Endurance training as the Sportive season starts in about 3 weeks. A ride out to the fabulous Chapeau cyclists Cafe in Marton near Macclesfield for ☕️ and 🍰. Hilly on the way out and 43 miles into the wind on the way home!

IMG_2296.jpg

Sunday looked to be a really nice day weather-wise, I’d not been out on a long ride for 3 weeks and with the sportive season starting a week on Saturday I’d better start getting some miles in my legs!

It was about 12 degrees in the end so I went in summer kit with arm and leg warmers. It was even more than warm enough for summer gloves which is a massive bonus as I hate the long-fingered gloves you have to wear in cold weather!

IMG_2292.jpg

I set off just after 10am and headed off on the reverse of my usual Jodrell Bank route with the plan being to get the main hilly section of the ride out of the way early and then have a flatter route home. I’d not planned on the ridiculously strong wind in my face all the way home, but more of that later!

The ride up to the cafe was pretty uneventful. The lanes were really mucky and my bike and legs soon got totally covered. All part of the fun though.

IMG_2299.jpg

At the cafe, I opted for a quick stop as I knew I was running a bit late and wanted to try and get back before it went totally dark. A nice piece of Victoria Sponge and a Latte. Perfect!

After the cafe, I soon realised how strong the wind was today as I was straight into it and this continued all the way home pretty much. Ouch!

 

IMG_2302.jpg
The infamous Mow Cop killer mile climb in the distance

 

IMG_2303.jpg

On the way back, I stopped at the Brewery Tap in Market Drayton for a quick pint, a refill of my water bottles and a bit of respite for my poor legs, having to deal with the strong wind solo.

From there it was an easy ride home and I extended via Great Bolas at the end to make sure I got my 85 miles in.

A really good ride out and just what I needed. Need to go and sit down for a while now!

Route: click here

Met up with Andy before he went to work and before my train home for a ride across central London

IMG_2286.jpg

It was the morning after the Steel Panther gig at the Hammersmith Apollo and I was feeling a little worse for wear as I’d had a very late night last night as we all went out for drinks after the show.

Andy, my southern sportive riding mate, contacted me and wondered if I was around for a quick ride across central London before I caught my train. He was coming to London to go to work and could fit in a ride before work.

Sounded like a perfect way to blow the cobwebs away (and I’m always up for a bike ride anyway!) so we arranged to meet up at Westminster tube station, right next to the Houses Of Parliament.

I was part way there when he texted to say there were hardly any Boris Bikes there and to meet at Victoria Station instead. No problem for me as my tube was going through there too.

IMG_2285.jpg

We met up and wandered over to the nearest Boris Bike pickup point. I don’t know what was going on but we tried multiple release codes and none of them worked. All the bike slots were full so I’m guessing others had the same problem too and no one had managed to get a bike there.

We thus opted to go to the next nearest pickup location and my code worked first time there!

We had a fun ride down past Buckingham Palace, up The Mall, through Trafalgar Square and then up Tottenham Court Road past the theatres to Euston. So many iconic locations in such a short bike ride!

We said our goodbye’s at Euston Station and I retired for my ‘cafe stop’ before catching my train home.

Route: click here

Boris Bike from Euston to Hammersmith and my hotel. Forgot to start Strava for first part of the ride.

IMG_2199.jpg

I was in London today to see my favourite band, Steel Panther, at the Hammersmith Odeon, or rather the Eventim Apollo as it’s currently known. Shame they have to mess with a world-renowned venue name but I guess the sponsorship money comes in handy!

Anyway, I digress…

My train arrived into Euston and I’d hatched a plan to ride a Boris bike to my hotel in west Hammersmith rather than get an Über or the tube as normal. I let the Boris Bike app on my phone find me a suitable route which would keep me off as many main roads as possible so it would make the ride more fun and I’d also get to see some of the parts of London I’d not normally see.

IMG_2196.jpg

It ended up taking me around the top of Regents Park, across Edgware Road and onwards through Notting Hill and Shepherds Bush to my hotel. Quite a bit of the route followed a canal, some on an adjoining road and some of it on the towpath itself. Sounded perfect!

The only problem was I’d forgotten to start Strava on my phone so missed recording the first part of the ride – doh! A ‘Rookie’ mistake ;-). Not to worry as it’s all about the ride and not the Strava stats at the end of the day.

IMG_2197.jpg

The ride itself turned out to be really good. I knew I would never break any records on such a heavy bike and with my bag on my back but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I even went past the QPR ground at one point, which was a lovely surprise as from the map I just saw an expanse of green and was imagining it would be a public park!

I dropped off my bike at Ravenscourt Park underground station, just around the corner from my hotel and incidentally my local tube station for 2 of the 3 years I was at Uni in London. Always great to re-visit old haunts.

Route: click here

No cycling this week and a worthy cause!

