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Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Me and my big mouth!

Remember the question I asked at the end of my last post?

A reminder- Whats not to love about this cycling lark eh?

I'll answer the question for you now shall I?

Headwinds. That is whats not to love about this cycling lark.

My ride home last night was into wind all the way. Not the end of the world but it doesn't half detract from what should have been a fine ride.

To cap it all, when I got home I decided to hit the gym before my evening meal. I got changed and walked down to to the gym intending to do 45- 60 minutes on the weights and sit ups. I signed in and was just about to start when a mate, who is a spinning instructor said that there were 3 spare bikes for his class about to start and that I should join in. I tried to cry off but he persuaded me against my better judgement.

My mate is also a colleague and I often wonder why he does spinning insrtuction. I think there are two prime reasons-

a) He is a bit of a babe magnet. H is the type of bloke that makes women go weak at the knees. I have seen him walking through the crowd at Ryal Ascot and suddenly get grabbed and have his tonsils tasted by a succesion of young fillies. Spinning gets him within striking distance of pretty young things.

b) He likes to cause pain. Ever been to a spinning class?

Last night, he caused me pain. I wasn't prepared for spinning. I was wearing training shoes and had no towel with me. I enjoy spinning but like to use clipless pedals. Clips and straps and me don't get on. I can't sprint unkless 'clipped in. When the class was doing sprints I had to make do with winding up the resistance and 'climbing'. It was horrible. I was blind for a lot of the class because of the sweat getting into my eyes.

I won't let him persuade me aging (until next time.....).

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Cracking ride this morning Grommit!

This mornings commute encapsulated just about everything I love about riding a bike.

When I dragged my tail out of bed at 5:30 this morning I took a peek out the window to see what was going on with the world (I always do this so that I am steeled for whatever surprises Mother Nature may throw at me). To my surprise I saw that the ground was wet- overnight rain. Wahey! The lawn might survive a few days more yet thought I. Having completed the recce it was time for prep so off I went to the bathroom to do what us rider folk need to do first thing in the morning (fear not Dear Readers- no graphic descriptions here). It was then time to head downstairs to make my lunch, make a cup of pre ride tea, feed the cats, eat breakfast and get ready for the ride. Not necessarily in that order- apart from the last bit. I absolutely refuse to wear a helmet whilst feeding the cats or making lunch (though leather gauntlets might be a good idea for feeding the cats).

Once it was time to leave the house I decided that as it wasn't raining I wouldn't do the wet weather gear. My route this morning was via Winter Hill which involves a good early climb out of Marlow and is a route I love. From the top of Winter Hill it was a descent through rural roads into Cookham where I turned off towards and subsequently through Maidenhead. Whilst riding through Maidenhead it started to rain. How did I feel about that? Do you know what? I couldn't have given a hoot. Rain at this time of year is something I thoroughly enjoy riding through- waterproofs or not. In fact, I probably had a few folk heading for cover because I found myself singing as I rode. Not just to myself though. At times I was belting it out at the top of my lungs- quite a horrible prospect if you have ever heard me sing. The playlist included "Sunshine on a rainy day", "Starlight" (Muse), "Things can only get better" D-Ream) etc.

The 'First rain for a long time' smell was very strong and very pleasant.

A cracking 10.39 mile bimble at an average of just over 16mph.

Whats not to love about this cycling lark eh?

Monday, 28 June 2010


England- Ye Gods, the pain!

A conspiracy amongst useless players, blind officials and the dinosaur who allegedly runs the game.

You'd think I would have learned a long time ago NOT to invest too much emotional energy in my teams.

Well, I haven't and now I sit here, in despair.

Roll on the new season when the pain can start again.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Cycle patrol on a budget?

Some of you out there will know that I am a former Bike patrol Cop. Back in the day, being properly equipped and having a good bike underneath me was very important.

Hell, I will put my hands up and cough to being a fully paid up Kit Monkey.

I would hazard a guess that most Bike Patrol Cops can a) understand that and b) join the club.

Anyway, despite no longer being a full time practitioner, I still keep my eye in. I also write a regular piece for the International Police Mountain Bike Association (IPMBA) quarterly news magazine. To help with this I subscribe to some news alert services.

The other day, I found this blog entry

I had a read and found myself quite humbled. 12 hours a day, 7 days a week! Equipped like that? Much Respect to Aaron!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Attacks on cyclist

We often hear about verbal and sometimes physical attacks on cyclists in the UK, often caused by road rage or general yobbish behaviour. We should than our lucky stars however. In some parts of the world, they have more challenging assailants to deal with.

In Alaska for example, the local Ursine population has the odd pop at riders.

Think on.......

Sunday, 13 June 2010

An observation about descending

The other day I decided to vary my route home from work. Instead of doing the 10.26 mile ride along the A4 from Burnham towards Maidenhead and then turning right towards and subsequently through Cookham and Bourne End, I opted for the just under 8.5 mile route directly north out of Burnham, past Cliveden and then down the hill into Bourne End.

