Monday, 29 May 2017

Another bank holiday biking bonanza!

Today's blog records another amazing bank holiday of cycling with nearly 180km covered over three days with two club road rides sandwiching a solo off road ride.

On Saturday I made it to my first C&D Cycles CC club rides in a few weeks. As per usual the mocking started early with people referring to me as the newbie. The gathering was so large that we had to split into three groups. Feeling rusty I was grateful to join the banter bunch as we headed out on a typically lumpy Andy Brown route.

There was a vast array of jerseys on display in addition to our blue club colours. Mark B wins tasteless jersey of the day, although to be fair the banana crossed with a melon inspired outfit, kind of suited him. 

The route took us out through the less than scenic Kettering backstreets but no matter we'd soon be in that glorious Northants countryside which is perfect for road riding. 

There, that's better isn't it? I don't know why but all the pictures I have are on the flat. We were headed to the Welland Valley and in particular Neville Holt, the hill used by Kettering Cycling Club for their annual hill climb race. It's well chosen because it's a nasty steep slope. I have to keep my weight forward on climbs like that because sitting back in the saddle ends up with me pulling unintentional wheelies!

Neville wasn't the only climb. Possibly harder still was the climb from Ashley to Stoke Albany, Harrington Hill which was the QOM segment in the ladies tour and the climb from Rothwell into Orton. All good and much needed hill training which I'm hoping will benefit my overall fitness.

In good company on this excellent route the ride just flew by. On the way into Kettering we had a bit of an incident with two young men in a car. I'm not sure what initially upset them but driving up close to riders, blowing their horn and hurling obscenities was uncalled for. I actually think they just thought they'd have some fun shouting at cyclists. Well the last laugh was on them because they got held up in the traffic and got surrounded by us less than lightweight lycra loonies. This sort of thing is thankfully uncommon now. Drivers and cyclists have become far more respectful of each other.

I thought I'd ridden okay but was still struggling with the hills compared to others. However my Strava data shows a load of PRs with Neville Holt being one of those. So it must have been better than I'd thought!

Back at the shop it was the usual good banter and coffee hosted by Andy and Chris in a very busy shop. One poor kid was shown an old wreck of a BMX by Chris and was pretending he was okay with it until Chris let on he was joking and got him a nice new Haro out. I did feel sorry for the kid but I also thought it was a funny prank!

On Sunday I went to head to Wakerley but my tyres weren't right and they were also being difficult to sort out. A quick check of my valve cores showed that sealant had gunked them up so they were neither sealing properly or allowing inflation! Luckily for me I have so many bikes, wheels and spare tubes lying around I managed to scavenge some un-gunked cores! I guess this might be one of the drawbacks of tubeless tyres.

Once I made it to Wakerley I did my standard 4 laps of the blue route. The place looked great with nice dry trails and a very green late Spring canopy. I had two aims. A PR for the whole lap and a PR for cardiac hill. I got both of those so I'm happy with that. All good training for the FNSS...I hope!

The last ride of the weekend was Nat's Bank Holiday Monday 50 miler with the absolute promise of a well rated and open cafe at Long Bucky. There were many likes indicating attendance on Facebook but an even bigger turnout at the shop for this bonus club ride. I was a little late, having set off in plenty of time and then having to turn back for money. You know, for this amazing cafe!

Soon into the ride we encountered, or I should say, Marcus encountered his first puncture. After some lengthy fiddling about we were on our way again on some of my favourite roads as we headed through Orton and brushed Harrington on our way to Kelmarsh. From there we looped round to historical Naesby along a road where you're likely to encounter the English Civil War Re-enactment group, the Sealed Knot. They weren't around today unfortunately!

On our way there Marcus encountered his second puncture. It inspired the joke: "How many C&Ders does it take to fix a puncture. The answer is five, with at least ten more offering unhelpful advice and taking the mickey. 

We made it safely to Long Buckby to discover a traditional C&D bank holiday problem...the cafe was shut! No matter though, some quick googling revealed that Wilton Locks Marina Cafe was only a couple of miles away. It might not have been the cappafrappacino half fat skinny mocha latte joint we were acustomed to but a proper cup of tea was very welcome. I didn't have cake because it feels like I'm cheating on the Queen of Cakes (and because I am still trying to lose weight zzzzzzzzzz.) It looked like good stuff though. 

It's quite an interesting place too with it's large Marina of narrow boats. As cafe's go it wasn't a bad place to stop at all!

I'd started to tighten up as we set off again. The hills got harder and I realised I really haven't done a long ride yet this year! Bizarre when you consider in 2015 we were in training for a 200 mile ride and I'd done things like 80 miles on an MTB and then 120 miles at the Spires and Squires sportive the very next day.

As I tired I was well looked after by clubmates who helped me get back to the group every time I dropped off the back. Again I was quite down on myself about this and again the Strava data made a fool of me with another stack of Personal Records!

On some of the rolling roads we managed to get quite a whizz on. The best of which was from East Haddon through to Church Brampton.

We headed back to the shop via Pitsford, Holcot, Hannington, Orlingbury and Pytchley. All lovely villages showing the Sandstone characteristics of our beautiful County.

Image result for northamptonshire village

Due to several stoppages we were back at the shop later than expected but still treated to good hospitality from C&D shop manager, Andy. There was time for a bit more banter before heading home. As I arrived home I realised I'd topped 100km for the day and achieved the May Strava Grand Fondo, which was nice. 

In addition to just enjoying a good ride I am also part of the Virgin Pulse Global Challenge. This is great for cyclist because we get a step bonus of 4500 steps for every 15km ridden. That means I will have a huge total tomorrow as our over competitive team at works sets out to show the youngsters how it's done!

Okay that's it, I've got quite a lot to do before the day's out including taking care of our splendid puppy. First though I think I've earned my steak and wedges for tea!

Happy Pedaling!!!

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