the toughest part because there was nothing to aim/focus on but the legs!

Upon finishing the event I found that I had completed it in:

6 hours 21 mins.

I was more than happy with this time as in training the most I had ridden was about 70 miles. My longest ride previously was 85 miles so there was a bit of “Cycling in to the Unknown” with this event.

Having finally completed a century I am coming round to the idea of doing another…



My 2015

2015 has been a year where my progress has continued in a “fairly average” fashion…

In all seriousness, this year I have completed my main aim for the year which was to complete a century ride. (More on that later in a different post).

In terms of my year though, looking back on it I feel reasonably satisfied. In all I have cycled 3881 miles, which is my most in  year to date! However, I am a bit gutted I did not reach 4000 miles for the year. This is going on the list of aims for 2016!


2015 Round Up
2015 Round Up (Ripped from Strava)

As you can tell from the stats I do rather like a climb! The climb that is listed as my “Biggest Climb” at 1,614 ft is Hartside which is on the C2C near Penrith in Cumbria.

Distance Matrix Edited
Weekly Distance 2015
Elevation Matrix Edited
Weekly Elevation 2015

Within 2015 I undertook 2 sportives, one of the Yorkshire Magnificent 7 Reliability Rides and a couple of “Cafe Bashes” hosted by the local bike shop/cycle cafe.