All 12 entries tagged Cycling

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April 22, 2008

Warwickshire challenge weekend

I’ve had a thought for a while about organising a weekend competition comprising of a series of challenges for teams to complete – something similar to the kind of thing offered by – but more suited to a rural/urban mix.

Considering the mix of people around Warwick Uni who are into this sort of thing I reckon we could come up with an interesting set of events:

Cycling – Hill Climb (to the top of Ilmington hill coming out of Ilmington is what I had in mind – ouch)
Running – cross country if poss
Rowing – Leamington or Stratford
Horse riding – perhaps up at Moreton in Marsh – might be a bit too specialised
Disc Golf
Field Archery – or perhaps clay pigeon shooting
Climbing (warwick climbing wall would be good for this)

And probably a load of others. You’d have a team of 3 people to balance expertise and strengths and have to complete the challenges over a weekend. Points would be scored on either the time it took to complete a challenge or in the case of archery or disc golf on some other basis.

Would probably take quite some organisation but could be fun.

February 11, 2008

Itch scratched

Follow-up to New bike itch from Contemplating the Frame

Thanks to the Treasury I am now proud owner of one of these:

I bought the slightly cheaper version with Tiagra gears and simpler wheels but it’s still a good bike. At least if the components get trashed through lots of commuting and cruddy weather it won’t be too miuch trouble to replace them.

Obviously heavier than the Trek SLR I also own, but it’s pacy enough on the roads even with the bigger tyres. It’s quite a bit slower up a lengthy climb but not so that it becomes a slog.

Where it scores serious points is off road – it goes like stink. I took it for a bedding in ride up the Stratford Greenway and it’s really really quick both on the track and grass. It eats up the distance very easily and is a joy to ride – comfortable, responsive and tough enough to take some punishment. It was easier to turn onto the grass most of the time than wait for people to move out of the way and it handled the change of surfaces well.

I do need to fit it with some mud guards as the ones I use on the Trek won’t fit it thanks to the brakes. I also need to add a rack for commuting.

One small apology is needed to the owners of Toby – a small dog that decided to have a disagreement with me as I scooted past. Toby decided to have a snap at my heels so I accelerated away and Toby followed – for about 400m. Toby’s owners were left well behind and I hope weren’t too distressed. Considering the alternative strategy for dealing with yappy snappy dogs tends to be a well aimed kick to the offending mutt it was probably for the best.

December 03, 2007

New bike itch

Writing about web page


starting to get that ‘new bike’ itch. Now that winter is hard upon us the road bike just doesn’t look that tempting at the moment, what with having to clean every inch if you don’t want it to fall apart in this weather.

And so thoughts turn to purchasing a winter training bike and my eye is caught by this one:

Why? Well, it’s rugged and tough, simply built and with tyres able to handle the crud that lines the roads around me at this time of year. Plus, you can take it off road and it has points for a rack if I want to cart luggage and it may even be able to drag along a trailer when Sam is old enough. It looks like it will be quicker on the road than a mountain bike, which is where I spend most of my time.

So all I need now is £650 or there abouts?


May 14, 2007

Sheer bloody purgatory (with some fun thrown in!)

Writing about web page


if I had to pick a day to join my dad on his end to end cycle it would have to have been Sunday – wet, wet and more wet.

I think if we’d cycled to Weston Super Mare and ridden off the pier the impact would probably have been about the same. But even in the face of torrential rain we still went ahead with the cycle from Bristol to Ludlow.

We started at 9ish from the original suspension bridge – Breezy droplets – and headed over towards Chepstow. Cycling over the bridge was fab. I’ve a bit of a thing about bridges and rather like the two crossings. We headed around Chepstow and went towards Tintern.

There’s a great drop into Tintern – big well laid road with sweeping bends – which was immensely good fun. The climb out of Tintern less so and about 3/4 of the way up we both gave in and pushed the bikes up the last bit. A very steep and pitted road that was effort all the way.

The trees on this little lane however shielded us from the rain that was increasing at this point so it was only when we emerged on the top that we realised how wet it was becoming – moderate but persistent showery rain.

So, off to Ross on Wye which was a pleasant run but by the time we entered Ross it was really starting to get heavy. We stopped in Ross for 10 minutes trying to work out where to go next. Finally heading off my dad made the mistake of taking off his top jacket – oops. He spent the next few hours getting more and more wet. But then again, so did I.

The next bit should have been the best run of the cycle, on a dry day anyway. We followed the river Wye along a small lane which in better conditions would have been beautiful and fast. On Sunday it was wet, muddy, covered in loose grit run off the woods and bloody hard work. You couldn’t head downhill fast for fear of slipping so it was hands on brakes the whole way and pedaling through running water and mud which dragged on the tyres and made it nasty. By the end of this leg we were tired and sore.

