Sunday, 20 December 2009

A Cold Sunday

I'm glad I did a ride last weekend as the weather looks like long distance cycling will not be fun for a while, if not impossible.
The snow here has mostly gone from the roads but the cold weather and frozen slush on the side roads makes cycling a tad dangerous.
The Bacchetta is under wraps in the shed as I'm now riding the trike. It keeps my lower body a bit warmer and of course I can't fall off of it unless I go mad around a corner.
Last years fall on the ice on Dec's FSoTM ride happened so quickly I was sliding down the road before I knew anything about it. Luckily the only damage was to the mirror on the bars and not me from the following car.

I'm still an all year round commuter though and the 10km ride over to Tongwell is still fun if a bit cold to start with.
Wrapped up with a woolly hat and winter gloves, a buff for face protection and the fairing on the trike the journey is not too bad. I even find myself unzipping the coat as I'm getting too warm.
The coldest ride last year was -9c, it's not been that cold this year yet but the wind chill from the fairing onto my face is probably colder at 30+kph.

I may manage to get out for another 200km before the year is over, I'll have to see what the weather is like the Sunday between Xmas and new year. If not it will be the Jan 3rd FSoTM ride as the next one.
Hope you all have a good Christmas and new year.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

200km to Ely

I had put this ride on yacf to see if there was anyone who wanted a ride out as there's not a lot on the calendar this month.
It was a route I've done twice before so knew the route well.

While reading the forum on Saturday I saw a post on there about gps validated rides and free entry to test if it works. Being a tight cyclist the saved £2 went on cake :-D
I sent of my entry form and route by email and got the ok to ride within 30 minutes.

Alarm got me up at 06.30 and was all sorted and out the door by 08.00.
No need to stop at the garage this time for proof of passage so it was straight through MK across junction 14 of the M1 and towards Olney. Again I rode straight through as there was no need to stop and get a receipt. This saved me 15 minutes as I usually by a drink and chocolate.
It was a bit cold today and the northerly was biting. I stopped briefly the other side of Sharnbrook to have a drink and flapjack. Can't drink on the bike as I still haven't put the cages back on there after changing the seat.
1st major stop was at Grafham water cafe for a coffee and sausage roll, just in time as it started raining just as I sat down.

A quick stop as the damp clothes were starting to get cold and clammy, back on with the coat and away over the A1 through Buckland and on to Huntingdon. Another 15-20 minutes saved here as I again rode right through.
Past St Ives up the hill to Haddenham and towards Ely, the headwind most of the way slowed me down slightly but I still got there in just over 5hrs, 107km with an avg of 25.4kph.

Decided to have some food here so it was garage or Little Chef? Settled on the garage food as it was cheaper :-D
Chicken and bacon sandwich and a Mars bar eaten (we cyclist no gourmet food when we see it :-D ) and I was away again, hopefully with a tailwind.
I got the tailwind, but also got freezing cold rain as well. Fun on a recumbent when you can't put your head down and use the hat to protect your face.
Luckily it was only showers that had stopped by the time I got to Wilburton.
Twenty pence lane was the joy it always is with the traffic, everyone seems to be in a rush.
The rolling hills started as I crossed the A14 and passed to the left of Cambridge.
A stop at another garage for a quick drink and comfort break was had before I took my life in my hand in the low blinding sun, worrying that the cars behind could see my. I kept an eye on my mirror and was ready for a quick bailout into the verge if one got too close!

The still rolling roads got more rolling as I neared Gamlingay, another control passed and I was making good time. Stopped at Shefford to top up bottles and drink some energy drink before the couple of mile fast section along the A507.
It was dark now but a lot earlier than expected, and the drink was starting to work.
Passing Clophill and Malden I managed to find some lanes almost all the way to Flitwick where it was back onto the A507 for another quick section.
More rolling hills up towards Woburn and through the deer park scattering deer as I went!

The faeries were hiding in the cattle grids as I passed over them and the second one got me, I always carry spare tubes so it was off with the wheel and insert new tube.
It was starting to get cold stood by the side of the road and I must have looked odd standing there steaming in the cold air pumping my minipump against my leg 10 to the dozen!!.
One car did stop and ask if I was alright/did I need anything. There are some decent people about :-) the rest must have been to scared.

Another 20 minutes wasted there and just up the road as I had to stop again due to the bead not being sat properly on the rim. Rushed jobs by headtorch don't save time whatsoever. Take time and do it properly the first time.
It was then just a ride through the woods and down the duel carriageway back home.

The ride was a fast one (for me) 10hrs with 2hrs stopped. 25.7kph avg.

GPX file was downloaded to the computer and emailed off to Danial, his reply was as quick as the night before and he said all was ok and the ride was off for validation.
That saved a lot of time without having to use stamps and envelopes to post the card off.
If this trial is a success it will save a lot of time in route checking, collecting receipts, and sending them.
I hope it does.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Every morning

Every morning I walk the kids to school, what amazes me is the amount of people who drive their little darlings in when the only live just up the road.
I can pass people getting in their cars on the way, arrive there before they do and while I'm walking back I pass them getting out of their cars afterwards.
The parking is really good as well with people blocking the drop kerbs and parking on paths.
I'd hate to be in a wheelchair going along there and having to wait for the inconsiderate muppets to come back and move their car out of the way.

And don't get me started about the amount of people who I see daily in the procession of cars on the phone. I may sit there one day with a video camera and see how many there actually is.

And breath.......

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Ride to Woburn loop via Wavendon

Another instalment of my First Sunday of The Month rides took us the reverse of the February ride around parts of the Greensand ridge through Aspley Guise, Woburn and the Brickhills.

I was awoken by rain battering the bedroom window at 08.00 this morning and did wonder if anyone would turn up today. By the time I'd had breakfast and a coffee it had cleared up and was looking to be a nice day (for Dec' anyway).
Arriving at the bandstand I found another rider there already and within 10 minutes there was 8 of us. A good turnout for a December ride. Last years ride had only me and another rider turn up and IIRC it was -3c and the roads were very icy.
The ride took us through Fenny Stratford and down Simpson road to the canal bridge, the red light caused us to stop but one rider decided to ride "Illegally" on the footpath with a call of "you'll never learn" or some such thing.
We crossed the bridge and turned right as he headed into the distance, he'll never learn :-)

Stopping the riders at the top of the path I went and found him by Caldecotte lake and brought him back on route. After going back to get the others we were on our way again along the redways towards Wavendon.
The ride starts to get hilly after Salford as it goes up past the church in Aspley Guise and the rolling roads to Woburn.
We stopped at the top of most hills for the riders to catch their breath before going again.
Doing the route clockwise is slightly harder as it takes time to get to the top and most of the ride seems to be climbing.
After stopping someone going off route down a big hill (wouldn't want to see him climbing back up again) we found ourselves at the pub in Great Brickhill. The 2 pints were most welcome and so was the roaring fire inside.

It was then on with the jacket as being mostly downhill from then on I knew it would be cold.
As we got back to the Bandstand the group was down 4. The others having taken shorter routes home as we came to the end of the ride.
The gps showed almost exactly 20 miles and 1hr40 moving time, we were out for just over 3hrs.
Another good ride in good company and one new rider who I hope will come along again.
See you all on next years rides.

Monday, 30 November 2009

300km to the AGM

I've been trying to write this for a couple of days but it just seems to come out as, cycle stop eat cycle etc. A bit bland.

I had booked 2 nights off work (Thu-Fri) last week so that I was able to take a ride up to York mostly in daylight instead of doing an overnight ride like last year to Guildford.
In a straight line York is about 260kms away so I entered a route via Lincolnshire and the Humber bridge.

Alarm got me up at 02.00 for a quick breakfast and I was away after getting a receipt from the garage at 03.15.
The temperature was cold with a SW tailwind but I'd expect nothing less for a late Nov' ride, last years was in frosty conditions.
I headed Northwards towards Billing for the next garage control which was shut, the cashpoint was working though so I withdrew some money, had a quick snack and drink and was away again.
After getting lost on the Wellingborough ring road again I found the right road out and headed along the Nene valley towards Oundle ticking villages off as I went.
A sausage roll and pint of milk brought and away again following the gps around the town to get onto the A605 took me the long way.
It was then onto part of the LEL route through Wansford over the A1 north of Peterborough and up to Bourne on the A15.
The rush hour was in full swing now and the roads were starting to get busy. Another stop in a garage for a sandwich and coffee to try and warm up then back out towards Sleaford via some back lanes.

