Sunday, 27 September 2015

Just keeping the legs spinning

After yesterday all I needed was a quick spin to keep the legs going and especially as there wasn't a club ride I headed out on my own for some light miles. I was going to do at least two hours but my time was shortened due to worries about one of my dogs. Ben, who is frankly the greatest dog I've ever known is 12 next month. He's off his food and was very quiet which is very unusual, hopefully its just a bug .

Feeling sorry for himself

Just like yesterday it would've been criminal not to ride today. It was the most gorgeous day. That was made even better by the picture postcard villages I rode through. This is one of my go to routes with a twist. Normally I go through Harrington but today I went up the sharp hill to Orton instead.

Red phone box in the pretty little village Orton

As you'd expect on such a lovely day there were stacks of lycra loonies out and about. A KCC group passed me going in the opposite direction between Harrington and Kelmarsh with many friendly smiles and waves. All of the individuals I encountered said hello but one trio of elite looking riders rode by without a raised eyebrow. Clearly I wasn't worthy of their greetings!

Quiet roads, sunny sky, beautiful countryside

There's so much to like about this route. A bit of climbing, some nice downhills and some fast flat bits. I could ride this for the rest of my life and never get bored.

and again

and again!

Red phone box at Old

Recovery today has once again been provided by my Mum's Sunday lunch and my Dad's cider. Today will be my last boozy day for a few weeks because once again I've signed up for 'Go Sober for October,' again this year. I'm starting tomorrow because on the 30th a friend has invited us round for drinks. I will however have to get through a 40th birthday party on the 17th. This is a challenge because I do love my beer, especially as I won't be able to quality control the ales I currently have in production, However it does me a lot of good, helps the McMillan charity and the boost to my weight loss through myfitnesspal will help my cycling. I will be 'bothering' people via facebook for sponsorship!

On another note I've discovered via facebook that there is now a lady going for the 'year record,' Tylen who describes herself as a Swedish pseudo-Brit is aiming to break the 77 year ladies record in the same way Kurt Searvogel and Steve Abraham are tackling the men's record. Unlike Abraham who asks people to leave him alone to ride, Tylen is asking for people to join her along the way. This could make a good club outing especially as she plans to ride fairly close to here in January. She's finishing in Market Harborough on Thursday 14th January and setting off the next day from there to Spalding.

Yesterday as those of us with class and intelligence gnashed and wailed at England's narrrow defeat to Wales and the rest of lowbrow Britain mourned the loss of their soaps and reality TV for the simpleminded, something wonderful happened. Lizzie Armistead became the Road World Champion. The men's race is taking place as I type. More details here:

Ok that's it for now
Happy Pedaling

Saturday, 26 September 2015

C & D Fab Four Bikewell In Bakewell

OK over to Andy Pendred to tell you all about their ride yesterday.

Note - When reading please replace hill with mountain if only to shut up Pete

I'd planned a day trip up to the Peak District with Sam before he went back to Uni so it seemed a good idea to see if any fellow C&Ders fancied joining us. Phil, Nat & Pete decided to give it a go but sadly Phil had to drop out so the Famous Five became the Fab Four & off we set on a sunny September morning.

Nat had a nervous start as Pete got to grips with her pride & joy and strapped it on the roof !
We arrived at Bakewell & set off on a route I'd found online courtesy of a Wiggle sportive (other bike shops available)

 The first few miles climbed steadily then we turned up a steeper bit which Pete decided to smash & left us trailing. However as we rounded the next corner of this 20% hill - sorry Pete 20% mountain - we found Pete kindly waiting for us doubled over his bike & after he regained the power of speech & breathing he kindly let us go ahead to the top of a long climb. We all had a breather here and realised that we were in proper hill country. Pete had a much needed gel which turned out to have wonder properties to rival Richard's Special Blue Product as he flew up all the hills. The upside of hill climbing is of course the downhill & we were treated to some pretty quick descents.

