Monday 30 July 2012

The 3 coasts 600 (or the 1 coast 370)

Am sure the pic above requires no explanation! Bradley Wiggins sure has done well. My story doesn't quite compare.

Started this weeks training in familiar style and cycled a lap of my TTT 20 route. Had left this blog entry quite late and couldn't remember much about the ride. Recorded the time taken though, which wasn't brilliant - 7 minutes slower than my personal best.

The weekend saw my first DNF (did not finish) on an audax event. This event was the 3 coasts 600. As the name suggests, this was a 600k event that visited 3 coasts. My story is presented below.

Drove to Mytholmroyd community centre Friday night. This was the start of the audax. A few others had drove down this evening too. It was nice to meet the organiser and chat with a few other cyclists (such as Graeme, Peter and Bikey Mikey) before the event kicked off on the Saturday. After sharing stories and the like, I went to bed (around 10 p.m) and tried my best to sleep. Was constantly waking and falling back asleep until around 5 a.m, the time we all got woken up.

Once up, I ate some breakfast (coco pops and some toast) and readied my bike. About 40 of us had gathered together now ready for this adventure. At 6 a.m we were off!

The start was a trifle menace as lots of bug's were flying around looking for potential victims. (It was only once I was home that I noticed that bugs had eaten my right leg alive - at time of writing was very swollen and itchy). The sky looked as though it was going to be a bright day. However, within just a few k's the heavens opened big time. All 40 of us were soaked through to the skin. Because of the rain, our peleton of 40 became heavily split up. I stopped under a bridge and decided to layer up with my water-proof jacket. Am pleased I did this as the rain stuck around for a while and was quite heavy.  Just before the first checkpoint (at about 23k, in Mirfield) the rain stopped. An event marshal signed our brevet cards at this point. I removed my waterproof layer, ate an apple and headed off again.

This next section was pleasant enough. No real menace encountered. Within no time reached the first food stop - the Castleford Bus Station Cafe. Some folk decided to bounce this control. I stopped for a cup of tea. It was still very early in the morning and I wasn't feeling so hungry. I ate a banana from my saddle bag and sought to chase some folk who had bounced this control.

Perhaps the most pleasant cycling took place during this section. The weather was great and the roads were in good condition. Better yet, a tail wind was pushing me forward. I took advantage of these factors and sped along at quite a pace. I could see one cyclist ahead in the distance and he became my target to catch. Within minutes I caught him. I forget his name (sorry) but remember he was wearing an audax UK jersey and what looked like track-suit bottoms. This guy was interesting enough, we chatted about bike related stuff for a while (and he had completed the PBP 6 times to date!). After a while I took his wheel and recovered a little before returning the favour. When I turned my head around, I realised I had dropped him. Ahead I could see another cyclist and decided to chase him. Caught this cyclist too and again was nice to chat some while cycling along. This chap was called Graeme and I had cycled with him earlier for a short stretch. Graeme provided useful information before this event on his blog site and the YACF forum. We (plus a few random others who had caught and joined) chatted pretty much all the way to the next control - a service station in or near Pocklington. I ate chocolate here and purchased some lucozade. I was a little leisurely leaving this control and left on my lonesome.

From the service station I passed through Bridlington and Fridaythorpe. A chap called Joe was just ahead of me and I attempted to catch him. As hills were encountered, the distance between me and Joe just grew bigger - I wasn't going to catch him. A relatively chubby guy with pink handlebars ('Mr Pink handlebar guy') flew past me and I saw him catch Joe. Must have been the EPO (ha!). A nice descent took me to the information control in Langtoft. Graeme had taken a wrong turn earlier and to my surprise turned up at this control just after me.

Graeme and I cycled together all the way to the next control. Was great having someone to chat with during this section - took my mind of aches and pains and was interesting to listen to another's stories. The control was right by the sea and was named the Boathouse Cafe. I ate pie, gravy and peas here (had chips too but didn't fancy them). Those that know me well will know that I have a history of losing glasses. I lost a pair of glasses at this control too. I didn't leave them behind - when I went for a wizz, I bent forward (was wearing bib shorts you see) and my glasses fell from my jersey into the pan! I wasn't going to retrieve them! Left cafe and remembered I had forgot (?!) my gloves. Returned to cafe and retrieved my gloves (which were now tucked into another cyclists helmet). Left control with Graeme and Joe (who now wanted to cycle with company as his last section was a 'boring' solo affair).
Before following our instructions again, we diverted just a short distance to view the sea front. Woo hoo, we had reached the first coast - the East Coast! An obligatory photo was considered a must.
So, the 3 of us (Joe, Graeme and myself as pictured above) left the sea front and headed for Malton. Joe and Graeme kept quite a pace. It was good to cycle with this pair as they pushed quite hard and were fun guys. I found their pace a little fast for me but was happy to cycle with them both. For the most part I chose to follow but at times offered a pull. Am sure Mr Pink handlebar guy kept ahead of us throughout this section too. I was feeling real 'Hank Marvin' by the time we reached the Yorkshire Tea Rooms control. At this control I ate scrambled egg on toast and washed this down with a pepsi and a mug of tea.

