Friday, 31 October 2014


I'm currently pre-writing this in anticipation of some riding today. Right now it's drizzling outside and I'm not feeling the love for my commute to work. Luckily I don't have to go just yet so I've had a browse to see what gems I'm can find. The first of today's links is a real surprise. It's from The Times! I'm, given my liberal tendencies, more of a Guardian man and usually view one of Murdoch's publications with suspicion but Cities fit for cycling page is a great resource. Have a wander around on it, there's some great features. A browse of youtube unearthed something quite different and not something I'd recommend but hey it looks fun

and then I found a great piece on the inspiration for all bike mechanics everywhere:

It irks me a bit that the youtube feature on blogger just doesn't work (UPDATE: I may have just fixed this!!!) However the Vimeo one does and I found this recent cyclo-x race from the States. Here's the link to the page, looking out of my window I'd say it looks a lot nicer in California and I'd definitely have a go at this if I lived there! Probably the fancy dress ride though, those racers look a bit special.

2014 Surf City Cyclo-X Series Race 1 from Hans Kellner on Vimeo.

It's still drizzling outside, stupid soggy island! I need some miles today because I'm out for dinner tonight. Extra calories into myfitnesspal means extra portions in

Ok this is what I finally achieved on an extended lunch break. Anyone concerned about the effect on the NHS should know I miss more lunch breaks than I take so the odd extension really isn't an issue. I was hoping to dodge the raindrops but I failed miserably. I was saturated, way beyond moist, super soggy, soaking wet! My average was abysmal and that's not lack of effort, it was just too wet to fly round bends and dash down hills. The lovely climb from Arthingworth was more riding in a stream than riding up a road. The weather may have been miserable but I felt great. I'm not sure that rule #14 is all that important all I know is the worst bit of riding in bad weather is getting started. The key is the right gear. With leg warmers, winter Jersey and rain jacket I was fine. Because I was too hot on Sunday I left the overshoes off and stuck to standard mitts. Once I got going it was fine and its a few more calories for the Tapas!

Happy pedalling

Thursday, 30 October 2014


Not quite my commute - check out more amazing images from Alain Delorme

I'm pre-writing again. Not sure what I'll do today bike wise other than the journey to work and back. The forecast looks a bit better for the next few days apart from 30mph winds on Sunday so some good miles are called for.

At dinner last night we were talking about some of the amazing videos of gifted stunt riders you can watch online. I was surprised to learn that people didn't know about Martyn Ashton's accident so I felt I needed to have a catch up on his situation. Firstly he finished Road Party 2 after the accident.

Road Bike Party 2 - Martyn Ashton from endurance Junkie on Vimeo.

From his facebook page I found the best blog I've ever read. His words and attitude are an inspiration and I found myself mouthing the word 'brilliant' as I finished reading. I hope you like it too!
Martyn Ashton - year one

A thought occurred to me as I splished and sploshed in the rain yesterday and that was that I'm engaged in turbo trainer avoidance. It might be I'm not ready for the road to nowhere or more likely I have sufferfest phobia. Yesterday would have been so much more productive on the turbo! Never mind eh!

Winter Friend or Torture Device from endurance Junkie on Vimeo.

I can't believe what I agreed to last night without the aid of alcohol...Janet Frost (mentioned by name so you best retweet now,) my former team leader and recent conqueror of the DeLoitte Lands End to John O'Groats, laid down a challenge. Well it was more asking really. On June 20th 2015 she plans to do the chase the sun ride. The keener eyed of you will realise this is the summer solstice or longest day. There's 17 hours of daylight and during that time you ride from The Isle of Sheppey to Somerset, the small matter of 200 miles. That's my cycling goal for next year sorted then! Yep I'm having a pop at a double century. My longest ride to date is 105 miles so this will require serious training, a lot more healthy eating and possibly a very long booze ban! We all need goals though don't we?

To today's riding. My ride in was the standard commute and then I did a bit extra on the way home. Given what I've said above I guess I'm going to need to do a lot more bonus miles. It was a nice little ride though, unlike yesterday it was dry. It was also warm. Today I'm back down to shorts, short sleeved cycling Jersey and standard mitts. The only concession to the time of year was the clear lenses in my eyewear. I picked up some trophies too so all in all I'm a happy MAMIL.

The day was topped off by cycling buddy Big Steve bringing round another stack of logs. At some point it will get proper cold and then we'll be fine because the log burner will be well fed! For his trouble he's quality controlling my beers whilst I head towards the end of  Macmillan's GoSoberforOctober. It's a tough job so thanks for your help Steve. 

More commuting tomorrow and then the bit that really floats my boat, the weekend club rides. 

Happy pedalling

Monday, 27 October 2014

Guy Martin tribute commute!

No STRAVA routes again because it's just the commute. This mornings ride to work is dedicated to king of lamb chops, master of speed, man who never says anything just once, Guy Martin. If you haven't managed to watched any of his Speed series, why have you been wasting your life? If you weren't aware that series 2 has started...WAKE UP! This is simply the best telly ever. He may be more famous for his motorbike racing but he's a serious cyclist and the only man alive who I still respect despite using the phrase 'push bike.' (Eurgh I feel dirty typing it!)

