Sunday, 19 January 2014

piddle poor preparation prevents perfect pedaling

Or how to ruin a good ride!

Ok so I set out to ride some more of my favourite roads, it was dry, sunny and there was little wind. Then coming up the cat 4 hill into Scaldwell, I heard the intermittent hiss of doom...SSS-sss-SSS. I stopped in the beautiful village and pulled off my front wheel. Then I discovered one of my two spare tubes  was in fact useless (serves me right for being a skinflint and repairing instead of buying new tubes,) but no matter the other one was fine. A kind citizen of Scaldwell brought me out his track pump to save me using the mini pump and swiftly back to 120 psi all appeared well. The chap took his pump home and I put my kit back in the bag. Uh-oh! The rear was flat too! No spares left, no puncture kit - dufus! So I called my wife and sat by the phone box next to the domesday plaque. Scaldwell really is a lovely village but it does lack a pub! When I checked Strava I'd got 4 PRs and a load of 2nd best times. Seems I was having a great ride. Guess whose buying 3 spare tubes tomorrow?

Lovely place to stop...

Saturday, 18 January 2014

C&DCYCLES Shop Ride - Oundle Loop

Lots of these posts will be about the 'shop rides,' because they're fabulous, varied and possibly the thing I enjoy most about cycling. It's the wrong time of year for pictures and also the wrong ride. I couldn't ask the others to wait endlessly whilst I got some scenery shots so I'll direct you to appropriate places. Oundle is a beautiful market town and frankly a bit posh, have a look here Oundle Wikipedia page,. The rest of the ride took us through typical rolling countryside with villages on top of hills and church spires on every skyline. Check out some of these links if you want an idea of the places we rode through Warkton, Grafton Underwood, Brigstock, Aldwincle, Twywell.

There's a piece of history which dominates our route today and it's difficult as we enjoy a pleasant ride through the leafy lanes, past the village pubs and well maintained churchyards that this part of Northants had a major role in the WWII. Memorial at Gratfon Underwood, wiki RAF_Grafton_Underwood, RAF Grafton Underwood layout.

The other thing we're fairly blessed with in Northants is Country Parks. On this route we passed one of the lesser known gems in twywell-hills-and-dales.

Quick stop in Aldwincle. If you're into that sort of thing you'll notice a sign directing you to the Historic Church all-saints-church-aldwincle

Well earned cake back at the shop

Tea and cake is pretty much the staple diet  of the keen cyclist. Andy and Chris do us proud with the service at C&D providing us with free refreshments. We also chip in ourselves with the odd cake. It's the way it should be!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Lovely ride out to and round Eyebrook reservoir

I planned a longer ride today but a touch of frost and the residual jitters from coming off and eventually snapping my rear derailleur last week meant I decided to wait a bit before venturing out. I had in mind that since ruining myself on the 3 counties sportive I had some demons to conquer and these particular demons reside around Eyebrook Reservoir. As the blog title suggests, I do go beyond Northants and today I briefly touched Rutland. Some great hills, notably Dry Stoke coming up from Eyebrook, Cottingham and Ashley Hill. I touched the base of the infamous Rocky Hill, which, I agree with many to it being a tough test but I find it disappointing where you end up as there's no choice but to join busier roads around Corby. I also managed to get some pics today, they're not great due to it being dull but I hope it catches the flavour of the ride. To be fair some of the villages are so pretty with amazing features I could've spent my whole time snapping and not getting on with the ride. My route deviated just before Gretton and I paid an unintentional visit to Caldecott, the pictures will show you why.

By far the nicest surprise of the ride was bumping into fellow C & D Cycles rider, Iain Tingle.

I don't know why the strava map isn't showing it worked fine for the previous ride. UPDATE: it's a strava bug, some maps don't show, they're working on it!

The Triangular Lodge in the grounds of Rushton Hall. A famous piece of architecture and an example of a Catholic architectural statement and linked to the gunpowder plot , for more check English Heritage

The view from Cottingham, the road in the distance leads to Bringhurst, where I went earlier in the ride

OK so that's not a great pic of Rockingham Castle

Nor is that!
For better pictures of Rockingham Castle and a bit of history click here: It's not in Leicestershire...just so you know!

The river Welland between Lyddington and Gretton blocked my path and I'm not sure the two cars I saw go through were being that clever.

Another flood pic

Approaching Eyebrook Reservoir

Bit floody heading to Bringhurst but at least I could cross this one

Wet wet wet

Like me the swans are having fun!

The other good thing about today was that I outwaited the frost and got home before the wind and rain started again. I'm lucky I have an understanding wife!!!

Friday, 3 January 2014

New Year's day Ride

Well I wanted to start the year as I meant to go on, so on a wet and windy New Year's Day my good friend Darren and I set out on a route I planned encompassing many of my favourite roads. Others were invited but a combination of the weather and late nights put them off. This is where rule #5 comes in. If you haven't read velominati - the rules well you should. I break many of them including having a saddle bag and a pump attached to my bike. Darren smashes the facial hair rule to pieces. Anyway a sanitised version of rule #5 is: Harden the flip up! However we did stick strictly to rule #9: If you are riding out in bad weather you are badass. Period.

The main points of this ride is to prove that Northants is not flat! In just 40 miles (oh dear that's rule #24 broken: Speeds and distances shall be referred to and measure in kilometres,) we climbed 2000ft. That might not be the Col de L'Alpe D'huez but it's enough test for my 43 year old legs. If I'd taken pics you may have seen some stunning scenery, however on that day it's more likely that my camera would have been more waterlogged than a bog snorkeller.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

First post - confessions of a Mamil

I've always liked cycling. I've had a road bike or a mountain bike pretty much all my life barring early kids bikes and of course the iconic 70's Raleigh Chopper. 2013 though was different. I met a bunch of people through the C & D Cycles bike shop. A few months before I met them in May, Andy Ferguson, the shop manager, started 'shop rides.' These differ from club runs you'd get in established clubs because there's a ''no man or woman gets left behind," policy. The shop rides have grown and we are on the cusp of forming the C & D Cycles club. For me personally this has taken me from an occasional rider to a regular rider and I've  switched from doing the odd charity ride, to riding in Sportives. I've also gone from trying to persuade friends to ride with me to meeting new friends who ride.

So why have I started a blog? Well I want to record the rides I do this year in one place. Northamptonshire is not renowned for cycling but the truth is it's great here. We don't have massive hills but what we do have is beautiful rolling countryside and a shed full of quiet country roads. I'm hoping in the summer to get some good pictures taken with an aspiring photographer, to find and share new routes and promote cycling in our county and beyond.