Wednesday, 28 March 2012

FIONA GOES OUT.....

FIONA OUT IN THE SPRING SUNSHINE
With all the good weather we have been having recently, every day is a bike ride day. 
It dawned on me this morning that I should get the Felt out and use her for today's sixty mile dash......
This is the earliest in the year that I have brought her out of hibernation. The weather has been so good with no rain for ages that she was crying out for a ride. 


Some days you can have a good ride and on other days you can have a great ride.......well today was a bloody marvellous ride and to top it all I even completed the loop in the fastest time that I have ever done it .....and it felt good.                            

THE WORST VIEW OF CORFE CASTLE
When I realized that I was on for a good time for the loop I decided that I would only make a couple of very swift stops to take two or three shots with the camera on the new phone that I have been struggling with. 


The first shot is of Fiona next to a small duck pond that is opposite a farmhouse that I passed. 
The shot above is of Corfe castle and it is probably the worst direction to take a picture of it, but I had no inclination to go to the other side of the castle for the better view. 
When your heading for a good training time, you don't want to spoil it by losing too much of that time taking pictures. 


I am hoping that the good weather continues, because on Friday I am planning on attending a Backpackers Club weekend backpack. 
I actually intend to do some walking this time rather than using my touring bike. 
I haven't been on a backpack since before my cancer diagnosis so I am really looking forward to it. 
When I get back on Sunday night I hope to be able to post up some photos with a report on how it all went.....

Sunday, 25 March 2012

WHAT A PAIN....!!

This weekend my mobile phone gave up on life..... 
The problem first started when JD and I were cycling back from Gibraltar last September. 
I noticed that a couple of the keys were only working on an intermittent basis. 
Not really a problem when using the phone as a phone but when using it for texts or more importantly if I wanted to send a new post to this blog it was becoming a pain to use. 


The problem became really bad during this past week and by the weekend it was impossible to use. 
I have had the phone for four years and it was because of the phone that I started this blog. 
The phone had a permanent App for Blogger pre-loaded, so I thought that I would try it out and here we now are after almost four years of blogging. 


I was really happy with the phone....it did everything that I wanted...took reasonable enough photos for uploading and most important of all....I felt comfortable using it. 
Funnily enough one of the things that I most liked about it (real keys) was the very thing that let it down in the end. 
I have avoided touch screen cameras....and was hoping to avoid touch screen phones......but things move on. 


This weekend I made a visit to the same phone shop where I bought my phone last time. 
Patience must be on the interview checklist for phone shop sales assistants.....and believe me the guy that served me needed all the patience he could muster. 
Trying to get me to understand anything to do with electronics and new technology requires a degree in patience and a full diploma in teaching ability....... 
As I said things move on and it all seems to be Android & i Phone these days. 
Touch screens seem to be everywhere. 


Anyway, I now have a new phone.....although trying to use it is a bit of an adventure in itself. 
I can manage to send a text and also make a phone call, but beyond that it still remains a mystery. I haven't managed to access the Internet on it yet and I need to do that in order to download an App for Blogger. 
I am sure that given a week or two and probably a visit back to the shop to clear up the queries I am left with, all will become clear....well lets just say misty and not foggy. 
What really annoys me is that the User's Manual is on a disc...... 



What's all this got to do with cycling I hear you say......
Well I like to update posts to this blog when I am on cycle touring trips and a good phone enables me to do that...plus I can have a radio and mp3 player and also a camera all built in helping to reduce my overall weight on the bike........


'What a Pain' it is getting used to something new. 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

WHAT'S GOING ON...?

