Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Turbo trainer !

I blogged a couple of months ago about the possibility of buying a turbo trainer to keep fit during the long winter months when weather doesn't allow as much riding outdoors as you would like.

Well, the good news is that I got one for Christmas and it isn't just any turbo trainer but the model that I wanted as well as the full winter kit which include the mat, the raiser block and thong. It also came with a Race Day DVD.

My fitness levels are so poor at the moment that the DVD will probably kill me ! So I will keep it aside and use it when I am more fitter.

I am struggling with a cold at the moment so imagine my frustration levels at not yet been able to go on the trainer.

My master plan is to set the trainer up in the kitchen which is long and will probably be the best place for it. There is a TV in the kitchen which I can watch whilst training. I read on another site that turbo training can be quite monotonous so you need to perk it up with keeping data to monitor progress and listening to music or watching TV.

I now look forward to a winter season where I can keep fit and lose weight instead of gaining!
Hopefully I will be off to a running start when the weather turns instead of trying to get fit from scratch like the previous seasons.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Make the most of the weather !

The sun was shining and there was no wind blowing. What more can a cyclist ask for?

I went out immediately and did my usual 8 miles only to meet someone new on the A483 bridge and extend my ride to keep talking.

In the end I did my 10 mile ride with a bit of huff and puff (yes I am that unfit).

I took a few lovely photos along the way which was posted to my Map my Ride site to accompany the tracked route.

I hope to go out again tomorrow with my regular cycling partner and build on the huff and puff :-)

Sunday, 16 October 2011


So another year finish. Well, almost.

I have BIG plans :-)

I want to buy a turbo trainer so that I can be in a better physical condition than I was last year. I felt that I took long last year to actually arrive at a decent fitness level so I reason that with a turbo trainer I will be in a much better position to perform earlier in the season.

We also have big plans for next summer :-)

We are planning to cycle the Rhine from Basel to Rotterdam :-)

So keep up with this blog if you want to know more :-)

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Fabulous tea and cake at Hawarden Farm shop

'Did you get my message asking if you could lead the Ladies ride on 10 September? I'm walking the Sandstone Trail that weekend and it would be great if you could help out !' said the voice over the phone.

Coming back from holiday to 522 work and about 260 private emails, it was no wonder that I missed Sue's desperate request.
'Of course I would help' I said. 

Privately panicking as I haven't been cycling for about 7 weeks which included my 4 weeks on holiday.
It is always a challenge to plot a ride. Plotting or mapping a ride for yourself is obviously easy as you are always forgiven when you make a mistake, but when I have to plot a route for an unknown number of ladies, it is a bit ( hugely!!) more daunting.
Sue agreed that we haven't been out towards the south for a while. Rides tend to go more East Cheshire way so I'm always keen to do a south stint which is territory that I'm more familiar with. So quick thoughts settled on taking the girls to Hawarden Farm shop. The weather also didn't look great so a quick flat ride was what was needed.

I convinced a good friend of mine to come out with us for the first time so she and I set off at 9am to meet up with everyone else at 10am at the Community Cafe. We arrived first as planned and were just sitting down when the girls began to arrive one by one. At the end we were 10 which was great! The group were girls that were cycling regularly so they could keep up with the pace.

We posed for the compulsory starting picture (without Jane who vanished into the pharmacy buying anti-histamine!) and set off on the ride.

The weather was looking threatening but held off the whole way to my obvious delight! The route took us down the bike path towards Connah's Quay until Deva Link where we zig-zagged through Sealand to join the bike path along the river, heading for Higher Ferry. Walking and part cycling over the bridge took us past the Airbus factory - pity the wings weren't transported then as I think it would've been a good spectacle to watch! The last part of the Hawarden Farm Shop approach was winging our way up a hill past the most glorious Blackberries, Rosehips and Elderberries! I've recently been converted to foraging so my eyes are now catching all these delicacies in the hedges. The cake and tea at the shop didn't disappoint. A number of the girls haven't been to the shop before so they were very pleased to be cycling there.
The weather were almost threatening - we were feeling a few drops when we sat down with our tea but rain only started on our way back towards Higher Ferry.