 As you'd expect the scenery was stunning, varying from wooded lanes to open moorland with rocky outcrops. We cracked on to  Edale into a strong headwind and climbed up towards Mam Tor where we stopped to take in the view.

From here we deviated from the Wiggle (other bikes shops available) route & followed a tweak that I'd edited into the Garmin that took us down the famous Winnats Rd into Castleton. Although we went down Winnats the hill climb back out of Castleton on the other side was another massive one with 20% gradients.

Route wise all had gone well until everyone realised we were now blindly following my detour & it didn't help by Sam commenting on my previous route planning which doesn't always go to plan! So now we were treated to little mutterings of 'where are we' 'are we nearly there yet' ' I've not seen any signs for Bakewell' followed by 'I'm cold' 'my arms hurt' 'not another fecking hill' - that was just Nat ! Anyway to put everyones' mind at rest Sam checked out the Garmin (he was the only one who could read it without glasses) (Nat couldn't do it as she is female) & surprise surprise we were on track to Bakewell. So confident were my fellow riders that they disappeared off downhill without me then had to climb back a mile uphill to get back on track.

 A couple more climbs followed & we headed back to Bakewell for some well earned grub at The Original Bakewell Pudding Shop (of which some Pudding will be at the club ride courtesy of Nat).

Cheers to Nat, Peter & Sam, a great ride out which hopefully we can repeat as a club ride.

Thanks for that Andy

Happy Pedaling

Another regular route...Pitsford Classic C&DCycles Cycling Club - Fast Group

I got up this morning and had the weird feeling that I didn't want to ride. One look out of the window told me that would be criminal but nether-the-less I felt quite reluctant. On setting off that instantly changed. After a week riding the 29r to work my road bike felt incredibly quick. I have however really enjoyed using the 29r for commuting because I get to have some off road fun and a few PR's have been achieved. With the help of the trust e-cars I've been able to bike to work four days out of five. It will be brilliant if I can keep that up.

As usual a decent sized group gathered at the shop. Any thoughts I could slope off to the banter bunch were quickly dispelled by Steve who is determined not to let me go back. The plan was to use Andrew Brown's Castle Ashby route but as no one else had uploaded this to their Garmin we fell back on an old faithful with the 'Pitsford Classic,' loop. Ironically this route does not actually got to Pitsford but it does cross Pitsford water at the Holcot causeway. We need to sort this out as a club though. Not enough people are taking responsibility for planning the rides and we can't just leave it all up to the Dark Helmet (C&D manager Andy.) So the plan for next week is to get organised and do Andrew's route. It's less hilly than usual so even fat lads like me will cope.

The route takes me straight back to where I'd just come from and by Rothwell I was keeping up just fine. That's the problem with these fast rides, I can cope for 5 miles so it's obvious the problem is they are too long not I'm too slow! Heading up to Harrington I started slipping back and I also started to get a gippy tummy. Perhaps my body was trying to tell me something when I was having those uncharacteristic feelings of reluctance. By Lamport we were all back together and then stayed that way heading towards the causeway.

Beautiful day for a ride

It was along that fast road that we got really fragmented as first a horse box and then several more cars started to over take half the group then sit hesitantly in the middle of us. The effect was to split us up even more and actually cause the motorists more delay. Then one of the numpty cars overtook the horsebox that was struggling to overtake us. It was dangerous and Steve had a near miss. Then the driver had a near miss because Steve nearly caught up with him for a 'word.' The video below gives an idea of this.

Chris Boardman has just written about near misses. Here's the article:

By this time that Gippy Tummy was like a washing machine and I had chronic indigestion. I probably would have struggled to keep up anyway but this definitely did not help.

