Never underestimate the power of one wheel drive!


Many of the images I add to this blog are clickable for a better resolution. Give it a go!

Thursday, 30 June 2011

The countdown begins

Tomorrow night is the start of three weeks of late nights as I sit up after Mrs Secret Cyclist has gone to bed, watching the days recording of the Tour de France highlights.

The tour kicks off on Saturday but tomorrow, Eurosport is showing a Mark Cavandish special which, seeing as Cav is the Official Pro Cyclist of the Secret Cyclist blog (not that he knows, but I know), it would be wrong of me not to watch, followed by two previews, one about the General Classification contenders and another being the official introduction of the teams.

Get in there!

A brief idiots guide to the Tour de France-

It starts on the first Saturday in July and finsihes on the Sunday 3 weeks later.

The first day is usually (though not always) a prologue, a short time trial (TT) stage of around 5 to 10 kilometers.

There are 6 competitions within the race-

General Classification or GC. This rider wears the fabled Maliot Jaune or yellow jersey. It is worn by the rider who has clocked up the shortest combined time for the race as it progresses. A GC contender needs to be a good all round rider but recently,good climbers with TT ability have faired well.

The points competition (often refered to as the sprinters competition). The leader in thei competiton wears the green jersey. Points are awarded in most road stages at intermediate sprints (usually 2 per stage) where the first few riders accross the line get points in descending order. There are also points (a larger total) won at the end of a stage, which is why the likes of Cav or Thor Hushovd are seen in the jersey a lot. Sprint stage winners can gain 35 points per stage.

The King of the Mountain (KoM) who wears the polka dot jersey (white with red polka dots). This is similar in style to the points jersey but the points are won by being first to cross the line on classified climbs. There are 5 classes of climb from Cat 4 being the easiets categorised climb, getting harder (steeper and/ or longer) through Cats 3,2 and 1 and then onto Hors Categorie (HC) of out of category. These climbs are those that are so long and sustained that getting up them sometiems leaves quality climbers shattered.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

I found someones map!

On my ride home after work this evening I happened across a couple partaking of a cycle touring holiday. They were riding in the opposite direction and needed directions to Maidenhead. As I helped them, I thought I detected a Dutch accent (Yes Tommy, a Dutch accent. The time spent with you has rubbed off and added to my accent identification skills!).

I pointed them in the right direction and left them to continue their journey. About 5 minutes up the road however I spied a map laying in the middle of the road. I stopped and checked it out and found it to be a tourist map of the Thames Valley. I guessed that one of the couple I had met a few minutes ago had lost it so tucked it into my jersey pocket, turned round and gave chase.

I followed the route I had given them but got to the main junction with no sign of them. I had looked along a couple of side roads as I passed without seeing them either. Not happy I decided to turn round and try the main side road but got a considerable way along it without finding the couple. I thought al was lost and turned round again to make my way home but, as I rode back towards my route home I saw the couple riding towards me. I stopped and handed their map over.

It turned out that they had seen a small cycle path sign saying Maidenhead was 2 miles along a cycle path. They had tried to follow but, British cycle facilities being what they are, they found that they couldn't get their luggage laiden Dutch Bikes through the narrow barriers just along from the start of the route. They had turned round and decided to follow the road.

We chatted for a little while and I learned that they started the day in Oxford and had cycled along paths along the banks of the Thames, planning to ride to London but, on reaching Marlow they decided that the route was too rough so decided to head for Maidenhead and get the train into London. I was right about their accent, they were from the Netherlands, living near to Arnhem. I explained that I had a friend who was a Bike Cop in Den Haag (The Hague) and the guy said he was born in Den Haag and their son lived in Scheveningen. I know someone who lives in Scheveningen don't I Tommy?

I said goodbye to them and finished my ride home. An extra 22 minutes and an extra 5 1/2 miles on the commute. All miles are good miles.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Awesome light this morning

As I went to bed last night, I was wondering where the thunder storms that the weather bods had suggested were coming had got to.

Their absence led to a hot sticky night but, on waking up at stupid o'clock this morning, the sky had clouded over and the temperature had dropped quite markedly.

Whilst I was in the kitchen preparing my (and No.1 Sons) lunch and feeding the cats, there were a couple of flashes of lightning, followed a second or two later by rolling thunder (for Vietnam Veterans I mean the noisy natural weather phenomenon, not the noisy B52 induced phenomenon). I expected to get very wet on the ride in.