Some girls went their own way after the Farm Shop and others were happy to peel off as we went along. Jo lead the rest of the group back along towards the river. Thanks Jo !!

The route went well and I was very happy that all my mapping happened as it was supposed to.

Thanks everyone; it was a really great day out  :)

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Autumn time

I have a lot of catching up to do. This usually happens when you are away on holiday and come back to a house full of dust, garden overgrown and email inbox full to the brim!

Finding time to fit things in is always an issue especially if you struggle to prioritise. And then there is time for yourself that is needed as well as time for all the other issues you are engaged in.

I went away to sunny South Africa for a whopping four weeks. I spent some time with family out there and also toured the whole of the southern coast (Port Elizabeth to Cape Town). The tour then extended from Cape Town to Bloemfontein which was all done by car through the lovely Karoo. As it is winter time now, the days were between 15C and 25C but the nights were cold. As the houses aren't centrally heated, you need a heater and an electric blanket especially in the remote high altitude parts like Sutherland and Britstown.
I've seen some cycling whilst I was out there but didn't get any opportunities to do it myself. The cyclists that I've seen were mostly on roadbikes and one group was even cycling on the motorway! Not really something that I would do but I guess the roads that were available weren't as direct as the motorway.

The time just before my holiday was packed with things to complete for work and also some other exciting events like attending The Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on 19 July. I was one of the fortunate recipients at my work's draw and enjoyed the experience very much. So many people and so many cups of tea and little dainty pastries!!

A week has gone past since I've arrived back from holiday and I'm still struggling to catch up but am slowly getting there. Ironing pile has gone down, email inbox has been won and house is cleaner than it was. I do however still see places to clean but I guess that will be an ongoing thing and that the battle of house clean is never won.
The one thing that I haven't done so far is doing a bike ride. I was itching last week to get on my bike and when an opportunity arose last Friday, I hopped without delay on my bike to do an 8  mile return ride just to be caught in one of the heaviest rain deluges ever. I had to seek shelter 3 times and was soaked to my toes.

I'm itching to get on my bike and go somewhere. Just forget about work, house and everyting else occupying my thoughts and cycle. Maybe just go for a short ride somewhere, have a cup of tea and cycle back.

After all, that is such a soul cleanser and it needs to be done to stay sane. Make time for yourself to have time for others.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

London is alive with bikes - of all sorts!

Coach travel can be fun. If you are going to be stuck in a coach for 5hrs then you need to take things to do with you to keep you busy. So here I am. My coach has just left Victoria Coach Station and is weaving its way through the busy streets of London at 5.30pm. It takes us about 45-60 min just to get out of London.

This time around I tried a different YHA - the one in Carter Lane at St. Paul's. It is a nice hostel. The room I stayed in was recently refurbished but as it was on the 3rd floor, I had to carry my rucksack, my Brompton business bag as well as the Brompton up 3 flights of stairs. That was less nice. I shared the room with an Australian lady who is seeking long lost relatives, a Scottish lady and two others who checked in at 12am! They were still very much asleep when I got up this morning.

It was very hot weather last night and I tried to leave the window open but as St. Paul's Cathedral is so close (one street block away) from the YHA, it sounded as if the bells were inside my room every time they chimed. And chimed they did! Every half hour.

My 'must-have's' for the YHA is earplugs and flip-flops. I really can't go without my earplugs. Living in a rural village has spoilt me for good as the nights are lovely and silent and the only thing I can hear is my other half's deep breathing (I don't want to offend him!).

Anyway, back to the YHA and bikes. YHA St. Paul's is in an excellent location. Paternoster Square is less than a minute away and lower down the street are plenty of restaurants to choose from like GBK, Strada and a Sushi Bar.
Next time (which is next week), I'm in Earl's Court YHA. I'm working my way through them all to get a favourite. The only one I will probably not 'do' is Thameside as it is near Canary Wharf. Really too far from the office.

I was cycling away from the YHA at 7.15am and joined the early morning traffic. SO many bikes! They are everywhere and really very demanding. I have become a bit more assertive and will now make sure that I move to the front cycle box at each junction. I even get annoyed if a car is blocking this box! Am I turning into a typical London cyclist?!

