Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Willy Warmer 200

A headwind all the way out! But I was prepared, I had planned not to push it too hard, and to enjoy the country scenery.

It was a beautiful morning. The sun shining through the trees and onto the landscape had wonderful effects. I was seeing paintings all around me. Like I had double vision, I would switch between reality and David Hockney's. I was cycling through a gallery of paintings.

This experience was enhanced by me being in 'Mindful' mode. We had sessions at work around Wellbeing, and the Mindfulness session stood out for me. I thought I wasn't too bad for living in the moment. I grew up in a house called Carpe Diem. I had noted to the person holding the session that, what she was describing is very much like the state I'm in when on a long bike ride, and having gone over the threshold. Everything means something, you are aware of the countryside, the birds, the cars, the sun, the rain, the food you eat, the eating, the people, the conversations ... and life can't be better at that time.

It was another great day out. I was focussed, I wanted to gain some confidence again, in being able to do 200 in 12hrs. Anything less than 12hrs is a bonus, or a few missed photo opportunities.

I did take a few shots of curiosities, like this General Post Office marker post:

GPO marker post
The GPO was established in England in 1660 and abolished only in 1969.  The post office was also a telephone operator at some stage, via the telegraph, it seems.  I had never noticed GPO marker posts before, I'll probably see them everywhere now.  I quite liked reading up about the history of the post office, now I know why it is called the Royal mail.

I had good company on the last leg from Winnersh, which I reached before dark, just.  I eyed up the chip van across the road, but thought it safer to get a receipt at Sainsbury's.  There was a wonderful moment when our groupette got to Bray where the Hinds Head restaurant by Heston Blumenthal is. Like you see students walking around in Eton, there were chefs walking around in Bray.  Else we were on a set for 'The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover'.

It was good to make acquaintances with Maidenhead Phil, and I picked up on the Easter Arrow vibes at head quarters.  Looking forward to that event as much as the Southern Kiwi Hunt.

This was the my last audax before the Southern Kiwi Hunt 1200.  The entry form has now arrived, and I know that there will be two bag drops.  Start time and controls are still to be guessed at.  I'm trying to visualise what it is going to be like: headwind south, hard climbing over the alps, rain on the west coast, hard climbing over Arthur's and Porters pass, then a grand finale descent into Christchurch to arrive 10 hours out of time.  Still, plenty of sleep time on the flight back home!

Thanks to team Manotea and Iddu.  Nice to see so many familiar faces.

Photos are on the slideshow till the next ride or here: Clicky

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Queen, you are fathomed

Poem of the day on

Queen, you are fathomed

Thanks to Saju Depalan for his website links list.  First link I check, first time, it's a bee poem.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Irula people don't get stung

"It was while i was cycling from Chennai to Puducherry ... earlier this year that i thought of visiting Irula tribes. A legend says that goddess was interested to create people who could collect honey without being stung by bees, and she created one out of her sweat, who was successful in collecting honey without being stung. Even now it is said that bees and wild life flee at the smell of Irula’s sweat."

This paragraph is from the blog I See Birds, which I have been following for a while.  Saju Depalan usually writes about birds he's seen (the Plain Prinia this time), adds a good photograph and a poem or two.  There is always something that intrigues me and I try and find out more about it.  His latest post got me looking up the distance between Chennai and Puducherry, and it's a good distance.  There and back would make a good 300 audax.

And what about the Irula tribes!  A little googling about Irula honey hunters gets you to the most fabulous The Bee Photographer site.  Absolutely wonderful!  I couldn't choose a favourite picture.  Do have a look, out of interest in people and bees!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

We eat well because bees have hairs!

That is what Dr Universe says!  The article is nicely illustrated with a photo by ultra-randonneur John Spooner.

Dozy autumn bee. By John Spooner/Flickr
Flickr John Spooner
Beautiful image, it shows the hairy bumble bee off as a very valuable pollinator, although the article is mainly referring to honey bees.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Poor Student 200

Comedy award goes to Jason for turning up for the ride with two left shoes.  You can't recommend to do such things, but look at Andy Allsopp who found himself at the start of LEL 2009 without shoes.  He ended up having such a memorable event that he wrote a book about it.  If you still haven't read it, get it now!: Barring Mechanicals

We were already in Chipping Camden when Jason and his buddy appeared, all happy and bubbly like they were having the time of their lives! Most people would have got back in the car and driven home.  People made for bigger things find the nearest bike shop and buy a new pair of shoes.  Chapeau Jason, it was wonderful to see you.

There were 82 riders!  I couldn't take any photos at the start, because my hands were having a good dose of Raynaud's syndrome.  Fortunately, I know it is only a matter of time, before the blood supply comes back, so I just have to sit it out.  But when it happened again in Chipping Camden I was more concerned.  There was a lot of braking and changing gears to be done - sitting it out to doesn't really help.  Still, I managed.  

Here are my companions for the day, busy repairing Louise's puncture while I was busying myself taking pictures:

Looks flat doesn't it? Well have a look at this photo:

Compton Abdale
Compton Abdale is a bailing point according to Louise: only 8 miles to Cheltenham where there is a train station.  The second leg in the Poor Student is hilly.  The last leg still has a few remnants also.  It is a fantastic route.  I love the Poor Student and it is a very good permanent option in the summer.

So, we have points on the board for 2012.  Next up will be the Willesden Willy Warmer 200.  In fact, that will be my last audax before the Southern Kiwi Hunt 1200.  Eeek, that focusses the mind!  I might 'go for time'.  At least I'm going to go for time efficiency, just to get my eye in again.  Faffing on an audax is like gravity, it is always there, you're constantly battling against it.  Take you're eye off and you're flat on the ground, with half an hour lost.

