Sunday 28 August 2011

PBP 2011!

Hi to all and thanks for reading my blog. Below is a summary of my adventure following my completion of the PBP this year. With severe mental strain, near physical exhaustion and general wonky head space, I will do my best to recount my story below. Errors and omissions excepted.
My start time for the PBP was supposed to be 6 pm on the Sunday night. SJ and I found our way to the start with plenty of time to spare. First off, SJ and I ate a very heavily loaded carbohydrate type meal in a room full of cyclists. Following our meal, we went into town and got some money. SJ's support vehicle had my gear inside, so we walked to her car and I got changed (and applied chamois cream to my butt). The walk to the start line was pretty crazy - there were 1000's of cyclists and bikes and some had started their adventure already. A foreign cyclist informed us that I would not likely start at 6pm unless I started to queue pretty soon. With this in mind, I left SJ at around 5pm and joined a huge que. This que was packed tight with cyclists of all different nationalities, all pushing and prodding in an attempt to get a bike space ahead. This was hot and frustrating - it was already about 40 C. I queued for ages before I actually started. Just before my start some fire works were set off and much clapping was happening. Then, at 7pm I was off! I had started the PBP! A few metres into the ride I spotted SJ, Chris and Ben (at a pre-arranged spot). Although just started, I had to stop to give SJ a big kiss, Chris a hug and Ben a high 5! Chris said he felt for me, Ben said he believed in me (and also commented I was at the back) and SJ told me she loved me ...
Whoa, what a start! I felt like royalty or something. The streets were full of folk all clapping and shouting 'Bravo, Bon Voyage, Allez' and other such things. Sweet. It was real hot, a perfect day. I had to cycle 140k from St Quentin en yvelines to the first control at Mortagne au Perche and 221k to the first official control at Villaines la Juhel. The first 100k was relatively flat but quite undulating after that. The first control was just a 'food' control and my brevet card (more like a booklet) was first stamped at the second control. I remember lots of folk handing out free water, clapping and shouting praises all the way to these controls. In fact, folk throughout the whole PBP route would hand out free water and food (including tomato's). I stopped to get some free water and whack, a cyclist rode into the back of me and threw me off my bike. I shredded my shoe covers and cut my knee open but was otherwise ok. I saw another guy who was not so ok, for whatever reason he was being sick big time - projectile vomit, the works! I witnessed a crash at some point to. It got dark before too long and I remember a long, long trail of red lights. I felt I spent far too long at the first control - I qued for a while but didn't get served so just shrugged my shoulders and left control without a feed. I ate loads of food on route and had gels, biscuits, malt loaf and a blood potion from Chris which was downed between controls. The Fougeres control was awesome - it was here that I met SJ. SJ was wearing a bright pink rain coat, a gorgeous big smile and carrying my track pump and bags of food. SJ and I made use of the control here and I ate well. I pointed out the guy who knocked me off my bike to SJ. SJ supported me in a fantastic style and brought me clean shorts, socks, gloves and socks. SJ did such an awesome job and had been awake since 3 am to drive 4.5 hours to meet me for just 20 minutes! Bless her! Not to mention her sweet words of encouragement... SJ made a computer entry later which said 'SAW TIM AND HE IS DOING GOOD ... 300K IN 13 HOURS'.
When I left the control at Fougeres and made my way to the next control at Tinteniac, I was amazed to see some cyclists had already decided to take a sleep. These cyclists were camped out on the side of the road, or on benches, or in bus shelters and all having a nap. I gave SJ a call when I had cycled 500k and she made a computer entry 'TIM HAS CYCLED 500K NOW ... GOING TILL IT'S DARK, THEN HAVING A SLEEP'. I didn't really have a 'game plan' or know when best to sleep. I cycled some way with the guy who knocked me off my bike earlier (will refer to him know as 'Gloop' as SJ said he looked like Augustus Gloop from Charlie and the chocolate factory), only I didn't recognise him as he had changed his top. Whilst chatting, I informed Gloop I had crashed earlier and it was only then I realised that he was the culprit! Haha. Gloop turned out to be a real nice guy and suggested that I take advantage of any day light and cycle as far as I can, suggesting that maybe I cycle all the way to Brest. I took Gloop's advice and cycled in all available day light. When I reached the Carhaix-Plouguer control, it started to rain. SJ's hotel meanwhile had a power cut due to weather (including fork lightning). Indeed SJ's computer entry stated HEAVY RAIN AND THUNDER' at the 525k mark. The final few K's into Brest were hard work, the route just didn't seem to end and I didn't see any pretty coastal scenes (being pitch black didn't help). A pretty bridge or too were passed and I was now seeing cyclists passing me on their return to Paris. At last, I had reached Brest. SJ's computer entry read 'TIM GOT TO BREST AT 2.15 THIS MORNING [MONDAY], HALF WAY 612K'.