There are plenty of folding bikes about. Quite a few Bromptons and Dahons. The majority of bikes are 'normal' bikes though. I still get nice compliments from my colleagues about my bike and my courage to cycle in London. A lot of them has said that they will really NOT do that. Mmm. Makes me wonder if I'm really that naive and ignorant or just over confident?!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Austerity bites.


Until a couple of years ago, I have not even heard of this word. I had to look it up in a dictionary when it was first voiced and since then, it has had a severe impact on thousands of lives in this country.

You usually think you are immune to it until it bites you too.

First there was the threat to my job. Like all local government employers, mine had to cut back with a vengeance as the grants were drying up and subscriptions seemed to be falling. There were also too many similar organisations about and talks started in earnest to bring these closer together to minimise confusion amongst councils and to create more value for money.

So we were to be cut. A rigorous process followed with consultation after consultation; interviews, questionnaires, assessment centres and preferences that followed closely.

The end of this saga is that I've got a new job but in the process I lost my homeworker status. Even though we argued that removing it will prevent talent outside London to contribute to the delivery, it was removed. All ex-homeworkers are now office remote with London Weighting! Even though I live in Chester...

This has had a profound effect on the way I choose to travel. It the past, my travel to London (when I was needed in London) was paid for by my employer, but now that I'm having to pay all London travel out of my own pocket, I have started to be really savvy about how and when I travel. For example: a single journey by train (Virgin) to London cost me £108. So a return is £216. That is peak time travel when I can safely walk into the office before 10am. My London weighting is taxable, pensionable and NI carrying so at the end of each month I only get £200 nett.

I had to investigate different ways so my attention turned to coach and cycling. So getting the coach into London, then hop onto a bike (to avoid further costs with the Tube) and make my way to the office. Luckily I already had a Brompton. My big expense was to buy a Brompton storage bag as the Brompton will not be accepted onto the coach without adequate protection.

The next change to my travel was to use a different overnight stay. Hotels were too expensive. I found an EasyHotel close to work but it was still more than staying at the local YHA. So coach travel to London (which takes 5hrs), then cycling with the Brompton to the office and overnight stay at the YHA. The overnight stay is really a no-brainer as the coach travel will only be viable if I stay overnight, but not at a place so expensive that I could've taken the train!

So my Brompton gets much more use now, which is marvellous!

Today was a good example. I had to go to Leeds for an afternoon meeting, so cycling to the next village to get the No.1 bus to the railway station. That did mean adding another hour to my travel, but hey! I left the car at home and was spared the M62.

On a lighter note...I had a marvellous day with the Chester Fabulous Ladies in Clun, Shropshire. It's just great being with the girls even though I couldn't cycle as much as I wanted to due to a debut appearance in a play on the Saturday night in my local village hall.

I also had a lovely evening bike ride on 21 June celebrating Summer Solstice with a good friend and my other half. It was great being out after 8pm which is something I don't often do. Before summer is out, I want to do more of those!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Southport Belles, what a lovely bunch of Ladies!

One of my aims as CTC North West Councillor is to cycle with as many CTC ladies as possible. I like having my 'ear to the ground' so to speak as you get to know people better cycling along a good bike path instead of at a (boring) meeting. I made an appointment with Juliet, their leader, to meet up on the last weekend in April but last change of plans meant we needed to reschedule, so 28 May was the the best day.

I asked one of my cycling buddies Jo, to join us and together we hopped onto Merseyrail and made the train journey from Chester to Southport. I reserved my ticket online and was amazed at the good value. £6.20 was a good price to pay for a return train ticket! Jo had to change stations and as hers was unmanned, so I offered to get her a ticket at Chester station. I couldn't believe it when her return was priced as £4.50! It turns out that hers was an off peak day saver and mine was an anytime day return. Both incredible value for money.

We had to change at Moorfields in Liverpool. It was a bit of an issue to carry our bikes up the escalator (and down when we did the return journey) as the lift was so small, I don't think you would be able to fit a bike in properly., definitely NOT two bikes.So with the connection made (the trains runs every so often), we were on our last leg to Southport.

