Saturday 24 December 2016

Christmas (nearly)

More menace this Monday as Gozzard bikes were unable to fix the issues with my frame and it's bottom bracket threads. Bike has to be returned to Planet X via courier. Am not returning the forks though because they have a race face (?) 'thing' attached to them now. Oh, I do hope these problems get fixed soon. On a brighter note, I went cycling with Roger today. We just did a short route on his tandem, we cycled to Wedges bakery and back. Lovely egg and sausage sarnie! Am sure we will have more tandem adventures in the new year.
If Roger was my wife...
The only other day I ventured out was on Saturday (Xmas Eve) where I completed my 10th Parkrun to date. This was a nice run at Arrow Valley. Despite the 400ish runners, I only recognised 2 - a guy from tri-club and nurse Matchett which was nice. Where were all the other folk I know? Not a super fast time (sub 24 mins) but pleased all the same. I wonder if I will ever beat sub 20?
Best Parkrun in a while...
Merry Chrimbo all! 

Sunday 18 December 2016

Twisted Shakespeare Menace

Monday morning menace! Gozzard bikes contacted me informing me that my new frame was damaged - apparently the bottom bracket threads were threadless! Planet X were swiftly contacted who stated that the threads were there, it was just that 'paint overspill' was covering up the threads. Apparently nothing a threading tool cannot put right. Call back to Gozzard bikes who are happy to use said tool but want to charge me an additional £20 for the privilege. Pah! Pink stinks!

Tuesday was the day that my adventures for the week really started. Ron and I cycled around our village. It was like the good old days, we were cycling in wet weather and later than of late. We saw 3 deer running alongside the road before jumping over a hedge and into a field which was super nice. I thought the deer were joggers initially until my eyes became better accustomed to the dark. We visited 'The Bramers' later which was interesting because they now live in the house my old school mate 'Spencer Braithwaite' used to live in. Wow, must have been about 30 years since I last stepped into that house.

No adventure (as such) on Wednesday or Thursday. However, on my way into work I saw the most beautiful full moon. God's creation is truly awesome.
Friday was the big adventure this week. My plan was to cycle the Shakespeare 100 but to change the start and finish points to nearer my abode. Had a false start because now sooner had I started, I had to turn back and ensure I took some money with me. Once on my way proper I soon settled into what was going to be a relatively long day.

Very foggy/misty for the first couple of hours. I could see what looked like a brilliant full white moon - how could this be?! Well, this moon was actually the sun and awesome it was too. Throughout this ride I saw it change colour and my last sighting was it being a beautiful orange. 

First major climb was Saintbury Hill (was expecting Fish Hill) which was only as tough as expected. The ride itself was pretty undulating in nature but only 2 major climbs. Once I reached the summit of climb 2, a posh old chap pulled alongside me in his car and congratulated me for climbing said hill. He then had the cheek to ask me if I had gotten off at any point. Nice chap really and he was amazed how bikes had 'moved on' since his day. A bike with 22 gears - unbelievable!

Stopped for a bacon roll at a cafe called Wyatt's (I think). The roll was just ok and the cafe a tad over-priced. Was pleased that the accompanying tea warmed me up a little.
The route eventually took me into Stratford - being a Shakespeare route, I figured it had to. I stopped at a location to take a photo, which took, and then my phone died. This photo spot has seen 2 of my bikes here now. Ha! Not long after being in Stratford, my route ended, I had reached the finish. Not my finish, just the finish as recorded on my downloaded GPX file. The problem here was that my (Lin's) Garmin did not have maps so I was unable to pick a route to the official start. No bother really, I had cycled enough and was happy to head home.

My route took a final twist before reaching home. As I was using my gravel bike, I decided to add a nice stretch of off-road just for fun. Near Alcester I hit an off-road track that took me down to Coughton Ford. Only a few miles after the ford, I was home with a dirty bike, sore bum and tired legs. Altogether, a good day out!
Saturday saw me complete my 9th Parkrun and my 2nd at Hanbury Hall. I do like this course as it's all off-road and the numbers are smaller. Some folk were talking to me about Ironman (as I was wearing my Ironman top) which was nice. Hard to believe that I actually completed that event earlier this year - wow, certainly not that fit now. My run took me about 26 minutes, which was nothing to shout about and was near my expected time. This was the last Hanbury Parkrun before xmas 2016 but there is an Arrow Valley Parkrun next week which I might try and attend. Earlier in the year, I had hopes of completing a Parkrun in a time of 20 mins something (my PB is 21 something). Don't think I'll beat my PB this year and maybe my hopes will remain just a dream. Who knows?