Left control as a group of 3 again. Similar pattern to before - Joe and Graeme pulling for the most part and myself benefiting from a tow. With gritted teeth I pulled for short sections. Before we reached control we passed Mr Pink handlebar guy and stopped off at Tesco's for food supplies. I had a lovely ploughman's sarnie here and purchased malt loaf and chocolate for later. We passed through 2 information controls before reaching the next 'proper' control. Somewhere during these controls things had started to go wrong. First off, my rear light came on and wouldn't stop flashing. Flashing mode was a real annoyance for those following behind and it became annoying for me to tell everyone it was flashing because it was faulty. The rain proved menace too, it wasn't too bad but when it fell, it fell real hard! Passing through Sowerby was lovely, a number of scarecrows in various guises were occupying folks front lawns. (Am sure I passed through Sowerby during LEJOG 2009 and was informed about Sowerby's scarecrow festival). Interestingly enough, we cycled past Toad Hall too! Aldwark Bridge proved an interesting crossing - all the boards were loose and looked like piano keys were being tapped as we cycled over. By the time we reached the control at Shell Riverside Service Station it was dark (and we had stopped at a pub earlier because Graeme had a taste for alcohol). So hungry at this control that I ate 2 snickers bars and downed some chocolate milk. My bum was real sore too, so took opportunity to lube up (but think I left bum creme behind).

The next section was my last section. Sadly things went very wrong. At one point my wheel became locked - the chain had gotten caught in the front mech. Graeme stopped to help me out and we were able to free the wheel. Sadly the front mech was damaged and now I was limited to just my lower gears (I completed the Bryan Chapman 600k audax without a large chain ring, and this reminded me of that incident). Off we set and then pssst, my rear tyre had punctured. Graeme left me here as he was looking forward to sleep and I hoped I'd be just minutes after him at control after I fixed puncture. This wasn't to be. I fixed puncture (replaced tube) but within a few more K, I had punctured again. Puncture fixed and then I punctured again. Grr. This was not fun at all and my time was elapsing quicker than I hoped. I punctured six times in all (both front and rear tyres). At the fourth puncture the voices in my head whispered 'game over' - I had used all my spare inner tubes. I started to push my bike along, tired, angry and not thinking straight. It was about 30k back to Mytholmroyd, the next control, which was both a food and sleep control. I had a spare tube at control too. A passing pair of cyclists stopped and donated me an inner tube which was greatly appreciated. I pumped up tyre but the valve came off in my pump and horrors, I was back to square one. Pushed bike along once more and after an age another cyclist stopped and gave me a tube. With brief hope I inflated tyre and set sail again. With less than 10k  cycled, pssst, the rear tyre punctured once more. I was so tired now, fed up and felt like crying. I just pushed my bike along and wasn't sure if I was on route anymore. Another cyclist stopped and asked if I wanted a tube. This was a nice offer but I just couldn't be bothered to remove a tyre and fit again after doing so, so many times. I declined but just asked to borrow his pump (a great big pump) to just inflate tyre and hope it got me back to control. It didn't! I should have took the tube. With flat tyre I just pushed along. Drunk kids were ahead on the street, so I by-passed and by chance found a taxi station. A taxi took me back to control. I had given up. Packed. This was to be my first DNF'd audax. :(

I rocked up at the M'royd control at 3.42 a.m, about 4 hours later than I had anticipated. A number of cyclists were still behind me (with working machines I bet...). I informed the marshals I was packing and supportive and understanding they were. I made my bed and fell asleep.

When I awoke, I saw Bikey Mikey pottering about and Mr Pink Handlebar guy was asleep to the left of me. I think I saw Joe too but am not overly sure. With a strange feeling of disappointment I sneaked off and headed home. I had cycled 370k and visited just one coast!

