Monday, 15 December 2008

Cycling back on the right road !!

Well if you had any doubts last night confirmed it. Cycling is well and truly back on the right road. At the Sports Personality of the Year Awards cycling was represented in three of the major categories. Team of the Year Award went to the British Olympic cycling team. The cycling team won 14 medals in Beijing this year-8 of those were GOLD! Cycling also claimed the Coach of the Year Award-David Brailsford who is British Cycling Director of Performance collected this award. The BIG ONE - The Sports Personality of the Year was won by Chris Hoy. The last (and only) time that this award was won by a cyclist was way back in 1965. In that year it was Tommy Simpson who was presented with the trophy. This year the British Cycling Team dominated the Olympic Games and the awards collected last night were justly won. The spin off of all this? Well cycling is now seen as cool! Helped by the so called credit crunch the sales of bikes has increased dramatically and that's not just mountain bikes. The sales of road bikes has increased as well and this must be as a direct result of the success of the British Cycling Team. Hopefully more youngsters will join their local cycling club and go on to follow in the slipstream of the great cyclists that collected the trophies last night.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

A Ferry- A Hill and A Puncture.

On Wednesday 10th December I woke up full of anticipation as I had arranged to go on a training ride. The previous day John Donoghue had told me that he was planning on going on a bike ride on the wednesday morning. As I had not been out on a bike for a couple of weeks thanks to a bad cold I told him that I would meet him for the ride as well. Jason Boynton-Lee said that he would come also. The arrangement was that we would meet at the Sandbanks Ferry at 1030.
As I said I awoke full of anticipation. This would be the first time that the three of us would have cycled together since the decision had been made to do the ACR next year and the weather forecast was good. I sat down for a carbo loaded breakfast. At 0830 I heard the 'Tour de France' theme from my mobile phone informing me that I had a text. It was from Jason confirming our plans and letting me know that he would soon be on his way. About 40 minutes later my phone rings again. This time it was John. 'I have the baby' he said. 'I had forgotten that I have to look after the baby today I won't be able to make it'. Oh well that leaves just two of us at least it will make a faster ride. I thought that I would ride the Revolution which although heavier than my Felt does at least have mudguards which at this time of year is almost a must. 10.30 and I was at the ferry and a minute or two later Jason turns up on his Felt F55. The Sandbanks ferry had been out of service over the past two months for refurbishment and this was my first trip on it since it had come back into service. This was also the first time that Jason had ridden this particular circuit and he was keen to give Creech Hill a try out. We boarded the ferry and as we did so a lady alighting from the boat wished us a good ride-a good omen perhaps. The ferry refurbishment looked good - nice gleaming white and green paintwork as can be seen fron the photo.(Lets hope it stays that way) We rolled the bikes off the ferry on the Studland side and set off. There was a slight breeze but not enough to slow our progress as we powered along. Just after going through Studland we slowed as we made our way up the steep hill but the effort proved worthwhile as the views from the top were as clear as a bell. On we went not stopping till we reached Corfe. A quick swig of carbo drink and we set off again. The next highlight would be Creech Hill. The roads were muddy in places and there was still some ice around in areas that the sun had not reached yet, because of this we had to concentrate on our bike handling. We arrived at the bottom of Creech. A five minute break-a quick drink and we started to spin the pedals again. Jason set off first and I followed about a minute behind. I have not been beaten by this hill yet but as I still have a cold on my chest I could not be sure that I would make it this time. On this hill you have to be able to breath deep and my breathing was not right yet. I saw Jason disappear around the bend about a third of the way up. The gradient kicks up steeply at the bend and I knew that Jason would be feeling the burn in every muscle at this point. I was aware that I was gaining on Jason but would I continue to catch him after the bend? I continued to spin the pedals and dropped down another gear as I hit the bend. The garmin computer told me that I was doing seven miles an hour- hardly racing but it was the fastest that I could achieve. I was closing on Jason and then about two thirds up the hill Jason had to stop- beaten by the hill. I managed to continue all the way to the top but I found it very hard- I just could not sort my breathing out. Now although Jason was beaten by the hill he was trying to push a very large racing chainring whilst I was pushing a touring triple ring, so to be fair he did really well to make it as far as he did. I waited at the top for Jason to catch me up and after another short break we carried on. We were both very cautious as we went down the 20% gradient on the other side of the hill. Where the road levels and straightens out I started to put the power on managing to hit 30 mph on the flat until just as I reached the left turn that would take us to Wool my phone started ringing. As I stopped and answered the phone I was aware that Jason was not with me. It was Jason on the phone. 'I have just got my first puncture on this bike' he said. I turned my bike around and pedalled back along the road about a mile. There was Jason at the side of the road with his front wheel and a set of tyre levers. It took us about twenty minutes to put in a new inner tube. We could not find the cause of the puncture and it was a very small hole in the old inner tube. Tools away- we set off again. Next stop was the bakery at Wool. Coffee and Dorset apple cake was our order and very good it was too. Our return to the ferry was by way of Corfe and Swanage. It was a great day of cycling. The weather was cold but very sunny and the views were superb. Even the puncture helped to make the day giving us the chance to stop and take in our surroundings. We covered 51 miles at an average speed of 13.8 mph. We burned 3305 calories and achieved a total ascent of 4325 ft ( just a little short of the height of Ben Nevis). There are not many bright sunny and clear days during the winter months so we were lucky to have a day free to take advantage of it. It was certainly better than being stuck at home holding the baby!!....

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

58 Nights!

I have spent the last few days stuck at home with a bad cold. As each day passed I found myself getting more and more bored. It is funny the things that you find yourself doing when boredom sets in. I decided to look back over my diary and see how many nights I had spent in a tent this year. 58 nights. Now this might seem a reasonable number but further checking showed that last year I managed to spend 81 nights in a tent. I had really got into this now so I started to check back even further: 2006 was 82 nights and 2005 was 84 no less. This year with the death of my father I had to cancel a couple of my planned trips hence the drop in number. Not content with this I thought that I would check back over the last ten years and was surprised to find that during the ten year period 1998 through 2008 I have spent a grand total of 738 nights in a tent. This includes all types of camping trip- backpacking - car camping - cycle touring and campsites -farmers fields and wild. It then dawned on me that this was 2 years in 10 years spent in a tent or, every 5 years I am spending 1 of them tucked up in my sleeping bag inside one of my tents. Funny thing boredom. If you find yourself off work with a cold this winter check back through your diaries, you might surprise yourself. Now where are my diaries dating back to the early seventies!!!......

Lot's of Changes Ahead ....

I thought that it was about time that I posted another entry on this blog, although to be honest most days have seemed a bit like Groundhog...