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.