Tuesday, 29 December 2009

In Summary

I don’t think I’ll make it to 3500 miles for the year.  I’ve pretty much stalled at 3300.  Snow, ice and laziness have got in the way.  Despite that, it is still my best biking year for ages.  I’ve even done a couple of mountain biking trips.

Christmas was good.  My sister and my Mum and dad came up.  My Dad hasn’t been up for years, so it was good to see him.  I got a Washburn Rover travel guitar.  Hopefully it will encourage me to play more, the idea is that I will take it away with me when I go to Bristol.

We still have a couple of inches of ice on our road.  It snowed the weekend before Christmas and it still hasn’t gone away.  This is pretty unusual for round here, any snow at all is fairly rare.

I went out last week and did 40 minutes or so in the snow on my mountain bike.  Hard work but great fun.  Not been out since, too icy.

Not sure if I’ll get any more miles in this year, maybe a few to work and back on Thursday, but other than that, I doubt it.  So 3300+ will be my 2009 total.  I will have to set a higher target for next year, 4000 maybe.  And do some more mountain biking.



Sunday, 13 December 2009

Winter is Here

Winter has definitely arrived.  Monday was proper icy.  Only where the road was muddy or where water had been splashed from roadside puddles, but still real ice. And cold. 

I was down in Bristol til Friday, but again it was pretty cold and icy.  And foggy.  Coming back from the pub on Friday night, the visibility was down to a dozen feet, made worse by the condensation on my glasses.

I had arranged to go mountain biking on Saturday with Karl and co.  The plan was for Karl and Alison to pick me up at 8AM and drive up to Grizedale for a 9:45 start.  If I’d had my mobile with me when the alarm went off at 7, I would have rung Karl and cancelled. 

I’m glad I didn’t.  It was glorious.  As we drove round Windermere, the clouds and the mountains were reflected in the water.  It was picture perfect.  We met up with the others a bit late and exchanged the usual pleasantries and insults, before hitting the trail.  The day was a nice mix of fire road climbs, fast loose descents and swervy singletrack.  I was bitterly cold, not getting above freezing all day, but bright sunshine and no wind.  The only real problem was that the short stretch of road we had to do was covered with black ice.  Joe took a tumble when his bike just slid out from underneath him.  Highlight of the day was Tony loosing his mobile, then finding it again.  Lowlight of the day was right at the end.  There is a short loop of the North Face Trail we could do before going back to the car.  Alison didn’t want to do it, so headed back to the car park, while the rest of us hit the first of several short ice covered boardwalks.  Not only were they unrideable, they were also largely unwalkable. At one point we were crabbing along sideways with our heals hooked over the edge in order to avoid sliding down.  By the time we’d got past this and onto some rideable tracks, Alison rang to say she was lost.  We retraced our steps, she retraced hers and by the time we found each other it was too dark and we had to head back to the cars.  All in all it was a brilliant day.



Sunday, 6 December 2009

Pride before a Fall

Not a literal fall, although I came close.  Just two poor mileage weeks.  Again work has got in the way.

Last week I was in London and didn’t get out too much.  I only managed one and a half days of commuting and didn’t feel up to our usual Thursday ride as I didn’t get back from London til late ish.  I had stayed in a really crappy hotel and didn't sleep particularly well, I never do.

The week before, I only did the Thursday ride and a short MTB ride on Sunday.  I was knackered at the beginning of the week after the mammoth exertions of the previous week.  The Thursday night was hard work, with strong winds and heavy rain again.

Sunday we went up to the South Lakes for a leisurely mountain bike ride.  Forecast was for rain, wind, cold, sleet and generally poor.  On the whole, it was OK.  Very wet but not too cold.  At one stage I was sliding sideways down the face of a rocky outcrop, while the trail went forwards.  Not exactly out of control, but not in control either.  But I survived.  My second MTB ride in as many weeks, and in as many years!

Hopefully, I can still do the 3500 for the year, but it does mean doing 100+ miles every week from now on.  And I’m in Bristol for 3 days next week.

Wish me luck


Sunday, 22 November 2009

Another good week

After the promising start to the week, the weather turned even nastier, wetter and windier.  Parts of the Lake District, were I was on Tuesday have had severe flooding.  Several bridges are either down or damaged.

I rode in on Wednesday in appalling weather, soaked to the skin when I got to work.  Even on a radiator, my stuff didn’t dry out.  It wasn’t too bad on Thursday, I got in and home relatively dry.  But it was very windy.  Karl rang me to see if we were going on our normal Thursday night ride, his car was being rocked back and forth by the wind.  But we went anyway.  It was a great ride out to the pub, 30mph wind on you back feels good.  The ride back wasn’t so good, 10 miles of head on wind.  I was on my fixed.  I was knackered.  Friday, I went in the car.

Karl had some friends over this weekend and yesterday we went for a ride.  It was still very wet and windy.  We rode out to the Cafe de Lune at Conder Green where we stopped for a egg, bacon and sausage barm.  Delicious.  We then set out across the wind, heading for Scorton, the Priory and a tea cake.  However, when we got there, no one wanted to stop.  We decided to press on to another cafe at Catforth, but by then the weather was awful, we were knackered and didn’t stop again.  50 miles of wet and windy, with no tea cakes.  I don’t think my body can cope.

