Sunday, 28 September 2014

Little bit of solo action

Well this was one of those funny rides when I had a short amount of time and didn't really plan a route. I just wanted a bit of a spin in the Northants sunshine and to visit some of my favourite villages.
On route I pondered what makes a good village. For me they have to have the following. Thatched cottages made of sandstone, a pub, a church with a spire or tower and a red phone box. On that thinking only Harrington on route today ticks the boxes. Draughton comes a close second because I'm sure the village clubroom is a drinking (autocorrect changed thatto dribbling which is probably true too) establishment on the quiet.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Led the shop ride, bit of a rant, cake overload, all good in the end!

Fellow Evertonian, Big Steve, was freed for quick stuff today

So today I was lucky enough to plan the route and lead the social ride. I just recycled one of my routes from another time but that was ok because we did some stuff we don't normally do. Iain Tingle  led the faster lads. Rich McNab was my tail gunner, although he didn't have the best day at the back. More on that later.

I don't remember when I made this route or why but what I did was include tonnes of my favourite quiet roads. The road from Rushton to Pipewell, Church Lane Harrington, Mill Lane and Hannington to Orlingbury being my highlights. The best hill of the day was indeed the women's tour QoM into Harrington...except I didn't ride it. Unfortunately half the group went the wrong way and I went off to find them. Then people went looking for me and it all got confused. We were strung out because of a fast descent and for me this is the time I want some gaps in the group for safety. Because we'd gone the other way recently half the group turned off. When I caught up with them Rich was upset about people not listening to him and I was upset that people had turned where I would not pass a junction without a full group. So there was a rant. Sorry about that everyone but once rules were re-established the rest of the ride was a dream. We had some newbies and I really hope they weren't put off. 

Back at the shop my amazing wife had provided three cakes. Two types of beetroot cake, one of which was demolished by the quicks before we got there. The chocolate and beetroot was in my opinion a bit special. Because Andy doesn't like beetroot Lee also made him a vanilla sponge. However it was Justin Smith's 40th birthday and he provided cake too! Happy birthday mate, I really enjoyed my 40th I hope you do too. You're a lucky man to get a ride in on the big day. I'm guessing there will be so e cake left for the Sunday riders.

Nice to see Dave

Still boiling 
Mr McNab

Lord Vader

Andy had to man the shop today and I know he was disappointed about that but those are the breaks sometimes. If he wasn't at the helm in the Death Star we would never have got this great club. I did feel sorry for him though.
Cake ahoy

Finally I'm a jammy git so not only did I get a great ride with my club mates I also got to go to Franklins Gardens, home of the English Champions, Northampton Saints. It's been an emotional week with the death of Saints mascot Luis Ghaut. There was a fitting tribute with a minutes applause. The lads did not let Luis down, with a bonus point win over league leaders (not now though,) Bath. With Everton salvaging a point and Europe going well in the Ryder cup, this has pretty much been the perfect day.

The minutes applause at Saints

Happy Peddaling 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Vroom vroom shake shake the room!

Damn you phone it was way darker and the lights were twinkling

It's been a really mixed day for me. It started with my commute, which was ok.

During the day I learned that 13 year old Luis Ghaut had lost his battle with cancer. For those of you who don't know Luis who started a successful charity campaign called LU15 when diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. He was taken to heart by the Saints, he led them out on that glorious day last May and a few weeks ago was on Rugby Tonight. In short Luis was a beacon of light to the Saints Nation and he's gone. Life can be ridiculously cruel at times and I moved through sadness to anger.

The day didn't really improve and there are things I'm not at liberty to divulge about the state of the NHS and the fact we're being run down in mental health at a time when mental health problems are rising!

You may wonder why I'm including this in my cycling blog? Well flip me I'm angry. I'm angry about kids who die of cancer, I'm angry about the state of services being stripped in the name of austerity and I'm angry about the less fortunate being pissed on from high by the privileged few. So what did I need? Vroom Wednesday. I needed to ride as fast as I could and get it all out. It's like the opposite of last week when I needed to dawdle. I has to get it out?