Going through Holcot was a pain due to a car boot sale and lots of congestion and then when we got to Sywell we remembered there was an airshow and had to modify the route. After the detour through Mears Ashby we had that fast road to Little Harrowden that even though I'd been dropped by the group I managed to wheel suck Graham and enjoy a bit of a tear up. The group continues to perplex me. Once again they needed rests due to going too fast at which point I rode straight past. I'm sure they'd be better off taking it steady like me ;) All joking aside it was great to catch up with some people I haven't seen for a while and this may not be the banter bunch but there's still plenty of time to have a laugh.

We were back at the shop by 10:35 which is definitely a first for me. Tea and Nat's Bakewell Tart (explanatory guest blog to follow,) was in good supply. Steve also managed to fall in love with a garish bike.

With my tummy still grumbling I took it easy on the ride home. A very long sit on the toilet and indigestion tablets have sorted the problem. Then I discovered Mrs Lindsley was experiencing similar symptoms. Maybe it was something we ate!

OK now I need to sort out that guest blog.

Happy Pedaling

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Sunny Sunday Solo Off Road Spin

After yesterday's ride with the club today was time for something different on my own. By different though I mean my tried and tested off road route to Brigstock via Geddington. I was however quite cautious because when the ground gets a bit softer the Geddington Chase bridlepath quickly becomes unrideable. There were some warning signs along the way with the odd ominous puddle but also lots of dry trails.

View of Weekley Woods from the Boughton Estate 

Same place view going into the Boughton Estate

Grange Road heading to Geddington

On the first stretch the biggest obstacle was dogs! The nice weather seems to have brought every Sunday walker and their pooches out to play and I made some new furry friends. As a dog owner myself I understand that I share the countryside with other users. 

Obligatory Eleanor Cross Shot

Thankfully those ominous puddles didn't signal the start of the boggy season. The bridlepath had the odd sludgy bit but nothing like as bad as it can get. I've had to get off and push before as mud completely clogged my wheels. I suspect a few dry days and this could be usable well into October. That was the good bit. There is one negative. Every time I go over rough ground my front derailleur gets bounced round and jams my chain. Each time this has happened I've loosened, re-positioned and then tightened up as tight as I can. I'm losing confidence with it so a trip to C&D Cycles is probably needed. I'm sure this is likely to be a 'too much power,' issue.

Heading into Geddington Chase

Usually I head back round to Geddington via the Brigstock bumps and Grafton Underwood. However just out of Brigstock the road was closed for the Cransley fun run. Flipping runners! What did I say yesterday, fitness fanatics who can't ride! Anyway this surprise was a double win bonus because I hate the bumps and I've never ridden back the way I'd came before. The reason is it's the best off road downhill in Northants, which for a hill dodger like me makes it the worst uphill off road trail in Northants! It was more enjoyable than I expected and there's also some downhill bits I've only been up before so I think this might become my regular plan.

Return Journey through Weekley Woods

In my mind I had two targets today. PR's on the pro-logis drag and Glendon railway segments. Both of these were achieved but I still have some work to do to worry the leaderboard.

There's a reason I repeat this ride often. It's really fun. Just imagine me grinning like the bloke in the Wiggle advert (Local bike shops are preferable!) Recovery food today was provided by my Mum's awesome Sunday Lunch. I'm not sure of the science involved but I'm convinced it does me good, especially paired with Dad's home brew. Post lunch we had a recovery dog walk which has done the trick because Gracie the naughty trainee guide dog is finally worn out! I also got my own back on fellow cyclists by blocking the Brampton Valley Way with Labradors.

Ridiculously cute

Happy Pedaling!

Saturday, 19 September 2015

C&D Cycles CC Saturday Shop Ride...The Fast Group!

I've been good all week. I have stuck religiously to a no booze policy and have kept under my Myfitnesspal calorie goal. That is until last night when as usual I had the usual Friday Night fail. One beer led to a few and once the dis-inhibition of alcohol kicked in the eating binge began. I'm going to give myself a break though because I did this last week and I still lost weight so it's probably ok. All of that led to my crazy decision of the day which was to ride in the fast group today.