This morning we did a dozen miles on the tandem, just got caught in the rain on the way home.

Miles for the week – 145

Total miles so far – 3154



Tuesday, 17 November 2009

First MTB in years

I got out for more riding yesterday and today.  The weather here is a bit variable to say the least. 

Yesterday morning started grey, wet and windy, but by 11 it was bright and sunny, so I thought I’d get out for a spin.  After being out for about 30 mins, the wind picked up again, the rain and even hail came lashing down.  Or rather across, most of the rain was horizontal.  Eventually it eased and I staggered round to Bonds for a cup of tea and a tea cake.  Leaving the warmth of the cafe was a wrench, as was heading into 30-40 mph head wind.  I finally got home after 22 miles in an hour and a half, knackered and soaking wet.

Today I had arranged to meet Catherine to go mountain biking.  Catherine’s bike was at Bike Treks, so were going to head up to the Lakes.  The overnight weather was gale force winds and heavy rain, but we woke up to light winds and sunshine.  We decided to set off.  This would be my first mountain bike ride for over 18 months.  The last ride I did was a quick hour or so around Ashton Court in Bristol.  I was a bit worried about how I would get on.  Catherine was worried that her bike wouldn’t be ready.  She’d meant to ring the day before but forgot, and we had to set off before they were open.  Sadly, when we got there, the bike wasn’t ready, her forks hadn’t returned from the manufacturer.  The did lend her a 2010 Specialized Stump Jumper FSR demo bike so that we could go riding though.

We set out to do a bit of Loughrigg.  Not all of it, not the hilly, hard bits, just some of the nicer bits, just in case I wasn’t up to it.

We usually go in the other direction


Up the first road climb, I managed to stay in front of Catherine.  It set the tone for the day.  The drop down into Sawrey was basically down a stream.  Although it wasn’t raining, by the time we got to the bottom, we were soaked to the skin.  This was the second theme of the day, every off road climb or descent was a running river of rain run off.  We got very very wet.  But we decided to crack on but the hail and rain came down hard as we dropped in towards Coniston.  It soon cleared and as we were ahead of my schedule and expectation we headed up the hills again.  One more blast of hail and rain saw us into Elterwater and the slog up Red Bank.  Then pretty much down hill home.  One final obstacle was the big rock in Rydal water.  There is usually a bit of rock sticking up to tell you where the route is.  Unfortunately, it was fully underwater today.  I rode straight into it and stopped in thigh deep water.  This did allow Catherine to avoid me and the rock and ride through clean, but actually no less wet than me.  Here’s a picture from a few years ago when the water was less deep!


That rock to my right was completely covered, by at least 8 inches of water today.

We headed back to Ambleside.  Catherine returned the bike and I bought us bacon butties,mushroom soup, tea cakes and tea.

For my first MTB ride in 18 months, I was pretty please.  Thank you Catherine for taking me out.



Monday, 16 November 2009

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Not quite there

A few weeks back I was not far off 3000 miles, I only needed 160 odd miles.  In the last few weeks I’ve barely managed 40 miles a week.  Work and sickness have got in the way.  Nothing major, just busy at work and a bit flu-ey at home.

Anyway, I have 20 miles left to do.  I’m going to see if I can do 3500, but with work being so busy, it might be a stretch too far.

Wish me luck



Sunday, 25 October 2009

Mileage Update

My mileage for this year currently stands at 2851.  This is nearly a 1000 more than last year and double or more than the year before.  What has been responsible for this transformation?

Certainly not mountain biking.  The last mountain bike ride I did was over a year ago, just before the Olympics in fact, a short evening jaunt around Leigh Woods in Bristol.

Nor was it tandem riding.  we've got our Swallow back on the road now, but only for the last month, and we did very little on the KHS.

Having my Hewitt has certainly helped.  I've done a fair few 50-80 mile rides since I got it, plus lots of shorter rides.  I've also ridden to work every chance I had, helped by the economic downturn which has cut down work travel quite a lot.

Probably the main reason is that the boys are growing up and calming down.  We don't go out expecting the house to be trashed when we get back anymore.  So we feel happier going out further and for longer.  Jayne and I have regularly done an hour in the evening or a couple of hours on the weekend. 

It has all added up to a decent total.  I set myself a target of 2000 miles for this year, seeing as I failed to get that last year.  Then quickly revised it upwards after the first 1000 were done.  My revised target of 2500 was met a month or two ago and I've revised it up again to 3000.  Only 149 miles to do.  If I really wanted I could do all of that next weekend!

Should I revise up again to 3500?



Saturday, 17 October 2009

Thursday Night Bike Ride

All through summer we've been doing a regular ride out to the Plough on a Thursday night.  A quick pint or two and a hot garlic chicken sandwich then home.

For me it is about 20 miles, Karl and Alison just over 25.  Now that the nights are drawing in and due to work pressures, we haven't been out for about 3 weeks.  So this Thursday, armed with new lights for Karl, we set out.  It was a really mild evening, but cloudy and no moonlight, so once we were away from the town and out in the country lanes, it was pitch black.  We really needed the decent lights.  We went the quick way as we had set off late due to fitting Karl's light.  But it was well worth it.

This is the view when we got to the pub...


Envy me!



