Saturday, 23 April 2016

St.Georges Saturday Shenanighans

Another Saturday another club ride. Today's route was requested by Andy Pendred as it was after-all St. George's Day and he also provided the cake. Andy P continued to be the man of the day by first providing the splendid name sticker for my Giant Propel. "Whanau," pronounced far-now and meaning 'extended family in Maori.

I opted for the banter bunch again this week and we were ably led by Ian with the novel idea of paper maps! Wow these contraptions require no power, are super light and conveniently fit in a jersey pocket. I wonder if they'll catch on? In the banter bunch was a lovely mix of riders with old, new and returning cyclists. It was especially to see the big lad Jonesy.

Jonesy and our leader Ian



Fast group riders going back the other way



Newbie Franco

The Banter Bunch

Same shot moments later

and again

and again

and again

A good ride was had by all in the banter bunch. Banter boy of the day accolade must go to Ashley, the lad dubbed 'Young Quintana,' by old Stuart. He feels the blog should emphasize the prowess of the banter bunch as a peloton magnifique. Hmmm...that might be stretching things Ash. We're certainly friendly, determined and inclusive.

Earlier in the week the forecast for today was light rain. That changed to sunshine by today but it was fiercely cold so I was kitted out in pretty much as much stuff as I wear on a bike. It was however stunningly beautiful out with Spring very much in evidence.

Due to that it took us considerably longer than the Fast Group to get back to the shop. We did see them at the little loop around Upper Dean and we also saw Justin who arrived late frantically trying to catch the quicks. 

As for my legs today they I felt great. Things are definitely getting better and my plan to ride in the fast group again in June looks on track.

A bike for the Queen of Cakes?

Back at the shop we had he usual coffee and cakes provided by Andy P. We also saw a masterclass in salesmanship as Andy F sold a super excited little girl her very first bike. I also spied the little beauty above and thought Mrs Lindsley would love that, especially the floral paniers!

Clive gets his D2D sticker

When I got home it was Clive's turn to get the Andy P treatment with this commemorative D2D sticker. Looks great Andy thanks! 

A quick shower and a bowl of soup I'd made before the ride this morning and I was out again.  Sam and I joined the Scouts in their annual litter pick around Rothwell. It's great to be part of a community project and I hope we inspire others to take more care of their environment.

That's it.
Happy Peddling

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Guest Blog: Heather Rides the Heart of England 300km Audax

I'm massively pleased to announce that Heather did in fact agree to writing a guest blog following her epic ride this weekend. I'll let her tell you all about it...

An account of my first 300km (plus a bit) Audax ride.

This being my first 300, it was with a little trepidation that I set out everything on Friday night, ready for a super-early departure on Saturday morning. At least the setting out is getting to be a routine now. There were a few new bits for the longer ride- a small 'lipstick-sized' mobile charger (at least that's how the ad described it), and my new 6l Carradice Carradura Maxi seatbag- ready to carry all I might need on my longer rides, although maybe not a sleeping bag.

The lipstick charger

Alarm went off at 2.15am, quick first breakfast of  oatbran porridge and coffee, load the car, and away by 3.15am for the drive to Cirencester. Lovely quiet roads at that time of the morning. The forecast was for some light rain and snow in the morning. Cold initially, but improving steadily, with moderate northerly winds!

Heather's trusty Forme

Arrived in good time at the church hall that was our base. A few people had taken up the offer of spending the Friday night there, and there was a lively atmosphere on registration. This being a longer event, there were several yellow vests sporting a discrete PBP logo (Paris- Brest- Paris). Time enough for a second breakfast of a large pain-au-chocolate, toast and honey, and coffee; before setting off at 6am with lights on in the murk.

The all carrying saddle bag
The first few miles are always hard as the body warms up, but a nice rhythm ensued, and I was happy with my pace. I took up with a more experienced radonneur, Martin, who was peddling at about the same pace and had ridden the route before. As we hit the Cotswolds, a light drizzle started, which quickly turned to snow, which became heavy enough to settle with quite poor visibility. What were the forecasters thinking!! At this point we passed a couple of people who had decided to call it. We decided to continue, as he thought we were not far from our last descent, and I knew the forecast was for better weather later, at least they got that right. There was about an inch of snow on the road at this time and a few bits were slippy. Photos were a thought, but getting out in time was more pressing. Starting the descent, we were lucky enough to have a 4x4 with large tyres pass us, so we rode in his tyre tracks- why walk when you can ride! We passed a one or two walking down, and our average downhill speed of 8.9mph probably says it all! Bottom on seat, weight hard on back wheel, and numb hands holding brakes- another pair of pads grinding! The snow did stop as we exited the Cotswolds en-route to our first stop at Alcester at 41m. With a temp of -2.7 gradually rising, we peddled the remaining 15m with snow clinging persistently to our jackets and boots- which did prove that they were actually waterproof- no wet feet or body.

