Sunday, 27 December 2015

Soggy Sunday

My every intention this morning was to join my good cycling mate 'Big Steve,' for 40-50 miles of wit and banter at a steady pace. Well that's how he advertises his Sunday ride! I got up, got everything ready and then time just wandered off and I ended up leaving the house late. So when I arrived at C&D Cycles it was 9:05 and no one was there! On the way in I got a friendly wave from the KCC lot sat in the bus shelter.

No time to say hello, goodbye. I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!

This was possibly for the best because Steve and I would have stuck to the plan and smashed out a half century. That wouldn't have been a ride to write home about. Parts of the UK are experiencing a month's rain in two days and parts of my body are currently experiencing a month's worth of calories consumed over the same two days. So all things considered the little 24 miler I did was a good result all round. My kit was just starting to fail as I got home. Water was starting to get through my gloves, my feet were getting damp and my rain jacket had reached the limit of it's resistance. Much as I like to observe rule #9 I also don't really enjoy being cold and wet.

Below is the Ise running just south of Arthingworth, it's little more than a brook most of the year so that show's the rain we've had. I think today was probably a better day for a canoe.

We really shouldn't grumble though because parts of the UK are in a terrible state with many people losing their homes to floods. That rarely happens in Northants with the last time being because the council forgot to open the flood gates!

Jimmy's End Northampton 1998

I also doubt very much that cyclists have had much fun in the north of England with famous cycling areas sitting under water. 

Keswick Railway Path bridge (picture credit Tara Vallente on Facebook).jpg

The picture above is a bridge in Cumbria which is part of a CTC route. It was destroyed on December 7th. In another part of Cumbria people are having to use a cycle route because the road has gone, here's a link to the Road CC article Road CC. Have a look around if you follow the link, I wish I could build a site that impressive.

On my return home I noticed my back wheel rubbing again. I think it has a problem as the same loose spoke is causing the buckle. That combined with a bit of play in the front wheel suggests those faithful hoops need a bit of TLC. Not a massive surprise as they've done over 8000 miles. There's a quick solution here. The wheels on my Giant Propel can go on Clive whilst I get it sorted. If my back wheel is ready to retire I've got a spare so it's all OK. 

Which leads me to my thought for the day. Having been bought my dream bike I straight away began to desire better wheels for it. What a spoilt brat! I'm not Fabian Cancellara what do I need better wheels for? I'm sat here in my very comfy house, in front of a lovely fire, typing this on my laptop with the cricket on my massive TV. I've got a great bike, I've got other bikes too. I'm enjoying a week off work with my family. People in the UK have been flooded out of their homes, millions are living in poverty and I'm worrying about wheels! Sorry if that's a bit miserable but I always get like this at Christmas. I just think at times we should stop and grateful for what we've got before thoughts drift onto what we want next.

Enough of that, back to cycling. I've got a lot of work to do if I'm going to complete the Festive 500. However it looks like much better weather during the week. look below there's a strange yellow symbol on the forecast!

Happy Pedaling

Friday, 25 December 2015

Christmas Day Ride

Merry Christmas everyone. Mine is going splendidly so far. More presents than I deserve because I've already had the best present ever in my beautiful Giant Propel. Because my wife bought me a bike I bought her one back. Looks good doesn't it!

I managed to get a few miles in this week with three commutes, The first of which led to the great trouser trauma where I arrived at work to discover I had my much slimmer son's trousers which look very similar to mine. His are a 30" waist and as a consequence I couldn't get them up over my athletic cycling thighs. Oh well it certainly gave everyone at work a laugh.

I managed to get a few miles in today too! I didn't risk my best bike though as the pictures will show the roads are filthy. They might be bearable to ride with the right kit on but my Garmin virb objects and takes rubbish pictures. Anway they do prove I wasn't the only Lycra Loony out today.

I was trying to get a snap of the MAMIL behind the car but I suspect the motor is also a Christmas present because a nervous youth was behind the wheel, L plates on and a bloke I presume was his Dad pointing at stuff. Enjoy it young man and remember to be kind to cyclists.

It's a real shame this picture is so poor. It was clearly a bloke on his Christmas present wearing his brand new cycling clothes. His smile was as wide as any I've seen so he was obviously enjoying himself. I also met some jolly joggers and got wished Merry Christmas by dog walkers. The funniest thing I saw was a white Mercedes flash past. It was filthy and some cheeky wag had written on the bumper: "I wish my wife was this dirty!" I hope it's ages before he notices.