Sunday, 4 October 2009

Tandem Ride

Jayne and I were finally feeling well enough to go out on the rebuilt tandem.  Karl, Alison, Joe and Ian called round this morning and we set off on a gentle 12-15 mile out to Barton Grange.  The pace was very leisurely.  Too much so for Joe, I think, but plenty fast enough for Jayne and I.

It was great being back on 'our' tandem.  There is something about custom built that just seems better than even a stock frame with a suitable fitting kit.  I took quite a few miles to get used to it again, particularly from a steering and cornering perspective.  I have a Panasela 1.5" front tyre on and even pumped up to 100lbs it still squirms a bit in the corners.  Maybe I need to push it up to 120lbs, but it is only rated to 8o, I think.

Anyway, it was a nice ride out in nice company.  Karl and Ian have been my "core team" for over 15 years and it is always a pleasure to ride with them.  Ian is a natural raconteur and piss taker, and is always entertaining company.

We stopped at Barton Grange for a bacon barm and a cup of tea, sat out in what was mostly sunshine, but a bit cool.  It is October though, so any sitting outside to eat is a bonus.  Alison, Ian and mile monster Joe went to do a loop round Beacon Fell or the Trough afterwards.  Jayne and I, together with Karl, headed home.

The pace was more gentle than if I'd been on my solo, but faster than Jayne and I would have been with her on her solo.  All in all, quite pleased.

Brake cables stretched horribly during the ride, to the point where I could hold the back brake on full, without and discernable effect.  When we got home, I tightened them up and have made some slight adjustments to the saddles.  At some point I must have bashed the bars because, even with the stem straight, the right hand side is nearer than the left.  Karl has some Midge (or possibly Mungo) bars off of his Pompino that I might try instead.  I might also get some Dia Compe 287V brake levers as they pull a bit more cable.

Later on we went for a quick pint at the Villa.  The back wheel seems to have developed some sort of rattle.  Not sure if it is just the rear mech out of alignment or what.  Will need to check it out.

All in all, a good day out.



Thursday, 24 September 2009

Pretty Much Done

Just a few minor thins to sort.  I need handlebar tape and a couple of bottle cages.  I thought I'd go for black cloth tape and maybe the Cuiso silver bottle cages.  Just two for starters, but I have bosses for six.



I have sorted Jayne's saddle position and pedals.  I have to sort the angle of the rack when I have suitable bolts.  The rack has been on the other tandem for a while with a bodged bolt on, which I don't think will survive being loosened and re-tightened.  I have to cut the mud guard stays and put the little end caps on.

The original plan was to run the bike with just the front canti and the rear disc operated from the front.  Unfortunately the old road levers don't pull enough cable to operate the disc, so I've reverted to what we had before, ie the front and rear canti's off the front and the disc operated by a friction thumb shifter from the rear.

Other bits and bobs: Klick Fix mount for the handlebar camera bag, bike computer (off the old tandem), a frame pump.



Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The built goes on...

Got the chains and mud guards today.  Still off sick, so I can only spend 10 or 15 minutes at a time before I have to sit down or start to make more serious mistakes.  I still make the same silly mistakes regardless.

More pics...



Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Tandem Build

We took the tandem back to the bike shop yesterday and they faced the disc brake bracket.  Seems to have done the trick.

So I spend some time today doing more build up.

Some pics...








I've got chains and cable ferrules coming from St John's Street Cycles and mudguards from Wiggle.  Can't do much more without them.  Should be on the road for the weekend.



Sunday, 20 September 2009

What a Week!

Well my final total for the week is 254 miles!  My best week of riding probably for about 12 years.  I don't think I've been up in that areas since before we had the boys.

After my 3 days off, I was back at work on Thursday, but still got 20+ miles in, including 10 or so with Jayne in the evening.  After my two 60+ mile the previous two days, I was pleased with how little it hurt.  Friday was just straight to work and back (via the Villa).

Yesterday, we did a few miles in the morning before setting out in the afternoon to get the tandem. Yes it was finally ready.  The price was a bit higher than expected, £420 for the metal work and £330 for the paint job, but they did an all in price of £710, so about £100 more than expected.  But it looked fantastic.  Metallic purple with silver Swallow stickers.  It looks very pretty.







The above one is a bit colour mis-matched due to the camera flash, but shows the Swallow logo better than the non-flash shots I took.


Now for the bad news....

First of all, I dropped the forks getting the frame out the back of the car, resulting in a small chip in the paint.  Doh!

Then, I couldn't get the cartridge bottom bracket in all the way.  So I took it out and thought that the BB shell threads weren't cut deep enough to take the cartridge BB I had.  But the old fashioned ball and axle style BB's I had must have come out of it in the first place, so must fit.  I spent ages trying to get the fixed cup side screwed in.  In the process managed to ping the adjustable spanner (the only spanner I have big enough to fit the BB cup) off and into the seat tube, chipping off another chunk of paint.  But I could not get the adjustable cup side in tight enough, eventually snapping the pin head off my pin spanner trying.  So I undid it by getting a set of very aggressively toothed pipe grips on the thread side and winding it out.  I then had to take the fixed side out as well.  Fortunately, screwing in the fixed cup had set enough thread to now fit the cartridge BB with not too much difficulty. 