Useful bag from another angle

It was good to get into the warmth- hot chocolate and beans on toast followed. Halfway through food I finally started shivering, which continued into our next leg for a few miles. The last person to arrive before we set off looked absolutely perished. Martin and I parted company not far into the second leg. The only tandem on the ride also peddled past. My legs were still dead, and it was a very slow leg indeed, as everything gradually slid up to operating temperature. I was conscious of needing to try to drink more-the last leg was too cold to have had more than a few mouthfuls. Gently rolling country followed, passing east of Solihull and Birmingham, through Balsall Common and up to our second checkpoint in Atherstone 78m, near Tamworth. The roads were well chosen and remarkably traffic free, no indication that we were so close to an urban hub. The greasy spoon known as 'Winnie's Cafe'- for egg on toast and coffee. At this point the last 5 riders who had made it through gradually trickled in.

We all set off together for our 3rd stop in Daventry at 121m. We quickly split into two and I continued in company with John- a PBP veteran on a fixed wheel bike, and another rider who's name I don't remember. Good weather, a cross-tail wind and a fairly flat route made for a pleasant ride. The conversation turning to gadgets- dynamo hubs, charging devices, and the merits and glitches of the various Garmin models. It's good to know I'm not the only one who curses the darn things!. 'Roso Cafe' had really good food and great coffee, and ginger beer. Having had a lurking lurgy since Thursday (courtesy of two hectic weeks at work) I was feeling a little under the weather.  So soup was the order of the day, not really enough food.

By this stage, it must be obvious that food is enormously important to the Audax community. There is even an app with all convenient Weatherspoon's Pubs (cheap and cheerful) available for download, as is the 'cafe network'. We also love Travelodges. I have to admire the ability of more experienced riders to consume a large amount in a short space of time and then get back on the bike. Still working at that one.

Stage 4 took us back around the eastern edge of the Cotswolds en-route to Tackley, and the 'Sturdy Castle Pub' at 155m. The countryside was again gently rolling with a few steeper bits as we headed through Canon's Ashby and then the various Astons. There was the odd rain spot, but it was peaceful and beautiful as the sun gradually settled, and we arrived just before nightfall. Some of the organisers were there to stamp our Brevet cards and we settled for quick snacks and puddings- the wait for food being at least 20min.

Stage 5 was back to Cirencester. Via Witney, Brize Norton and Southrop. Fairly flat with all the potholes saved for the dark! Lots of flashys and lights. We were a company of four and John, on his single speed, set off as though he was on a time trial with the rest of us trying to hang on. David and I lost the other two at Witney and continued at a more sedate pace, arriving at HQ just after 23h30. 192m down and 15 hrs of bike time. Very tired and feeling too ill to eat by that time- unusual for me- and not great for ride recovery. We had one further arrival and that was all the band of 18 in safe just after midnight.

The local travelodge was a favourite for that night. A few were B&Bing and a few of us bunked down in the hall for the remainder of the night- it's amazing how well you can sleep with a blanket and a camping mat when you're tired!. Home the next morning- able to appreciate the beautiful countryside I hadn't seen in the dark the night before. Everyone found it a challenging ride due to the weather at the start. Sadly 32 decided not to continue as the snow had got to about 3 inches in places with ice by the time they got up to the top of the Cotswolds, and it wasn't safe. For the remainder, it proved to be a good day, with beautiful country, good company and, of course, food.

What's next!?

Back to Richard: That's epic Heather truly epic! Massive kudos and I think Mr Pendred should make you up a commemorative sticker. Heather also wins the award for the first guest blogger to provide the HTML code to embed her Strava route on the blog.

Happy Peddling

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Soulful Sunday and some other rides...

Having had four seasons in one day yesterday, starting and ending with snow, today was a much nicer day. I decided I just needed a ride,  a lovely gentle soon in the Spring sunshine. So I set off with no intention of looking at either my cadence or speed.

Soon in the journey I got to Harrington where the conditions made me feel a bit twitchy. I have form for coming off on ice and I suddenly wondered if the best bike was a good idea.

