Conversation

Daughter
and son
both at home.
Main topic of conversation?
Cycling.

Disappointment

Daughter
in hospital.
End of hopes
for National Mountain Bike
Championships.

Shoulder
dislocated, fractured.
In good spirits
despite disappointment. She will
mend!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Our daughter arrived last week for a visit from her home in Spain, specifically to enter the National Mountain Bike Cross Country Championships last weekend and the Endurance Championships in the Isle of Man this coming weekend. Unfortunately on a practice session last Saturday she came a bit of a cropper — an early end to her racing season! I was glad that our eldest son was with her at the time, doing his own practice lap for the ‘fun’ race. With a bit of luck she will be out of hospital in by the weekend — fingers crossed.

Not Another Bike!

Henry Burton BikeYes, I’m afraid so, I have acquired another bike! Unexpectedly I must add.

Regulars will remember that I have written in the past about my bikes and I have one, a French made Motobecane classic Road Racing bicycle (circa 1980) which I call ‘Captain Beaky’ and which was bought so that I could take part in La Pedals de Clip in Spain this year. My husband and daughter both have English-made bikes from the late 1950’s and took part last year as well, but at the time I didn’t have a suitable bike.

I really would have liked to also have English bike but classic English bikes are very expensive, especially in good condition. Finding one in need of refurbishment and therefore not expensive is a matter of luck, especially if you want a small frame. The French one, however, was affordable though a little on the top end of a suitable size for me. We did what we could to make it fit better and it is not bad, in fact it is a very nice bike, but all along I have said that if I came across an affordable English bike with a slightly smaller frame I would get it. So, while not exactly actively searching for one we have been keeping our eyes open.

My husband recently made a visit to our local bicycle recycling charity ‘Back to Bikes’ in Stafford (they take in donated bikes, refurbish them and sell them at affordable prices. If they are not worth refurbishing they strip them for parts and/or scrap them).  He wasn’t looking for a bike but saw this one and brought it home for me. It is in need of complete refurbishment and there is a good chance ‘Back to Bikes’ would have scrapped it.

The bike is a locally made ‘Henry Burton’ bike circa 1960 (could even be slightly earlier). Henry Burton was an ex-cyclist cum frame-builder who built frames in his shop in Stafford, not far from my home, between 1950 and the early 1970’s. However he was apparently notoriously bad at keeping records and didn’t bother with frame numbers so we can’t be absolutely sure of the age. All we really have to go on is the style of the frame and its other parts plus the style of the ‘decals’. The shop in Stafford is now run by Henry Burton’s son and no longer builds frames although they do still sell Henry Burton bikes – built elsewhere and labelled as Henry Burton. My husband took the frame into the shop and Burton’s son has confirmed this is an original hand-made Henry Burton frame – see front decal below:

Front Decal

Our other aid to ageing the bike is the style of the script on the down tube, which is just about readable. Apparently Henry Burton had stopped using this style of script, opting for a more modern upright ‘print’ style by the mid-1960’s:

Down Tube Script Decal

This bike, which I have decided to call ‘Bertie’, is decidedly smaller framed than ‘Captain Beaky’ and is English through-and-through. At the moment it is totally in pieces and restoration has commenced. We have bought some new (old stock) wheels of the correct era ready to replace the not-so-good old ones, plus new tyres. A dent in the top tube has been repaired and the frame is in the process of being rubbed down ready for re-spray. We have found some replacement old style decals to be stuck on once the repaint job is done and the aim is that I will use this bike for La Pedals de Clip next year. If our youngest son decides to come along too then he can ride ‘Captain Beaky’, with some adjustment back to its original state in order to fit him. Watch this space.

Hot and Humid

Hot and humid
out on the bike
for a short, sharp ride
before the weather turns.

Missed Turning

A new cycling route today,
taking in the Croxton Wells,
slightly further than I had planned
due to a missed turning!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
If you are wondering what I mean by ‘the Croxton Wells’ check out Monday’s post here.

Toe Clip Rally 2017

Or, to give it its proper name ‘La Pedals de Clip’. This is a rally held in Spain to celebrate classic road-racing bicycles, which I have written about before here. This year it took place over the weekend of 20th-21st May, with the ride out taking place on the 21st. As mentioned in my previous post, my husband and daughter had taken part last year and, having decided to do it again this year we bought me a vintage road-racing bicycle so that I could take part too; a French-made Motobecane, circa 1980, which I christened ‘Captain Beaky’. Bikes have to be pre-1987 and have no modern fixtures or fittings. My husband and daughter were riding much older English-made bikes from the 1950’s.