 The bikes snugly alongside each other in the dedicated bike space on Merseyrail.
Merseyrail is probably one of the best cycle-friendly train providers in the country. Two dedicated cycle storage spaces on each train and each station has secure cycle parking facilities for commuters.

Soon our journey was over and we went looking for the Dunes Splash Centre.

After a short bike ride towards to beach we found Juliet and her group waiting for us.

The ride set off with the wind behind us, along the seafront on a lovely bike path. Soon we were weaving our way through more of Southport and reached the countryside. The weather was ok-ish. There was no rain but a strong wind so Juliet tried to keep the distance short and manageable. Her stronger ladies group has already set out and we were cycling with the starter group.
It was good to chat to the ladies on our way to the cafe and learn more about how the Belles cycle in Southport.

We got to the cafe and got some good Barms! Some of us went a bit further and ordered cooked breakfast for lunch!! A nice chat followed, learning more about each other.

From the cafe a few of us decided to venture further out to increase the mileage and another group headed back to Southport.

I wasn't sure where we were heading to but increasingly the road seemed to be familiar and I soon realised that I'm on the same route what I did with the Fylde Belles! We headed for the same cafe with the fantastic cakes and meringues.
I had to use very strong will power to say no to these cakes!!
The cafe makes the loveliest meringues, HUGE ones with cream and berries (see photo).

Well, all good things must come to an end and we left the cafe heading back for Southport where Jo and I caught the train back to Chester.
It was a great day out and we've got plans to link up with the Southport Belles again. I think Jo wants to go up and ride with their faster group.

We might even be able to get more ladies from Chester to meet up with Southport and also invite the Fylde girls down. It's all happening! Here are the details to our ride.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The CTC is becoming a charity

What a weekend!

The annual CTC National Dinner & Awards Presentation was held at Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy in Portland, Dorset on Saturday 14 May. More about that later.
The real reason for the weekend was the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and it was extra special this year as the members recently voted in a poll of the club that the CTC will apply for charity status. The law says we need a 75% majority to amend the governing Articles to achieve charitable status. In the last vote on the charity issue out of around 16,000 members voted and more than 12,000 (75.4%) supported the proposal. Unfortunately the required 75% to change the Articles were not achieved at last year's AGM so it is being voted on again this year.

The debate was lively as expected and arguments were heard from both sides. The fact is that 75.4% members indicated in the poll that they WANTED charity status so we really needed the change in the Articles. Voting started and the results came in. More than 88% of members who voted supported the motion to change the Articles and 11% were against. The CTC will now commence the long process of merging the CTC Club and the CTC Trust by applying for charity registration at the Charity Commission.

This is excellent news as it was a long outstanding decision which started about 4yrs ago, long before I became a Councillor. When I walked into the debate, it was clear to me that we had to take the Charity route. To repeat Barry Flood, Councillor for Northern Ireland and the Rest of the World, 'It's a No- Brainer!'
If SUSTRANS can do it (and they have members) and the National Trust can do it (they are a member organisation), then we are right to follow their footsteps and get the organisations merged.

All of the motions were agreed apart from one which caused a lively debate. That was that all voting that was done at National Council should be recorded and also published and the Councillors should be identified who voted for, against and abstained. Currently, that isn't done at Council.
Whilst I have not problem with my vote being recorded, there is a bigger issue at stake here. Comparisons were drawn between the MP's (Westminster) whose votes are recorded and you can check how they voted and National Council. But that is where the similarity stops as Councillors who get elected to National Council are also being registered at Companies House as Non-Executive Directors of the CTC. This is something that very few members are aware of and I am now in a position where my name is registered against three companies as a Non-Executive Director. This place me in a very difficult position as not only am I an elected member, representing the North West contituency, but I am also legally responsible for the health and wellbeing of a big company.
Very recently, the four Directors of the MG company (see Former MG Rover managers barred)
were barred from holding a job as a Director as they didn't make the decisions in favour of the health and wellbeing of the company. So when I vote at National Council, I need to weigh the wishes of the constituency against what evidence is infront of me and whether my vote will have an impact on the CTC. If the CTC plays bankcrupt or gets into trouble, I will be liable as a Director who displayed bad conduct. So if we record votes, you always have to think about this very thin balance and I'm afraid that it will always be in the back of your mind thinking if you should vote to show your solidarity with the members or whether you must vote to make the right decisions for the CTC.