Ubiquitous phonebox shot

I really didn't need to worry because the rest of the ride looked like the picture above.  A beautiful
day.  Perfect for cycling.

It's a Gainsborough Sky Ted

Holcot causeway - Pitsford Reservoir

Plenty of other Lycra loonies out today and I spotted Bruce from C&D Cycles CC. He was getting a gel down him so I decided I'd have one too. I've never bought gels but I had one left over from a Sportive so I thought - why not?

I've been out a few times this week on the theory that several short rides are better than a couple of longer ones. It's been a case of 'up with the larks,' which if you haven't tried it, you're massively missing out. I love that time of day and couldn't resist the picture below. 

"Up with the sun and out with the larks,
The best time to ride is just after dark!"

Last Sunday I had a spin on the 29r. A completely unremarkable ride in itself but one that means a lot to me. The picture below shows where SuperSam and I used to stop to watch the trains. It's changed a lot in just a few years. The fence is new and there are now wind turbines in the distance. The biggest difference are the red kites and buzzards. It seems weird but they weren't there when we first rode that way.
Lots of change

The llamas are still there

I was amused in the week by an article "You know you're a cyclist when..." cycling weekly link

I can add a few to those as I wave at fellow cyclist whilst I'm driving my car, I plan routes based on wind direction and Strava segments and shock of shock when I see an attractive young lady on a bike my first thought is always "what bike are they on?"

I need to give a big shout out to the club riders who went out in the snow yesterday. Massive rule #9 kudos. I would've been one of those lycra loonies but my wife was on court duty. You'll be pleased to know that whilst you rode SuperSam was sailing at Pitsford. 

Finally the biggest kudos of the week goes to Heather Perry who not only braved the weather yesterday she completed a 192 mile Audax in it! GCN have their #wattagebazooka I'm going to award Heather the Richard's Cycling Blog #legsofsteel. Heather if you're reading this would make an excellent guest blog and if you took a year off work I'm sure you'd smash the record Kajsa Tylen is currently trying to set.

Happy Peddling

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Crap on the road but fun on the bike!

Today's C&D Cycles club ride had it's fair share of hills, some unpleasant road conditions, some stunning scenery and above all some quality banter on a bike! This was another Andy Brown route and once again the mountain goat sought out every undulation on offer. The fast lads (hopefully I'll be back up to that speed in a few months,) set off leaving the less competitive banter bunch behind. We were led by a combination of Ian and Rob with input from me when their overrated Garmin's failed and my brain didn't. (I really should be quiet here, the last time we did this route I got everyone completely lost!)

Mr Baird feeling rather pleased with himself

Club colours in full show

As we headed out towards Desborough we encountered the first of many roads in an unpleasant state. The mud on the road from the quarry was nasty in terms of wheel-spins and frankly very unnecessary. It wasn't however the worst that we encountered...

The road that desperately needs a clean!

We got past that though and soldiered on. Normally I love the stretch from Desborough through Stoke Albany and onto Ashley and early signs were for a good fast rolling section. I'd like to pretend at this point that I was dropping back for photos but as with last week I was definitely the group's 'Arse end Charlie.' I got some very helpful advice from cycling veteran Stuart who once again in his late 70's left me in his wake. I would never ignore such precious advice and he advised me I was spinning in low gears too much. You're right Stuart, I was knackered. Taking a break from cycling has really damaged my fitness. I won't be doing that again!

Nice bit of road...

Oh shit!

Unforunately road conditions deteriorated again before Ashley and this was again a bit of a nervy ride. It wasn't improved by Steve letting us know the road was coated with fertiliser made from human poo! That's not a late April Fools joke, 77% of sewage is now turned into fertliser. I'm not sure what grows on tarmac though!!!

Things went from bad to worse for Mark who managed to eject his bottle on to the road. Ken unable and perhaps given the surface in question, unwilling, to avoid Mark's vital fluid rode straight over it. I'm really not sure he'd want to pick it up anyway.

At Hallaton, near some Llamas I didn't get a good picture of, Steve gave me something for a bit of a boost. I like these gels a lot, it's like having a sweet strong coffee but only in the consistency of marmite. It didn't do much though, I was still dropped on every hill. We didn't go far though because we had a plethora of chain dropping especially the hapless Mark who fiddled and twiddled with his mech all the way round.

The magnificent Stuart...spoils the picture!

