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 

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Remembrance Sunday Ride

Last year we had the most excellent Sunday club ride visiting local sites of significance from World War II as our way of marking Remembrance Sunday. So this year we thought it would be rude not to do it again. This time we decided to leave poppies with a shop key ring at the memorial's we visited. Once again this was a very special ride and it was a pleasure to share with a brilliant group of people.

There have been many tributes this weekend. I took part in the silence at Franklin's Gardens yesterday where the wreath was laid at the only war memorial inside a rugby ground. Then came the emotional traditional reading it was stirring stuff. Here's the reading:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Before we made it to our first stop at Chelveston we had our first puncture of the day. The weather was much improved on the day before but it had left the roads filthy with all manner of debris. It was heavy going in mud and leaves and inevitably damp bits of sharp stuff worked their way into our tyres. Graham was the first victim. As is customary we tried to be helpful but mostly took the mickey.

I wasn't the only photographer today. Rob and Phil before he left us took some nice shots. Nat sent me hers and we open up with a picture that reminds me the diet still has some work to do but hey look at that magnificent photobomb from Steve. Great place to have a puncture, I've always liked the view from here on the road between Addington and Ringstead.

Hi Neil, you wish you have a bell on your bike...

Captures the conditions well, quite arty actually Nat

Despicable Steve, more on him later!

The first memorial is in memory of the bombers stationed at Chelveston. It feels utterly bizzare to imagine that flying machines of death and destruction were regularly rumbling out of here to rain hell on Germany. Brave as those lads were I often reflect on the innocent victims helplessly being obliterated below. War is abhorrent to me. Honoring the fallen  and praying it never happens again is the reason it's so important to me to wear the poppy. Right at the start of today's ride Steve dropped one of his informative bombshells (which is highly inappropriate wording by me.) The lad knows stuff and riding through Cranford he told of the German airmen buried in Cranford churchyard who had been shot down after bombing the furnaces at Islip.

Can you spot our small tribute?

Nat checks the firmness of Graham's tyre

Next stop was the site of Kimbolton airfield where a large gathering was in progress. They invited us to join their service but we politely declined and were thanked for our poppy. There's good information about this airfield here

Neil likes to take his jacket off safely

We were respectful at the war memorials but in between we were still us. The banter flowed and silliness reached new levels. How I never fall off my bike laughing I really don't know.

The village is for local people only

Nat's request to twiddle Steve's nipples was denied!

The chimps have escaped 

The next stop was Polebrook. Now Steve always says Errol Flynn was stationed here during the war and the swashbuckling Lothario sired many local children. However wikipedia says it was Clark Gable! Amazingly there is you tube footage of the operations at Polebrook.

Nat took another shot of my poppy placing

Then she captured my comfort break behind a tree

Behind that tree I found a geocache! How ridiculous is that? I've spent ages looking for those flipping things and then I go for a whizz behind a tree and one just happens to be there! Whilst we went to the memorial Stuart was the second puncture victim of the day.

More flaccid inner tubes

The hangar at Polebrook has an inaccessible memorial so we put a poppy on the fence

I have no idea what village we were in when Stuart punctured again. It was a bit of a mystery until the eagle eyed Rob found a tiny bit of flint stuck in his tyre. Whilst they sorted it out it seemed a good opportunity to stop off at another memorial and leave a C&D Cycles CC poppy. It's a proper village too. Check out the post box and red phonebox. Meanwhile Steve discovered a dog on a roof!

There's our poppy

fixing continues

The dog on the roof picture is a disappointment...zoom in you'll see what we meant

The next part of our journey was to visit the site of the bomber crash near Lievden New Bield link. This is a detailed memorial with a lot of personal information about the young men killed. It was good to see that others had already visited.


Information board

This time last year I lost my legs at this point. It was no different this year and I started to lag behind. The brigstock bumps were horrible and the wind was starting to pick up again. Even so I was loving it. This was a great ride. Next stop was Grafton Underwood which was a massive airbase that has lots of structures remaining with some still being used by farmers. wikipedia link also some 'urbex' people have done some interesting exploring.

Group shot

Poppy placed

It's a nice memorial 

info board

At ridiculously historic Geddington I left the group to get my self home. I had to get home quick so we could get to Northampton for recovery Sunday lunch at my parents. On the way I had one poppy left so I dropped it off at the Rushton memorial. The fact somewhere so tiny has a memorial shows just how much the two world wars affected every part of our country.

there's our poppy

wider angle with Clive in shot

So that was that, a great ride and great company. Well apart from I haven't told you about Steve Duke yet. Here's his crime:

  1. Rule #23//
    Tuck only after reaching Escape Velocity.
    You may only employ the aerodynamic tuck after you have spun out your 53 x 11; the tuck is to be engaged only when your legs can no longer keep up. Your legs make you go fast, and trying to keep your fat ass out of the wind only serves to keep you from slowing down once you reach escape velocity. Thus, the tuck is only to be employed to prevent you slowing down when your legs have wrung the top end out of your block. Tucking prematurely while descending is the antithesis of Casually Deliberate. For more on riding fast downhill see Rule #64 and Rule #85.
Steve is obsessed with getting into a tuck on downhills. On one point he was doing it on a flat piece of road, A heinous crime Steve, consider yourself told ;)

I had so many other ideas for this blog but without researching the role of bikes in wars or looking up more history to do with remembrance Sunday I just feel I got enough for one blog. So that's it.

Happy pedalling