The damage: Well for an event scoring 6 AUK points, I scored zero. I was 6 months into my AAArty award (and was hoping this event would score 1.75AAA points for July) but now those plans are shot too (no days left this month to ride an AAA event). Was hoping to complete an SR series too - no chance of finding a calendar 600k event for remainder of year). Damage to the bike was equally nasty. After a visit to bike shop today, I require new brake blocks (front and rear), a headset, chain, cassette, large chain ring, front mech and a new rear wheel. I won't be getting a new wheel but the wheel will require truing again as the rims have some nasty dents in them. Cost to fix bike is just under £300. :(

Too grr to blog much more....

Weekly totals: Cycled 250 miles.

Saturday 21 July 2012

Batman's day out

This week's blog is kinda funny because it really began at the end of the previous week. The story is picked up after my adventures with Aid in and around the forest of Dean. What I didn't inform in the last blog was the fact that my rear brake had failed. I didn't let this mis-hap prevent me from having a great day but it sure is a pain all the same. Scotty is equipped with Avid Elixir R disc brakes and I guess they need a service - dread to think how much this may cost! It was only since my brake failed that I realised I am able to adjust reach of the levers. Think they call this 'the good with the bad' phenomena.
Following Scotty's day out, SJ and I went away for the weekend. We went to Burnham-on-Sea. No cycling was planned, however, cycling activities were performed (hence this blog entry). I pinched my mothers bike on the Friday and cycled from the caravan site to the beach front. I wouldn't take my own bike(s) on the beach, but enjoyed cycling my ma's up and down the sea front. On return to campsite I cycled to nearby shop and purchased some bread. A short but sweet 4 miles on a bike I wouldn't be seen on in my home village. On Saturday I cycled the same route again, only this time SJ was with me. SJ was cycling my pa's bike, which was way too small for me. We had fun. Maybe we should invest in a tandem?!
On Tuesday, Ron and I hooked up and went for our usual weekly spin. We cycled a different route tonight, making it up as we went along. We cycled some distance along previous routes and around Arrow Vale lake too. Nice pleasant ride on a nice pleasant evening.

Thursday saw me complete my first ever DIY permanent audax. I created a 150k route that started and finished in Studley. The route was named 'Batman's day out' as the mapped route forms the shape of a bat. Below is a summary of Batman's day out.
In the guise of Batman, I left the bat cave (in Studley) on my bat cycle at 8.22 a.m. A local ATM provided the first control proof. The bat cycle's navigational system had gone wonky and Google maps were consulted to follow required destinations. Google map directions proved difficult to follow and soon we were off track after just a few K's. A busier than planned road, more chaotic that Gotham City, was followed which led to the first control in Wythall.

Left Wythall and within minutes was lost again. A quick GPS check on the bat phone (battery low) put me back on course. Navigated relatively safely all the way to next control stop. By-passed Kenilworth Castle, the abode of the evil Joker to reach Kenilworth itself.

Didn't take long for the Joker to rear his ugly head. After safely passing much motorised machinery I followed quieter tracks. At just 70K, pssst, the Joker appeared and burst my rear tyre of the bat cycle. Tyre soon fixed and headed out once more. After about 10 K the Joker re-appeared and 2 more battles were fought - resulting in a further 2 flats for the bat cycle. Grr. 3 tubes and 3 CO2 canisters later and the bat cycle was ready to go again. Felt quite nervous at this point, was 20k off route and had no spare tubes or gas. Just before reaching control in Rugby, I ate a home made sarnie to help lift my spirits.

Reached Rugby and gave the bat cycle a check over. The rear tyre was damaged. Michelin pro race 3's were fitted but the casing on the rear tyre has split and will need replacing. Headed towards and reached Southam with no major incident, save going off course a further 10k.

Did not have a gay time in Gaydon. The evil Penguin had changed road signs which caused me to cycle out of Southam in one direction and re-enter it in another. Google maps didn't help much either. I passed a sign showing an older version bat cycle and figured I must be back on track. Took out my camera to take a picture of this sign, but the battery was flat. However, the bat phone had just enough juice to take a photo of same. Finally reached Gaydon, now about 40k off target.
No real menace reaching Leamington. The Penguin scattered some acid rain but this was no hardship for my bat cape to deal with. A buss conducter provided me with further instructions to reach next control and save me from having to rely on Google map directions.

Next control was Stratford. Left Leamingon and hit Warwick within minutes. Passed Warwick Castle and marvelled at it's wonder. Maybe we should move the bat cave to Warwick Castle?! Cycled along much of Route 41 which was nice and kept me away from motorised machinery. Nice to reach control and be in familiar surroundings.

