Sunday, 24 July 2016

Hot week, lots of cycling...

It's been hot, hot, hot this week! I've done a fair bit of solo riding, one group ride and Sam continues with his riding with the fabulous KCC Cyclones. In the biggest cycle race in the world I'm watching the final stage and Chris Froome's 3rd victory as I type.

My cycling week started as it often does with my standard 17 miler. Amazingly I keep getting a PR on the same segment of this ride. It's a good way to start. I was still tight from Sunday so it was good to stretch the legs again.

The second ride of the week was a variation on a theme. You've seen this before. It was really sticky by Wednesday and even going out early left me in a total sweaty mess.

On Thursday I rode the Braybrooke route I'd ridden the week the week before. I'm always amused that the tiny trickle that 'flows' through the village is the River Jordan. I've yet to see Moses in the bullrushes.

Friday was my rest day and as usual on Saturday I did laps of Pitsford whilst Sam was sailing. Well except Sam and his mates weren't sailing this week because there was no wind! They went paddle boarding instead which also looks fun. With no wind I managed to PR a lap of Pitsford, I didn't feel particularly quick so that was quite a surprise. Pitsford was full of miserable joggers who don't smile let alone say hello, riders of all capabilities including some youngsters just starting out and a very very very old man! The most fun is dinging groups of walkers with the bike bell. It's like there's no pre-arranged protocol for moving aside and chaos ensues as they scatter in all directions. No walkers were harmed in the making of this blog!

As is customary I was last to arrive for today's club ride. I was a bit pre-occupied with litter on my dog walk, did all sorts of jobs that maybe could wait around the house and then disaster struck. The coconut oil I use to protect more tender parts has in the hot weather turned to liquid. I undid the jar and it went all over the bed. So some swift action was required including a lot of fairy liquid and the sheets going in the machine. Those five minutes are why I arrived at 8:35 for an 8:30 start! When I told this tale there was a lot of disbelief that something more sordid wasn't involved and visions of me naked dripping in coconut oil bordering on worrying fantasies were broadcast by all. Sorry lads it's not a mucky tale, just a messy one!

Sunday is my main ride of the week and the last few weeks it's been a real speed fest. A bit much for me at times and today was one of those times. We were flying into Oundle when I got dropped. My average at that point was 19mph and at the time I was doing 25mph. But if you go off the back at that pace it's really hard to get back. Too hard for me! They didn't notice though and went through Oundle and out to Polebrook before noticing I was missing. This put me in a bit of a bad mood. Neil and Steve came back for me but it was pure guesswork that I was on the right route. Look, rule 1 was broken but no-one did it on purpose. We probably just need to do a bit of work on sticking together a bit more. Steve and Neil broke my bad mood. Neil with reason and Steve with the usual blend of fast show and filth!

On the old A1 which runs alongside the new A1 we got stuck behind farm heavy machinery. It was OK for drafting but only doing about 16mph and we all wanted to go a bit quicker. (even me, before someone says it!)

Ken wins best jersey of the day with his beauty from Florida. Fortunately that's not the best pic I got of it so...sorry. So with that Jersey and Steve's from Spain the challenge has been laid down for me to pick something up in Australia. Only 33 weeks to go! 

Once the rule 1 faux pas had been realised I was well looked after by our very healthy gathering of 14 riders. No one did this more than Nat. So many thanks for your company riding today Nat, you are a Queen of the road.

There's a wider view of the combine issue and a better shot of Ken's magnificent jersey! It really was OK behind that beast until it inexplicably started to chuck hay at us!

Just for completeness really really soak in the magnificence of Ken's jersey! Jealous right? Don't worry there's an abomination coming to temper the lycra lust!

There it is! Steve Duke, what the flip mate!!! I know I wear female tennis player's socks but you've gone too far. Be proud of those tan lines don't wear vest tops to combat them! Plus stop rogering yourself with the saddle! OK Steve did redeem himself partly by awarding the Andy Pendred Jogger of the Day award to an attractive runner who hilariously had her shorts inside out!!!!