Once the lunches had been done, tea drunk and Shredded Wheat consumed, I got dressed and went out to the bike. The sky was still dark but no rain was falling so I decided to risk no waterproof jacket as that would have been far too hot. Within 5 minutes of setting out the sun started to make a concerted effort to break through. The light was amazing. I can only describe it as glowing silver, a sort of mean and moody black and white film atmosphere. Something to behold.

I bet the drivers didn't even register it.

I arrived at work without getting rained on, though the last half mile or so were on damp roads. There was a lot of very wet cycling kit hanging in the changing room.

I love riding my bike.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Legs still missing

Rode home this evening (bike lives at work over the weekend) and my legs are still missing in action.

Just under 7 miles took 1 minute 30 seconds more than my average summer homeward commute.

If you have got my legs, can I have them back please?

If you see them skulking around somewhere, have a word with them and direct them home.


Where have my legs gone?

That was the question I was asking myself yesterday afternoon as I rode a gentle but steepening climb out of Stonor, near Henley.

The day started really well. I managed to delay the getting out of bed bit until gone 9:00 a.m. Result! Then it was into the garden for a bit of leylandii butchery. A couple of hours trimming a couple of trees in our garden resulted in a bin and two bags full of cuttings and me covered in scratches. I then relaxed with a coffee surveying my domain.

After lunch I decided it was time for a ride so kitted up and headed out. By this time, the warm day was getting decidedly hot so I was expecting a bit of a sweaty expedition. As I rode out of Marlow towards Henley I was passed by a guy who eased off once he was just ahead. I caught up and we had a nice chat for about 5 miles until we got to Henley. It turned out that he and a mate were out for a bit of an Iron Man training day. They had been open water swimming (very tempting in the heat!) and were finishing on the bike. He reckoned he would have done about 110 miles all told by the time he got home.

After we parted company, I turned right towards Nettlebed and, on reaching the right fork toward Pishill and Stonor, I followed this route. It was the climb up towards the junction to Christmas Common or Watlington that had me wondering what the hell had happened to my legs. They just weren't working. I was struggling to climb an ascent that barely registered normally. Hopefully it was the heat.

On reaching the top I turned left towards Nettlebed and got my oomph back as I rode the gently rolling road. When I got to Nettlebed I turned left onto the A4130 back towards Henley. As I did so, a peleton went past in the opposite direction, towards Wallingford. I guess a race was on as the peleton was followed by a few vehicles including an AW Cycles van (cracking bike shop in Caversham but don't enter if you have your credit card with you- you have been warned about the ensuing spend frenzy urge) and an ambulance.

I continued to recover as I rode into Henley and decided to turn left and retrace my route back to Marlow, planning to finish with a 30 mile ride. The best laid plans however tend to turn to crap when I try them. I got to Hambleden and should have kept going but, for some inexplicable reason, turned left. I knew I was in trouble as soon as I turned off and, sure enough, a few hundred yards up the road, as I saw the sign for the left turn towards Rotten Row, my bike inexplicably took this left turn. A couple of hundred yards of relatively flat road then it starts to go up. Once it has finished going up it goes up some more! There I was, standing out of the saddle trying to dance on the pedals. I must have two left feet however because the 'dancing' turned into me barely being able to keep going forward. My legs had done another disappearing act. Gits!

I just made it to the top and was able to keep rolling, with a few little descent s and minor ascents between me and home. It turned into a 32.68 mile ride.

Just to add insult to injury, on arrival home I stripped down to my bib shorts and sat in the garden to relax a bit. It was at that time that the sweat boost hit me and the leylandii rash started to sting like you wouldn't believe. Why do we do it eh?

Monday, 13 June 2011

Trophies and Medals

Well done to Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky for his GC win in the Criterium du Dauphine. Wiggo is only the third Brit to take the trophy after Brian Robinson in 1961 and Robert Millar in 1990. This was a tremendous performance by him and his team, some of whom roded themselves into the ground keeping him safe and defending the gold jersey.

Another shout also goes out to The Secret Cyclists adopted Pro Cyclist. None other than my boss, Queen Elizabeth II has seen fit to declare him a good ol boy by awarding him an MBE (Member of the British Empire) in her Birthday Honours list. Well done Cav.