Late afternoon short ride to spin the legs a bit

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I’ve not been out on my bike all week as I picked up conjunctivitis and a bit of a virus and have thus not been feeling 100%. The cabin fever was settling in though and by late afternoon today, I could not resist a quick ride out.

My plan was to ride my usual Dearnford Lake route but not stop at the cafe. I set off on the normal route but by the time I was approaching Stoke on Tern I still was not feeling 100% and was debating about cutting the ride short and going out for a leisurely curry instead.

The curry soon won the day and instead of heading off up Marchamley Hill, I took the Market Drayton road instead. I was intending routing home via Cheswardine and adding a few extra miles in but by the time I got the Drayton I was feeling it and took the more direct route home.

On the way back I did extend the route slightly via High Hatton to mix up the roads a bit and enjoyed the change of scenery and views over to South Shropshire as I went up the hill.

I arrived home in loads of time to go out for some food and feeling much better for the ride.

Route: click here

Wiggle Spring Saddle Sportive, Epic Course. First ūüíĮ Century ride of the year.

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Today was the Wiggle Spring Saddle Sportive, starting in Newmarket and heading south through the Cambridgeshire and Essex countryside to near Stanstead Airport, before turning back northwards to Newmarket.

I was booked on the 100 mile Epic Course as usual and was looking forward to my first century ride of 2018. I knew it might be tough going as with all the bad weather we’ve been having, my training is not exactly progressing as planned!

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I arrived at the venue about 7:40am and parked up before wandering over to register. I checked where Andy was and he said he was by the starting line, so I headed past the racecourse grandstand to there.

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The pre-ride briefing was fun as there was a “shout out to John and Andy, who ride most of our sportives” by the announcer. Not that I like the attention or anything but I loved it :).

The first part of the ride took us out of Suffolk and into Cambridgeshire almost straight away. Essex soon followed and we were to be in Essex for the majority of the ride. I’ve only ridden a tiny corner of Essex on the London Revolution before, so this was all new for me and full of quaint little villages everywhere. Lovely!

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It was easy cycling at the start and we soon arrived at the first feed stop after about 22 miles.

The going started to get tough for me not too long after this as my legs just were not playing ball at all today.

By the time we got to the second feed stop at about 45 miles I was totally worn out and wondering how I’d get to finish the 100 miles today. It’s just one of those days as I know I’d fuelled¬†myself for the ride and was eating the right things on the ride. I hate it when this happens!

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The section from here up to 60 miles started to be a real struggle but I plodded along hoping to come out of the other side of the bad legs. On the way, we passed through a lovely town called Finchingfield which had hundreds of motor bike riders all socialising on the village green. I bet there was a great cafe somewhere and the temptation to stop for a coffee was strong, but we plodded on.

The third and final feed stop was at about 84 miles and we stopped for quite a while chatting away to various event staff and other riders. This is what really makes a good sportive for me. This feed stop also had tea and coffee, which is always welcome.

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I’m not sure if I was just in need of caffeine after the hour less sleep last night (the clocks went forward an hour) but after the feed stop my legs returned to normal form and I knew I’d have no problem finishing the ride. Phew!

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By the time we were approaching the finishing line, I had 99.7 miles on the clock, so rode around the area just before the finishing line to top up to 100 miles as you can’t leave it so close and not finish the job and get to 100 miles.

A really enjoyable ride in the end, in a totally new area for me and my first Century ride for 2018 in the bag. Here’s to many more.

Route: click here

Dearnford Lake for lunch, then home via Wrenbury in Cheshire. Lovely spring day!

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With not having time to go out on my bike last week and then the cancelled Brewin Dolphin Wye Tour Sportive last Sunday it’s been a week and a half since I was out on my bike!

My legs are aching not because I’ve ridden too much, but because I’ve not ridden at all and they are used to powering me around the area. I was desperate to get out and fix this and today was the day as I was ahead with work, so could afford some time out of the office.

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I’m also conscious I’ve got my¬†first 100 mile sportive this Sunday and so needed to wake my legs up. I thus planned a ride up to Dearnford Lakes on the normal route. That would change a bit later on though…

I arranged to meet up for lunch with my wife at the cafe, so set off with plenty of time to spare. An uneventful ride up to Dearnford along the usual route via Marchamley Hill.

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As I arrived at the cafe I noticed lots of bikes outside and it turned out to be the Newport Cycling Club on their Wednesday club ride. What a lovely surprise and I had a chance to catch up with friends for a chat.

After lunch, I decided to extend my route by heading up to Wrenbury in Cheshire, before returning home via Aston, Wilkesley and Market Drayton. A fab choice as I love the quiet lane up to Wrenbury from Whitchurch, with great views over the whole area.

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I got caught at the level crossings by Wrenbury station, which is always a pain as they must be the world’s slowest barriers and take ages to go back up! I think they have a radar to check if I’m approaching as I ALWAYS get caught by them!

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I needed to be back home in plenty of time to collect the Jeep from the garage as it’s been in for a service today, so did not stop for a sneaky pint in Market Drayton, no matter how tempting it was (not really done enough miles to warrant a stop today anyway!).