The eccentric tandem BB shell, which I had real doubts about because I'd stretched the rubber o-ring seals, slipped in with no trouble.  The headset and forks went in easily as well.  As did the Hope mechanical disc calliper.  Things were looking up. I thought I'd just check the alignment with the wheel.  Disaster!  The wheel wont go round smoothly, the disc rubs fairly firmly against the inner brake pad, which is at its most inward setting.  It seems the frame builder either measured wrongly or set the calliper wrongly , maybe without the floating sleeves installed, which off set things by about 1.3mm, not enough to be right, but workable.  I reckon it is about 3mm out.  and unusable.  I have to give then a ring tomorrow.

In order to cheer myself up, I went out with Karl and Alison today.  We decided to drive 20 miles up the road and explore a different area to our usual haunts.  We parked up at Over Kellert and rode north.  The plan was to stop at a pub or cafe in one of the small towns/villages on the way to Kendall.  In practice, they all turned out to be real one horse towns, with no cafe or pub.  We ended up at Killington Lake motorway services on the M6, accessed via some back roads.  After a quick bite to eat and a cup of tea we set off from there to Kirby Lonsdale.  The roads were very up and down, very steep, very narrow, but virtually no traffic.  I think on the 15 miles from Killington to Kirby Lonsdale we must have been passed by fewer than 5 cars.  At Kirby Lonsdale we had a cup of tea, bacon and egg buttie and a toasted tea cake, sat in the sunshine.  Then 10 fairly leisurely miles back to the car and home.

Got home to hear that Jayne's Dad is still not very well.  Its one of these situations where if his temperature comes down everything is fine, if not it might be pancreatic cancer, kidney infection or just a bit of a virus. The mildest of these are serious for a 78 year old. 

Hope you and yours are well



Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Another Good Day

I was off work again today, so  decided to go for a gentle ride to recover from yesterdays 67 mile ride.  The weather wasn’t as good as yesterday, not as sunny and lots more cloud, but a little less windy.  I decided to head out to Beacon Fell again, but by a different route than normal.  This meant that most of the climbing was more gentle than the usual route, but did leave the 1/2 mile or so of 1 in 5 up from Carwags to the visitor centre.  On the way I spotted some unusual local stock.

RIMG0279 RIMG0278

From the top of Beacon Fell, on a clear day you can see all the way to the Isle of Man.  Today you couldn’t even see Blackpool Tower.


I was still feeling pretty fresh so decided to go over into Bleasdale and maybe Oakenclough.  RIMG0284

But the couple of little river valley drops and climbs persuaded me to head for Scorton instead.   In the end I did an even harder climb that the Oakenclough road, and one that turned out to be a dead end.  So I had to turn round and go back up anothe 1 in 4 climb to the bottom of Nicky Nook.  The cup of tea, bacon and egg buttie and toasted teacake was bliss.

I then foolishly decided to go back Over Wyre, adding another 15 or so miles. 

In the end 60 miles in 6 hours, including two reasonable stops.  I’m knackered.



PS Check out Black Moth Super Rainbow for some  strange poppy  songs

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Tour of Britain

Went out to Waddington today to watch the Tour of Britain come through.  Me, Ian, Karl and Alison.  We thought we would miss it, but got tot the top of Waddington with about 10 mins to spare.

We decided to ride the main roads out to Clitheroe but then got side tracked outside Longridge.  We ended up in Chipping where we cleared the local shop of pies and Eccles cakes.  I had a pepper steak and mushroom pie, which I later both relied upon and regretted!

We eventually got to the top of Waddington Fell.  If you watch it in the  telly, we are the last two yellow jackets at the end of the barriers on the left.

Some pics....


RIMG0267 RIMG0268



Afterwards we went to the pub :)



Monday, 14 September 2009

Birthday Boy

Happy Birthday to me for yesterday.  46 years old.  Went to the pub with Jayne, Karl and Alison.  Steak and beer, marvellous.

September is turning out to be an expensive month.  The car tax and insurance is due on both cars.  Turns out I didn’t renew my MOT back in February.  So I’ve been driving round for 6 months illegally and effectively no insurance.  The garage has just rung to say i need a new exhaust - £300.

Saturday we went and bought a new car!  A Seat Ibiza.  Just waiting for the garage to confirm they can get it in the right colour and spec.

I somehow managed to get a decent 100+ mile in last week.  Not sure how, although I have been out most evenings with Jayne to do a short ride as well as riding to work.

Tomorrow the Tour of Britain comes to Blackpool.  We are thinking of riding out to Waddington to watch one of the main hill climbs.

Might go for a ride this evening, after I’ve picked the car up, the sun is coming out again.  After the bank holiday weekend of poor weather, we’ve had four or five days of cracking weather, 25-30 degrees, sunshine and hardly any wind.  The hardly any wind bit is unheard of this time of year.  Hopefully it will last til Wednesday, cos I’m off work til Thursday.



Saturday, 5 September 2009

Another week down

Fat Cyclist posted the other day that the autumn was his favourite time of year for riding.  I disagree.  Autumn on the west coast of the UK is a time of squally rain and strong winds, interspersed with blindingly low sun.  I would have been better off in a canoe or with a snorkel than on a bike the other day.  Thursday I caved and went to work in the car.  Sat it the car park about to come home Thursday evening, I could barely stay in my seat the car was blown around that much.  Then when I got going, I was blinded by the simultaneous pouring rain and very bright low sun in my eyes.

