We visited the Rocky Mountain National Park entering via the town of Estes Park which sits at 7,522 feet elevation on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The town is home to The Stanley Hotel an historic hotel which opened in 1909. It is also the inspiration behind Stephen King’s book and later hit horror film The Shinning after he spent an eerie night in the near empty hotel before an extended period of closure.
The Front Range describes the Southern Rocky Mountains of North America. The Front Range was created 70 to 40 million years ago during a tectonic event known as the Cenozoic era. The Rocky Mountain National Park covers an area of 265,761 acres and is home to wide variety of animals including Elk, Black Bears, Mountain Lions and Moose. The Gray wolf used to be prevalent in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado but were eradicated in the 1940’s.
We headed towards Bear Lake a scenic trailhead at the heart of the park. Bear Lake was formed in the ice age by a glacier. Sitting at 9,450ft elevation you do find yourself at high altitude and must be wary of altitude sickness which is caused by low air pressure and lower oxygen level. The best way to prevent this is to allow your body to acclimatise to the rise in elevation and to drink plenty of water
A long day of traveling consumed our first day with a 10 hour flight to Houston, 4 hour stop over and a 2 hour fight to Denver. We arrived late on a Friday evening and headed via car to Boulder the foothills concealed by darkness the view would have to wait until morning.
We woke up early on the Saturday after some well needed rest and were welcomed by the stunning views of Devil’s Thumb a prominent feature in the Boulder skyline which can be seen from anywhere in the city. It is part of ‘The Flatirons’, a flatiron is a rock formation caused by years of water, wind and mechanical erosion which create the triangular forms in the rock.
We headed into the City of Boulder after some breakfast. Boulder is located in Boulder Valley at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains the elevation of Boulder is 5,430. Boulder has typically dry climate as it receives many sunny days, during winter snow fall is quite common but due to its elevation strong sun means the snow depth is usually shallow.
The area surrounding Boulder is famous for producing beer, with the likes of Coors and Anheuser-Busch, including local microbreweries it has become one of the largest producers of beers in the world. On Monday we headed into Boulder again for the day and visited Walnut Brewery who brew beer onsite. We took in a selection of 6 beers ranging from a quite light beer the Buffalo Gold to quite a dark stout.
The city of Boulder boasts many shops and Pearl Street Mall in downtown Boulder is worth a trip, with shops ranging from Outdoor mountain shops to upmarket boutique shops. We also checked out University Cycles which is one of the biggest bike shops I have ever been in.
The city is fantastically clean and well maintained, on the weekends you will see many street performers. We would also recommend heading to ‘Into the Wind’ a fantastic toyshop that also sells high performance kites.
On this journey I would discover just what sort of shape I was in, I fully believed my mind was capable of 100 miles but what about my body. Me and Samps had agreed to take it easy monitor our heart-rate ride within ourselves, I phrase I only really discovered the true meaning of today. In this post I wanted to write from within my own head how things were going so let’s proceed;
…Long Marston. A good 20 minutes my first attempt on 100 miles I felt pretty good smashing down a flapjack 10 minutes before my ’30 min’ feed schedule, its ok I had loads. This is what cycling is about freedom to explore an adventure. Glancing up at the weather it looks pretty good, but we all know how it can turn just focus on my pedalling…Aston Clinton. The wind had picked up significantly since we set off all I could hear was the metronomic sound of Samps’ cassette cutting through the harsh buffering wind…Weston Turville. Before I knew it we were in Stoke Mandeville, whizzing past dog walkers and groups of cyclists. The road forked up slightly as we skirted our way along the bottom of the Chilterns, we were on a flat 100 trying to avoid the hills and just survive the day…Great Kimble.
Staying disciplined as possible on the downhill sections and rolling flats is where I was going to win this battle with the elusive 100 miles, keep the heart rate under 140 conserve the energy…Chinnor…30 miles down. Samps had noticed how familiar the roads were looking and we realised were covering a road used in the Wiggle Chiltern Classic we had rode a few months earlier, looking to my left I could see the vast amount of hilly woodland which we had tackled in June..how glad I was to be riding this 100 flat and not in those hills….Adwell. We rode past a couple running, the chap had given up and was walking along forlorn as his wife continued up hill, my mind began to wonder into the psychology of stopping or ‘pulling the plug’ how do you avoid it. On the Wiggle I remember seeing lots of Red Kites magnificently graceful birds, they just glide around effortlessly, they are quite inspiriting while you are grinding away on a bike have a moment of not looking at your stats or average speed and just admire. They always seemed to pick me up on a ride and strangely at that point we saw one, it swooped down extremely low and tailed us through a good 2 mile stretch of road, a nice little pick me up.
