Monday 23 February 2015

Short Windsor Sportive on a Brompton Video

The Windsor Sportive on Saturday was great and along with photographs I also took a little video. (Should have really focused on the cycling but there we go).

Took this with a Nikon AW100 which is nowhere near the quality of my usual cameras but it didn't do too bad.

As always watch in the highest quality you can.

Saturday 21 February 2015

Evans Windsor Sportive on a Brompton

Today was the Evans Cycles Windsor Sportive. Out bright and early I drove to Windsor Racetrack which served as the start/finish of the ride. Many of us had signed up for the 54 mile medium route and I was hoping that I would complete just the 54 miles, having got lost on the last one and adding a few more miles as a result.

When I arrived I saw Chris in her familiar pink and we headed over to the registration area. That done we waited for the others to arrive. We were soon joined by the other participants and in total there were 11 of us and as we assembled the conversations from others taking part on road bikes could be heard. Many speculated as to whether a Brompton could complete such as event. Little did they know!

Lining up for the start

All riders were given a timing strip to attach to the the side of their helmets. This was more for ensuring all were accounted for, as it was definitely not a race.

Always smiling

We waited in a huddle while some useful instructions were provided. The signs we had to follow were black arrows on a pink background. As I waited for the off I considered whether I would be able to follow them successfully!?

At a little past 09:15 (I think) we were off. I was really looking forward to this ride. There weren't any huge hills - which I would have enjoyed - but certainly the route was demanding enough to keep one more than interested!

We stayed together for a little while but on these sort of rides you really do have to go at your own pace. As such we started to thin out every now and then.

It was great to be on the wheel of David for some of the ride. This is happy territory for yours truly as trying to keep up with him is quite a challenge. On countless rides I have tried to do this as it means I am going at a fair pace. Of course, David soon zoomed into the distance too.

On the weather front it was generally chilly for the entire ride. For the first 45 minutes I could not get my fingers warm and they were uncomfortably cold. This changed when we stopped for everyone to regroup and after that point they were fine. At times there was a fierce wind and it alternated between the sun trying to shine out and being prevented by ominous looking clouds.

My new Marathon tyre fitted, my P type felt pretty good. I had actually considered bringing out my Titanium Orange Brompton for its first outing this year but could not get it ready in time.

Despite the number of photographs I have posted, I was very sensible about bringing a camera...well sort of. I decided that I would not bring out the big guns in the form of my Sony RX10 (which I am loving) and my GH3. Instead I borrowed my daughters Nikon AW100 which is waterproof and very compact.

A quaint pun sign

The reason I didn't bring one of my bigger cameras was so that it would prevent me from stopping to take photos. It didn't! I didn't stop but I slowed down to take photos of snowdrops, churches, pub signs, brooks, quaint houses and Red Kites. This was definitely not a photo ride but it did not stop me.

A quaint brook and bridge

With my Garmin telling me we were approaching 18 miles I pushed harder as it meant a feed station. There was a goodish hill before we reached this and I quite enjoyed the challenge.

The views at the first feed station were lovely. The Chiltern hills could be seen in the distance along with the now familiar sight of Red Kites soaring overhead. In the past Red Kites used to be common even in central London (I think they might even have a mention in Daniel Defoe's 'Journal of a Plague Year) but a release programme has been incredibly successful.

Stunning views

After some lovely comestibles we resumed and soon Marlow came into view. Shoppers looked somewhat bemused to see a peloton of brightly coloured Brompton bicycles roll by.

Once past Marlow we thinned out again. I kept David in sight for a few miles before losing him. I had several miles all to myself where I did not see another soul. Long stretches of country lanes provided time to reflect on all sorts of things. One of the joys of cycling is that you can do this even on a commute. I find that after a busy day, cycling home is a way of unwinding and reflecting.

Empty country lanes

Catching up with David we waited for the others before heading off again.

A quaint house

A quaint church

Again we soon thinned out. I could not stop slowing down to take photos of anything that caught my eye. One stretch of road had several red Kites swooping down quite low.

After slowing down I would accelorate as quickly as I could in order to regain lost ground. This acted almost as a form of interval training and it was doing just this that I passed several roadies who I only saw again at the final feed station at 29 miles.

With my Garmin showing that 29 miles wasn't too far away I pressed harder as I was keen to partake in another slice of cake.

Soon the others arrived and stocked up on water, cake, peanuts and crips we pressed on for the final push.

We started off together but again soon thinned out with everyone going at their own pace. Amazingly, I had not got lost and was feeling rather triumphant as a result.

As I cycled along lots of other participants commented that they were impressed at us doing this ride on a Brompton. I explained that we had actually done much longer and more demanding rides that this and I suspect I converted a few to the fold.

I passed a huge field of sheep which in itself is not that unusual in the countryside. What was unusual was that when they saw me coming they ran over to the side of the road. Bleating away, it was almost as if I had spectators cheering me on. It was rather strange. Perhaps the farmer that owns them rides to see if they are okay on a Brompton?