Finally in Old I met Santa walking through the village ringing a bell. He was stopping at each house and waving at the kids. What a great idea.

Merry Christmas and a Happy Pedaling New Year

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Cold, wet, muddy...still loving it!

On another day when the sane and sensible of the cycling world fired up their trainers, stuck on a motivational video and stayed warm, we the supposedly intelligent folk of C&D Cycles Cycling Club went for a ride. Well four of us anyway, the rest of the club can sit with their smug satisfied smiles that they're marginally more wise than us. Worse still we deliberately chose to add mud to the cold and wet. The pictures tell a tale but they're not going to win any awards due to the lens permanently being wet, muddy or both.

The others; Steve, Nat and Heather met me on the Market Square in Rothwell. This was a kind act because it gave me time and for an extra cup of tea. It was my plan apparently so the first thing we did was go up the hill to Orton and then follow the quiet lane. Yes ladies, gentlemen and Jonesy, that picture above is us on a road. 

From Orton we headed back towards Harrington and then followed the road down past the Carpetbagger Air Museum Link. We then followed a fun muddy trail to the old WWII runway. On the way Heather had her first tumble of the day. She missed a great chunk of concrete by millimeters and thankfully got back on unhurt. 

By this time I was soaked through and knew I'd made an error in my clothing choices. My MTB shoes are good, I've had them for about ten years but they are not waterproof, nor were my socks. Frankly I may as well have wrapped my feet in Plenty (other kitchen roll is available.) Really my sealskin overshoes and waterproof socks would have been a good choice. Another poor choice was my MTB trousers. They are showerproof but when it's raining above and you're splashing through puddles all they did was get wet, cold and flappy. It might not be the done thing on a MTB but my winter tights would have been a much better choice. The right choices I made were to wear a C&D winter jersey and glasses with clear lenses. Had the picture not been so poor I could show you how effective Heather's eye-wear was because she was totally panda eyes!

Plenty the big one household towel - SCA
Ineffective for cycling footwear

Heather wanted proof her rear tyre was not going down...there you go

Nat inexplicably was way cleaner than the rest of us

Barely a splodge!

See...that's me

From the old airfield we zoomed through Draughton and onto the Brampton Valley Way. For a surfaced track I have to say it's in pretty poor condition and became a bit of an oppressive puddle fest. The first 100 or so were funny to splash through but once it felt like frostbite in my toes it wore off. Thankfully there was a way out and we took Merry Tom Lane up to Pitsford Res. 

Would be a great photo with a clean lens

A bit better

Onto the track around Pitsford Water you realise just how poor the Brampton Valley way is. It's a much better quality gravel track with better drainage and far less puddles. Heather took another tumble on one of the unofficial off track sections. I never had the video running at any of these times which seems a waste!

Heather has fallen in the distance!

After that it was back to the roads and home via Scaldwell, Old and Loddington. On our route we barely saw another cyclist which again either suggests we're particularly hardy or just 'sharp as a tennis ball.'

Steve was amused by the pub sign

So was it worth it? Of course! Good miles, good company and a great sense of achievement. I have the rest of my life to sit by the fire, so until I'm no longer capable I'm going to ride as often as I can.

Apparently the picture doesn't do it justice

Filthy boy!

The Queen of Cakes was highly amused by the state I was in when I got home. Everything was taken off and discarded by the washing machine. She also handed me a towel but there was no way I was getting in the shower because it would have stung. It was still pretty painful when I got in half an hour later. At least parts of me that disappeared are starting to re-emerge.

I have got some video footage but no time to do any editing today. If I get round to it I'll probably do a bonus blog.

Everyone got frozen today. Nat was unsure how she was going to get her dirty bike back into the flat and Steve was planning to warm up with a Minestrone Cup-a-Soup! Poor Heather has Hypothermia in her Strava ride name.

Recovery drink of champions!

That's my cycling for the weekend.
Happy Pedaling

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Shivery Soggy Saturday Club Ride

The weather forecast for today was wet and cold so the wiser cyclist would have dusted down the turbo trainer or rollers, stuck on some tunes and stayed inside. Well no one has ever accused the hardy souls of C&DCCC of being sensible so obviously we went for ride.