The event is hosted by the small town of Sant Marti Sarroca in the hills towards Barcelona and imagine our surprise on driving into the town to register on 20th May when we saw a banner stretched across the road to advertise the event featuring two cyclists from last years event – my husband and daughter! After the event we managed to beg the banner from the organisers and my daughter now has it in her possession.

Pedals de Clip Banner

We had opted to ride the shorter of the two routes at 47 km rather than the longer 72 km route. The weather was ideal, fine and quite warm without being too hot (unlike subsequent days during our stay in Spain!) and the route was quite challenging enough for me – plenty of hills to cope with, not least being the 1 km finishing climb to the castle on the summit of the hill on the edge of town, much of which I have to admit I walked up, though I did ride through the finish. The ride had started at the sports hall below the hill and began with a parade lap through the town with many encouraging spectators aligning the route.

We completed the ride in just under 3 hours, not including the two refreshment stops available on the route (which included local wine for those who wanted it). All participants received a medal and a ‘goodie bag’ which included an event cycling jersey and cap and a pair of sunglasses amongst other things, as well as a bottle of local wine. Here I am on the final few yards to the finish:

Coming to the finish

In all some 500+ people took part in the ride. It was a wonderful experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even the bits over rough tracks where a mountain bike might have been better suited. Several people received punctures along the way and all were advised to carry spare tubular tyres or inner tubes. Fortunately we didn’t need ours!

Would I do it again? Oh yes, in fact it would be great to get my two sons involved as well, if not next year than perhaps the year after and make a family team before hubby and I are too old. Finding matching team kit may be a problem though – I think this particular jersey is no longer available so we might need new team kit!

I’ll leave you with this picture of my husband and daughter at the finish of this year’s event – it tells it all!

Finished

 

Travelling

Once more I’m off on my travels. While we are away we will be taking part in the Pedals de Clip classic road-race bike rally in Catalonia, Spain (for more information click here.) As so often Internet access will be variable so I will not be posting here for the next month. I should be back around mid-June. While I’m away I hope to get to grips with the e-book version of ‘Simply Elfje’ and, with luck, have it available on my return.

Cycling Challenge

Cycling challenge badgeWe did it! A week ago yesterday my husband and I completed our 45 mile cycling challenge in aid of our local hospice on our tandem. This is to date the longest distance I have cycled.

I have to say, I have discovered there are one or two advantages of being on the back of a tandem: 1) You don’t get so many flies in your face and 2) You can hide behind the driver when you come to a hill so you don’t see how steep it is or how far to the top!

We were well ‘rugged up’ to start with as it was a bit chilly. After about a third of the course it (and us) had warmed up and the route passed a short distance from our home so we took a diversion for a drink and the chance to strip off a bit before re-joining. A short while later we came to a local hill that has always caused me problems. I have never previously got up it and usually try to avoid it. That said, on the few occasions I have tried it I have managed to get a bit further up each time before getting off to push. Hiding behind the driver on the back of the tandem this time I/we did it  – not that it has ever caused my husband a problem. (I am also pleased to report that a few days later we tackled it again on solo bikes – and I got all the way up it!)

We did have one or two minor mishaps along the way; we broke three spokes and the dog jumped out of his basket! Okay, I’ll explain. The first broken spoke we mended at a canal-side café, where we took the opportunity to have out packed lunch followed by an ice-cream. After our experiences in Spain last autumn, when we broke seven spokes, we now carry spares. When we completed the ride we found we had also broken another two. Hubby has since checked the wheel thoroughly, thinking there must be a reason why the spokes keep on breaking on the same wheel. He had had the spoke tension checked and was told it was fine, but has now decided that they probably need to be tighter, being a tandem, so they have all been tightened up and we will see what happens next time we ride out.

Setting off on our cycle challenge

Setting off on our cycle challenge

As for the dog jumping out of his basket – well we have a small basket on the front of the tandem (see picture) in which a small soft toy dog travels. He has our front light strapped to his wrist. On the way round while going along a bumpy country lane he flew out of the basket and landed in the middle of the road – he hadn’t been wearing his seat-belt! We stopped, I went to fetch him and we fixed him more firmly in his basket with a bungey-cord as a seat-belt. A group of other cycling challenge participants caught up and stopped to ask if we were all right. “Yes, thanks.” we said, “we lost the dog!” We all laughed and one lady confided that her husband had a soft toy seal in his bicycle panier!

