Monday, 30 July 2018

Running. Cycling. Purity. Beer. Kindness.

Last week saw me complete another long distance cycle at last. This was another rendition of my 'Wot No Cross' DIY audax. Am now 11 months into my RRTY. This means my RRTY challenge should be complete next month.
Wot No Cross Audax (211k)
Andy Payne and Ron joined me on my Wot No Cross audax. This was going to be Andy's first 100 mile plus ride and also his first 200k audax - was about time he rode with the 'Big Boys'. Ron had not cycled this distance on his new bike so that had to be rectified too. It was a first for me cycling this distance with both Ron and Andy together. When Aid (Andy's bro) cycled his first 100 mile plus ride - it was on this self same audax. Cool eh?

Andy, Ron and I left Studley around 6:30 a.m and cycled to Broadway without much menace. We were pleased we had missed an earlier heavy down pour of rain. Sun shines on the righteous right?
The sun didn't hold, we were drenched as we headed for Winchcome. The skies were black and looked very angry.  Once we reached the summit of Cleeve Hill, the rain eased. The super fast descent that followed was slowed a little due to road works.

Quick stop at Cheltenham and then we cycled past Mr Bones and headed for Lily Brook Hill. This hill was more of an effort than the previous one. Once at the top though, wee, a long descent pretty much all the way to Cirencester. The rain broke out a little and we dried in a cafe having a mini first breakfast.

Our major breakfast was at the Cricklade control. Had tried to avoid cycling off-road to reach control but it didn't happen. The Old Railway proved a better option than main road and thankfully the single track was dry. Hmm, the all day breakfast put everything right again anyway.
Wetting the whistle at Witney
Numerous airfields were passed as we made our way to the Witney control. The pouring sun was shining bright again by now too. All was great. People watching at Witney bemused us for sometime.
Doo, Ron and Andy at Rollright Stone Circle
Last section home proved quite undulating in nature. Was a great ride though. We even stopped at a stone circle at one point. Just before reaching our arrivee (The Lark), we passed Purity Brewery. Only right we finished with a pint or 2. Purity was closed, so the Lark was out stop of choice. Completed a round trip of 131 miles in all - well done Andy, great 'first' fella.
As if the long distance cycling wasn't great enough, the random acts of kindness over recent days were worthy of mention too. Ron rocked up to my yard one day last week to drop off a Purity cycling top and beer glass he had impulsively bought me - nice one, cheers! Oh, and Chris Hodge has kindly agreed to build up my rear wheel on my Ridley, aces, nice one. Lin fixed my dynamo issues, nice one again.
Last few weeks have seen me cycle commute on occasions and run the odd 5k too. No planned cycling for the next couple of weeks but hope to continue running a little. Maybe my next commute will be on a new machine? Who knows and who really cares?
Oh, and Geraint Thomas won the 2018 edition of the Tour de France. That was the first time a Welshman had won the tour since it's conception. Nice one G! Was surprised to see he was holding up a lion and not a sheep...

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Post TAW plan and action

Oh man, it's really not been that long since my TAW adventure was completed, yet it feels like it was months ago. My head is still full with thoughts and memories from Ireland. My sun burnt ears still remain a little bit crispy.

Eleven (my wonderful bike) has not been touched since the adventure (that's actually a lie, I did clean her). The rear wheel, despite being fully spoked at present, requires a re-build or a replacement. This is not immediate and financial issues suggest this won't happen for some time to come.

My head-space would like more adventure and I'm sure more will come. No major plan or intention is on the table just yet. I still plan to ride a 200k event before the end of July to keep my RRTY going (RRTY for the benefit of non audaxers is "Randoneur round the year" which involves doing 200 km or longer Audax rides one per month for 12 consecutive months). One more 200k ride in August would complete my RRTY. I think my roubaix will be the bike of choice for this challenge. I've missed Roger (my blind tandem cycling buddy) and hope to catch up with him before too long.

Have started to commute since returning home and hope this continues. Have fallen out with 'Blue', my commute bike though. Blue is a heavy hub-geared machine and I think I'd prefer a regular derailleur; Cycle to work scheme looks appealing to make this 'swap' happen. Have ran a few times too and that's been fun. It appears the lovely weather has followed me.
I had a weird dream which is worth a mention. I dreamt that I went into a record store and brought The Cure's 'All Mixed Up' album. I've had this album years and think it's their best (I know most fans don't list this album as their best, but hey, I do). Anyways, morning came and I downloaded this album, the new 'deluxe' version which contains a whole bunch of extra songs and new re-mixes. Boy, I thought it was great and it made my running experience all the better.
Build a rocket, rabbits
Despite not training hard and competing in some major event, my weekends have been great. I've spent them mostly with my family. We've walked fields, played with water (safer than fire), built rockets, become rabbits, attended Sunday school outings.. Lunar and Melody are awesome kids and SJ and I are looking forward to holidaying with them soon.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