The route today really wouldn't have been complete without a group pic at our favourite zoo sign. That consummate exhibitionist 'Barbecue Bairdy,' is obscuring me with his fake Chinese Italian bike, a shame Mark because behind you I'm doing some hilarious things. The beardy geezer in green  is a newby to the club but boy can that lad ride!

Another impressive rider is Darren Kirby. Unlike me he's new to cycling and even more unlike me, being a bigger rider isn't a barrier for him. That lad has some serious power, I'd love to see him get a power meter because frankly he's the epitome of a Wattage bazooka!

Now you might think I'm disappointed with today's ride but not a bit of it! Yes I'm the slowest BUT in my eyes I wasn't slow. 60 miles at a 17mph average is a marked improvement for me. Another 38 Strava achievements also tells a tale. I'm getting better a bit at a time. You can't ask for more than that!

Back at the shop we were entertained well, as ever by C&D Cycles manager, Andy Ferguson and it was also good of Jonesy to pop in with one of his many kids. After a quick coffee the ride home was a lot slower than the previous 60 miles! Still it's another 100km+ to my Rio challenge total and I'm now way ahead of my nearest rival for second place.

Switching away from me...SuperSam continues with KCC cyclones. I'm so pleased we got him into this club because it's just fabulous. I'd encourage anyone with kids who want to ride to join.

|Mark Evans from KCC led Sam's group for a superb cyclo-cross session last Monday around a well thought out course. I also think Sam looks good in Orange. He's also been trying SPD pedals for the first time. It's a challenge for a kid but he's making good progress and I'm sure he'll be good on them soon.

Finally let's talk tour! This years TdF was just brilliant where it threatened to be boring. Massive congratulations to Chris Froome and Team Sky. It was great to see Cav back to his best before leaving for his Rio preparations. Adam Yates was a revelation winning the White Jersey. The Steve Cummings stage win will live long in the memory and Birmingham born Irishman Dan Martin was fantastic too. For the non-brits, I love watching the world class talent that is Peter Sagan and I was thrilled to see Andre Greipel win the final stage on the Champs Elysees.

Well I'm blogging in the garden and the light is about to go so it's time for a beer and some telly!

Happy Pedaling

Sunday, 17 July 2016

I just love to ride!

It's been another great week on my bike. I'm loving it, loving it, loving it! So here's a roundup of my solo rides, a fabulous group ride, Sam's progress and a quick comment on the tour!

My first ride of the week was my standard 17 miler. On it I encountered two red kites in a roadside tree. They scarpered in that lovely lumbering way before I could get a picture. I never get a good pic of the kites with my phone. The one below is about the best I've got. It reminded me of a comment by a colleague last weekend. We were taking about kites nicking food off a barbie (yes braii, alright Bairdy!) My colleague inquired: "do they eat meat then?" To which her husband replied: "No not all, you get a lot of vegetarian birds of prey!"

Another stunning Summer morning saw a variation on a theme through picturesque Draughton. It's a village without a pub which can't be good but they do have a 'pop-up' pub from time to time.

On Thursday I couldn't decide where to ride and the queen of cakes decided on Braybrooke. This was a good plan because it took me up the hill at Griffin Road and the hill into Harrington. My legs weren't too lively so I was quite pleased that I was having Friday and Saturday as rest days. That was until Saturday, when I saw Steve leading the fast group on my way to work a days overtime. "More money for Australia," was the mantra that barely took those blues away.

That brings me to today's ride. I was so excited about getting out on a club ride that I didn't sleep too well. I was awake from 3-5am, then at 7 when I needed to get up it became a bit of an effort. First order of the day was to make that magnificent blue product that boosts energy and prevents cramp.