Found Sainsburys but was feeling a bit blotted and didn't feel like eating the food I'd brought so it was just a milkshake and stand about in the cold for 10 minutes which was making me shiver.
Had to get going again to warm up so it was a fast ride out of town and into the quiet 4 number A roads of the L-E-L route again through Lincolnshire and over to Wragby, I arrived there at 13.00 and was well in time so decided on a cafe stop and try to warm up.
Sausage, egg, chips, beans and a coffee ordered I found myself not hungry and only managed half of it, not like me at all as the people who know me will tell you.

The next bit up towards the Humber bridge and Beverley really seemed to drag and the uphill parts were grindingly slow, this part seemed to take an age. I got lost again in Barton trying to find the bike path to the bridge. I've crossed it 3 times so far and have taken a different route each time. This time I ended underneath it!
By the time I did cross it I found myself in the Hull rush hour, the traffic was nose to tail around the ring road but I just kept up with it and headed to the planned stop at Morrisons supermarket as I new it would be open.
Again I didn't stand around for too long so as soon as I had the usual audax food of a pasty and 2 Danish pastries I was away again at 18.00.

I'd ridden along the A1079 before to York so knew what to expect but the 30mile continuous up and down and cold temps were starting to get to me and I was just wishing it would hurry up and finish. With the welcome to the city of York sign passed I knew there wasn't far to go but it seemed like ages before the first signs of houses appeared. It was then a quick blast through town and the racecourse and a bit of fun trying to find the racecourse centre. I finished at 20.40

The bike was then put in the stables with the others and I was off to get changed and get a cider or 2 to rehydrate, knowing I had booked a train 3 months ago for the return journey :-)
Total distance was 317kms. 17.30hrs total time with the gps showing about 3.5hrs stopped.

Monday, 16 November 2009

More ramblings

Another weekend of non-cycling. Family does take priority sometimes :-D
I had the 4 youngest on Saturday, the weather was atrocious but in between showers we walked around to the shop.
As the kids were being blown about I couldn't help thinking "This S'Westerly wind would be amazing if I was cycling up to York now, I'd get there in record time" (for a 250km ride)
This cycling lark does get you like that sometimes, either that or I've completely lost it.
I think the latter applies!!

Spent the morning changing the seat on the Bacchetta Giro26 back to the euromesh seat that come with it. The Optima hardshell seat on there had cracked so needed changing before it fell apart with me being miles away from home.

Just need to sort the rear wheel out now as it's getting worse.
Will be looking at changing it over from 559 (MTB) to 700c (road) this will raise the seat up slightly and may help the problem I have of the front wheel lifting on steep hills.
It may not though and it's probably easier to walk when it gets that steep as my lungs can't get enough in for the exertion and I usually end up a swearing/sweaty/panting heap at the top anyway.
More training needed!!

On another note my bike has just passed the 15000Km mark since I got it 18 months ago.
It's no surprise really that the rear wheel has given up! with a lot of the distance done on very badly surfaced roads and also having to carry my 100+kgs and baggage about.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Upper Thames 200km audax

The new season started last weekend and as I'd one of my local rides to do my first audax was this week.

The Upper Thames ride was the first 200km+ audax ride I ever did and I've done this ride 4 times now. Each time forgetting how hard it actually is.
As it starts at Sonning Common a few km north of Reading at 07.30 I'd decided to book the Friday night off work and cycle down to stay in the Travelodge at the M4 services. These rooms can be had for as little as £10 if booked online in advance, I got one for £20 and was sharing it with another rider.

I left home about midday and headed for Aylesbury and Thame, not wanting to cross the Chilterns too high up I decided to go Via Benson and Pangborne. This wasn't too bad as it only meant climbing halfway up the hills and not having to cycle through Reading town centre.
The rain held off for most of the journey but it was a headwind all the way, the zip on my bag gave up which meant I had to lace it shut with the cord from the top of it. Not very waterproof but it had to do. I got to the Travelodge at about 5pm damp and a bit tired.
In a way the heavy rain at the end of the ride was good, it meant I wasn't going to go down the pub a mile or so away and stayed in the room eating a Burger king royale meal instead. Not sure if that was any better though!!

Alarm was off at 05.45 which was better than the 04.45 that driving there would have meant.
Out into the darkness at about 06.30 through a quiet Reading and up the hill for the start at 07.30. Just time for coffee + biscuits, toast + jam, say hello to friends etc.
Then back out again and away with the bunch of just under 100 riders, most of which left me on the first hill and the start of the climbs through the Chilterns before dropping down from Christmas Common to Watlington at eye watering speed.
The first control was at the cafe at Waterperry gardens Northeast of Oxford where it was just a quick stop for coffee and cake and away again for the next round of hills up to and past Long Crendon and Ashendon but bypassing Brill by going through Luggershall instead.
Comfort break at Bicester services and more drink purchased for the next rolling leg to Chipping Norton. This was the first time I've managed to get there before the chippy shut so it was pie and chips eaten outside the Sainsburys for me :-D

Next leg was again rolling through the Cotswold hills and down onto the flat area past Brize Norton to cross the Upper Thames just south of Bamford. I was going well on this section and was doing nearly 40kph when my rear tyre exploded!
This didn't take long to sort as I always carry spare tubes and bits of old tyre to cover the hole from inside which would otherwise mean a long walk or a damaged rim.
Tube and tyre fixed I was away again with only about 10 minutes stopped.

It was starting to get dark by the time I reached Milton and the garden centre cafe. 1st time I've managed to get here before it has shut and in almost daylight. More coffee and cake consumed.
Coat, gloves, hat + head torch, lights etc put on as it was dark and the temperature had dropped, glad to be moving again as standing about with sweaty clothes on was starting to make me shiver. My GPS didn't like the next section and wouldn't route maybe because of the lanes used at the end not being on there. It kept freezing and the only way to fix it was to take the batteries out and start it up again. Luckily I had a tracklog on there as well as the route so was able to follow it, the route sheet in my bag also helped.

The lanes around Didcot were dark and started to go upwards again as we came back around to the start and re entered the Chilterns.
I was starting to get tired at this point maybe due to the extra kms on the Friday, so I stopped at the start of the last hill for an energy bar (which surprisingly tasted good compared to the usual ones I've eaten) and some drink. Then it was off again for the last few kms to the finish.
I took the main road again this year as I have done every other time, maybe I'll try the quiet lane/hilly route next time. Maybe not :-D

I got back in at 19.30, not the quickest of times I've done this route in but about my usual time out for a 200km ride.
Excellent soup at the finish got me ready for the ride downhill to the station and train back to London.

1st train I missed as I was at the wrong end of the platform :-D never been on one from Reading before. I got on the next one as they are very frequent at about 1 every 5 minutes it seemed.
A quick ride although not the quickest route from Paddington to Euston gps route took me above Regents park and not along the Euston road. Onto the 22.30 Bletchley bound train which was packed just like the tube with no room to move, again luck was on my side and most people got off before I needed to, I had visions of not being able to get the bike past the crowd and having to go all the way to Northampton!!

All in all a good weekend.
Now just need to find a new rear wheel, a new tyre and a new seat (starting to crack) before the ride up to York at the end of the month.

FSoTM ride 1.11.09

A week late posting this as we are now past the 2nd weekend of November.
The forecast was terrible but I thought I'd get up and go down to the bandstand to see if there was any other mad people there.
There were 3 others braving the downpour. Chris, Stuart and a new rider that I've forgot the name of, I'm terrible with names and sometimes can't remember people who have been on these rides for ages :-D

It was still raining at 10.10 and as nobody else had turned up we decided to start.
The route took us south down the A5 to start with and once we got out in the open the side wind and rain combined stung my face and soaked through my waterproofs, good start!
Stuart decided not too be daft and turned round at this point as he was soaked, leaving the 3 of us to carry on.

The ride up through Little Brickhill and Woburn had on and off showers and the wind was sort of helpful, in places pushing us along. Quiet lanes with few cars were fun but the short section of the A507 never is, but there is no other way around unless the mileage is added to.
Arrived at the almost empty cafe at Marston Vale for a coffee and cake stop and it was back on the bikes before the damp clothes made us too cold.

The ride back through Cranfield was interesting and the strong headwind almost stopped Chris dead in places. He had to pedal down the hill!
We didn't stop in the usual place at Salford this time as we decided to get nearer to the finish and stopped at Caldecotte lake instead. This made the 2 pints more enjoyable and it was then only a quick ride back to Fenny Stratford to finish.

