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