A quieter week last week as there was no racing for either the team or me. Fiona and I were off to Oxford to attend the wedding of my good friend Daz Carter who was also my former coach.
We could of course not bypass the opportunity to add a bit of sport into our trip. So we managed to fit a lovely 55km cycle round the Wanlockhead loop on our way South. Granted we had only travelled for 1 hour before starting our ride with the whole drive taking us nearly 7 hours. The wedding day itself was a rest day assuming you don’t count a bit of dancing as exercise. It wasn’t a ceilidh so it wasn’t active enough. Fiona riding looked strong on the Wanlockhead loop as she easily dropped me on the climbs.
The following day we visited Fiona’s sister who lives in Tring which is around 30 miles from Oxford. Based on my daily schedule this fell onto a bike day for me, so I asked Fiona if she would mind driving there while I went across by bike. After a chilly start it turned out to be a lovely morning and I ended up being overdressed. For the first time I opted to use the Google Navigation bike function on my phone to guide me to Tring. Overall this worked remarkably well with only a couple of flaws.
I popped the phone into my back pocket and put it onto voice navigation. Initially I was surprised to hear it at all expecting it to be too quiet in my back pocket. Even though I did hear it, I could only hear what was being said when there was no real noise pollution. So it did a fine job on the quiet back roads I was on and on the quiet cycle paths but if the cycle path was next to a busy road or there was any traffic or I had some head wind then it was near impossible to hear much. I was lucky if I could even make out that anything was being said in my back pocket. I did mostly manage to hear a sound and work out that something might happen though in those situations and could briefly stop to check what the map said.
At one point it was trying to navigate me through the RAF base at Houlton which although I’d have been happy to cycle through, I am guessing the MOD would have been less impressed. Once I started heading in a different direction it recalculated quick enough and the alternative wasn’t much of a detour. The other thing was that because I was following bike navigation as opposed to car it was aiming to put me on National Cycle Network routes which I didn’t mind for this ride but obviously would not always be the route of choice. So a bike option excluding bike paths could be good, something maybe that could still keep you on quiet roads where possible but off non tarmacked paths as I ended up on one of those for about 2 miles. Not an issue on the day as it was dry and a very good path. I was following NCN57 at this point also known as the Phoenix Trail.
If I’d navigate with GPS in my back pocket again then I’d go with a single ear piece to allow for better audibility. Overall though I was very pleased with the experience. It did also return me to normal road routes where there was no cycle path.
In Tring we went for a walk with Fiona’s sister family which tired me more than the morning ride.
Oxford Sightseeing run
The trip to Oxford was from Thursday to Monday with Thursday and Monday being our travel days, Friday the wedding, Saturday the trip to Tring and we used Sunday for a day in Oxford. A couple of years ago we’d been to St Petersburg and one evening we went for a sightseeing run which we thoroughly enjoyed. At the time we’d covered a bit over 12km in 2 and a bit hours whilst taking lots of photos and just generally getting to know a wider area of the city.
In Oxford we thought we’d do the same and set off after a traditional full English breakfast – cue, take it easy over the first few kms – to discover the sights. I may or may not have been to Oxford before but if I have then it has been a very long time ago and I can’t remember. Fiona on the other hand studied there and for her it was a trip down memory lane and she also therefore roughly picked the route which included going round a couple of colleges, the University Parks, the Museum of Natural History, her college (Sommerville) and Port Meadow. By the time we’d run across port Meadow and reached a point to stop for a drink – The Trout Inn – we’d already covered nearly 15km. We then headed back into town for coffee and cake of which round one was consumed inside the Covered market as it started raining (it had been glorious up until then) and round 2 was in the Vault Café where thanks to the weather improving again we Sat outside. It was by now 4pm and time to head back to our guest house but not before making a short detour to the Iffley Road running track – the place where Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in under 4 minutes. Sadly the gates were shut so I couldn’t actually set my foot on hallowed ground, not that it is the same ground as it is now a modern track as opposed to the cinder track Bannister run on at the time. We’d completed 28km by the end of this run which was by far Fiona’s longest run in recent times. It was also quite a step up from the distances we’ve done on other sightseeing runs. This is easily something a lot of people can do as they cover distance without really concentrating on it but just enjoying the sights and breaking up the run with sight visits and food/drink breaks.
Brief coaching news
Early on in the week I did my swim second video analysis session and Dalry pool. This time with 2 swimmers instead of 3. This allowed more time for feedback. It was Carolyn’s second session and she could see where she had improved and what still needed working on. We also captured some footage early on and then another bit after applying some changes. For Alan on the other hand this was his first video session and this is what he had to say afterwards: “I found this a very productive session. Karl picked up several areas for improvement, and now I just need to go and work on them.”
The next session will be on April 26. Drop me a note or book in through the above booking link.
Next weeks round up will have news of the Grangemouth 10k, the Winton 10k and some parkrun action.