Sunday, 21 May 2017

New Blue

This week was great on the bike front. Mostly because Jamie and I became Genesis 'Day One 20' bike friends! That's right, I acquired a lovely new bicycle for commuting purposes. Let me introduce my new machine 'Blue'. Isn't she lovely?!
It was a bit of a menace collecting Blue. I had to cycle a girls bike (courtesy of Polish lady from 'Free to collector' FaceBook page) all the way to Birmingham (for trade in purposes) before I could collect my new steed. The cycle home on Blue was a good test - I rode on and off road and experienced rain and shine! Am happy with my Genesis and the previous Day One is now on FaceBook should anyone be interested. Even Chris our 'associate Genesis friend' rides a Genesis.
Other than the adventure cycling to collect Blue and back, only one other cycling adventure was completed. I managed to cycle a work and back commute. Had wanted to cycle more but the weather was just pants.
Due to the weather being so naff, I chose to run on a few occasions (and leave the bike in the dry). Three times, in a row, I ran a 5k circuit before starting my work day. Really should complete a Park Run soon.

Had wanted to open water swim this week but this didn't materialise. Was such a busy boy. Still was not 100% healthwise yet either and the lake was closed for other activities on Sunday. It'll happen sometime soon...

Managed another bout of badminton in the week with the Mrs. Started great winning the first couple of games. Then the Mrs got mad and beat me 3:2. She's so competitive...
All in all, a rather busy week. Was whacked by the time the weekend came. Always great to take advantage of a power nap!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

A toe in the ocean

Very little training took place again this past week. This was not due to opportunity or paralysis of will. The man flu I had been suffering with for a good 2 weeks or more had not shifted. Much mucus. Grr. Filth.

Only once was a work and back cycle commute completed. This probably wasn't a good idea. Sure, the cycle helped clear my chest but my orange jacket and shorts were now covered with a goblin green film. Grr. Filth. Am not sure how many commutes 'Jenny' (the Genesis - single-speed cyclocross bike) has got left. Jenny is soon to be replaced with a geared model.

On the subject of bike adventures, my Geneva-Turin-Nice plans have been shelved. Buddies Jamie and Toll first bailed - maybe because of 'the fear'? Chris, my main man has a new love in his life. And, well, I'm skinted and Lunar starts school at the time the tripped was planned, so, that was me out too.

However, as one adventure is shelved another is born. I have decided to cycle a coast to coast adventure and (wild?) camp as I go along. I figured I'd follow the Trans Pennine Trail and have an easy adventure for a change (easy in the sense of navigation, not mega distance and relatively flat). My buddy Ron commented 'well, that's 1 day sorted, what ya doing the rest?' - cheek! I plan to cycle this trip solo but am more than happy to have company should any of my mates want to join me. I've not yet been brave enough to camp alone. To help kick my plan into motion, I have purchased a rail ticket ready for my adventure. My first day will be a cycle to Birmingham and then a train to Southport. From Southport my journey really begins. I'll keep you posted....
Played badminton one time in the week. Just like the last few weeks, this was with my Mrs. It was a great session and felt better because I won more games! Woo hoo! Scores on the doors 3:2. And, as an aside, the pharmacist where I'm currently based would look the spit of George Dawes should she cut her hair off. Ha!
Weekend spent with the munchkins!
Pushed myself to run on the weekend. Didn't take part in the Parkrun, but ran a couple of 5k run's all the same. Run felt great and this was the first time I had ran in like 2 weeks.

Hopefully, my health will be better soon. Maybe I'll dip my toe in the ocean. Who knows?

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Sick as a badger / Wandering Wolf

This last week I felt mostly sick. Major cold, head ache, sore throat. A usual case of the dreaded man flu.

Almost no training took place as illness took over my poor body. Was not able to complete a single commute to work and back. Not one run was ran. The dirty great lake of Ragley was not swam in despite me having sorted out my wetsuit ready for same.

At the end of the week, I decided to play badminton with my wife. I figured I would sweat this man flu out. It didn't work. Neither did I, I lost 4:1. Yes, the wife gave me a thrashing!