GPS log of the route on

Hope to see more out on Dec 6th.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Last audax of the season

After getting rid of my car earlier this year as it was starting to fall apart and would have cost me more than it was worth to fix it. I've had to look at different ways to get to audax rides.
Some can be got to by train but that usually means a change or 2 at London or Birmingham, not much good for early starts or just a day ride.
Some of the closer rides I can cycle to if they are around the 50km mark. This way I can make a 200km rides into a 300km rides. I've done this a few times on Cambridge and Oxford rides.

This weekend I decided to ride over to Stevenage for the 100km Emitremmus Desrever (summertime reversed) a big ride that has been running for 15yrs on the wekend the clocks go back.
My alarm got me up at 06.00 and after faffing I was away from the garage at 7.30 heading for Woburn and Flitwick, past the hills around Sharpenhoe and on towards Hitchen. The GPS worked well and got me around a police road closure without any effort.
The roads got busier as I neared Stevenage but were no different to MK, I hooked up with another rider and he guided me round the cycle paths to the start arriving just after 09.00.

As my start time wasn't until 10.10 I had a coffee and a look at all the bling bikes that were out for the day. The ride starts in groups so not to annoy the local traffic with 300+ bikes on the road at once.
I was in the 4th start group and after a quick photo we were away and quickly out of Stevenage and into the rolling hills to the east. With the GPS bleeping away I hardly looked at the route sheet and was keeping a good pace. At one point though the rider in front turned right and the GPS told me to turn left, I followed it and then right at the next junction, seeing riders ahead I new I was still on route.
At the top of a small hill I decided to stop and remove my long sleeved jersey but had the feeling I'd missed something. Checking my brevet card I found I'd missed the first control, bugger! Back down small hill turn left and then go the way the other rider had up to the cafe and join the long queue to get the card stamped.
Away again and on towards Saffron Walden for the lunch stop, the cafe had a long queue so it was a pasty from the costcutter across the road and a quick getaway. The GPS didn't like the follow road option for the ride back, Probably due to the cycle paths near the end.

The hills kept coming and it was over the highest part of the ride nr Barkway which is always on rides around this area onto the next stop at a village hall in Therfield which was one of the best tea stops I've had on an audax. I believe this one was organised by the local WI and there was a good selection of sandwiches, cakes and drinks.
After dragging myself away from the food it was back out again to find it was noticeably colder, so it was back on with the top and away again.
5 minutes up the road it was on with the jacket as the rain started, thankfully it was just a quick shower and it wasn't needed for long.
Past the info control and onto the cycle paths trying to follow the routesheet (under underpass 19 turn left to underpass 23 etc) would have been ok apart from only underpass 19 had a number on. I did find my way back to the sailing club though and it was a quick coffee and away again for the ride home before it got too dark.

My route back took me back along Stevenages main roads and along the old A1 to Baldock Tesco for a sandwich and drink refill. Only needed to use parts of the A507 as most of the way you can go through the villages next to it.
It started to get dark around Clophill so it was all lights ablaze and onwards, good lights are a must this time of year and the B+M IQfly on the front of my bike is excellent. Along with the head torch other road users must wonder what's coming towards them.
After the short climb and fast descent through Woburn park it was only a quick ride through the woods left to do and I was back at the garage at 18.30.

Next ride will be next weekend with the 30 mile FSoTM ride to Marston Vale cafe and then the new season starts again with a 200 from near Reading.
Lets see if I can beat this years point :-D

Sunday, 18 October 2009

More ramblings.

Another few weeks of hardly any cycling here, The usual commute to and from work is all I've done since the FSoTM ride.

While not cycling I've been surfing the net and there's loads to keep busy over the dark evenings
The cycle forums are always good for info and chat. The few I frequent are
yACF Yet another cycling forum
BHPC British Human Power Club
BROL Bentrider online

Some of the blogs I visit (too many to list here)
Yehuda Moon a daily cartoon.
Dave Hembrow an Englishman who now lives in Holland.
Ecovelo Eco friendly cycling
The recumbent blog A blog about recumbents :-)

And more records drop at the velodrome in Apeldoorn, Holland.

I also found a video of myself on the redway photographic project site that I did back at the start of the year.

Next weekend I'm going over to Stevenage for a 100km ride. The ride there and back makes it up to 200km though, so will be my long one this month.
I've not managed to get my Super Randonneur* award this season as I've missed out on a 400km ride. The 3 rides I gave up on would have been ok but that's the way it goes.
This year I've managed to get 34 points with the audax rides I've done, the same as last year.
I was hopping to get over 70 but things were against me this year, hopefully the next one will be better.
The new season starts on Nov' 1st and I've already arranged rides and booked holiday at work up until May already.

* A 200km, 300km, 400km, 600km ride

Monday, 5 October 2009

FSoTM ride to Cranfield

Another month, another First Sunday of The Month ride.

These rides started off in 2002 (pic on right) when I did 4 short rides with the Parks Trust of around 10 - 15 miles. The riders were telling me they would like to do longer ones but the MKCTC rides of 40+ miles were too far and too fast for them.
I decided to start a monthly programme of rides around MK to get people out and show them how easy it was to cycle around MK and the surrounding areas.
Some months when it's snowing or raining I only get 1 other mad person turning up (you know who you are) but usually there's between 9 - 15 riders on a variety of bikes from mountain bikes to recumbents.
It has been known for as many as 50 to come along on the MCR and Winslow rides.

To me these rides are doing what I want them to do, get more bums on saddles. People who were apprehensive about the distance and going out on the roads are now doing the longer rides at the end of the year. They've then started to think about getting a better bike and doing longer rides, commuting and even longer stuff.

This months ride started out from Bletchley as usual and got eventually onto Simpson road after a slight detour as I'd lead the way towards Tesco instead of towards Fenny Stratford which was the way I'd usually go. Past Willen and on through Newport Pagnell, I was shown a new route through there which bypassed the town centre using the riverside path and will use definitely use it on other rides.
It was then along the rolling gentle climb up to Cranfield to then turn into the wind to drop past the airfield and the pub stop at Salford.

Just 1 p#nct#re in the group this time but as it was near the stop Chris decided to just pump it up and fix it over a beer, twice!
The first time we couldn't find the offending object but on better inspection and a pair of pliers a small piece of wire was removed and all was well.
Then down through Wavendon and Walnut Tree and back to the start with only 2 people left. Others took shorter routes home as it was easier and quicker for them.

What I like about these rides they can be adapted on the day if the riders or weather changes, if some are tired we can miss out the last hill or if it's snowing or -2c I'll not take the lanes through the woods etc.
It's also great fun to get out with friends and like minded people.

It would be great to see more people out, so if you fancy a short ride just turn up at the bandstand on Queensway in Bletchley and join us for the ride.
Next years rides

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Up to Sunny Scunny

Had the Friday night booked off work and my alarm set for 04.45 on Saturday morning ready for the 3rd annual 600km ride organised over on yACF. The last 2 yrs these rides have been on have had 6-10 people on helping them get their there first SR and others just for the company.
I posted it again this year and had a few interested people but as time got nearer they had to drop out due to "real life" getting in the way. It was only me and Steve Abraham outside the local garage at 6.00 this time for the start.

As it was just us we decided to do a quick ride straight up the main roads through Wellingborough, Kettering and past Corby towards Oakham for the first control. A quick stop at another garage to refill our bottles and onto the windmill cafe at Wymondham.
100km in 4hrs most of which was non stop undulating hills.
The next section started off with more hills but got flatter as we neared Lincoln. We had to walk our bikes again through another closed road where a bridge was being rebuilt.
I managed to snap my chain while negotiating the traffic in Lincoln, but as I always carry a chain tool this wasn't a problem. Apart from greasy hands!

More drink brought and on again along the ridge northwards out of Lincoln, it was getting hotter as the day progressed and I was having my doubts about finishing watching Steve disappear into the distance as I dragged my 16+ stone up another hill.
Uphills always mean a downhill section and it was a fast blast down the A18 into Scunthorpe and into a Morrisons for dinner at 16.00. Back on the bike ready to go, that feels odd! front wheel puncture, bugger!
Back up the hill we'd just shot down but at a much slower pace! as we headed for Caister I could see the ridge ahead with the road up the side of it then the 10% sign!
I didn't walk but it was hard work in the late afternoon sun and almost in the bottom gear. Any slower or more vertical I find the front wheel lifts and I nearly fall out the back!! Lol
Once on the ridge there were great views across the Lincolnshire plains as the sun set.
Another fast downhill and another climb up out of the town to mack up the height I'd lost again.
As darkness fell we got to the flatlands of the fens around Boston where we stopped at another garage for more food, bottle refills and a rest.