The last couple of miles were probably the worst, I was just about ready to stop! My knees ached, my thighs ached, my wrists ached, my shoulders ached and I didn’t want to see another hill for a long time to come! Interestingly though, when we finally stopped I was fine and the next day bore no lasting effects.

At least I can now feel confident that I will be able to complete the Pedals de Clip classic road racing bike rally in Spain in a couple of weeks time. This will be only a mere 46 km on my Motobecane road bike ‘Captain Beaky.’ Just don’t remind me about all those hills!

Success

Success!
“Captain Beaky” bike and I,
up that hill at last,
the one that has for so long been
our Nemesis.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
There is a hill near my home that I usually avoid on my bike because the few times I have attempted it I have had to get off and push, though each time I have managed to get a little further up before getting off. We managed it at the weekend on the tandem but today I managed it for the first time on a solo bike – I’m proper chuffed!

La Pedals de Clip

That’s it, I’m committed now, signed up and paid my entry for La Pedals de Clip, a classic road racing bike rally in Spain on 20th/21st May this year. I have my matching outfit ready. This is what all my recent pre-occupation with cycling has been about.

Pushing Dad at Pedals de Clip

Pushing Dad! (picture from Pedals de Clip website)

Last year my husband did the event with our daughter (see photos) who you may remember lives in Spain. He had two classic road race bikes, a Freddie Grubb and a James Fothergill for those in the know. Both were in need of some renovation which he did in time for the event and we took them over, giving the James Fothergill to our daughter. At the time I had asked if I could do it too but was told that we hadn’t another bike of the correct era, so I had to be content to watch, wait and take photos!

After the event our daughter suggested that as they had the bikes they should do it again this year and I insisted that in that case I was going to do it too. Hence, when we returned to the UK, we began to search for a bike for me. I had hoped to find an English ‘special’ like the other two but to buy one of these was way above budget, so we settled for my Motobecane (French bike) which I have called Captain Beaky and which I have written about before. This was in excellent condition for its age, having had one previous owner, and although on the top end of what was a reasonable size for me was relatively easily modified to a better fit.

The requirements for the Pedals De Clip are that the bike should be pre-1987, should have toe-clips not modern clip-in pedals, all cabling exposed not hidden in the tubing and gear shifters on the down-tube not modern flipper-type. In other words nothing modern on the bike. Captain Beaky is circa 1980 so just squeezes in, the Grubb and the Fothergill are mid to late 1950’s so the advantage to me is that I do have slightly better gearing capacity – this should help me on the hills which are my bug-bear!

Talking bikes at the finish

Talking bikes at the finish

There is a choice of two routes for the rally. The long route is 72km, but we have opted for the short route of 47km. For our daughter this is an easy day out to spin the legs between her usual endurance races but for me this is a major excursion. My usual regular rides are only about 10-12 miles with the odd 13-16 mile ride thrown in every now and then. Over this winter I have hardly done much at all as the roads and weather have not been very inviting and now I am slightly worried that I have set myself too big a challenge, after all I’m still on the border-line between bike rider and cyclist (see my previous post on this topic here). I am assured though that plenty of participants got off and pushed up many of the hills. The route finishes with a very steep climb up to a castle and, yes, plenty of people walked much of it then mounted up to ride through the finish, but that option does not appeal to my competitive nature (though I’m sure I will probably end up doing some pushing).

As you may have read here before I did buy a winter bike, which I recently replaced with one that is a better fit, hubby having taken over the first, and I have been out as much as my ‘fair-weather cyclist’ attitude will allow but fitness has inevitably fallen off. However I am now managing to get out a bit more often again and fitness is picking up at last. The winter bike has more gear options than Captain Beaky so I will soon have to start some more serious training using the classic bike if I am to be ready for the event.

As part of our preparation we are planning to do a local charity fund-raising ride at the end of April. This  will be a 45 mile route so quite a bit longer and if I manage that hopefully I should manage the 47 km Pedals de Clip (which will no doubt have more and steeper hills). We had thought to do the 20 mile option for the charity ride but that is off-road and for MTBs and we want the road riding practice. Hubby fancies doing it on the tandem though, but I’m not 100% sure about that as part of the route is along the canal tow-path and this, I think, will be slightly challenging on the tandem – there is a risk we may end up in the canal! On the plus side the route will take us almost past our house and we have the option to make the slight detour for a quick cuppa before re-joining for the rest of the ride.

To find out more about La Pedals de Clip check out the website at www.lapedalsdeclip.cat

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