Wednesday, 30 January 2008
The descent into Massat was fun (as always) and then we had a gentle meander through to Le Port from where the incline steepens up to a maximum 8.9%. It was hard work in places, with, in particular a sustained gradient of never below 6.8% over a distance of 8kms. The following image shows the extension (the final blue and yellow sections) along to the Port de Lers which we didn't do because of the road closure. But we got up to the Etang 1 hr 25 min after leaving Pissou, a distance of some 17kms. Then we had the descent to look forward to! Or so we thought. By this time, the cloud was rolling in and the sun was obscured which dropped the temperature quite dramatically. We started our descent but quickly realised that the windchill was going to be a major problem. Although we both wore long sleeved upper layers and long bottoms, our long fingered gloves did not afford the protection that we needed against the chill. Likewise, our basic cycling shoes were not going to prevent the cold from attacking our feet. It soon became apparent that we were totally unprepared for this change in weather. We found ourselves stopping every couple of kms on the steep descent to try to warm up our fingers so that we could use the brakes! Frostnip started to become a real concern as the cold bit and an icey wind started to make itself felt. I was concerned at how I was feeling, but somehow, we made it back to Massat. The climb back up the Col de Port road warmed us back up to a degree, but still, I had lost all sensation in my feet. On went the down booties. On went the pan of milk for the hot chocolate. Eventually sensation returned to my feet and the hot chocolate was the reviving elixir that I had craved.
So, lessons learnt? We wouldn't dream of heading into the mountains without being properly prepared for a change in conditions. We must apply the same mindset to our road biking out here. It is too easy to think, ah, we're on the roads, we're on a bike, we can make a quick descent if needs be. Wrong. The descent is where major problems can occur. In future, we will consider taking a small pack containing extra layers, neoprene booties and gloves, extra food etc. Extra weight, but extra surety.
So totals for the day, 860 m of ascent, 36.40 kms covered in 2hrs 33 mins , 1658 kCals consumed - I deserve CAKE!!
Monday, 28 January 2008
Up to the Col de Port from Tarascon is a 17km route over which you climb 777m. It is a steady climb, with no particularly steep sections on it. This was my first attempt at a route of this length but it seemed achievableSo we set off from Tarascon in still, sunny but slightly chilly conditions. Within a few kilometers, we had to stop to strip off as we were over heating, as the warmth of the sun penetrated through our layers. The first 8kms were easy with a gentle gradient. The next 5.5kms were tougher work, but head down and steady pedalling saw the worst of it over until eventually, the road levelled out and we started on the switchbacks which took us the final nearly 3kms to the top of the Col. Yee-haa! Not as bad as I had been expecting and I still felt strong. There really isn't anything to this Col climbing malarky ;-) Then it was a fast descent back down to Kev and Pat's and after a very welcome cup of tea, it was back to Pissou. All in all, another successful outing. Total distance covered 27km (inc. the descent) in 1 hr 42min, 1016 kCal consumed
Sunday, 27 January 2008
So apart from that unfortunate interlude, it was a jolly fine outing with a distance of 39kms covered, including the 368m of height gain up the Col, in a time of 1 hr 40 mins.
Friday, 25 January 2008
Then today, we returned to the woodland to recover what we could. We started by reducing the longer lengths to lengths that would fit in the car then chainsawed the bigger sections from the 1st fallen beech into more manageable sections and also sectioned the 2nd fallen tree into manageable lengths. The whole lot was then gently rolled down the slope towards the roadside ready for transporting back to Pissou. These logs are a sample from the 1st large beech tree;5 car loads (estate car) and 5 hours later we had collected more than enough to see us through the winter/early spring. It is all piled up outside the back of the house ready for splitting/further chainsawing tomorrow. As I have said on previous occasions, wood collecting and processing is one of my favourite jobs at Pissou at is both physically demanding and also immensely productive!
Wednesday, 23 January 2008
Tuesday, 22 January 2008
My first outing was with my mate Hilary with whom I was staying - we had a lovely 68 min run from Hathersage, up the footpaths and tracks to the top of Stanage (a gentle incline initially but steepening towards the top), following the route of the Stanage Struggle fell race. It was fantastic to be on the top of Stanage Edge again – I had forgotten what a special place it is. After taking in the view for 30 seconds, we were off again, picking our way back down into the village along the footpaths and back roads. All in all, a nice run out.
The following day, it was damp and windy, so I decided an outing onto the tops would not be a good idea, so instead, I did a 14.3km run out alongside the Derwent and Howden reservoirs, a route I have done many times on the mountain bike. The Derwent dam was showing the effects of the days of endless rainfall. It was the longest sustained run I have done for some while, but my body was working well and all felt good. It was wonderful to head out into the moors again and to experience the wildness of this part of the Peak District
However, the conditions deteriorated on the way back and I was faced with a driving headwind and rain. But I completed the route in 1 hr 30 mins, I time that was not bad considering the conditions.
I spent a couple of nights with my friends Ed and Ayshea who had only moved to Grindleford a few days previously. They now have a 7 month old baby which has resulted in not much time being available for important things like running! As soon as Ayshea heard that I was back, she was desperate to get out for a run. We decided on a gentle 8km route which followed the river bank. However, the tone for the run was set by the flooded field that we had to run through to get onto the riverside footpath. So, like true fellrunners, we went for it and were soaked within 5 minutes of leaving the house. The 'footpaths' that we intended to use turned out to be running streams and in other sections they could only be described as a quagmire with ankle deep mud. Still, we were out of the house and Ayshea had discovered a walk/run on her doorstep that would be great in dryer conditions.
After a last minute appointment with my hairdresser (was she surprised to see me after 7 months, or what?!), I headed down to stay with family in Dorset - lovely to spend some quality time with mum and to see my bro again. However, the appalling weather continued which made it impossible for me to get out for any more running action before I left the UK to return to Pissou. After 10 days in the UK, with all of the associated traffic/noise/people, I was quite looking forward to getting back to the peace and quiet again and hoped I would also be greeted by better weather. I was not disappointed. On landing at Carcassonne, the sun was shining and it was warm.
Tuesday, 8 January 2008
On arriving back at the car park at St Girons, we hopped off our bikes, swapped our biking footwear for running shoes and set off back along the route we had covered on the bikes. This is the first time I had done such a 'duathlon-style' thing, so I didn't know how I would feel. My legs were tired after some of the bike sections, so I wasn't optimistic. But as I got going, I felt surprisingly good! We covered an 8.7 km loop of the route we had cycled in just a smidgeon under 1 hour - another 534 calories burnt. I was over the moon with how I was feeling. All I can think is that the bike leg had well and truely loosened up my muscles so they were working far more effectively on the running leg. Pat and Kevin also seemed to enjoy it, so we are all happy! It's looking good for our 20km trail race at the end of March :-)
Saturday, 5 January 2008
Plan for early next week is for a 16km VTT mountain bike ride down St Girons way following which we will dump the bikes and run a 7km loop section of the same route. Hmm, that will be interesting.