Sardinia – cyclings’ hidden gem ?

A couple of weeks ago I spent a week on holiday in Sardinia on a Neilson Active holiday – I can’t stand sitting around on a sun lounger for too long, for one thing I go rather pink in the sun!

It was almost an ideal late summer holiday with cycling in the morning and sailing dinghies and catamarans in the afternoon when the breeze filled in. The exception was Monday when the breeze had already arrived by mid morning and I spent an hour sailing a Laser single handed dinghy in a “spray ball”.

If you do a Strava segment search for Sardinia, one of the top results will be the climb from Siniscola to Sant’Anna, a climb of 528m elevation over 8.2 km (5 miles) with an average gradient of just over 6%. My previous time two years ago was just over 40 minutes at an average of 235 watts. This year I smashed my PB with a time of just over 37 minutes at an average of 259 watts and at 169 bpm heart rate – only just short of my Function Threshold Power of 261 watts. It is a great climb, a steady gradient, good road surface bar one short section and no steep ramps. The downside is that there is no let up in the gradient – the gradient may decrease but it never goes downhill. The Strava KOM is 22:51 (Filippo Viti) and the best Neilson time of 27:16. As you can see from the photos we were blessed with “wall to wall” sunshine and temperatures approaching 26 degrees celsius by mid afternoon.

View from Sant’Anna

The reward for the climb is the fantastic descent with a few switch backs in the top half of the descent towards a water stop after which the real fun begins with seven switch backs in quick succession on the road down to the Torpe Valley and the reservoirs. The third switchback catches the unwary or over confident as it continues to tighten a little unexpectedly. I was glad to be riding my own Cannondale SuperSix Evo with disc brakes ! The alternative bike was the Neilson fleet from Boardman bikes with rim brakes – lots of burning brake blocks…

The start of the lower set of switchbacks

The sailing at Neilson Club Baia de Mori was great in the week I was there. A mixture of light winds for the beginners and a series of days with Force 4-5, sometimes Force 6 to test the more experienced dinghy sailors and when the windsurfers came out to play. On some occasions a large 1.5 m swell added to the excitement, particularly surfing downwind with the spinnaker up – top speed of 24 kph on a Topper Argo being my quickest time on the water all week.

The beach at Baia de Mori on Windy Monday !

The next ride in the UK was a shock to the system, half the temperature, flooded roads, sketchy descents with the debris from the hedge cutting and the potholes to avoid. Welcome back to autumn riding in the UK. Before I went away, my social media feeds were full of the 2019 Deloitte Ride Across Britain which brought back all the memories of September 2018. Part of me was tempted to give it another go. Then I looked at the amount of training I put in for the ride and I realised that I much prefer to ride for fun rather than having to meet a rigid training plan. There is a huge difference between a 50 mile ride and an 80 mile ride – around an extra 2 hours on the bike.

Deloitte Ride Across Britain – two weeks on

It seems ages since I got back home only two weeks ago after completing the hardest nine days of my life!  I went out for my first outside ride on Saturday since the Land’s End to John O’Groats ride and rediscovered my love of cycling.  No sticking to a training plan, no worrying about power output, average speed or Strava segments, just riding in the gorgeous autumn sunshine round the Vale of Glamorgan.  I went for a ride through the lanes and had a coffee at one of my favourite cycle cafes, Cafe Velo in Llantwit Major.  There’s always a cyclist or two, sometimes a whole peloton, having coffee, cake or a slice and being welcomed by Dave, Julie and Ellie-May.

I posted about the ride on the Deloitte Ride Across Britain Facebook group page (a closed site before you ask) and have been amazed by the number of likes and comments.  I think it struck a chord with a lot of riders who pushed themselves to the limit to complete the ride.  I know the Deloitte RAB is meant to be all about enjoying cycling, however, riding nine consecutive century rides (plus a bit or a lot more most days) takes more than just enjoyment to complete!

I have put together a film of my best photos from the trip plus a few from the professional photographers and Threshold Sports (taken from places that I just couldn’t get to) and up loaded it to You Tube which can be accessed here  It does start to play immediately, at least on my computer.  Any editing errors (including the music choice from Apple iMovie) are all mine as is not crediting anyone whose photo I have used by mistake.

As for my fundraising, I am absolutely astonished and delighted to have reached £5,000 (plus Gift Aid) today for Dementia UK  It is going to make such a difference to the work Dementia UK can do to help support families dealing with dementia.  If you ever need any advice or support regarding dementia, I do urge you to call their helpline.  If you would like to sponsor me, you can still donate via my Virgin Money Giving page for a couple more weeks via a link here  I think honours are now just about even between me and my sister as to who has raised more money for Dementia UK with my cycle ride and her London Marathon in 2016.  Our father would have been terribly proud of both of us.

Finally, this could be the last post I write about the Deloitte Ride Across Britain and my 11 month journey of training and taking part in the ride.  I hope you have enjoyed reading the blogs as much I have enjoyed writing them.  Any suggestions as to continuing the blog would be gratefully received.

January Training

What a difference 3 degrees makes !  Last weekend the temperature was hovering around 1 degree C plus a westerly wind which was not conducive to riding outside.  This weekend the temperature was around 4 degrees C, with winter sunshine and little if any wind.  A much more pleasant environment for a 3 hour ride round the Vale of Glamorgan.

Last Sunday (7 January) saw me complete a 100 minute ride on Zwift on my Tacx Neo smart trainer.  Zwift is a bit like a computer game for bike riders with different routes to choose from.  There are also races and group rides that you can choose to join.  The combination of the routes and the smart trainer means that any terrain changes on the iPad are reflected in the resistance on the trainer – you either have to cycle harder or change to an easier gear (just like riding outside).  However, you have to keep working even on the downhills!

Monday evening saw me take part in a Zwift race.  Even though it started at 6.30 pm GMT there were riders taking place from all over the world all linked up via their computers.  I finished something like 792nd and I wasn’t last!  We were meant to to grouped according to power output ability – I have some work to do as the front runners finished in around 35 minutes with me coming in just short of an hour.  Apparently you can trick the system by claiming a lower weight than you really are – you do get caught out if you have a heart rate monitor which shows you are not working very hard but putting out loads of power – possible for professional riders but not run of the mill riders like me.

The ride today was as good as a January ride gets.  Dry roads (most of the time), watery sunshine and very little wind. I decided to take the Specialized Venge for a ride.  IMG_0483This is a bike that likes going fast as it is primarily aerodynamic rather than a bike for climbing hills. By leaving in later morning I seemed to miss a lot of the traffic despite sticking to the main roads.  A good session that saw me complete just short of 50 miles in a little over 3 hours without having to work too hard on the bike.  Here is a link to the ride on Strava.

Any way, a good week of training and no injuries which always an added bonus.

You can sponsor me for my Ride Across Britain here