I got to the shop to discover the largest group we've had for a while on a Sunday. It was a lovely day and I'm not at all surprised that so many were in attendance. The first thing we did was set off back to Rothwell! I could've had a few more minutes doing all those things I like to do in the morning. I'm a nightmare to be honest, I'm often the last there and it's not through laziness, it's the opposite. As usual I was emptying the dishwasher, feeding the dogs, putting washing on, hanging washing out, making the queen of cakes her essential morning coffee etc. The say men can't multi-task, well on Thursday I made shepherds pie and mowed the lawn at the same time. I'd probably have more energy for cycling if I calmed down a bit!

The pace was quick. Well it was for me! I think the others were just cruising but I was flat out trying to keep up! We ruined Justin soon into the ride because he's a bit under the weather. I also got a compliment (I think,) from Nat who said I was getting in shape again and with legs like mine I should wear a mini skirt! At the first picture we were all stopped to let a triathlon get through. We got bored waiting though and ended up in among the triathletes. I'm guessing they're not allowed to draft so I wonder what the rules are when you get dragged along by us Lycra Loonies!

We went well into Leicestershire ending up at Lutterworth so I was pleased to be wearing my Northampton Saints jersey. Lutterworth is an interesting place as Sir Frank Whittle, the man credited with the invention of the jet engine, was born there. We also discovered the pub of the year! Leaving Lutterworth we were on possibly the world's busiest country road. That's because loads of people were heading to Stanford Hall for a motorcycle show. With some dread I had an idea where Steve's magical mystery tour was taking us. I was right we went up the monster drag from Stanford to Cold Ashby. This village is the highest in Northamptonshire and boasts a very hilly golf course. One of the holes is called cardiac hill and if you don't make the green you tend to find the ball rolls back past you down the hill. No this isn't suddenly a golf blog, I'm pointing out that this is a big hill! So being a downhill specialist they all had to wait for me again.

There was tonnes of Lycra out and about, we saw several groups and individual riders. When we were on the flatter bits I was able to stay with the group and the highlight of the day for me was racing back into Loddington. I arrived back at the shop absolutely shattered and my legs feel pretty sore now. I checked my ride on Strava and was amazed to see 38 achievements and a 17.4mph average. That's the fastest I have ever ridden over such a distance and I'm very happy with that. a couple of years ago that would have also made me one of the fastest in the club but not now. We've all made such amazing progress that my average is well...a bit average!

We were entertained well and I owe Neil for a coffee. Chris in the shop adjusted my saddle height for me. It needs to be tightened to 7Nm and ridiculously my torque wrench cannot fit in the gap between my saddle and the adjuster bolt. Chris can do this on feel which is good because an over-tightened Carbon frame and seat stem can lead to an expensive break! I need to buy a tool that fits so I can get this right but I don't want to do that until I know I can get the exact right thing. Neil believes I could bodge/hack a device by using an S-bend allen key attached to my torque wrench. I'm not so sure but will probably give it a go!

Feeling well and truly pooped I abandoned my plan to complete this month's Gran Fondo (80miles/130km,) and set off home. I got as far as Sainsburys (two minutes from the shop) when I heard a clanking noise and then a hiss! The pictures below tell the tale. That screw had buried itself in my back tyre and the clanking was it bashing my rear forks as the wheel went round!

I could possibly have changed the tube and made it home but the tyre was ruined whether that worked or not. So I went back to the shop where Chris fitted me a new tyre. Those were the factory fitted Giant tyres which aren't supposed to be that durable, however after 3187km that's my first puncture on this bike (if you don't count the time I punctured on the turbo!) Once again I have received a very good service from C&D Cycles, so many thanks to Chris. 

A quick catch up from last week. I am now second in my workplace challenge which was my aim so I'm very pleased. I need to keep this up though as the challenge finishes on the 5th of August for the start of the Rio Olympics. SuperSam continues with his hill repeats on the loan road/cyclocross bike. I'm not sure cycling in onesies will catch on though!

