Sunday 28 January 2018

Mad World

Some folk are mad. Some folk have mad friends. Some folk have crazy families and weird family members. I have it all, how mad is that?!

No crazy distances were cycled this week (not by me at least). In fact, l cycled very little - just 2 to work and back commutes. A little cross traing took place however. This training consisted of 2 short (5k) runs.

The high-light of the week was definately the weekend. Friday night turned out to be my first wild camp of 2018! Hats off to Jamie who was the first to rock up to my house ready for adventure (he had cycled down from B’ham). Shortly after Ron rocked up. Without too much further menace, Jamie cycled to the Woods of Doom and I escorted Ron there in my motor. Jamie and Ron set up camp whilst I returned to collect my brother Robin.
Doo, Rob and Ron doing the wild camp thing. Jamie, where art thou?
Robin and I were dropped off at the outskirts of the woods by our father. We then had the task of trudging through the dark and finding the others. After a wee scramble they were found. Camp was quickly set up and before I knew it, Rob was cooking us all sausage and bacon. Food was followed by JD and various other liquids before we slowly crashed out. Ron’s massive tarp provided cover for us all. My plans of a super cosy night were shattered when Ron realised he had forgotten his sleeping bag and I lent him my additional one. SJ’s hand made down bag proved just super enough for me.
When morning light came we could see that the 4 of us had become a 3. Jamie was nowhere to be seen. Had he been eaten by monsters? - surely not, they tend to pick off the best looking and I was still here.. It later transpired that Jamie had gotten lost in the woods but had managed to get out alive and cycled back to B’ham. Back in B’ham (at silly o’clock) Jamie had only caught up with Mr Toll to embark on a 200k audax adventure. Jamie is truly super hero stuff and how pleased am I that he is cycling the TAW with me. Aces.
Jamie and Toll about 100k in
Jamie missed out on night turning into day at our camp. Jamie also missed out on Rob’s super breakfast of sausage and bacon. Hmm, de ja vu! Mad camp. Mad times. Mad friends and family. Madness. How awesome!
Jon, the birthday boy!
Further fun was had on Saturday. SJ cooked me further sausage for a start. Our night was spent feasting. Our friend Jonny Edger had turned 50. Nothing for it but to party, drink JD and other liquids and indulge on curry. Happy birthday Jon!

Saturday 20 January 2018

Rollin', rollin', rollin, Rollright

'It's been a cold week'
This week I been mostly a-rollin'. Rollin', rollin', rollin'! I even rolled to Rollright. Indeed, all my training this week was on my bicycle.

Completed 2 to work and back commutes. Is slowly but surely get lighter in the evenings. Mornings are still very dark and it remains dark even when I reach work.

One evening in the week was spent cycling the Deer Route with Ron. Bitterly cold night but thankfully I was prepared and wearing my thermals. I think Ron felt the chills.
Rollin' Rollright (28mm), 213k
My big adventure (and what an adventure it was) of the week was cycling my DIY perm audax. I chose the same control points as on my 'Wot No Cross' audax, however, cycled a better (much improved) route. This 'new route' has aptly bee named 'Rollin' Rollright (28mm).

Broadway was the first control. Reached this destination in good time (had left my house a little after 6 a.m). Not wishing to stop for long, just used ATM for POP (proof of passage) purposes and off I went.

Cold feet just got colder as I cycled through Winchcombe and up and over Cleeve Hill. Always a nice descent down towards Cheltenham. Another ATM provided my second control proof.
Easter Bunny. Really?!
The last of the big climbs happened almost as soon as I left Cheltenham. After the climb came a nice slow descent into Cirencester. On reaching Cirencester was surprised to see the Easter bunny was out. English culture appears to celebrate everything so early nowadays.
My adventure got real interesting once I had reached South Cerney. Cricklade (the next control) was 5 miles away and I had the choice of road or off-road. Cycling 'Eleven' my 'cross bike', fitted with 28mm tyres, the 'off-road' choice was a sure winner. The route followed an old railway line and beautiful bridges were past on route. Rewarded myself with a full English at Stacey's cafe.
Leaving Cricklade, I found an awesome cycle track that avoided any main road menace to struggle through to get on my way towards Witney. The usual airfields were passed and big planes were being photographed by photographers no less. Once at Witney, I stopped at Greggs for some ginger bread man delights and cup of tea. My toes were still cold but slowly defrosting.
The Whispering Knights
From Witney, I headed home (though home was still about 85k away). Beautiful quiet roads were cycled in the most part and it was lovely to be somewhere so traffic-free. After so many k's, I saw a sign for the Rollright Stones. A short off road section (major muddy wheels) took me to the Whispering Knights.