Anyway, Monday was a public holiday here, last one til Christmas.  it was pretty miserable all day, but brightened slightly in the afternoon.  Karl rang and said he was just up the road and did we fancy riding up to the Villa and meeting his wife.  So we arranged for him to swing by and pick us up.  When he arrived he was knackered.  He'd got the bonk about 10 mins after ringing us and was in a terrible state.  I have never seen anybody eat two Boost bars, a packet of crisps and a bottle of Lucozade quite so quickly.

We eventually got to the Villa and had a pleasant couple of pints of Copper Dragon 1816.  The rain absolutely threw it down.  At one point we were contemplating getting Alison, who had driven round in her Mini, to take Jayne back to our house, to pick up our big car and come back so we could put all the bikes in the back.  We decided to have another half and sit it out.  Eventually the rain eased and we rode home.

In hind sight, we couldn't have got the big car because it was full of our eldest's stuff.  He has been living in a flat in Blackpool with a couple who he has had more an more fallings out with.  He had decided to move out and picked up the keys for his new place on Tuesday.  Unfortunately, his old flat was bang in the middle of the busiest part of Blackpool, no parking, "No Loading" signs everywhere and traffic wardens on bonuses.  So we said we would pick all his stuff up on Sunday.  He works nights in a care home, so would be OK Sunday and Monday night and would stay at a friends Monday daytime.  So we emptied his flat, just leaving him some clothes and the junk his ex flat mates had left behind.  Or so we thought.  Tuesday morning, he rings to say he's got more stuff left than he can carry.  Fortunately, there are roadworks at the end of his street and it is a lot less busy than usual and the traffic wardens less eager.   We got the last of his stuff and got him moved in.

In between all this I have done a few rides to work and back.  No great mileages but steadily reaching for 3000 miles for this year.

Rang about the tandem this morning, hopefully it will be back next week some time.



Sunday, 23 August 2009

Poor week (or two)

After several weeks of high (ish) miles, the last two weeks have been poor.

Last week I was off work, so should have had a few miles in, but it didn't work out that way.

Monday was set aside for wills.  As of last Friday, our boys are all 16+.  It seemed an appropriate time to sort out our wills.  Up till now we just had a basic one, mainly concerned with the boys' welfare if we both popped our clogs.  This was no longer appropriate and we had also been exposed a bit via Jayne's Mum and Dad sorting their stuff out, enough to realise we would be better off sorting the basics now while we were both able to understand.

Tuesday was set aside for walking in the Lake District.  I also wanted to get a new chain ring for my Pompino.  Staveley has a big bike shop, Wheelbase, which has everything you could possibly need bike wise.  Unfortunately a 42 tooth 130 BCD chain ring wasn't one of them.  The plan had been to get the chain ring, then drive up the valley and do a walk round Kentmere, heading back to Wilf's for a late lunch.  With no chain ring, we felt we had to head into Ambleside to either Bike Trek's or Ghylside.  So we went to Wilf's for a bacon buttie and a coffee while we planned the day.  We would go to Ambleside, check out the bike shops and then go for a walk.  Bike Trek had a few rings but nothing the right size, 48 being their closest.  Ghylside had a 44, but not a 42.  Not a huge deal, but would have meant spending another £15 on a new sprocket to keep the gear ratio the same.  So we went for a walk down the Rothay road to Rothay bridge, then up to the Loughrigg caves and down to Grassmere.  This is one of my favourite places.  The shoulder between Rydal and Grassmere gives beautiful views in all directions.

Back in Ambleside for a wander round the shops, then I remembered that there was a Evans Cycles in Kendal, so we called in and yes they did have the appropriate ring.

Wednesday we went to Liverpool.  I used to work in Liverpool and lived on the Wirral for 18 years.  I've not been into the centre of Liverpool for probably 10 years.  It had all changed.  I didn't recognise anywhere.  But we had a pleasant day and I bought a couple of books.  We got back fairly late and decided to go to a local restaurant, but it was closed, so we headed home.  Then we remembered another local Italian that we'd been to once with Jayne's Mum & dad and the kids, so back tracked and went there.  We were only going to have a main and a glass of wine.  Then the waiter/proprietor came over with the list of specials including Sicilian  sausage with a tomato and mascarpone sauce.  We ended up having two bottles of rose, starters and mains and Jayne a desert and complementary lemon digestifs.  We were pleasantly full and pleasantly sqiffy.

Thursday was nice and we rode out to a local garden centre for a bacon buttie and a cup of tea.  Thursday evening was the regular ride out to the Plough.  This was all my bike miles for the week.

Friday was miserable.  I stayed in and cleaned parts for the tandem.

Then I've been in Switzerland most of this week.  I've been plenty of times now, but we've never really done the tourist thing.  This time we had an evening in Zurich.  A nice meal then a wander down the lake shore.  I took this snap of naked swimmers frolicking in the fountain.


Enjoy :)



Sunday, 9 August 2009

Tandems, Races and Rides

I started writing this last week.  Since then we have learned of the sad death of Susan Nelson.  It makes my petty quibbles and issues seem just that, petty. 