At just past Twyford we regrouped again. Unfortunately when the others arrived we heard that Anne had problem with her knee and was unable to continue. A great shame as she was looking her usual elegant and formidable self. Hope that you're all okay soon Anne!

After we set off we again thinned out. David went into the distance at about the 32 mile mark and I was not to see him or any other Bromptonians for the rest of the ride.

Cycling on and still mighty impressed that I had not got lost I headed for home. The roads were pretty quiet and I didn't really see too many other cyclists until I reached the end of the ride. On one long stretch of road I nearly came unstuck...

Being a keen birder in my formative years I noticed the welcome and lovely call of a Yellowhammer. As birds go, these are beauties. Eventually I spotted one, lifted my camera to take a photo and ended up veering into several muddy ruts to my left. How I managed to stay upright I do not know and as I wobbled left my first thought was that this was going to end in tears. Luckily all was okay and I pedalled hard out of it and continued.

With the back of the ride broken and 50 miles comping up I made the final push to complete the extra fours miles. With the entrance to the racecourse in sight I cycled through the archway and had completed the ride.

Another quaint church

I think I finished at about 15:15 and knowing that it might be a while before the others completed I packed the car and headed for home.

This was a good ride and the second Evans Cycles Sportive I have taken part in. I have to report that they are very well organised rides. There is plenty of good food at the feed stations and the signage is excellent. Many thanks to them.

My fellow Bromptonians completed the ride too with Graham completing the longer 75 mile route. I was really pleased to have an average moving speed of 13.5 mph and who knows, if I had of left my camera at home I might have gone faster. Still, it wasn't a race and I enjoyed taking the photo, scenery and actually regretted not taking one of the bigger cameras. Next time perhaps?!

Thanks to my fellow Bromptonians for the company and I suspect we will do something similar very soon.

The map and ride data can be viewed by clicking on the link below.

Map and ride data

Thursday 19 February 2015

Doing the Dunwich Dynamo 2015

Last year I took part in my first Dunwich Dynamo. This was and still is the longest single ride I have ever done on my Brompton. I have posted a link to the blog post I wrote last year.

I have thought long and hard about whether to do this again this year and changed my mind several times. Yesterday however I signed up/paid for the return coach ride that will take me back to London once the Dynamo is completed. This means I have to do it now right?!

I have no specific training planned, other than the many rides I am certain to go on. Anything over 100 miles must be respected and it would be wise to go on lots of rides over 50 miles as a way of preparation. Thankfully I am pretty certain I will be but it would be foolhardy to attempt the Dynamo having not put in a few miles.

Looking back on last year, I did enjoy the whole experience and am partial to night rides anyway. The only decision will be which Brompton to take - Titanium Orange Brompton S6E X or my Touring Orange P6L?

Wednesday 18 February 2015

New Rear Tyre

If you have read my recent post on the London to Gravesend trip, you will know that I suffered a rear wheel puncture. When the wheel was off the inner tube has a hole in it. I actually had the same problem earlier in the week and had changed the tube for a new one. Unfortunately after a quick trip to the shops on Monday I discovered another slow puncture.

Examining the tube I discovered another small hole that looked like the other two. I then started to examine the tyre and all I could see was a small raised piece of rubber the size of a pin head. Rubbing  a finger over it appeared rather sharp and I strongly suspect it was this that has caused the punctures.

I tried my best to smooth things but had no luck and resorted to buying a new rear tyre. It arrived this morning and I wasted little time fitting it - and another new tube. I hope that this solves the problem. I opted for another standard Schwalbe Marathon which is my favourite commuting and general purpose tyre. Many like the Plus version but I disliked them a great deal.

On Saturday I have another Evans Cycles Sportive which I am looking forward to greatly. Let's hope I have a clear run now that I have a spankingly new tyre on!

Tuesday 17 February 2015

A short video for your perusal

I was clearing out my hard drive that contains lots of photo and a few video clips. I decided to do something with a few of these video clips I had before sending them to the trash bin.

As always watch it in the highest quality you can. Hope you enjoy it.

Link to short video clip

Sunday 15 February 2015

Video of Brompton London to Gravesend ride

Yesterday I mangled to get some video footage in addition to photographs while on our London to Gravesend trip.

I always like cycling along the river Thames and doing so with a group of Brompton riders is always fun.

Hopefully it captures the spirit of the ride. As always watch in the highest quality you can.

Link to video

Saturday 14 February 2015

Eventful London to Gravesend Ride

Today was Valentines Day. Never has a day seen such near pointless commercialism, apart from Halloween, Mother Day, Fathers Day...the list goes on. I certainly don't need one day a year to show Mrs Orange that she is the most important person in my life. As such I decided to go on this rather intriguing ride - London to Gravesend, across the Thames on the Gravesend Ferry and then cycling back to London.

The meet point

The meeting point was the London Eye at 09:15. I arrived in good time and the usual suspects were already there. The ride was the brainchild of David and he had as usual put together a very interesting route.

The brave few

My partner in crime, Andrew arrived in the nick of time with his usual skidding stop. I was glad to see him as it was touch as go as to whether he would attend today.