For more info check out this link - Guy Martin Speed - it's back!

Due to the wonder of catch up TV I watched it this morning. Well I tried to, the last quarter of the show was delayed by the wifi going down. Ooh I was cursing Virgin media! However I got ready for work and watched the last bit in my lycra, it felt more authentic that way.

When I set off I had an extra bounce in my pedals and the shows theme music was my commuting ear worm. Riding my bike is usually enough to put me in a good mood so the added joy of euphoria for the eyes made my day!

At work I managed to get my bike to work order forms signed so I'm soon to have some tax free spending power. All good there, preparing for bike shopping. I think you all know I'm doing that at c&dcycles!

The journey home was, due to the relentless advance of British winter time, in the dark. No problem there, with my trusty one23 extreme bright it wasn't a problem.

The legs however still feel stiff so I need to take my own advice and rest for a couple of days. This was clear from the latest Speed episode. You get fitter when you rest not whilst you're on the bike. Other bits of note were the skin calliper test and even though in his own words there's more meat on a butchers pencil Guy needed to lose an extra 5kg to be in peak condition for his challenge. I wonder if he uses myfitnesspal? Another interesting fact was that you can only absorb one litre of water an hour. So there's no point guzzling like mad! Anyway I'm not spoiling anymore of it, watch yourself it's flipping marvelous!

Happy Peddaling

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Very windy Sunday club ride

The group gathers at the Death Star

A group of lovely C&D Cycles CC gathered this morning at the usual time of 8am but benefitting from an extra hour in bed due to the clocks going back. Led by Big Steve, we were: Stuart G, Stuart P, Bob, Neil, Nat and me. Having been confused by yesterday's cold snap we were all well wrapped up in winter gear and those that have them were opting for winter bikes or at least winter wheels and mudguards. Steve in his usual manner having used his winter bike yesterday, stuck two fingers up at the elements and unleashed his impressive Boardman.

Steve has lovely new shoes (not from C&D slapped wrist!)

Neil has distracting new tights 

The weather today was a bit milder and most of us felt a bit warm quite soon. There was however quite a fierce wind which felt like a typical English sou'wester and as we headed SW for the first half of the ride it was In our face quite a bit. After ten miles we lost Stuart G heading towards Finedon. His brakes were rubbing and his bike just sounded wrong so he called it a day and headed home. The news was broken to the group at the sign below where a big a Steve comment the day before had me
hyperventilating. Today was no different: "Grainger's brakes are rubbing? That's the only friction he's
likely to get!" Once again I was in bits and this was even funnier when I got home to realise Stuart had named his ride on Strava, 'frustration!' Sorry Stuart. Oh well you know I'm not but it's the thought
that counts! I've decided for the rest of it we could be guilty of sharing too much: what goes on rides stays on rides!

The profanity post

Leaving Finedon we saw the first of the day's other riders. Now cycling for us at the weekend is a sport but for others it's still a source of transport. The old boy who passed us in his hat with a shopping bag on the handlebars was one such utility bike heroes. I was encouraged to get a snap but
actually I don't like using other people's image without permission so I'm glad I didn't. I'll find a library pic that works. We also passed others though, I imagine off to their allotments and family
groups out for a ride. I nearly wiped out a family turning into my road because I was so busy saying bye and thanking the others for a great ride. I guess we all need to remember to ride with due care and attention at times.

The route itself was simply splendid. We went to places we don't usually go like Bozeat Link which like many places in Northants is pronounced nothing like it's spelled. So it's not 'beau-zeet' it's 'beau-shut' except even that's not quite right. We were close to Cogenhoe at that point, once again it's not 'co-gan-ho' it's 'cook-no'. Complicated our county isn't it. Of course my ride starts and finishes in Rothwell which is pronounced Rowell due to the fact it's Anglo Saxon for 'red well.' Im interested by this stuff I hope others are not now reaching for the paddle of rebuke.

My own personal ride today was pretty good but I lost my legs towards the end. That's my own fault. Instead of resting after yesterday's ride and ran round like a loony until it was time to go and stand on the terrace at the Saints for an hour and a half. This is fascinating but even though I was only watching I'm not at rest because mirror neurons mean my muscles were relaxing and contracting in a similar way to players on the pitch. I suppose the big clue I'd overdone it all should be falling asleep before nine and missing the end of Doctor Who.

Riding behind Nat was interesting (leave it smut monkeys I'm making a valid technical point here,) she's super fit and as such much faster on average than me. Being a downhill specialist I find myself frustratingly braking a lot behind this type of lighter rider. What's more fascinating is her movement on the bike. Nat is never still. She feels she needs to throw herself around to generate power that us erm...'strength athletes,' generate by sitting very still and pushing harder through the pedals. At the bottom of a climb if I got up at the same time as Nat I would nearly run straight into the back of her as my first standing up push is loads more powerful. However by the end of a decent climb she's out of sight by the time I make the top. Like I said, interesting.

