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.