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Nearing home I realised I’d be just short of 50 miles on the clock, so extended the ride round Ercall Heath and Bolas Heath to make up the extra miles.

A lovely ride out in nice spring weather. It was even warm enough to wear my summer short fingered gloves, which is always a bonus. Can’t wait to be able to get out in summer kit now.

Route: click here

Brewin Dolphin Wye Tour Sportive – Cancelled

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I was due to the do the Brewin Dolphin Wye Tour sportive today, starting in Chepstow and had received a complimentary Velo Club entry during the week, courtesy of UK Cycling Events, so was really looking forward to it. Plus it’s somewhere I’ve not explored on a bike before!

As I was nearing the venue Andy let me know he’d just arrived and it had been cancelled due to forecast bad weather. I was half expecting this as the forecast really was not great and the start time had already been out back an hour. Never a good sign.

On the plus side, the Velo Club was still open so I parked up and met up with Andy before wandering over.

What a lovely set up too, with a fabulous Velo Club cycling jersey and lots of other goodies included, including some very welcome coffee and breakfast.

The highlight of things for me was the 2 pro cyclists (Yanto Barker and Matt Rowe) who were there and the talk they gave. Some really interesting insights into training, life doing cycling for a living and then a fabulous Q&A with all sorts of interesting areas being addressed.

As people started to leave we said our thank you’s and both headed off home.

I believe they might try and run the event later in the season if it’s possible and I’ll definitely be back to do it then.

 

Wye Tour Sportive – Complimentary Velo Club entry!

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I’m absolutely¬†delighted. I’ve just been given a complimentary Velo Club entry to the Brewin Dolphin Wye Tour by UK Cycling Events this Saturday starting in Chepstow, South Wales.

I was booked on the event as a normal entrant but have transferred that to their Brewin Dolphin Ridgeway Rouleur event in Oxfordshire next month now.

Included are many extras including:

  • Custom Brewin Dolphin Jersey (rrp ¬£65)
  • Coffee & Breakfast on arrival
  • Lunch and drink on return
  • Goodie bag
  • A chance to ride with VIP celebrity guest
  • Q&A with VIP guests
  • Mechanical support
  • Complimentary post ride massage from Official Physio Partner Six Physio

So excited I’m fit to burst!

Sigma Sports‚Äč Wiltshire Wildcat, Epic Course. A great route and another perfectly organised event. Loved it!

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Today was the Sigma Sports Wiltshire Wildcat Sportive, an 81 mile pretty hilly route starting and ending at Salisbury Racecourse.

I know the area from the Wiggle Bournemouth Sportive last year, which used some of the same lanes and was a tough one for me. Admittedly I was doing it on only 4 hours sleep, which is not recommended!

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Andy and I had time for breakfast at the hotel before setting off for the event on the other side of Salisbury. When the 100 mile routes come in later in the season, this will be a luxury that will fall by the wayside though as it’s always an early start and I bring my own porridge for before the ride.

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Arriving at the venue, we parked up and walked down to register with our bikes and helmets. I think we had missed the initial wave of riders as registration was really quick and we were soon lining up to start the ride. Bonus!

On the way, I had a chat with various event staff who are getting very familiar with me by now from all of their events I’ve been to!

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The first part of the route took us westwards towards Shaftesbury with the knowledge that the biggest hill of the ride was at about 15 miles in. As we got closer I remembered it from the Bournemouth Sportive and went for bottom gear and span my way to the top. Some fab views all around were my very welcome reward.

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Not long after was the split for the Epic route and then soon afterwards the first feed station. Here we got chatting to quite a few riders and enjoyed the very welcome¬†tea and coffee¬†facilities. Always a bonus on a sportive, even in the summer when it’s hot. Caffeine-fuelled cycling, what’s not to like ;-).

The terrain then settled down for a while and we were zooming around some lovely country lanes to the east of Shaftesbury, before hitting the next big climb at around 40 miles.

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This turned out to be not too bad and we were soon back on flatter roads and heading towards the second feed station at Witchampton. We spent way too long chatting here, but part of the fun of sportives is the social aspect, so it’s absolutely not a problem.

Not long afterwards we joined the short route and were heading towards feed station number 3. A marshall at a crossroads told us it’s only ‘a mile away’. He must have been very optimistic or having a laugh with us as it turned out to be about 5 miles further on!

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At the final feed stop we were joined by the other riders we kept bumping into throughout the day and had more chat. Love the social aspects of a sportive like this!

One of them was kneeled down on the floor looking like he was praying. I’m not sure if he was praying this was the end of the ride or that the final 13 miles would be flat, but neither was true!

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From there it was an easyish run into the finishing line at Salisbury Racecourse, with a longish climb about half way and then the final climb up to the racecourse.

At the finishing line, we got our very nice custom medals and goodie packs, which were very much appreciated. We then went off to the BoMo Coffee Bar for some well-deserved caffeine.