5baa2082-9836-4fd9-8b37-794365d57f6d.jpg

I’ve spent the last week and a half following my favourite band, Steel Panther, round the country on their Irish and then their UK tours and in between, frantically working, so have had no time to go out cycling at all.

Next week things return to normal and I’ll be back out on rides as much as I have time for, assuming no snow or ice. I’ve had a fabulous time gigging but am totally missing my cycling.

On a more important note, my sportive riding mate, Andy, is taking part in the UK Police Unity Tour 2018 between 27th and 29th July 2018. 100 Police service members are cycling from the National Police Memorial on the Mall in London to the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire. Sounds like a really good challenge!

Andy is raising money for Care Of Police Survivors, who help the families of Police Officers killed in the line of duty. A cause I’m sure everyone will agree is very worthwhile!

If you want to sponsor Andy, his Just Giving page is here.

 

First ride of my new MTB back from Nova Cycles.

IMG_0832.jpg

I recently invested in my first MTB so I can do some doubleheader sportive weekends, where you ride a MTB sportive on the Saturday and a Road sportive on the Sunday (or vice-versa).

My local bike shop, Nova Cycles, had to special order the one I wanted in and it arrived while I was in Gran Canaria. Today I got a lift down to Newport with Sarah so I could ride the new bike home and put it through it’s paces / get a feel for it.

The ride went well to start with and I tried it on a track between Longford Road and Edgmond that I\’d never dare take my road bike down. Next, I went offroad in the woods at Chetwynd Firs and had some really good fun. A very different way of cycling for me but really good too. I can see I’m going to live this new kind of sportive this year!

It was all going really well and I was trying to find an offroad way through from Calvington to Howle when my chain came off. I put it back on and it came off straight away. I repeated this a few times before resigning myself to the fact it would not stay on. Hmmm!

I phoned home and agreed to meet nearby for a lift back to Nova Cycles with the bike. Turns out the suppliers had put totally the wrong chain on the bike and it’s a real surprise I got as far as I did without any issues.

It’s now fixed and I’m looking forward to riding it some more.

Route: click here

Day 8: Gran Canaria – going home

IMG_0820.jpg

Today was the day we were going home. Our coach transfer to the airport was not until 1pm so we all packed and after breakfast headed down to the K1 bar on the front for a final Cortado.

The journey to the airport was quick, although the clouds were gathering on the way and it even started to rain. That’s never supposed to happen on holiday!

IMG_0819.jpg

We were soon checked in and free of our bike boxes so headed through to the departure lounge for a final beer and something to eat before the flight.

IMG_0821.jpg

As we arrived at the gate to board our plane, the fun started. A TUI person said the plane had a technical fault and would not be flying. We’d be put on flights to either Manchester, Luton or Stanstead and then bussed back to Birmingham airport. Great – not!

But first, we had to go back through arrivals as if we had just come from the UK, collect our bags again and then go to check in again, where we would be allocated their choice of flight home.

IMG_0822.jpg

We got allocated to Luton, which I was not happy with so spoke with a supervisor who re-jigged things and got us all on the Manchester flight. Bingo! Sarah can pick me up from there and I can worry about getting my car back from Birmingham Airport tomorrow.

The flight home was uneventful and I said my goodbye’s to Tim and Tracy in Manchester, where they left to get the coach back to Birmingham. Nic and John had stayed on another 5 nights to have some couple time.

 

Day 7: Gran Canaria – Social ride out along the coast to Puerto Mogán for lunch

IMG_0800.jpg

Today was our last cycling day of the holiday so all 5 of us planned to meet up for a social ride along the coast to Puerto Rico and then the ferry to Puerto Mogán for lunch.

We met up outside the hotel and set off. The coast road was pretty busy today and we did not really have a chance to chat too much. At Puerto Rico, Nic and John decided to carry on and see if they could get to Puerto Mogán by bike as they had heard the coast road might be open to cyclists. We’d then meet up there for lunch.

IMG_0804.jpg

The rest of us got the ferry and were soon installed at a lovely restaurant overlooking the beach. By this time we’d heard from Nic and John that the road was still closed and a policeman was turning people back with the threat of a 1000 Euro fine if you carried on anyway. Ouch!

IMG_0808.jpg

Meeting up again was going to be tricky though as Tracy had to her rental bike back by 5pm and by the time Nic and John arrive in Puerto Mogán we needed to be getting back on the ferry home.

We did see them get off the ferry and said hello as we were trying to get on the ferry. It turned out to be a different ferry company and we didn’t have return tickets for that one, so we had to wait 45 minutes for the next one of our ferry’s.

IMG_0814.jpg

Back at the hotel, we had dinner and retired to the bar for our last night. A plan was soon hatched to work out way through the cocktail menu to see if we could complete it. What could possibly go wrong? :).

IMG_0816.jpg

Many cocktails later we completed our challenge and retired for the night.

Route: click here