The rain began to lash down I grabbed for my cape which acted as a nice parachute completely slowing me down, fortunately the rain stopped I removed my jacket and decided it was ditched for the day….Milton Common….at least the signs for the Chinnor Beer Festival had stopped. We swung into a fairly strong headwind even hiding behind Samps I was struggling to hold the wheel, each little break in the hedge row causing gusts of side wind that nearly push you off the bike. By the time we hit Thame the wind had died down and the rain had all but burnt off making it a nice summer’s day. As we hit Long Crendon that signified the halfway point in the ride, my legs felt strong and food wise I was hitting every 30 minute fuel target bang on.
We headed out towards Bicester and got stuck on their bike lane system which actually took us into a bus stop much to Samps amusement as we dodge commuters waiting in the bus stops. We punched out the back of Bicester and towards Steeple Claydon where there is a lovely bit of rode that goes past some extremely nice horse paddocks. We pulled up at home 6 hours later after completing 100 miles average speed 17mph. All in all a very pleasing ride and always great to-do it with a best mate.
On Saturday 28th June 2014 myself and Samps completed the Wiggle Chiltern Classic Standard route 73 miles across the Chilterns. As many of you know I decided to ride this in memory of my brother Kieran Griffin who unfrotunately died suddenly at the age of 18 from an Asthma attack. In his memory I rode in support of Asthma UK a chairty helping to raise awareness of a disease that effects 1 in 12 adults and 1 in 11 children. I am extremely proud to say we have raised over £800 thank you to everyone who has donated it means a lot and certainly the comments and messages I have recieved motivated me along the route.
I set off from the house at 6am to swing by and pickup Ben. The night before had been busy 3 hours preparing everything and loading it into the car ready for the morning. Sign in for the Standard route was 7:20 and start time was between 8-9 myself and Ben wanted to get out of the gate 8am exactly to try and skip the heavy rain storms that had been forecast for later on in the trip
We arrived just after seven and busily prepped our bikes and equipment. The organisers had sent emails before the race to recommend taking rain jackets but being the absolute hardened chap he is Samps voiced his intentions to leave the rain jacket in the car eager not to be weighted down with my jacket I followed suit…a decision we may both come to regret later on in the ride…
This was our first sportive so I really didn’t know what to expect but from the off it struck me just how organised and smoothly ran these events are so credit to Wiggle and UK Cycling Events. The Chiltern Classic is starts and finishes at Wycombe Wanderers football stadium which is a perfect venue for hosting the event. We signed in for our ride which was nice and simple they tagged our helmets with an electronic bar-code to track your time and for signing up early we also got a free High5 bottle with a few treats and a free cup of coffee or tea me and Samps decided we would make the most of that when we finished.
At the start line they set you off at 2 minute intervals in groups of around 10-15 people we were fortunate enough to be next to the guy who had 00001 number on the front of his bike a very eager chap indeed. Everyone started their respective Strava/Garmins to track their rides and off we went. I looked down at my cleats making sure I was properly clipped in I had premonitions of careering off into the hoardings as they released us from the start line.
We rolled out of the stadium car park and immediately into our first climb a steady 2% over 2.8 miles which kicks up at the end to a nice 17% nothing like getting the heart-rate going. We managed to push past quite a few people on the opening climb and I was sticking to Samps wheel pretty well. We came through a little place called Fingest. In 2013 George Clooney and Matt Damon filmed parts of the movie ‘Monuments Men’ in Fingest,oh yeah Fingest knowledge right there for you..just expect more of those fine nuggets of facts coming at you like a baseball bat throughout this epic passage of text. Unfortunately upon seeing Fingest I knew we would nearly be in Turville which would result in the biggest climb of the day a 3.9 mile drag of 3% gaining around 524ft in elevation. The great thing about this climb is you are submerged into woodland either side of you the darkness takes you by surprise I pushed my glasses up and began the climb losing Samps’s wheel immediately at this point it struck me just how valuable all the training had been people were immediately blowing out the back of the small group we had found ourselves in. The climb opened out as we got to Christmas Common (any facts let me check…ok) there are 2 pretty impressive landmarks in Christmas Common due to its elevation it has two radio masts (so exciting) but seriously it’s a beautiful place and we saw a number of red kites in this area.