Not really riding weather

You'll note my technology challenges have improved as there is a ride to show you but not resolved as I did this today and not as Strava claims on Thursday night! I left my phone at work, I can't trust my cateye stealth (don't buy one they're rubbish,) and so today's data was provided by my Garmin virb. The file on the virb has the correct time and date so I have no idea what happened in the transfer to Strava.

Lets not muck about here. It was cold and wet. Horrible cycling weather. I loved it! However I couldn't ride in this every day. We picked a well known and easy route because it didn't need to be any more difficult.

Raindrops on the lens...

Damp, damp, damp

Murky winter day

Steve looks imperious, he didn't five seconds earlier when he fell off his bike whilst stationary

Not a lot to say about the ride other than rules #5 and #9 were observed. All of my equipment failed after about 5 miles. My waterproof gloves were soaked, my water proof socks were holding the water in and my shower jacket was holding up a white flag. Back at the shop a disheveled bunch of lycra loonies forlornly wrung out bits of clothing.

C&D now stock bikes for hobbits like Frank

Mrs Lindsley provided the cake

One consolation today was cake by my wife, the queen of cakes. It was too very popular choices with coffee and walnut and my very favourite 'Guinness,' cake. This cake is actually made with my very own stout as opposed to Dublin's finest and the recipe comes from domestic goddess Nigella Lawson.

Exquisite taste

Leaving the shop in soggy cold clothes was tough, I limped home. Back at Lindsley Home Sweet Home, Christmas is in full swing. The Queen of cakes goes to town and another magnificent tree graces our bay window,

Tomorrow we're going mudbashing off road. I can't wait. Best get carb loading then!

Happy Pedaling.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Brass Monkeys! A very cold C&D Cycles CC Saturday clubride

Here's a screen grab of the route for today's ride. I'm unable to do a strava embed because once again I've had a ride recording fail. This one is unbelievable really. Yes I forgot to start my phone but as back up I'd zeroed my cateye stealth. It recorded the 43 miles I did today. However after three hours of messing about with the hopeless cateye sync software I've given up. The stealth is good for basic feedback when riding and a pile of old pants for everything else. Oh why does it have to be so annoying? Well it doesn't does it? I had a great ride in good company wearing my shiny new club winter jersey.

The route today was created by me. I've not done that for a while so it was a fun thing to do. I incorporated one of my regular training routes with the extra bit to and from Kettering to create a 33 mile ride. Knowing these roads I knew they'd have a bit of everything. Enough hills to keep even Andy Brown happy, some quick bits and some beautiful countryside. Highlights include the set of hills from Maidwell to Lamport via Draughton, fast sections from Kelmarsh to Maidwell, down to the causeway and that lovely quick road into Loddington.

New Jerseys on display

 It was a big day fro the club with the launch of the new winter jerseys. The previous incarnation of this is excellent, its almost waterproof, windproof and very warm. I'm glad to say the new one is exactly the same. A little bit different colour wise as the new ones are gold with back as opposed to the old yellow and Everton blue. Extra detail this time includes reflective stripes and a zip on a back pocket. Nice touches, as is the strapline 'keeping it social.' Big thanks to Chris and Andy for sorting out these quality bits of kit.

lovely day...but cold

Those winter jerseys were very welcome this morning. It was a cold morning with a touch of frost. Nice and bright to start with but with a sharp wind. As the morning wore on it got gradually more dull and it got colder. The other bits of kit I was thankful for were my endura winter tights, sealskin full finger gloves and my overshoes.

Stunning countryside

This route is the type that showcases the county's rural beauty. Rolling hills, quiet roads, picture perfect villages with stone cottages, thatched roofs, impressive churches and plenty of old fashioned red phone boxes. Talking of which, many are retired phone boxes and often they are used as unofficial village libraries where people swap books. The best use of seen of one such box was to hold a portable defibrillator. That's a clever idea that could save someone's life.

Chris believes he can fly + the boss in splendid new top

It was nice that Andy the C&D Cycles manager was able to ride with us today. It was also good to be out the club, blowing away the cobwebs of a couple of weeks off the bike AND pedaling out a stressy week at work.