''By analogy with other such monuments, the Whispering Knights was probably one the earliest funerary monuments in Britain, perhaps built around 3,800 BC and the c.2m square chamber would have contained the disarticulated bones of several individuals. Early Neolithic, Beaker and early Bronze Age pottery found in the immediate vicinity suggests that the tomb was venerated over many centuries and a piece of human bone washed out from the chamber was radiocarbon dated to c.1700BC. 
The monument got its name as part of the legend about the king and his army who were outwitted by a witch and turned to stone: because of the conspiratorial way in which the portal stones lean towards each other, the stones are said to be the treacherous knights conniving against the king, though others think they are praying. Intriguingly, although it looks as if the central slab of the portal should be supporting the pillars either side, they do not actually touch, probably because the limestone has been dissolved over the millennia. ''
The King's Men Stone Circle
Could not leave this site without a look at the stone circle itself. I thought it was the Rollright stone circle, which I guess it is. However, it's correct name is 'The King's Men Stone Circle'.

''This ceremonial stone circle was erected around 2,500BC.  At present there are seventy-odd stones of heavily weathered local oolitic limestone (see Geology) set in a rather irregular ring about 31m across.  They were poetically described by William Stukeley as being “corroded like worm eaten wood, by the harsh Jaws of Time”; they were said to make “a very noble, rustic, sight, and strike an odd terror upon the spectators, and admiration at the design of ‘em”.  More recently, Aubrey Burl called them “seventy-seven stones, stumps and lumps of leprous limestone”. 
The number of stones has changed over the years. Legends refer to stones having been taken away (to make bridges and the like), and it is likely that this created most of the gaps now visible. The stones are famously uncountable, but originally may have numbered about 105 standing shoulder to shoulder.    At the time the Stones were first protected as an ancient monument (1883) the owner was reported to have “replaced all the fallen stones in their original foundation.”  In fact the restoration was far from exact: most of the stones that are known to have been standing in their present positions since the 17th century show that it was originally built as an accurate circle.''
Some witches danced around Eleven, singing the 'dance of death'. I do hope she'll be ok... To be fair, Eleven proved to be a better ride today. I had swapped her saddle over and am now using a Brooks C17. I don't believe there is a perfect saddle, however, this saddle was way better than the previous and my bum was not sore at end of ride. I have not measured my sit bones but it appears wider saddles suit my bum better. I am not going to invest in a new saddle (skint) and will remain happy with my Brooks.

Seven long strides thou shalt take, says she
And if Long Compton thou canst see,
King of England thou shalt be!

As Long Compton thou canst not see, King of England thou shalt not be! Rise up stick and stand still stone, For King of England thou shalt be none; Thou and thy men hoar stones shall be, And I myself an elder tree!

Paid a visit to the Kingstone before I set off (back on roads) once more. Interesting stuff. Rock on!

''This fine standing stone is located just off the crest of the low rise that supposedly prevented the King seeing Long Compton (see the article 'Folklore and Legends'). Immediately to the north-east there was an early Bronze Age round cairn 17m across with a central chamber (of which the capstone peeps through the grass) set exactly at the top of the ridge.  There was at least one other Bronze Age barrow nearby and excavations in the 1980s revealed human cremations marked by wooden posts and others inserted into the top of the cairn.  The King Stone is most likely to have been erected around 1500 BC as a permanent memorial to the burial ground rather than being an outlier to the much older Stone Circle.
The name ‘King Stone’ may have originated, like some other standing stones of the same name, from its use to mark an important meeting place associated with an extensive Saxon cemetery in the vicinity;  but if so, the name may only reflect the adoption of the pre-existing standing stone for that purpose rather than having been erected in the Saxon period, but that is not known for certain.''
The roads remained the lanesy type and continued to be mostly traffic free. On nearing Stratford, I cycled the 'Stratford Greenway' another stretch of off-road, completely traffic free. There's a lot to be said for 28mm tyres.
Once hitting Stratford (which avoided the main roads by following off-road sections and cycle track), I spent a further stretch cycling off-road and navigated along tow-path. This adventure had a bit of everything in and made an audax 'feel' very different.