So off we went. It felt quick so my 16mph average is a bit of a disappointment. Then I look at the stack of PR's I got, mostly in the first half of the ride and realise that's ok for me. You see I'm not a quick rider. I probably don't really qualify for vroom and towards the end I'd taken up my familiar position of arse end Charlie.

I'd like to say we took in the delights of Northants and in parts that's true but also the twin terrors of Wellingborough and Irthlingborough were heavily featured in this ride. To be fair I'd rather go to Raunds! Ok sorry that's my dark mood coming out. There were some great bits to this ride. Bits of the Northamptonshire  countryside looked spectacular in the setting sun. I also think as the sun went down the plethora of flashing lights in the group was quite impressive. The highlight of the ride, and the most apt for vroom, was the fast section from Mears Ashby to Harrowden. We were flying on that section and it felt great!

I have to also say that big Steve cheered me up with the usual blend of straight talking wisdom and fast show quotes. Getting home to learn that Brad Wiggins was the world time trial champion also brightened things up.

That's it.
Happy Pedalling

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Not cycle4cynthia

 What a busy day I've had since 5am! I woke up really excited about all the things I wanted to do. By 8am when I set off on the bike I'd emptied and refilled the dishwasher, hung a load of washing out, put more washing on, walked the dogs and hung the next lot of washing out too. I may be just a little ADHD!

So off I set to pick up the cycle4cynthia route at Harrington and then complete it with the intention of making it home in time for dinner at the Thai garden at half past 12.

Now riding a sportive for free is not something I approve of. Especially not a charity sportive. I had said I would put my twenty notes in a charity tin but I thought about it on the way round and instead I found a just giving page and donated to a stranger. I hope Martin French appreciates his surprise donation! As I said before this is an important ride. I don't know anyone whose family hasn't been affected by cancer and I know these hospices ease the passing for those who are sadly terminal. Just last week my good friend and fellow rider Jamie Stockham lost his father in law to this hideous disease. My thoughts were with everyone I know whose suffered as I rode.
Well it was one of those days when my legs felt great and I made it easy despite cycle4cynthia once again picking out as many hills as possible in its 50 miles.  I had also expected to be passed at some point by a local club superstar smasing along at 25mph average. I wasn't though.  In fact from the official ride I only saw two riders doing the 25 mile route and a little girl and her dad doing the 5 miler.

Some bits of the route I loved. To my surprise they were uphill.  My favourite Hill of the day was going up my land speed record hill for the first time ever.  On the way up I passed another roadie who'd stopped. He told me to show him how it was done so I stayed out of the saddle dancing on the pedals all the way up.  At the top I was shot but feeling a bit pleased with myself. Icing on the cake as far as climbs go was the women's tour QOM into Brixworth and the last climb into Lamport from Scaldwell.

That was a beautiful morning to be on a bike and I was very mindful how good it makes me feel. So different to yesterday and the fog I just felt great to be alive in the autumnal sunshine.
I haven't checked how my club colleagues got on yet so I hope they did ok too. Next year I'm determined that this will be a father son ride with me and super Sam doing the 25 miler together.

Dinner was as usual fantastic at the Thai Garden and thanks to Dad in Law who paid despite it being his birthday meal! Since then the Saints  have had a bonus point win and Lewis Hamilton won the Grand Prix. If Everton sort their lives out this could be the perfect weekend!

Happy pedalling!

That's how beautiful it was today!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

The FOG!

Today started with fog, thick fog, that persisted well beyond our 8:45 start time. It was not a bit of mist as  described by Andy who frankly is to meteorology as David Moyes is at managing former giants who play in red. However with the aid of my trusty one23 extreme bright light I felt safe enough to proceed in this weeks larger social group. There were far less riders in the fast group, perhaps it was the FOG! Andy as will be seen has a little more to worry about than the weather!