It was getting late now and as we left Boston at 22.00 the roads were starting to get empty so it was another A road blast down the A16 towards Spalding and a McD coffee.
Slight mishap while going along there though. One minute I was riding along quite happy then the next I know there's a noise like a tyre scrapping along brick and I fall in the grass verge!
I must have shut my eyes momentarily moved left and hit the kerb, It definitely woke me up.

Quiet lanes towards Wisbech had both of us getting the dozies and a quick stop on a bench at about 1am sort of sorted it. The sky was clear now and the stars looked great from the laidback position of the recumbent. It was getting cold now though.
We eventually got to another garage for more drinks and it was away again to the planned stop at Ely getting there just after 3am.
As the garage was shut Steve put his card in the machine for some money, nothing happened.
I then tried and mine, windows is rebooting. It stayed in there never to be seen again!!

We managed to get 3hrs sleep and were up again at 7 into the chilly, foggy morning and a Tesco breakfast consisting of a cold sandwich and a drink.
Onwards towards Red Lodge Cafe (nr Newmarket) for proper fried breakfast then Northwards to Swaffham. The roads around Brandon were now getting busy and there were a few impatient muppets on the road.
More food and drink consumed sat in the sun watching the good people of Swaffham stare at my bike as they went past. We were across the road eating and Steve wondered if we could set a remote speaker up on them to make a loud bang at the push of a button. May have to try a walkie talkie next time, "this bike is alarmed, step away from the bike".
Another quick blast down an A road, this time the A47 and it was downhill to the next junction and a left turn for Downham market.
As we approached Downham Market the area started to get flat again and after there it was flat, the tailwind in places had the riding speed up to 32kph for fairly long sections.

The rolling hills east of Cambridge and into Bedfordshire were starting to slow me down now and the miles were starting to be felt in my legs. Another quickish stop at Biggleswade and the homeward stretch along the busy A507, not too bad though as it is a very wide road. The climb up through Woburn park was hard but I crested the hill just before a car had chance to pass me, it never made it as I accelerated down at 70+kph.
Downhills are always fun when you've had to slog your way up first.
It was then just a ride through the woods and down the A5 to arrive back at the start garage at just after 19.30.

Cycle comp showed 628km, total time out was 37.5hrs. 10hrs of those were off the bike though. With a ride time of 28.13hrs and an average speed of 25.9kph it makes it my 3rd fastest ride this season, I'm very pleased with that beings as it was a long ride.
All in all a good weekend.

Things learnt,
DO NOT ride a 600+ ride wearing shoes that you brought the day before. They will hurt your feet.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Delivering a lorry to Doncaster

The week started off at work with an email about taking a lorry to Doncaster. Opened MS autoroute to work out the distance back, 210km. A plan is hatched :-)

I emailed them back and said if they pay me 1/2 a day I'll take the lorry up early on Sunday morning with the bike strapped to the back and then cycle home.
I got comments about being mad, but they knew that already and it was OKed.

Was up at 05.00 and out the door just before 6 and rode over to work. I managed to get the bike inside the cab so that sorted the problem/worry of it bouncing down the M1 if I hit a bump.
I arrived at Donny unloaded the bike and went to find the local Tesco's for food.
I was away at 10.20 heading southwards through the town centre and going the wrong way!
GPS's are great if you load the route on to it in chunks of routes of only 50 points and not try to do one route for the whole route.
Didn't hear the thing bleep at me and was further along the road than planned so had a slight detour around past the airport.
Back on route and towards Gainsborough for a coffee then following the Trent towards Newark and a McDonalds lunch knowing the next section was going to get hilly.

Leaving Newark was ok but I found myself on the wrong side of the hill at Belvoir so had to winch myself up towards the castle and around the other side. Wasn't sure if I could get back onto the planned route easily without backtracking as some roads were not on the GPs.
I then saw a sign for the next village so I followed it and was pleased to see the route I should have been on and as I was on top of the ridge it was an easy ride to the next stop at Oakham for the audax staple of garage sarnie and milkshake.

I couldn't be bothered with the lanes towards Desborough so followed the main road towards Corby which is quite rolling! At one point I was doing 80kph downhill and could see the person in the car behind me looking at her speedo and talking to the passenger. The car came past me on the next straight bit with a couple of kids giving me the thumbs up with big grins on their faces.

The roads got a bit busier as I went towards Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough and they seemed to get more hilly as the ride went on.
As darkness fell cars started to give me a wider birth and the rest of the ride through Olney and back through MK went without problem.

Total for the day was 226km (16km over distance for a diy is not too bad) which I did in 11hrs with 2.20hrs off the bike eating, resting at the top of hills and generally faffing.
I averaged 26kph which is slightly faster than the usual speeds and the 2nd best avg this year.
I spent most of Monday eating though! always get "THE HUNGER" after an audax ride.

Now to get ready for next weekends 600km to Scunthorpe, Boston and a loop round the fens. Think I'm looking forward to it! I'd only be drinking at a wedding celebration anyway if I was not out riding! Lol.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Records keep going

Sam Whittingham does it again. Last night he broke the record again and reached 82.82mph.
This is the 10th time he has set a new record in the 10 years the event has been running.
He wasn't the only one to break a record though, Barbara Buatois riding the Varna Diablo 3 clocked a speed of 72.534mph then on another ride she clocked 75.46 to become the fastest European outright and the fastest woman ever at the event.
Greg Westlake went 41.5, 42.3, then 43.49 for a new arm powered trike record.

Copied from the battle mountain thread on

Some historical perspective of the significance of tonight!...

Speeds emailed to me by Craig Johnsen, Chief Timer

SAM WHITTINGHAM, 82.819 MPH, 133.284 KPH, Varna Tempest
WORLD RECORD - 10th time setting a record at Battle Mountain, on the event's tenth anniversary! The fastest cyclist in the world! It's Sam's 7th time being timed over 80 mph on the course. Only one other challenge remains! ... Sam, the first man over 70, 75, 80 mph has his sights on 85 mph. Short of that, can he be the first over 135 KPH or 83.9 mph? Sam is and continues to be phenomenal! He is The Man at Battle Mountain! Before Battle Mountain, the record for human powered speed stood at 68.723 mph, 110.593 kph by Chris Huber a professional cyclist in the Cheetah. This was set in 1992 in Colorado. Sam raised this mark by the following amounts with (year): 72.41, 72.74 mph (2000), 76.61, 77.03, 77.59, 80.55 mph (2001), 81.00 mph (2002), 82.33 mph (2008), and now 82.43 mph, 82.819 mph (2009). So he's personally increased the record by over 14 mph / 22.68 kph in ten years.
Note: The newly repaved stretch of Highway 305 outside Battle Mountain, which the racers have raced on is contributing to higher speeds. Significant lobbying was done by the event organizers Al and Alice Krause, working through NDOT and the local town of Battle Mountain to make this happen!

BARBARA BUATOIS, 75.458 MPH, 121.437 KPH, Varna Diablo III
WORLD RECORD - FEMALE, EUROPEAN RECORD, First Lady over 75 mph, 120 kph, becomes 4th fastest cyclist in the World, matches feat of being 4th fastest in the One-Hour. Georgi predicted 75 mph (120 kph) was possible by Barbara at the Ford event. Historical Note: Barbara achieves speed of 75 mph once thought to be the upper limit of human powered speed predicted by a computer in the 1989 if you cloned two Fast Freddy Markhams, put them in a Double Gold Rush, which later built, and took them up to 11,000 foot elevation in Colorado (over double Battle Mountain's 4600 foot elevation) with the maximum 2/3 of 1% downslope allowed. This was published at the speed championships that year.

Sam and Barbara duplicate their feat of setting both Men's and Women's One-Hour records on the same day at the Ford Human Powered Vehicle Challenge, two months earlier on Sunday July 19, 2009. Team Varna is the first HPV team to have both Men's and Women's Top Speed and One-Hour records. Georgi Georgiev, the builder of these wonderful Varna masterpieces, must be so proud!
Note: only one other time has the Men's and Women's 200-meter record been set the same day at Battle Mountain. This was on Tuesday of the first year of the event 2000 - when Sam (72.41 mph) and Andrea Blaseckie (54.04 mph), Sam's wife, both set records, the first world records set at Battle Mountain.

