Sunday, 18 January 2015

Week 2 & 3 Let's go Racin'

Week 2

Nuffin' to report for this week, was a bit poorly, the only bike related activity was some retail therapy courtesy of Howies and some other choice online retailers
Week 3 Action
I wanted to get into a routine of a bit of pedalling followed by a bit of spannering on my old van, this week I managed it
Dragged out my single speed cyclocross, haven't used it since before Christmas, ironically this was a purchase for commuting purposes but now I no longer work for Vertu (other luxury mobile phones are not available) it is likely to be side-lined quite a bit.
I set out on my commute route towards Windsor Great park, at the park, instead of continueing my commute route to the train station I deviated off following another cyclist towards one of the large houses, from here I looped back to the dear enclosure and the Copper Horse. The skies were clear blue and the air fresh. The views were beautiful and the return home pleasant. It was nice to be out and even better it was nice that my knee didn't give any trouble.
I planned to ride Wednesday mountain bike stylee but first I would need to bleed the brakes, front brake was locked on and the rear was conversely virtually inoperative
Brake bleed kit and a Youtube combo later and the brakes were all good.
Swinley Forest was the destination of the days pedalling activity.
The weather outlook was good but with previous overnight downpours the ground was likely to be soggy at best.

Much work has been done to Swinley Forest to make it a pretty good trail centre, this day unfortunately there was a lot of other works going on which meant for detours and very wet sticky fire road use, the upside was that some of the naffer routes had been bypassed.
Having not been mountain biking in quite some time it was as enjoyable as it was tough. Constant pedalling meant the intensity was high, very different to long distance road riding, no time for recovery, no cups of tea with a full English for sure.
The rewards for the enchanting woodland climbs were momentary views at the crests followed by fast flowing technical single track.
My bike road well, I had forgotten how good a bike it really is, amongst the various trawling of bike reviews and new release bulletins my eyes have often wandered towards potential new steads but one ride now again is enough to remind the senses that steal really is real and despite the aging parts it still performs.
My body had grown complacent without mountain biking to keep it flexible and I suffered the following day with aches and pains particularly in my shoulders and neck.
The climax of the week was to be an audax, mountain bike race combo, Saturday and Sunday respectively.
With poor preparation and a cold trying to grab hold of me I bailed on the Audax so I could focus on the mountain bike race.
Gorrick Spring Series Round 1 at Camberley/Bracknell was to be my first ever mountain bike race. Nerves were kicking in as I loaded the car, all the events are local'ish so half an hour later I arrived the boggy car park, nerves a little calmer.
The whole event was very well organised, the sign on process very slick.
It was suggested I went for a practice lap which reluctantly I did, I say reluctantly because I didn't want to knacker myself out but go I did.
Guess what? I was knackered at the end of this practice lap, really interesting, mostly single track with some great downhill twisty turny bits and a couple of pretty evil drop offs, one of which I was convinced would get me by the days end.
I was overdressed for my practice lap so I stripped off a couple of layers which helped me blend in a little as pretty much everyone was lycra only, mostly with sponsor logos knee to neck.
After some nibbles I made my way to the start, now shivering.
The start  was quite energetic by most folk, I was in the veteran class as this is the year of my 40th birthday but don't let that make you think this was for old codgers, the field was mostly elite athletes and the rest were, well, er, like me.
From the offset I had a problem, the chain kept jumping almost every revolution of the pedals, this was peculiar as the bike had ridden faultlessly round the practice lap and to the start. I was going no where in a hurry, after a few hundred metres I stopped rendering me dead last to study the problem. Somehow my chain was bent and twisted, I thought it was game over, with the limited tools I carried I managed to bend it back a little, enough that it would rotate without jumping.
Good enough to get a lap in I thought, good enough for all 3 laps as it turned out, fortunately having an old 9 speed drivetrain paid dividends as I'm sure a spangley 11 speed setup would not have been so forgiving.
The laps went well considering the initial set back, I was plodding to be fair, fuelled by gels and energy drink, something I avoid on Audax events, I finished with few aches and pains, my knee felt like a normal knee, just fatigue and tiredness and a slightly sore neck.
It was tough but fun enough to have another go next month.
Practice Lap: 33 minutes 30 seconds
Lap 1: 51 minutes 35 seconds
Lap 2: 34 minutes 25 seconds
Lap 3: 36 minutes
Distance this week: 74.1k
Distance so far this year: 231.1k
Weekly average: 77.03k

Monday, 5 January 2015

2015 Week1 Not a great start

From finishing work at Christmas time I had a plan to get up early every day and go for a pedal this would also aid doing the Rapha 500 on Strava.
A plan is all it ended up being, tomorrow never came and many z's were had

Next plan was to ride New Years day to start off my epic cycling year, that didn't happen either.