The votes were cast and the motion was not carried which is a big relief. There is already measures in place for knowing how your Councillor voted. Either my members can contact me and ask or if I feel particularly passionate about a specific vote, I can ask that my vote should be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

One of the motions was to promote the removal of barriers on cyclepaths and at other places to enable all cyclists to enjoy an unrestricted ride.

I responded on behalf of Council as I'm the also the Equality Champion. Here I am in action:

After 4 and a half hours the AGM came to an end and we went to get ready for the Awards Dinner.

The venue was spectacular. The weather played along very well and the sails were up at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy. This is the Olympic venue for 2012 to host the sailing.

Kevin Mayne, Chief Executive of CTC was the MC and kicked the Dinner off.
Magnus Backstedt was our special guest for the evening who awarded the prizes. Magnus is the manager for Team UK Youth and winner of Paris-Roubaix, stages in the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia.

We enjoyed our meal, made new friends and spoke to old friends. Great time for catch up.

Then it was time for the awards. The North West scooped the largest section of the awards.

We came home with:

1st Lady in the Tourist Competition - Lowri Evans and Magnus

1st Team in the Tourist Competition - Chester & North wales CTC (Andy Polakowski, David Statham, Lowri Evans, Ifor Jones, Darryl Porrino and Alan Mort)

CTC Volunteer of the Year 2010 (North West) - Janet Gregory and Magnus

as well as runner up for National Volunteer of the year 2010. Well done Janet!

We also scooped:
CTC - Bike Club : Youth Club or Project of the Year 2010 
Boathouse Youth (Blackpool) - 1st
Greenbank High School (Southport) - 2nd


CTC Bike Club: Young Volunteer of the Year 2010
Kamila Szewczyk (1st)

Ben Wilson (2nd)

It was a great weekend and event for the North West.

Welna Bowden
CTC Councillor
North West

Sunday, 17 April 2011

It's cycling weather!!!

Cycling weather has finally arrived. I'm SO pleased.

I'm going to cancel my gym membership as I'm just not interested going. Everytime when the weather looks good, my first thought is to take my bike and go. For me, the perfect cycling weather is NO wind (or very little) and that's about it. I don't mind a bit of a drizzle - it is wind that I hate. It feels like it is pushing you a different way that you are trying to go. Oh, it is definitely good when you've managed to tweak your ride to get the wind from behind but (is it Murphy's Law?) somewhere you will need to cycle against the wind to get back where you started from.

My season started really well. On 27 March I did the Wiggle Cheshire Cat (45mi) in just under 4 hrs. It is the first time that I've done one of the Wiggle events but I have to say: the organisation at THIS event was rubbish! We queued for 50 minutes before we could get to the start. This was such an anti-climax as all of the pre-race marketing suggested a really fast start as they've eliminated the need to sign on. Well, we got there and the starting queue was out of the car park! We wanted to start early so we got up at 6.30am. Now you have to remember that the clocks changed that night so my body clock time was 5.30am! We left the house at 7.15am to be at the start at 8.15am. There was a HUGE!!! queue. There were more than 3,000 people at the event but with the disastrous start we didn't actually leave until 9.10am. The weather was gloomy and cold, so standing in this queue for such a long while (in the cold) was NOT nice.

The ride was fine and I finished in 3hr 54min. The end bit was also a bit silly as there were roadworks in Crewe and cyclists and cars were all fighting for road space when we were getting into Crewe. I think Wiggle got the messages as there were lots of apologies afterwards on Facebook and their website, after a huge amount of people complained about the bad organisation at the Alexandra stadium.

Cycle rides in-between included a few with my daughter and also with a friend nearby, or just by myself. They are usually about 8 - 16mi long and very sociable and relaxing rides.