You may have seen this route before. It's a good one with one monster hill at East Farndon and the short sharp shock of Bunker Hill coming out of Rothwell. Along the way we crossed the River Jordan at Braybrooke - LET MY PEOPLE GO - and took in the delights of Rushton, Desborough, Clipston, Kelmarsh, And Harrington. In Desborough it's 'war week,' no they're not expecting the Scots to invade it's a WWII thing with windows taped up and all that malarkey. It's Desborough though so many of them won't be aware it's over yet. Fittingly we took our group photo at the splendid war memorial in Clipston.

Beautiful people in Clipston

As usual the Saturday ride is the best and most important ride of the week, this was another good one with Steve leading and me at the back. We had a couple of communication issues on the way and after I  recovered from a bit of a rant, these were resolved like adults and the riding was spot on. 

Tomorrow many club riders are participating in an excellent charity ride/sportive for worthy local charities. Unbelievably under the unnecessary current climate of austerity the two beneficiaries Cransley and Cynthia Spencer Hospice are having their budgets slashed and are under enormous financial pressure. So this ride has massive local importance (you don't want to engage me in a conversation on this if you're a fan of our current government, I have a big soapbox and I will jump on you from it!) unfortunately I can't do the ride properly but I do have my own plan. I will donate my £20 entry fee to Cransley, they have loads of collection tins around the county so I will pop it in the next one I see. Then I'm setting off early in the morning to ride the route, it passes close to home so I can hop on and off there to get the job done. By doing that I'll be back in time for a family dinner at the Thai Garden, which is the best food that money can buy!

Oh my whose feet are these? Is it a lady in comfortable shoes?

Oh it's air Andy with the toasty toes...bless him

Last shout of the day goes to my lovely friends Paul Cuts and Paula Knight who both had the dubious pleasure of encountering the C&DCYCLES massive en route! Nice to see you!

Happy pedalling

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

I just wanted to dawdle!


Well that was a funny old day. It was preceded by an awful nights sleep with the most bizarre and unconnected dreams in between bouts of being awake. Then a commute to work where I realised I gave the fit girl on the bike a second glance to see what she was riding not what she looked like (I guess that's the final step before this cycling obsession becomes firmly entrenched.) Then I forgot I had to walk to a meeting and dashed off in a panic to discover it was at a different time in a different place meaning I ended up doing a 4 mile walk on a bike ride day. Finally I didn't make to either spec savers for my eye test or to C&DCYCLES for vroom Wednesday. Like I said funny day!

Missing vroom was not all in doom and gloom as trying to zoom would have put me in a tomb. I was knackered and I also just needed one of those 'just worry about myself,' rides. That's because that meeting I walked half way across Kettering for was in fact a bit on the heavy side. My head was  frankly frazzled and I just needed the sort of space only a solo ride can provide.

Well what a lovely little dawdle I had! I left K town and headed up a great hill to Cransley and then right to Loddington up those nasty twin lumps. Then I headed to Old down Mill Lane, one of my favourite quiet roads. From Old I went to Lamport and then over some more lumpy bits to Draughton, from there I went to Harrington then home. I got on my own rhythm and achieved a mindful zen state shedding all my head rubbish before getting home. Sometimes it's not about speed, sometimes you just need to dawdle!

View from Mill Lane

Up Mill Lane

Down Mill Lane

Lamport to Draughton

Same spot different view

Happy pedalling!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Steve's Super Sunday Slopey Slogathon...

Steves last words yesterday were that after Saturdays hill fest we would be doing something flatter for Sunday. Well he's a lying wotsit! If you check the rides you'll see yesterday was slightly less climbing than we did today!

Sunday rides are designated as the longer ride for more experienced cyclists. The group size is smaller and there were just five of us this morning so that's easy to name. The group was big Steve, Neil, Nat, Stuart (not Grainger or Nicholls, first time I've met him - nice bloke!) and me. As per usual I was the slowest rider so a natural sort of arse end Charlie role developed. It was nice though to get out front on the down hills and express myself. I like group riding but my only bugbear is having to brake behind others who are less confident on descents.