That a lady who we never met, never spoke to and only ever interacted with via a blog, could have touched our lives so deeply is a testament to their openness and honesty and to their desire to make a difference.  I would like to thank Elden and Susan for letting us into their lives.  Rest in peace Susan.


Back to our irregular programme...

Been a while since I've written anything, I've been busy with work and with after work.  So an update is in order.

Firstly the tandem.  We went in a week or so ago supposedly to check the work and pick a colour.  Unfortunately, the builder (who doesn't usually do tandems) had not really understood my requirements re brakes.  The triplet had the normal set of canti's plus an Arai drum on the front and a Hope mechanical disc rear.  While it was a triplet, I had the front brakes and Jayne the rear.  On the tandem we decided to run the front canti and rear disc from the captain as the normal operations. If we want to tour, we wanted an extra set of bosses to allow me to have both canti's from the front and Jayne to have the disc from the rear.  This confused him no end, until we went in and marked boss positions on the tube. 

We went again last Saturday to look at what he'd done and were pretty pleased with the results.  He seems to have done a good job of understanding our requirements and getting good cable runs as well.  This is always difficult on a tandem.  He is going to put a couple of extra bosses on the gear run to add a bit of cable outer where it runs past the captain seat tube, to stop it rubbing. 

We also picked the colour.  We had decided on a deep metallic blue before we went.  Paul Hewitt gave us a set of tubes painted up in the available colours.  We decided the metallic blue was a little too light a shade.  There was a very nice purple and a metallic burgundy colour.  We went with the burgundy.  Paul said that that came in as a very dark muddy brown.  We reconsidered and went with the purple.  Hopefully we'll get the finished frame back in a couple of weeks!

This Saturday evening was the Blackpool Rapha Nocturne.  This is an evening criterium series in several different UK cities.  As well as the elite race, there was a kids roller race, a Blackpool hoteliers race, with contestants having to wear their work uniforms, a amateur race, and a folding bike race, complete with shirts, ties and a le Man style start.  Karl had some friends up fro Oxford way.  We missed the first few races because we went to Ian's for a barbeque before hand.  It was delicious.  Anchovies and Beetroot, Parma ham and melon, beef tomato and mozzarella and really nice bread (and wine) to start, followed by barbequed lamb, roasted peppers, fennel and potato and bean mash.  Desert was lemon tart, fresh strawberries and mascarpone.  We stayed at Ian's, eating, drinking and playing with his Pugs for far longer than intended.  Eventually we set off for Blackpool, heading down the newly constructed bike path along the sea wall.  It was quite bracing in a stiff westerly wind.  The race course was fairly well attended and we saw the end of the support race.  We also bumped into several people from work and had a pleasant chat with an American guy on a Rodriguez 26" wheel tourer who was watching near us.  Never got his name or where he was going.  We admired his bike, he admired our collection of 4 fixies, the most he'd seen in the UK outside of London.

The racing was very good.  I can't believe the speed or the skill at getting round the corners so quickly.  Everything finished at 10ish, just after dark.  We had a leisurely ride home only soured by it chucking it down with rain a mile or so from home.

For Sunday, we planned to take the Oxford contingent round the Trough.  They were all fresh from a week in France, climbing Mont Ventoux several times, so our paltry 1 in 4's for a mile or two should have been nothing.  The route was out to Beacon Fell, mostly flat but a stiff 1 in 4 to the visitors' centre, then undulating across the Bleasdale fells before the climb of Boundary hill.  This is probably about 3 miles of mostly about 1 in 12, but there are two or three really steep pitches.  We made it to the top and the scary fast narrow decent into Marshaw and on to Dunsop Bridge for lunch.  The afternoon was a pleasant spin down the Ribble valley until roadworks forced us over another 1 in 4 up and over into Chipping.  It was then a rolling 10 miles back to the Fylde plane and another 10 home.  We were knackered.  But it was a great ride, with great company.  Highlight of the ride was Jemima and Graham trying to say 'ey up and 'ow do in their posh southern accents.

Out again today (Sunday a week later) and did 50+ miles.  Flat out to Condar Green then a rolling 30 miles through the hills back home.  My total miles for the year so far stand at 2032!  That is over 100 more than last year's final total.  I should be on to meet my 2500 mile target fairly easily and maybe even get over 3000 mile for the first time in about 5 years.



Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Crosby, Stills & Nash

For Jayne's birthday, we got tickets for Crosby, Stills and Nash in Manchester.  I was a little apprehensive for a number of reasons.  The venue, the MEN Arena, is a big  impersonal hall, not ideal for an intimate gig.  I had also mixed feelings after seeing the TV coverage of Glasto, they were a bit ragged in bits.

The first song didn't have the sound balance right, and someone was a bit flat.  Steven Stills couldn't hear himself properly judging by the gesticulations he was making.  I was a bit nervous that they wouldn't get it together.  But by the third song, they had it nailed and were brilliant from then on.

Highlight was Guinevere.  Three encores.  Steven Stills played some fantastic guitar solos.  He did have to go and sit down occasionally. 

All in all, a great night



Sunday, 12 July 2009

New Bag

I ordered a new bag from Wiggle a few weeks ago.  Then I got a message saying they were out of stock, back in at the end on June.  Then I got another saying they were due early July, then another saying mid July.  I did a trawl around the internet and practically everyone was sold out.

