Sunday Jun 14, 2009

Passing the Baton

When I was about 16 I used to ride around Surrey and Sussex a lot on my bike. Sometimes on my own and sometimes with friends. It allowed me to miss the Wedding of Lady Di and Prince Charles by going camping the entire weekend, little did I realise I would get complete symetry and miss her death as well.

On one of these cycling trips I was on my own, tired and struggling up a hill out of Horsham (I assume I was returning from Worthing as I used to cycle down there quite often and since I was on my own I must have been visiting my Great Aunt who lived there). As I struggled up the hill a cyclist who was much older than me (probably in his forties) pull along side and asked how I was. I replied something like “knackered” at which point he put his hand on my back and pushed me up the hill. I was both thankful for his kindness and appaulled that an “old git” was pushing me, a teenager, up the hill.

Well today I managed to pass the baton on. A teenager came out with us on our ride today and on the way back from the cafe blew quite spectacularly. Not able to keep up on the flat even in the tow of the other riders unless we slowed to a crawl, which we did, then we got to a hill and I saw my chance. I realised I had been waiting 28 years (or so) to pay this favour back and so I pushed him up the hill.

Sunday May 31, 2009

Hard May Flyer

Today was the 2009 South West Road Club's May Flyer. I vowed this year to not try and get on the wheel of a fast group early on as that enevitably leads to pain later in the day. I kept this up for about 30 miles which meant I was riding mostly solo but humming along nicely when a pair of faster riders caught me and I did catch their wheel until the halfway point. After that I was quite quickly dropped and so that allowed me to enjoy the headwind on the return journey.

I was at least pleased that the route goes through Peaslake thus avoiding Pitch Hill on the way home or at least it did last year. This year it did not! Taking us up Pitch Hill and then down around Peaslake along Lawbrook Lane which also has a sharp climb in it. All this when you still have Coombe Bottom to face.

Not sure how long it took me, but it was a long time, much longer than last year. I failed to zero my bike computer before the start and I have mislaid my GPS!

I was planning a slight detour for my 1000th blog entry but time has not allowed me to finish the entry before a normal cycling entry arrived. The detour may appear later.

Sunday Apr 19, 2009

Horsham and around

Today we had six riders out today and headed out over Coombe Bottom At the top of Coombe Bottom one rider turned for home but the rest of us continued over Pitch Hill towards Horsham. Just outside Rowhook one rider took a bath in an enourmous water filled pot hole. Fortunately no harm done. In Horsham food was required but no open Cafe could be found so we had to make do with a corner shop and then headed for Henfold Lakes.

The nasty 10% hill between Horsham and Rusper was a bit of a shock but once over we had good run to the Cafe. Henfold was very busy, there was a CTC group that arrived while we were there so the place was awash with bikes.

My invitation to include Ranmore on the ride home was declined due to tired legs so we went the flat way through Dorking and Leatherhead.

Ended up with 70 miles done and I think I have been sun burnt (very mildly).

Sunday Apr 12, 2009

Ride to Windsor

With it being Easter this was always going to be a short ride. Family commitments abound for all. We had two new riders but that still only made five. We headed out to Windsor via Ascot and the usual "sprint" through the park which left the new riders in for a bit of a surprise when it all kicked off.

Slight rain did not dampen the ride and the tail wind on the return made for a fast and furious return to Molesey.

53 miles.

Sunday Apr 05, 2009

Solo cycle

I was a bit late to the meeting point and there was no one there. I decided to guess which way they had gone, or more accurately I used the old trick of choosing a route that if they had gone that way I would catch them. This took me to Cobham and then through Effingham and up Coombe Bottom. This week was much warmer, my water bottle was clean and there was no repeat of the problem of last week. Having still not caught them I went in search of what I now know is called “Weare Street” a delightful road that I have been taken along but never really known how to find it. One day Street view will fail to show the beauty of the place, you really need to be on a bike to apprieciate it.

I was very pleased to find it with only one mistake and then having ridden it turned left when I should have turned right. Fortunately both mistakes lead me very quickly to places I recognised and so I was able to rectify the error. Having a map would have solved the problem but is really not worth it if you know most of roads.