The Brest control was probably the biggest of all controls. Navigating around controls was never easy, and this one was particularly difficult. The fact I hadn't slept for hours (?days) can not have helped. Anyways, at this and each control one has to find their way to the actual control point to have brevet card stamped and signed. If you wanted the toilet then that required a walk to a different point. All entry points were not exit points, confusing or what?! Many of the controls had showers and beds too, all at a cost. I hadn't showered as yet and was still concerned about time. However, sleep was something I was desperate for now. With my limited french, I managed to get an official to lead me to a big gym which was full of camping beds to get a few hours sleep. I paid 3.50 euro's for this privilege and had to point on a clock to demonstrate what time I wanted to get up (and hence how long I wanted to sleep). It was about 3 a.m now and I wanted 4 hours sleep so I pointed at 7 a.m and was led to my bed. Amongst the 100's of snorers I promptly fell asleep. Sweet dreams I did not have, I was awoken about an hour later by a girl who had mistakenly thought I wanted to get up now. I shouted 4 hours and went back to sleep. About an hour later another guy came and woke me up, grr, again I said I wanted more sleep and promptly dropped off again only to be awoken again about 10 minutes later. This time I was awoken by a french brute who pulled my ear to get me up and was shouting at me in French. The voices in my head were not pleasant about this chap! Not wanting to fight, I made my way back to my bike and thought about the return journey.
The start of the return journey was horrible. It was dark, cold, wet and visibility was extremely poor. Indeed, I was cycling in pea soup. So severe was this fog that I couldn't see left or right and only a few yards ahead. This was without doubt the hardest section and to make things worse this was the hilliest stage too. Audax AAA points should be awarded for this event, it was already the most difficult event I had ever entered (yup, even harder than the Bryan Chapman). Lows and highs were experienced throughout the event and this was probably my lowest point. How I made it to the next control at Carhaix-Plougher I do not know. The ride continued in a very hilly style but I knew that the worst was completed and felt pleased to reach the control at Saint Nicholas du Pelem, the 736k mark. This control was not an official control (ie no stamp on brevet card) but offered sleep, food and showers. I decided to eat first and bumped into Gloop again. Gloop did not cycle all the way to Brest, instead he stopped at Carhaix-Plougher for a sleep (despite the advice he gave me earlier). I had a sleep here, just for an hour or so (maybe less) and then showered. The shower was cold but it felt great to wipe the sweat and salt off my body and feel fresh once again. Highs and lows...
Must have been cycling pretty well up until the control at Loudeac, as SJ's computer entry read '[AT] 782K SPOKE TO TIM, FEELING O.K'. This o.k feeling didn't last too long. I punctured! Grr, I had punctured in the dark and it was wet too. It felt like an age to change my inner tube and how I wished I had taken a head torch. My Michelin Pro Race 3 tyres were excellent and came on and off the rims real easily (but were not so awesome because they did not prevent punctures). My new wheel set was awesome and handled hitting cobbled roads at the bottom of hills at speed. I checked the tyre for thorns and/or cuts but found none. With tyre fixed I continued on my journey. I cycled about 1 mile and psst, the tube had punctured for a second time. This second puncture took even longer to sort out. I found a thorn in the tyre, which was easily removed. What took me a while to find was the wheel skewer, I had loosened it too much and it had fallen in long grass. After an age, all was fixed and off I went again. The voices in my head were singing songs to keep me happy and motivated 'only 54k till I see SJ'.