Weekend came and against the advice of some, I went out and tackled a 200k permanent audax with my buddies Ron, Jamie and Andy. This was the 'Wandering Wolves - Shropshire Union' audax organised by John Hamilton.
The ride started in Codsall. So we all met there. We all looked dodgy donned in cycling gear hanging outside Coop, but we had to start somewhere. So we started there.
Our start was a grizzly one. Grey clouds overhead and riding in misty drizzle. Spirits were high though and the roads were great. We cycled along country lanes that were largely traffic free - bonus! Was nice to see so many Blue-bells were still out and all the greenery looked really green. We appeared to cycle through many tunnels and pass numerous churches on route which made the whole experience very nice visually. Shortly before our first control (I think) was passed a hotel with the 'old' CTC sign on it. Why they changed the name, I don't know... First stop was in Market Dray ton where we feasted on a rather splendid breakfast consisting of 3 rashes of bacon, 2 sausages, (mushrooms), tomato, 3 hash browns, toast and butter. Delicious.
Jamie's bike (before audax adventure)
Jamie was taking his new steed for a spin - a rather delightful Day One 20. Andy was using his relatively new adventure bike. Ron and I were riding our Specailized steeds. I'd quite like an adventure bike. I quite like the look of that Genesis. Oh, wonders - the Genesis branded as an 'adventure road bike'. Well...
Second stage took us to Chester. Amazed at how evenly spaced the controls were throughout. My Garmin was bang on 50k for the first control and 100k for the second - how cool was that?! The stop at this second control was next to a large river and we stopped at Moorings for fuel. This was a bad idea - the scones were rock hard (like rock cakes) and the thick Schmoo shakes were not thick and luke warm. Yuck! At least the scenery was great. I saw at least 2 fish jump in the water whilst I supped on my evil Schmoo. After the Schmoo we were good to gooo!
Stage 3 was a strange one. We seemed to keep slipping into and out of Welsh Wales. I never expected that. The country lanes essentially continued in their largely un-motorised manner and the drizzle had mostly cleared away by now too which was great. During this section, my flavoured water bottle had ran out and my second filled with water tasted like the dish-washer. Thankfully, we found a P.O. and was able to refuel. Why the shop was called the 'Poo Room, I never quite found out. This 3rd stage took us to Wem where we fuelled up once again.
The last stage took us back to Codsall. By this time, I found that the ride had started to take it's 'Toll' (haha, no offence Andy) on me. I was quite whacked and I think Jamie was too. We were the 2 of the 4 suffering with man flu. Still we soldiered on, on lots of newly gravelled roads and more (still minor) ascents. At one junction we (Ron) stopped to rescue a baby bird that was lying all alone in the middle of the road. After several pulls, and before you could say 'man, I've only gone and rode another 200k event', we had only gone and completed another 200k permanent audax. All in all, a great days riding and am tempted to discover the other 'Wandering Wolves' perms. I'm sure to suffer the next few days...

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Bike, badminton, beer and brogues

My last training week began with 3 to work and back cycle commutes. I punctured on the first trip - no major menace but I felt a little deflated all the same. On my second commute, my chain came off. This was a bit of a pain as the rear wheel is a bit of a faff on a single-speed bike. For obvious reasons, I guess, unchained melody was ringing in my head. Melody always makes me think of my daughter Melody. Third commute was great - celebrated with a tipple.
Ran on 2 occasions this week. First run was with SJ and the second was a solo affair. Both runs were about 5k and around my village.
Talking of SJ... We both played badminton together which was fun. We cant have played since having kids so this was quite special. SJ informed everyone that she 'thrashed' me but she only beat me by a margin - 3:2, and I won the first 2 games! After our game, we went to the local chippy (still in our sports gear) and ate fish, chips and kebab sat on a local bench in our village. Aces!
I also acquired a new bike for my new 'project'. This bike cost me nowt and is a fully working machine. Ok, it was a girls bike but hey...