Friday the 2nd
Success, I got out for a ride, this was however a little silly in some respects as i had entered a 200K audax for the 3rd, normally riding up until a few days before was my routine, not having  weeks off and then going out the day before.
This mattered not as it happened, I went for a jaunt on my DIY bike riding up to Windsor then carried on along the Windsor Triathlon cycle route. I chopped off a little of these taking a detour down the flat straight section of the course missing out about 8k probably.
Weather was kind, a little blowy but it was nice to be out.
On the way back through Windsor Great Park I decided to go off piste a little where one of the car park entrances were. This turned out to be far from normal cycle track, fortunately my bike can cope with mud and sludge without much bother. I was glad to have explored these hidden paths though as having passed them many times commuting in the past i had wondered if there was an alternative route I could take which would ovoid motorised transport. Now after many years of wondering and as my current employment comes to an end (volunteered for redundancy) i can wonder no longer.....I have not been missing out all these years at all, more dead ends than chain smokers ashtray.
Having had some trouble with my knee since L'Eroica this was also a little test to see if the christmas rest period had paid dividends, I was please to get home without even so much as a niggle.

Saturday 3rd
Early start having packed everything the night before, I was off once again to Tewkesbury for the start of Mr Pickwick's January sale 200K audax. Coincidentally on this occasion the wife, kids and inlaws were also travelling to Tewkesbury for a surprise birthday tea party, the surprisee (if that's a word) being wife's aunty Heather. Alas my plans would mean that i would be there and then still pedalling before, during and after of said surprise party.
Arrived at the usual car park not long after cycling buddy Ron, he was already in the witherspoons when i got there but i unloaded and joined him soon after, Tim Tom was not to be joining this adventure as he had lost his trousers.
Having opted for the later of the 2 start start times we had managed to miss a downpour, this was to be short lived though and the rain ebbed and flowed between chucking it down and raining quite a bit.
We managed to stay with a large lead group, occasionally dropping back back but then digging deep to catch up the speedy pack. This was great for time but not for the legs, no time for my usual 25k snack stop either but i did manage to eat something on the run at about 35k. We got to the first major control in about 2 hrs this was quite speedy for me on an audax as it was just over 50k in.
A great cycling staple of egg and beans on wholemeal bread with a cup of tea was savored whilst we both attempted to dry out our dampened attire. Spirits however were good.
That is until we ventured outside into the pouring rain to discover Ron had a flat tyre. I went through my usual routine of criticising the poor tyres in question, a pastime I normally reserve for Tim. Ron's response wasn't witty enough for me to continue the berating so I let him get on with the repairs.
By the time we ventured out again 1hr 24 minutes had elapsed, a record even for me I think. The weather had eased and the sky was looking brighter (dark grey had gone to not so dark grey)
We had covered very little distance and my feet were seriously cold, my hands too but I expected both to warm up as the pedalling increased.
5k after the control and my hands were ok but my feet were colder, this realisation was at the same time as 2 riders went the other way saying they were 'packing' meaning they were going home.
I quickly said to Ron what a good idea I thought this was. Conveying such ideas was also one of my routines which usual meets with some banter from Timbo, however Ron's replies were sensible and matter of fact, spoiling my fun for further negative discourse.
This was until I started to realise that my feet were actually dangerously cold, I felt fine in myself, reasonably energetic, hands and body all plenty warm enough but man, my feet were cold.
I reported this fact to my compadre, to highlight the severity of my feet situation i compared them to when we did a truly, freezing bikepacking adventure in deepest darkest wales. I had never before and hope to never again use this comparison but I would like to think that Ron understood that I wasn't looking for a feeble excuse to bail. I had little sensation in my feet from the ankle down.
We stopped under a dual carriageway underpass and stated my intention to bail. We were approximately 62k in, I had a change of socks and gloves, it was daylight and the weather improving. Returning to the start and reaching my car before the sun went down seemed like a good option. I was worried that with the sun going down my fee would suffer more. i would also kick myself if they warmed up nice and toasty with no further issues.
I backed the right horse.......stopped at the 50k control again to warm up and set back the way i came, maybe not the most direct but at least I could follow my GPS.
My feet were freezing all the way back, from within 10 minutes of leaving the control i had no feeling in them until an hour after finishing.
The ride back despite this though was delightful, the weather, true to the forecast was rain free and the views were now a delight without the dark black clouds overhead.
I had messaged relevant peeps and realised that with a bit of a push i could get back to the family tea party.
This is indeed how it played out. Although I bailed and suffered incredibly cold feet which weren't normal at all for the following 24hrs i still had a great day, still put in some biggish k's at 122k ish, rode through some lovely views and spent a lovely evening with the inlaws family who are always good company.