YANNICK LUTZ, 73.067 MPH, 117.590 KPH, ALTAÏR2
PERSONAL BEST, stays at the 7th fastest cyclist in world spot, Fastest student-built vehicle ever, French Men's Record. No university built machine has ever gone over 70 mph before IUT Annecy - University of Savoie in France achieved this feat, five times now at Battle Mountain. Yannick is a 36-year old, experience recumbent rider, who is considered a "test pilot" for the bike, and can help improve its design with his feedback. He is currently taking graduate classes at the university and is managing a shop in his spare time. He is very strong rider, though as Philippe, their teacher has pointed out, IUT Annecy has a few students that are in national team, and 3 former students are actually road biking professionals and did the Tour de France 2009.

ERIC WARE, 71.070 MPH, 114.377 KPH, Wedge
Personal Best, Joins 70 mph plus club, becomes the 8th fastest cyclist in the World. Team Eric Ware, Mark Anderson and John Jackstone have made it a historic five riders to have topped 70 mph at one event at Battle Mountain! Participants and observers are happy for Eric and Mark Anderson, they came to Battle Mountain last year, and worked almost 20 hour days for six days straight and only got one run in with the top off. Now all that hard work has paid off! Their new Mueller Windwrap fairing head bubble too is working well.

GREG WESTLAKE, 43.495 MPH, 69.998 KPH, Avos Arrow
WORLD RECORD, Arm Powered, 4th time in event, Historical note: exceeds the first legendary leg-powered HPV record of 43.02 mph by Ron Skarin in 1974. Ron was pedaling Dr. Chet Kyle's upright streamliner. He was an Olympic cyclist, later in the Hall of Fame. That speed started off the modern-day human powered speed championships. Now Greg, using only arm-power has exceeded that!

RON LAYMAN, 66.595 MPH, 107.175 KPH, Primal II
Personal Best, joins 65+ mph club. Becomes 17th fastest cyclist ever. Ron is approximately 27 years old, an alumni of Cal Poly where he first began racing these form of speedbikes at Battle Mountain in 2004. he came agonizingly close to 60 mph with a 59.9 mph run that year. Last year he came back as an alumni and topped 60 mph 3 times. This year, he goes over 65 mph in a updated version of the Primal 1 he rode last year. The Primal II has the head bubble removed for a smaller frontal area. George and Carol Leone, advisers of the Cal Poly HPVs, are behind the design of Ron's last two bikes.

ROB HITCHCOCK, 60.663 MPH, 97.627 KPH, Kyle Edge
below his Personal best of 63.91 mph in 2006, but showing increasing speed as the competition continues one more day. Rob showed similar speed improvements that year as well. The Kyle Edge was designed by Matt Weaver in 1990s when he was just 24 years old. Eight years later Matt raced it to 78.02 mph in an infamous duel with Sam Whittingham at Battle Mountain 2001. Sam first exceeded 80 mph that year. This vehicle is still the 2nd fastest HPV in the world. It was designed to achieve laminar flow and uses a video camera for the rider to navigate.

Mike Mowett
IHPVA Records Committee
Check out my list of the world's fastest at

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

New HPV world record 82.4

Sam Whittingham last night rode his fully enclosed streamlined bike to a speed of 82.4mph at the WHPSC (world human powered speed challenge) in Battle Mountain, Nevada.
Last year he reached a 82.33mph, this year hopes to be better as the road has been resurfaced and more records could go be broken before the week is out.
Barbara Bautois broke the womans record by 3mph but with an illegal wind speed.
I'll be watching with anticipation.

Sam writes on his blog

Mon, Sept 15, 2009 11:30pm
NEW WORLD RECORD 82.4 MPH!!! Evening Runs. Perfect Weather (almost!) Tonight was the first real test for team Varna at this years event. We loaded into the truck at about 4pm and headed south to our asphalt arena with the usual anxiety about what might or might not be possible this early in the week. The sun has been shining hard and the wind low. Barbara, in the Varna Diablo III was first off in the first session. She had a bit of a shaky beginning with several miss-starts. We where to learn later that she was having some trouble with the gears, which certainly was not helping! She had an otherwise very good run and went an amazing 69mph! This is faster than the previous women's record of Lisa Veterlain (sp?) by 4 mph. However, the wind was just slightly to high. The record is sure to fall officially in the next few days. I headed off the second heat at about 6:40 just as the sun was beginning to set behind the mountains. The tarmac was still warm and the winds where non-existent. The stage was set for a record but was I? As many people know, I tend to get faster as the week goes on. The dry air and elevation of 4600 ft always takes me 5 or so days to get used to and needless to say I am still feeling a bit sluggish. I was also distracted by the fact that the front tire we are using was becoming dangerously thin in places and I could see the actual thread in under the rubber! Nothing to do but hope that it held for one last waltz down the dance floor. I went quite hard but not maximum. I was missing the "kick" I rely on for most record runs. Even so, I managed to hang on for a new record. I can only hope that we have similar conditions throughout the week as I get my form and confidence. 85mph would be nice wouldn't it? I think I will put on a new tire first………………. All runs had legal wind except Barbara Otherwise record count would have been 2! * Sam Whittingham, Tempest 82.4 (with poohball guy) * Barbara Bautois, Diablo III 69 (illegal winds) * Fred Markham, Mephisto 75 * Yannick Lutz, Altair II 70 * Jason Erickson, Varnator 67 * Eric Ware, Wedge 65 * Larry Lem, Scimitar DNF (Mechanical?) * Specter 57??? (unsure. Cleats coming out. Flat tire right at end in catch!!) * Bobby Erman Cal Poly Atlas (unsure of time) * Barclay Henry White Backslider (unsure of time) Another Salad bar dinner at the Owl club, one celebratory pint of Fat Tire Beer (or as our french friends keep calling it "Flat Tire"), glue on a new tire and off to bed. Tomorrow is a new day……………

Saturday, 12 September 2009

FSoTM rides 2010

Cycle Rides from Bletchley.2010.

Start at 10am from Elizabeth Square Bandstand, Bletchley.
Rides are approx 20 miles.Unless stated otherwise.

Jan 3rd. ~ Ride to Stony via Whaddon.

Feb 7th. ~ Ride to Woburn via Great Brickhill (a few hills).

Mar 7th. ~ Ride to Stewkley via Swanbourne and Dunton.

April 4th. ~ Ride to Stockgrove park café via Leighton Buzzard (a few Hills).

May 2nd. ~ Ride to Salcey Forest café. (30 miles).

June 6th. ~ Ride around the Millennium cycle route, (Parks Trust)13 miles starts at Furzton lake (At the bridge by the bowl).

Jul 4th. ~ Ride around the back of Linford lakes and return via Newport. (Parks Trust)

Aug 1st. ~ Ride to Winslow using Sustrans Route 51 (Parks Trust)18 Miles starts at Furzton lake, (at the bridge by the Bowl).

Sept 5th. ~ Ride around the lakes of MK. (Parks Trust)

Oct 3rd. ~ Ride to Marston Vale Forest Centre café (30 miles).

Nov 7th. ~ Ride to Stockgrove via Wing (30 miles).

Dec 5th ~ Ride to Woburn via Wavendon. (A few hills).

(Parks Trust) listed rides are rides put on in conjunction with
The Parks Trust as part of their Easy Rider rides programme.

These rides were started to get more people out on their bikes,
And to show how easy it is to get around MK
And the surrounding areas.

All the rides are taken at a pace to suit the slowest
With plenty of stops if needed.

Children are welcome
But under 16’s must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

The rides will use a mixture of surfaces so robust tyres are advisable.
The rides use the redways, shared use paths and quiet roads where possible.

You are advised to
Ensure that your bicycle is in a roadworthy condition.
Carry a puncture repair kit or spare inner tube.
Bring along a drink or some money to get something at the stop.
(Which is usually about half way or so).
Helmets are a personal choice,
(I’m not going to stop you riding if you’re not wearing one).

This ride is not a race or trial of speed.
The route is on open public shared-route paths and roads.
You are expected to follow the rules of the road and
show consideration to other road/path users.
Although lead, the route is not waymarked or marshalled.
The organiser provides no rescue service.
You are responsible for your own safety/conduct.

For more info on any of the rides
Rich Forrest

Another weekend and another FSoTM ride

Last weekend saw me and 11 riders meet at the bandstand in Bletchley for the September edition of my First Sunday of the month rides, This one was in conjunction with the Parks Trust Easy riders programme and was a ride around the lakes of MK.

I'd been on the go since 5am as I was out early with some other riders helping put signs up along the Millennium route around MK for the Cancer Research UK charity ride.

