Sunday, 30 August 2015

Rothwell to Northampton via the Brampton Valley Way with SuperSam

This morning Sam and I rode the 15miles to Northampton for the UK's best Sunday lunch. We've done this ride before but it still remains a challenge for a ten year old. It started with the climb up the hill to Orton which Sam couldn't quite manage but to his credit he got a lot further than before.  It's a breeze after that with a fun downhill section through Draughton before picking up the Brampton Valley Way. On the way to Draughton I took Sam to two geocaches. The first is a bolt in a road barrier and the second is the pine cone pictured. We also found the ammo case on the bvw where I left the travel bug from Australia. All good stuff for quick breaks and keeping Sam motivated.

On the way I reflected once again on how fortunate my kids are.  Sam is only a week back from an amazing as scout camp and this week he's been tobogganing in Milton Keynes, sailing at Pitsford and bike ride today. Not a bad life is it? 

The other way we're fortunate is that the Brampton valley way is a tremendous cycling resource. Next time we'll go to mkt Harborough first and complete the whole route. 

The last thing to say is that this is the most important thing to me on cycling. I love helping Sam on his bike and I look forward to the day he can join us on a club ride. I bet he's no older than 14 before he's showing us how it's done. 

Ready for the off

Selfie with Sam Photobomb

Stop at the Lamport carpetbaggers war memorial

ooh what's this

My goodness a geocache

On the BVW at the old Draughton/Maidwell Station

Happy Pedaling!

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Back in the Saddle Again...

I'm having a funny August cycling wise. Holiday and Scout camp have effectively eaten away my cycling time. I'm not complaining both those things were very enjoyable, it just means in the whole of August I've got out on two wheels just six times. That's not enough for me and it's affecting my cycling, back to normal now though so things will get better.

Today's route was created by Andy P and it was pretty nice. I particularly liked the opportunity to go down the hill through Tywell for a change and it's always good to test your strength on the Brigstock bumps. Plenty of other cyclists were out and this was nowhere more obvious than in Oundle with the mass of carbon and lycra gathered at Beans cafe. I've never really understood the cafe break culture in cycling, for me it gets in the way of a good ride. It's also clear that the message about not leaning bikes on the war memorial has not been heard.

The group at Brigstock before those ghastly bumps

Out on the ride today we were joined by Bob Mitchell. For those of you who don't know, Bob built my Dad's steel bike which I now own and I stopped riding due to the stuck seat post. Arrangements have been made and that post will finally be removed. Then I'm restoring Bob the bike to it's former glory for use over the winter. Bob Mitchel's bike was a thing of beauty. He was on a mostly titanium 'lightspeed,' with carbon front and back forks. This made me think about the evolution of the bike. We currently have several materials in use for frame building. Aluminium is the most versatile and as Bob told us the easiest to work with, Steel is still around but seen as a bit retro, Carbon fibre is the go to material for pro riders and ell financed mamils, titanium is great but expensive and Bob alluded to the complicated environment this needs welding in being the issue and then there are even wooden and plastic bikes being experimented with. Personally I'm excited at the prospect of a renovated Reynolds 753 steel frame, because it really is rewarding to ride.

Anyway I did some research and found a bit of bike material history. British cycling gives a brief explanation

Here's an interesting timeline this is pretty educational too

Tomorrow I'm really looking forward to another ride. SuperSam has decided that rugby is not the sport for him and he'd like to concentrate on cycling. I said we could have Dad and Sam rides on Sunday instead of rugby and he has jumped at the chance. His exact words were: "we're riding every Sunday from now on even if a dinosaur eats your bike!" The queen of cakes was puzzled how anyone could ride if a dinosaur eats their bike. The answer is simple N + 1! Anyway I'm sure that dinosaurs only ever ate bamboo framed bikes.

So I'd best recover well because tomorrow Super Sam and I will ride.

Happy Pedaling

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Strange Sunday, really missed Steve

I'm not entirely sure what's gone on but there appears to have been a falling out overnight. That's right there is trouble in my cycling paradise. So instead of the usual merry band led by the capable Steve it was just Ken, Neil and I that set off from C&D Cycles for a Sunday spin. Ken is one of the nicest blokes you'll ever meet and as a fellow double centurion D2Der we share a common bond. Neil is, I think, my friend in real life but not on social media. Anyway there were never going to be issues for tissues with this trio.

Having lost our leader we quickly negotiated a plan to make use of one of Neil's old training routes. It suited Ken and I because we liked the sound of going through some of Northants prettier bits by heading West. 