WHAT'S GOING ON?....AN EMPTY FERRY
What's going on?....I boarded the ferry for my usual trip over to the Purbecks today and apart from the cars, there was no one else on board. No pedestrians and no cyclists. 
Almost every time I ride on this ferry there is at least one other cyclist or a walker or two, but today no one. 
Then when I rode around my usual  Swanage/Corfe loop I didn't see any other cyclists either. It all seemed really odd....it was almost as if every cyclist except me had been beamed up to some spaceship or something.....
TEENAGERS CARRYING OUT SOME SORT OF SURVEY
When I arrived at the seafront at Swanage I stopped for a short break and as I sat looking at the beach I noticed that some teenagers were surveying on the beach. 
It might have been some kind of college project or something, but as I wasn't prepared to leave my bike while I walked over there to ask them what they were doing I can only guess at the reasons......
WORKMEN IN HARD HATS CARRYING OUT SOME SORT OF SURVEY
Then I looked further down the beach and noticed what looked like workmen surveying....now unlike the youngsters, these guys were wearing hard hats while they were carrying out their survey. Now why the workmen needed to wear hard hats while it was OK for the teenagers not to I have no idea....What's going on? 
I really wished that I had asked now.......

Saturday, 17 March 2012

KNIGHTS OF THE WHEEL.......

One of the things that I like about cycling is the system of values and etiquette that exists. 
To someone who doesn't follow cycling as a sport or is not involved in any form of cycling, they are normally completely unaware of it. 


I can remember trying to explain to my wife as we watched the Tour de France on television some years ago, why four riders all from different teams were working together in a break.... 
"if they are in different teams then they shouldn't be helping each other" she said. 
I attempted to explain to her the circumstances in which opponents can become 'temporary' teammates. 
A tactical paradox that she had great difficulty in taking on board. 


I explained to her how these temporary alliances could be formed....how in a break other riders from other teams could become your ally if they were prepared to work within the group and also how the alliance could be broken again further into the race.... 
"Teams should be teams and not help each other" is all she would say...
but then that is understandable as her main sporting interest is Rugby and she sees cycling as a pointless or at best inferior sport.  


Then there is the self sacrifice of some riders in the team....an act of loyalty to another team member in order to help him get across the line first. 
The whole point is that throughout the various disciplines of cycling there is an attitude of a code of honour to be followed or in other words chivalry....
One could say it is a bit like the Knights of the Round Table following a chivalric code. 


You can see it at a Club level...sacrifice or servitude depending on what the occasion demands but always putting a teammate first...always remembering a code of fraternal loyalty. 
There is an unwritten law within cycling that you shouldn't do anything that would help to compromise the racing advantage of another team member a clubmate or friend....


This can also be seen outside of the pure sporting and competitive side of cycling......
The weekly club ride can be seen to operate within a strict code of behaviour and etiquette....things that should and shouldn't be done.... signals that need to be learned and understood in order to communicate to others in the group, the right and wrong way to pass another cyclist...alerting other riders to things such as approaching vehicles and potholes in the road that could be a danger to a following rider...doing your bit on the front of the group etc....
I could go on and on with examples of this perfectly devised cyclists code of  etiquette and chivalry that is almost hidden from 'outsiders'. 


However the code often shows itself in it's most basic form by the simple act of acknowledgement from one rider to another....
that small wave....
the slight movement of the hand....
the nod of the head......
even sometimes the word 'Hi' as you cycle past each other on opposite sides of the road. 


Each of these small actions is an acknowledgement of the other rider as being a fellow 'Knight of the Wheel'. 
If you get no response to your act of chivalry from the other rider I really wouldn't fret over it....
I wouldn't give it a second thought....why? 
Because the other rider has just shown you that he is an imposter.....
he is not really a true Knight....
he has shown that he does not understand the true meaning of the Chivalric Cycling Code and that  what he is after all, is a 'Muppet on a bike'.  

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A COUPLE OF RIDES WITH A MATE........