Ended up at Henfold Lakes for a Cup of tea where I met another rider who had also been late and not found anyone. We rode back via Ranmore Common.

Ended up doing 60 miles and was back at 11:30.

Sunday Mar 29, 2009

Bad Ride

Today was much colder than I expected and so as we cycled out through Stoke d'Abernon I was beginning to get cold, especially my hands. Going up White Down I started to feel strange when I stopped at the bottom at Raikes Lane and it all started to go wrong. Feeling faint and sick I could go no further and when the other riders arrived they boyed my spirits by telling me I looked really pale. They flagged down a car (which had bikes on the back) and pursuaded him to take me to Dorking, where there would be a Cafe. I was quite confused, confused enough not to worry about leaving my bike.

I got to Dorking and met up with the other cyclists one of whom had ridden the few miles pushing my bike. In the Cafe warm sweet tea while I waited to be rescued.

Now I'm home and still not feeling right I'm reasonably sure it was not the cold but instead something I drank. I had stupidly not cleaned the brand new water bottle I was using before using it.

Big thank you to the anonymous driver who lifted me to Dorking.

Sunday Mar 22, 2009

Summer bike ride

Why is it that riding a bike that is lighter, more aerodynamic, has better gears & brakes and does not have a generator on the front wheel leaves me more knackered than riding my winter bike. I know, it just wants to go fast so you end up thrashing the engine which is the same one as on all my bikes.

Today I had to be back by 10 so I only had time for a short ride.

58km and an average of 26.2km/h. This includes all stops as the computer on my summer bike is awaiting three, yes three new batteries, I should have stuck to wired computers. So all from the GPS.

Sunday Jan 04, 2009

Too Cold

When your water bottle freezes while out cycling it is too cold. It was one of those days when as I cycled to the meeting point I hoped no one else had bothered to turn up so I could quietly return to a nice warm bed. Alas even though one of the other riders was thinking the same thing four people turned up so there was no returning to bed.

As we climbed up White Down my hands actually warmed enough to sweat and as we shot down into Dorking the cold froze my hands and face and my hands never recovered. I've not had such cold hands for years. Hardly surprising when ice can form in a water bottle while out for a ride. Even now as I type this hours later they are still feeling odd. However a few hours and some cups of tea and I no longer regret the ride.

Only 65 1/2 km we were home before 11 but did not stop for breakfast.

Sunday Dec 28, 2008

Back in the Saddle

Back in the saddle with my extended stomach after too much food over the holidays. Despite the cold, and it was cold, we had five riders out out this morning's ride. Out over Polesden Lacy and up the Zig Zags, which being a private road were untreated and therefore icy. All in all a very pleasant ride.

38 miles but very slow.

Sunday Dec 21, 2008

2008 Santa run


The ninth Molesey BBT santa run had the very distinct advantage of being ridden on an unseasonably warm day with no rain. 21 Santas followed the usual route through Thames Ditton, Surbiton, Kingston, Richmond & Twickenham.

Once again the whole strange thing was just fantastic.

Sunday Sep 21, 2008

More exciting than it should have been

We did a 63 mile round trip via Henfold lakes but out via a strange route taking in Ripley, Newlands Corner and then Cranleigh. When descending what is a very exciting hill towards Cranleigh doing 40mph I had the added thrill of hitting a large stone in the road and having my front tyre deflate instantly. As I braked as hard as I could using my back brake and slowed very slowly I was able to see the tyre not coming off the rim but also not doing much in the way of letting me steer around the bend that was approaching. The odd thing was what went through my mind was the question: ¨Am I using the rear brake?¨, which I was. Thankfully the rear brake was able to overcome the 1:7 hill and bring me to a halt before the tyre came off or I hit anything. A tribute to continental GP4000s ability to be ridden when flat.

When I went to put the wheel back on after fixing the tube the spring on the front brake decided to brake. I can´t really complain since it is 9 years old but it is the first time I have every had a brake spring fail (Campagnolo Record) I should be able to get a new spring if my local bike shop comes good with stocking Campagnolo spares, something they say they are going to do. The failure meant that if I used the front brake I had to manually spring the callipers apart for the rest of the ride. Not hard to do but enough to mean I wont be commuting on the bike again this year. I now have quite a large number of things to fix on my summer bike although not enough to let me upgrade to the new 11 speed Campagnolo group set, alas.

