Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Beach gym

Yesterday saw me taking a short ride only, then lunch with a friend, followed by an epic workout at the beach gym! My workout was so intense I had to recover with fish n chips on the beach with friends who had also over done it on the exercise front.
It's amazing how knackering 5 minutes on a rowing machine and a sit up can be !
This is my new friend Jackson, a seasoned rowing machine expert of some note. He is also a top class stone fetcher!
Today has been the penultimate day in the uk for me. Tomorrow I fly away from Mordor. Packing the new carbon cube bike was not without drama. On removing the pedals for the plane, the internal thread stripped itself out completly! A brand new FSA crankset with less than 300 miles on it!!
I was facing having to take Celeste instead, so I cycled over to.quest adventure bike store with the cube bike over my shoulder!
Luckily they we able to fit another crankset and saved the day!
The cube is now packed and ready to follow in celestes footsteps on foriegn mountains over the coming months.
Double checking everything was important as where I'm going there are no high end bike stores.
So this will be the last post to thus blog for the summer I think. It has been a good summer out there on the bike. I've ridden both new and familier routes, including several 100+ milers.
I've also ridden naked around Brighton, three excellent sportive rides and seen the tour if Britain up on Ditchling beacon.
It has had its ups and downs, not just the hills. The low point would be the inevitable hit and run driver who attacked me and sped off, however the highs were all worth it.
So I sign off for now until I return to the uk one day.
Follow my new adventure here:
C ya!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Tour of Britain stage 7

Today was always going to be better than yesterday, the wind was still here but the sun was out and it was a bit warmer.

I am lucky to live just a short ride away from one of Englands most iconic climbs, Ditchling Beacon in Sussex. It's a mile long 10% climb with no respite. The road is narrow and usually there are enough cars on it to make life difficult. But today they closed the road to cars !!! YAY. Reason?...The Tour of Britain was here.

Stage 7, the penultimate stage was due to hit Ditchling beacon around 3pm, and I was going to be right up there to cheer them on.

And so it was that I set off once again along the coastal road, turning north at Shoreham, out to Fulking, Hurstpeirpoint, Hassocks and eventually up the climb at Ditchling.

The wind was against me all the way there, and I couldnt help but think how tough the tour riders would have had it all the way from Camberly today.

I bought a malt loaf in Hurstpierpoint where the Hurst festival was also in full swing, with the local Mums and kids doing some kind of Pagan dance ritual on the green. My best guess was this was some kind of fertility dance, no doubt sponsored by Sky.

My epic ascent to the King of the mountains section finish ha ha!

Climbing up the beacon is always 'challenging', but today I got up there relativley easily for me. There were already many cyclists encamped along the road, and I started to get cheered on as I reached the top. I looked around for my bouquet of flowers and two hot as hell girls eager to kiss me, but apparently you have to be IN the tour to qualify for that :(

I was well early and took up position right on the bend at the top just before the finish of th eKing of the mountains section. Here I waited, and waited, as gradually more and more people appeared, mostly on bikes, and mostly having a great time.

There were team and club riders, young kids, older riders, on all kinds of bikes.... and a brompton. Tall, fat, thin, male female, old, young, and everything in between. The crowd entertained themselves for a couple of hours, chalking slogans on the road and exchanging epic tales of even epicer cycle rides. I was pleased to see so many women on road bikes, most super fit and much faster than me. Cycling shouldnt be a male dominated sport, so well done the ladies!

Then the lead cars started appearing, and endless police motorbikes, and we could see the TV helicopter flying BELOW us as the race approached through Plumpton below.

Then the first rider came round the bend, he was moving pretty fast, but not as fast as some of the local riders had been just a few moments before. But then they hadnt just ridden a hundred fast miles!

Vermote stage leads over the beacon, this is where he won the stage I guess!

Then, after about a minute the next rider came through, and a small group, clearly this stage had been tough as they were very spread out. I didnt see Bradly Wiggins, but he must have been in this second group.

There was a long gap until th emain pelaton arrived. The riders looked tired, and I was surprised at how small they all were. It's a very different experience seeing these guys face to face, than it is on TV. Superhuman they are not, just normal guys on bikes they are....although with supoerhuman tendancies !

