Monday, 30 July 2012

NOW THE OLYMPICS.......


POSTER IN LOCAL SHOP
Now that the TDF has been and gone we are into the Olympic Games. 
The BBC has wall to wall coverage of the events and everywhere you look there are reminders of the games....The poster above was seen in the window of one of our local shops over the weekend. 


I have to say I did feel sorry for Mark Cavendish and the other members of Team GB Road Cycling Team on Saturday during the Road Race...none of the other teams seemed prepared to do any work on the front of the peleton for fear that it would assist the GB Team....
None of them wanted  the race to end with a sprint finish with Cav in the mix and to that end they were content to leave all the work to the British Team....mind you I am not surprised.  
Cav, Wiggo Froome and Stannard were marked men from the off. 


When all is said and done the performance that the guys put in was nothing short of amazing and as they finished the final climb of box hill, it did look as if they were in with a chance of reeling in the breakaway group...but it was not to be. 


As the tag line on the poster in the picture above says 'BETTER NEVER STOPS' and the British guys certainly didn't.  
In my opinion the guys never stopped giving it 100% and I think while most of the other teams were happy to do almost nothing, the Team GB guys showed themselves to be BETTER. 


As I said I do feel sorry for Mark Cavendish...so much pressure for a medal was put on him by the British media on top of his own desire to succeed and it was a huge burden to carry into the race, but unfortunately his previous successes proved to be the biggest barrier to his possible success in this race...... 


Not the case in the Womens Road Race on Sunday though...and what an exciting race it turned out to be... with the Dutch girl  Marianne Voss as the favoured rider. 
Weather wise it was very different than that encountered by the men the day before......the girls faced a much colder day with some truly atrocious conditions during the race....very heavy rain made the course quite treacherous in places  with a number of riders falling. 


Unlike the Men's race where we were praying for the breakaway to be caught, on Sunday it was the other way round....with all of us hoping that the final breakaway group of three would manage to stay away. 
The group consisted of Lizzie Armitstead, the Russian Olga Zabelinskaya and Mariane Voss . 


The three girls worked well together all the way back into London even though the Russian girl seemed to run out of power towards the end.....the girls managed to stay away from the Peleton all the way back and the final sprint for the line was won by Voss with Lizzie Armitstead giving it all she had to come in second and take the silver medal.....the first medal in fact to be won by any member of the entire TEAM GB up to that point..... 


With lot's of other cycling events of various disciplines yet to come I am having a pretty good time....Lot's more to enjoy......

Thursday, 26 July 2012

SUMMER MIGHT HAVE ARRIVED......

TAKE NOTE- CLEAR BLUE SKY
 Following Bradley Wiggins winning the TDF the sun has finally appeared in the sky, not that I would dare to suggest that the two things are related. Without wishing to tempt fate  I'll take a guess that our summer has actually arrived.....


Unfortunately this sudden burst of gorgeous weather has coincided with the first week of the school holidays....
For us 'locals' living in a seaside resort surrounded by magnificent scenery this means that we are invaded by hoards of holidaymakers all wishing to enjoy the wonderful beach, the scenery and the long waited for good weather....


Yesterday JD had a 'day release' from his employer so he was able to join me on my daily ride. Unfortunately due to JD being on a late shift the night before, it meant that we could not make an early start so we arranged to meet at the ferry at 10.15hrs. 
Leaving home later than usual meant that we encountered the full impact of all these visitors to the area in the form of totally crammed roads. 


The road that winds it's way around the bay on route to the Studland ferry was crammed with cars nose to tail...
Luckily the local council has put in a marked cycle lane but with so many cars about you have to have your wits about you as you ride in these lanes.....cars are liable to just suddenly attempt to turn around to get out of the jam using the cycle lane to help them swing around in the road... or the passenger decides that they want to stretch their legs and just throws open the car door....unfortunately they don't seem to check first to see if a cyclist is in the cycle lane.....