Except the excellent guys at Bike Plus, who had lots in stock apparently.  So I cancelled my Wiggle order and went with them.  Two days later the postman brought the package, but was too impatient to wait for Jamie to unlock the front door and so I had to pick it up on Thursday from the post office.

I fitted it immediately and was ready for the Thursday night ride.

RIMG0232 RIMG0234

Its a Carradice Barley.  It has a capacity of about 7 litres.  The side pockets are quite small.  I also have a couple on Nelson Longflap's which are easily twice the size, that I have been using for 20 years.  The Barley is much much smaller, and the side pockets are also correspondingly smaller.  On the Nelson's I have a small light, musette style bag and a lock in one pocket, and a tube, tools and puncture kit in the other.

The Barley side pockets are a bit smaller, I can just about get the lock in one pocket and the tube and tools in the other.  The main section will take trousers, pants and a shirt easily, or two rain jackets and a fleece like it did tonight, without being overly full.  I don't think it will fit my buttie box, change of clothes and laptop, but that is not why I bought it.  It is a good sized day bag.  I can easily fit a rain jacket, fleece, food and my usual tools etc in it easily.

And it is pretty!



Sunday, 5 July 2009

Beer Tasting

For a few years now Jayne and I have run a beer tasting evening.  Yesterday was our latest effort.  The format is always the same, six beers of increasing strength, some notes on each before we try them, pizza and garlic bread and foolishness.

The six beers this time round were:

Edelstoff Augustiner - 5.8%

Jupiler - 5.2%

Kwak - 8.4%

Delerium Tremens - 8.5%

Chimay Blue - 9%

Westmalle Tripel - 9.5%

We had got everything setup in the garden and the guys started arriving at about 7:30.  Then the skies darkened and it absolutely tipped it down for about 20 mins.  We did not think it would clear, but as quickly as it started, the skies cleared, the sun came out and it was a very pleasant evening.  We got the chiminea fired up and the beers flowed.  Some of the guys started to struggle at the 4th or 5th beer, not so much because of what I'd given them, as the 3 or 4 "warm up" pints in the Taps before coming over!

All in all a great evening.  The Westmalle was voted the best, Jupiler the least favourite.



Thursday, 2 July 2009

Fantasy Tour

Join our fantasy tour mini league


League Name: AXA

League Code: 01094036

Friday, 26 June 2009

Neil Young

I am a massive Neil Young fan.  Not obsessive, I don't have all of his albums on all media!  But I do have most on either LP, CD or both and I do have about 40 bootlegs.

My last Neil experience was to boycott along with my friend Mal, his last tour.  Ticket prices were just too high, £75-80 per head depending on where you could get them.  We just said no!

This latest tour was a bit more reasonably priced, £50 per head.  Choices were Nottingham or Aberdeen.  We chose Nottingham.  Tuesday lunchtime, Ian, Mal and I drove down the 150 miles on the hottest day of the year so far, with my air con broken.  We arrived in plenty of time to drive round Nottingham's one way system, totally lost.  Then spent an hour talking my sister in, as she was lost as well.

We missed the support act.  Got a good spot for Neil.

What a show!  Probably the best NY show ever.  Opened with Hey Hey My My, Everybody Knows this is Nowhere, Mansion on the Hill, Cinnamon Girl.  Then On the Way Home, a very early song, followed by Burned.  There was a fantastic Down by the River and the final song Rockin in the Free World.  He started to wind now, seeming to get in sync with the drummer to finish, then jumped back centre stage for another chorus, then back to the drummer, then another chorus, and so on for about 6 times.  The crowd went mad.  Brilliant.

The band came back on to do a cover of the Beatles A Day in the Life.  It was fantastic, raucous, wild, probably the best ever Beatles cover.  The song finished with Neil ripping the strings from his guitar, propping it against his amp, feeding back wildly, then whipping the pickups with the ends of the broken strings! 

Absolutely awesome.


Sunday, 21 June 2009

Happy Father's Day

I have had a very pleasant Father's day.  After sleeping in til 10, I got up and rode out to the shops to get some croissants for breakfast.  Number two son had gone to work but left me a present of a new Sigma BC5000 computer for my new bike.


I really like the Sigma stuff.  This is a fairly basic one, speed, trip distance, trip time, total distance and clock.  That's all I need.  In fact my favourite computer, which doesn't seem to be available anymore was another Sigma that just did speed, trip distance, total distance and clock.  No buttons, auto scroll through the functions, auto reset of trip distance after being still for 4 hours.  Cheap, easy!

I spent an hour or so fitting it this morning.  A nice feature of the design is that you can undo the mounting and turn it through 90 degrees for mounting on the stem rather than the bars.

This afternoon we went for a brief spin, just eight miles with a stop at the pub.  Very nice.

Number One Son got we a Wiggle voucher which I have put towards the new saddlebag.

84 miles total this week, not bad but half of last week's.



Saturday, 20 June 2009

New Mudguards

The Pompino was rattling something rotten the last week or so.  I thought it might be the Bagman saddlebag support at first as that has come loose a couple of times, but after a thorough check over, ie rattling everything by hand and bouncing the bike up and down a bit, the source of the noise was narrowed down to the rear mudguard.  These weren’t new mudguards, they came of my Ribble, where they had done generous duty for about 6 years.  With three years on the Pompino, I think they had earned their money and decided to get a new set.