After the initial climbs I was pretty stoked as I knew we had a good solid 30 miles of undulating terrain to cover including some stunning descents where we could really rack up the speed. We smashed it down Kingston Hill I hit a max speed of 42mph and tucked in behind Samps to gain the full advantage, we dropped one guy (to be fair he was being sensible) We found ourselves on some good flats after this downhill and managed to hop between groups overtaking riders and keeping our average speed well above 16mph unfortunately just after the first feed station I punctured on my front tyre which was frustrating. Keen to crack on with the ride Samps helped me repair the puncture and we set off probably losing around 12 minutes on the repair.
With over half the ride done we started getting towards the business end of our journey we had a few bigish climbs to come which would hit us every 10 or so miles until the end I must admit at this point I was feeling quite leggy because of the sheer pace we had opened the ride up with its amazing how much more adrenaline you have in a Sportive or a race situation definitely something I need to control next time. After we fixed the puncture we headed towards Chalgrove and then clipped around the side of RAF Sampson before approaching Ipsden again this is another place I had memorised the name of as I knew it would result in an impending climb. Berins Hill is only 0.8 miles long but it does come in at around 8% average gradient again I waved goodbye to Samps and climbed away at this point I spent most of my climbs out of the saddle and just relied on my mental strength to pull me up, I got lucky on almost all my climbs that I found myself behind someone of a similar ability and just held onto their wheel which paced me up the climb.
We had earned a nice downhill and for the next 5 or so miles we cruised through Stonor which is a beautiful little village which houses Stonor Park which is an historic manor house and private deer park you want another fact don’t you? oh go on then, in 1989 the manor house and grounds were used as the home of millionaire Victor Hazell (Robbie Coltrane) in the film Danny the Champion of the World from the Roald Dahl book. We got towards a place called Middle Assesndon and again I knew the name we encounter another climb at this point it had been raining for around 20 minutes or so and people were donning rain jackets anyway this climb for some reason I found the name hilarious Fawley Bottom Lane..no idea why but the smile was soon wiped from my face it was a miserable climb but I climbed it extremely well and managed to overtake around 10 riders Samps sped off and managed to get himself a top 10 time on the climb (great work mate) we were in great shape…
Unfortunately this is where I start to lose track of the ride as I was fairly vexed at this point, we were both absolutely soaked. I lost contact with Samps on a descent which I can only describe was the most terrifying ordeal of my life he absolutely flew away from me the road narrowed viciously and the trees combed over the top of us one even on a bright summers day this would be a scary descent but in the torrential rain I crawled down it at about 18mph, there was a Wiggle volunteer at the bottom slowing people down and we powered along the flat road hiding behind a small group who were overtaking people rapidly. The spray from the road was unreal I had unfortunately ditched my glasses on the due to the darkness of the woods so spend the next few miles eating dirty road water from Samps back wheel.
I lost contact with Samps with about 15/20 miles to go as we approached a big climb just after Hambleden, I saw a few sign posts for Marlow which raised my spirits as me and Samps had done a recon ride of Marlow earlier in the year particularly the climb out of Marlow was we knew it would be the hardest part of the ride right at the end. I managed to get myself in a good little group of 4-6 riders as we approached Marlow and stayed in contention with them for nearly the entire climb…half way up the climb I could hear a hissing noise every few turn and knew immediately that I had suffered another puncture I tried to ignore it begging it to go away but it didn’t. I pulled in just before another kick up on in the hill flipped the bike over and saw a stone hanging out of my fairly shredded rear tyre..my hands were freezing at this point and I was completely soaked I am not afraid to admit it I felt like crying, I removed my rear wheel and introduced it to a nearby hedge. After a 1 minute pep talk with my inner chimp we decided to fix the tyre and finish the race as we couldn’t very well just stand there watching people pass me, it took me about 15 minutes to put a new inner tube purely down to the fact my hands were freezing. My whole body was shuddering at this point and cursed myself for not bringing my jacket with me idiot. I fixed the puncture and finished the climb as I turned onto Lane end I could hear another hiss coming from my front wheel, I hopped off the bike and discovered my front tyre had punctured..I whipped the pump out of my back pocket and furiously inflated the tyre I was grateful for the upper body workout just to raise my temperature a little.