Normally during the Spring..Autumn and Winter I will cycle along these lanes at between 22-29 mph (wind permitting) but at this time of year it would be suicide to attempt it, so my speed is restricted by this mass of traffic to 12-16mph. 


It seems amazing that these people are prepared to sit in their little metal boxes for an hour or more in order to board the ferry to take a 'quick ' route to the Purbecks side....the reality is that it would be just as quick if not quicker to drive the 20 odd miles around, but hey...it's the summer, so what do you do?....you sit in your car in a traffic jam in the boiling heat.....with screaming kids....it's the British way....unless you are a cyclist of course. 


My speed may have been restricted a bit in the name of safety but lets face it 12-16mph is a lot faster than virtually nil mph, so in no time at all I had passed all the traffic and met up with JD at the ferry. 
Once we were out in the countryside and away from the tourist hotspots it was country cycling bliss. 


We had a chat with a walker at the top of a nice 18% hill where our route crossed his and then we pushed on to the Moreton Tea Rooms for two cups of coffee and a huge chunk of Dorset apple cake each.....Following our tea room stop we  returned to the ferry by another route and yes...the traffic was even worse in this direction......
But...there is nothing better than overtaking a mile long traffic jam on your bike....I wonder if they will get the message.....I wonder if the penny will drop..... 
That is............. It's a lot better by bike!!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

DONE IT......!!


When I was a youngster, many moons ago..I remember chatting with school mates, who all seemed to be football obsessed and stating out loud that I reckoned one day a British rider would win the Tour de France. 


Well needless to say I got shouted down...rubbish I was told...it will never happen. They all told me that we were a Soccer nation and that I was wasting my time being interested in cycling and I should be like everyone else and go buy a pair of football boots.... 
Since that time apart from the World Cup win in 1966 and all the money that is paid to the modern day professional soccer player, we don't appear to be very good at it, despite what my school mates believed. Even just a few weeks ago we had to suffer most of our regular TV programmes being set aside so that the nation could watch a lot of highly paid footballers lose yet again... 


Mind you it has taken a huge chunk of my lifetime for me to see my schoolboy statement come to pass, but to day it happened....BRADLEY WIGGINS, A BRITISH RIDER , HAS DONE IT..!!......WON THE TOUR DE FRANCE... 


It is being hailed as probably the greatest British sporting achievement of all time.....and as a lifelong cyclist and being aware of what a truly tough endurance event the TDF really is I have to agree, even if I do have a biased opinion...


I have to keep pinching myself to make sure that I haven't just dream't this...


After waiting so long for this to happen it has been done in true British style..not satisfied with just winning, the second place on the podium was also taken by a British rider... Chris Froome proved himself to be a superb right hand man for Wiggo..... very strong in the mountains and showing himself to be a possible future TDF winner himself....Then we have Mark Cavendish..the Manx Missile...Wow! 
Three stage wins and that last one in Paris was timed to perfection.... 


I have watched every live minute of this event on TV, including all the evening highlights and I have enjoyed it all...


I will finish with my favorite image (apart from the riders crossing the line and the podium shots) and my favourite quote from the TV coverage. 
Above is my favourite clip....three donkeys in their TDF cycling jerseys, one green, one polka dot and of course one in the yellow jersey... 
and my favourite quote comes from the man himself  Bradley Wiggins during a recent interview...
When asked how he felt about being in the spotlight, he said  "It's nice to be recognised for achieving something in life - because so much of British culture is about being famous for not achieving anything". 
That is something that I really have to agree with.....
There is so much more that I could say about this TDF, but for now I am just going to let it all soak in.

Monday, 16 July 2012

TRYING TO KEEP GOING.....

THE TIFOSI ON A RARE  DRY AND SUNNY DAY
I am trying to keep going... I am not referring to watching the TDF,  that is all running along quite smoothly.  Each stage live and then the highlights in the evening.... I have seen it all and my appetite for it is as strong as ever....No I am talking about something a bit closer to home.... 


I was riding along the other day on the Tifosi nice and early, getting a ride in before the heavens opened once again, when it crept through my mind........this thought.....