The next awesome thing I saw was SJ, hooray! I met SJ for the second time now at the Fougeres control. How happy I was to see her! SJ walked with me to get my card stamped. My bike was parked in an official parking spot, which I left behind as I headed away from the control. Indeed, for a whole hour (there about) I had left this PBP experience behind and let SJ drive me to a hotel for a quick sleep and a shower. SJ had washed my shorts and had gotten me loads of food for good measure. Before long however, we had to say our goodbyes and SJ took me back to my bike. Only about 300k left to go now. SJ's computer entry stated 'JUST SAW TIM, HE IS UNSURE WHAT DAY IT IS AND I HAD TO CONFIRM WHAT TOWN WE WERE IN. HE IS OK'.
The next control I reached was Villaines la Juhel at the 1009k point. I was hoping to meet SJ here, but can you believe it - I beat her here! Hahah. Again was feeling pretty whacked by now. SJ's computer entry read 'SAW TIM EARLY HOURS THIS A.M, HE HAS DONE 1009K ... REALLY TIRED'. At some point during the route I saw young kids on BMX bikes race (and usually win) randonneurs climbing to the top of a hill.
Cycling to the next control was fun. I had hooked up with a guy called Simon (from Chippenham) and we chatted for miles before he zoomed off and left me. Talking for so long helped me to forget about my aches and pains. The voices were singing my SJ songs again and before too long, I was with SJ at the Mortagne au Perche control. It was bright and sunny now, really hot in fact. We had a really tasty sausage sarnie here, mmm, delicious! SJ made me a bed on some grass in the shade under a tree. My bed was her sleeping bag and my bike blanket - how improvisational was that?! SJ had become my manager and was instructing me to sleep and informing me that I had plenty of time. She predicted I would finish this same night (turned out she was right). I fell asleep, but not for long. When I awoke, there were sleeping bodies all around me, hahah, where did they come from? Before I left this control, an English chap came up to me and said 'you must be English wearing a Heinz Baked Beans top'. I informed him he was correct and he requested to take a picture of SJ and I. He was taking photo's of English randonneurs for his website. Go UK go! During the whole event, I think I must have seen at least 4 folk that I had previously ridden audax events with back in the UK. Left SJ here saying 'I'll see you in Dreux'. SJ informed folk back home that at this 1090k mark that 'TIM HAD A 30 MIN NAP ... HE DIDN'T WANT ANYMORE. VERY SORE AND TIRED'.
The next control point was in Dreux. This was very hard going as I was so very tired and sore. With about 40k to go to the control, I pulled over and tried to take a cat nap on the side of the road. I had seen 100's of cyclists do this earlier in the event and no one battered an eye lid. In fact, I had taken one such cat nap earlier and felt much better for so doing. This time however, a car pulled over and checked to see if I was ok. I took this as a sign to continue. (My previous cat nap was taken because I actually cycled off the road and onto the grass verge and felt a sleep was a necessity). I continued and before long I found a garage. This garage provided me with a can of red bull, a much needed stimulant (plus food). Throughout the event I had taken Pro Plus capsules with good results. I must have taken a total of 10 such capsules and asked SJ to get me some more. SJ couldn't find Pro Plus but found me guarana tablets - a natural caffeine high. These guarana tablets were rubbish. SJ also provided me with Ibuprofen which worked very well and Arnica cream which my butt loved. The red bull helped pick me up and I cycled in beautiful weather all the way to Dreux where SJ was waiting. SJ was hard to spot. The reason why SJ was so hard to spot was the fact that I had gotten 3 bugs stuck in my eyes, 1 in the right and 2 in the left. I purchased an awesome pair of glasses at the start of the event but sadly lost them somewhere, probably left in a restaurant at a control. Talking of eyes, I experienced hallucinations throughout the event. These were more like illusions to be fair. I saw a dinosaur silhouette in the tree's and many posts and such like looked very much like fellow cyclists until I neared them. At this control, the last before the finish, SJ suggested I sleep. SJ made up a bed (just like before) on the car park floor and tucked me in. I tried to sleep but despite my body being willing, my head was not. SJ allowed me to rest and cooked me up a pot noodle thing. SJ informed that I was quite out of it and nearly fell over when I tried to get off my bike. With just 65k left to go, I decided to leave as soon as I finished my meal, wanting to take advantage of the remaining light.