My morning started with a dog walk at 7am. When I walked the dogs it was a bright morning with the sun just poking over the rooftops. All looked good. By the time I set out on my bike at 8:20 there was a thick fog.

At the shop it was amusing to see the variation in cycling apparel. For me this is still shorts and short sleeved jersey weather. Others appeared to be prepared for a blizzard. Banter was flowing and Andy entertained us with tales of how much he is enjoying the Rugby World Cup. I understand that he is very impressed by the magnificent physiques of Rugby Football players as compared to slighter figures of association footballers. Banter of the day goes to Jonesy's jersey. None of us have ever seen a crumpled and creased lycra garment before. Pop it round tomorrow Jonesy, I'll add it to the Sunday night ironing.

The offending garment plus Andy continues to consider Courtney Lawes thighs

Steve is overdressed and had to strip at Oundle

Nat was shivering, plus look at Neil's full fingered gloves!

So I stated my intention to Steve and told him I needed a full gas blast with the intention of hurling at some point. I do wish he hadn't taken me so literally! Whoosh! The pace from the off was blistering and I was dropped on Warkton Hill, then again going into Brigstock and again by Benefield! After that I kept up for a while as we hit a fast section and it was 20+ all the way into Oundle. Then they dropped me again and again and again. All this going too fast wears them out though and I took advantage of their breaks by catching up and going past. The stretch going back from the Twywell turn to Warkton always kills me. It's a slightly uphill slog and I was fully expecting to get dropped again. Well I did much better than I expected and was still in the group past the turn for Grafton. But then, just as Pete had remarked how well I was keeping up...I got dropped again!

The pretty as a postcard Grafton Underwood

The route we took today was probably one of the first ever used for Saturday shop rides. It's certainly a well ridden loop so many of us know it well. I really like aspects of this, most notably going down, not up the Brigstock bumps and then going through some of the nicest villages you'll ever see. As Nat remarked to me on the ride, we're very fortunate to have beautiful countryside on our doorstep. Also the sun coming out, really, really helps!

Back at the shop I had the satisfaction of very nearly keeping up. I'm not quick enough for that group yet but also feel if I don't push myself I never will be. I definitely did push myself today though because 29 Strava cups and a load of PR's on a well ridden route is a good result. Who knows, half a stone lighter in a couple of months I might start to understand the phrase:
"It doesn't get easier you just get faster!"

Andy was still in banter mode and offered me a chair as he was concerned for my well being. Oh he is a funny little man. He then made my heart skip a beat with some Zipp Firecrest Wheels.

I want those wheels

Andy's new xenophobic frame available for £10.99 with a month of Daily Mail Coupons

As ever we were treated well at the shop with recovery tea and coffee and a splendid Lemon cake from Ian.

The splendid lycra loonies of C&D Cycles Cycling Club

Out on the ride we had a chat about nutrition and a top tip was a pint of milk with peanut butter. I tried it and I like it! I need to work on mixing in the peanut butter though. Steve told us of his Cool Hand Luke moment last Sunday when he had six boiled eggs to aid recovery. We also made sure we got plenty of jelly beans down us out on the ride. I heard from someone that 8 jelly beans is the energy equivalent of an energy gel. Here's a more scientific article from a running magazine Runners World. Obviously take this advice carefully as we all know runners are just people too stupid to ride a bike ;) Finally I've rounded off my recovery feed with home made soup. If you've never made your own soup you really should. It's quick, easy, free from additives you get in shop bought soups and very very nutritious. 

My cycling nutrition:
Night before: start with good intentions, lose this after several pints of home brewed ale, carb load on anything you stuff your face with!
Pre-ride: 3 cups of tea, peanut butter on wholemeal toast
Ride: Lidl jelly beans and Big Dave's special blue product energy drink (there's a video remember)
Post ride: tea and cake
Recovery at home: Milk and peanut butter, banana, super soup, lots more tea until it's beer o'clock!


