All entries for April 2007

April 23, 2007

Cycling lessons learned this weekend

Trying to get some preparation in before Bristol-Ludlow in May so headed out for a quick run to Banbury and back at the weekend. An interesting ride for a number of reasons, namely being a session of cycling tips 101…

1. A sausage roll is not good fuel for a long cycle.
2. When riding a route for the first time don’t bomb it downhill along country lanes – you don’t know what might be at the bottom.

For example, heading at speed down a hill I came round the corner and was presented with a ford across the road. Thankfully I was able to stop before ploughing straight into the fairly deep water, though as the road was covered in gravel it was a bit hairy with the back wheel skidding all over the shop. Phew.

Having said that I decided to bomb it down the next road, not having learned the lesson, and found the hard right turn at the bottom a little challenging, which leads neatly onto the next lesson…

3. Give yourself plenty of time to get into the right gear.

Yes, that hard right turn happened to lead me up the steepest hill this side of who know’s where and as I had been going way too fast I struggled to get into the right gear and was left desperately pedaling up in the wrong gear and thinking that one of two things was going to happen – either I would lose forward momentum and keel over or the chain would go.

4. It’s not enough to carry spare inner tubes – carry a spare chain too!

Thankfully it didn’t break, but I was left with the clear message that cheaper components would probably have snapped leaving me in the middle of nowhere without a major part of the drive system. Note to self – buy spare chain. Also goes to show that investing in more expensive bits does have its benefits.

5. Sustrans maps can send you off in weird directions.

Two points here. Firstly when they say track they mean pitted bridleway over field. This means a lengthy diversion if you are not on a moutain bike or serious tourer. Secondly, it made me sigh when on the way back I spotteed the sign saying Shipston 7 miles knowing that following the cycle route would add significant extra mileage not to mention the severe inclines – but I stuck to it and it was all good fun.

So thanks to the ups and downs and heading back on myself the 46 miles took longer than it probably should have done, but it was all good in the end.

BTW – after nearly commiting mortal self-embarrasment at the ford I looked up and saw that the woods were full of kids wandering around with Bows and Arrows – firstly, how cool must that be for an afternoon’s mucking about, secondly, how pleased am I that I didn’t shout out f**k – impending fatherhood must be affecting my vocab, i think I may have actually said holy-moly – where did that come from?

also note: both signs warning about the ford had been purloined by some light fingered sign thief – there was no warning on the road of what was ahead.

April 12, 2007

Brighton FC tempt manager with "three–course–meal" gum

Writing about web page

oompah loompahGreat picture on the beeb today.

Looks like Dean Wilkins, manager of Brighton, has been stealing three-course-meal gum from Mr Willy Wonka.

Now we all know what happens to people who steal from Mr Wonka – that’s right, relegation and humiliation.

Maybe this explains why the Brighton players are all rather short – Oompa-Loompas!


Cheerio Billy

Writing about web page

Billy and SheilaI’m off tomorrow to go to my Uncle Billy’s funeral. He died on April fools day and is being buried on Friday 13th – I think he’d have liked that.

The picture is of Billy at his wedding to Sheila just last September.

Billy was a rather remarkable chap for any number of reasons. He was funny and caring to the nth degree and never could sustain a grudge. He will be missed a great deal by all who knew him.

Billy had a condition called Muscular Dystrophy – a degenerative condition that meant his muscles wasted away. A nasty thing which meant it became increasingly difficult to do the simple things, like walk or lift things. The thing about MD is that it can seriously impact on life expectancy. That he died aged 64 is a thing to be both grateful for and amazed by.

He once asked a doctor whether there was a support group for people like him and he was told – well, no – there aren’t any people like you. They got that right on so many levels!

My Dad is cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats this year to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. He wanted to do this while Billy was still around so he could get involved and take part, but sadly that isn’t going to happen. I will hopefully be joining him for one part of this – Bristol to Ludlow.

If anyone wants to throw a fiver my Dad’s way to support this charity in memory of remarkable guy then you can do so at

April 2007

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