The Penguin scattered more acid rain as I made my way to next control. The rain did little to dampen my spirits or prevent progress. Felt more 'Hank Marvin' than Batman when I reached Bidford. For this reason I stopped and purchased a sausage from the chip shop (using receipt as proof of control).

Defeated all my necessary adversaries to reach next control in Alcester. Was feeling a little achey and sore it parts but knew it was only a few further K to reach the bat cave and mission would be over. Downed a few energy sweets and headed for home.

Last few K back to the Bat cave were no real bother. Safely reached home with a smile on my face. Batman won the day! The original mission brief stated I would cycle 150k - a total of 199k were ridden! Just 1 further K and this would have been considered a long distance affair. Oh well, maybe another mission looms...

Maybe I really should invest in a tandem?!
Weekly totals: Cycled 156 miles.

Thursday 12 July 2012

The Forest

"Rhymes happen when cycling all day
Road poems, hmmm, what can I say?
No rhyme dictionary 
Has words fictionary
And the pages might just blow away."

Started the week with a cycle in the pouring rain. Strangely enough, I really enjoyed this because it allowed me to test my new mud-guards. Last week I fitted Florence with a pair of SKS race blades and they look great and work just fine. The rain wasn't so bad to be honest, it was stop-start style throughout. Despite the rain it was a warm evening. Ron and I cycled an oval shaped route starting and finishing in Studley. We cycled via Oldhill, Bidford and Knighton on some lovely country lanes offering splendid views. Towards the end we still had power in our legs so we raced up Node Hill and St Judes Avenue. Awesome.

Raced around the TTT 20 route on Tuesday. I was hoping to beat my fastest time and really pushed myself. Despite all my efforts, I finished with an average time - about 5 minutes slower than my personal best.
Took Scotty to the Forest of Dean on Thursday and met up with Aid and Scarlet - his new mountain bike. Scarlet was a nice bit of kit - a Scott Scale 29er. This 29er was much like my bike, only it had bigger wheels, much bigger wheels. The 2 Scott bikes looked good together and really are awesome steeds.
Aid and I cycled both the blue and red routes around the forest. Nice cycling in lovely sunshine. Some parts of the trail were closed for whatever reasons. We also rode the training area in the forest. Before leaving the Forest we tried beans, egg and toast from the cafe - delicious! Aid also got himself some funky new cycling shoes (was I supposed to mention this?!)
After our nosh up we headed to Symonds Yat for more cycling action. The weather had turned sour and we took on some rather hard core routes. This was great fun and included a bit of everything (single track, fire roads, hills, rocks, roots, etc). We managed to navigate to the river and crossed over the groovy swing bridge. Cycled back to the car park climbing a nice 1:5 hill in the process and rewarded ourselves with tea and cake. Still feeling fresh, we headed out in the rain once more and did much of the same. We took a short cut to the river, down a steep rocky wet descent which was flooded in parts and passed through a fast flowing stream towards the end. Finished the day looking like drowned rats. Awesome!

Weekly totals: Cycled 75 miles.

Monday 9 July 2012


Tuesday was the first day I ventured out this week. It was a wet miserable day. However, is rare that 'weather stops play' with Ron and I. With that mantra in mind we set out. We cycled to Bidford via Alcester in a loose figure of eight style. Over 25 miles were cycled and 2 big hills were encountered. The first hill was just past Haselor and proved no real menace. The second hill was too tough for Florence - but will be beaten on a brighter day! Watch this space.

Cycled again on Wednesday. This day turned out to be very wet and miserable too. Completed the TTT 20 route without any major issues other than the weather.
On the 2 occasions detailed above, I managed to stay dry throughout. I was wearing my lovely Rohan cycling jacket and had equipped Florence with a rear mud-guard taken off my mountain bike. My mountain bike mudguard was a Raleigh rear fender - super light, cheap (about £12) and has an adjustable strap (to fit to fat seat tubes like mine). This summer has been pants on the weather front!
Didn't cycle any further during the week. However, I have now equipped Florence with some mud-guards of her very own! These mudguards are SKS race blades - just need another wet day to test them out! Have also received 3 brevet cards for my planned DIY perms. A DIY perm is exactly as the name suggests - a do-it-yourself audax. I haven't actually 'planned' any routes yet, but my mission is to create and ride a 50, 100 and 150k DIY perm, just for something to do. As stated before, I'm a psycholist!

Weekly totals: Cycled 48 miles.

Happy New Year 2022

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