Yellow jersey of team Movistar being protected up the climb behind the breakaway group

15:21. Vermote is ploughing a lone furrow up Bear Road as Tao Geoghagen Hart launches an attack from the front group.
15:20. Dowsett is trailing Kwiatkowski's group by 45 seconds. Still the climb of Bear Road to go...
15:18. Wiggins, Roche and Kwiatkowski are all among the front group. Vermote leads with ten kilometres remaining!
15:13. The peloton is fragmenting again on the Beacon. Dowsett struggling!
15:12. Absolutely enormous crowds at the top of the Beacon as Vermote goes over the top.
15:10. The gap is down to 2'30" as the break continue to struggle up the climb. The peloton are now on the slopes too.
15:08. The break are now on the slopes of Ditchling Beacon. Vermote attacks immediately!
15:02. NetApp-Endura are now taking up the chase on the front. Could they have a plan for Leopold K├Ânig today?
15:00. The riders are now appraoching Ditchling Beacon. With 22 kilometres remaining, the gap is 3'19".

Think this is mark Cavendish...Go Cav Go!

As the last riders passed through the crowd dispersed and I sped off in hot pursuit, enjoying riding on a closed road for a while in their wake.

I headed down into Brighton and rode to th efinish line on madira drive, but by the time I got there the Podium girls had all gone ....hmm.....priorities !

The ride back along the coast was a wonderful sprint, as the bikes out numbered cars for once. However the further I rode the more the bikes diluted and the usual madness returned.

I had a great day out on the bike, a good ride, seen the best riders up close including Mark Cavendish, and chatted with lot's of local riders. At the podium I met a rider I had ridden around the isle of wight with a few weeks ago too.

I was amazed at the amount of support vehicles on this tour. High end bikes everywhere, mechanics, doctors etc. I mad a note to fire Parker and get a team of domestiques.

It was great to see lot's of young kids riding up the beacon. Some were no more than 7 years old or less. They got the biggest cheers of the day!

Top day out!

Friday, 12 September 2014

Not the ride I set out to ride

The BBC weather app is an expert at understating the one weather element most don't care about, the wind. A ten mile an hour North easterly wind may not sound much, but out there on a bicycle it can be a real pig. And so it was today, a real bastard pig of a wind, just constant, cold, and never behind me. My origional plan had been to get to Winchester and back, a ride of about 100 miles or so. However within just half an hour I decided to postpone that ride for a less windy and warmer day. My legs were doing everything right, the bike was perfect, yet still I struggled to get over 16mph. The cold wasn't all that bad really, I mean with the wind it felt about 15-16c , so not ex\ctly hypertermic, but for some reason today it took it's toll on my legs, sapping all my energy and leaving me riding like a complete beginner! The drivers, coccooned in their tin cans remianed oblivious of the wind, and as usual gave no quarter, passing far too close and too fast for the most part. Todays numpty prize goes to the driver of the ASDA delivery lorry who decided to clip my right shoulder at 40mph+ overtaking me on a blind hill, with double white lines, directly into th epath of oncoming traffic hooting thier horns in some mixed up belief that they were about to die instead of me. Cyclists reading this will of course realize that the ASDA truck cut back in sharply, regardless of my life, to avoid a head on smash. I hope he goes home tonight and ponders his sorry little life, and how he deemed 2 sseconds of it worth more than my life. I have a message to drivers like this:


 My anxiety level after the near miss was at roof top level, and every car felt like a gun pointed at my head. I kept riding until it settled. I hate the attitude of UK drivers. I'd feel safer if the UK allowed us all to carry loaded machine guns and banned the car. The best decision for me was to change course and cut my ride short. It was safer. My head state was wrong, I was tired and cold and felt shook up courtesy of ASDA. I decided to stick to a familier route, at least I could get 40 miles in today.

Tomorrow is another day. I headed up over Houghton Hill, up to my favourite town near here, Arundel and found myself a quiet bench near the river. Here I sat out of the wind in the sunshine. It was much warmer, and I coud understand why most people would claim today was a wonderful day weatherwise. I almost dozed off in the sunshine listening to a couple of long haired elderly men chatting about thier wives. Apparently one of them spent all day inside every day, and only went out to the shop on the corner for cigarettes. The other wife shouted so loud at her husband he felt safer on the bench than at home. I had to wonder why men tolerate whitches like these. They made some nice comments about my bike and made small talk about the tour of Britain currently on telly. I secretly prayed for their mortal souls when they finally had no alternative but to risk going home.

