Sunday, 29 November 2009

FNRttC - Brighton

Why are rides completed in horrendous weather always more epic?

It wasn't too bad really. We started and finished in dry weather. Just the hours in between were a bit wet. It had also stopped raining as we left the halfway spot at the cabin, so that lifted the spirits. But I must quote something posted by mistral on CycleChat: "I had to drive a relative home last night, the rain was heavy the roads awash and visibility difficult, it was only then that I realised just how insane we had been on Friday". That is exactly how I felt when Sarah and I drove back to London on Saturday evening. When we came across a horrible accident on the M25, it wasn't funny anymore.

What an impressive group of riders, though. Simon gave a bail out option at some point (it was a night of many firsts!), explaining that Gatwick was only a couple of miles away for a train back to London ... nobody answered. How brilliant! And the group was quite diverse, from experienced long distance riders to people who've never cycled more than 40 miles (the forum quotes 7 miles - is that really true?).

Hats of to "The Cabin Cafe" establishment in Faygate. It has a reputation as a good truckers' stop and voted by The Times as "the purveyors of one of the best bacon butties in England". Its quite true. How often do you need a steak knife to cut a bacon buttie. That is not because its tough, but because its so big. At first I didn't understand why chef kept shouting and pointing to one of the tables: "Knifes are in the middle". And what a mess we made! The floor resembled that of the showers after a rugby game.

The other thing that was a first was Simon getting a puncture! What an impressive puncture with the sound of a fire cracker being set off, I could see a cartoon animation going on in front of my eyes. I failed to find an image to illustrate what I mean, but found this little gem: Clicky (then click on the i to view in large screen).

The route was new too. And I enjoyed it very much. The highlight was Tunnel Road in Reigate.

We were able to shelter from the rain for a bit, and it was a good spot for keeks to repair his puncture. There is a whole load of history behind these vaults, wouldn't mind visiting one day: Clicky.

And all of the Faccombe Five were there! And Hummers. That made for excellent closure to the cycling season. Shame for them, that it was one of the worst FNRttC, weather wise. Still, think of BCM 2009 and everything is relative.

I'm getting a bit of hassle from Sarah right now ("We have nothing of a Friday evening because you're messing with your bike, you're out cycling all night, sleep all Saturday (oh not true!) and blog all Sunday (oh, not true either!) ... it's stopped raining now, you should be out doing things"). Cycling maybe? Ouch! So better tell her I've finished, and then I'll sneak some more words in later on. Cheerio for now.

... I'm back.

On Saturday, I was very tired and felt like I had done a 300km audax. Maybe that's the bike. I used my racer again, first time since March. It is a lovely bike to ride, but I always feel like I've played a game of rugby with aching muscles and my shoulders and neck very stiff.

I did not envy urban_biker, LEE and Chillmoister cycling home against the wind. I only had to cycle to Seven Dials (seeing Hummers on the way) and was glad to be able to enter a warm house, had a shower, a coffee and a snooze. As I woke up, a lovely lunch was laid on. I was thinking of the guys cycling home, hoping they would see sense (which they did), and was also thinking how otherwise I would be sitting on the train with soaking wet feet.

Thanks to Simon, who is the generator of the FNRttC magic. Thanks to the TECs and all the riders for contributing to the magic.

Some other thoughts:
  • the Christmas lights on Sloane Square, very impressive, almost an art installation
  • me not getting a puncture on a FNRttC!!!
  • the mince pies, hip flask, cakes, hot chocolate etc being shared
  • looking forward to seeing photos taken by the others:
by Arthur: Clicky
by LEE: Clicky
by Mista Preston: Clicky

My pictures on the slide show till the next ride or here: Clicky

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Hanwell to Hanwell DIY 200

Yesterday was quite tough and I was pleased to finish. It was a grey-ish day, but without too much rain or wind.

Cycling from Hanwell (London) to Hanwell (Banbury) and back was something I had to do, but not to be repeated I would think, at least not on a weekday. Most of the ride had a rushed feel about it. I put it down to the traffic. There was the commuting traffic: everybody in a rush and driving wishing they were already further. And there was the school run traffic: mums in a rush and hunting for a car park. Why can't 11th November be a public holiday as in Belgium? And in between, it was also rushed, because I knew that the ride was 'over distance' (more about DIYs later), and I didn't have much time buffer.

A highlight was the use of the GPS for the first time. I wouldn't have made it without it, not in time anyway. Apart from the navigation, a GPS is like a loyal friend. After a long stretch, you look down, and there is its, still with you, showing you were you are.

This is the elevation profile, one way.

The advantage of this DIY is that I can get out of the door and start cycling. And of course, after finishing also, just get a receipt somewhere and then 2 minutes and I'm home. Normally, I would have an hours drive home.

Hanwell, Banbury, is a lovely old village with stone buildings. I didn't do it any justice. It would be worth going back to visit the 12th century church. There is "Hanwell Castle" also. I mentioned Hanwell to a few local friends and we might visit Hanwell together sometime next year. It was also recounted how deliveries to the old pub (name?) on St Margarets Rd used to end up in Oxfordshire.

Amazing to think that only 65km further you'd be in Birmingham!

Some more pictures on the slideshow till the next ride or here: Clicky