The rest of the ride was uneventful and we were able to take advantage of the Indain Summer we appear to be having.

Sunday Sep 14, 2008

To the Devil's Punchbowl

Six riders good weather and a great cafe. We went out by what is not the usual route, via Old Woking, Normandy, Ash Green and The Sands. The return trip was south of Guildford via Albury, where we managed to loose two riders. One insisted we not wait for him and the other did not see us turn back towards Dorking so we could go up Coombe Bottom and so went up Newlands. Then even on the descent from Coombe bottom we got split up but managed to regroup as it turned out the slower riders were in front so were caught.

Ended up doing 79 miles and No RAIN!!!!!

Sunday Aug 31, 2008

Laughing in the face of weather forecasters....

There were six in Molesey this morning braving the fog and laughing in the face of the weather forecast. Those six made it to Epsom before the fog cleared to be replaced by the thunder and heavy rain that had been forecast. The idea of climbing and riding over Epsom downs in a Thunder storm did not fill anyone with joy. So after briefly taking shelter in Epsom and failing to find a café open we rode back as fast as our legs would allow. If the people at the Met Office could have seen us they would have been in stitches.

Got home very very wet having ridden 23 miles.

Next weekend we are supposed to be cycling to Yeovil which is about 120 miles, I hope the weather is better.

Sunday Aug 24, 2008

Wet August Ride

Only three riders out due to the weather forecast of rain. Unfortunately the forecast was accurate however when it got really bad we had already made it to the Cafe at Henfold having decided that al fresco breakfast in Peaslake would be a bad plan.

Then on the final run into Esher I got a puncture. That said I was glad I got up and rode.

Monday Jun 30, 2008

This Sunday's Ride

Eight riders went out becoming nine at Weybridge until just before the main climb to Newlands Corner where we became Eight again. After Newlands we were taken on a “loop”, down into Albury and then out via Guildford Road which takes you over Albury Heath, a wonderful part of the world with views of “typical” English Countryside. It does however involve a steep climb to the top and then a treacherous descent back to the main road again.

The GPS mapped it all out and the ride is here: http://www.mapmyride.com/ride/united-kingdom/walton-on-thames/439119349651 however map my ride continues to misbehave with firefox on Solaris so I have not embedded it.

We had breakfast “Al fresco” in Peaslake before riding back over Leath Hill. The group split at West Humble with the majority taking the flat direct route back and two of us going back via the Polsden Lacey road and the 25% climb that that entails.

Despite this being a hilly ride the stats show just how flat this part of the world is: 429m of climbing over 65 miles. Hardly Ventoux!

Monday Jun 09, 2008

Ventoux

On Saturday I rode “La Ventoux, Beaumes de Venise” which involved riding 170km with more than 3000m of climbing. Now why would you want to do this? Here is why:

This is the second and shorter of the two “big” descents of the day, dropping from Chalet Raynard down to Bedoin. By the time I was descending this I was most certainly in a “saving energy” mode but on the upside this descent did not start in the clouds.

Before the ride there was much talk of how hard climbing Ventoux was going to be. Ventoux has a formidable reputation not least because Tom Simpson died climbing it in the 1967 Tour. It is a strange climb for at least two reasons.

  1. The road was built not for horse and cart but for motor vehicles. So the roads are wide extremely good quality but steep. You can see the quality of the road from the video. Most of that descent was over 40mph and the top speed of 48mph somewhere. All this on a bike with 100psi tyres yet unlike some of the videos in England the film is not vibrating to much.

  2. It goes to the top of the mountain. Most cols go to a pass which is the lowest point in a mountain range.

Then the area is renowned for it's strong winds. We were buffeted the whole day by a strong wind from a North East.

Every bike we saw, of which we saw plenty, had a triple chain set and those with only double chain sets mostly had “compact” chain sets. The small rings had 34 to 36 teeth and there were plenty of 27 tooth rear sprockets in evidence. I therefore got increasingly worried that my 39 tooth small ring and 25 tooth big sprocket were not going to give a low enough bottom gear. Needless to say the riders I was with spotted my concern and played on it (cyclists are like that, it's not personal).