Saturday, 22 April 2017

'Stop it now Melody...'

A belated card from my buddy
This week saw me complete 3 to work and back bicycle commutes. The weather was relatively sunny and was excuse enough for me to wear my new wonderful Oakley shades (courtesy of Lin for my b'day). Still saddened by the destruction and then loss of my last pair of shades.
Oakley dokeley
My birthday was a relatively quiet affair this year. I still got some nice stuff, like the glasses above. What Chris got me was balls though...
I didn't cycle to work on Monday because it was a bank holiday. On the other day that I didn't cycle, I was doing stuff in Stafford. Here at the hospital in Stafford, I couldn't help but think about bikes.
A rather splendid picture at St Georges Hospital, Stafford
My 2 kids are perhaps too young to cycle lots. However, they did scoot around the kitchen and run a little over the weekend. They also taught me how important it is to stretch.
I ran on 2 occasions during the week. The first run was a 5k run around my village. My second run was around Oversley Wood with SJ and the girls. I ran a total of 7k (we took turns to run around and then walk with the kids). Nice times.
It was also 5 years to the day (Sunday) that SJ ran the London Marathon. I wonder if she'll ever run it again? I wonder if I will? I wonder if the girls will?

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Southern Discomfort and other stories about the Easter bunny

Dad's bicycle by Lunar (aged 4)
Last week started with the now usual to work and back commute. Lin's Garmin continued to play up during my first commute and wouldn't start until after a couple of k were cycled. Once home, Strava reported the ride to work was ridden on 2nd August and not the 10th. Had the Garmin gone wonky or was it Strava?! Maybe both. Once home, Lunar was excited to show me a picture she had drawn for me. It was a picture of my lovely cycle. Bless her.

Cycled to work and back on 3 occasions during the week. Garmin was replaced by my TomTom for the second 2 commutes. My real adventure began during the Easter holidays though.
The Easter bank holiday really was a lot of fun. Chris H, Jamie, Andy (Toll) and my good self went for a bikepacking adventure from Windsor to Windsor. Chris had planned the routes and dubbed the adventure 'Southern Discomfort'. This was a 3 day adventure that covered just over 300k of mostly off-road mayhem.
101.7k The 3 Castles Path
Day 1 'The 3 castles path'. Seeing as Chris lived in Windsor, we all met up there for the start of our adventure. Chris was quite the tour guide initially and provided much information about 'the sights' as we went along. It wasn't long until we passed Windsor Castle, the first castle on the 3 castles path.
In between castles and throughout the day we cycled lots of single track, path, gravel, fields, tow path and it was all pretty amazing. Weather was pretty fine throughout and our first food stop was okay. Hot dogs all round.
Naughty boys!
The second castle we reached was Odiham castle. This castle looked liked it had melted or something. Pretty all the same.
Odiham Castle
Throughout the next section I remember we caught up a rather unsocial ginger cyclist. I don't think he wanted to be caught - we soon stopped following his path anyway - however, we crossed his path a little further along that day.
Winchester Cathedral
Once we reached Winchester, Chris our 'tour guide' proudly announced that we had reached the end of the 3 castles path and pointed out Winchester Cathedral. I felt robbed, 3 castles path but we had only seen 2! Jamie and I cycled just a few metres more and found Wolvesley Castle.
Wolvesley Castle
We felt like we had really cycled a 3 castles path now and that was so the highlight of our whole bikepacking adventure. Chris mumbled something about it not being the official castle and spluttered something about a great hall. It was clear he was oh so jealous about not viewing this delightful hidden gem of a castle.

(The Three Castles Path is a 60-mile long-distance footpath in England from Winchester Great Hall, Hampshire to Windsor Castle, Berkshire via the ruins of Odiham Castle. Winchester Great Hall is the only surviving part of Winchester Castle. Wikipedia)

We all came together again and reflected on our awesome first day over a feast at a local 'spoons pub. All was great until Chris had noticed that his and Jamie's mixed grill did not come with eggs. No eggs! What?! This was Easter after all. I had words with the 'egg girl', who in turn had words with the manager. The result - 2 free desserts! Bonus! I asked for 4 but only 2 materialised. I enjoyed sharing Chris's ice cream and crumble - it complemented my chicken noodles just fine!

