Monday, 9 April 2012

The Easter Arrow 2012

The best of the Easter Arrow 2012 was meeting other teams on the way to York.  Less than 20 miles after setting off and we spotted 'an arrow' flying by and across to Lavenham.  This was just after us surprising a deer in the middle of a field. Apparently four of the six native deer can be found in Suffolk. Then John pointed out a buzzard sitting on top of a post.  It flew off and around us for a while.  The morning was fantastic in spring  sunshine, excellent countryside to cycle through.

In Sleaford, we bumped into the Essex team lead by tomsk, who were using the same Packhorse Inn as control.  That was a big morale booster, because we were a bit low after being headwinded all the way.  Just being able to compare notes gives you a pick-me-up.

Suffolking Slow was our team name.  And we were!  While a couple of us started to watch the clock, arabella remained her cool, confident self.  A motley crew we were also: arabella was on a fixed ladies bike a la Sophie Matter, me on single speed, Marcus on fixed, Jane on trike and John on a geared bike.

Suffolking Slow
I had decided to use my single speed, because my memory from last year was that the route was flat as a pancake.  Only, when you use a single speed, you realise that, although pancakes are flat, sometimes they come in stacks. So I had to get off and walk one of the stacks.

Several times we were shouted at from cars.  Often it is done just to give you a fright.  But it appears that one of them was very angry.  In his efforts to let his feelings be known, he stuck his head out of the window and delivered his expletives in such an animated way that his sunglasses fell off onto the ground.  Marcus managed to avoid cycling over them which is a shame.  It could have been such a good 'oh ooops sorry' gem of a moment.

My mind was playing tricks again.  I could not see one advert without reading something else into it.  The first was 'free range eggs £1.20'.  How can they be free when you charge £1.20.  The next was 'Live singer on Saturday'.   Imagine a dead singer on Saturday.  'Sunday roast being served now.'  Liers! It's Friday and you're closed anyway'.  

I have a proposal for Paul Smith and Rapha.  The items will come as the 'SR Series' of Den Coureur (£600), Den Derailleur (£400), Den Soigneur (£300) and Den Vapeur (£200).  You can go all out and get the Den Primeur for £1200.  I'm talking about a cycling friendly camera.  A camera which will respond to touch and voice.  The body will have an 'arm' coming down on the right hand side (for right handed people).  As soon as you grab the arm, the camera will be on, just like the iPad switches on as soon as you take the cover off.   Then you can customise your 'Vitessen' (gears).  I only need three (which is what you get with Den Soigneur at £300): normal, sunny, dark. Those will be voice recognised.  So you're cycling along, see a deer coming out of the bushes, you grab the camera which sits nicely in an angled pocket at the front of your Rapha top.  You say 'vitesse donker' - to continue the west-flemish language theme - and press the button with your thumb, as the button is on the front of the arm.  All done in one seamless action and in less than a second. 'Innovate' says Graeme Obree'.

Other thoughts:
  • Thanks to arabella and the team for a wonderful start to the Easter weekend
  • Meeting so many audaxers/yacfers at the Punchbowl
  • Great journey back on the train
  • Congratulations to simonp for completing the 25000 brevet
  • Congratulations to John for completing a first 400, and Jane on trike
  • Best of luck to the Things for their next adventure
Photos are on the slideshow till the next ride or here: Clicky

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Dorset Coast 200

Without eye contact and with an air of 'you might try to tell me otherwise, but you'll be wrong', Mark Brooking told me that the Dorset Coast would push my favourite ride, the Dean 300, off its top spot.  I'll admit it straight way, he was right.  I could do compares and contrasts, but in short: it's on my to do list for 2013.

There were many things I didn't do for this ride: I didn't take a second inner tube, no spare tyre, no clothes for all seasons just the arm and leg warmers, no food, just the one bonk ration, no spare bidon. There was advice on the forum to change to SPD pedals for easier walking up the hills and prevent wearing out cleats.  But that is another thing I didn't do.  All calculated risks, apart from the pedal change.  Would I have to admit again: 'You're right, I should have changed pedals?'. It was on my mind on every climb, but every climb I climbed by climbing - not walking.  Hoorraaah!  I have a habit of conserving energy for as long as possible.  Something I learned on the BCM 600.  Not this time, I saw it as a training ride for harder rides to come and I pushed when necessary and when not necessary.

When not necessary was when Andrew and I were 'caught up' in a train - our domestiques, Andrew called the group.  Man! That was exhilarating.  I wish I could have seen my own facial expression.  There was a moment when Andrew was looking back at me and right then, I could feel the intensity in my eyes.  40-42km/hr we were doing at one point!  Here are a few more facts: top speed of 64km/hr, 13% of the distance was below the minimum audax speed, but 31% was with a speed above 30km/hr.   No wonder this became my fastest 200 ever.  I was so happy.  I kept saying it to Andrew. I was unusually expressive during the day with wows and yeehaas.

Double click to enlarge

It was a fantastic day out with new cycling experiences.  And finishing in day light!  Didn't even switch on any lights, not even for morning fog.

Other thoughts
  • the large number of participants
  • the start reminded me of my earliest El Supremo audaxes, full of anticipation, nerves, many top bikes and bikers around
  • the typical seaside town of Weymouth with deck chairs and Punch and Judy
  • beautiful Chisel Beach
  • the views!
  • the perfect weather
  • excellent organisation - thank you to Peter and helpers
  • found Peter L most  mesmerising - he was on fixed
  • would like to make a weekend of it next year
  • and take the full time allowed
  • knees a little sore on Monday ... and Tuesday!
  • many Easter Arrow-ers present
  • many thanks to MikeW for hospitality before the ride
  • and thanks to AndrewP for the company for much of the ride, you certainly have motivated me to get faster by cycling faster!
Photos are on the slideshow till the next rider or here: Clicky
Excellent photos by chillmoister: chillmoister's Dorset Coast 2012 Album

Peter L