Let me explain....... 
Last year I set myself the target of riding 10,000 miles in the year. 
I failed to achieve it...not by much, but a fail is a fail. 
Yes, I had to stop riding for a month due to a medical problem but the weather was pretty good for most of the year making almost every ride an enjoyable experience....
I even had the trip back from Gibraltar to help boost the mileage but with all of that I still failed to reach my target. 


Because of failing to reach the target last year I set it again for myself this year. 


This year the weather has been atrocious....we have had so much rain, breaking rainfall records almost every month since April. 
I have had some dry rides....on the ride back from Edinburgh for instance it was dry every day except one, but it seems that in the main on every ride recently I have managed to get caught in the rain. 


Now I don't mind getting caught by wet weather on the bike now and again, but the amount of rain that we have been having this year has become really tiresome.....


So anyway as I was saying...I was riding along the other morning when the thought entered my head... Why bother...why bother keep going out and riding the bike chasing a target. If it was a nice dry summer....a proper summer....a summer when every ride is a good ride, that would be great.... but this summer...why bother? 


Now that was the first time this year that I have had a thought like that and it took me by surprise....It even unnerved me a bit.....
To be honest it made me feel that maybe I won't reach the target after all because my commitment to the task was starting to show cracks.....I managed to suppress the thought but obviously the continued bad weather has started to get to me.......


Oh look! It's just started to rain again and it's time for my ride.........

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

PEDALLING...DRUGS......

After a rest day on Tuesday the TDF  riders continued pedalling their bikes today. 
Today's stage was between Macon  and Bellegarde-sur-Valserine. 
Riding after a rest day can often have a strange effect on the riders, but at the end of the ride there was no real change to the top GC listings. 


Wiggo's  TT ride on Monday was absolutely stunning and I have to say he did look good on that bike....everything seemed to go right for him from that very first pedal stroke....that's the type of ride that Wiggo does best and it was a real pleasure to watch..
But!!! 
There is still a lot of riding yet to do and it will not be easy...there is so much that can go wrong. The stress of watching this stuff is enough to make a man turn to drink!!


It always happens...the timing seems almost planned for the middle of the TDF...I am referring to the spectre of drugs... 
French rider Remy Di Gregorio was arrested at the Cofidis team hotel. 
He has been accused of being part of a drugs ring although not within this years TDF. 
Apparently the Cofidis team continues to ride this years tour with  no finger being pointed at them. 


I have also read that in the USA a Trainer and two Doctors have been banned for life because of involvement in an alleged doping conspiracy...The guys are apparently former associates of Lance Armstrong who has also been charged with being involved. 


For years people have been trying to connect Lance Armstrong with drug taking in the sport....he has always denied it, pointing out that he must be the most tested cyclist ever.....I trust that this latest development doesn't prove positive!! (sorry about that)


Lance Armstrong has been one of my sporting heroes.....indeed when I was undergoing cancer treatment myself,  his book 'It's Not About the Bike' was a real source of strength and hope for me.......
His LIVESTRONG organization has done a huge amount of work for cancer and it would be such a pity if it transpired that he had lied to us all....a lot of people would feel very let down...I really do want (and need) to believe him.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

DAY NINE - UPDATE.....

CRABBIE'S BLACK RESERVE GINGER BEER
It is now day nine of the TDF.....so here is an update. Not on the TDF as that seems to roll on with all the action and drama that every first week of the Tour has....but an update of the action in and around Purple Towers. 


Paul from the  'I Love My Brooks Saddle' blog left me a comment asking what beverage I was using during these tough early stages of the TDF. 
Above is a picture of my answer....
Although I started  watching the Tour in the company of various types of ale I have now decided that what is working really well for me is Crabbie's Black Reserve Ginger Beer....This stuff has a great taste and at 6% volume I seem to be able to last each stage quite well. 