Sunday was a day of rest. At least at time of writing it was. Should I have pushed myself to do something, then this last paragraph would have been re-written. Ha!

Sunday 11 December 2016


This weeks challenge was to run 4 x 5 miles. First run was on a cold frosty morning and saw me run along the towpath. I ran from Tardebigge (or 'turd-de-big' as my brothers would say) to bridge 47 and back. Sweet. Same evening, I cycled a 20k route with Ron. This was an on and off-road jaunt. Ron came off at one point as he hit some ice. How many times have I told him to invest in Top Contact winter tyres?!

Wednesday saw my second run. I ran 5 miles by weaving around the streets in my village. Found this run quite challenging, especially as I had landed myself another cold. Took my pink bike frame and 'bits' to Gozzard Bikes this day too and am awaiting a new single-speed bike to be built up - how exciting.

Over the weekend I ran 2 further 5 mile routes. The routes were essentially the same (not quite) but ran in opposing directions. My runs took me to the Slough and back, all on tarmac. Pleased I completed my set challenge.

And so ends another week. Still awaiting Pinky to be built up. Cold has gone.

Friday 2 December 2016

Tour of the Black Country 2015 in 2016

First venture this week was on Tuesday. Had planned to go cycling with my old pal Ron but he pulled out due to the freezing conditions. It was -4c in some parts and Ron didn't want a tumble. How many times have I told him to invest in some 'Top Contact' winter tyres (Continental)?! I chose to go for a run instead. My run was a cross country affair to Coughton Court and back. Running in the dark was a trifle menace as my visibility was so poor. I had a head-lamp but it was really quite naff. Frozen in parts and foggy/misty in others made for an interesting run. Ran about 5 miles in all and am challenging myself to run a further 5 miles before week is out. (Last week I challenged myself to run 3 x 5k so might just set myself a do-able weekly challenge).

My next adventure was on Thursday. I had wanted to cycle the Tour of the Black Country for ages and this was the day that I finally cycled my rendition of this classic. The plan was to follow the 2015 course which I uploaded as a GPS link from the internet. However, I chose to start my tour from the southernmost point (nearer home) and took wrong turns here and there because my new Garmin (thanks Lin) didn't have maps and this made navigation difficult.
Anyways, my adventure started on a cold winter day with much frost about. After layering up well, I mounted my steed (Winter bike) and started cycling some lovely quiet lanes. Rumour had it, this tour was like the Paris Roubaix and involved lots of cobbled sections. Well it wasn't long before I reached the first lot of cobbles and the only real hill of significance.
This cobbled section was lovely despite it being a little difficult to climb. The rumours were false though, this was the only real cobbled section of the whole tour. Ok, there was another short stretch of cobbles elsewhere but nothing compared to the Paris Roubaix and not '20km' of cobbled sections like one review suggested.

What there was a lot of was variation. There were sections of road, off-road, cobbles, gravel, single-track, dirt roads and bridle ways. Some really beautiful sections, some quite remote and all good for cycling with a gravel type bike.
Some areas were frozen and caution had to be exercised. Am pleased to inform that the ice didn't cause any mis-haps on this occasion. Such a beautiful ride.
The half-way point was Wolverhampton Velodrome. I didn't actually cycle around the Velodrome itself, but cycled around the velodrome just for nostalgic reasons. Being half way round was a good place to stop and eat my pre-packed lunch.
After lunch, I took a wrong turn almost immediately, but this was ok, I followed an off-road route until I joined the official route a little further on. The return route was much like the route in - lots of different sections, on and off-road. I took a tumble at one point, not because of the weather but because of loose ground. Thankfully, I didn't hit the deck - I landed in a hedge instead.

The return route passed through Kinver which was nice. It reminded my of my courting days with SJ. I didn't stop for a feed or a view of the rock houses on this occasion though.
As is often the case on many of my adventures, I spotted something a little unusual. This was a roadside tree with it's own brick wall built all the way around it. Odd, I thought, but neat. I wonder what's so special about this tree?
-2C and still wearing my sandals!
At the end of my tour, I had clocked just short of 100k. It was a splendid ride despite the temperature  being as low as -2c in parts. A recommended tour.

Finished my training (though do not know what I'm training for) for the week by completing another run and attending a sword fighting class. The sword fighting session was called Ryu Magai (or something similar) and I learnt how to do a few cuts with a wooden sword. The sword made swishing sounds which is apparently quite good. I don't think I'll be a regular attender though as I found the class just 'ok'. My run was 5 miles cross country style, thus completing my training week and completing my challenge. I do think I'll run again too.

Blog posted early this week because I am going away on a fellowship weekend with my family.

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