Once off the tow-path, I headed for Great Alne. Great Alne was close to home and various options for home were available. I chose the shortest route and reached home about 12 hours later than when I had left earlier. A fantastic ride which I'm sure to cycle again.

Sunday 14 January 2018

Call of the Glen

Felt surprisingly good on Monday, the beginning of this week. On Sunday, the previous day, I felt awful - whacked, grouchy and out of sorts. I once read or heard it said ‘you need a days recovery for each 100k you cycle’. This appeared absolutely right, I had cycled 200k and felt better 2 days later. Hmm, I want to recover quicker. How am I gonna cope with 200k+ days, day after day, during my TAW challenge? Answers on a postcard please.
Completed 3 to work and back commutes in the week. The nights are getting lighter but its still very dark by the time I’m home. Dark mornings are still the norm.

Friday was my long cycle for the week. I cycled just over 100k on this day. I set off to Rogers on my newest bike ‘Eleven’, deliberately climbing Cobley Hill on route. Very foggy, misty day and due to recent adverse weather a tree had fallen and was blocking one of the roads I cycled. Cars had turn around but I was able to climb over.

Once at Rogers, I changed bikes and led us out on a tandem adventure. This was the first time this year we had both been out on a tandem and Rogers first ride full stop. Poor Roger is running out of tandem pilots and would love to get out more than he is able. Please read his appeal posted earlier on this blog.
Roger and I cycle some interesting places
Our adventure was relatively short, about 45k. We cycled a loop from his abode to Earlswood and back. We stopped for grub at a cafe and had a nice bacon and egg sarnie to ensure we had energy for the return route. The route we cycled looked like a baby in a nappy crawling once downloaded onto Strava! Funky stuff!
From Rogers, I mounted Eleven again and took a relatively hilly cycle home. I climbed Lickey Hill and Cobley Hill (opposite direction) and felt quite ‘hilled out’. These hills will be nothing compared to the horrors to come.
Lunar Cycle
Had thought about running on the weekend. My wife put a stop to that and told me that I had to look after the kids on Saturday morning whilst she went and had her hair done. With no running time available, I succumbed to the ‘call of the Glen’ Friday night and cemented the fact that no running would take place Saturday.
Moo Ride
Weekend was spent chillin' with my family, friends and tortoise. The kids were cycling on their 'old' bikes which was groovy. Flair came over which was nice (and had remembered to return my tortoise book). Spent time fixing Mr Wide-Eye's table - his UV light now hangs lower. Apparently a UV light should be about 30cm above the tortoise (it was nearly double that height before my alterations). Mr Wide-Eye has only recently been spending extended periods of time out of his den and chilling on his new substrate (even before light was lowered). Am hoping more time is spent basking now the light is lower.

Friday 12 January 2018

Urgent Tandem Appeal

Please read the following appeal (below) and help out if you can.

For a number of years now I have been cycling with my oldest buddy 'Roger' on his awesome tandem cycle 'The Beast'. Roger is (nearly) 75 years young, completely blind and a generally awesome, interesting, entertaining chap. It is always a pleasure (and an experience) to cycle with Roger and pilot his tandem. Sadly, work so often gets in the way of fun and I'm only able to go for a spin with Roger about once a month. Roger depends on others to go and take 'The Beast' out, as he can't be both pilot and stoker. As the years go by, Roger has fewer cycling partners, as those of like age find it more difficult to cycle and simply 'retire' from the sport. If you have an interest in cycling, have a time to spare (even if infrequently) and are wanting an awesome adventure, please respond to Roger's appeal. I responded to a similar appeal 3-4 years ago and am still hooked (I had virtually nil experience on a tandem when I met Roger too and was about half his age. It'a also worth noting that I am 6' 2'' - the tandem will accommodate different height riders by lowering or heightening the seat post - simples) . Roger lives in Cofton Hackett, close to Birmingham, in the West Midlands. Please help.