TransAtlantic Way Cycle Race Day 11 (The finish line)

On our last day we woke up late (for us). We awoke about 7 a.m. and were kinda sad to be leaving the old house. Still, we had an awesome last night wild camp to shout about. In fact, we planned to shout about each of our 7 wild camp nights.
Day 11 (190k)
The weather throughout our trip had been mostly great. Today was no exception. We even saw a number of folk swimming in the sea. We were tempted to skinny dip but we had a race to finish.
The nearer we got to the coast the more hazy, wet and drizzly it appeared to be. It was as though the points or 'fingers' of Ireland were trapped in the clouds.
Today was the day we cycled to Mizen Head, Ireland's most Southwesterly point on the TransAtlantic Way. I thought the point we cycled to yesterday was the most Southwesterly point but obviously not. There was a pretty awesome cafe here at this point.
Jamie completed one of his missions here - to eat the dish known as 'sea food chowder'. Mary O'Driscoll from the cafe was super nice and gave me free tea. She gave both of us fridge magnets to take home. Nice one Mary, many thanks.
We left Mizen Head with happy hearts and full bellies. The Irish were so kind and friendly. Was sure my wife was gonna love the fridge magnet.
As we continued our adventure, we found a tomb that was worthy of a stop. We had seen lots in the way of standing stones and such like. It only felt proper that we pay one a decent amount of visitation. Could have been a suitable wild camp spot.
Whilst we cycled, we were again reminded of the famine. It appeared that so many places of beauty hid stories of sadness. The story we were creating was one of joy.
Today's route was about 100k more than what we had originally planned in our minds (easy last day logic) and was hillier than our thoughts allowed too. All my repairs had slowed us a little. We didn't much care as we were getting good value on this adventure with so many wonderful sights and awesome paths/roads to cycle.
We didn't get time to skinny dip earlier. However, by now our machines were crying out to taste the Irish sea. Was only right we dipped their wheels in the ocean.
At some point during our last day we were stopped by Breifne Earley and interviewed. We were not prepared for this encounter. I'm sure we spoke a lot of nonsense. This was the second time we had been interviewed during this TAW experience and Breifne had interviewed us both times. Am sure these interviews are floating around the internet somewhere (FaceBook most probably) but can't seem to locate them or embed them on this site. Breifne has a story of his own and I kinda wish I was interviewing him. Breifne was essentially a big, big lad and troubled with suicidal ideations back in 2010. Fast forward five years and he was the winner of the World Cycle Race! Now that mine and Jamie's TAW story is nearly over, don't despair, have a read of Briefne's story by clicking here.
Toe head bay, ha! This adventure contained a few 'toe' related stories. One guy completed this TAW cycle race wearing sandals - his toes were sticking out the whole time.
Oh Ireland, we were sure going to miss the specular views you had to offer. The moody and angry skies would be hard to forget. This adventure will be etched in our minds for years to come.
Red sky at night. A shepherds delight - not a cyclists (read on).  Whilst we were riding under this red sky we were again chased by a dog. No dog whispering on this occasion. I'm sure the dog actually bit some rubber. We really didn't want to ride any faster, the end was soon approaching.

Literally 'just' before the end, we met Breifne again. He asked if we wanted to stop and have a pint in the pub now we had reached Kinsale. I said 'yes', but Jamie said 'no'. Jamie was more conscientious and wanted to 'finish' so all our dear dot watchers could see we had finished and relax. Jamie won and we bolted up that last hill (about 25% gradient) with ease (folk said it was tougher than it was and had expected us to push - pah!). From top of hill and into holiday village - the end! Woo hoo, yeah man, race completed! Jamie finished before me (my tracker had gone wonky and wouldn't 'bounce' for a while to indicate that I had actually finished). Hmm, maybe I should have gone for that pint?!
Wow. Well done Ted. Well done Jamie. (Well done my dear SJ back at home, looking after our kids and all on your own, I missed you so!)
The Adventure Squad
Jamie, Ted and I had just spent 11 days together on a most amazing adventure covering many, many miles and mis-haps. Awesomeness and adventure a-plenty! We had cycled so much of Ireland (see the map below) and now have a collection of stories we could talk about forever. I hope all these blog posts have helped capture the nuts and bolts of our adventure.
Our route
And what exactly did we do at the finish? We shared beer (Smithwicks and a Guinness of course) and stories with Maddie, Jack, Briefne and Ryan Davis (our welcoming party). We ate. And then we slept, in a real bed, how strange!