A wet finish..
I rolled into the finish line and was greeted by a Samps, they gave me my medal and a cool finisher t-shirt. Samps looked absolutely frozen his lips were turning blue he had been waiting a good 20 minutes for me in the rain (note to self bring spare key for car) we decided to pack the bikes into the car and change a wise decision as Samps looked on the brink of hypothermia.
All in all it was a fantastic day OK the rain ruined it a little but it added some spice and difficulty I was glad to finish and bagged myself a decent time coming in the Silver category (not bad for 3 punctures) well done to Samps on his gold finish time absolutely smashed it mate very proud of you..we are already planning the next event..
This post is going to be a bit of a ramble some updates on training, some pictures I have taken over the last month and other bits so read on and enjoy..
14 weeks since I started my initial training with the aim of comfortably completing a 73 mile ride across the chilterns with my good friend Samps. It is quite phenomenal what you can achieve in just 14 weeks. I considered myself reasonably fit before this endeavour maybe slightly on the heavy side and certainly lacking the endurance to complete 10 miles on a bike let alone 73! but the transformation has been pleasing my average weekly distance now sits at over 100miles a week and cycling 4/5 times a week.
So lets recap on the progression from a month ago, I had completed Bison Hill for the first time just about the steepest climb you can do here in Bedfordshire. Since then the climbing has continued and we have featured the likes of Ivinghoe Beacon, Dunstable Downs and numerous other Category 4 climbs.
What is a category 4 climb? a climb is defined as a length of road over 500 metres long with at average of 3% or more in gradient. When looking at percentages and climbs try to think of the fact the average staircase is 30%. So if you were to lay a piece of board on your stairs and stand on it thats a 30% gradient pretty gnarly on a bike but there aren’t many 30% sections round here thankfully.
The last month of so training has really kicked on and we are regularly riding over 50 miles on a weekend with a few 30 milers in the week which is over and above the training plan. I wrote up a few small notes on some of the bigger rides including the biggest yet 80 miles…
My training plan is tailored towards completing a 100 mile ride so we have gradually built up the bigger rides to over 70 miles. I have found it a struggle to limit my weekly rides to just 15 miles and some of them have been creeping up to the 30 miler zone something I will definitely be scaling back with just 10 days until the ride (see the countdown clock in the side bar)
My fueling has improved dramatically since I first started cycling and I have put a lot of effort into making sure I am well fueled on my longer rides. Typically I am using the usual sources for energy High5 gels with caffeine and I normally use the High 5 Zero Xtreme tablets with my water which contain electrolyte and caffeine this stuff is like rocket fuel. Gels can get pretty boring so as you can see from my previous post I do like a good flapjack this is a regular treat that comes out with me on a ride. I have also recently started making rice cakes using the Team Sky recipe these things a quite tricky to make but you can check the recipe out on the Rapha site here.
Thats all from me for now hopefully I will get some posts in before the big ride on 28th but if not I will have a full race report and maybe some video content.
Here are my notes from hitting my biggest ride so far 80 miles, unfortunately I have been pretty busy lately and I am only just typing this up.
We headed out towards Totternhoe as there is a fairly decent climb starting at Dunstable Cricket club to the top of the downs; it’s just over 2 miles at around a 3% gradient but kicks up in one place to 9% out of the saddle stuff for me. I lost Samps on the climb but mentioned to recapture him running across the downs we sailed down past the cafe towards Studham as we were meeting Samps friend Andy who would be joining us for an hour or so. There is a lovely little country road just out the other side of Gaddesden Road called Wood End Lane which heads towards Markyate, 3 miles of flat slightly descending road. We bumped into Andy and did around 10 miles with him at a heart pumping 19mph avg unfortunately his ride was cut short puncturing twice with a dodgy rear tyre.