Before heading off we were talking all things bike and I looked on enviously at Neil's Giant Propel. At which point he told me that the bike of my dreams had been sold and Ken told me that it had been reduced to that unbelievable price moments after we'd set off to France. Well, well, well I thought. Someone is winding me up here, I'm just not sure who yet!

 We set off through some glorious countryside with me being towed along by these marvelous chaps. To be honest I was relieved it was just us. A few weeks off the bike has really robbed my strength and I was still knackered from a pretty sedate Saturday ride the day before.

As per usual we encountered plenty of other road users. There were joggers (who rarely smile,) fellow lycra loonies (who usually smile,) cars (just miserable and inpatient,) and of course horse riders (normally the most cheerful of the lot.) We even saw some fellow C&Ders on route.

 As we cruised through Scaldwell it struck me once again that it was a cat 4 climb that never makes sense because as hills go it really is quite gentle. We then went down that monster in Brixworth before Ken and Neil blowing me away up the hill through Creaton. As we headed to Naesby and up what I feel is one of the hardest hills in Northants, Neil and Ken took it easy on me. I wish they hadn't! I would much rather have been left behind than be hanging like a dog as they had a pleasant chat without a noticeable increase in their breathing rate. That's them wandering off in the distance in the picture above, probably discussing what a nice view it was.

Having told us how great electronic shifting is it was nice to see Neil's chain come off. Even nicer that I managed to catch up and get it on camera!

Out of the historic village of Naesby we whipped down another hill I usually go up, past Fairfax's view and the monument etc. We then turned towards Kelmarsh and my legs just died on a really easy hill. The warning twinges that preempt cramp were there to see and once again I was thankful it was a gentler Sunday ride than normal. I've heard it takes 12 weeks to get fit and 2 weeks to lose it. Clearly my recent activity and eating habits have taken their toll. On holiday we played football and cricket and went swimming everyday. We also had a two hour surfing lesson which showed why surfers are in great shape. I also consumed way too much Brittany Cidre so I guess they cancelled each other out. Anyway, the only way to be fit for cycling is to keep cycling. I was telling the others about that magical Brittany brew and the strange tradition of drinking it from teacups so there's some pics to give you an idea.

I'm off to scout camp on Saturday and won't return until the following Saturday so it's another couple of weeks without club rides for me. I will however try to live a bit more healthy. I said fairwell to Ken and Neil in Rothwell and left my tenner to pay club fees with them. I hope Ken has the afternoon he was talking about it sounds great! Mine should also be good as I get a recovery Sunday lunch at Mum's, get some of my Dad's Kingsthorpe cider in a proper pint pot and get to discuss the humiliation of the Aussies with my Pap.

Happy Pedaling

Saturday, 8 August 2015

First ride in a while...

Clive all prepped and loaded with special blue product

After a three week lay off it was great to be back on my bike and even better to be back out with C&D Cycles CC. Today's route was put together by our very own Andy who then went on to lead the obsessed with speed group. Jonesy led the sensible group and I brought up the rear.

On the way out of K-town

Lovely day

Conditions were near perfect for cycling so in true British fashion we moaned about it being too hot. I coped with the heat by consuming copious quantities of special blue product, the jelly beans took a hammering too. The route was good but not my favourite. I prefer to go North or West when we head south east it always seems to get a bit urban. However we did go through the cultural epicentre that is Raunds.
Mark had a mishap


In Rushden we stopped at some lights and Mark decided to use island bollard to lean on meaning he could stay clipped in. The bollard though had other ideas, it gave way and Mark had a comedy tumble, As is customary in these circumstances sympathy was handed out in small proportions and mickey taking led the way. As is also customary we all asked if his bike was OK!

Now I'm just being teased

On return to the shop it was membership time and people were happily parting with £10. That's exceptional value to be part of our great club. Chris also replaced yet another shoddy pair of altura gloves (never again,) which was very kind. Then I noticed the bike with my name on it has been reduced by £400! They really are teasing me now.

Lots of things happened during the last three weeks. Holiday food and drink have piled the pounds back on. It's not quite as bad as my return from Oz but a few weeks of self control and back to using myfitnesspal are in order. In that time Chris Froome won a second Tour de France and today England regained the Ashes from a dismal Australia just before the football season kicked off. In Rugby the warm up matches start today leading up to the 2015 RWC. So there's lots going on.

Well I'm off to recover well. For tomorrow it's a mystery tour with Steve. I'll need strong legs!

Happy Pedalling