MISTY ON THE PURBECK RIDGE TODAY
So far this week JD has managed to come cycling with me on two of my three rides. 
Monday was an absolutely stunning day with gorgeous bright sunshine and quite warm for this time of year as well. 
Today the early morning mist just seemed to hang around all day as it did yesterday.
JD RIDING IN MONDAYS SUNSHINE
Quite a few riders have been out these last few days trying to get fit for various events. 
Today JD and I met a young guy at the ferry who was on his way to Lands End. He had set off from Chelmsford on Sunday and he intended to get to Weymouth for this evening. 
He didn't have a tourer but was riding an adapted mountain bike....he told me that he expected to get to Lands End for the weekend and then he planned on getting a train back home. 
He said that he had a few days with nothing to do so he thought that he would have a bike ride.........
MAIN STREET IN CORFE....
When we got to Corfe today the mist was still around and the air felt pretty chilly. We stopped for a short break in the main street and had a quick drink. 
In the picture above you can just make out Corfe Castle shrouded in the mist at the end of the town.
THATCHED COTAGE WITH THATCHERS SIGNATURE ON ROOFLINE
While we were having our drinks we noticed the thatched cottage on the opposite side of the road. Corfe is full of some very picturesque cottages and a number of them are thatched. 
If you look at the picture above you can see the cottage and it's thatched roof and also the 'signature' that the thatcher has left on the roofline in the shape of a bird. 
A lot of thatchers leave their 'signature' on their work in the shape of an object or bird or something similar. These 'signatures' are individual to each thatcher and show the roof as having been completed by them.
BACK ON THE PURBECK RIDGE BEFOR THE DESCENT BACK TO THE FERRY
Following our quick break in Corfe we headed down to the coast again at Swanage and then we carried along the coast before heading back up to the top of the Purbeck ridge and then set off down the 'hill of death' and the general descent back to the ferry..... We didn't break any speed records, but we had a good couple of rides together and a fair old chat all the way round the route.  
It's always great to go for a cycle ride with a mate...........

Sunday, 11 March 2012

CONSTANTS......

There are some things in our lives that can remain as a constant ....Things that we learn about or become interested in as a child or a teenager that stay with us and do not change.....something amongst all the subjects, fads and crazes that we get involved with that remain with us. 
For me the love of the outdoors and riding a bike are two of these constants........ 


Now for something to be counted as a constant it does not mean that it is something that you have done throughout your life but more likely that throughout your life it is something that for periods of time you might well have stopped doing but always gone back to. 


Let me explain...
I first realized that the outdoors was important to me as a small child when I was playing out adventures in the countryside where we lived at the time, pretending to be an explorer and discovering hidden worlds less than half a mile from my home.....in those days I seemed to spend hours out of doors. 


When we moved as a family from the South coast to the London area because of my fathers job, my opportunities to spend lots of time in the outdoors changed and I realized that I preferred open country to city life. Because of circumstances over which I had no control I was unable to spend that part of my childhood in the countryside but my love of wild and open countryside remained with me..... 
I spent lots of time reading about it though and that helped to satisfy some of my desire to actually get out into the outdoors and enjoy something that I felt was really important to me. 


Later when we moved out of the built up area of South London to an area where we seemed to be surrounded by gravel pits and the wild areas around them I was able to get out and spend more time again playing and exploring in the great outdoors.......a constant in my life. 


Cycling has been the same. 
As a child from learning to ride a bike....to cycling further afield....the bike offered me the opportunity to explore other areas and combine my love of the outdoors and exploring new places with lots of things such as map reading and camping. 
Later on as a young teenager I would plan cycle camping trips with friends and our world became restricted only by what we could actually imagine doing......


As life moved on there would be times when again I was not able to get out into the wild places as much or ride my bike every week....for instance when the pressure of work seemed to get in the way or the ups and downs of family life made it seem impossible. Indeed there have been times when I have not even owned a tent or even a bike.....but.....I have always come back to the outdoors and cycling....two of the constants in my life. 


Now I am retired I am able to indulge myself in these activities more than at any time before.....activities that have been  in my life for over 50 years..  If I could only ever have one more ride of a bike....or one more camping trip it would have to be a cycle touring trip the perfect combination of these two constants.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

IT JUST DOESN'T COMPARE....

NOT MANY TOURISTS AROUND YET
Yesterday was a great day for cycling....the sun was out..the wind was not much more than a strong breeze and the weather girl on the television had told me that it was going to be dry. 
I filled up a couple of water bottles grabbed an energy bar and set off as I do most days for a ride west along the coast to the Studland ferry. 


