When cycling out on windy days it pays
to check the wind speed, and indeed
the wind direction before you go
then plan your route to avoid
with a strong headwind!
17 Mar 2017 6 Comments
When cycling out on windy days it pays
27 Feb 2017 6 Comments
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.
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!
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
13 Feb 2017 3 Comments
A couple of week s ago I posted about the number of bikes we have between us (you can read the post here) and I mentioned that I had a Raleigh Capri One bike, with only a few miles on the clock, belonging to our son’s girlfriend as she had no room to store it at home, having borrowed a mountain bike from our son. She gave me permission to ride it while it was here, which I did, but only the once since it was almost brand new and I didn’t want to spoil it.
The bike (pictured) fitted me as if it had been made for me, the only adjustment needed was the saddle height. The frame is actually XS size! I found it very comfortable and easy to ride and I said at the time that I would be reluctant to give it back. It is specifically designed for endurance/sportive riding with a more comfortable riding position than an outright race bike so is well suited to my needs. Well, now my son’s girlfriend has decided it is not the bike for her and offered to sell it to me if I wanted it. Did I want it? You bet I did.
To be fair I love my Forme bike, ‘Fifi’, which I only bought last autumn as a winter bike to save going out on my Motobecane classic road racing bike ‘Captain Beaky’ when the roads are wet and muddy, but it is on the top end of the correct size for me and we did have to make quite a few changes for it to fit me anywhere near correctly. It too is a lovely ride but having bought the Raleigh I didn’t really need it anymore. So to cut a long story short, my husband has decided to take it over as it fits him well and will make a good winter bike for him.
The interesting thing is that I asked my son if the Capri One had a name and it turns out his girlfriend had called it ‘Lola’ which, as it happens, is the name I had seriously considered for the Forme instead of ‘Fifi’, so ‘Lola’ it still is.
The day I handed over the money was a cold day, but fine and reasonably dry, so we decided to celebrate by going out for a ride, me on Lola and my husband on his newly commandeered Forme bike, Fifi. Here we are, all ready to ride and rugged up against the cold – except hubby forgot his gloves and had to go back indoors for them!
Now however, this has upset the balance – instead of five-and-a-half bikes apiece (the half being the shared tandem) I now have only four-and-a-half while he has six-and-a-half. Then again, he is thinking of parting with his most recent acquisition, the full-suspension mountain bike. He has offered it to our daughter-in-law, but it fits me quite well and if she doesn’t want it I may commandeer it for myself – it’s good to keep these things in the family!
30 Jan 2017 2 Comments
I haven’t written anything about cycling for a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t done any. I must confess I am a bit of a fair weather cyclist though and lately it has been too cold, dank and miserable for me to go out much. Our rides have been fairly short, about 10 miles at most, sticking to main roads at quieter times (the lanes are just too mucky). Last time we went out I was wearing pretty well two of everything – including leggings! I have to say two pairs of gloves does tend to make gear changing a tad difficult.
One thing I have noticed recently while thinking about more than actually riding is the number of bikes that we own between us. I have written before about mine, and shared pictures on this blog (no new ones today, sorry, but I am trying to get this post scheduled quickly as I shall be away for the weekend and back too late to post for Monday – ie today if you are reading it). I have, as you know, Captain Beaky (my Motobecane classic road racing bike), a clunky old Raleigh mountain bike and my more recently acquired Fifi (my Forme Longcliffe road bike) as a winter bike.
In addition I now have my son’s girlfriend’s lovely Raleigh Capri One road bike on loan. She has borrowed a mountain bike from him, hasn’t room to store both so we are storing it for her with her permission for me to try it out. It’s a super bike, fits me better than Fifi, being a slightly smaller frame, and I am going to be reluctant to give it back!