Rogers Tandem Cycling Appeal

This is a personal appeal made in the hope that able and willing cyclists will volunteer to pilot my much loved Longstaff tandem from time to time.

I am a keen cyclist and member of Beacon Roads Cycling Club for over 35 years.
I became registered blind in the mid 70s when I was 34, due to the eye condition retinitis pigmentosa (RP), when tandem cycling proved to be the ideal sporting activity for me to pursue. My first pilot was a longstanding member of the Beacon Roads Cycling Club and after borrowing a tandem initially, we decided to buy a Claude Butler as a joint venture. This provided the means of cycling for me for some 13 years before George Longstaff built a custom made tandem for me in 1998, which has been well serviced and maintained and which remains well used today.

Now in my 70s and totally blind, I remain fit and active thanks to my cycling with a number of pilots and through walking - both with my guide dog Olly and friends.
Naturally with the passage of time a few of my pilots are reaching retirement age in their late 70s and 80s,  and therefore I am appealing to other experienced cyclists who would be willing to “make up the numbers” and help me continue this great passion, at times and frequency to suit them. With extra support from others I will be able to continue and enjoying cycling as I have for the last 40 years. I enjoy cycling distances up to  40 miles or so at a sociable pace and with or without a cafĂ© stop.

As recently as November 2017, together with a friend from Gloucestershire I cycled from my home in Cofton Hackett to and from Dursley over a weekend, a round trip of 140 miles.

Although I am totally blind I am more than capable of navigating a bike ride throughout Worcestershire and many parts of Warwickshire, my nick name being  “The Sat Nav”!

My cycling records over the years have included:-
 Lands End to John O Groats, plus Aberystwyth to Great Yarmouth, (500k) with the former chairman and longstanding Beacon RCC member Dave Cox.
Audax events from 200 to 600k and twice securing super randonneur medals. Cycling in France, Italy, Mallorca and Ireland and extensively throughout the UK, covering every county with the exception of Kent.

Piloting a tandem versus a solo bike will undoubtedly take a little getting used to, however I am sure this will be achieved very quickly.

Please contact me by email at or by telephone:-
0121 445 1056 home or
07835 303511 mobile.

I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Roger Green.

Sunday 7 January 2018

Hit the sales, on a cycle!

Wowser, a week into the new year already. How did this happen? How can it be?

Monday saw me complete my first run of the year. An 8k walk/run affair. Niggly knee to boot.

Tuesday saw me complete my first cycle (and commute) of the year. Thankfully, my knee didn't niggle whilst cycling but it felt painful a little once home. I hope this niggle disappears soon.

Woke early on Wednesday. Was woken up by Lunar who burst into my room exclaiming 'Dad, I need a poo'. Strange thing was, she had woken me whilst I was dreaming about unblocking a toilet. Strange indeed! Today was the first indoor spin of the year. My poor bike sounded a bit creaky. Maybe I should take it off the trainer and re-set it up? Ideally, I'd like a trashy bike to use specifically on the trainer rather than my lovely roubaix.

Thursday was another first. First day I cycled to the work this year wringing wet! Oh boy, it sure was a wet and windy day. My waterproofs clearly are not. Cycling home wasn't so bad but my clothes had not completely dried out from earlier.

Friday was a rest day. I had thought about riding into work but it was raining again and my shoe's still had not dried from the previous day. Was probably good to rest my legs before my planned 200k.

Saturday saw me complete my first audax of 2018, the 'January Sale'. Originally, I was going to cycle this with Ron and Jamie. Ron had a surprise birthday party to attend so bailed the night before. Poor Jamie came of his bike whilst he attempted to cycle across to me. The ice caused him to slip, bang his knee and mash up his bike.
January Sale 200k
Suffice to say, it was a cold and icy morning for the start of this January Sale. At the start, Mark Rigby (organiser) handed out the brevet cards, gave a little introduction talk and bid us farewell. Was nice to see Mark, he's a top bloke and this audax cost just £1 to enter - bonus.

