Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Two girls on bikes

Brrrrr!! What a freezing day yesterday was!

I am homebased (Whoohoo !) this whole week and after being encouraged to look more after my own well being, I just couldn't resist the excellent weather we had yesterday.

I sent a Facebook update on Sunday asking if someone wants to go with and Jo responded as she planned to go out for a ride too. We agreed to meet at the Queens pedestrian bridge that spans the Dee in Chester.

Good grief but it was cold!! The frost was everywhere and by 9.30am nothing had melted. The fields were white and cycling was difficult. It felt like my bike weighed a ton and I just couldn't get going. My face was freezing and I even put my balaclava (under my helmet) over my lips with only my eyes showing. I must have been a funny picture to some motorists! My lips are quite sore today - usually I wear lipbalm when out and about on my bike but somehow I forgot that yesterday. Mmmm.

Frost on the bridge
Arriving at the Queens bridge was interesting. Usually I cycle over but this time I had to get off. See the picture!

The bridge was covered in a thick layer of frost with some marks where other cyclists have gone over - some looked like skid marks!

I met up with Jo on the other side, both of us arriving simultaneously. The route took us out if Chester, down Sandy Lane and down the B5130 towards Aldford where we planned our first stop.
The fields along the road were slowly starting the defrost but had still severe frost under trees and in the shadows.

Jo sitting in the sun!
We stopped as planned at the Grosvenor pub in Aldford. First thoughts were that it is shut but we saw a gardener at the back with a leaf blower so he went in and got us a yes for some tea and outside sitting in the weak chilly sun.

The rest of the journey went smoothly and after reaching Dodleston I lead Jo to get back towards her route home. I did just over 20mi and burned almost 1000 cals!

Thanks Jo, that was a lovely ride and I hope one of many in the coming winter.
Tea! All cyclists preferred beverage (me thinks!)


I had the privilege on Saturday 16 October to attend the Annual General Meeting of the Manchester and District CTC as Elected CTC Councillor for the North West. I am one of two councillors, the other being David Robinson.

I met very friendly cyclists who have cycling close to their heart. The venue was quite interesting; at The Friends Meeting House in Manchester opposite the library on St Peter Sq. When I walked into the building, there were lots and lots of tables on both sides displaying Socialist literature and it seemed that they had a student meeting scheduled !

The AGM started promptly at 2.15pm and finished at 4pm. It was not very well attended - I guess about 12 people at the most, but I guess that is typical of AGMs. A special award was given by the President Laurie Green to a very long serving member, Graham Trunks (see photos below). Graham has been publishing the 'Northern Wheel', the Manchester and District quarterly magazine for 26 years and has now retired. One of the sad things is that nobody has yet stepped forward to take over the editing of this wonderful magazine. I was very fortunate to receive the very last copy of the 'Northern Wheel' and what a beauty this is! Not only are there the regular features in it but also reports from other groups like Macclesfield Wheelers, Bury, Warrington Road Club and many more.There are also some very interesting touring tales in!

My next AGM is this week Thursday when I will attend the AGM of South Manchester CTC.

 The photos here are of Laurie Green presenting the long service award to Graham Trunks.

Another photo of Laurie and Graham with Mike Wigley, their Secretary in the backdrop.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The last of the Summer Wine???

Today was going to be a cycling day anyway - come what may! The weather was predicted to be good, in fact, it was said that it would be superb with lovely sunshine and a proper warm temperature.
So why waste it and do something indoors?

We headed for a Farm Shop near Hawarden for a quick short ride just to find it will shut in 10 minutes so we got a couple of Cokes and a packet of double Choc biscuits. A bit dry but nice and crunchy.

Cycling back was a whizz and a quick ride home. Past lots of sloes and blackberries which are definitely export quality! What a summer we had!!

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Thursday, 23 September 2010

London adventure!