I've been reading lots about power to weight ratios to try and work out my ideal riding weight. At the moment my guess is 13 stones 0lbs, my current goal weight on myfitnesspal. This might not be right though. The reading I've done says too heavy slows you done but too light will also be slower due to power to weight ratio and things like energy levels and reduced immunity of people with very low body fat percentage. Unfortunately from my reading there's no scientific formula for ideal weight. It's trial and error. Find the weight your fastest at and try to maintain it. The experiment continues then. All I will say is myfitnesspal is working for me and Go Sober for October has really helped too. Unfortunately my sponsor money for this piece of personal sacrifice currently stands at the square root of diddly squat.

Finally it's time for Steve's interesting fact of the day. Apparently we passed very close to Eastern Maudit, where national treasure (?) Derek Nimoy used to live. Steve knows this because his first job was as Mr Nimoy's butler. Put the paddle of rebuke down!

I said finally but there's one more point to post. The view counter on this blog currently sits on 9999, meaning I will hit ten thousand views today. I'm not sure what I expected when I started this but I think that's great. So thanks everyone for reading and I will continue to blog every day I ride until New Years Eve. I'm not sure how I will carry on after that, maybe there will be a weekly blog. 

Happy Pedalling

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Saturday's are the best!

So back to the bread and butter of my riding week, the C&DCycles CC Saturday club ride. As per usual it was two groups. Lord Vader headed out with the quicks and I'm proud as anything of Rich McNab for making the transition up. Who'd have known that the lad hanging out of his arse a few months back, who was also getting the jitters about Ride London, would be heading out for 30 miles at 17-20mph average? Well I did. Rich is nothing but determined. Andy says I'm next! Yeah maybe!!!

As per usual I was happy to tail gun the social/beginner/banter/classic ride. This week we were led by big Steve or after his exploits with his huge hammer, Thor! The group was the usual mix or regulars and infrequents, there's many of us I can see stepping up from that lot. There's little of note to make of the riding other than it was safe, considerate and good fun. It's so easy when we have weeks like this.

We were a little quiet to start with and ironically, as we were in Burton when I said something, I did wonder if people had had their weetabix. People perked up at that point which left me to wonder about the demise of our local businesses. Weetabix is now owned by a Chinese company and
Northamptonshire's other famous product Dr Martens boots are made in China. I can't help thinking we've thrown local treasures away for short term greed...

Oh sorry I'll get back to cycling

On the ride there was the usual banter. Cycling banter for the unintiated is a mix of taking the piss out of each other and bike based innuendo. I'm sure others can add to this but here's some of the things that get a titter:
Big ring
Can't get it in (pedal related)
Coming from behind
Bringing up the rear
Getting penetrated (puncture related)

The list goes on and when certain club members are present it appears virtually inexhaustible. Still it's good to laugh when you're out on a bike, it takes your mind off things like hills or a stiff breeze (ooh look I said stiff!)

Ok enough of that here's a few more pics on what was a beautiful Autumn day.

The pictures do show how it was, bright, fresh and light winds.

Back at the shop it was the usual fare of tea and cake. Andy was proudly using his new cup and I agreed it was pic worthy. That's blatant product placement in the background as the shop is promoting the Garmin Virb camera. I'd love one of those so who knows I may be product testing one of those beauties in the near future.

That's it for today I need to get my butt down to Northampton to watch those mighty Saints!

Happy Pedalling

Friday, 24 October 2014

Back in the saddle

I'm going to break with tradition and not include my Strava routes today. It's just my commute. If you read this blog you know my route, if you don't, welcome to my blog and have a look at some older posts you'll find my commute then you'll know.

So what's new today? Well not a lot. It's been a week since man flu struck and as a result I got that jolt of exhilaration that a week off the bike always gives. Zipping down Glendon road towards Bunker Hill I thought - oh yeah I like this. Then that slope of doom kicked in and I was telling the terrible Tarmac incline how much I hated it. I do hope people don't hear my road chat at times because frankly I sound a bit mad.

On the way in I was spotted by some fellow c&ders. Jonesy paid testament to my near Eskimo hardness by commenting it was brave to be in shorts. It's October Jonesy of course I'm in shorts soft lad! Then I was spotted and beeped by Our leader, Lord Vader. He was pulling into the Death Star in the shop tie fighter.

That was that on the way in. No road rage incidents nothing amazing segment wise, the average was all a bit average but it was nice to be back on the bike. I checked facebook when I got into work and
found that I'd been tagged into a GCN share. If you haven't watched their videos, well you should because it's the lighter side of cycling we all need...

The other good thing I found today was an article by a motoring organisation telling cars that they don't own the road. Very refreshing. So here's the link

The day at work was a long one. Yes it started with me checking social media but then it got izzy whizzy lets get busy on an epic level. So I left a lot later than usual on a Friday. Dear Jeremy Hunt, you owe me extra today. That was bad news because I rode straight into the rainstorm. Yikes, time to get inventive. I decided to put my work blackberry in my lunchbox, the actual tuppawear item not somewhere more intimate. Half way home the roads were rivers and I switched my angst from the road to the weather. Unfortunately Mother Nature wasn't interested and the rain did not follow my advice to piddle off. That was one very moist twenty minutes!

Ok that's it I've blogged. Club rides tomorrow so the blog will have a lot more quality. Enjoy the links.

Happy pedalling

Friday, 17 October 2014

Ride with a cold or not?