No further bicycling despite the best of intentions, instead more z's were had

Distance this week 157k
Distance this year so far 157k
Weekly average 157k

Sunday, 4 January 2015

2015 Happy New Year

A Big Year

Mmmmm, sure I have said that before
12 months ago I mused that new years resolutions were a waste of time and and invariably don't have any staying power and then went on to say that in spite of that I would make my first New Year's resolution to regularly blog. Well I proved myself right and regular blog entries became sporadic to the become non existent.

This year i shall make no promises, largely this blog serves to document my thoughts for me anyway so it matters not anyway and I have about 30 postings from last year unpublished which may one day see the light of day, at least to perform some digital housekeeping.

For those that the are entertained by my cycling related jibber jabber may have thought that no blog means no cycling, Au contraire, It has been quite busy indeed.

2014 the year that was

The Bikes
Last year started with no real ambitions only a few entries in place to some interesting audaxes which involved ferries. As such, much frivolity was had on said audaxes which were as fun as they were without incident.
These were mostly done on my repaired and rebuilt DIY bike,

My Orange Evo frame was also repaired but languishes in the shed with a few old parts attached to it.

Other bicycles went and some others came, my last decent blog entry was regarding the departure of my On-One Pompetamine.............

.......this was sort of replaced by a build up of my MBK Trainer which was great for the summer but as the weather turned, regret ensued for dispatching the pompetamine so......................... 

.................a replacement was procured rather than built which was my initial intention.

The Holdsworth was built, used for Eroica Brittania, modified and taken to Tuscany for L'Eroica broken by the baggage handlers and awaits repair.

Many other parts and frames were procurred and obsessed over, these may or may not become rideable machines.

The Rides
Pedalling wise there have been a few stand out accident I completed my first Audax SR series, this means I completed audaxes of a specified distance in the same Audax year. Specifically a 200k, 300k, 400k and 600k, the last being the longest single event i have ever entered and completed. The completion of the 600k allows me to apply early for an entry to the most famous and prestigious of audax events, the Paris-Brest-Paris 1200K, more of that later.

2014 was a retro year also, My Holdsworth looks splendid indeed and rides beautifully, the 100 miles of Eroica Brittania in the Peak District were a pleasure, as i hoped "Noddy" rides and behaves like an old version of my DIY bike, almost the same spec in every way, just in a time warp.

With some gearing changes and a little bling I took it to Italy for the bucket list event L'Eroica, amazing experience, gruelling, brutal but spectacular

The Year concluded with me accruing 6035 kilometers ish, I thought it was 6038 but strava says different

Being free from the pressure of having to do an event witht he exception of being truelly excited about a one off which was also a family holiday has certainly had its rewards and the peace that came with it. For 2015 though the change will be dramatic.