My maths is often terrible and I thought I had less time than I had remaining to reach the finish. I knew I would make it before the cut off point, but the voices in my head were instructing me to finish within an 80 hour limit and told me (wrongfully) that I had to finish by midnight. With these voices as fuel, I sped off on this last section and was pleased the wind was behind me and the hills had mostly disappeared. Things were going great until about 30k to go, when my headlight showed that it was about to die (a red light appears when the battery is about to die). I had no batteries left (had taken 4 with me and purchased another 4 during event) and my awesome Ay-Up back up light (a better light) was missing. The Ay-Up was removed way back after my puncture menace, as when I turned the bike upside down, the handlebar mounting band had broken. Menace! Nowhere was available to get new batteries, the day light had faded and I was not going to cycle without lights in the dark. I used an old trick and waited for cyclists behind to catch up and over take, then I followed them closely, using their light source. This slowed me down a lot, but I guess it helped me concentrate and I knew I would find the finish without having to navigate myself. The whole course was sign posted with arrows with either Paris or Brest written alongside them. I also had a back up route card. I was informed that folk like to pinch the signs as memento's so it was worth slowing my pace and following this group. Before too long, I was back in Saint Quentin - I knew this because I saw the train station where Chris, Ben, SJ and myself took a trip to see the Eiffel Tower. Just after this point, SJ phoned and said she was at the end, I said 'I'll be there in 3 minutes honey' and I think I was. As I passed a sigh for 'Guyancourt', I sped off along a roadside that was littered with clapping, cheering folk - the clapping and praises getting louder and louder as I reached Gymnase des Droits de l'Homme, the finish. And then, I stopped! I spotted SJ, and just like at the start, I got off my bike and gave her a big kiss. I remounted my bike and cycled just a few paces to the finish. SJ helped me park my bike and followed me to the control where I had my brevet card signed and stamped for the last time. Woo hoo, I did it, job done! Big claps, kisses, hugs, praises, a pat on the back and a free drink! SJ's face book entry read 'TIM CYCLED 1230K IN 77 HOURS [AND 14 MINUTES] ... HE CAN'T MOVE RIGHT NOW'.
It really felt great to complete this PBP challenge and I am so pleased with my time of 77 hours and 14 minutes. It has been great to share my experience with you good good people. Without the support of so many dear friends and family this could have been a real painful miserable experience. Thanks so much to everybody for their support and thanks a bunch to those that have sponsored me. At time of writing, we have managed to raise over $3,000 (Canadian) for the Agape in Action charity, and more specifically the 'Tim's Well' project. For information on this charity, project or sponsor details please visit this link: Further monies are coming in and I thank you all so much. Before concluding this blog, I would like to make a few shout-outs. My biggest shout out goes to SJ for being so awesome, a loving thoughtful and caring support, a manager and the best girlfriend a guy could hope for. SJ you really rock! Big shouts to Chris and Ben too for coming to France and supporting me in ways that best friends do, you guys are awesome and your flapjacks are hard to beat. Thanks to Ron, Sarah M, John Vincent et al for training rides, borrowed bikes, maintenance, repairs and adventure. Cheers to my family. Thanks to all who have sponsored, supported, texted, messaged, mailed, sent cards or fed me. Strokes to Cody menace.
To finish, I will leave you some statistics. 4,998 cyclists started the event but only 3,980 finished within their time limits. 1,018 cyclists abandoned or 'packed' and 270 finished outside their time limit. Sadly, 1 cyclist died. Below is a chart demonstrating my progress between controls.
<>  <>  <>  <> <> <>  <>  <>  <>  <> <> <>  <>  <> <> <>  <> 
SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES21-08 18:510h000 km/h0h000.1 km/h
VILLAINES-LA-JUHEL22-08 04:269h3423.1 km/h9h3423.1 km/h
FOUGERES22-08 08:2313h3122.9 km/h3h5622.6 km/h
TINTENIAC-0h000 km/h0h000.1 km/h
LOUDEAC22-08 16:0921h1721.1 km/h0h006553.5 km/h
CARHAIX-PLOUGUER22-08 20:5426h0320.2 km/h4h4516 km/h
BREST23-08 02:1531h2319.7 km/h5h2017.4 km/h
CARHAIX-PLOUGUER23-08 11:1040h1817.4 km/h8h559.5 km/h
LOUDEAC23-08 16:4145h5017.1 km/h5h3114.3 km/h
TINTENIAC23-08 21:3150h3917.1 km/h4h4917.6 km/h
FOUGERES24-08 01:3254h4016.8 km/h4h0013.5 km/h
VILLAINES-LA-JUHEL24-08 09:2062h2816.2 km/h7h4811.3 km/h
MORTAGNE-AU-PERCHE24-08 14:2567h3316.1 km/h5h0515.9 km/h
DREUX24-08 19:5273h0016 km/h5h2713.8 km/h
SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES25-08 00:0677h1415.9 km/h4h1315.4 km/h
Kilomètres parcourus: 1230