OK that's it. My legs feel very strange. they are kind of twitching and pulsing as I type this. So I take it that means I had an effective workout! Thanks to my fellow lycra loonies today, you really are an awesome bunch, even you Neil!

Happy Pedaling

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

E-car scheme means I can cycle to work more often.

The NHS trust I work for has recently signed up to an E-car scheme and has six vehicles based at three sites around the county. The logic of this move is simple. They pay those of us with community based jobs a mileage allowance and in line with all things austerity, reducing costs is the name of the game. We sign up for free and then can book the cars for free mon-fri 9-5. We can still use them outside of that time but it's £5.50 an hour to do that. Other scheme members not employed by my Trust can also book the cars outside of that time which I guess is the incentive for the Ecar company to make these partnerships.

For me this scheme is genius. I'm based in Kettering but could need to go anywhere in the county in my working day. This meant I could only really bike to work on days when I'm staying in one location. Now I can book an Ecar bike to Kettering and bike home as well as getting around the county in good time. Obviously I lose my mileage allowance but the truth is that barely covers petrol now so it isn't a loss in real terms.

The process of signing up was really simple. I had to fill out a form and then the Ecar company called me. We then had a bizarre three way conversation with the DVLA and that was it. My card to use the car arrived the next day.

So yesterday I cycled to Kettering. All days that start with a bike ride are good days! I'd booked the car the day before as I was based in Northampton for most of the day. A quick change and it was time to give an Ecar a go. 

I was quite excited which probably led to my first error. After spending ages holding my card over the locking system I rang the helpline because the car wouldn't unlock. Almost as soon as the nice man answered I realised: "hang on this is the Nissan Leaf, I've booked the Renault Zoe!" Anyway they like to talk you through the first use so no harm done. There's a bit of a complicated procedure involving unlocking the key card with your pin and releasing the charge point, unplugging it all etc so being talked through it was helpful. All sorted though I started the card up and was a bit surprised to see the car that was plugged in all night on 59% charge. Still it had over 50 miles range with that and I only needed 33. More on that later.

Driving the car is weird at first but so simple you stop noticing. They don't make any noise! You really don't trust the engine is running until the car moves. Then it's frankly like a go kart. There's no gears and more than that it's even less complicated than a standard automatic. It's quite nippy around town but is limited to 60mph meaning I missed my 2.0 litre 16v a bit on dual carriageways. It's comfy to drive though and has good features like a reversing camera, air con, automatic wipers and lights. The car recharges itself a bit whilst your moving and a dashboard graphic shows power going back in if you take your foot off the accelator. The child in me enjoyed the challenge of trying to get the battery and mileage range to increase!

On my return to Kettering I had to use the helpline again as the car refused to start charging. This took a good ten minutes to resolve and it was just repeating my previous steps. I think it will be easier next time but it's not just plug it in, lock and leave. I also wondered at that point if the previous user had the same issues because that would explain the car not being fully charged (it only takes half an hour from the dedicated charge points.)

Then I got to bike home. Bonus! This really does feel like the future for me. I bike to work, saving money and cycling more. The trust pays less for me to do my job. The environment benefits too (although I'm not naive, I understand that the electricity also has a carbon footprint.)

I'm definitely going to continue to use the Ecar scheme. I hope loads of people don't join me though because the only downside I can see is there might not always be a car available. Then again the trust could always expand the fleet!

Happy Pedaling

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Cycle4Cynthia 2015...possibly the perfect day on a bike!

Well today didn't get off to a good start. I set my alarm for 05:00 and when it went off I must have missed snooze and pressed off. At 06:09 I woke up in sheer panic, not just because I needed to meet the guys at the shop by 06:45 but also because I awoke from a nightmare where someone else had done my ironing.