It's now 05:25 and I'm up, the wood burner has just lit itself off last night's hot coals, I'm catching up with Mythbusters on my Virgin TiVo recordings and I have a nice cup of tea in my cycling mug. At 04:30 I woke in a fit of coughing, spluttering and sneezing. My throat feels like it's been sandpapered and every sinus in my head feels like it's been packed tightly with cotton wool. My first thought? Will I be ok to ride today?

I used to enjoy a lazy morning and a full English breakfast brunch but not now. The idea of missing a Saturday club not has me on the verge of panic attack. I can't let people down, they'll be expecting me, Big Steve is back from holiday, who will be arse end Charlie, the club already had to manage without me for the whole of August...oh get over yourself Richard! When did this obsession start? May 2013 is the answer. That's when I did my first shop ride and I've been hooked on it ever since.

Riding with c&dcycles CC has changed cycling from an occasional past time to a way of life. I've completed challenges and sportives with the aid of my club-mates and much as I enjoy solo rides I've learnt that many things in life are better as a shared experience (hilariously auto correct changed that to flu mates!)

Huntingdon Steeplechase 2013 - one of my favourite photos - apart from missing friends

I have history of this riding when poorly. Almost exactly this time last year my body was in identical
shape. With the Silverstone Circuit Breaker fast approaching I decided to rule #5 it and do the ride. Stupid, stupid mistake. For starters I went on the Saturday ride the day before, felt like shit and decided...nah I'll be ok! Possibly worrying a bit about being unwell my prep on the day was abysmal. I didn't check my tyre pressure which is probably the cause of my puncture I experienced about ten miles into the ride. Then I forgot to eat! Yes that's right I went to do a 90 mile sportive full of cold, with soft tyres on an empty stomach! So the fact it was cold, wet and horrendously windy was just icing on my personal cake of failure. The result for me was dropping from the epic to the standard distance and limping home like a wet rag.

Actual weather footage Silverstone Circuit Breaker 2013

As with all of life's ponderances I decided there was only one way to determine what to do. Ask Google. The efforts of my research can be seen below. The London Cyclist and the Human Cyclist are two of my favourite blogs so have a good browse around those. If you like my stuff you'll love what the proper writers can do. I've also included some forums and the advice agrees universally. Cycling with a cold is not worth it. On the forums there are some horror stories and I'm sure if you read the Daily Mail you'll discover that immigrants are infecting us with Ebola as we cycle but don't go out anyway as we're about to enter another ice age (luckily being in Australia for August I missed the the predicted deadly heatwave.) The most disappointing thing I found was the Livestrong advice. I was expecting:"dose up on lemsip, beechams, echinacea and don't forget your EPO!" None of that, they stick to being sensible, not risking a compromised immune system and not rushing back to full training. Boring! The most common theme is if it's just in your head (snot, sore throat, headache,) then ride. If it's on your chest (chesty cough, green grollies,) then don't ride you could be risking chest infection.

So I've agonised over my decision. Riding is going well. I've fixed all of Clive's clunky clinking cranky noises. A combination of cycling and diet has the pounds falling off me. Ive been under my calorie goal for 45 days in a row on myfitnesspal. There's no way I can eat my normal Saturday food and stay on goal without a ride. Cycling is my personal stress buster and due to 'Go Sober for October,' I can't drink it off either. This is a big decision. So here goes. I think if I'm wondering whether I should ride or not given how much I love cycling and how much I hate missing the Saturday club ride then I shouldn't ride. I could really go for it and pay the fine, £20 for a go sober golden ticket, which allows me to have a drink...for medicinal purposes but hey I think that's cheating. So there you go, no ride for me today but at least I've blogged. Today I will rest, eat well, do a bit of brewing and enjoy the marathon of European Rugby culminating with Racing Metro v Northampton - The English Champions - Saints. 

That's my final decision...well unless I change my mind in the next hour and a half!

Happy snivelling 

Snotty commute

Well no strava errors today but not great riding I'm afraid. I'm in the grips of Man flu and even the Saturday club ride may be missed. That's right this is serious.

So there's no records no achievements no nothing really about today's cycling. I did get annoyed at the cars squeezing me on the Rockingham Road. They were all driving on the bikes and when I pointed this out through an open window I got told I shouldn't be 'speeding!' This mornings average was 15.5mph, so not exactly fast.

On a brighter note and you will get this pun shortly, I got the chance to give Clive a good clean this evening. No new products were involved this time however I did get a good shine and quite clean cogs and chain with just washing up liquid, water and GT85. So even if I'm not ready for a spin tomorrow Clive is. The trouble with cleaning is its like a CRB check, it's only good the day you do it. Personally I think it's good to take care of your equipment though so I'm going to keep up the velohygiene.

Right I need to find more tissues.
Happy pedalling

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Quick, well it may have been quick, commute!

So this morning I decided to go for it, really go for it. I wanted at least an 18mph average on my 5 mile commute to work. I'm sure I smashed it but we will probably never know because I've had a strava fail. we've all had them, technology lets us down...well when you really look most techno issues are operator error and it's no different here. I forgot to start it! So I arrived at work in a dripping mess for no other reason than my health. Oh hang on that's the point isn't it?