So off we set on a magical mystery tour through Weekly and on to Geddington, then Newton, Rushton, Pipewell, Desborough, Braybrooke and on to Market Harborough.  Aha Steve I'm onto you East Farndon Hill. If that wasnt enough we then went to Naesby up that other monster. Then Ravensthorpe, Spratton, Brixworth ouch! You get the idea. 

There was brief respite as Steve had a puncture from a thorn the size of a T-Rex talon. At that point I learned that Steve and Neil have been personally punctured. You read that right we were talking about stabbings!

After Brixworth it was Scaldwell, Old, Loddington and then for me home to Rothwell. The others had the unecessary Icing on the cake of Bunker hill.

the most bizarre thing that happened today was an incident with a couple between Brixworth and Scaldwell. We went past these two helmetless riders who were dawdling. We said good morning and they said nothing in return. Well you'd think we have pooed in their front room. They came past tutting, didnt want a chat and were overheard muttering about us not being proper cyclists. Blimey if we're not the real thing, I hate to think what we have to do.

Not much else  to say except that was a brilliant bike ride. Thanks Steve for the route and everyone else for fantastic company. 
Penny Farthing Cottage - Old

Roadside repairs
A familiar view as I tried to keep up with quicker riders

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Andy 'Mountain Goat,' Brown's Super Saturday Shop Ride

Nat this is Strava, it's a beautiful thing, I do hope it works for you soon

As usual on Saturday I got myself down to the death star aka C&D Cycles shop and clubhouse. The group size this morning was huge and were we not running fast and social groups we would still have needed to split up for safety. Andy Brown who created the impressively lumpy route above led the fast riders and in breaking news I've heard Nat, who benefitted from Andy F's expert fiddling in the week, did the rear job. Lord Vader led the social group with me as usual performing arse end Charlie duties.

The route crossed the Welland valley taking in numerous picture postcard villages, along quiet lanes with more hills than we usually attempt for a Saturday shop ride. So why did Theresa and I decide to make it harder and do the Harrington QOM hill too? Well it was my fault, when i looked at the route last night I just thought that Hill was included too. One hill we often don't include on club rides is the one from Rothwell to Orton. I've used that for hill training by doing it ten times in succession and it really is a good climb. Ok I'm going to find some pictures from the web to show you the sort of villages we went through.

Rushton Church




You get the idea then don't you? As per usual we weren't the only lycra loonies on the road today but I have to report a worrying trend. More people failed to acknowledge us than ever before. If you're on a bike say hello people, or nod, or smile, or wave but for flips sake don't ride past ignorantly like you're better than us! As I've said before, your poo smells too!

Ok time for some photos I actually took. Apologies for some of the quality it's not that easy whilst riding a bike!

Some shots of the group

Cheeky little pitstop

What a handsome man...sadly I got no shots of his leg warmer striptease

Great route, lovely quiet lanes

Low gear and spin!

Undoubtedly the highlight of today's ride was Andy's seductive striptease as he removed his completely unnecessary leg warmers. It's September people so what's with all the base layers, 3/4 lengths (which are a bit feminine to be honest Stuart,) overshoes etc. It will be cold in November, leave the additional clobber in the drawer until then.

Back at the death star and it was service as usual with tea and recovery food. Today's cake was provided by Theresa and very nice it was too. People are still also asking me about Australia and I think it will be months before I tire of those questions. It's now mid twenties in Brisbane but hey it's pretty nice here too. Another great ride with my C&D Cycles CC clubmates. Can't wait for tomorrow and Big Steve's Sunday smuttathon!

Happy Pedalling

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Quick spin after five to thrive

I cycle for a number of reasons. Sometimes it's to blow off some cobwebs and sometimes it's to download the daily stress. Neither of those are true today because I've been to another inspirational Five to Thrive training event and as part of practising what I preach I just went out because I enjoy it!