As I sit here, shattered but content I should tell you that Gareth my neighbour is cleaning his full suspension MTB after a splendid day in the Yorkshire Dales. His bike is absolutely beautiful and I'm really pleased for him. He did say that all the road cyclists in the Dales are a pain though! I have teased the Queen of Cakes that my N+1 is a full suspension off road bike. She knows I'm joking's those American Classics 420 Aero wheels I NEED!

Finally let's talk Tour! Well having predicted a boring procession to Paris for Chris Froome it couldn't be more different. Froome is still well set for the win (I've not watched today, I'll have the highlights on whilst I do the Sunday ironing!) However no one could have predicted the breakaway with Sagan, the motorcycle running man incident or actually Cav continuing to dominate over Kittel! The Tour is not boring - Il est magnifique!!!

Happy Pedaling

Friday, 15 July 2016

Heather Perry Guest Blog: 600km Audax attempt - The Buzzard

It's time for another guest blog from our Road Warrior, Heather Perry. Heather has taken her riding to another level this year with her Audax riding. I'm mightily impressed and I'm sure you will be too!

My second 600km Audax attempt­ The Buzzard

As some of you will know, my first attempt ended after 350km and rather a lot of climbing. This

time round there was a little less climbing involved, so I had high hopes. The Buzzard is

considered an X rate event. In this case, it means a very basic ride. You park up – often at a train

station­ collect your radonneur card, and set off on a route that requires you to collect a timed

receipt as you pass through various control points (know as proof of passage), and on arriving

back, collect a further timed receipt to certify your finishing time. The rest is up to you.

My plan was to try to ride the first 200km in 10hrs, the next 160km in a further 10hrs, including all

stops to allow some rest. I had booked a Travelodge in Wellington at approximately 350km in the

hope of getting about 4hrs and a shower. Then to finish the remaining 260km by 10pm the

following evening. On Friday the forecast wind of 17mph gusting 27 was starting to make this

look a little doubtful.

Up just after 4.30 to leave around 5.30. Five minutes down the road, and I realised I'd left my

front flashy light behind on charge. The decision to go back for it proved to be crucial. Then back

on the road to Leighton Buzzard, with a quick stop in MK for a McD muffin and latte. There were

27 starters on an assortment of bikes and saddle bags or panniers. I love looking at the variety of

bikes, people and equipment, and the feel of not knowing quite where the road will take you.

Radonneur cards in our bags, we set off for our first control in Pangbourne at 67km.

The first leg was very comfortable­ fairly flat and sheltered and meandering towards the Thames

Valley. Critically more southerly than west, so the wind wasn't too bad. My early company at

various times have no names but one rode a slightly battered Specialised aluminium frame and was

on his third attempt to finish The Buzzard. He was going through the night and warned me about

the dangers of overstaying my welcome in a hotel bed after a long day in the saddle. The other was

on a rather lovely steel Tifosi with panniers. The route covered busier roads than many of the

others that I've ridden and I was glad of the company at those times­ safety in numbers. The route

over the Thames and into Pangbourne itself was very pretty and warranted a photo. At the co­op it

was an egg mayo sandwich and milkshake with Specialised, before setting off for Chandler's Ford at 134km.

Again, this was a comfortable, generally southerly route passing east of Winchester. The miles

passed comfortably with the odd bit of time spent with my earlier companions. Having left

Specialised behind, Tifosi and I took turns pedalling into the wind for a time, while someone else

on a carbon sheltered behind us. He took off on a hill after resting up, and our group dissolved.

Another co­op, egg mayos and milkshakes with my two companions sitting on the ground outside.

Milkshakes are definitely a staple on these rides, as I watched other riders coming out with them.

Tifosi confessed to being a mountain goat when not hampered by the extra weight of his panniers.

He was planning on sleeping out and carrying accordingly. (In reality, they didn't seem to be

slowing him down too much.) It was at this point I realised I'd forgotten to start the stopwatch on

my Garmin­ so no proper record to this point.