My ride to work was the standard Bunker Hill, Glendon Road, Rockingham Road, through town and into Station Road. You've all seen it, it's not that interesting really. 

You'll see from above I came home the more interesting way. I got a top ten on Bowhill Bother, but there's only 33 riders on that segment so perhaps not that impressive. Another PR and a load of 2's too so I'm happy with my ride home.

Not much else to say but I have had twitter feedback from NCC to say they're sorry about the Q&A session. The person arrived late apparently due to organising staff cover. They also said they're going to email me. Nothing on that yet!

I'll have another smash at the ride in tomorrow. Let's hope I start Strava this time!!!

Happy Pedalling

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Not just another commute

I'm going to for the positives first: Clive is like a new bike with his tightened front end, new bottom bracket and new pedals. Quiet is not the word and also everything feels a bit more positive or direct. I'm very happy about Clive.

On my way in using the bike route on Rockingham Road I encountered the usual plethora of vehicles obstructing the route. Here's one now!

Oh no just sticks the hazards on its fine...

This was even more important because there was a Q&A session with a council representative was due to take place at Kettering library. I even rang them to check it was on and the times. 13:00 - 14:30 I was told, well 1 til half two was actually said but I'm a nurse and they make me use the 24hr clock. So I went to the library expecting to see a fervent died of lycra loonies and one embarrassed looking excuse monkey. Disappointingly there was a complete lack of either, well I say that there was one lycra loonie, me, except I'd changed into something less comfortable at work. This is what we were supposed to be discussing:
Transport strategy for Kettering

Feeling a bit miffed I decided to make use of the library wifi and let the consultancy know how I felt. I sent this:

Firstly I took time from work to come to the library for the q&a session. There is no one here so I'm feeling disappointed. 

Secondly I'm a cyclist who  regularly uses the cycle routes which you claim to be well maintained. They are not. They are full of glass and other road debris meaning you are more likely to puncture. On the a14 brambles extend over the path increasing the puncture risk. 

The Rockingham Road route is next to useless. In the first section you have to cross ten junctions in less than half a mile. On the section near town with cycles painted on the road the road itself is full of potholes. It is not regulated as cars and vans regularly block the route taking our protected area. 

On other areas such as gypsy Lane most cyclists view the painting of bikes on the road and blue signs a complete joke. It makes no difference to driver behavior and in any case the road is too narrow for cars to give us more room.

In other places you have put bus stops on bike paths so pedestrians gather blocking the path.  On Rothwell Road last week a lady stepped into the road to let me pass. I certainly didn't want her to put herself at risk like that.  

Ive read the draft document and do not agree with statements about current cycle provision. Most of us prefer to use the road because it is safer. 

I wonder if other countries are being looked at for ideas. I recently returned from Australia and had the privilege of issuing the Moreton Bay cycleway. It certainly shows what can be done with planning and adequate funds. 

You have an opportunity to do something brilliant don't provide the mediocre which most people feel already exists. 

Love Rich x (other endings may have been used.)

I got a lovely reply!

“Thank you for your response to the Local Transport Plan consultation.
All of the comments that we receive during consultation will be collated and each one will be considered before we make the appropriate changes to the strategies.

A summary of all comments, along with the actions we have taken as a response to them, will be published in a consultation results document on our website when the adopted strategies are published.

As such, you will not receive an individual response to your email at this time.

Oh sorry did I say lovely? I really hope that was an auto response not a reply. 

I wasn't able to join vroom this evening but was amused to get soaked on the way home following Jonesy's prediction of improved weather. The queen of cakes saw the lads on the way to rugby with Sam and described them as dripping. I think the improvement must have been a lighter wind!

Happy pedalling

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Lovely little spin, clank identified and remedied!

There was no club ride this morning due to hangovers so I took the opportunity to watch Super Sam play his first ever rugby match and I'm really pleased I did. I was put off mini rugby by an experience with older brother Joe and I'm pleased to say things appear to have changed for the better. Then it was a cracking stew and dumplings lunch at the inlaws and it wasn't until after 4 that I got out on Clive.

So off I set with the clicking which we think is the pedals and the clanking that inexplicably Chris at c&dcycles couldn't detect. Even so the noisyness wasn't a hindrance to riding but I was convinced only one noise was in the pedals. The clank appeared to be coming from the frame.

I went through Harrington to Kelmarsh, past the Buddhist centre on to Haselbech and then Naseby. At Naseby I headed off down my favourite downhill towards Guilsborough. When I say favourite downhill it also doubles as my favourite uphill in that masochistic way where I think it's the hardest slope in Northants. I turned off down the gated road to Cottersbrooke where I had my epiphany.

I needed a wee. As I got off my bike I put pressure through the bars on one side and I got the clank noise. As I urinated I cogitated and came up with a plan. I tightened everything on the front end of the bike. All of the bolts on the headset and the handlebars took a good couple of turns so they were a little loose. For good measure I tightened the front wheel too. Hey presto the clank was gone. Andy, the king fiddler, did say it could be in the headset. It's not a surprise because I'm one of those straight armed sportive riders that real racers pour scorn on. It made me recall that I'd read about the need to ride with a bend in the elbows, which I don't do naturally and it made me notice just how much weight I put through the bars especially when climbing. The click is still there so tomorrow I'm buying new pedals. I have a feeling after that I'll start noticing my creaky old bike shoes again but that, I'm definitely going to live with that...well I expect I'll buy new shoes too when funds allow. Stroke your till Chris! Anyway the clank is sorted. I'm just a little disturbed how many good thoughts come to me whilst relieving myself!