I have ridden parts of this route many times, especially the hill adjacent to Cookham (Bourne End Road/ Hedsor Hill) and, when descending, have found it to be a bit uneven and some of the corners off camber. On my Cannondale R800 this is sometimes a little squirly and uncomfortable which has led to me descending in banzai mode, as opposed to BANZAI!

Anyway, on the ride home the other day I was aboard G G G G Granville, my steel framed Ridgeback Voyage touring bike. Definitely not a racing snake machine but, I tell you this for free, when hooning down the hill, he was solid and planted. I wonder if the racing legends that run the teams for the Grand Tours are missing a trick? What would happen to Bradley Wiggins time coming off The Tourmalet if Dave Brailsford was waiting at the top with a Team Sky badged Voyager for him to descend on?

Friday, 4 June 2010

Another reason for hard hilly climbs to be favourite...

Whilst engaging in a hard hilly ride the other day I remembered a major factor contributing to their 'favourite' status. For every up, there is a down! Hooning down hill after a good lung busting ascent can be bonkers fun!

I tend to give it my all when the road falls away and as you saw in an earlier post, 50mph+ is not alien to me.

Sometimes things get a little squirly but that only adds to the rush. I fully expect that one day, the slightly squirly feeling will develop into the cyclist equivalent of an unrecoverable tank slapper but, until that time, BANZAI!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Enjoying the ride

I was thinking the other day- what type of riding do I enjoy most?

To get the answer to this question I had to work out what types of riding I do.

I broke it down as follows-

1) Commuting
2) Errands
3) Leisure

I then had to break some of them down further-
Commuting a) Geared and b) Fixed
Leisure a) Pootle b) Hard

I then had to break the leisure rides down a bit more with each category having a flat or hilly category.

Once I had done that I could then think about what was my favourite.

For the Commuting rides, once you remove the fact that I am riding to work 50% of the time which is going to have an obviously negative impact on the ride I was left with the riding itself to contemplate. I have a couple of routes that I can use to vary things and have no particular preference. What I do currently have to use as a guide to my feelings is the fact that Stig, my fixed bike is currently ill. The sprocket started to slip under load the other day and I thought that maybe the sprocket had become unscrewed under leg braking. When I got him up on the stand and examined him however, I discovered that the thread on the hub had stripped and was knackered. I went to turn the wheel and screw the sprocket on the other side and found the thread on the sprocket was suspect so I had to garage Stig whilst I sort out a replacement sprocket. The last couple of commutes have been on my Ridgeback tourer. There is no doubt about it, riding G G G G Granville to work is still fun but nowhere near as enjoyable as riding Stig.

Fixed Commuting wins that contest.

Errands are what I call jumping on the bike to pop to the shops or into the next town to sort something out. They could be as short as a mile return or as long as the 76 mile return trips to hospital appointments in London- basically a ride with a purpose other than enjoyment or earning a crust. I enjoy each and every one of these rides, for a different reason in each case. The quick dash to the shops I enjoy because it is a stolen moment on the bike. The trips into town for whatever reason because I’m revisiting areas that I may not have ridden for a while. The hauls into London because they are always a bit of an adventure- packing my lunch for a swift solitary picnic in Regents Park or because I have on previous appointment trips arranged to meet up with folk I have got to know on yacf or its predecessor ACF.

There is no contest here- I enjoy them all for their own reasons.

Leisure rides are those that I do on my days off- the Sunday morning loop on my Cannondale ‘Best Bike’. I classed them as Pootle or Hard to describe the way I tackle the ride. If it is a nice comfortable ride just for the hell of it, this is a Pootle. If I go out and want to tear up the roads (usually after watching an epic Grand Tour stage or other race footage), then it is a Hard ride. The flat or hilly bit is self explanatory. Living in South Bucks, on the edge of the Chilterns, most loops take in some degree of ascending and the accompanying descents but, if I want to do a good hilly ride, I can do loops with at least half a dozen climbs ranging from about half a mile to a mile or more with gradients ranging from about 6% up to 20% or steeper. Now, when I have decided to do a hilly loop, often I find myself experiencing the Alien Chest Burster feeling I mentioned in a previous post. Some of the climbs are tough and I feel like I am dying as I tackle them and if you were to see me as I summit, you might be tempted to reach for a handy defibrillator, just in case. I am absolutely certain I look nothing like someone should look if they are having a good time.

Te feeling I have after a good hilly loop is much better than the others. Don’t get me wrong, the others are damn fine rides however.

Having looked at all the evidence. The conclusion I have come to is that I enjoy all my riding for various reasons but, the riding that gives me the MOST satisfaction and enjoyment is the hard hilly leisure ride.

Perhaps there is something I like about the pain…….