The FSoTM ride took in nearly all of the lakes around MK starting by heading for Caldecotte lake then along the river past the OU and Walton Lake. Keeping to the right of the river helps here as there are no cattle grids to go across on that side.
Around Willen lake, We were going to stop here for coffee but the jetski national finals were being held there. On through Willen village and past Tongwell lake and a stop at Blakelands shop.
From here we took the old railway line that used to go from Newport Pagnell to Wolverton and met up with the riders doing the longer loop of the Cancer ride.
Tried to confuse them by then going the other way to them at a junction :-D but none followed us. I would have told them honest.
A slight deviation to the planned route took us over the A5 to Wymbush and around the other side of the Lodge lake and bringing us to The Talbot at Loughton.
Have always had good service here compared to the Fountain Harvester up the road, who seemed to want us weird cyclist types out as we were taking up seats that could be used for more profit.

On around Teardrop lakes and Furzton lake leaving only Mount farm lake to do before heading back to Bletchley and the start of the ride.

Back home for more food and I was away again with just the eldest as I'd said I'd collect the signs that were put up earlier.
This took longer than expected and we were out until gone 7 but that did include a stop at KFC for a snack :-D

I'd managed to clock up over 60 miles just riding in circles and the eldest did a PB of 45 miles. Really good considering he was riding a heavy BSO (bike shaped object) and wearing jeans.
Must try getting him in Lycra! the thought of it might be too much for an 18yr old though :-D :-D.

Friday, 4 September 2009

That long....

...since I last posted! Must try harder.

I've kept meaning to post on here but haven't had the time this last month what with cycling - family - cycling - family - playing with my new Garmin Legend GPS - family and 12hr shifts at work.

Since the last post I've managed to get a couple of 200km+ rides in. One up to Market Harborough - Daventry - Thame and back and a longer one of 290km over towards Downham Market to meet some friends from yacf for lunch. I seemed to have sorted the shorts problem out as I've had no trouble on the last rides I've done.
I should've worn something underneath them on LEL last month.

Last weekend I cycled over to Mildenhall cycle rally and had too much cider, then it was over to Essex for more cider :-D and back home to have the kids for three days and more cider!!
Damn Tesco, 30 cans for £10!! Weight will go up again :-D

Tomorrow is another FSoTM ride which starts from Bletchley and goes around the lakes of MK.
Also tomorrow there will be the Cancer research ride around the Millennium cycle route.
Hope to see plenty of people out on both rides.

I've also got another 600km ride coming up later this month up to Scarborough and back via a loop around the fens. Hopefully the weather will be better than I've had on the 2 I've tried so far this year.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

From the Cycle Touring Club (CTC)

There are always some people who aren’t very sympathetic to cycling. Normally they’ve got preconceived notions of what cycling is, what cyclists are like or what cyclists should do.

Q1: Cycling’s dangerous, isn’t it?
Among men the level of obesity has increased by 39% in the last 10 years
At current trajectories 6 out of 10 people will be obese by 2050, costing £49 bn
per year
Obesity and diabetes are linked to heart disease and strokes
A third of people die from an illness related to physical inactivity
Cycling is one of the easiest ways of introducing exercise to the daily routine of
people who aren’t regularly physically active
Since 2000 cycling in London has increased by 91% and the number of cyclists
injured has dropped by 33% since the mid-1990s
75% collisions involving cyclists are caused by driver error so the real danger on
the roads comes from drivers

• The health benefits of cycling far outweigh its risks; not cycling is far more
Road safety:
• Cyclists gain from “safety in numbers” – the more people who cycle the safer it
becomes as drivers get increasingly used to looking out for cyclists and
sharing space safely with them
• Cyclists rarely cause injury to other road users

Q2: Wouldn’t cycling be safer if you wear a helmet? Shouldn’t it be made
o Cycle helmets standards require them to cater for an impact velocity of only 20
km/h (12.5 mph).
o Helmets are therefore not designed to withstand the sort of impact a cyclist might
suffer if they are hit by a speeding car
o The circumstances in which a cycle helmet is more likely to prevent or reduce
injury are low impact falls, e.g. if you fall off your bike all by yourself – something
that children may do. They may also help if you are hit by an overhead branch
when out mountain biking
o Compulsion laws in other countries have reduced the number of people who
o Several recent reports (including four papers in peer-reviewed medical journals)
have found no link between changes in helmet wearing rates and cyclists' safety
- and there are even cases where safety seems to have worsened as helmetwearing
increased. The loss of “safety in numbers” benefits is one of several
possible explanations for this.

o CTC thinks that it should be up to you to decide whether you want to wear a
helmet or not, and that it should be an informed choice.
o CTC actively opposes all proposals to making helmet-wearing compulsory, for
children as well as for adults
o Instead, CTC promotes the road safety measures that are most likely to benefit
cyclists, e.g. 20mph in urban streets; strong enforcement against bad driving; and
good cycle training

Helmets & Safety
• Cycle helmets won’t always prevent injury in all circumstances and people
should be aware of their limitations
• It is the behaviour of drivers that causes most problems for cyclists on the
roads, so tackling speed and poor driving standards would help cyclists a lot
more than widespread helmet wearing

Helmet Compulsion
• Compelling people to wear cycle helmets may reduce the numbers of people
willing to cycle, undermining its health, environmental and other benefits
• The more people who cycle, the safer cycling becomes, so reducing cycle use
risks undermining these “safety in numbers” benefits

Q3: Why can’t cyclists learn to ride safely and obey the law?
o Only a small proportion of illegal cycle use is straightforward “antisocial
behaviour”; most of it is people feeling forced to decide between what is safe and
what is legal, whilst some are unaware they are breaking the law at all.
o Illegal cycling causes very few serious injuries and fatalities are almost nonexistent
compared with the injuries caused by illegal car use, so the response
needs to be proportionate to the problem.
o We lobby for and promote the best ways to encourage cyclists, especially
teenagers, to ride safely and legally on the roads, i.e.:
- reduced speed limits on urban streets (20mph should be the norm except for
the widest and busiest main roads),
- enforcing road traffic law on all road users who create danger to others (this
will mostly affect bad drivers) and
- good cycle training, widely available for people of all ages.

Q4: Why don’t cyclists obey red lights?
o In London between 2001-05 (the most recent data we have), there were 3
cyclists, 7 pedestrians and 7 motor vehicle occupants killed when a motorist
jumped a red light. Two cyclists were killed by red light jumping (i.e. fewer than
the number of cyclists killed by red-light-jumping motor vehicles), while 7
motorcyclists got themselves killed the same way.
What’s CTC doing about it?
o Campaigning for best practice, cycle-friendly arrangements at junctions
o Promoting good cycle training
Red light jumping
• Jumping a red light on a bike is illegal and can be dangerous; jumping a red
light using a motor vehicle is just as illegal but causes a lot more death and
Illegal cycling
• It is not the job of CTC to justify illegal cycling. However before deciding how
to address the problem one needs to understand why it happens in the first
place and promote effective means for tackling it
• Things that make it impossible (or prohibitively costly) for children and
newcomers to take up cycling in the first place (e.g. registration, licences etc –
see Q6 below) risk seriously undermining its health, environmental and other

Q5 What are you going to do about cyclists riding on the pavement?
o There are about 40 pedestrians (almost one a week) killed annually in Britain by
motor vehicles on footways or verges (not to mention about 650 pedestrians
killed annually by motor vehicles on the road)
o By contrast an average of 0.3 pedestrians were killed in collisions with pavement
cyclists over the same period. There are similarly large discrepancies between
the numbers of pedestrians injured by cycles and motor vehicles on pavements,
whether in London or in Britain as a whole
Total pedestrian injuries (i.e. looking at all causes):
o In the years 2001-5 in London, there were 101 times as many pedestrians injured
– and 126 times as many seriously injured – in collisions with motor vehicles than
cyclists. Over these 5 years there were 534 pedestrians killed in collisions with
motor vehicles, and just 1 involving a cyclist
o No pedestrian has been killed in London in collision with a cyclist who was either
on the pavement or jumping a red light in any of the last ten years
What’s CTC doing about it?
o Promoting cycle training to give people the confidence and skills needed to cycle
o Urging engineers not to introduce shared-use pavements unless there is
absolutely nothing they can do to help cyclists on the road (e.g. by reducing
motor traffic volume and speed).
Pavement cycling
• CTC does not condone law-breaking or misbehaviour by cyclists and believes
that the road is usually the best place to cycle. However, we understand that
lack of confidence and skills mean that some people feel ‘safer’ on the
footway, particularly novices and children
• Figures show that cyclists very rarely cause injury to pedestrians on the
• The proliferation of legal shared use (a lot of it patchy and unnecessary), only
serves to confuse cyclists and pedestrians about the legalities of cycling on
the pavement.