I headed up through Brixworth up that mega lump from the ladies tour and crossing the Brixworth bypass I was pleased to see traffic being held up by something other than a lycra clad group. Take your medicine car drivers the road does not belong to you.
Steam engine thing probably contains beards

Next up was beautiful Scaldwell, onto Old, up Mill Lane and down the very fast slight downhill into Loddington. I was feeling great at this point turning into Orton green lane and decided to really go for the mini lump segment of the Col de Loddington. Big mistake. As I rounded the fast downhill corner at full speed I encountered a big white car in the middle of the narrow lane. Evasive reaction required, frankly I pooed my pants (metaphorically no lycra was damaged on this ride!) A miss is as good as a mile so no damage to bike or person but a lesson learned and a sharp reminder...if you can't see round the corner don't fly round it at warp speed! Needless to say I was a bit more tentative over the last few miles.

Tomorrow it's a potentially soggy commute and as long as people behave themselves I can get some new pedals from the shop.

Happy pedalling

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Foggy Saturday Club Ride

The loop is the ride, to and from Rothwell is just my bit!

Another Saturday and another super club ride. I got to the shop early so that the king fiddler could have a look at my clicky, cranky bike. To my surprise Andy handed the bike to shop owner Chris so I guess I was looked after by the Emporer Fiddler. Some expert fiddling and I was assured that the clicks and clinks were not terminal. It does however look like new pedals will be required at some stage. At the shop there was a few familiar faces including the bushy beard of Neil.

Unbelievably Neil is only 53

Andy asked me if I could lead the social group and I was more than happy to do this. I knew he'd be reluctant but I asked Rich to tail gun for me, I was hoping a more positive experience would get him back into the swing of things. To be fair the group didn't need a leader. It was very safe, very considerate group riding. Rule 1 was well observed and everyone appeared to enjoy the ride. It wasn't the best day for it either as a thick fog engulfed the countryside. However any group riding in the illumination of my one23 extreme bright doesn't need to worry.

The dead centre of Finedon (sorry)

We stopped for a group shot in the nice bit of Finedon. No that's not an oxymoron, there is a nice bit! If you've only ever driven through on the A6 you've missed it but Finedon from the Burton Road going into Bell Hill is a beautiful place of traditional Northants sandstone buildings. If you can be mature enough to handle the name the Bell Inn looks ok too. We stopped for our pic outside the cemetery which features Commonwealth War Graves so I might need to stop for a proper look one day.

On our return to K town Rich decided he wanted to improve his time on the Deeble Road segment and gave it a blast. Well huge kudos to him because he got a KOM. In contrasting fortunes I achieved a puncture at the same time. Thankfully Andy took pity on me in the shop and helped me sort it out. I can do it myself but like everyone I felt under pressure from interested onlookers.

Also of interest was the new gadget Rob was testing out with his Go Pro. I'm not sure about it being strapped to the chest as it looks more like nipple cam than helmet cam but I'll be pleased to see the results. As we're all worried about incidents like I suffered with the water attack I'd imagine that c&dcycles should get in a job lot of those go pro's. I'm sure Chris could get us a good price.

Cousin Iain

After the ride it was a quick turnaround for me and off to Franklin's Gardens home of the English
Champions, Northampton Saints. It was great to catch up with my cuz and his mate DanorSam just to see beardage to rival Neil. Iain bought a road bike quite recently and is getting to grips with it. So we had a chat about all things cycling and some C&DCC quality banter before the match. The Saints won 43-10 and remain top of the league so that's all good too!

The club are having a social tonight but I'm not going. After cycling all morning and spending all afternoon at the rugby I thought I'd better spend some time with the queen of cakes and the kids. There will I hope be other socials. Have a good time everyone and someone please don't let Rich lead Andy astray again!

Happy pedalling

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Good morning ride, hideous evening ride...

So today was pretty much these ride as yesterday. Thankfully the wind had dropped and it was dry. I felt good on the bike and a much healthier average of 16.7mph was achieved. The only downer was Clive was noisy again, and it was the same clanking as Sunday. I had thought this was fixed with the new bottom bracket expertly and swiftly fitted by Andy at C&Dcycles, especially as it was obvious after removal that the old BB was indeed shot. However I'm sure the King Fiddler will find the problem and all will be smooth again soon.

So after a good days training, where we were interrupted by a fierce gale in the afternoon, I was looking forward to my ride home. Then it happened. Between Rockingham Road and Cottingham Road on the A6003 I was passed by a Blue Ford Transit. Then whack I was hit square on my ear by something cold and wet. My best guess is that they threw water at me. Luckily I didn't lose balance because I'm sure if I'd come off the next car would have gone straight over me. I was furious. Unfirtunately I didn't get the number plate. I reported itto the police anyway so they can track this in case it becomes a worrying trend. The rest of my ride was filled with angry thoughts.