My longest ride for the current season was today. We (me and hubby) did the CTC Spring Tourist Trial which was 50mi. The event organisation was superb and the ride was fabulous. I managed to finish in 4hrs for the 50mi which is a great improvement on the Wiggle event. Here is the Garmin detail:

I'm really proud as I've increased my average speed from the regular 12mph to 13.3mph. Now to the uninitiated that might not sound like much but trust me; if you're a cyclist, that is great news!

I'm planning to join the Southport Belles on one of their rides in May and we've got another good ride lined up - the Liverpool-Chester-Liverpool ride. They actually close one of the Mersey tunnels for this ride so it will be great experience as I've not done this one before.

I also plan to join my local women's group on their weekend away (but only for one night as it is Father's Day on the Sunday). That will involve a 65mi ride from home to Clun as well as some rides the next day.

The weather is great!!! Get on yer bike :)

Sunday, 20 March 2011

A day out in Lancashire with the Fylde Bicycle Belles

Today was a really lovely day. Part of my role as CTC Councillor is to meet the groups in the North West and get to know them. It is very useful to talk to member groups and find out how they are getting on and if there are any problems.

I was invited up to the AGM of the Fylde Bicycle Belles last year but due to circumstances, couldn't make it. I've kept contact and got an invite to do a ride with them. To me personally, this is the best way to get to know and talk to members.

So a date was set and we agreed that today would be the day for me to join them.

I got up at a silly Sunday hour (6.30am), left the house on my bike at 7.30am and got the 8.30am train to Liverpool. Travelling to Preston is not really that far but as fate goes, there were maintenance work scheduled so the fast route wasn't possible. It was a bit dodgy as no bike reservations were required for the journey up but in the end it was allright. The train from Liverpool to Preston (went to Blackpool North) was a milk train - stopped everywhere! The straps to tie your bike wasn't really good so my bike kept sliding. I was rather nervous about that so my journey up wasn't as relaxed as it could've been.

I got to Preston station and found my way out - only to realise that I took the wrong turn and that Ursula was probably elsewhere! I saw someone who was looking like a Postie on the middle platform after I went back to search for her (Sorry Ursula! I need to explain here: her pannier looked exactly like a Postie pannier from behind!) and realised it was her.

We made our way out and headed for Avenham Park where the others were waiting. We were 6 all together - Ursula, Sarah, Marion, Mandy, Julie and me.

The initial ride took us along some nice cycleways and thus avoiding the traffic. I managed to see some really hillarious lane names: Sod Hall Lane; Wholesome Lane and Long Meanygate.

Lunch didn't come soon enough. We were all really hungry and in the mood for some good food. Sarah, who was ride leader today, took us to to the Marina near Rufford. The view was great and after a short spell of waiting patiently outside, we got a table just as it started to drizzle.

After lovely fish and chips (and a double chocolate gateaux) we were ready for the ride back. At about 3.50pm I said my goodbyes and split from the group to head for the station.

Overall a really nice day - thanks girls! It was good to meet you and I would love it if we can do that again.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Fabulous Ladies Ride - 12 March 2011

It was a great day for cycling! We met up at the Kingsway Cafe as usual and then head towards the 50p shop near Huxley. We had a few new girls, which is always good, and some who have been cycling for a while.

The stop was lovely tea and scone at the small cafe on-site at the 50p shop and I bought a few books - a couple of Sudoku books, a wordsearch book and a crossword book.

Jo and I needed to find home soon due to other commitments and left ahead of the others. Overall a very enjoyable ride!

Big plans for coming Sunday is to make my way over to Preston to meet up with the Belles there. They are doing a 25mi ride which take them to a lunch stop. I need to get on the train for 8.30am and will arrive at 10.39am where Ursula will meet me. I'm looking forward to that and hopefully another blog post.

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Monday, 28 February 2011

Killing two birds. . . ?!

So why killing two birds with one stone? Well, planning works well but sometimes unfortunate circumstances takes over!

I planned a 15mi ride for today only to get a desperate text/sms from my daughter asking: Mum, can you cycle to school and bring my PE kit?
School is sort of on the Holt/Farndon route so I thought I could do my 15 miler tomorrow. So while I did my duty as a good mum, I also got some exercise in.