Back at the shop we were treated to cake by Justin. The latest edition of the George Duke stunt show also took place. This week Steve's teenage dare devil was balanced on top of a greasy broom wearing roller skates whilst refilling the coffee machine. Oh OK he wasn't really but he did have a bit of a dodgy climb on a stool again. Also visiting the shop were Nathan who along with his mates had just recovered a stolen car and Simon who was picking up the fastest looking frames I've seen. More winter jerseys were purchased and I feel very sorry for anyone who misses out because they're going fast.

That's what happened in my bike world today. It's time to stay cozy by the fire and recover from another cracking ride.

Happy Pedaling

Saturday, 14 November 2015

A lovely ride into Rutland - C&D Cycles CC Saturday Ride

Another Saturday another ride. The whole of the UK is under a weather warning right now,we're expecting a lot of rain and very strong winds. With that in mind it was no surprise to see diminished numbers at the shop with only 16 riders and therefore we went with just one group.

Steve's new ride

The start of the ride was good in one way because it's quick but bad in others because we were on A roads for a few miles. By Geddington we lost our first rider due to the pace which was being set! I had no idea that Mark had decided he couldn't keep up and when I did find out I felt bad. I never want to be the reason someone isn't enjoying their ride. However I've spoken to Mark and he's OK with it all. It's all good man.

Once we were off those A roads this club run turned into an Andy Brown special. Andy is known for his spectacular and hilly routes. Rutland is a lumpier version of Northants with the hills before and after Uppingham being the most challenging. Unsurprisingly I found myself at the back rather than the front at this stage.

Typical views

In Uppingham we had our only puncture of the day. This time Chris was the victim. He last rode in July so it was great to see him out again. I'm glad it wasn't me, I hate punctures and I'm never happy after stopping to fix one.

Always plenty of help

Just give it a good hard hand pump

The trip from Uppingham to the picturesque Eyebrook Reservoir has one of the best downhills. The whole point of those awful ups is the incredible downs. Why would anyone want a lay in and a bacon sandwich on a Saturday morning when you can enjoy action like this?

16 had become 15 early on but we were soon down to just 14. Steve's new CX is an awesome machine but he has far too much faith in it's capability. He bunny hopped the gate below in an attempt to do some mud bashing and promptly sank without trace. Knowing Steve he's still pedaling underground and will re-emerge somewhere in the near future.

Where are you Steve?

I think the pictures capture that the weather this morning wasn't as bad as first feared. It is however raining buckets of cats and dogs as I type. Our winter gear was justified because this was a proper November day and there was a stiff cold breeze. I'm glad I've got some good gear. Our club winter jerseys are excellent and my Endura winter tights were a very good investment.

Back at the shop we got tucked into coffee and cake supplied by my very own Queen of cakes. Lee had made apple cake because Nat missed out last week and coffee & walnut because it's Steve's favourite! Neither of them were there as Nat is busy moving and Steve as you know, is missing presumed peddling.

Mark says: "best cake ever"

Also in the shop we watched in horror as George Duke proved he really is his father's son. George very nearly got nominated for a Darwin award by using a chrome stool on casters whilst on laminate floor to reach up for the tyres. Andy rightly berated him for this and the lucky to be alive youth trotted off to get a step ladder.

terrible picture sorry

Meanwhile Clive was in need of some TLC. As ever without quibble and despite being busy Andy had my faithful bike in the stand and sorted out my buckled wheel,loose spoke and tightened up my headset. We really are very well served as a club by C&D Cycles.

The next thing that happened was amazing. A man called Paul had called the shop because he's found one of our Poppies at the memorial below. He left his number so I called him back. It turns out that Paul had built the memorial in the first place and now maintained the site where the Lancaster bomber crashed. He thanked us for our tribute and was pleased to hear about our remembrance ride. I think he deserves the thanks for creating such a fitting memorial to our fallen heroes.


Tribute to the crew

Finally it's time for an update on our good friend Andy P who as we all now know broke his leg after falling off his bike whilst perving at pictures from 'Selfie on a Bike.' Andy as you'll see from below is not recovering well. He's taken to junk food in a massive way and has really let himself go. I think we'll need to plan a club intervention to whip him back into shape once the old pins are fixed!

Recent picture

On a day when the world woke to he most awful news from Paris it heartens me greatly that we have the freedom to enjoy such a fabulous bike ride. Special thanks to Andy B for the route and his sterling work in organising leaders and to Justin for performing tail gunning duties to perfection.

Happy Pedaling