I've bought a lovely Brompton bike in February 2010 (delivered in April 2010) but so far the poor bike has not seen London. So last week Thursday, I've decided to stop being afraid of London cycling and take the Brompton to London. After all, cycling is now supposed to be one of the preferred methods of travel in London. After the July bombings 5 years ago, cycling picked up - not only because of the Tube being out of action for repairs but also as people decided that it would be safer on a bike than on the Tube. When the Boris Bikes (Barclays London Cycle Hire Scheme) got launched, even more people took to the streets on two wheels! You would think there will be now more safety (in numbers) on the streets than three years ago. Hence why I decided that I should use the Brompton.

I had a meeting in Smith Square, so my travels had to take me from Euston station down to Smith Square. Planning a route was more difficult , so I used the Cyclestreets website which basically give you 3 options: a green route which is supposed to be the quietest, a yellow route which is the balanced route and the red route which is the fastest (but obviously also the busiest!)

Getting the Brompton on the train was fine. Someone was sitting in my reserved seat so after pointing that out (to him), he pointed to my Brompton and said that I might want to take it to the end of the carriage as there is space there. I politely pointed out that as the seats were back to back, there is enough space for it to fit between the seats. Silly man! Maybe he just had a go at me and my bike!

I got off at Euston and went to the side entrance where the folded bike took shape. Hooked the Brompton S-bag onto the frame, set up the Garmin with the loaded route, put on my yellow Viz jacket and pedalled off.

I'm an experienced road cyclist, or so I think, but let me tell you this: you haven't cycled until you've cycled in a big city like London! Whoa! The traffic was horrendous. Not exactly knowing the streets were also a disadvantage as early on in my route I found myself on a cycle path (hoorah!) but on the right hand side of the road and at the next traffic lights I had to turn left. Dilemma as the cycle path is a segregated path with a curb stone between it and the road so no moving over to the left side. So my route got adapted.

I pedalled hard and fast but you need to continue to look over your shoulder ALL the time and be aware of everything and everyone that is happening/moving around you. Quite exhausting really. At one point during the ride I found myself next to Trafalgar Square, stopped at a traffic light. Another cyclist stopped next to me and I said 'It is my first time cycling in London', when he replied: 'I just got knocked off my bike!' and showed me his bloodied knee and as he cycled away I could see some damage to his tracksuit. Mmm. NOT really the thing that I wanted to hear - being on my first ride in London!

Cycling back from the meeting was much better. I'm not sure why, maybe less traffic, maybe because the 'ice has been broken' but it was slightly better. Still quite daunting especially at a specific roundabout at the bottom of Trafalgar Square trying to get to the other side.

It was great seeing London from a different view. When you use the Tube, you see London where you enter the Tube and obviously where you exit it again, but you miss the middle bit. It was great to experience the sights of London. Cycling alongside Trafalgar Square was a surreal moment!

Retrospectively I should have taken the green route, although it was the quietest but slowest. It would've been better for my first time, but hey! I cycled in London and I will do it again from now on.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

A new beginning

So you followed me here...great stuff! I hope my previous blog at was an inspiration to you. If I can do it - a semi-fit working mum of 43 then surely you can do it too!

If you haven't found me via my previous blog, welcome and I hope you will enjoy the bits and bobs that I have to share.

The new story starts here...

Having written my Land's End to John O'Groats journey which followed me through the challenges of getting fit (both physically and mentally) and then the Big Bike ride with daily updates, it seems like an obvious continuation that a new blog had to be written. One that is a bit general and not so much focussed on one challenge. I guess I will be reminiscing a bit about the Big Bike ride (that is inevitable!)but then other adventures will follow which will hopefully live up to expectations.

I felt a big void after completing the Big Bike ride. I had withdrawal symptoms for quite a few weeks and even now tries to go out on my bike as many times as I'm able to. I organise impromptu bike rides with friends just to get out and about which is mostly on Saturdays or Sundays.

We have some cycling planned for the coming week as we are off to Brittany, France for a week and the bikes will be travelling with us. A couple of routes have been plotted on a mapping website but it remains to be seen if we do them. We might find different routes that is far more interesting and exciting!

Thanks for reading and happy cycling!