That's the pic I was taking with malificent Mark not spoiling the view

Local nonsense

I do love a good memorial

You may be thinking it looks like a nice day. Well it was once we'd warmed up but oh my goodness it was fresh, especially in the breeze. Having worn shorts last week most of us were back to longs, overshoes, full fingered gloves, base layers etc. Never a dull moment with the British weather, well except when it's dull!

The sign reads 'Hare Pie Farm,' and is a firm favourite of Steve

We'd had poo so why not have a pee?

Beautiful Day

As we made our way down this stretch of road Neil Howarth remarked how great it was to be out on our bikes. He loved the scenery, the riding and the company of like minded people. You're spot on Neil. That's what it's all about!

Library picture to show the process

Not long after that we went through another stretch of nightsoil on the road. Again it wasn't the most pleasant experience. I'm all  for responsible use of waste and any way we can boost food production. I just don't want to ride through it!

Looking out across the Welland valley

The picture above does not justice to the view beign sureveyed at East Carlton across the Welland Valley. This was a great route showcasing North Northants and South Leicestershire as a good place to go for a ride.

Dirty dirty bike

More filth

I left the group at Rushton and struggled home. I'm knackered, really knackered. I feel like I rode 100 not 40 miles. However it was great to be out on my bike with good friends. I also know that cycling fitness comes back quite quickly so the solution is in my hands...more miles!

On arriving home my cycling kit went straight in the washing machine and I jumped in the shower to scrub all that poop off! Andy F will also be pleased to know I've had a shave. Deep cleanse was  the order of the day. My beautiful bike has also had a good scrub down and a shine up courtesy of WD40 GT85.

What I really needed was a good sit down but then I'm not sensible am I? So instead I made chunky vegetable soup for dinner and the chilli for tonight's tea. I've also pitched yeast and got my latest beer in the brew fridge, cleaned all that up and walked the dogs, oh yeah and chopped some logs...why am I always knackered again? Well finally I am sat down writing this...listening to 5Live sports and watching Wasps V Exeter at the same time. Who says men can't multi-task? Oh hang on...I've what else can I do?

Happy Pedaling!

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Another Saturday, another great club ride...

The usual routine for planning and organising a club ride all takes place on Facebook. Most commonly someone puts a route together and shares this for everyone to follow. Unfortunately this was not the case today. Big Steve in his wisdom decided the route should be Clopton Reverse but being dystechnical the route exists only in his head. Never mind as a human sat nav he could explain it to me. Miraculously I translated: "grafton, effing Twywell road, dain the ill through b******* Thrapston, Clopton, no Titchmarsh, Clopton, over the #*@£$%&! A60 wotsitcalled, Achurch, past the historic church, past the non historic church back to the douchecanoe roundabout at Islip then back to the effing shop." By doing this, we in the banter bunch managed to do the same route as the fast group. The Prince of Profanity has many saving graces, he does plan lovely routes, it's just a shame he can't tell his arse from his elbow when it comes to technology.

It's a funny time of year weather wise and the mixture of shorts, longs, full fingered gloves, mitts, overshoes etc was quite interesting to behold. Coming from hardy stock I was in shorts, winter jersey, mitts and opted for no overshoes. This for me was plenty warm enough. However I have broken one of the 'rules.'
  1. Rule #27//
    Shorts and socks should be like Goldilocks.
    Not too long and not too short. (Disclaimer: despite Sean Yates’ horrible choice in shorts length, he is a quintessential hard man of cycling and is deeply admired by the Velominati. Whereas Armstrong’s short and sock lengths are just plain wrong.) No socks is a no-no, as are those ankle-length ones that should only be worn by female tennis players.
I am apparently a female tennis player! Until her ban for having "a poorly heart," I'd have opted to be Maria Sharapova erm...actually I'd stil like to be her thanks! Anyway I like ankle length socks and will wear them until it gets cold again! I overheard some comments about my attire on the ride and it wasn't until we were back at the shop that I got the full explanation. It appears that Tony said to Mick:
"You'd think if he can afford an expensive bike he can afford a pair of socks."
Well Tony, as you can't work the internet you won't read this but I do wear socks and their length is my business!

Even crazier than my socks is the choice of bike made by Glynn. Now he's an absolute specimen but surely an MTB is a big ask even for him! Erm...not so much, when Glynn left us at Clopton I was struggling to keep up with him!

It was a good ride from the whole banter bunch and we were back at the shop just after 11am.
As ever back at C&D Cycles we were well looked after with coffee and cake. There were also a few bits and bobs of equipment to gaze at. The lucky person picking up that Boardman they've just finished is getting a lovely bike.

That's it for now...
Happy Pedaling