With no chance of meeting the rest of the C&DCyclesCC gang in time I set off on my own. Now I don't mind that at all. It says in my blog description I like riding in on my own and I do. It was a great solo ride to Althorp and I made it by about 08:15 which was plenty of time to get registered. When I arrived a large gathering of C&D lycra loonies were present and all doubled over with laughter as Steve was enjoying the attentions of a lady who may or may not have been enjoying his attentions back.

OK so editing after the day I've had is a bit of an effort so here's the pictures. I will pick up the story after the pics!

Steve and his new best mate

Pieces of food on a bike....erm good luck

Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder

Phil and Theo at the start

Dylan Hartley and Sam Dickinson

Yay here we go

there's a cheat here!

OOOOOh there's a contraption video later

Trying to keep up

Oh my god why am I trying to keep up?

OK so the main group of the C&D lads and lasses piled off to do the 50 mile route. Meanwhile I joined Phil 'the beast' Broxton and his son Theo to do the 25 mile route. Theo was an absolute star and I really do expect him to join us on a club ride in a few years. Theo should know he's an inspiration to others as SuperSam Lindsley wants to do the 25 mile route next year, Theo did not fail on an incredibly hilly route so big kudos young man. Check out the video below:

On route in Cycle4Cynthia there were plenty of standard lycra clad carbon/aluminium framed cyclists en route and then there were some alternative cyclists! Check this video out:

Well we got back to the start/finish in good time and then there was a real carnival atmosphere. I think I've been negligent here in mentioning who Cynthia is. Cynthia Spencer House is a hospice in Northampton for cancer sufferers. As such it couldn't be a more deserving cause. Marrying into a family that has suffered way more than their fair share from the C word has taught me that this is way more than a bike ride.It's a way of trying to help. So it's massive congratulations to the organisers for creating such a brilliant event. Pray you'll never need Cynthia Spencer Hospice or her sister unit in Kettering, Cransley Hospice and if your family ever does be grateful they have such innovative fundraisers that created the Cycle4cynthia bike ride.

After the main event I got to ride back with some of my favourite lycra loonies. We were knackered but in fits and starts we tore it up on the way back. I love this club and I can genuinely say the people I rode home with are some of the best.

All in all I think that's the perfect day on a bike. Solo ride. Help the youngsters ride. Ride with mates ride.

Happy Pedalling

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Doing my own thing...

Well SuperSam has decided to go back to playing rugby, good for him I hope he does well. That left me with a decision...go out with C&DCCC for a Steve Sunday ride or do my own thing. Well I'm not feeling fast at all right now and I decided to give 'trying to keep up,' a miss. As my ride was a 30 mile bumble at 14mph average and their's was 60 miles at 18mph average I think I did the right thing. It's something I will have to work back up to.

Does that make my ride a bit of a flop? No not all. We get so obsessed with distance and averages and segments that we end up forgetting how nice it is to ride without pressure. I set off with a rough plan but no objective other than spending a couple of hours in the saddle. The weather, unlike yesterday was perfect for cycling: dry, light winds, not too warm. It really would have been squanderous not to get out.

As ever the highlights for me were the descents. Today I thoroughly enjoyed Rothwell to Desborough, Desborough Road Drop into Arthingworth, the quick section into Maidwell, from Maidwell to Draughton, the downhill section of the Old TT circuit, the descent onto the causeway and the hill from Orton back to Rothwell.

Doing my own thing meant I had plenty of opportunities to get shots of the beautiful landscape. A picture tells a thousand words so have a look at these:

That speed camera is under no threat

Maidwell to Draughton

Draughton to Lamport

The view from the top of the hill between Draughton and Lamport

Same place different view

Might as well have a bikie

View over Pitsford Reservoir

Pitsford water causeway

Shadow shot 

In other news today is the start of the tour of Britain. Wow what a finish that was! No spoilers, I'm sure someone will be waiting for the highlights.

Happy Pedaling