After that, it was a short hop to Salisbury at 170km. This was nicely north­west, so no wind. Time

was on my side at that point, so I went looking for a view of the cathedral after a short snack break.

Something I regretted, as the rest of the day proved to be straight into a strengthening wind. We

were bound for Sherborne at 227km.

The roads became quieter and progressed from rolling to hilly! I was largely on my own after the

first few km and it became a bit of a slog. Specialised caught me and we took turns into the wind

for a bit before he rode on ahead. At 200km I was 15min behind schedule, but that started to slip as

it got colder. I stopped earlier than planned for dinner at Sherborne and caught up with Tifosi. All

remaining clothing went on­ glad I put a base layer in at the last moment!

Off into the gathering darkness and the biggest hills of the ride, en­route to Exeter at 314km. Time

slipped as it got colder­ not something you realise when you're pedalling, but you can feel its

effect. Despite that, I was getting sleepy and anyone with me would have thought me slightly mad,

yelling at myself to concentrate. Arrived at the Exeter services around and bought some food.

The lady at WH Smith kindly directed me to the long couches where she remarked that the other

bike riders had been residing. They were already taken, but a table top makes a great pillow when

tired. Half an hour nap and getting warm, then I had to head for my Travelodge­ 40km down the

road. (Despite the prospect of comfort, it would have been better not to have booked anything, and

just slept at the services­ a point for future reference.) This was a far easier ride but I still arrived

just after 4am. The night manager helpfully informed me that the other cyclist had arrived earlier

and reported that I was some way behind!

A quick shower and bed. Specialised's warning about not overstaying my welcome in bed went

unheeded, and I left at 9 the next morning­ 2hrs late. Still, the pace to Wells (408km) was good.

The roads were the smaller roads and tracks, mostly between the the foothills of the Mendips.

Really lovely countryside heavily populated with cyclists at that time of the morning and I arrived

at 12, with 10hrs in hand to complete the remaining 100km.

After Wells it went a bit wrong. My GPS didn't appear to capture my new track properly (I was

rushing, and should have looked more closely) so ended up in Cheddar instead of Bath, which

meant crossing the real Mendips to get back to Bath. Both my Garmin and the hills got the benefit

of the F word (unusual for me) as there seemed to be a conspiracy to take me up as many as

possible. On another day the scenery around Chew Magna would have been breath­taking.

By the time I got to Bath it was just gone 5pm and I was at 530km, so no prospect of making the

time limit of 10pm. 'Should I find a train station' ran through my mind, but the prospect of all the

changes required didn't really appeal. Snack time, and then the quickest route back was to carry on

the Malmesbury and then divert across to Oxford, Aylesbury and back. Sounds easy, but I spent

the best part of 45min trying to program the GPS to take me directly to Leighton Buzzard, with no

success. So Iphone and google maps gave me around 80m (shorter than 215!). What I didn't realise

is that the few miles down the A419 were on a dual carriageway to Swindon with no hard

shoulder­ scary stuff in the dark but the cars gave me a wide berth (must have been my shocking

yellow leg warmers)! After that it was fairly straightforward until my second front light battery

failed prematurely about 15m before Oxford. Flashy light on slow flash mode with the light from

passing cars worked well on the A420. Thankfully the road surface was good.

It took me a while to get through Oxford itself. No front light to conserve the battery and watching

carefully for potholes, glass, or anything else that might cause a puncture. This was also a little

scary as there were a lot of students wandering around gone midnight­ and a very strong smell of

alcohol. 'Maybe I should just call a cab' went through my mind more than once. The shortest route

back was on minor roads, but it quickly became clear that it would be at a snail's pace as the light

from my mobile phone torch was only marginally better than my flashy, so a route change to the

A418 was in order. Flashy died shortly after this, but with a better road surface and Iphone torch

progress was smoother, and I arrived back at 5am on Monday morning. Oddly enough, no

tiredness­ I'm sure a major adrenalin rush had something to do with that! Very saddle sore though!

