Saturday, 30 March 2013

FNRttC Bognor

The first ride in the FNRttC season is not one to be missed.  It has elevated levels of anticipation and anxiety.  Do we still know how to do this?  'Haven't put enough miles in this winter'.  One never does, and especially not this winter, which was dominated by 'easterly winds from Siberia'.  

You gather at Hyde Park Corner, and the natural thing to say is 'Happy New Year'!  From then on, it's business as usual.  Simon does his, what I call, B&B routine.  It's a demonstration, with audience participation, of the hand signals and calls used on the ride.  But it's the finale of the bollards and bungalows signals that leads to the rapturous applause!

Full moon at Hyde Park Corner
At midnight, we're on our way to the coast.

The ride had a great flow and rhythm about it.   Everybody was keen to keep going without standing around too much.  There were some long stretches of road for stretching the legs.  It was great.  The windchill wasn't too bad either.   I noted how the coldest part of my body were my legs.   I had used double gloves and double socks and layered up warm generally.  I still had knee warmers which I could have put on, but the stove in the Cabin warmed me up enough that I forgot about it.

We stopped at Pulborough by the bridge.  It was a lovely spot with a sunrise moment to treasure.  I was totally surprised though that I couldn't drink from my water bottle.  I knew that the water has become a frozen slush, but not that the mouth piece was completely frozen solid.

Breakfast at the Lobster Pot Cafe was fantastic.  Both service and food were top notch.  Nice to see Titus and Miranda joining the group.

The train journey back home was busy but trouble free.   Once home, my afternoon kip was longer than usual after a night ride.  And this morning my legs were telling me that there must have been some hills along the route.

Thanks to Simon, TECs and riders for all the effort that goes into making it another memorable night.

Just a few photos: MyPhotos

Monday, 18 March 2013

The Dean 300 Perm

Entering The Dean 300km perm costs £3.50.  Getting the train from the first control, Stow, back to Oxford costs £9.50, so I found out.  That's right, I didn't even cycle back to the start after deciding that it wasn't going to be my day.

The funniest thing was that when I had made my decision, my legs still kept spinning.  Stop! Stop right now, turn the bike around and cycle back.  But my legs kept going.  I've become an automobile, I thought.  It helped me comply with one of my ritualistic rules:  always get to the start, always get to the first control.  I got to Stow already behind time, with an average of 13km/hr, just.  The organiser might have forgiven this if I had still managed to finish in time overall.  But it was one in a series of signals, that this wasn't going to be my day.

The Dean 300 is an x-rated event, even as a calendar event, let alone as a perm.  It comes with a warning that 'if you are not sure that you can ride safely then you are advised not to start'.  When iddu contacted me suggesting he might join me, I was delighted, it's on!   In fact, a lesson learnt is that you should always create a thread on yacf to 'advertise' the intention of riding a winter perm.  As it happens, another forumite called 'Can't Climb', also did the Dean yesterday.  He called it 'brutal'!  If we had all linked up we would all have had a greater chance of finishing and in a less brutal way.  Chapeau to 'Can't Climb', for finishing and then picking up his friend who bailed out at Membury. That is heroic.

I regretted not cycling back from Stow.  I had to deal with another grump, the train guard.  The word Grumpalo came to mind.  Alo, Grump, are you Mr Grumpalo?  'You're going to make the train late, mate!', he said. Oh, a rhyme, how wonderful, Julia Donaldson would approve!  Me making the train late is your problem I said thought.  Either tell me to get the next train, or help me to get on more quickly by telling me where the carriage is and other such instructions.  I got on and dared not sit down for fear of another telling off for making the seat wet.  I was soaked through of course.  So I stood under the heater which was in the ceiling just by the luggage section.  Lovely...  Till we got to Kingham.  Then cold air come through.  Mr Grumpalo at work, I'm sure.

Whilst on the train, I ate my Malborough bun.  I'd never heard of Marlborough buns before, so I bought it as a snack for when I was going through Malborough, all being well.  But all was not well.

Iddu abandoned, because the temporary fix of a tyre split, found after two punctures, wasn't to be trusted on a 300.

Iddu fixing a puncture
Now I was on my own again, and it was the thought of flooded potholed lanes in the dark that I couldn't get out of my mind.  The roads were terrible and drivers are more aggressive in bad weather conditions.  I was talking myself out of this ride.  The night before, I had had bad premonitions in my dream, the details of which I'll spare my mother.

Then I got a puncture myself.  No, not my day.  And I had lost my mental bottle.

I found myself tweeting more than normal, yep, I had truly given up on this ride.

So I got home in time to watch some fantastic rugby.  Then I had an afternoon kip as if had done a 200km ride.  I went to bed early.  Rain on the roof woke me up at 2AM, I would still have been cycling, most likely.  I'm pleased I wasn't stubborn, this one could have ended up in tears.

Thanks to Andrew for administering the perm.  Thanks to iddu.  We have unfinished business, as they say.

Some photos here.

The Oxford Ox

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Ditchling Devil 200 Perm

Cycling in Richmond Park before the cars get in is like being the only swimmer in a swimming pool.

Richmond Park at dawn
It took a while to get out of the park again though, because I seem to have been ahead of the 'opening of gates' schedule.  It was great to see the deer wondering about.

I found this ride much harder than the Poor Student the other week.  I had to watch the time and keep going.  This was probably due to the headwind going south and from Turners Hill, it got quite cold.  Think of the benefits I told myself!  I had bruised my left foot in a fall earlier in the week, so it needed icing.  My feet definitely got the cold treatment.

It was little weird to cycle past the Burstow Scout hut.  That is something from the FNRttC world.  So it was strange to see it in daylight.

I was very happy with my bike.  I was over the moon!  Because I hadn't ridden it since the Kiwi Hunt 1200 February 2012.   The bike had been in a dismantled state since the flight back from New Zealand.  Just looking at the bike hanging in the shed kept bringing back memories of pain, darkness and hallucinations.  But I finally took the bike to the Bikehub.  Mike and David helped bring it back into a rideable state and more!  It now has a pannier rack, so it's on the way to become a tourer bike which I'll use on the pilgrimage. The pilgrimage is less than 3 months away!  Thank you so much to Mike and David for helping me out.

The ride back from Brighton is wonderful.  I might keep that route on my GPS for when I feel inclined to ride back after a FNRttC.  It's a really nice route through rolling countryside.

A highlight was Devil's Dyke.  Amazing how I've never been on that side of the downs before.  The views, despite it being a grey day, were excellent.  And of course, it was the halfway point, with the prospect of a tailwind.  No comedy moments to report this time. 

I indulged in my craving for chips after finishing.  No salt 'n vinegar thanks.

Many thanks to Paul Stewart for organising this perm.  The calendar event is on in June.

A few photos are here: MyPhotos