.5lb loss; 31.5lb total; 9.5lb in 2014.
The photo above was taken by Peter on Thursday after our session had finished. (I was out of shot on my hands and knees ;o). In the last few weeks, the weight on the bar has grown rapidly. Firstly by the addition of the bumper plates and then in subsequent weeks, the smaller weights on the end.
I’d was used to the green 12kg kettle bell but this morning could see a blue 16kg (out of shot) and a purple 20kg bell too. Yikes! I didn’t dare ask what we were going to do with them.
I looked at the bar and prepared my famous gurning face. There would be no way I could pick the bar up without it.
I wasn’t disappointed, blimey it was heavy. (I seem to have said that a lot lately). For the first time ever, I wasn’t 100% sure that I would complete the session.
The target was 3 lots of 12 reps in each exercise. We would start with clean and pressing the bar. I decided to break the session down, just like I would approaching a long race, in to groups of four in each set. So get four done, have a breather and then tackle the next four, once done, move onto the next exercise. Thankfully, that approach worked and I reached the end of the session with arms and legs shaking but still attached.
It’s one thing to start a session knowing you can complete it comfortably. But to start a session not knowing if you can complete it at all and then be asked to give your heart and soul to it is…Well, challenging but ultimately so rewarding.
I have been consistently challenged in the last few months. Either during the conditioning session or in the spin shed. And I’ve learned with a little bit of bravery, I can push myself way further than I ever thought was possible.
I finished the session to see Peter beaming at me. I was shattered but on a total high. I had done it, bravery won out and it left me on a high that lasted for a few days.
Straight after the session, I had a shower, packed and then headed up to Yorkshire for a long weekend of rest, relaxation and training. We were headed to our friends place in Pickering. They purchased a house and holiday cottages called Low Costa Mill about nine months ago and it was our first chance to see them and their lovely new home.
Alan and I had packed the race bikes for the trip. I have spent most of the winter training on either the spin bike or Florence, my winter hack. Piri hadn’t been ridden since Concorde Triathlon last year. I’m ashamed to say, I had to dust her off before we put her in the van.
The weather was forecast to be glorious over the weekend. Although I hesitated to believe the weatherman completely (I remember some of the springs of my youth). But, for most of the weekend we had glorious blue skies and warm sunshine.
North Yorkshire is predominately made up of Limestone and Sandstone. The topography was influenced by several glacial periods which helped to carve the undulating features and many short but steep valleys in the area. Combined with generally good road surfaces, it makes for a great place to cycle.
We had driven out along the A170 to sneak a look at Sutton bank just outside of Thirsk. Sutton Bank is a famous 1:4 hill at the very edge of the Moors. I suspect every Northern child of the 70’s must have been up Sutton Bank at some time or another in their youth. Normally on the way to Castle Howard or Flamingoland. Many of my friends recall being made to get out of the car before the bank (or half way up once the car had stalled) and made to walk up while the empty car was driven up in first gear. I was curious to see if it was as bad as I remembered it.
We had a half hearted plan to ride a loop to bring us back up Sutton and although the road surface was good, it was still a single lane up which made me nervous. Especially as Dave had spent lots of time the previous evening telling us about the spectacular crashes that had occurred there recently.
So, Day 1 was a short ride to get a feel for the area, reacquaint myself with the bike and get used to the set up. We headed off to Helmsley, a small village we had driven through to get to Sutton Bank, opting for the back route via the various lanes behind Daves property.
The route was undulating, with excellent road surfaces. Being on Piri felt very strange at first. The transition to carbon from alloy was massive. Where Florence feels like a solid tank, Piri felt like a twitchy thoroughbred race horse. Despite being a confident cyclist I felt really quite nervous having to learn balance and poise again. The cranks are also very slightly longer on Piri and that took a bit of getting use to. Especially when out of the saddle.
We had lunch in a farm shop just outside Helmsley, before heading back on a slightly more circuitous route. By the time we got back to Low Costa Mill I was loving the ride and the sunshine and the freedom of a few days off spent in the beautiful countryside.
The next day we had grand plans to cycle from Pickering to Scarborough then on to Whitby before returning back via another famous bank of my youth, Blue Bank, another 1:4.
I was worried about holding Alan back so we planned the route and a tentative rendezvous in Whitby for lunch and then set off. This time we opted for the main road, the A170 all the way to Scarborough. Almost immediately on leaving Pickering we hit one of the worse batches of top dressing I’ve ever seen. The dressing was utilized from big lumps of whatever the hell they use in that stuff. It was unevenly laid and often eroded making for a difficult and often treacherous ride on the single lane carriageway.
Adding in long stretches of false flat and a strong headwind blowing in from the North Sea it didn’t take long before I was knackered and my new found confidence shattered. In between fantasising about what I would do to the bloke who invented top dressing if I ever got my hands on him (probably make him ride a bike on it – since I could think of no worse torture) my mind focused ahead to Blue bank and some of the other chevroned climbs in and out of Whitby.
As I did so I felt what was left of my confidence completely drain out of me. I was shaking and close to tears just thinking about it. What on earth was happening. At one point I almost turned back but then revised that to reducing the ride to an out and back to Scarborough and at least getting a few more miles in. Plus I was desperate to see the sea and hoping that Alan would consider the difficultly of this ride and wait for me there. If nothing else, I needed a hug.
I stopped about half way along to text him. ‘Thinking of turning round at Scarborough, top dressing has wrecked my shoulder (which was sore granted but probably not enough to stop), I love you’.
About five miles out Alan rang me to say that he had stopped at the top of the long climb before the descent into Scarborough to wait for me as a surprise and was wondering where I had got to. I was about 100 yards further down the hill but the thought of seeing him spurred me all the way to the top. After a long hug I instantly felt better, and bravely tackled the 1:6 down into Scarborough and finally the sea.
After lunch and a scrummy hot chocolate, we braved the hill climb out of Scarborough and then took a circuitous detour back onto the lanes of off that terrible top dressing. With the wind behind us, back on flat roads and good surfaces our average pace picked up to a respectable 17mph including 10 miles at an average of 20mph. I felt so much better and my mood picked up back to the levels of the day before.
Once again I had been brave and finished the session on a high with 53 miles in the bag.