The weather was a strange mix. When I started out it was quite cold but by the time I reached the London Eye things had turned milder. Heavy cloud cover threatened rain but the odd bit of blue indicated that we were destined for typical unpredictable English weather, where just about anything could happen!

The ever stylish Mr D was wearing a pretty fine pair of leather cycling shoes, matched with an argyle sock.

As we stopped at a set of lights I saw an advert for a particular television programme that I am enjoying a great deal. I made a mental note to watch the first two episodes again later on with Mrs Orange.

Just over 4 miles into the ride Anne suffered a puncture. Earlier we had tried to avoid glass but some of this caused this flat tyre. David managed to change it pretty quickly with help from Andrew and managed to get out the little shard to glass that caused it in the first place.

As this was done a murder of crows noisily looked on from a crane almost cawing their disgust at proceedings.

With the repair made good we pressed on further east. The familiar sight of Canary Warf and later the O2 came into view.

David pondering on whether we'd make the 14:00 ferry?

This part of the journey is always of interest. It seems to be in a constant state of development and it's as if there is something new every time we pay it a visit.

One infamous stretch is but a step away from a building site. The ground is sandy mud and very difficult to cycle over.

The last time I was here a huge body of water blocked our path. On that occasion decided to take the higher ground and ford this near lake via a small hill running parallel. To my horror some silly ass had removed said hill!

I have to confess to succumbing to a moment of melancholy as I knew I had to cycle through. Cursing, I started to cycle. I suspect you will not believe me when I write that in places I fancy it might have been over 2 metres deep! At least that it how I perceived it.

Thankfully I made it through to the other side, vowing never to return until it is all tarmac and lined with tasteful riverside developments or they put that little hill back!

We pressed on and saw the familiar sight of the Emirates Skyline (always fun). The further east we cycled the more industrial and raw the scenery became. I actually love this and wished I had more time to take lots more photos.

A pretty fine helmet

Soon the Thames Flood Barrier came into view. It seems like a while since we have been this far. I really like the Barrier and it always makes for an interesting photo.

As I stopped to take the photo below, memories of cycle rides with Mark (King of the Hill) were recalled and I missed the fact that he was unable to attend today.

At the Thames Flood Barrier there is a lovely little cafe where we stopped for a few refreshments. John and I opted for a mozzarella and tomato panini and it was pretty good.

My new Walz cycling cap was worn with great enthusiasm and it did a sterling job of protecting onlookers from the dreaded helmet hair. Sleebus as you can see in the picture below had the classic 'newly ploughed field' and suggestions were made that he too needed a cycling cap.

Our journey had taken us on busy roads, cycle paths and pot holed tracks as you can see below.  Cycling on these required concentration due to the copious craters.

As we cycled further still the Thames and its industrial uses started to become more and more evident.

The clouds began to look rather dark but apart from the odd spit of rain we didn't have to worry too much.

One small section had a very steep incline. Liking hills this proved to be a plus point for me. David was first and glided up with ease as usual. Some weren't able to do it, mainly due to the wrong gear selection or having to stop for someone in front.

Andrew has no problem at all and powered up confidently as you can see in the series of photos below.

Looking out at the Thames and all the mud made me think of 'Our Mutual Friend' by Charles Dickens.

Darting around for food in the mud was a huge variety of wildlife. Along with Black Headed Gulls, there were Common, Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gulls. In addition Sandpipers danced back and forth and for me the star of the show and my favourite bird the Oystercatcher could also be seen and heard.

Old barges and cranes sat rusting, almost looking out at a view that has for them changed for the worse. Now in their retirement I wonder what tales they could tell of a busier river Thames?

Sadly, we left the close views of the Thames and cycled on the open road and dedicated cycle tracks. The views weren't as good but we had the ferry at Gravesend to look forward to.

At about 26 miles the group started to thin out and our 14:00 ferry slot looked doubtful. Andrew had fallen back and when he caught up he didn't look too good. I suspect he had worn too many layers and as he had rushed at the last minute to make the ride he had not taken enough water. He took his waterproof jacket off and cycled on again.

At a sustained incline he was a little way back so I waited. When he caught up I suggested we get to Gravesend and then decide whether to continue or get the train back to London. Whatever he decided I would do too.

We headed off and when we caught up the group, Chris pointed out that my rear tyre was almost flat. I stopped to have a look and it was indeed pretty low on air. With Andrew and Graham kindly assisting I managed to make good my repair.

Upon reaching Gravesend the rest of the group decided to find a place to get a quick bite before getting the ferry. I actually think that he could have made it back but wisely Andrew headed for the station. As he is my riding friend I headed there too. (The real reason is that there is no telling what mischief he would have got up to on his own)!

Andrew and I found the station and got our train to Charing Cross. We cycled together as far the middle of The Mall before going our separate ways...until next time.

This was a very interesting ride for me. I have cycled as far as Gravesend on night rides and to see it in daytime was a treat. I love the industrial buildings all along the Thames and the further east one goes the better they become.

I am sure this ride will be repeated (hint to David) as I would love to go on the Gravesend ferry and see what the other side of the Thames was like on the return.

As always thanks to David for putting on another great ride!

Map and ride data