2015 the year that will be...possibly, maybe

2015 will indeed be a year of pressure and stress in the name of cycling challenges and retro van and cycling challenges.
2015 is a Paris-Brest-Paris year, my cycling buddy Tim hopes to enter as do some other cycling buddies so it seems a good year to give it a go. There is a slight downside though, it is necessary to qualify by achieving an SR series as mentioned above, lots of k's to do that. My plans for all things PBP are captured here

This needs to be fitted in around my plans for retro rides too, Retroronde in Belgium and L'Eroica Brittania, the latter of which i plan to ride with my ickle daughter for whom i have procured a girls vintage racing bike.

I am additionally planning on entering a few mountain bike races, I will try and get into the 3 Peaks Cyclocross again and if possible have a go at doing a sportive on the isle of man around the TT circuit

So, no pressure then, if I achieve half of that I reckon I will eclipse 2014's 6035 km's

"When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time"

Thursday, 1 January 2015

2014 Event Calendar

4th - Mr Pickwicks January Sale 200K
18th - Willy Warmer 200K



13th - Dorset Coast 200K
19th - York Arrow 400K


22nd Eroica Brittania

6th Jack Eason Struggle 200K
26th Rural South 300K

9th - Windsor Chester Windsor 600K

7th - On shore Off shore 200K

5th - L'Eroica (italia)
18th - Mr Pickwicks autumnal outing



2015 Event Calendar

3rd - Mr Pickwick's January Sale 200K (Tewkesbury)
17th – Willy Warmer 200k (Chalfont St Peter)
18th - Gorrick spring series round 1 Camberley

1st – A winter windup to wantage 200k (Denmead, Nr Portsmouth)
8th - Gorrick spring series round 2 Crowthorne
21st SNOWDROP EXPRESS AUDAX (Tim booked on)

1st - Southern XC series - Round 1 Black Park
7th-  The Kennet Valley Run 200k (Grazeley, S of Reading)
8th - Gorrick spring series round 3 Deepcut
8th - CX Sportive - South Downs Sting
14th –CHELTENHAM FLYER 200K (Andoversford, Nr Cheltenham)
15th – steam Ride 200k (Ruislip Lido)
22nd - Gorrick spring series round 4 Mytchett
29th – Dorset Coast 200k

4th – 3 Down 300k (Chalfont St Peter)
12th - Adventure X - Moors and Shores (Dalby Forest)
12th - CX Sportive - Surrey Hills Gravelcross
18TH PLAINS 300 (Tim booked on)
17th to 19th Bespoked
25th 3 counties revisited (near tim)
26th - Southern XC series - Round 2 Ringwood

2nd – Camp Chris
3rd - PBP Pre-registration opens
9th – 7 Across 400k (Chalfont St Peter)
10th - Adventure X - Afan Avenger (South Wales 165 miles)
10th - Southern XC series - Round 3 Aldermaston
17th - The Great Escape 200k (Look mum no hands)
17th - Bucks offroad sportive
23rd -
30th -
31st - Southern XC series - Round 4 Bordon

1st - 3 peaks entries open
6th – pair of Kirtons 600k (Poynton, S of Stockport)
6th - London Nocturne
13th – RetroRonde Belgium
20th – Eroica Brittania Peak District
27th - Rural South 300k, Alan Furley's up the downs 200k (Beech Hill, S of Reading)
28th - Southern XC series - Round 5 Porridgepots

4th - CX Sportive - South Downs Century
11th ROUGH DIAMOND 300 (Tewkesbury)
12th - Chiltern cycling festival (30mile classic ride)
19th Devils PunchBowl 200k (steyning, w sussex)
26th - Adventure X - Peak District Pioneer (Bakewell 165 miles)

1st  film launch in London
15th PBP collect entrant pack
16th PBP starts
20th PBP finishes
23rd - Southern XC series - Round 6 Henley
31st - Chenies Velo Classique - Retro 100m ride around the chilterns
          Summit 26 Retro mountain bike event

6th  Marlow Red kite sportive
20th - Adventure X - Galloway Gallop (Dumfries 334 miles)
26th - Isle of man TT sportive and 24hr ultimate challenge
27th - 3 Peaks cyclocross (Settle, North Yorkshire)
27th - CX Sportive - event TBC

4th - Adventure X - Lakeland Monster (Keswick 298miles)
4th - L'
24th St Crispins Day Night Ride (entries open 1st of august)