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A fabulous day out and it feels so good to be back into sportives again after the winter break. I’d almost forgotten how much I enjoy the challenges they present and the fun social aspect of it all. Bring on the rest of the season now!

Route: click here

Wiggle New Forest Falling Leaves MTB, Epic Course

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I was supposed to be riding the Wiggle Chalky Chaser MTB Sportive today with Andy, but it was cancelled a few weeks ago due to un-passable tracks on the route and the likelihood that the rain in the meantime would not improve conditions.

We hatched a plan to go MTB’ing in the New Forest today instead and Andy came up with several routes from old Wiggle MTB sportives in the area. We settled on the Falling Leaves MTB Epic Course from (I think) 2012.

This started in lovely Brockenhurst, so we arranged to meet at Brockenhurst Station late morning. After kitting ourselves up, off we set.

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This is the first ride of my new MTB, a Scott Scale 925 and a replacement for my GT Zaskar Carbon Expert as the chain would not stay on that any time it got muddy. Ridiculous for a MTB I know, just makes no sense. Thankfully they agreed to a return from my excellent local bike shop, Nova Cycles.

All was going swimmingly until about 4 miles into the ride, on an old railway track that had been converted, when I got that sinking feeling from the back tyre for the second time in a week. Sure enough, I had a puncture. Hmmm!

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This turned out to be a pinch flat, but the tyres were so tight on the rims we managed to puncture the new inner tube 3 times trying to get the tyre back on! Eventually, it held and we were back on our way.

I really enjoyed the rest of the ride, on a mixture of quiet lanes, old railway tracks and forest paths. At one point the route took us down this 1ft wide path between gorse and I had to concentrate extra hard as this was effectively my first ever proper MTB ride. Really good fun and very different than road riding.

About 2/3 of the way round we were conscious the sun was going down and we needed to be back at the start before dark as we’d forgotten to put lights on our bikes. We made the executive decision to return to Brockenhurst by road.

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This turned out to be fortuitous as the quickest route took us down Ornamental¬†Drive, one of the prettiest parts of the New Forest and one I’d enjoyed on at least two sportives before.

We arrived back well in time for dark and had had a fabulous ride with a mixture of terrain, views and fun. Can’t wait to get out on the MTB again now!

Route: click here

New MTB bike day!

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I’d got my first MTB, a GT Zaskar Carbon Expert a month or so ago and was planning on using it for various MTB sportives and also round home when the roads are not fit for road cycling. The problem is the chain just would not stay on!

On my first ride on it, home from Nova Cycles in Newport I went down a very muddy farm track and the chain came off. Not a worry I though as I can easily put it back on. The problem is it came right off again as soon as I started to pedal. This happened repeatedly and I had to call for a lift to take the bike back to the shop.

A MTB that does not work in mud makes no sense at all but that’s effectively what I had!

We tried changing the chain in case that was it but when I tried to ride it in the South Downs soon afterwards, the same thing was happening with the chain. Hmmm!

I took it back again and they got in contact with the manufacturers/suppliers who could not really offer a solution so I asked for a full refund so I could choose a MTB I knew would work as I’d lost all confidence in the Zaskar.

Thankfully they readily agreed and a few weeks later I’m the proud owner of a drop dead gorgeous looking Scott Scale 925.

I’ve now ridden this on an old sportive route in the New Forest and I’m totally happy with it. It’s a very capable bike and very easy to ride. I’m a happy camper!

The only thing I’ve changed is I took the tubes out of the tyres (the tyres and wheels are already tubeless ready), added some sealant and am now running tubeless so I don’t get any pinch flats.

Dearnford Lake for lunch. Rubbish avg speed as I had to walk the last 3 miles to the Cafe due to a puncture and tight fitting tubeless tyres which I could not pry an inner tube under. Return trip on my Scott bike.

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With a doubleheader weekend of Sportives coming up, I needed to get out today and get some miles into the legs as I’ve not been out for a week and a half with all the snow we have had.

It had all cleared thankfully by this morning so I set off on my usual route to Dearnford Lake for lunch. I had planned a quick ride and not stopping long at the cafe so I could get back to the office and work. That was not to be…

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All was going really well and I was enjoying using the Shimano XTR MTB pedals and my winter MTB boots on the ride as it means I don’t have to mess around with over-shoes, which I seem to wear out ridiculously quickly.

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Just as I emerged onto the Wem to Whitchurch road from the really mucky lane over the railway line, I had a sinking feeling and the back tyre did not feel right. Sure enough, I had a puncture. I run tubeless and this is not supposed to happen, but happen it did.

I found a slit right across the tread and the sealant had obviously not got to it in time. Not to worry, I had an inner tube with me, so I’ll put that in to get me home. Wrong! The Schwalbe Pro One tyres I use are so ridiculously¬†tight I could not pry it off the rim far enough to get an inner tube under it.

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I resorted to phoning home and Sarah agreed to bring my Scott road bike to the cafe and swap it for the poorly Roubaix. At least it’s a chance to have an unexpected lunch with my lovely wife.

After a nice lunch, I set off on the Scott homeward and had an uneventful ride back.

Route: click here