Our day ended by cycling to the start of the South Downs Way. Here we (Chris) found a stealth place to camp down for the night. Tarps up and soon the sound of snoring after a little tipple of port from the hip flask.

Day 2 'the South Downs Way'. This day began about 6:30. Had slept pretty well considering the snoring and trumping of my buddies. Cooked up a nice porridge and washed this down with a tasty brew before we cleared camp and headed off.
First to awake
My 3 buddies, still asleep
Chris and I had cycled this route before on our mountain bikes. Lots of beautiful track but rather hilly throughout. Big climbs and fast descents throughout the day. Just to make things more interesting, decided to ride my bike with brakes that didn't work. 
94.2k The South Downs Way
I think some random walkers were impressed (or thought 'such lunacy') with the speed I sped down some cobbled, gravelly descents - truth is, I couldn't slow myself or stop. Not sure what Chris's excuse was... Both Chris and I were stopped by a fence at the end of at least one descent. Still have the scars to prove it! - a barbed wire fence was my buffer! I reached speeds of 62.7k today and Chris 67.2!
Lunch stop today was pretty amazing. We found a great pub that served up a mighty fine ploughman's lunch. Cheese so thick, oh man, was worth cycling all the hilly k's just for this.
Who'd have thought we would see a shark?!
The next stop was great too. We tasted the delights of Caroline's ice cream. Mmm, much better than Kevin's cream!
Fast down
Slower up
Not everything was fine and dandy though. The puncture pixie visited a few times throughout the day. In fact, by the end of this day, I had 2 punctures, Andy 3 and Chris 1. Jamie was the winner and had none. 
Today was tough. After 80k of tough tracks we decided to leave the off-road tracks and cycle a stretch of tarmac instead. Good choice - the tarmac led to a pub where steak burgers and rum followed! 

The camp spot tonight was on the grounds of a girls school, hidden between some trees. I had spotted the site on route to the pub - good job Andy and had remembered how to get back there. Tarps up and into bed after a quick swig from the flask. Jamie won best tarp set up again. Jamie really was the winner (best tarp set up throughout and zero punctures).

Day 3 'flat is the new fat'. I was first up again today. Breakfast was mighty fine, Heinz pasta and noodles. Delicious!
Not so smug in the morning is he?!
After packing up camp, Chris fitted my bike with new BB5 brake pads and wow, my bike was transformed. Working front brakes, wow, that really was a new experience.
102.5k Last day of The Southern Discomfort Tour
Today's route was much flatter than the previous day. The roads were still gravelly though and the sights most beautiful. My bottom was starting to feel it had been sat on a saddle for a long time now.
There was still some mad fast descents here and there and a couple of tough climbs too. Somewhere during this adventure my glasses broke and went AWOL. This became a real problem on this day as a bug got caught in my eye during the descent. Chris managed to get the bug out after a few pokes.

We stopped at a lovely cafe for lunch. It was called the Milk Churn if I remember correctly? Here, we all devoured some tasty cheese on toast and drank tea. A few other cyclists were gathered here too - one cyclist had an artificial leg. Don't think I could have cycled this adventure with only one leg.
The route was quite diverse and at one time we were cycling through what must have been an air strip. Hard to believe that the long roads we cycled were largely traffic free, in the middle of nowhere and just so awesome.
As we neared the finish, we stopped in Windsor for another ice cream. Well, we were on holiday! Pretty sure we burnt enough calories over the past few days.
Windsor Castle
Last push and we were almost where we started. Windsor Castle looked just as great at a distance as it did close up. After just a few k we were back at Chris's domicile. All agreed this was a fantastic adventure. Cheers to Chris, Jamie and Toll - they all rock!

New Blue

This week was great on the bike front. Mostly because Jamie and I became Genesis 'Day One 20' bike friends! That's right, I ac...