The risk of spending the rest of my life on that bench and turning into one of these guys was getting too high, so I took a deep breath, stood up, clipped back in and rode off towards the sunset, well Ford Prison actually. Thye wind instantly picked back up again and the sun decided to stay on the bench. Some rides are jinxed, this one had been hexed by Arundel witches I suspect. I was feeling decidedly 'weird', almost light headed, and the next minute I had clipped the grass verge and ridden through a load of stinging nettles. Now I have had the stinging nettle spell cast on me before, so I knew exactly what to do. Poke around in a bush looking for doc leaves. I instantly found the final resting place of Bertie Badger, mown down by some half arsed Tin Canner last night I suspect. I said a few words, apologised to it for th eactions of my fellow human beings, and hoped it's family would survive without the food it was looking for. Road kills are everywhere courtesy of our car is king culture. Each one a massive tradegy being played out in the animal world, yet sadly, nothing more than an annoying dent in someones BMW paintwork in the human world. I hope the damage to the car ran into many thousands, the drivers insurance company wrote the car off, the driver lost his or her job and will spent the rest of their lives in poverty as a result. I didnt find a Doc leaf after all, and continued riding with a few annoying itches, and I'm not refferring to the car drivers. Finally I made it back to the wind tunnel along the sea front at Mordor, a 'quality' concrete carbunkle on Englands 'riviera'. Here I survived against all odds, as car after car cut me up, passed too close, pulled out without looking etc etc etc It's a full moon I think, and clearly it's affecting the towns lunatics. Not long now and I'll be gone from this place, far far away, in a distant land :)

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Horsham, Billingshurst, Pulborough, Arundel etc

Well that was tougher than I had expected! Last night my head was full of some mixed up crazy plan to ride the Devil in the Downs route today. The reality that morning tends to bring had me downsizing my plan a touch, given the weather forcast. Now most will say that the forcast was for lovely sunny weather, what doesn't even hit most peoples radar is the W word. WIND. And so it was that todays target was changed to the town of Horsham.

Horsham town centre, where Horshamites worship huge Xmas puddings on sticks

Horsham is noteworthy for precisely ...erm...nothing I can think of. It is a town, in Sussex, with aschool where boys are made to wear dresses. Other than that to me it is just another conglomoration of concrete and cars. However the ride there and back is nice enough. The wind was a definate feature of this ride. A constant pain in the arse drag between 8-10 mph I'd guess, with a definate Autumnal feel. My legs were taking thier time to loosen up because of the cool wind and once again it dawned on me that I might not win the Tour De France this year. Or the Vuelta or the Tour de Britain actually. So I settled into my usual steady cruising style at around about 18-20mph. Cycling around Horsham I noticed signs for a cycle event. Yep, this weekend the riders of the Tour De Britain would be honoured to ride the hallowed ground I had ridden. I felt sure they would suffer less in the wind than I was, due to their average age, height and weight being ..oh...at least half that of this 'real' cyclist! I had to wonder though why on earth the tour de britain route planners deemed Horsham of all places worthy of a visit??? I stopped at a Co op store to ponder the wind, the Tour de britain, the meaning of life and why I was in Horsham. Here I met a nice chap called Clive. Clive was a cyclist and as such by definition a decent chap. We got talking about bikes and the trips we had done. Having only recently had a serious fall from the bike I thought he was doing remarkably well to even be back on the bike at all. Most non cyclists half his age can't / won't even get on a bike let alone ride it, so Chapeau mate! The time in my life had came to say goodbye to the 'delights' of horsham. I set course for Billingshurst and Pulborough.

 As I rode down on the aero bars against the wind, it entered my mind that I would need to climb up Bury hill to get over to Arundel.

Climbing up on Bury hill...again...and again...and again....

I've done this hill many times before, and each time it gets easier. Now I wouldnt say I exactly flew up it, but I did get up it a lot easier than usual, even though the wind and the moron drivers did their utmost to scupper my epic ascent. I put this down to a small tin of energy drink for 35p in the garage just before the hill. Bury hill has a 20% gradiant in places and the surface for the most part is rough. This was the same hill I came down the other day. I prefer down. At Arundel I had a choice. Ride through the town or continue stright down the hill to Ford. I wasnt in the mood for photography, the wind can do that to a man. So I made myself as small as a 6'4" bloke can and enjoyed the downhill. Besides I've been through Arundel so many times, its a beautiful Town and almost impossible not to stop and soak it all up. I was cold so I decided against it this trip, but I made a mental note to live there one day, given my imminant lottery win. The rest of the ride was spent on the aero bars due to the wind. Along the A259 the traffic as always reverted to moron mode, but my experience kept me alive, despite several attempts on my life by the local asswipes, otherwise known as taxi drivers. Riding back into Mordor I was thinking of one thing only. A hot cuppa T.