1st - CX Sportive - Salisbury Saxon


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

PBP 2015

PBP 2015

Qualifying events

March 14th
Cheltenham New Flyer 200k 

April 4th
3 Down 300K

May 9th
7 Across 400k

June 6th
Pair of Kirtons 600k


Hotel Formula 1 in Trappes

Travel Arrangements

Driving distances
Home to Dover approx 103 miles
Home to Newhaven approx 78 miles

Calais to St Quentin en Yvellines approx 180 miles
Dieppe to St Quentin en Yvellines approx 118 miles

Crossing time
Dover Calais crossing time, 30 min checkin 90 min crossing
Newhaven Dieppe crossing time, 4hrs or 6:15 hours, both at night
EuroTunnel, 35 mins

Crossing costs
Dover Calais, £88 maybe
Newhaven Dieppe, £63 maybe, prices not available for august yet
EuroTunnel, £150 maybe, prices not available

training plan from lel

Jan         2 x 100k
Feb        1 x 100K + 1 x 200k
Mar        2 x 200k
Apr         1 x 300k + 1 x 400k
May       1 x 200k + 1 x 600k
Jun         2 x 200k + 1 x 600k
Jul           1 x 200 then LEL

and another

Week beginning Nov 26, Training begins. 60k
Week beginning Dec 3, 60k
Week beginning Dec 10, 80k
Week beginning Dec 17, 80 k
Week beginning Dec, rest and enjoy Christmas!
Week beginning Jan 1, cycle 70k, then 80 following week, then 90, then 100, then 120.
Week beginning 4th Feb cycle 90k, then 120, then 150, then 100
Week beginning March 4th cycle 150k, then 200, then 100, then 150
Week beginning April 1st cycle 200, then rest a week, then cycle 100, then 300, then 200
Week beginning May 6th cycle 400, then 400, then rest a week, then cycle 200
Week beginning June 3rd cycle 600, then 200, then 200, then 600
Week beginning June 1st rest, then cycle 400, then 200, then 150
Then LEL!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Week 15 Sayonara mon petit Pompetamine, Hello hills

Time to part company with my On-one Pompetamine

All cleaned up, serviced and listed on ebay.

2 days and the buy-it-now was taken, perhaps I sold it too cheap and I certainly didn't want to sell it but it needed to go to make way for new projects, farewell it is.

Brucey bonus, the chap that bought the bike off me is an illustrator called Matthew Burton, known for among other things images for cycling mags, on collection he presented me with an original print from a series he did for peloton magazine, not sure what i'll do with it but i quite like it.

No cycling in the week, resting for the Dorset Coast 200k.

Before that though was Bespoked Handbuilt Bike Show. I have been so excited about this show, not quite as excited as last year when i got to present my own bike and it was with some in trepidation as i knew that downlands cycles would be there, who i can't help but feel are mostly responsible for my frame breakage. Anyway moving on from that...this years show was much bigger and as much as I liked last years venue, the new venue at the Olympic Velodrome, Lee Valley Velo Park was fantastic. An absolute pain to find and disorientating when inside but it really was a brilliant venue.

I really enjoyed the show, there were quite a lot of new things to see, mostly re spins on things I had seen before, how much can you vary a bicycle? right?......well it was lacking in some areas where some of the innovators of the past are obviously building bikes for paying customers instead of flights of fancy. There were new builders that were great to see, some more mature than others. There were the eccentric's as well, pushing their imagination, but only a little, influences being seen from other custom scenes such as chopper motorcycles and steam punk.

For me though, despite the excellent execution of some of the bikes there was one frame builder that stood out. Perhaps because it appealed to my own style but I thought Sparrow Cycles were truly standout. Hailing from Liverpool, their machines really oozed creativity and in a subtle way, innovation. The bikes all looked like patina restorations or really old school, to the casual on looker they would have looked like old bikes that were still usable but look closer and the detail was exquisite. These bikes were the only ones that made me look on in wonder, trying to understand how they had achieved what they had, some have still left me intrigued.