Sunday 21 August 2011


It is Sunday August 21st and only a few hours before the PBP begins. Tim has asked me (SJ) to type this entry, as he is still in bed and has a lot to sort out. Argh,,,

Monday was the last training day that Tim undertook. He met up with Ron and Sarah M and did a mountain bike trek to WebheathWoods and back, via Morton Stanley Park and Arrow Vale. They were like 3 town rats. Tim just hopes this training was enough and says he could not find time for any more.

Tuesday and Wednesday was mostly spent working and worrying. Tim worried about his challenge and I worried with the thought of driving through Paris. Much to worry about.

Thursday was the day our trip began. We did not reach Paris, but we fully loaded my car with all our stuff (clothes, bike bits, bike, malt loaf, etc) and reached London. We stayed in London over night and headed for the ferry at 5.30 am. the following morning.

Travelling down the motorway on Friday was interesting - we saw a giant T-Rex and hid buddy whizzing up the other side of the carriage way! Luckily he didn't smell the malt loaf and try to eat us. We made it to the ferry just in time. At the ferry we had much to worry about, I had to fix headlamps, attach GB sticker, etc and hope that my Sat Nav would work ok in France. The ferry took us from Dover to Calias with no major issues.

Touched French soil and I had the nervous excitement of driving on the wrong side of the road for 220 miles till we reached our hotel  just outside Paris. We then met up with Chris Orange and his son Ben for something to eat. Sadly there were no frogs legs on the menu for Ben.

(Still in bed, Tim writes the last few lines)...

A big big thanks to SJ for being my no.1 support and bringing me here to France. SJ has really been a star and has had to suffer about 6 months of constant 'bike abuse' where I have spoken about little else and spent much time pedaling. She has been awesome in helping me prepare and supporting me in thick and thin. Big shout out to Chris Orange too (and his son Ben) for travelling to France and offering me extended support. Chris also trained some events with me. Big thanks to all my training buddies, family and friends and thanks to you reading this. An extra big big thanks to all those who have sponsored me too.

