Raiders Sunday ride – Great Haywood via Stone and back via Cannock Chase and Penkridge

IMG_2865.jpg

I’d not been on a Nova Raiders club ride for ages and due to the jet-lag recovery from the Florida trip during the week, I’d not booked a sportive for this weekend. The perfect opportunity to go out on a club ride then!

I rode down to Nova Cycles for the 10am start and met up with the other people who were doing the ride. After waiting for late comers, we set off at 10:10 with 6 of us in total.

The route took us north out of Newport up Shay Lane and then a right turn to High Offley just before the canal. The bit up to High Offley is a bit of a climb and one of the guys on the back gave up the ride as he was finding it tough going.

Always a shame when that happens as we were going pretty steady and we’d imagined everyone was ok (wish people would communicate their concerns more as the ride leaders are not mind readers!). Anyway, in the village itself, Jeanette was waiting for us and joined our ride, so we dropped one and gained one!

IMG_2864.jpg

We continued into the pretty strong headwind into Stone and then headed up into the hills on the way to Uttoxeter to try and avoid the busy A51 which was the obvious alternate route.

All too soon we arrived at the cafe, one which I’ve been meaning to visit for ages and it was well worth the wait. A great setting by the canal and the service was very quick.

On the way back we headed south to Rugeley and then up through Cannock Chase and onwards back to Newport.

Back in Newport a few of us retired to the New Inn for a well deserved pint or two.

A great day out with the club and I’ll try not to leave it so long before my next ride with them!

Route: click here

 

Short recovery ride to sort my legs out before flying home later today

IMG_2838.jpg

Today was the day I fly home to the UK so I decided on a quick leg spin after I packed and before I had to head off to the airport.

I routed out to Poinciana Blvd and northwards to the right turn that is signposted Broadmoor and we always associated with the prison of the same name in the UK. Needless to say there was no prison but there was a quite nice housing community called Broadmoor. If only the developers knew what connotations this has to any UK visitor!

IMG_2840.jpg

I then headed down Ham Brown Road and back to Crescent Lakes via Lizzie Brown Road. Once back in Crescent Lakes I still had a bit of spare time to rode round some more parts of the community.

IMG_2843.jpg

Then it was back home to pack my bike away and get changed.

Once sorted, I drove off to the airport to return my car and check my bags in. A fabulous few days in Florida with over 100 miles on the clock.

IMG_2846.jpg

Route: click here

East Lake Toho via Kissimmee Waterfront and St Cloud Beach. Then back via Narcoossee and Kissimmee. Cafe stop at Dunkin Donuts in Narcoossee.

IMG_2817.jpg

After a day off cycling yesterday (I was on my way back from Atlanta, present shopping for the family and then a meal out with my business partner), I opted for the long ride of the trip today. A 55 mile ride out round East Lake Toho and via Kissimmee Waterfront and St Cloud beach.

I did not set off quite at dawn as I’m starting to get used to Florida time, but it was still very early and quiet.

IMG_2820.jpg

The initial part of the route took me down the Old Tampa Highway but in the other direction to the other day. Then it was a short ride through Kissimmee before I got to the beautiful lakefront park. From all along the park you get fab views over Lake Toho (not to be confused with East Lake Toho, which I will visit later in the ride!).

From there I headed off towards St Cloud, crossing various very busy main roads on the way. Once I approached the western shores of East Lake Toho I took Lakeshore Drive down to the beach area at the south of the lake.

IMG_2822

It was still very early and the cafe had not yet opened so I asked a couple of nice old ladies on the pier where to get coffee and cake and the best they could think of was Dunkin Donuts on Narcoossee Road. Not my ideal choice but if all else fails…

As it turned out, this was literally the only place, so I stopped for a rather nice latte and rather calorific reduced far muffin (420 calories still!).

IMG_2828.jpg

IMG_2830.jpg

The route then took me northwards towards Orlando International Airport before turning down Boggy Creek Road to Kissimmee and onwards to home.

On the way through Kissimmee, I had to go along a very short section of the 192, which as anyone who knows the area, is hellishly busy. On the way down I got propositioned by a guy in a van to meet at 6pm at the junction of Osceola Parkway and Dyer. I could not hear if this was a cycling club meet or just that he was a maniac who liked guys in tight lycra! Needless to say I did not go, just in case!

I then routed via Indian Point to ride past Mark and Emma’s villa, which is the first villa we stayed at in Florida and which prompted us to buy our own ones and start our businesses.

IMG_2833.jpg

A fab ride which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was upwards of 30 degrees by the time I got home so I opted for my favourite Hawaiian beer and a quick dip in the pool as a post ride cool off.

Route: click here

Loughman, Davenport and Poinciana loop. Fab ride apart from the 2 sand roads I managed to route down.

IMG_2723.jpg

Being the first morning in Florida after you arrive from the UK you can never sleep in. I was up and about well before dawn and had breakfast and was ready to ride just as the sun was coming up.

I planned a circular route up to Intercession City, Loughman, Davenport, Poinciana, Kissimmee Waterfront and back. In the end I had to cut out the Kissimmee Waterfront bit as I needed to set off for the airport at 11am as I was flying to Atlanta later to see Steel Panther in concert and catch up with Steve “Larry” Lamb, an old school friend who I’d not seen since I was 18 and in the Upper 6th at Alty Grammar.