I packed my pannier with the PE kit and head off. To my surprise it only took 40min to do the trip to school. Before heading off, I text my better half to ask if he will spend his lunch with me in Sainsbury's which is close to the school. I thought that I will probably need a cup of tea by that time so after the PE kit was dropped off, I headed for Sainsbury's. Had a lovely relaxing time waiting for him to arrive whilst I read the paper.

Coming out of the shop, it seemed that the weather decided that the nice morning was now over and it looked quite threatening. I covered everything up with rainproof covers and headed out, back along through town. I wasn't keen to go down to Holt due to the weather.

But the weather played along and it merely gave a drop here and there so I decided to stretch my return a bit and go via Eccleston and Pulford. The photos was taken just after I went through the arch bridge outside Eccleston, on my way down to the Grosvenor estate (Duke of Westminster lives there). The weather still kept at bay and I got my mileage in which paid off in calories (950 Cals burned).

So a successful cycle on my first day of leave! Roll on tomorrow...:)

The view towards the Welsh hills.

The arch bridge outside Eccleston.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Boris Bikes

I plucked up the courage tonight (yes you read correctly - tonight) to rent one of the Boris Bikes in London.

I travel to London fairly regularly and there is a docking station just outside Euston, but so far I've only glanced at it as I have been too self-conscious to go to the machine and try and figure it out.

Tonight was a different story. I was on my way to my hotel and passed another docking station outside Russell Square station. Mmm, I day.

That one day turned out to be tonight when I realised that the restaurant where I wanted to go is 0.7mi from the hotel. Of course it is walkable distance, but why walk if I can cycle. So a plan started to form and I went online to check out the procedure. There are also a few short videos to watch (which I did) but somehow I missed the fact that you need to insert your card twice into the pillar - once to register for usage and the second time for the release code for the bike to want to use. It took a phonecall to their helpline to get that info.

Well bike was released and off I went. And it was fun!! I rarely cycle in the dark so first of all - this was in the dark (well, you get it, lit streets in London) and secondly, I was on one of these sturdy bikes with wind in my hair. I checked the map before I left, so I had a good idea where the docking station was where I was heading.

Docking was a bliss and not difficult at all. Cycling back after my meal was more difficult for obvious reasons !! ;-)

So how much did these two rides cost me? Well only £1 (access charge for 24hrs) as you get the first 30min free of each journey. And I can do more journeys tomorrow as long as it is shorter than 30min and before 18h30 when my 24hr access expires.

I can recommend the Boris bike if you are in London.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


There is really no excuse for not posting. I am really sorry if you've been following me and (almost) gave up!

I can only say in my defence that it has been one of the coldest winters so far since I arrived in the UK. Blinking freezing cold. And I went into hibernation.

I don't have a turbo trainer or anything remotely as fancy as that so I had to do with an odd bike ride on days when it wasn't so icy or snowy. And those days were far in between. But hey! On the bright side, the buds are coming through and new leaves are on the verge of showing the world their gorgeous new green and my plans have since matured for 2011.

I'm very excited as I have next week 'off'. I've got 11 days leftover leave and as I can only carry over 5 days, I need to take 6 days before the end of March. My March is already pretty full so it is almost a squeeze but next week is special as I've set aside 4 days (Monday, Tuesday, Wenesday and Friday) to spend outside on my bike. I almost want to say that come rain or shine I will go out.

I have several rides booked for the next few months - I'm booked onto the Spring Tourist Trial, a 50mi CTC (local) ride on 17 April and the Wiggle Sportive Cheshire Cat on 27 March. In between there are local ladies CTC rides and I've been invited up to the Fylde Bicycle Belles on 20 March to join them for one of their rides in the beautiful countryside surrounding Preston.

So my March seems very busy with 3 rides booked on different weekends and I'm also considering joining the CTC Fabulous Ladies on their annual weekend away - this year in June.

I have nothing as elaborate as last year planned. Last year I did Land's End to John O'Groats in June - one of the most marvellous experiences I've ever done. If you haven't yet read my blog about that epic ride, here is the link again -

So there you are, I have some good times to look forward to and will soon have some more bits to share.

Happy cycling!