Me and Samps headed towards Berkhamstead and picked up some additional water as it was a hot day. Samps knew a good climb round the back of Aston Hill. This is quite possibly the hardest 10 miles I have ever ridden, whilst it was not 10 miles of climbing it didn’t seem to stop and even on the flat bits the was still at least a 1-2% gradient, in places the climb was kicking up to 9% over 0.5 miles my heart was in my mouth for most of it thanks to a couple of random lads for the encouragement on the hardest bit. At this point we were 50 miles in I was 5 miles off my longest distance and facing at least another 20 to hit our 70 target for the day this then became a survival ride for me luckily I had packed a fair bit of fuel gels, flapjacks and 2 bananas.
We decided to head back towards home and hit the 70 mile mark around Stewkley upon which Samps who had decided to start new rides on his Garmin decided he wanted to do another 10 miles to round his current trip to 50…I couldn’t face it we were so close to home I had nothing left. I begrudgingly agreed and it now becomes difficult to write the rest of this trip up as I was zoned out for the last 10 miles I drank all my bottles down before the 70 mile mark. We finished the ride on 80 miles total a fantastic achievement and definitely not something I could of done alone thanks Samps.
Training continues to go well I have just got back from a 44 mile ride with Samps which included one of the toughest hills I have done to-date Bison Hill. Bison Hill runs in at about 0.6 miles according to Strava but in truth its more like 0.9 if you are counting the climb from the roundabout near the bottom of the road. The average gradient of this hill is around 7-8% but in places it is 25% which is 1 in 4 its by no means something you tackle lightly…although being lighter would probably be a significant advantage.
I have never ridden the Bison before but mentally I have convinced myself I can ride absolutely anything call this arrogance if you want I call it dealing with the chimp, at the bottom of the hill there should be absolutely no doubt in your mind that you believe you will achieve your goal be that smashing in a top 10 time on Strava or like me just making it up the thing without stopping. Obviously goals have to be realistic 2 months ago I would not of considered attempting the Bison I have put around 100 miles average over 2 months on the bike now to claw my fitness up. Anyway lets join my brain as it climbed Bison.
I clicked into the smallest chain ring as soon as I turned into the bottom of the Bison, checked my heart rate and cleared my mind this is something I do regularly on rides it may sound slightly crazy but at points I will close my eyes maybe 2-4 seconds and breath in through my nose try to calm my body and prepare to grind out. I hate climbing and I am no climber, I am built completely wrong 13 stone and legs like tree trunks but for me its not about beating times its about beating my body and mind. Less than 20 seconds in I was already flicked into my easiest gear, I had nothing else no more ways to ease the burn. I decided to work out of the saddle in small increments maybe 8 second blasts then back into the saddle find a rhymn control the breathing try to lower the heart rate this process continued for the entire climb. What I like about this climb is it does bend slightly which I feel always helps the mind because it gives you something else to do other than think about the burning sensation inside your lungs and in your legs. A chap overtook me which I was glad about as I managed to hang onto his tail for a while I tried my best to keep looking over to the right to admire, it is stunning. Bison hill is one of the highest points/climbs in Bedfordshire so its definitely worth stealing a few glances across the countryside.
I reached the Bison Hill car park on my left and the incline began to ease off, I found some rhythm Samps was long gone even if he was in front of me at that point I was zoned out, metronome mode I call it. Finally the incline completely breaks off when you reach Whipsnade Zoo on your right there was Samps heading back towards me to check I hadn’t passed out, I decided to celebrate using the 30 signs as my finish line I went for the classic Mark Cavendish arms aloft pose….5 mins and 54 seconds not bad for a first try but I didn’t care I had got up it…but we still had another 20 odd miles to go. We rewarded ourselves with a Banana before heading up to Dunstable downs passing the visitor centre and blasting back down into Tottenhoe.
Until next time…
I have been reading a lot recently about fueling up on the bike, whilst I use gels and electrolyte drinks now on my rides I always find myself craving something a bit more real…after some searching I came across multiple recipes for energy bars/flapjacks and decided to combine these recipes into my own little recipe. These flapjacks are a good source of slow release carbohydrate, protein, minerals and vitamins but not only that they taste good and travel extremely well in the cycling jersey.