A pair of SKS Chromoplastic guards were duly ordered from Wiggle at the beginning of the week and arrived Thursday.  So after lunch today, I set about fitting them.

Three hours later they are on!  It shouldn’t have taken me that long, but after following the instructions it became clear that the stays needed to be cut down.  This meant undoing everything, including the special little stay caps that poke through the mudguard fitting, which were a bugger to get off.  RIMG0206 The reassemble everything without the stay caps and mark with a hacksaw.  Then take everything off again and fit the stay caps again.  Then put everything back on. 

Looks good now though, and no rattles.

















No mega-miles this week.  Heavy rain, wind and boys late for exams on Wednesday.  On Thursday, I had to take the tandem wheel and disc brake mechanism to the bike shop so they could get the measurements right for the mounting bracket.  It is an early Hope mechanical disc brake and doesn’t match any modern mountings.  This does mean that they are getting on with the rebuild.



Saturday, 13 June 2009

More new bike goodness

I am still in love with my new bike!   It is ace!

I have done just over 140 miles so far this week, 130+ of them on the new bike.  It still seems like a very upright position, but then again, that is what I asked for.  I did a 20 mile ride Thursday, easy pace, pint of beer half way, and it was comfortable all the way.

I think my hands are too small to be really comfortable with STI.  I can change to the smaller sprockets fairly easily.  But I can't change up very well.

I am going to get a Carradice Barley saddlebag.  I have two Nelson Longflap bags, one on my Pompino and an old tatty one that I've put on the Hewitt temporarily.  I really like the Carradice bags and don't seem to suffer from problems that others have re their thighs hitting the bag or the angle being wrong.  The Nelson is great for going to work, I get my butty box, change of clothes and some bits of stuff in easily, but for a general day ride it is too big.  The Barley is about half the size, but still has the side pockets which I use one for tools, tube etc and one for a folding bag, emergency light and lock.

We did another long (for me!) ride today, about 55 miles out to Chipping and Dunsop Bridge.  It was a glorious day, sun shining and a gentle breeze.  We got to the cafe at Dunsop Bridge at lunch time and sat in the garden, eating bacon and egg on toast, tea cakes, lemon cake and drinking tea.  Joe and Ian recounted tales from the road from their Land's End to John o'Groats trip.

I am knackered, but still pleased with the new bike.



Monday, 8 June 2009

New Bike

My wife rang me at work today to tell me that my new bike was ready.  Did I want her to pick me up from work and take me round to get it.  Did I!

Hewitt's is in Leyland, about 18 miles from work on the other side of Preston.  I had a voice conference that didn't finish til 5:15, Hewitt's closes at 6.  It was touch and go whether we would get there on time.  How come when you are in a hurry you always get stuck behind stuff, learners, tractors etc.  Anyway we got there with 5 mins to spare.

My new bike is beautiful!

It is a Hewitt Chiltern audax bike.  The frame is steel, 631 main frame, 525 rear triangle and forks.  

Brooks B17 saddle

Tiagra groupset, except for 105 hubs, long reach brakes and Mavic Open Pro rims.

After a bit of wondering about how best to get it home, I changed into my cycling gear and set of to ride the 13 or so miles home.  The bike is great.  It fits me really well, the gears shift flawlessly although as this is the first bike I've had with STI gear shifters, it will take a bit of getting used to.



Sunday, 7 June 2009

Trough Again

(transferred from MSN)

So, last weekend was my furthest ride (70 miles) for a long time, at least two if not three years.  And hard, 1500m of steep hard climbing.  So this weekend I planned to take it easy.  Then Karl sent out an email to the Core Team asking if we were up for a ride.

The plan soon became a road ride this morning.  Out to Chipping and through the Trough of Bowland, with a bail out option for Karl and me at Chipping.


Weather was good, warm, cloudy, and not much wind.  We set out at a steady pace.  Joe had my panniers on as a final shake down for his Land’s End to John O’Groats ride next week.  To make it more real, he had a full box of 50 Go energy bars in one pannier.  Ian was on his brand new Independent Fabrications touring bike, again in readiness for LeJog.  It is a cool bike, cream with red lettering, red Chris King headset and hubs, Brookes leather bar tape, Swift honey saddle.  Angry bees Chris King hub sound every time he free wheeled.

We got to Chipping in fairly short order, despite one of Joe’s panniers jamming in his spokes.  Eventually he took it off and shoved it in the other, newer and better pannier.  At Chipping we had a decision, do we carry on round the Trough or head back.  I was feeling OK and decided to carry on.

Dunsop Bridge came up pretty quickly and a stop for tea and tea cakes in the sunshine.  Then we set off to Marshaw and Boundary Hill.  Several miles of steep!  Although I stopped a few times, I rode it all and faster than last week. 

Then it was back to Scorton and a zig zag through the lanes to Myerscough and the familiar roads home.

Total distance 65 miles, so not quite the leisurely spin I had intended, but it was good to be out with the guys again.



New Blog

I've decided to move over to Blogger. Hopefully I will do a bit more writing here than MSN!

New bike next week!!!