Of course living in these parts there is another really good reason why I would choose Ginger Beer to drink.....
As a kid I remember reading the 'Famous Five' books written by Enid Blyton as well as seeing Famous Five films at the regular Saturday morning kids cinema. Those stories were often based in the area of the Purbecks that I regularly ride in. 
On my rides I  pass the hotel where Enid Blyton would stay when visiting this area and where she is reputed to have written the stories...
The kids in the tales she wrote would have "Lashings of Ginger Beer" and go cycling, so I am carrying on that tradition although I doubt very much if their ginger beer was as strong as this great stuff I have been drinking......


The weather over this past week has been abysmal.....on just one day we had the amount of rain that we would normally expect during the whole of an average July.......trying to fit in my riding without getting washed away has been a bit of a trial, indeed my weeks mileage was considerably lower than previous weeks.....still on course though. 


With all this bad weather and no end in sight Anne and I intend on taking a holiday throughout August in the hope of finding some nicer weather. 


Since the start of the TDF a number of cycling items have been delivered by our happy and smiling postman....I won't tell you what they are yet but I plan on doing reports on them once the TDF is finished. 
Tomorrow in the TDF is a 38km time trial stage from Arc-et-Senans to Besancon and then on Tuesday there will be a rest day......at least that will give me a chance to top up my'Famous Five' supplies.

.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

MY TDF GOING WELL.....

I thought that you would like to know that my TDF is going well......


I am managing to hang on in there each day and have managed to complete the first four stages without any major mishap.....although I did manage to knock over a bottle of beer during the sprint for the finish of stage two. 
I blame Mark Cavendish for this.....seeing him just clinch the win caused me to indulge in a lot of arm waving and jumping up and down and the result was 'one bottle over'.. I had to drink an extra bottle just to get over the stress of it all. 


Not so good today for Cav though. 
He got caught up in a crash which had him hit the deck. Luckily he wasn't too badly hurt but it did put him out of the running for the sprint finish and stage win... 
All this just stressed me out yet again so I had to have yet more extra bottles just to help me recover...... 


I'm not going to write any more today as the TDF highlights are just about to start and I need to see it all over again........



Sunday, 1 July 2012

CAN I LAST THE DISTANCE.....?

JUST PART OF MY TDF KIT
Well it's started....this years Tour de France that is. 
I had thought earlier in the year that I might travel over to France in order to watch some of the TDF and soak up all the atmosphere, but then I decided that if I was going to do that I would rather go next year when it will be the 100th tour. 
So I have settled for watching it this year on the television at home thanks to ITV4... I won't be getting the full TDF experience with all the atmosphere, but I will be able to follow it every step - or should that be spin of the wheel- along the way.


Obviously this now means that for the next three weeks my daily rides will have to take place earlier in the day....on some days much earlier. 
My plan is to get out early and get the miles in, returning home in time to have lunch and settle down in front of the TV to enjoy the entertainment of the Tour until about tea time. Then in the early evening I plan to watch the 'Tour Highlights' programme again on ITV4. 


One thing that I would like to point out to everyone is that unlike the Football and the Wimbledon Tennis, which is shown on the mainstream channels and on which the 'normal' programmes are pushed aside on the wrong and misguided  assumption that 'everyone' must love those sports, the Tour is tucked away on ITV4 and no one will have their favourite programmes shoved to one side in order to make way for it.... 
I will be able to sit at home and enjoy my favourite sport in the knowledge that for the many people out there who have no interest in it whatsoever, I will not be stopping their entertainment in order for me to enjoy mine. Just a little gripe of mine!! 


I have all my TDF kit ready...books....charts....maps of the route....details of the teams....magazine supplements....reviews of previous tours..etc..etc. 
.....and beer....plenty of beer!! 


The problem I face is, will I be able to last the distance? 
Will I manage to hang on in there right up to and including that final 130km flat stage from Rambouillet to Paris on Sunday 22nd July? 
After all I will be getting up and riding earlier in the day compared to normal and I will be consuming more beer than normal.
I tell you there are lots of hardships ahead in pursuit of my sport.....!!   
I will let you all know how my tour is going as it unfolds.

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 ...