Ok, back to France. On saturday, SJ, Chris, Ben and I did the proper tourist thing and went to look at the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triumph and stand on the Chands Alysees. This was a nice relaxing morning out. The evening was a wee bit more stressful - SJ and I took my bike to get checked. Mostly French speaking folk twiddled with bits on my bike whilst SJ and I had to suffer the hot sun (about 30 C). The bike guys needed proof that my front wheel rotated, that I had lights that had a onstant mode and proof I had a reflective vest. I didn't have a vest, but had a ticket for same. Following bike check we had to collect vest, jersey and bandana from various stalls. Time counsuming and hot. SJ had to visit the 'support' stall too and get stickers for her car. The guy giggled at SJ and said 'good luck' which we both found quite disturbing. Whoa, had finally got my brevet card, a medal for my SR series, a timing chip and my frame number, which is 5631! We visited a stall and purchased some glasses, a cap and some shoe covers too. After this task, we hooked back up with Chris and Ben and had a pizza/pasta meal. Chris gave me some flapjacks (sorry Ben) and a few gels, wished me well and we all went to sleep not long after.
Morning came. Argh, the day of PBP. SJ started to type, I took over and now must go, less than 6 hours to get up, shower, prepare, load, eat and then, who knows .....

Weekly totals: Cycled 18 miles

Thursday 18 August 2011

Trompe Le Monde!

Hi all, this is a hasty post as I should be packed up now and heading to paris for the PBP! Eeek! Horrors! Just before my Bon Voyage, I wanted to let you all know that you can follow my progress live by clicking onto this link: and typing in my frame number which is 5631.

Remember, I'm cycling this 1200k PBP challenge to raise monies for the Agape in Action charity. You can find more information and/or sponsor me by following this link: Thankyou!

Ok, cars to load, ferry to catch etc... I'm off! Hope to post something when in France.

Sunday 14 August 2011


Can tell that PBP has gotten nearer as many more folk have sponsored me! Big big thanks to all those who have sponsored and to those who have and are continuing to support me. For those yet to sponsor me and for those who have no idea what 'Tim's Well' is all about, please visit this link: Some folk who have sponsored already have stated that they will donate the same amount again if I complete said challenge. Should I be concerned and hold a belief that these individuals have a lack of faith which I find disturbing?! Or, should I be thank full and hold the belief that these individuals are giving me motivation and a push to get to Brest and back in 90 hours?!   ;)
As many are aware, and as could be expected, my head space is filled with bike stuff. PBP related stuff is probably top of the list and deciding what to take to Paris (and what to leave behind) is a chore. Have recently fitted my bike with new stuff - new wheels, new tyres and nearly a new saddle too. Have gotten the bike checked over with help of Cult Cycles and my mate Ron, and am hoping all is good for Paris. Cult cycles had to straighten my wheels as both were buckled - these wheels had only been out on 1 ride! My bottom bracket needed some work too. The saddle was an issue. I purchased a very nice Brooks titanium swallow but sent it back a few days later. The saddle was perfect but my seat post appeared to be stuck to the frame. Indeed, the carbon seat post had seized tight into the carbon frame. Many attempts were made to remove said post but to no avail. A telephone call to Dan ('the bicycle man') indicated just how severe the problem was - he advised I take a hack-saw to my post! Decided to keep my post in one piece and return saddle. The saddle I have is ok and will have to suffice for PBP. On the up-side, I have a seat that will not drop out of position and I have saved myself over £100 in returning saddle. I guess the future holds a new bike, rather than a new saddle?!
Deciding on whether to tackle coast to coast on mountain bikes or a trip on road bikes to and around the Isle of Wight (and back) with Chris Orange, post PBP is another head stretch.  I think I will (hopefully) complete PBP, then beg Chris to make the final decision. Both sound like awesome options.
Chasing awards and points with AUK has also proved quite menace. So far this season, I have 30 AUK points (with a further 4 pending). I require 50 AUK points to get the randonneur 5,000 award, which is worth chasing as 50 AUK points in one season is a hard thing to achieve. The pending points awaiting to be awarded are for the Two Battles Perm and the Montgomery Madness Perm. I recently received an email from one organiser (Geoff Cleaver) who said 'John Ward has indicated that the photo's will do as proof of passage but was not impressed with losing the receipts'. That pretty much confirms the points for the Two Battles Perm. Another email from organiser Philip Whiteman indicated that points will be awarded for his perm, especially as Ron had 'found' all missing receipts as proof of purchase. This brings me back to the PBP, I didn't know whether they awarded AUK points for this event. I know now that they do, as I asked same question on a forum and Keith (AUK validater) replied 'Yes, your points will be credited some time before the end of the season'. Sweet! To top that, the PBP dossier says the route is hilly, I don't know whether any AAA points are awarded. Time will tell!
Training this week didn't start with a cycle. SJ and I decided to face each other on a battle court, I mean badminton court, instead. We both played well and the final score was 3:3. Funny that SJ still treated this score as a victory. Am surprised she didn't perform some sort of victory dance.
First cycle of the week was with Ron and Sarah M. We took our bikes from Studley to Coughton then skirted around and past Shelfield. Tony Green was met on this section of our ride but could not be convinced to travel much further with us. We took an off road path which passed through Little Alne, Aston Cantlow, Billesley and Redhill before meeting the busy main road at Stag Hill. This off road section was great - I have many cuts and scratches to prove it!  We were only back on the road for a few minutes before turning off again and cycling off road to Haselor. From Haselor we made our way to Coughton Ford and then back home again.
My indoor rollers training session has continued to improve. I did not cycle at a high intensity, but like the past few weeks I made sure I increased my average speed - this week cycling at an average of 27.9 mph. Perhaps higher intensity training is the way forward, I don't know. What I do know is, is that higher intensity training is probably better suited to a turbo trainer than rollers.