Q6: Why don’t cyclists have compulsory training, number plates and
insurance to stop them riding dangerously and illegally, or so they can be
made to pay up when they do?
o CTC was instrumental in drawing up new “Bikeability” national cycle training
standard, and encourages all people to take it. Whereas conventional cycle
training merely taught young children to not fall off their bikes while riding round
bollards in a playground, “Bikeability” is about giving people of all ages (including
teenagers and adults) the skills to handle real traffic confidently, safely and
legally, and thus to cycle more safely more often
o The administrative costs of making registration and insurance compulsory would
be as large as for car use, since there are about as many cyclists and bicycles in
Britain as there are drivers and motor vehicles – the main difference is that more
of the cyclists are children
o The administrative costs would therefore be similar, and would have to be borne
either by tax-payers or by individuals, and the Government has rightly ruled out
both options. Making cyclists pay both for training and registration would
seriously deter occasional cycle use (e.g. family outings) or newcomers to cycling
(including children), thus undermining efforts to encourage more people to cycle
o There is no evidence that registration would provide any safety benefits – after
all, having number plates doesn’t stop large numbers of motorists from driving
illegally and dangerously
o We continue to promote Bikeability training
o We also encourage all regular cyclists to have third-party insurance – indeed we
provide £10m of 3rd party insurance cover for all CTC members.
Legislative control of cyclists
• CTC believes that good quality, readily available cycle training is the best way
of ensuring that cyclists obey the law and ride safely. It should not be made
compulsory because that would probably deter people from taking up cycling
• CTC thinks that registration and licencing schemes would be prohibitively
costly, unenforceable, impossible to administer and also act as a deterrent
• We don’t see any reason for treating cyclists differently from pedestrians
• CTC promotes the take-up of third party insurance and provides it for its

Q7: Shouldn’t cyclists stop slowing down traffic and stick to where they
belong – i.e. cycle paths/tracks off the road? Shouldn’t campaigners be
asking for more on-road cycle lanes and off-road paths because they make
cycling safer?
o The Highway Code states that cyclists do not have to use cycle facilities if
they do not wish to. CTC believes that the right of the cyclist to decide
whether or not to use a cycle path or lane should be maintained.
o Three-quarters of cyclists’ injuries occur at junctions. Both cycle paths/tracks
and lanes may put cyclists at even greater risk at these already risky points
because they can them more complex to negotiate (see below)
o Cycle paths/tracks
- Counter-intuitively, there is some evidence that cycle tracks are associated
with lower safety than others.
- Many cycle collisions occur where a cycle track crosses the mouth of a side
turning, or rejoins the main road. Whilst cyclists on the road retain priority,
those riding on the track are usually expected to stop and look for motor
traffic approaching from several angles and directions. Novices and children
may find this difficult and be placed at greater risk than they would be had
they cycled, with due priority, on the road. Equally, drivers may not be looking
for cyclists using an off-road path.
- Pedestrians and particularly people with sight impairments, tend to object to
sharing footways with cyclists
o Cycle lanes
- As long as they are of adequate width (1.5m min, 2.00m preferred) cycle
lanes may provide protection between junctions. They may make people feel
safer and encourage them to cycle more
- However, staying in a cycle lane means, once again, that you may be worse
off at junctions. This is because they take you out of the driver’s field of
attention, whilst also making it harder for the cyclist to see what is coming out
of a side road and to avoid being cut up by a driver overtaking then turning
left from behind
- An unacceptably narrow cycle lane (and there are many of them) might signal
to drivers that this is all the space a cyclist needs, thus encouraging them to
overtake too closely
What’s CTC doing about it?
Cycle paths/tracks v the road
• Cycle paths, especially those provided alongside a road, are not necessarily
safer than the road and there is no obligation to use them
• Cycles are vehicles and, as such, have every right to use the road
• Cyclists don’t slow down traffic – they are traffic!
Cycle lanes (lanes painted on the road)
• These are often not wide enough to help; and sometimes they are so narrow
that they cause more problems than they solve
CTC – the UK’s national cyclists’ organisation 7
o We advocate that engineers do everything possible to make the road itself
suitable for cycling first, before so much as considering cycle lanes or (last resort)
shared use paths
Q8: Cyclists don’t pay road tax, so you have no right to complain about the
roads or drivers, or to take up road-space, do you?!
o Almost all adult cyclists pay for the roads too as the money comes out of council
tax and income tax
o Cyclists who don’t drive still pay for the most expensive roads, i.e. motorways,
despite being banned from using them
o Nobody pays roads tax any more as it was abolished in the 1930s for fear that
drivers would think they “owned the road”. The argument that paying vehicle
taxes gives drivers prior use of the roads is like arguing that smokers should
have priority in hospitals because they pay for these out of cigarette taxes
o Both cyclists and pedestrians, who do minimal damage to the road surface, could
get by perfectly happy without all the money that gets spent on motorways and
trunk roads
o Campaigning to make sure that councils spend money for road maintenance in
ways that help cyclists as well as motorists

Q9: You’ll never get large numbers of people to cycle, will you?
o 43% of people aged 5 and over own a bicycle
o There are very high levels of recreational cycle use – it is the 3rd most commonly
undertaken form of physical activity in adults, after football and swimming, with
about 31% of Britain’s adult population cycling at least once a year (c18m
people), and about 15% (almost 9m people) cycling at least once a week
 Road tax
• Actually, most adult cyclists do pay for the roads, even though they impose minimal
wear and tear on them!
• There are no calls for pedestrians to start paying “road tax”, so why require it of
Getting lots of people to cycle
• Yes we will! There is huge potential for increased cycle use in Britain. Cycling is fun, fast,
flexible, free (well, almost), it keeps you fit, it avoids burning finite fuel reserves and is
friendly to the local and global environment. It is good for the health of individuals and that
of our communities and the environment. It’s the answer to lots of the problems we have
o Yet cycling is little used as a mode of transport in Britain, with less than 2% of
trips being made by cycle. This compares with 9% in Switzerland, 10% in
Germany and Belgium, 12% in Sweden, 18% in Denmark and 27% in Holland.
None of these countries have significantly different economies, car ownership
levels or weather, and Switzerland is a lot more hilly
o Over two thirds (68%) of all trips in Britain, and over half (58%) of car trips, are
under 5 miles, approximately a half hour cycle ride. Especially in larger towns
and cities, such journeys are often quicker by cycle than by any available
o 37% of adults in Britain agree that 'Many of the short journeys I now make by car
I could just as easily cycle, if I had a bike'
o Around 3 in 10 car users in Britain say they would reduce their car use 'if there
were more cycle tracks away from roads ' (31%), 'if there were more cycle lanes
on roads' (27%) or 'better parking facilities for cycles' (30%)
o Just over two-thirds (68%) of Britons agree that 'cyclists should be given more
priority', while only 11% felt that 'cycle lanes on roads simply reduce space'
What’s CTC doing about it?
o Everything we can…campaigning, Champions, training…you name it…

Q10: Our roads would be safer if there were no cyclists, wouldn’t they?
What’s CTC doing about it?
o Just being there…
No cyclists = safer roads?
• Around 3000 people die from road traffic collisions in the UK every year – only
about three of those involve only a cyclist and a pedestrian, the remainder all
involve motor vehicles.

The roads would be safer with no motor vehicles!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

A ride to Scotland and back

Well after all the preparation rides (or not) I'd done this year, Last Saturday I found myself on a train towards Watford and a short cycle ride over to Cheshunt for the start of the London -Edinburgh - London 1400km audax ride.

I got there at about 10.30 in the morning ready for the my 12.30 registration and managed to get near the front of the queue. This was a good idea as the queues got longer and longer as other riders were trying to register early and the queues were still there 6hrs later.
An afternoon of talking to friends, looking at bikes and having a couple of drinks all added to the great atmosphere. Then it was off for a quick ride down the A10 to the Travelodge for a sleep before my 08.15 start on the Sunday.

All going well as I got to the start at about 07.00 and watched the 08.00 riders leave. Then it was line up ready for my departure.
Pic by Dave Larrington

Away in a reasonable group up through Cheshunt and into the rolling countryside of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire to the first control at Gamlingay.
I was going at my usual pace passing some people on the flat and getting passed by people on the uphill sections. The sun was out and it was a warm but nice day.
On around the left of Peterborough and up to a school in Thurlby I was starting to get a bit sore where my shorts were rubbing the top of my legs, not good as I was hardly 150kms into the ride.
After Thurlby the sky started to cloud over and it looked like it may start to rain.
Another stop at Washingborough just SE of Lincoln for more food and drink and by the time I left it was on with the jacket as it had started raining.