It was dark from the off and many sections of ice were encountered. Hearsay suggested a few had fallen victim to the ice although I never saw a single fall. Each stage was about 50k in length. After the stretches of ice, things turned nice - I had reached Rowberry's cafe and was able to indulge in the usual staple diet of an audax cyclist!
Next section took us to services on the M40. This part of the adventure was quite lose to home and we climbed over Cobley Hill and parts of Ron's TROAD route. I thought about Roger too as we cycled down Blind Lane and other areas we have covered. During this section and then throughout to the finish, I cycled alongside a chap called 'Paul'. Paul was an interesting chap who likes to spend time cycle touring and we shared many stories and such like. Nice dirty Burger king was devoured at services!
Chris Hodge aka Action Man at the M40 services control from yesteryear
The whole route was relatively hilly and this next section was no exception. We had to navigate a 14% climb up Edge Hill (which originally looked like the route would skirt around it). Our destination was a cafe in Chipping Norton which we seemed to reach in good time, I remember last time I cycled this it was dark when I reached the cafe - this time it was daylight. (On reflection, last time I cycled this event we set out an hour later). Ate a tasty toastie at this control and dried my shoes and shirt out a little on the radiators. There was no heavy rain on route but a little drizzle (maybe even snow) on occasions.

Last stage was very undulating in nature, like a roller coaster. The views were quite spectacular and rolling hills and valleys could be seen. 'O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!' The fastest descent was Soudley Hill (though I was getting it mixed up with Saintbury Hill in my head). How grateful was I for having disc brakes?! Eleven was bike of choice for this adventure. This final section finished with a nice roll into the arrivee! Woo Hoo job done. Brevet card validated by Mark Rigby and I was good to go (home). Informed Mark that this was the best audax I had done this year and felt it was a £1 well spent!

Woke up Sunday too a painful left leg (niggling) and a sore bum. I don't tend to recover too well nowadays. Thinking that perhaps I should swap saddles and maybe get a bike fit before TAW. Definitely need to continue training.

Monday 1 January 2018

Happy New Year (2018)

Happy New Year! I hope this year blows your socks off! Peace and love!

This year, I hope to complete the TransAtlantic Way - A race across Ireland (TAW) which I have blogged about a bit already. Essentially, this is a 2,500k un-supported bicycle race which means I have to train hard for the next 6 months and ideally lose some weight.
Started the year looking like this
My year has started okay but there is room for improvement. I start this year weighing 89.6 kg and with a BMI of 25.3, which is quite bizarre because that's how I ended 2017. I have started this year with a 8k run and hope to keep this going and add more k's by bicycle too. (This first run wasn't so great to be honest - had a pain in my right knee which caused me to run/walk. Let's hope this is nothing to worry about).

My goal for 2018 is clear - to complete TAW without getting scratched. How about my plans? Well, I have a training plan of sorts - basically progressively cycle longer and harder up until May and then start tapering ready for race day on June 7th.

I have other plans of various sorts and some are more important to me than others. Such plans include (in no particular order):
  • Cycle frequently, both solo and with my pals. Cycle on tandem at least bi-monthly with my blind and oldest (age-wise) buddy Roger. 
  • Complete a RRtY this season. This will involve cycling a 200k audax each month up until September.
  • (Maybe) complete an SR Series this season. (The 3 Coasts 600 is unfinished business).
  • Cycle 10,000k before end of year.
  • Complete XDP17 - failed attempt last year.
  • Wild camp.
  • Learn to become a tortoise whisperer.
  • Search the scriptures.
  • Attempt to complete a Park Run at least monthly.
  • Attempt to hold a plank daily up until TAW.
  • Collect and post motivational quotes to this blog.
  • Lose weight at least up until TAW.
  • Lift weights. Groan.
  • Run a 5k in 20 mins something. (A dream rather than a plan).
  • Be the best husband, lover, father, that I can.
January has only just begun and I have so many plans for this month already including the January Sale Audax (200k), tandem cycle with Roger, 200k perm, Lord Huron gig, Moo's birthday, Wild Camp, Jon E's b'day curry. Ooh, this year's gonna be great, I have a feeling in my waters...

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&#...