On the day after an initial panic with one of the riders I was with having a split tyre just before the start we were off at about 8:40 and we rode to the base of the main climb at Bedoin. I was still with one of my friends at the bottom of the climb but only briefly as I clicked into my bottom gear and I assume he clicked into his which was lower. As so often happens to me after the first 1km I thought as long as it did not get much steeper I could keep doing this for quite a while. Getting to Chalet Raynard and above the trees the wind started to play it's part which initially allowed me to slip up a few cogs as I was blown up the hill. However on the next bend it was first gear again for the hill and the headwind and the added fun of going into the clouds which completely obscured the view of everything.

We had driven up here on the Thursday when it had been equally cloudy to amongst other things pay our respects at the Memorial to Tom Simpson, so I had some idea that when I reached the Memorial was about 1km to go. Since Cafe Raynard I had been contemplating whether to stop to put on my waterproof jacket for the decent or whether to just tough it out. Going over the top I decided to do the sensible thing and put on the jacket After all I had dragged it all the way up why not use it. This turned out to be a very wise decision.

The start of the descent was quite horrible. The lack of visibility, the damp road, the wind, the cold and the other riders streaming past all made for an unpleasant and quite scary ride. After a while however I was below the cloud and started to feel happier streaming down the wide smooth tarmac. The pangs of hunger though were beginning but the idea of eating while doing 40+mph being buffeted by crosswinds down a road that had tight bends and that I did not know did not seem wise.

On reaching the bottom I could feel that the food situation was more desperate and so ate the banana that I had had stuffed down the front of my jersey almost immediately after eating that I came to a food stop where I got some cake and more drink.

The next section of the ride was according to the profile, flat. However the profile was dominated by ventoux so failed to show that in fact there were a number of short climbs and descents that were sapping my remaining strength. All the while my GPS was forming a double torture by telling me I was less than half way round and the elevation meant I had over 1000m of up hill before I got to back to Cafe Raynard.

Just as I thought it could not get worse the rider who I had last seen at the bottom of the climb called out my name. Now this is not a race but it is competitive. I felt sure that if he had the legs to catch me then he would fly past me and then be able to spin his lower gear up the next climb while I struggled to try and stay in contact. We ended up in a group of six or so riders cycling up the river valley with sitting in second place wondering when the inevitable would happen and I would be spat out the back. When my friend went to the front the pace increased, the other riders all rode past me and I was spat out the back. Then the gap stopped growing with me about 50 yards back.

I decided I may as well make one final effort to bridge the gap as then at least I would get some shelter and to my surprise I managed that quite easily. As the road turned upwards more severely I found myself passing the other riders until as the climb for real started I was off the front and feeling good.

The second climb of Ventoux was very very much easier than the first. The road was much less steep and so when the wind was in my face I was doing 10mph and when it was behind I was doing 18mph. There were some other British Riders with “Elite Cycling” shirts on so in the last 2km I used one as a target to catch which while taking the long view was the wrong thing to do did have a certain pleasure when I got onto the big ring and hit 28mph uphill in the last km of the climb (yes I had a tail wind, but I can dream I'm a cycling god).

Then that descent.

The final section was into the wind and again the profile showed as flat but in fact contained three significant (ie bigger than anything we get in Surrey) climbs which resulted in me crawling up them with the constant fear I was going to be caught again.

The final five km however were both downhill and with the wind behind me so I was able to fly down the road at over 30mph waved through the junctions by the marshals as at all the other junctions.

I managed to finish with a time of 8 hours 4 minutes 13 seconds for the 170km earning me a Silver certificate.

My GPS disagrees about the distance as does MapMy ride. The GPS claimed 105 miles, MapMyRide claims 99.67miles but it also shows that some of the corners were cut. Cutting those corners for real would involve a significant fall!

Brilliant ride well organised.



Monday Jun 02, 2008

BBT June 1st

Today we were apparently going on a short flat 50 mile ride as a final preparation for our trip to Ventoux next week. The flat bit was true but we ended up doing 85 miles, which I don't describe as "short".

A really nice route though along some new lanes and some lanes we don't often frequent.