IMG_2711.jpg

At this time of the morning it was still relatively cool and perfect to ride your bike in. The best part of the ride was down the old red brick Old Tampa Highway, which was very rough going but great fun.

IMG_2712.jpg

In Davenport my route planning came a bit unstuck as it took me on a sand road. If you are ready this and wondering what a sand road is, it’s an unpaved road than instead of being gravel is literally just loose sand, and almost impossible to ride a road bike down. Here’s one I went down:

IMG_2724.jpg

Next, the route took me down a less than salubrious road with wooden shacks on both sides. To add insult to injury, a dog decided to chase me with a view to taking a chunk out of my ankle! Thankfully it was easy to out pedal it. Phew!

IMG_2710.jpg

The rest of the ride was much more un-evenytful and I headed up Poinciana Boulevard from Poinciana Town Centre to cut short my route and ensure I got to the airport in time for my flight.

I ended up with 37 miles on the clock and a really fun ride in a totally different area than normal. The whole route was essentially flat, which was a welcome change from the relentless climbing in North Yorkshire on Saturday.

Route: click here

Quick recovery ride round the community before dinner to stretch the legs after a long flight

IMG_2701.jpg

Today I was travelling to Florida to visit the villas and clear out our things from the owners closets in both houses. I flew from Manchester to Orlando with Thomas Cook and had a fab flight with surprisingly great food.

I took the Scott in a bike bag I borrowed from Nic.

After I had arrived the first thing I did was put my bike together as I thought a steady and short recovery ride in the small ring might just loosen up my legs.

IMG_2706

I set off round the various sections of Crescent Lakes and clocked up about 6 miles before hunger got the better of me and I headed back, got changed and went to the Olive Garden in Kissimmee for some food.

Route: click here

Lone Raider – Daffodils Sportive Epic Route in the North Yorkshire Moors. Fabulous but tough ride with stunning scenery. Where were the Daffodils though?

IMG_0489

This Saturday I was entered into the Daffodils Sportive on the North Yorkshire Moors. It started and ended in Thirsk so I drove up the day before and went straight to Denise’s (my sister) in York to catch up with her family and for a lovely dinner.

After a night at a hotel near to the event I was up early and over to the event location. I parked up and headed off to register. This was all at a cattle market place, which is a first for me!

After a final quick cup of coffee I headed for the start line and off I set.

The route took you on some flat lanes out of Thirsk before kicking up into the hills on what would be a relentlessly undulating course. The scenery was absolutely beautiful throughout and thoroughly enjoyable.

DAFF03

After an initial section through the Howardian Hills the short route left us to loop back to Thirsk and we headed off northwards towards Farndale and the first feed stop. This section was truly stunning as we climbed up a steady climb for quite a few miles up into the moors.

IMG_2671.jpg

The feed stop was a welcome respite and after chatting to various other cyclists and fuelling myself I headed off for the main climb of the day, Blakey Bank.

Just after the start of the climb, the Standard route left us, as did most of the riders who were doing the long route and checked out. I should have listened to them as the Bank was hellishly steep and I felt like I might have a heart attack at a few places!

DAFF02

Once on top, the road circled round the top of the hills to the other side of the valley and then started downwards through the Cropton Forest. Another stunningly scenic part of the ride and the village of Hutton Le Hole was truly picture postcard. I so wanted to stop and explore but had to press on as I needed to be back in Thirsk well before 5pm.

At the second and final feed stop in Hovingham they were starting to pack up as not many riders had done the Long route and so most had been through the feed station ages  ago.

IMG_2692.jpg

The final stretch into Thirsk had me longing for a flat section of road as it undulated with steep short climbs almost until the end.

IMG_2696.jpg

Once back at base camp I received my event medal and went for a leg massage as it’s a 3.5 hour drive home and then I’m going to Florida tomorrow so want my legs ok for the 9 hour flight.

IMG_2698.jpg

A very tough but truly stunning sportive in a lovely part of the country.

Route: click here

Jodrell Bank with Mick and back to Newport

IMG_2654.jpg

I’ve not been out on a club ride for ages now as the Sportives are taking up all of my spare time, so it was good to arrange a ride out to Jodrell Bank with Mick.

We met at Nova Cycles at 9:30am and being a Wednesday, all of the Newport Cycling Club members were there waiting for their midweek ride.

We got chatting to them and ended up tagging on to their faster group as they were heading up towards Cheswardine like us. We dropped off by Puleston as they were going the more scenic route and we wanted to go direct as we had a lot of road to cover today!

The rest of the ride to Jodrell Bank was easy and we were soon at the cafe stop. No baked potatoes today so we both opted for sandwiches, which were nice.

IMG_2653.jpg

The ride back followed a slightly improved route in an attempt to avoid a rather busy section of main road. This worked out well and we stopped at the Swan With Two Necks for a quick pint on the way past.

All too soon we arrived back in Newport and popped into our sponsors for a quick end of ride pint.

A fab ride out in good company and it was great to catch up with news etc etc.

Route: click here