So I didn't complete my Audax but I did complete more than the 611km distance in the end. The

delays caused by my off­route meanderings, loss of light and Garmin communication issues (not to

put too fine a point on it) lost rather a lot of time after Wells. I probably wouldn't book

accommodation again, as when you need to sleep, you need to sleep. Get to know my Garmin

better or maybe stick with the Etrex for these events­ simpler. Hydration and fuelling are critical.

All in all, it was quite an adventure which I swore I wouldn't repeat, but I'm not so sure a day


Heather you may not have made the time but you did make the distance. You should be very proud of your efforts. I'm sure all at C&D Cycles CC share that pride at you even attempting this amazing challenge!

Happy Pedaling

Monday, 11 July 2016

Another Splendid Week of Cycling

This week's blog is a little late due to a splendid work social barbecue/braii/outdoor grill. There's so much to share though. I've had another great week on the bike, SuperSam also features strongly and we really do need to discuss events in France. No not that disappointing international soccer tournament, the Tour de France, the greatest sporting event on the planet.

My first ride of the week and my ride name was dedicated to the late Caroline Aherne. We've lost too many good people this year. As we're big fans of the Fast Show at C&DCycles CC there really was only one show to quote her from! A very funny lady and a great loss.

As for the ride. It was my standard training loop. I was happy with the pace and my improving fitness.

On Wednesday I woke up with the plan to do some hill work. Then I devised the madcap plan of doing my route via Rockingham hill. Anyone whose never ridden Rocky needs to know it's seen as one if not 'the' toughest hill in Northants. Situated just outside Corby and with Rockingham castle plonked on top, this steep slope has featured in the Women's tour, when those superb specimens made it look easy! On route to Rocky there's also the significant lump through Middleton and Cottingham just to pre-fatigue the legs! Half way up Rocky I was considering the only downfall of the hill which is you have to ride on busy roads out of Corby at the top. I also considered the fact I have never ridden down Rocky. Both issues were solved by my slingshot around the roundabout at Rockingham triangle and straight back down hill. My goodness that's a great descent. That also meant I could take the hill back into Cottingham just to really finish my legs and lungs off. A great training route!

The view over the Welland Valley

On Wednesday evening SuperSam took part in another Go Ride event at Rockingham Motor Speedway with KCC Cyclones. He has really improved since the last time, with training obviously paying off. He also had a quick go on a drop handle bar bike to see if he liked it. More on that later.

Good pace on his heavy MTB

Yes I know he isn't wearing his helmet, I stopped him when I realised!

My last before work ride of the week was my 'fast' loop. This features the 8km Strava segment I created called: "Keep your Alan's on!" If you're wondering 'Alan's' are knickers as in the rhyming slang 'Alan Whickers,' and the phrase is similar to 'keep your hair on!' Its a predominantly flat loop with that fast slight downhill into Loddington. My training plan is up Orton Hill to wake the legs up, one lap steady pace, really go for it for one lap and then just as fast as I've got left for a final lap, back down the hill and home. Other people ride this much faster than me but as progress goes I'd say mine is steady.

An average over 17mph is always a good result for me

On Saturday SuperSam had Sailing club and as usual I did laps of Pitsford on my 29r. The kids looked to be going well on the water. I wasn't quite as zippy as last week largely due to huge clouds of annoying flies and it was also a bit soggy but hey a bit of rain is never a big deal. The res was a bit less busy than usual but there was still a good showing of walkers, wobbly kids and bouncy joggers. I was getting strange looks back at the Sailing Club after my four laps. I discovered why when I looked in the car window, my head was black with hundreds of squashed flies!