So what's this five to thrive? Probably none if you are wondering! Come on Rich this isn't cycling, talk about Lycra and averages and tyres and hill and segments and all that. Well bear with me I'm going to shoehorn this in whilst I continue on my get people talking about Five to Thrive soapbox.

Here we go then. Five to thrive as seen in the picture above is a sequence of steps needed to make a child's brain grow in the first place then continue growing in the future. As adults those steps will maintain and improve our brains. Here's the really surprising bit: C&DCYCLES CC does five to thrive without knowing it and even though it's incredibly difficult to imagine being in a bike club has helped our brains to stay healthy! Really Rich? Yes really! You see it's quite simple. We RESPOND to each other just by meeting up for our club rides. The next step is CUDDLE except in later life this becomes ENGAGE (sorry if anyone was hoping to cuddle another Lycra loonie, I'm open to hugs just not from post ride sweat sodden MAMILS,) we do the ENGAGE bit though just by taking an interest in each other, we help each other RELAX we definitely PLAY and above all I've had some amazing TALKs on a bike. There, surely you want to know more now? If so look up a Five to Thrive, especially if you're a parent and/or work with children.

Back to my ride. It was a lovely evening. I would've joined vroom but ran out of time with all the brewing etc I've got on the go. It's one of my favourite routes and well here's some pictures.

Those are all a bit arty aren't they but they do capture the beautiful scenery in the fading light. Bloody lovely it was! 

Happy pedalling

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Tony Talbot update: mission accomplished!

Well he did it and not alone as Nat Dartnell also completed the full 150 miles. This is an epic achievement and I'm so proud that fellow C&DCYCLES CC club mates have done this. I'm also really pleased with how we got behind them. It's kudos all round. The bar for endurance has now been set very high. Chapeau!

This was all for charity and it's a great local cause:

Arriving in the near dark

Tony looks shattered

And he should 150 miles on a bike is amazing!

Tony and Nat the 150 mile heroes

Have a beer both of you and Nat good luck getting up at 4am!

Tony Talbot's amazing challenge and another Gran Fondo completed

If my cycling was to feature on an episode of the fast show it would be in a sketch with the scientist.
"Dave and I wondered if a month of living it up in Australia followed by a 24 hour flight and a week of jet lag was good preparation for a bike ride?" The answer is no! I struggled today but I'm really pleased I did it. I'm even more pleased to have supported Tony, albeit I saw him at the shop and the tea stop, because he was way too good for me today.

The man of the day Tony Talbot

The support team assemble at the Death Star

This was a day of many plans which at time of writing is still very much underway. The first plan is Tony's incredible 150 mile challenge which he's doing in four 38 mile laps starting from C&DCYCLES. The rest of us joined him for part of his challenge whilst completing challenges of our own. Mine was two complete two laps and with the extra from and to home making up my 130km (the challenge is on km so I'm going to use those, it's not because it sounds more honest!) the rest of the team was Rich, Chris, Stuart, Steve, Alan, Neil and Nat. Rich did his two laps and then went on a personal quest to bag the 100 miles he was denied at Ride London, Alan and Stuart did one lap, Chris did the first and last time I saw him was setting off with Tony and Nat for the 3rd. Neil and Steve also did two with the plan to return for a fourth later and Nat who is becoming an amazing rider said she might do all four. I'm going back to the shop at 7ish to congratulate Tony and I'm hoping for a positive update to this blog later.

Tea break in Islip provided by Shelly

Getting stuck in

The route today was very well chosen and I was thrilled to make four visits to Raunds. The tea break was very welcome, great tea, lovely cakes (almost Lee standard but hey that's a very high bar,) and thanks for the use of the loo. The only downside being we didn't notice that Andy had provided tea and cakes after our first stop, so I wouldn't blame him for feeling a bit shunned. We still love you Andy! Also behaving itself was the weather and I would describe it as the quintessential English Summer Day. Our leafy lanes were showcased in sunlight but there was no time to take pictures.