Monday, 25 June 2018

TransAtlantic Way Cycle Race Day 10

Doo in Doonean!
Jamie awoke on Day 10 in a bright and bubbly mood. He was really quite comedic in fact. Jamie acted out a little sketch, similar to the 'Fast Show' on TV. He would recount all my despairs and list all the 'bad luck' that I had endured on this adventure starting with a de-flating mattress and ending with multiple counts of broken spokes. After each item was identified he would comment 'Poor Tim ... Oh dear (or words to that effect). I think Jamie's sketch jinxed me - about 3k into our ride today and ping, another broken spoke. Poor Tim ... Oh dear!
Not only had Jamie jinxed my spokes, it all started a little drizzly today. The drizzle didn't last long and the skies soon brightened. The wonderful scenery helped keep us both chipper.
So many places were called 'Doo-something or other'. I particularly liked Doonean. Kinda felt at home. Maybe I should fight for an island and name it DooBlood?!
On the subject or islands, our cycling took us to Dursley island today. We didn't actually set foot on the island because it required a trip on a cable car (or boat I guess) to get across. This was one of those out-and-back bits of the race route we had to follow. We cycled the same tarmac twice just to see a naff cable car. Ha!
Day 10 (185k)
Jamie and I had cycled some pretty long distance now. In fact, this was the furthest either of us had cycled before in any event. Today, like most others was a pretty hilly affair too!
We were 3883 km away from Moscow. We were 4950 km away from New York. We were a long way from home!
There was a particular ace memorial (see pic above) here. This memorial was erected to remember the epic story of the rescue of 6 marooned men on the Calf Rock Light-house, who had been marooned for 12 days in ferocious conditions. The light house is located on the teeny weeny island in the background of the below photo. The 6 marooned men were saved by fisherman from Dursley island. Aces!
Kay, I believe, had located a bike shop for Jamie and I to head for. This was in a place called 'Castle Beer', I think. Turns out we found no castle, no beer and no bike shop there. We phoned the 'hidden' bike shop and was informed the mechanic was not there anyhow but could be located at a bike shop in Bantry. We stopped and had a food/drink stop here and then, of course, headed for Bantry. For the record, I had cycled so many miles on a wheel with a missing spoke and had a tally of 5 broken spokes thus far.
Before reaching Bantry, we had another stop. We were hungry and thirsty and required more fuel. This stop was great. I met a lady who was called 'Melody', just like my youngest daughter back at home. We soon got into conversation and it turned out she had a cat called 'Lunar' just like my eldest daughter back at home. How coincidental (spooky) was that?! Ha!
We found Bantry just fine. Better yet, we found 'O'Donovan Cycles'. Even better still, we met the awesome Denis. Denis was able to fix my wheel good and proper once again. Thankfully, I had the spare spokes given to me by Chris Troy which helped complete this repair. Denis commented that it was now 'straight as a whistle'. Top man, top job!
How happy Jamie and I were now my bike had been fixed once more. A working bike does wonders for one's morale. Jamie's disc pads (front) could have done with re-placing but finding spares for his particular set up in Ireland was mission impossible. At least both bikes were now functional. The scenery was once again mind blowing too.
I particularly liked the long snake like roads that could be whizzed down at speed. At both top and bottom of such descents were amazing mountainous and coastal views. All this plus a fully functional bike. Woo Hoo!
It wasn't long before we came to a fork in our track. This was another out and back section. We had to follow a section named 'Sheep's Head Way'. This was hilly but led to Ireland's most South-Westerly point (if I'm not mistaken).
The view point offered great views. No matter how hard I looked, I could not spot the the light house though. An old boy (who lived here) said we would have to scramble a further mile over some rocks to view it. I chose an alternative and just looked at an information sign which had the picture below printed on it. I commented to the old boy about the wonderful views he had each day, he replied 'I don't bother with it'. Nowt as queer as folk.
We re-traced our steps and cycled back and further on, on our adventure. We saw lots of ruins and abandoned buildings. Our senses were buzzing all the while.
We cycled until we were tired. We were tired before it was dark. Wowser, we spotted an awesome, huge abandoned house. We knew exactly where our wild camp would be tonight!
It was great setting up camp in daylight. It was splendid we had an (at least) 10 roomed house to ourselves. It was amazing this house came fitted with an upstairs toilet!
When you gotta go...
We chose to sleep downstairs as birds (?swallows) were flying about upstairs. I'm sure Jamie thought they were bats. Some folk reckoned we were both batty.
Whatever, this was an awesome place to camp out. It was dry and it was ours. So warm, we didn't even have to light the fire!

Running. Cycling. Purity. Beer. Kindness.

Last week saw me complete another long distance cycle at last. This was another rendition of my 'Wot No Cross' DIY audax. Am now 1...