To the main event of the week and my chance to ride with the splendid DIY experts of C&DCycles CC. A good gathering at the shop saw around ten of us set off on one of Big Steve's magical mystery tours. A big shout goes to Jonesy, joining us on a Sunday for the first time in a long time. I hope we see more and more of him in the coming weeks. Missing in action was the large presence of Mark Baird, we're all looking forward to seeing him sometime soon. I wasn't as good at keeping up this week but looking at my Strava later I had a lot of PR's so I'm getting quicker, the others are just quicker than that! The route through Castle Ashby was fantastic. Some lovely roads. As a group we really found our legs coming into Harrowden with Kev getting a KOM on the sprint section. We really do need to sort our organisation out though. If we learned to chain gang properly rather than going the hard way and passing on the right we'd be even quicker. 

Our very own 'Fast Monkey'

Of great concern to Chris on our way around was Andy's cadence sensor. He felt it was positioned wrong, sitting on the outside of his crank. It was getting to the point when I thought I was going to have to administer some emergency Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Then common sense prevailed and the sensor was re-positioned. Fellow Lycra road warriors inquired if we were okay at this point, the answer is probably: "No but we're learning to live with it!"

We saw a lot of other cyclists out. A special mention to Alan and Jamie who we saw near Santa Pod and James who I saw on the way home. Those lads dragged me around my first ever 100 miler. If I knew then what I know now I may have just stuck to fishing...nah don't be daft I love cycling. It just feels weird that I don't really consider 100 miles to be a challenge now. Also out were the smattering of horse riders and the athletes who can't ride. Andy's 'Jogger of the Day,' award, brought to you in conjunction with Pendred's Hard Wood Joinery, was awarded in Earls Barton.

C&D OCD club

Having successfully snuck a snake into Steve's pocket (no euphemism intended,) I set myself a bigger task this week. My favourite pants 'oddballs' come in a health promotion packet describing testicualr self examination. Now this is a serious subject for us chaps who cycle but I failed to secretly sneak it in after ten miles of Frank running distraction. Steve however did see the funny side and read the advice out. That's my bit done for health promotion!!! I also forgot I had a secondary plan of putting a lego man in his pocket. So I tried and failed to sneak that into Neil's jolly nice jersey. He liked it so much that he pretended it was going to be donated to his son...don't worry Neil we all like to play Lego still!

The last thing of note was the procession of tractors and the splendid Morris police car near Finedon. They were raising money for the Air Ambulance which really is to be applauded.

I was delighted on arrival back at the shop to discover the Queen of Cakes and SuperSam. My budding cyclist was getting his KCC Cyclones loan bike. It's a marvelous initiative where the club loan kids a bike for racing so they can compete on a even field with kids who already have all the kit. When Sam outgrows this bike he gives it back and another young rider gets the beenfit. It's a nice CUDA cyclocross bike, V brakes so it doesn't fall foul of the disc brake ban and supplied with road and off road tyres. There's standard and SPD pedals and lights supplied too! So it's a massive thanks to KCC and C&D Cycles for collaborating to the benefit of the cyclists of the future. Sam is absolutely made up with this and can't wait to put the bike to use.

Already training on the Col du Avenue!

Finally lets talk Tour. What a week for British cyclists. Froome with a stage win and in yellow following his 'aeronuts,' attack! Cav in Green after winning three stages already and having held the yellow jersey for the first time in his career. Yates in white. Perhaps the biggest result of the lot was Cummings astonishing solo breakaway victory. When the Brits weren't winning it was great to see a Sagan victory, the man is a god on a bike and can do things that even most pro's can't copy. I also really enjoyed the stage win from Van Avermaet which put the classics rider into yellow for a couple of days. Which then makes my feelings about this Year's tour a little confused. I think it's about to get boring! Froome has Yellow, Team Sky have all the advantages of their super domestiques. It feels like we're already on the procession to Paris. Contador is gone, Nibali doesn't appear to be going well and Quintana is being heavily marked. So much as I want Froome to win and Team Sky to dominate, I'd also like the other teams to just "do something!"