Dorset Coast 200k
This was to be a varied adventure, which actually started straight after Bespoked. I had to dash back from London (I say dash but the reality of London traffic was crawl) to get home before my cycling buddy Tim turned up.
After some grub (Indian...yum yum) we loaded the car up and both set off for the Sea. Initially this was to Poole where we would stay the night on Step Dad, John and mother's boat, 'La Mystique'.
Staying the night meant we didn't have a 2 hour journey straight before the 200k ride the next day. Tim seemed quite excited to be staying on the boat, after a cup of tea and a chat it was off to bed.....early start on the morrow :-(
I arose in the morning realising that I had set my alarm 30 minutes late, already I was on the back foot and starting to panic, no panicking from Tim of course. Mum made tea and toast, perfect start, then once in the car we both necked a couple Weetabix breakfast drinks. We had a vanilla one each and I think I had chocolate and Tim had strawberry, the unanimous conclusion was that the vanilla one was the better tasting.

Bikes unloaded and another cup of tea and it was time to set off.
Quite a large entry for an audax, some had already left and some were still faffing but we set off with a large group. The pace was blistering, warp drives engaged we covered 23k in under 45 minutes, i heard mutterings that we had done 30k in 30 minutes but the stats say different. At this point we got on the chain link ferry toward Studland.

Passing Studland Bay, Tim recounted stories of making an exhibition of himself on the beach, I tried to ignore him, closing my ears to such depravity.
The route was predicted to be a hilly one and it didn't "disappoint", the hills were rolling and the sections on the route sheet had anecdotal titles, one of which being the "roller coaster".
The scenery was absolutely stunning, the contrast of lush green grass, black and white cows against a crisp blue sky with the sea in the background. As the day progressively warmed and so we progressively removed layers. 
We hit upon a minor ish snag as we were to cross the MOD firing range.....the MOD were firing, making progression according to the route both illegal and dangerous. Our detour initially took us in the opposite direction, a local lass on the ride informed me in a ridiculous amount of words that if I went left and left again i would then be going in the correct direction, nice of her but nothing I couldn't have worked out for myself. 
We did take the initial left of suggestion, after which the same female whilst with a group of other locals wizzed past, informing us we were on track and to take the next left. However I had other ideas, we had obviously changed direction and added distance, my GPS showed that with a further detour, we regain some Peter's (Peter Kay's...K's....kilometers) whilst discussing this idea, with Tim showing a distinct lack of faith, the organiser arrived with apologies and a suggested change of route in the direction that I had suggested. Off we went fervently determined to now beat the group which went left.

Weymouth was our control, free cup of tea and a stamp for our brevet cards, we sat down for a cooked breakfast and along came the "turn left" group, mighty satisfied we were.
Breakfast devoured we pressed on feeling good and pretty quick. The scenery still ever beautiful.
Next stop was Axminster, a school being manned by a crazy woman threatening to give us detentions if we didn't eat lots of cake. The food was included in our entry fee so we obliged.
The next stint went well, couple of monster hills which made us puff a bit, I was really please that I didn't lag behind Tim by more than a few metres, (it can be hundreds of metres). 
Tim announced that there was a particular jovial anecdotal title for the penultimate section, it had "torturous" in the title. We interpreted this to mean there was a massive hill coming. I had my doubts, I kept trying to remember the route profile and kept thinking there was only one big hill before Dorchester and we had certainly gone up a big hill. We neared Dorchester, closer and closer, we rode through newly built up Georgian style areas. as we entered and exited each square our backsides were pummeled by sharp edged cobble rumble strips. After a few of these we realised "torturous route" wasn't describing a hill, it was the rumble strips, they were indeed torturous.
Our control was to be a cafe in the centre of Dorchester, situated just off a carpark. Dorchester itself is a beautiful town and well worth a visit, the disgusting greasy spoon we had the misfortune to use as our control was not. By far and away the worst eating establishment I have ever been in, The only good thing about this place was is signified only 20k ish to go which meant it kind of felt like the end,a flat route ahead and only 20K it was as good as done. In no time at all it was indeed done. We finished without the need for lights in 11 hours something, which we thought for such a hilly event was pretty good.
We loaded up and set off for home in search of a McDonald's to fuel the drive home. 
Another brilliant ride in the bag which was superbly organised with a beautiful route..

Total distance for the week 208.6K
Total distance for the year so far 1486K