By the time we edged past Hereford and headed towards Leominster it was lashing down – torrents of water on the road, absolutely soaked through and feet swelling up in sodden shoes. The rain was lashing hard against our faces and getting painful on the downhill sections. To top it off the good burghers of Herefordshire prefer to spend their money on things other than road signs. So not only were we wet, we were lost and wet.

Finally reaching Leominster, which is a ghost town on Sunday, we paused as my knee was playing up. On the final stretch the wind picked up so added to the stinging rain was a cold northerly wind – yumm. To top it off my dad’s front gear mech seized (we later found a tiny stone had jammed it) which left him stuck on the smaller cog. Lucky really as it meant he had the right gears for going up hill and could coast down. If it had been the other way round he’d have been screwed.

Finally we reached Ludlow and I have never been so glad to see a town. We eventually found the B&B and too much relief jumped in the shower. My feet regained feeling after about 15 minutes.

So to summarise -

91 miles (hah!)
6 hours
Wet wet and more wet

Did I enjoy it – absolutely, and I am chuffed at having finished and more chuffed for my dad who is doing a pretty amazing thing.

Was it hard work – absolutely. If it had been dry I think we would have added a cheeky 10 miles to get the 100, but it was just too much hard work in the stinking rain.

If you want to sponsor my dad you can do so at

If you check out that page and know of any shopping centres Liz could visit while she’s driving about as support please let me know – she needs much retail therapy to get her through this!

Finally, I also learned that two pieces of toast do not make good prep for a 91 mile ride. I made it but Lord only knows how. Any weight loss was balanced out by the quantity of water soaked into my body, so it all evens out.

May 11, 2007

End to End – Bob's Big Ride

Writing about web page

BobMy Dad started his end to end ride on Wednesday and I got the first report from him yesterday.

It went along the lines of: “I have never been so wet in my entire life”

Oh dear…

He does seem to be enjoying it so far anyhow. Bodes well for Sunday when I will join him for a day.

A quick reminder why he’s doing it – to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. A big thanks to everyone who has already donated – and if you fancy throwing a fiver to a good cause you can do so at

Muscular dystrophies are a collection of genetic muscle wasting conditions, some of which can be fatal in children. The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign is the leading registered UK charity working to combat these conditions by pioneering the search for treatments and cures. The charity also provides support and information regarding expert medical care.

My Uncle Billy had MD, and he never let it bother him even though it was a horrible condition. Unfortunately he died just before my father started the ride – so this is as much a celebration of his life as a fundraiser.

More on Billy

May 04, 2007

First cycle to work

So today was my first crack at cycling to work.

So what I hear you cry! Well, for me that means a 23 mile route from here= to here=

and obviously back again this evening.

Took just over 1hour 30 mins, which isn’t bad I think. The route is largely back roads and lanes except for the run through Warwick and out plus the last bit up Stoneleigh Lane, which isn’t that bad as the traffic isn’t really moving.

Interesting to note that this took me 1:30 to cycle and often takes 45mins in the car – so cycling only doubles the journey time. I though it might have been longer so that’s an interesting outcome.

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.

September 12, 2006

New Bike

The bike I bought from Chris May last year has finally died. It needed a bit of work doing which got more complicated to the point where repairs were getting a bit expensive really, so took the plunge and bought one of these:

Went for a 30 mile circuit yesterday and the bike is great – very stable and quick, though the setup still needs some adjustment to get the gearing spot on.

Hope I get a lot of mileage in before winter really kicks in.

June 13, 2006

Cycling to work

took a day off on friday and had a quick cycle to Warwick from Newbold–on–Stour. Took about an hour to do, though 20 minutes of that was tackling Loxley hill right at the start (or end when coming back).

I figure about 40 minutes to do Warwick to UoW – can anyone confirm this?

Really though, apart from the hill at the start/end it felt pretty do–able – back roads for most of the way and few tricky bits. Just that climb over Loxley, which as fitness improves should get easier.

Now, if I can just convince Steph….

April 24, 2006

Bike blues…

So, after crashing spectacularly in Feb I finally took the bike to Warwickshire Cycles to get it fixed up and back in action.

Also, I wanted them to check it over so Steph feels a bit more comfortable about me cycling again. She is pretty unhappy about this following the events of feb and so any positive info I can give her has to be good.

WC have confirmed today that whilst the headset needs replacing (which Chris mentioned anyway) the rest is okay. So no excuses on the technical front – I just need to carry on with the "it will be fine" lobbying.

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