I planned to complete The Poor Student Perm in the week but this did not happen. I felt a little run down towards the end of the week and didn't want to take any chances with it being so close to PBP. It rained on the day I had in mind too, so perhaps I made the best decision.
My final training session was with SJ. We cycled to Sambourne and up the off road track to the top of Astwood Bank. From this high point we took a descent off road and followed it to the end by Cold Comfort Lane. SJ did some acrobats here and jumped off her bike 3 times! We saw fantastic Mr Fox in the lane which was nice. Our journey continued into Alcester, through Dovecote, past Haselor and Great Alne and took another speedy down hill track to Coughton Ford. (The 3rd ford I kept looking for was perhaps this one at Dovecote?). From Coughton we cycled home, passing birds of prey and many deer on route. Nice.

Weekly totals: Cycled 56 miles.

Saturday 6 August 2011

Montgomery Madness (208k audax) [perm]

Only _ days to go now till the PBP! That means that there ain't too many days left for you good good people to sponsor my efforts and help build 'Tim's Well', which will provide clean drinking water for  280 students at a school being built in Kenya, plus 40 teenagers residing in 'Kimbilio' (a nearby Agape in Action shelter) and for the entire surrounding community. Please read about my project and/or sponsor me by clicking on this link:

Not many days left for good training for the PBP either. Oh well. This weeks training went real well. My first training session was with Ron and Sarah M. We took our bikes in a loop starting and finishing in Studley. The majority of this route was off road and we passed through Oldberrow, Shelfield, Little and Great Alne, Aston Cantlow, Coughton and Sambourne. The high-light of this adventure was passing through 2 fords. There are 3 fords in the area but I can't remember where the third one is (any ideas?). The first ford we passed through was somewhere between Aston Cantlow and Great Alne. This was the best ford and a sign saying 'impassable at all times' was there to provide adventurers like us a challenge! The sign held true for Sarah M, she fell from her bike and had a good wash! Ron made it across on first attempt, As for me, well, I kept putting my foot down until about my 3rd or 4th attempt where I made it across in one go! Woo hoo! The second ford in Coughton was no bother. The third awaits!
My second adventure was an epic. This adventure was shared with Ron and completed using our road bikes. This particular adventure was The Montgomery Madness 208k Permanent Audax. The Beacon Roads Cycling Club has this to say about said event - 'Montgomery 'Madness' is an appropriate title for this route. Aside from the obvious destination being the historic town of Montgomery in Mid-Wales, the 'Madness' refers to the challenging nature of this route. It is unrelentingly hilly with some serious climbs and deserves its 3.5 Audax Altitude Award Points. This route is not to be underestimated but there is benefit for all that hard work, unrelentingly picturesque views of stunning and varied countryside along with passage through some attractive Georgian market towns. Pick a day with good weather and this will be a ride to remember!'