Following Rich McNab...I needed his support

What really stunned me was the pace that Tony and the front runners set. I'm never going to be the quickest rider and I'm ok with that but I was going quick for me and they were gone! As I said at the start I haven't exactly had the best preparation for an 80 miler but even on top form I think they'd be too swift for me. One of the pace setters was Nat. In the same way that we pointed Tom in the racing direction I think we need to encourage Nat that way too. Also she's not on Strava! Every QOM in the county would be at risk! Not everyone tore off though and Steve in particular was supportive despite the fact he'd have easily kept up at the front. Of biggest help to me today was Rich McNab. It's a case of what goes around comes around as that newbie hanging out of his arse a few months ago is now becoming a good rider. Also helpful was the banter, I was in fits at times, so many thanks to the Prince of Profanity and his perverted apprentice.

At the shop it was nice to see Emma and Mark Nichols and then even nicer to catch up with that chap on the Dahon TT that I met after the squires and spires. The roll back to Rowell was hard work and those nasty pre-cramp twinges were warning me not to push it. Expect the dreaded leg lock later!

Ok then I will do a quick update blog this evening where I'm hoping to report a successful challenge. 

Happy pedalling 

Saturday, 6 September 2014

It's Saturday, its September and it's back to club rides with a classic route!

Bit harsh Strava I've actually got 11 achievements on this ride!

Right so this blog starts with an apology. I forgot to mention that on yesterday's ride I had a friendly wave from our favourite bike shop manager, Andy or Darth Vader as we love to call him. So it was much glee that I enjoyed my welcome from the Sith Lord on arrival at the Death Star (C&DCYCLES). Andy was delighted to see me too. He expressed much enjoyment of our Australian adventures on Facebook and said: "it's like I was there in person, Rich!"  So I was pleased to share as much as I could from our trip to an entranced audience. Oh ok I went on a bit, but hey it was the trip of a lifetime so what do you expect?

Stupidly I forgot my drink this morning and as usual Andy came to the rescue. I have a new drink bottle then (see above,) with some very nice branding!

As is now practise for the club we split into two groups. Big Steve blasted off we the quick lads and Andy led the banter social ride. Stuart and I worked in tandem in the tail gunner role and a big mention needs to go to Stuart for his role here. The group rode safely and communicated well and as ever rule 1 - no one gets left behind -  was well observed. It was also nice to see newbies on the ride. That's what we're about. I thought Mel in particular did very well for a first group ride on a challenging route.

So let's talk about that route. Rocky Hill was it's usual intimidating self and Middleton Hill was the perfect warm up to the beast of Northants. I'm sure many people have been up bigger hills than Rocky, there are indeed plenty of them in Northants but there's just something brutal about it. I'm delighted to note I have a PR for the notorious slope so that's nice.

On return to the shop we met up with the speedsters for cake by Mrs Lindsley, the Queen of Cakes. Apparently there's a usurper to her crown also keeping the club in vital recovery food. Well bring it on I say (because we get more cake that way!) Steve gave his blunt as ever assessment of Lee's apple cake. MOIST! That will do for me. Also bluntly assessed was the state of my post holiday physique...PORTLY. I know, I know, there's some work to be done!

Also back at the shop thoughts turned to tomorrow and the fantastic challenge of 150 miles Tony Talbot has set himself in aid of Kettering Hospital Radio. We are planning to support him as much as possible and complete a few challenges, like the Gran Fondo, ourselves. The plan is 38 mile laps starting at C&DCYCLES. There's a charity jar on the counter in the shop and I think Tony would appreciate as many people as possible to ride with. Most of us are joining the start of the ride so it would be nice if some people could help out with the later laps. If nothing else get your hand in your pocket and put some money in the jar.

When I got home my 'cyclists stay awesome,' stickers arrived in the post. I got five of these so there's three spare at this time. If anyone wants one, please let me know.

Finally it's good to be back. I've been to one of the nicest places on the planet and it was really hard to leave. However knowing I can ride my bike in good company on our beautiful leafy lanes is more than enough compensation.

Happy pedalling