The next bit up to Thorne via Wragby was at a reasonable pace due to there being hardly any hills, there was a bit of a crosswind headwind in places but not too bad. I also managed to find a shop and get some cream for my leg/short interface and stood at the side of the road applying it. It must have looked odd and was probably lucky I wasn't arrested as I stood next to a Coop with my hand down my shorts and a look of relief on my face!!
I reached Thorne at Midnight (320km in 16hrs) looked my bike to the fence and went to get more food.

On walking into the rugby club it resembled what a refugee camp must look like. Bodies everywhere sleeping on the floor, at tables, across chairs. All the beds were taken mainly due to people trying to stay out of the bad weather.
I got my card stamped, grabbed some food, changed clothes into some dry ones from my drop bag, found a blanket and some space on the floor in the corridor by the toilets.

I did manage to get some sleep and woke up fairly refreshed but had no clue what the time was.
I went out to find I'd had 3hrs got some breakfast and then spent 20 - 30 mins looking for my water bladder to refill.
I couldn't find it anywhere so resigned myself using just 1 water bottle and went outside to fill it. My bladder was still on my bike! D'oh!!

I was away for about 5 and the quiet roads around Doncaster were starting to get busy with the Monday morning rush hour.
I was still feeling tired and my shorts were still rubbing, I thought I had left some Sudocreme in my bag at Thorne but it turned out I had left it in the one at Dalkeith instead (muppet).

Onwards around York and towards the village of Coxwold. The hills started here and as I was climbing the hill through Crayke I turned left and the road went up again, bike came to a standstill and I got off and walked.

By the time I got to Coxwold my legs were starting to Blister where the shorts were rubbing and I decided to finish the ride there and then. I just didn't fancy another 1000km of it.
If I had gone any further I knew it would cost me more to get home on the train than it would from York.
I rang my brother up and rode back down through York and onto his place at Wetherby.
Total distance was 500km by the time I got there.

Cider was consumed and I spent a couple of days there as the price of train tickets went down from £75 to £25 if booked a day in advance.

By the other stories and write-ups from the people who completed the ride, the weather was atrocious with gail force winds, horizontal rain and hail in places. Great British summer weather!

Will I try it again in 4 years, I don't know. More training will be needed and definitely more longer rides in the months before the ride.
This year I didn't get out enough and what with mechanical failures, bad weather and the short problem also caused by sitting in a puddle of sweat on the new seat I fitted 2 days before the ride (now sorted).
I've also said I'll help with the driving side of the event when it's held again.

So what next?
This year I still have more rides planned and a 600km ride at the end of September to do.
Next year I will still be riding and will do as many as I can get in around work and family commitments.
2011 brings up the option of doing Paris - Brest - Paris 1300km ride. Do I want to go for that one. We'll see :-)

Friday, 24 July 2009

This weekend....

Those that have been following me on here know that this weekend I'm off to Cheshunt this weekend to take part in the London - Edinburgh - London 1400km (870mile) bike ride.
The ride is organised by Audax uk and is their flagship event only held every 4yrs.

I started doing audax rides 2.5yrs ago starting off with a 100km one and gradually building the distance up, the longest I've done so far is 600km so this ride will definitely be a challenge.
I leave here (MK) on Saturday morning for the ride down to Cheshunt, and will then spend Saturday afternoon relaxing and worrying about the next day.
There are 600 people entered for this event so it should be a good ride. I hope to do the ride in 5 sections, 4 of approx 300km and 1 200km. I may find I go well on the first couple of days and get further than expected. It will mainly be ride until I'm tired and see how it goes.

If you are interested in following me I'll be updating my Facebook page by using Twitter as and when I can get a mobile signal. It will mainly be at the controls along the way and some of these don't have reception.
A few of the other riders will be updating Twitter as well by using #lel these tweets can be found on the Twitter search page.

Hopefully I'll be back on here next weekend with a good report.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Ride to Ely

Another weekend closer to LEL but this weekend I did manage to get out on a ride.

I was up at 07.00 on Sunday morning hoping to be away for 08.00, as usual I had too many ciders the night before. I eventually got out at 08.45 after breakfast and sitting in front of the computer for a bit too long.

As the Bacchetta was still off the road at the weekend I took the trike and headed for Biggleswade. I got to the garage for a receipt and then had to go back home again as I had forgot my waterbottles.
Away again and five minutes later I had to stop to reduce layers, half way up the steady climb along the A5 heading towards Woburn . Must have been the alcohol coming out!
Biggleswade came quite quickly and the next KM's to halfway point at Ely (100km) seemed to fly by getting there in just over 4hrs.
The route is relatively flat once you get past Cambridge and I found myself in top gear most of the time, and wanting another as I couldn't spin the pedals any quicker.

After the usual pie, cold sandwich and drinks from the garage I turned back the way I came and headed towards Huntingdon. It's no wonder the ride out was fast, I was now pedalling into a headwind, which was to stay with me for the whole way home.

Once past Huntingdon the route starts to get rolling again as I headed past Graftham water and onto Olney. (must organise a local ride to here sometime)
I got back home at 20.20. 11.5hrs out with about 2hrs off the bike.
No computer on the trike so I've no idea what the average speed was.

The forks for the Bacchetta arrived on Monday morning so I spent the day getting parts and refitting them.
Now just need to await the arrival of a fitting kit for the hardshell seat and I'll be ready for the long ride.
Well, as ready as I'll ever be!

Monday, 6 July 2009

FSoTM ride

This year seems to be flying by, must be getting old!!
This weekend saw another of my local MK FSoTM rides, this one was a 20 mile ride around the back of Linford Lakes to Newport Pagnel and back again.
10 others turned up on Sunday morning and a good ride was had with a stop for a pint at MK village.
Only 1 puncture this time at about the halfway point.
No photo's this time as I forgot to take my camera.

The next ride is on the 2nd of August, it starts from Furzton lake at 10.00 and takes the Sustrans path to Winslow.
Hope to see more people along.

More ramblings

Not updated for a while, and not done much in the way of long rides the last couple of weeks.
I did start on a planned 300km ride to Newbury and Marlborough the other weekend, I was up at 6 and ready to go out at 7.
On the way to the garage I noticed the new dérailleur I'd fitted the day before was making funny noises, turn around and back home to take a look at it to find I needed to take some links out and shorten the chain.
Put bike back in shed, put pedals on to the trike and off I went again.
As I got to Aylesbury the day was starting to get hotter and I decided I really couldn't be bothered with cycling 180miles over the ridgeway 4 times in 28c heat.
I put on the suncream and turned left instead of right and headed for the Ivinghoe beacon instead.
The trike being heavier than the Bacchetta was a bit harder to drag up the hills but not too bad but it's worth it for the eye watering drops down the other side. Stopped for a couple of pints and some chips in a pub in Stanbridge and made my way back home for early afternoon.
Total was only 50 miles, but I had a good ride and really enjoyed it.

This week saw me exchanging emails with the team at Bacchetta with concerns about the forks on my Giro 26. There seemed to be a line on the paint where the fork blades are bonded to the crown and the paint had started to bubble underneath. They have decided to change the fork without any problems, just to be on the safe side.
A trip over to D-Tek near Ely on Sat' morning with the bike to have the fork taken off and now have to wait for the new one to be sent over.
Back on the trike again for work this week, I suppose the extra weight helps the non existent training I've done for the long ride (L-E-L) at the end of the month. As I write this there are only 18 days to go!! Still a bit worried about it as it's the longest ride I've ever done and this year I've not done a ride over 400km yet.

On a sadder note I was surprised to read this from the Dept' of Transport the other day.
In 2008
28,567 people were seriously injured on the roads last year out of these 2538 people were killed.
1257 deaths were in a car.
2807 children were injured, 1784 of these were pedestrians and 124 died.
572 pedestrian deaths.
493 motorcycle deaths.
115 cycling deaths.

This is really astonishing reading, what other place would allow that many injuries or deaths go by with just an "Oh well, it was just an accident" attitude.

There's also been a lot of accidents in London recently with people undertaking left turning lorries and buses. 7 deaths in 5 months, 6 of which were woman.
For some reason these deaths don't make it onto the news, all road users including cyclists need to know the dangers of going up the inside of large vehicles.
Always go up the right-hand side when wanting to pass, NEVER on the left.