After crossing the harbour entrance on the ferry I decided to  follow part of the route of the Jurassic Beast Sportive that I mentioned in my last post. 
I didn't ride the entire route as I wanted to try some of the smaller country lanes before eventually heading back through Corfe and then setting off towards Swanage. 
I normally ride towards Swanage via Kingston hill but I decided this time that I would stick to the main road.
EVEN THE SEA GOES UPHILL IN THESE PARTS..!!
I saw a female rider ahead of me and just as I was about 20ft behind her we were both passed by a young guy who seemed to be putting some power through his pedals. 
I drew alongside the lady rider and we had a short conversation. 
It appeared that she was a visitor to the area and hadn't ridden the route before and she remarked on how nice it was. 


I commented on the helmet she was wearing...a Catlike Kompact Pro....this is my favourite helmet brand and I have both the Kompact Pro and the Whisper Plus. These helmets are a Spanish make and have a very distinctive appearance.  I really like these helmets although it must be said that they don't appear to be as popular in the UK as some other makes. 


After chatting for a few minutes I set off in pursuit of  the young guy with the power legs. I finally caught him about a mile from Swanage, timing my pass just as we reached an incline over a railway bridge knowing that he would find it difficult to respond at that point......don't you just love it when a little plan comes together..? 


When I arrived at the seafront I pulled over to take in the view and have a short break. This time of year there are very few tourists around and the promenade is still very quiet. While I was sat on the seafront both 'young power legs' and then about five minutes later the lady rider cycled past...both giving me a wave as they did so.....
MISSED IT...!!
I like Swanage...it's a small seaside town and is very popular with both young families who might want to avoid the larger commercial resorts as well as older visitors. 
I always enjoy stopping there before the final few miles back to the ferry when I am out on a ride in that area.... 


After about fifteen minutes I got back on the bike and set off on the five miles back to the ferry. The first half of this section of the route is uphill (surprise..surprise) and then it is more or less level right back to the slipway. 
I always enjoy this last part of the ride finding a nice comfortable steady cadence giving me about 13mph on most of the uphill section until the really steep part towards the top and then slipping into the big ring for the downhill where I can touch 44mph. 
When I reach the level stretch I normally hold about 28mph until I arrive at the ferry.........


Wouldn't you know it..? 
I arrived at the slipway just in time to see the ferry pulling away on it's short journey to the other side... 
Oh well at least it would be back again in about twenty minutes. 
After the ferry crossing I just had another five miles to home although that does include two more hills as a bit of a sting in the tail... 
A great ride and great weather and another 57 miles to add to this years total. 


Today...what a change! 
The rain was lashing down this morning and the wind was blowing a fair old gale.....So there will be no ride today! 
Two hours on the trainer then...it just doesn't compare does it..?

Sunday, 4 March 2012

HOW LUCKY AM I......?

How lucky am I?
Living as I do right on the coast in the county of Dorset I can go out and ride in some absolutely stunning countryside on any day of the week.......


Each year a number of Cyclo Sportives are ridden in this area and very good most of them are too. If you enter one of these events and you are lucky enough to have good weather you are virtually guaranteed to have a brilliant days riding.
One of these events is the 'Jurassic Beast'.....this sportive is part of the Wiggle Super Series rides. 


Wiggle is an online Cycle/Sport retailer based in Portsmouth which is a few miles east along the south coast from here. The sportives in the Wiggle Super Series are always well run with good support and well stocked feed stations etc......


This particular sportive is set along Dorset's Historic Jurassic Coastline and in the advertising for the 'Beast' they tell you that it has arguably some of the best vistas of any of the UK Sportives. 
I would agree with that. 
The actual route of the 'Beast' is almost identical to one of the regular summer day training rides that JD and I do a number of times each year. The event itself takes place during the month of May and starts out from the Bovington Tank Museum, which is not far from one of my favourite tea shop stops at Moreton.......also purveyors of great Dorset Apple Cake...!


My Son-in-Law had expressed an interest in entering the 'Beast' this year, but as he has been finding it difficult (as so many working people do) to find the time to get out and do enough training I advised him to aim for something a little easier for his first event.


The film above is a short advertising film for the 'Beast'- showing scenes from last years ride. It shows you some of the countryside that I ride every week..........as I said...............
How lucky am I....?

A step closer to what is normal........

Over this past week our campsite has taken a step closer to what we think of as normality...  The sign that was put out at the entrance to ...