OK that's it.
Happy Pedaling!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Five go mad in Northants

Wow, wow, wow, what a ride. What a laugh. What a day! After all those solo rides I'd been really looking forward to a group ride with some of my club-mates. On a beautiful day I arrived at C&D Cycles to find Steve, Andy P, Nat and Frank. Uh-oh I thought...I'm in trouble here. Oh well, just try to keep up for as long as possible. Well without too much blowing of my own trumpet I think I did a bit better than that.

Heading East on a day with little wind probably helped a lot as it's much flatter than any other direction out of Kettering. We flew along for the first hour and had covered 20 miles in just an hour and five minutes. At 40 miles my average was still 17.8 mph. That's typical for the company I was keeping but for me it's absolutely unheard of. I also got 46 Strava trophies. Yeah I know, I'm a bit too pleased with myself today.

The banter was flowing from the off and the above pic isn't Steve falling off his bike. It's Steve reenacting Mark Baird falling off his bike. Poor Mark his ears should have burning really because his inability to contain his excitement about new Campagnola parts is part of C&D Cycles CC folklore and was the topic of conversation for much of the ride! We all like a bit of shiny though. I now have American Classics Aero 420 wheels calling to me...Richard...Richard...we'd look great on your Propel!

I was a bit concerned as the route progressed as it felt similar to the way to Thorney and the closed chip shop. However Steve wasn't making navigation errors today so we didn't go there after-all. There were loads of people out and about today. We saw many other groups of lycra loonies, joggers and even found ourselves on a race route at one point.

There's a club rule second only to Rule #1. Rule #2 is: If you ride past Hammerton Zoo, you have to get a picture at the sign. Nat took this so any semblance of glamour is missing from our mottley crew. I was told to eat the banana suggestively, luckily for everyone that wasn't caught on camera!

There look I wasn't telling fibs. Very quick for me! The truth about my whizziness today does however lie in the company I was keeping. Sitting on a strong wheel really really helped.

At Titchmarsh Andy proudly showed us a sign he made whilst Steve wooed the shop keeper with his obvious charms. Unlike the Thrapston sign he also did, there appears to be a lot going on in Titchmarsh!

Rules of the ride forbid me from telling you what we were discussing at this point. Let's just say we were in absolute fits of giggles. It was also at this point that I put a snake in Steve's jersey pocket. Obviously it was plastic. It's been in my tool bag since a colleague put it there, I just thought it was time to pass it on. 

It wasn't far from Titchmarsh, back through Thrapston and onto Twywell via two hills I've never liked. Then something unheard of happened. Steve got cramp! I've never seen this before and I'd feel sorry for him but it did give the rest of us a chance. Usually I get dropped from Twywell back to Warkton but today I just stuck to Andy P's wheel. Even after riding hard I was able to explode up the hill to Stamford Road. I have no idea what's happened. It must be all those morning rides. I hope this continues!

To end the ride we returned to C&D Cycles where as ever Andy F was a good host. Coffee and cake was required and it was there in abundance. Those wheels I mentioned were sitting there taunting me and as usual we lusted after all manner of things. I promised Andy I'd pop in during the week to make purchases. Number one of my list of needs is new cleats. Once again I've wrecked the ones on my shoes. I think they're at least a year old though so that's a few thousand miles!

There they are hanging up on my purpose fitted shoe hooks. The other thing that needs to happen is I need to steam clean my sweaty helmet. It really is quite minging. If I squeeze the felt inside the helmet it drips!

OK I can't finish this without a mention to the epic first two stages of the Tour de France. Cav's win yesterday was just brilliant. He did Kittel over like a kipper and proves once again he should never be written off. Today's stage was just as good with the World Champion Peter Sagan showing that he's pure class. It's too early to really talk GC but Froome is well placed and Contador has suffered after crashing on both days.

That's it.
Happy Pedaling!