We picked a good day with great weather (maybe the hottest day this year?!) and this ride will not be forgotten in a hurry. We started the event at about 8.30 a.m in Bewdley. The ride felt weird from the start, maybe because I was using both a new wheel set and new tyres. My bike felt like it was rolling over deep carpet but after a while I had gotten used to it. This really was a hilly event - it was hilly from the start and no flat road was encountered at all on passage to the first control in Bromyard. The control was awesome. Being so hot, we were able to sit outside and devour a full English breakfast with a mug of tea! The picture below represents the hilly nature of our adventure.

From Bromyard to Ludlow was what I liked to call 'the calm before the storm'. The ride started off hilly, but downhill, which was great. However, before the control was reached the hills started going up again. We sat outside a very pretty castle and ate ice cream once the control was reached.

Ludlow to Knighton was hilly indeed. Down then up was the pattern throughout. No sign welcoming us to Wales was passed but judging by folks accents and Welsh sign posting I figured we had gotten there. Chips with pie was our dinner here. I don't think I've had chips on any audax before. Hmmm.

Shropshire hills were battled from Knighton and once said hills were conquered a sign saying 'welcome to Shrosphire' appeared and shortly after 'welcome to Wales'. Madness! Ha ha, then we reached Montgomery. Bonkers B roads, lunatic lanes, crazy course, psychotic cycling - the Montgomery Madness! This section was very hilly throughout and the roads were narrow. At the control we had a well deserved piece of carrot cake and ice cream. After applying sun screen (thanks SJ x) we were off again!
Leaving Montgomery was hard work. We had to climb hills with a gradient of 17% in hot weather. We felt great as we conquered said hills and passed Stiperstones and Great Mynd (which means long mountain, so Ron tells me). After the hills came the reward - a long steep descent called the Burway. A reward for Ron, a curse for me! Bombing down this hill (and speeds of over 46 mph were reached) I punctured! Whoa, scary indeed but no damage. Rolled my bike to the bottom and with Ron's help fixed said puncture. Happy to be rolling again and decided not to re-trace back up big hill to bomb down again! We reached the control in Bridgnorth and ate sausage roll and pork pie. It was getting a wee bit dark now too, so added sleeves and set lights up before continuing.
The last leg was short but felt longer. I guess I was eager to finish but the relentless nature of this route was menace. The hills kept coming and it was dark too. The last hill was great, it was downhill and led to the finish! Woo hoo! Job done, what a great ride!

Cycled 208k (or 129 miles) during audax

Used my road bike again in the week. This was during an indoor rollers session. I did not cycle at a very high intensity but I kept my average speed above that of last week (as I have been doing week by week) and cycled at an average speed of 27.5 mph.
The last training session of the week was with my girl 'SJ'. We took our bikes all the way to Kings Norton following country lanes. Prior to the country lanes we passed through Arrow Vale lake. The weather was great and we were having fun. On route we stopped and equipped ourselves with lucozade which helped wash down the flap-jacks that SJ had purchased from a granny at market. The flap-jacks provided energy to push us both up the hills towards our destination. We reached Kings Norton and had a look around a Bible exhibition. The exhibition was interesting and they also provided us with juice and biscuits. At this stop I fixed my slow puncture, well tried too - the new tube I had put in was split. Luckily I had another tube and my puncture problem was solved. When we left the exhibition, my badger navigational skills kicked in and got us lost. I was hoping to go home via Tanworth and Earlswood lakes. Instead we cycled a few circles and headed home down country lanes close to those we had cycled to get to the exhibition. It was a wee bit wet on the return. Once we got to Arrow Vale lake for the second time, disaster struck. Some 'idiot' (the voices in my head calling him something else) on a bicycle rode straight into the back of SJ's bike. Luckily SJ was ok but the gears on her bike were whacked out of sync. SJ and I soldiered back home with thoughts of kebab meat and chips.
Weekly totals: Cycled 210 miles.

Happy New Year 2022

Happy New Year folks. I wonder what's in store for 2022,  - something crazy, something new? It's a shame Covid is still here and I&#...