Ingredients (makes around 20 decent sized bars):
200g soft light brown sugar
2 tablespoons of Golden syrup
1 tablespoon of black treacle
200g raisins or sultanas
100g of dried apricots
100g of Flaked Almonds
50g trail mix (if you have it)
Additional items you can swap in or add in completely individual:
stem of chopped ginger
zest of 1 lemon
Flapjacks are really easy to make there is one MAJOR danger with this recipe that being you may eat the entire pot before you even get them to the oven 😛 anyway we continue..
1. Set oven to 160 (I have a fan oven)
2. Grab the biggest sauce pan you have, add the brown sugar and all of the butter. Place over a medium heat until the mixture has melted. I actually use a whisk to gentle stir the mixture but a wooden spoon will do.
3. Add in 2 tablespoons of golden syrup, 1 tablespoon of black treacle and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, mix well.
4. Next add in your sultanas, apricots and almonds (and any additional items you fancy)
5. Now gradually add in your oats mixing as you go
6. Use baking paper to Line a shallow medium sized baking tray or tin , carefully pour in your mixture, flatten and compress the mixture with an icing spatula (or the back of a spoon)
7. Put in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden on-top
8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before dividing into bars, wrap in clingfilm or foil ready for your ride.
A little while since I posted on my website and lots has changed including a few new or rediscovered hobbies including ice skating (with a view to playing ice hockey) and road cycling having acquired a bike from a friend (cheers Aaron). With this I have decided to target at least one cycling event this year, its hard to know exactly what type of event to hit, I needed something that was open to a novice but also offer a challenge in terms of pushing myself to a new level of fitness to achieve it. After some thought I have booked my place to-do the Wiggle Chiltern Classic Sportive which is based around High Wycombe not far from where I live, my friend Samps will also be taking part in the event and has become a stable riding buddy (when I can still see him after he drops me on every hill cheers mate)
The trusty steed
The event offers 3 rides Epic which is around 102 miles and 5,990 ft elevation gain, the Standard which is 73 miles with 4,483 ft elevation gain and the Short which offers 40 miles at around 2,900 ft elevation gain. I took the decision to opt for the Standard event as I feel it offers me something to get my teeth into but also a challenge I feel is achievable.
To achieve this I have adapted a training plan from the internet that targets those riding a 100 mile event, I have kept all of the mileage the same as the 100 mile event despite the fact I will be riding 73. I am not massively strict on the training plan I try to target around 70-80 miles per week at the moment which is week 3. I think the main thing about training for this type of ride is getting miles through your legs and building that muscle memory. The one part that I am struggling with is fueling properly something that I need to work on as my rides get longer and normally the biggest reason people fail to complete this types of ride.
I am going to start using the website as a journal for my riding blogging about different rides, places, experiences, how the training is going and more. Time to go read about fueling during a ride.. until next time..
Configuring proxy settings for Wi-Fi connections on Android devices is a 3-5 year long headache for users of popular Android OS’s of which 700,000 are being activated every day , you would think with a product distributing at this volume they would have solved a basic option used in nearly every organisation/school in the world which is to set a proxy server.
What is a proxy server?
Generally proxy servers are used to speed up the process of transfering data between the server and your computer. One of the best ways to show this process is to think about a mini supermarket which enables you to purchase certain items without having to travel further to the bigger supermarket. In a school or work environment proxy servers are used can be used to achieve extra security; how? you can apply a proxy to a certain user and this can channel the user out of a different route on this route they may have added security filters for example blocking games or chat room sites.
HTC One x – Configuring proxy settings on a Wi-Fi connection
- Goto Settings on the phones menu
- Open up your Wi-Fi settings under the Settings Menu
- Onces on the Wi-Fi menu hold your finger down on the Wi-Fi connection you want to modify the settings for
- A sub menu will appear saying the Network name and ‘Forget network’ or ‘Modify network’ select ‘Modify Network’
- Make sure you now tick ‘Show advanced options” and under the Proxy settings menu select ‘Manual’
- You can now enter your proxy details including the hostname and port number, click save and you are done (see image below)