You might wonder what else I'll be doing before the Southern Kiwi Hunt?  The Surrey Hilly 50 and The Faccombe Haul.  Other than that, lots of work in the gym spin studio.

Big thank you to Iddu for organising for the first time since taking for from Dave Bew.

Photos are on the slideshow till the next ride, or here: Clicky

Thursday, 5 January 2012

2012 Plan

I was to do 100s and write some ride reports for Arrivee.

The trouble with doing things like PBP is that you get introduced to other long rides.  I picked up the leaflet for VOL (Vologda - Onega - Ladoga) in Russia.  Then there was a post on YACF about the very first Southern Kiwi Hunt in New Zealand.  John Spooner mentioned the wonderfully organised rides by Jan Geerts and someone else pointed out the Borders of Belgium 1000.

Borders Of Belgium - BRM 1000 km
From RandoCycloBelgium

All the time you put thoughts of these intriguing rides towards the back of your mind ....

So it's beginning to look like this:
07 Jan - The Poor Student 200 - DONE
21 Jan - The Willy Warmer 200 - DONE
25 Feb - The Kiwi Hunt 1200 - DONE!!
24 Mar - The Dean 300 - DONE
01 Apr - The Dorset Coast 200 - DONE
06 Apr - The Easter Arrow 400 - DONE
28 Apr - The 3D 300 - DONE
12 May - The Porkers 400 -  DONE
26 May - The Hellfire 600 -  DONE!!!
06 Jul - Vologda - Onega - Ladoga (VOL) 1200 - DONE
19 Jul - FNRttC Newhaven - Dieppe and home - DONE
31 Aug - FNRttC Felpham - NOT DONE - went to Paralympics
07 Sep - FNRttC  Southwold  - NOT DONE - did Park Tools course
28 Sep - FNRttC Brighton - probably not doing - NOT DONE
05 Oct - FNRttC Whitstable - NOT DONE - knees say no
23 Nov - FNRttC Brighton - probably not doing - NOT DONE

Rationale is this:

  • The Southern Kiwi Hunt 1200: first time being run, and having a pied-a-terre in Christchurch.

From KiwiRandonneurs

  • The Borders of Belgium 1000: not doing in the hope it is a yearly event.
  • The FNRttC Tour: not doing if the Wessex series goes to plan, and VOL is coming up quickly also.
  • The Vologda - Onega - Ladoga 1200: what an opportunity, I can't wait!
  • Now for the Wessex series which are the ones marked as PENCILLED IN.  I'm just scared, that's all.  I vowed never to do The Bryan Chapman 600 again, and then I think it is OK to pencil in The Hellfire 600.  I just wonder though, if I should go against convention and do the 600 first, then the 300, then the 400.  But that would mean doing them completely on my own.  There is a group of riders forming doing the rides as DIYs on the Pencilled In dates.  I wouldn't see any of them during the ride, but still, it provides for moral support before and after. EDIT: I might put these in the back of my mind ... make it a target for another year.

From Vol1200

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

2011 Review

Here is what stood out for me in 2011:
  • I introduced friends to FNRttC to Southend.  Not quite as planned, but ending up even better.  They did Whitstable and the 'last of the year' Southend. 
  • Loved the Easter Arrow
  • I had planned to do a second 600 (eg Invicta), other than the BCM.  But the BCM knocked me out for 600.  I couldn't get myself psyched up for anything above 300.
  • Don't think it mattered, because PBP went very well.  What a ride! What an experience! What memories!
  • The FNRttC rides were gems, each one of them
  • Joined Willesden Cycling Club
  • Made more friends for life
  • Getting comments about my blog and photos, which always brings a smile to my face.
Ride reports can be found on my previous blog Cycling Life after LEL.

This was the plan:

08 Jan:  The Poor Student 200 - DONE
22 Jan:  The Willy Warmer 200 - DONE
26 Feb:  The Kennet Valley Run 200 - DONE
18 Mar:  FNRttC Southend - DONE without Mandy and Rob
26 Mar: The Dean 300 - DONE
15 Apr: FNRttC Manchester OR The Valley of the Rocks 200 - NOT DONE (Work reasons)
22 Apr: FNRttC Bognor - NOT DONE, Easter Arrow instead
22 Apr: Easter Arrow to York - DONE
30 Apr:  The Severn Across 400 - DONE
14 May: The Bryan Chapman 600 - DONE
11 Jun:  The Invicta 600 OR The Wessex 600 - NOT DONE, London to Brighton 300 DIY instead
17 Jun: FNRttC Whitstable - DONE
25 June: Yorkshire Dales 200 PERM - DONE 
15 Jul: FNRttC Brighton - DONE
21 Jul: FNRttC Newhaven - 300 to Rumbeke - DONE
06 Aug: The West Bay and Back 200 with Jamie - DONE
13 Aug:  a 100 or DIY 200 - NOT DONE (can't remember why)
21 Aug: Le Paris Brest Paris 1200 - Frame number 5741 - DONE!!!

Post PBP additions
The Willesden CC Boat Ride 200
Franks Five Ferry Fietstocht
The South Bucks Winter Warmer 200
FNRttC Whitstable
FNRttC Southend

And there was an out of time DIY 200 in the Yorkshire Dales.

Thank you to all friends, family and followers.  Wishing everybody an excellent 2012.