I'm still trying to find a good site for uploading my ride GPS data to. mapmyride.com seems to have issues now displaying ride data for long rides to solaris hosts and so far my requests for help have fallen on deaf ears. So I'm now experimenting with http://www.gpsvisualizer.com which appears to work and also allows me to host the data here. However it lacks some of the features of mapmyride.com, distance markers & simple elevation so I'm still looking for a better option.

Sunday May 11, 2008

May Flyer

Once again we, Molesey BBT, rode the South Western Road Club's May ride. This year is was called the “May Flyer” the route was identical to last year but the weather was not. Today was glorious sunshine. We started off as a group but one immediately, that is within 10 yards of the start, punctured and the rest of us pushed on. By the time I got over Coombe Bottom all the other BBT riders were no where to be seen. One rider I know from the trips to Italy and France was with me and a few others I did not know. We pushed on.

After about 22 miles we were caught by three riders who had started 3 or 6 minutes behind us and so were clearly going faster than us. I decided to try and catch a wheel and see how far I could hold it for. One of the riders had blistering speed on the “flatter” sections the second I later discovered was doing the ride on the big ring and could clearly have left us all standing. The third seemed like a very good all rounder.

I managed to stay with them until the return climb up Coombe Bottom where the “all rounder” was dropped but the rider on the big ring disappeared. I was only 10 yards off the other rider at the top but He was on a mission and the drop from there to the finish suited his style being able do a fast pace.

My GPS told me I completed the ride in 4:54 for the 86.24miles giving 17.6mph.

Finally on the way home I got to be bicycle repair man to a random Lady whose chain had come off. The whole day was 104 miles and my legs certainly feel that I have had a good workout. I do really need to find out what the problem is with my right foot which became extremely painful during the ride. I was wearing my Sidi shoes. I'll try the Carnacs for a few weeks to see if that makes it better.

Sunday May 04, 2008

Walton to Brighton

As part of the preparation for what is increasingly looking like a day of great pain when I will be riding up Ventoux, twice, well one and a half times. At 190km or 118 miles with the small matter of Ventoux stuck in the middle of it I'm beginning to get worried.

Back to todays ride. As part of the preparation I'm trying to “get some miles in” so I pre-announced that I would be going to Brighton today which if you go the direct route is almost exactly 100 miles round trip. Ie 18 less than the ride I'm training for and the only lumps being the north and south downs. The north downs can be avioded but that won't be much preparation!

No one else was game for the ride but they did escort me to the top of Pebble Coombe before going their own way. This left me with a lonely 90 mile ride where I spent the first 20 miles after they left thinking I must start to feel good some time soon and then after that dealing with the increasing fatigue. I struggled over the downs, something you can see in the early bit of the video I got of the Sea coming into view

The return leg was every bit as slow and tired as the outward leg. The only upside being that I managed to be back home at 14:05 with the GPS showing 108 miles, having left at 7:00 that is not exactly a blistering pace but at one point I was concerned I would not be back until after 15:00.

All in all unless something changes I'm going to just be pleased to finish the Ventoux ride.

Next week is the South Western Road Club's “May Flyer” which the BBT are riding however I doubt I will be “flying”! Although with a light cycling week on the calendar due the Bank Holiday and a visit I have to make may be I will be feeling top. I can dream

Update: The gps track is here: http://www.mapmyride.com/ride/united-kingdom/walton-on-thames/491796244155

Sunday Apr 27, 2008

Devils punch bowl

Today I had preempted the decision on where to go by emailing the BBT to say I was going to the Devils Punch Bowl so that I could be sure to get some proper miles in. Six riders were at Molesey for the start with two agreeing they were not going to do the whole ride.

As I have mentioned before I love this ride. The route out is not spectacular or at least not until after Tongham, but from then on as you climb to the Devils Punch bowl it is great. Then the ride home is wonderful. The short stretch along the A3 is a bit of a pain but once the road narrows as long as you claim the lane is not bad at all.

From then on though the route is great. Even the rain and the puncture I picked up in Albury could not dampen my enthusiasm.

My speedometer claims 78.69 miles and 17.33mph average. Top speed was 40.6mph, not sure when that happened!

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This is the old blog of Chris Gerhard. It has mostly moved to http://chrisgerhard.wordpress.com

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