Nothing else to say, I hope you had a better day!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

A different kind of commute

Today I had the good fortune of working in Corby. This not only gave me the chance to ride a different route but also to take part in some Theraplay training. Now you may not know that Corby is the epicentre of a very impressive attachment Therapy but hey now you do!

For me this was a pair of very weird rides. I dawdled over in the morning at a miserable 14mph average so I decided on the way back to improve on that. I smashed along between 17-20mph all the way to East Carlton Park and the I turned into the wind and well that was that, a load of PRs set in the first couple of miles and then an even slower average!

The route itself is a real Jekyll and Hyde. It's lovely country Lanes to a East Carlton Park and then fast A roads into Corby. If I could leave half a hour earlier I could of course detour through Cottingham and then take on Rocky. Let's see what time I get up tomorrow with that silly idea now planted in my head.

I made it home tonight just before the weather broke! News from my club mates is that vroom was a washout so it sounds like I made it just in time. I'm now sat blogging in front of the log burner powered by wood from my good cycling buddies! The weather looks better tomorrow though so we've all got that to look forward to.

Happy pedalling

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Sunday club ride without the Major

Stuart, Justin, Stuart and Martyn

Well what a great ride with good company. Only five of us met this morning. I'm grateful that they waited for me because I was late. I'm not entirely sure what happened. First I woke up later than usual, probably because I get a better nights sleep without booze and I'm going sober for October. As I got up Lee reminded me I always end up in a rush and I don't like that. Yes dear I said and at that point a normal person would have got their kit on first and fart arsed around second, oh no not me. I fed the dogs, emptied the dishwasher, put washing on the line, made the queen of cakes a coffee, just about left on time, then realised I'd forgotten my pump, then left then realised I'd forgotten my glasses so had to go back and finally set off at about ten to eight for an eight o'clock start. When I got there Justin let me know they'd waited and were about to make an executive decision. So sorry to Stuart, Stuart, Martyn and Justin for making you wait!

I'm glad I went back for my sunnies, it was a very bright day, in fact I could've done with swapping from Orange to Black lenses. It was a total contrast from yesterday's rain but also it was cold enough for me to break out the base layer for the first time in months. Everyone was in varying degrees of additional gear with Martyn winning the Cub Scout prize for best prepared with leg warmers, boot covers, winter Jersey and full finger gloves. That would've been too much for me but then I still have
an excess of insulating blubber. It was cold though with frost on the grass verges. The roads were ok though so there's no need to retreat to the turbo trainer in the shed yet. Also it warmed up nicely and became the most beautiful day.

Justin was our leader for the day and he kindly responded to my selfish suggestion of a route back through Rothwell to get me home in time for family duties. Even more rude of me then to turn up late! The route we used was Steve's hill fest of a couple of weeks ago, also my suggestion and on the way round I once again questioned my sanity!

We set off at a healthy pace, well so I'm told because another error on my part was not charging my bike computer. I was wondering what else would go wrong. This route lulls you into a false sense of security until you get through Market Harborough and then boom its that hill into a East Farndon, from there it's downhill all the way to the hill into  Naseby. I meant to do this last time but to give you an idea of that part of the route here's my blog of the Naseby battlefield ride I did earlier into the year: Martyn left us at Naseby due to a family gathering.

From Naseby to Cold Ashby was a relief from the lumpy stuff and then through West Haddon and on to Ravensthorpe we got into a nice pace and rode in a tight group. Again though this was lulling us into a false sense of security. Out of Ravensthorpe, which is a beautiful village fully ticking my proper village boxes, we hit the lumpy stuff with three climbs of increasing difficulty. From Teeton to Spratton was hard, Spratton to Brixworth was brutal. That hill into Brixworth doesn't even look like it belongs in Northants with rocky outcrops and dry stone walls. As Justin accurately remarked, it looks more like the Yorkshire Dales.

Everything after that was easy really. There were still some uphill bits out of Scaldwell, into Old, up Mill Lane and from Loddington to Rothwell. I left the ride there as I'd already done the ride to the shop to start the day, the others obviously had the final pleasure of Bunker Hill.

The only downside of today's ride is the ominous sounds which suggest Clive may be about to need his third bottom bracket. Justin, with yet another accurate observation stated that these expensive FSA bottom brackets appear to be made of cheese! As ever though a swift message to the King Fiddler, Andy at c&dcycles and my trusty steed is booked in for an overhaul. I better make sure he's clean!

Another weekend, another brace of brilliant bike rides

Happy pedalling

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Soggy Saturday Shock to the System

Well that was a bit damp! I'd say it was the first day of Autumn after we've been spoilt by this extended Summer and what a shock to the system it was. We all struggled a bit in the cold and wet but I remember laughing at much worse weather last year, especially my New Years Day ride with a long lost brother of C&DCYCLES CC.