The Epic Ride to Asda

Yesterday I rode a bike to Asda and back. The End.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Hayling Island

I wasn't sure where I was going when I got on the bike this morning, I just wanted to get away from Mordor and see where the bike took me. I didn't decide which direction to go until I got to the junctions, then flipped a coin in my head and turned West, I like West. And so it was that I just kept riding West, with no particular plan, just to keep riding and get some miles in my legs and fill my day positively. Celeste (my Bianchi) flew today, she was in her element, a real joy to ride, smoothe fast and responsive. I didn't drop down onto the lower front chain ring all ride, just cruised on the bigger wheel. For once in my life, there were no hills! One my one the seedy little irrelevant coastal carbunkles of Bognor Regis & Littlehampton came and went, until I arrived in Chichester. I like Chichester, it's full of young vibrant people who wash, unlike Worthing. In addition the drivers here are more tolerant, probably because they are more educated. This ride ended up being a simple straight line ride along the A259 and A27 in parts until I aw the sign for Hayling Island.

This then became my destination. I have never been there so clearly the universe has transpired to make this the day when I was destined to arrive on Hayling Island. I rode over th ebridge connecting the island to our bigger Island, and immediatly the inevitable garbage that is a British Coastal resort arrived in my life. Pubs, fishn' chips, and rusty old run down fun fair contraptions that to my eye belonged on the scrap heap!

 I kept riding and found aquieter beach area near a memorial for those that were based on the island in WW2.

Apparently this is where a lot of the D Day training exercises took place back then. The beach is nice enough, shingle and more open than those in Brighton and Mordor etc. I was offered a crucified burger my a campervanner who in his infinate wisdom had attached his kite to his Bar B Que grill, good thinking Batman!

 I declined his generous offer, simply because a hamburger on the ride back would just sit heavy in my stomache and offer little energy. I opeted instead for a Malt loaf from the Co op store washed down with a tin of Monster energy. The fizz wot gives me whizz!

 The ride back was a simple cruise along, with a crss wind, and tail wind on occassion (blimy!) Remarkably I had no interactions with drivers at all today. No near misses and I even had a Tesco lorry pass me without touching my right shouder!! It is Saturday, My guess is most are not late for work. Back in Mordor, my thoughts turned to food, or ice cream to be more precise. Why I often get an uncontrollable Ice cream urge after a ride is beyond me, but there it was. There was nothing I could do so I relented and suddenly found myself reaching into the deep freeze at Lidl where unbelieveably I found a tub of vanilla and strawberry Ice cream. Luckily I am skilled in the art of riding a Bianchi over loaded with ice cream, I must add that one to my CV. Rolling up outside my front door, I patteed my old friend Celeste on her top tube and told her how drop dead gorgeous she is, and what I pleasure it was to ride her today. What a beautiful bike she is. Hayling Island ride, Box ticked!

Look closely on the far catermaran, the crew are stranded on board at low tide, kicking back with a few beers!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Pulborough loop the other way around

Todays ride was a bit of a mental battle to start with. Not on the bike, but to even get on the bike. I awoke with my head full of memories of a previous life, one which I miss and have had to blank from my mind. I was mentally wired and my anxiety level was much higher than of late, it has been two years since I felt so anxious so I knew what I needed to do. Ignore it. Tell it to ferk orf and get on my bike and ride. As soon as I was turning the cranks, my mind emptied and the anxiety went away. Such is th ehealing power of cycling. The wind was from the North east so I decided to ride my Puborough loop the other way around to usual, and headed up towards Ford and Arundel. The bike was still not shifting well and the climb up the hill behind arundel had me uttering a few well chosen profanities at my feet! I saw a fellow rider pull in to whiteways cafe at the top and pulled for a cuppa and chat. This is what I like about cycling, you meet all kinds of nice people. This chap was in his 70's and sadly had been hit by a car and was suffering from various fairly serious health issues. But credit to him, he was out there riding, and climbing Bury hill at that! That , trust me ,is a toughy even for a fit youngster rider, so this guy had my respect. We chatted for 30 minutes and then I headed off towards Pulborough. Bury hill may be a pig on th eway up but the downhill is a larf!

Bury Hill near Arundel

The gardiant is 20% in places and its much more fun riding down this section that it is up, which is what I usually do. I had intended to ride out to midhurst and back via chichester but the gear changing was becoming very difficult, so I took an executive descision and turned right at Pulborough instead of left and headed back to the coast via Storrington and Shoreham. At this point I was expecting the wind to be in my favor, but the God of cycling Cyclops had other plans. he reversed the wind at that point to make my ride more 'interesting. Bastard. There werethe usual close passes from HGv's, Taxis and White van man predominatly, but nobody clipped my shoulder this ride. I decided to head back to Quest Adventure bike store again and have them look at the gears. This they did on the spot, fixing it free of charge for me. If you want good service from a bike store in Worthing head to Broadwater and go to Quest Adventure. Nice ride :)