The route was a variation on our classic Oundle loop. Most of the places we visited have all been mentioned in previous blogs. The county is a bit different in that direction. It's less hilly and the cottages in the villages tend to be made of a light grey stone rather than the vivid deep orange of Old Red Sandstone. It's all still a bit picture postcard though. Andy led the quick lads, Steve led the social ride and I was as usual arse end Charlie. I was really pleased to see so many riders despite the weather and I must comment on some excellent group riding. After a couple of weeks of needing to remind people how we do things, today went without a hitch. Communication, role modelling, consideration for others and sensible riding was observed by all. So thanks to all C&D Cycles CC riders, you are a credit to your club.

Struggling the most today was Claire. She suffered the quadruple whammy of the sudden change of weather, riding her heavier less responsive winter bike, having a bug in the week and the desire to ride being stronger than common sense. I've been there myself. Last year I tried to ride the Silverstone Circuit Breaker after a week of flu (flu, not man flu, don't start with me ladies.) I knew I wasn't 100% but I didn't want to let people down. It was stupid and is a lesson learnt. So my advice is: if you've been unwell, recover properly before you ride. Easy advice to give, as demonstrated its not as easy to follow!

On the roll out

Action shot on Warkton Hill

Ginger Tom

Up the hill from Pilton

Going round the bend

It's the dark one's birthday

Storm trooper Cake 

Guinness cake gets demolished 

Rich is relieved to get the last slice of apparently the greatest cake ever!

Back at the shop the general air of dampness descended into the usual comments of "moist," and usual banter. Rich had requested Guinness cake from my wife, the Queen of cakes. Because he kindly made sure Claire got home ok he very nearly missed out on a cake demolished in seconds. He was relieved about this though as he claims he'd happily eat his own weight in Guinness cake! Andy also provided cake as it was his birthday. As Darth Vader was unavailable he settled for a storm trooper cake. I'm faithful to my wife so didn't try it, however it did look good! Never underestimate the relationship between cycling and cake.

I love it when people who haven't been for a while join us for a ride and on that I was thrilled today to see Tom. He's been racing this year and is well above our standard, he also works a lot on Saturdays. I will never forget how much Tom has helped me in the past. In particular Tom was part of a group of riders who "carried" me round the 3 counties sportive, my first 100 mile ride. So don't be a stranger mate!

Well that's that. I'm now waiting for my sporting heroes to get under way and for a break in the rain to walk the dogs. Great ride and I'm looking forward to doing it again tomorrow.

Happy Pedalling

Friday, 3 October 2014

Super Sam and an elongated commute

This morning Sam decided to bring his bike along for the dog walk which was good because since he moved to a bigger bike he's lost a bit of confidence. Anyway he seemed to enjoy it so I guess we're getting back on track.

Talking of tracks I decided to take the long way home. I wanted a bit of an extra spin and to be honest I also wanted to stay away from the so called bike paths. I didn't go particularly quickly so the stack of PRs is a bit of a surprise. I also saw someone in a C&DCYCLES CC winter shirt but I wasn't sure who it was. I did use the 'joke' cycle route along gypsy lane but rather than head for the grot of the A14 I went up to Loddington, round to Foxhall and back hone using Orton Green Lane.Very pleasant!

That's the commuting over for another week so now I'm free to concentrate on my favourite ride, the Saturday Shop ride or perhaps it should now be called the club run. No idea where we're going yet or what my role will be. All I know is that it will be a good ride if potentially a tad moist!

Oh it's all a bit blurry

And again

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Apologies to blog readers and a cycle lane review!

Ok so I'm really sorry but I broke the rules of my year of blogging every ride! I've actually done two commutes before today without a single word of Bloggage. So I'm very sorry and in future I'll be less of a useless blogger.

Today's ride to work was typical for me in that I wasn't really up for it and then two minutes down the road I was loving it. I was going to blog all about that but then I saw Claire's post about Kettering Borough Council having a Q&A session on bicycle routes and well that was the theme for today

Now some of Kettering's cycle paths are ok, but most of them are just crap. I've discussed my normal route to work using the Rockingham Road and how I don't bother with the path once I get into Kettering. So tonight I took an alternative route home starting on Northampton Road, onto Gypsy Lane and then past Telford Way down the A14. Thankfully I was back on country roads quite soon using Violet Lane through to the Glendon Road and home. A picture tells a thousand words so here goes.

This KBC is a joke, it's not anything apart from a bike painted on a road not wide enough for cars to allow cyclists the space of the painted on bike so it's actually pretty pointless!

Cycle path? Barely a pig track!

See the lady in the background she stepped into the road to let me pass, what is the point of a bus stop on a bike path?

Oh...well those specks are bits of glass which all bike paths seem to be full of

The perilous crossing on junction 7, no crossing lights you just have to chance it in between the light changes

Can you tell I'm not impressed? The bike paths and routes of Kettering are too narrow, have too many obstacles and are very poorly maintained. I'm guessing the glass comes from smashed headlights which are sweeped off the road onto the path. Brambles also stretch across the path in many places. The only place they've really got it right is round by Glendon Road industrial estate and even then cross with care because the cars get very confused by the traffic lights and pelican crossings.

I'm going to end on a positive note. Last week fellow cyclist David White dropped me off some pallets to build a wood store. This week C&DCYCLES CC stalwart Big Steve Major brought me a load of wood to start filling the store. So thanks to you both it's looking good for toasty toes this winter!


Happy pedalling