Now to my husband: he has his classic road racing bike – a Freddy Grub, for those in the know, dating back to the late 50’s/early 60’s and also a clunky old Raleigh mountain bike of the same era as mine. Recently he fished out an old classic road-race type frame that was in our barn (having been rescued many years ago from a ditch) and discovered it to be a Claude Butler of similar age to the Grubb. So he has now restored it and has ridden it a few times, however the frame is a bit big for him, though it fits our son quite well. He has also since bought another Raleigh mountain-bike, not quite so old and full-suspension this time – a friend was selling it cheap and he can’t resist a bargain!
So I have three, plus one on loan, and he has four. On top of that, as you know, we also have a tandem. Then there are a couple of folding bikes on board our yacht, for use in port when we have no other transport. That makes five and a half a piece. Our youngest son who lives at home also has several bikes (I haven’t dared count them), mostly mountain bikes, plus several more in various stages of renovation including at least one road bike.
The bad news is that many of these are actually overwintering in our conservatory as they are probably better protected from the cold and damp, with the bonus that they are ready to hand when required. It does mean we can’t use the conservatory, but then it is a bit cold out there right now. At least most of the mountain bikes are down the garden in the shed.
Thinking about owning all these bikes it does beggar the question – why do we need so many? Well, you know the answer to that already, we have discussed it before (read about it here) – you need N+1, where N is the number you already have.
12 Dec 2016 6 Comments
I have been suffering with Sciatica for the best part of three months. Now I’m not one to complain about aches and pains, I usually suffer in silence and if anyone asks I say I’m fine.
I was never molly-coddled growing up; all the childhood minor ailments, knocks and bruises were greeted with “You’re full of aches and pains nobody ever died of.” Only if I was really ill or injured was there any sympathy. Minor problems were treated at home, we only had the doctor if it was something more serious. My mother hardly ever took to her bed, if she did we knew she really was unwell. I don’t easily take to my bed either. As a mother you haven’t time to be ill. Who would get the children up, washed, dressed, breakfasted and off to school if you don’t? Who would do the shopping, washing, ironing, housework, cooking if you don’t? Sitting at the doctor’s surgery waiting to be seen is such a waste of time that could be spent more profitably doing something else. All this means I have little sympathy for those who wallow in self-pity and take to their beds at the first sign of a sniffle declaring dramatically that they have The Flue or dash to the doctors with every big toe ache. If you have a real problem I’ll be there for you but don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.
I’m loath to admit that I have Sciatica, as far as I am concerned it is a just nuisance. Anyway only old people get Sciatica don’t they? and, just as I refuse to be ill, I refuse to be old – I’m not going to be old until I’m really old, whenever that may be. I will not give in to it. I will not limp. I walk as tall and briskly as usual as I go about my business doing my best to ignore the constant ache. Sometimes it is worse than others: sometimes I’m just aware of it in the background, but at other times it is a more persistent and painful ache across the small of my back, down my left hip, buttock and thigh, with pins-and-needles in my lower leg and foot. Then I can’t get comfortable sitting, standing, walking around, even lying in bed. Though it is often okay first thing in the morning it soon kicks in again and it is finally wearing me down. I don’t do pain-killers, they only mask the pain not cure it and I want to know if it is there or not. I want it to go away, permanently.
Two things give some relief. One is having a shower, ironic since it was getting into the shower that I had the first twinge of pain in my sciatic nerve. I allow the warm water to play over the effected areas for a couple of minutes and find that I then get a few hours relief before it kicks in again.
The other thing that helps (you knew I would get round to it eventually) is riding my bike! Whilst I am cycling along there is no pain, no ache, no nothing – all is well, and what’s more the effect lasts for several hours after I get off the bike. But eventually the nagging ache kicks in once more.
Sitting in front of the computer doesn’t help. Maybe I should turn it off now and go for a bike ride. Oh dear, no chance of that; it’s my writer’s group meeting tonight and I have yet to do any writing for it, so it looks like being another day in front of the computer.
05 Dec 2016 6 Comments
Okay, so this is not quite as the title suggests. We have just returned from almost six weeks of touring through France and Spain but I have to admit that we weren’t actually touring on the tandem – we were in our motorhome with the tandem on the back so that we could go off for rides on it at various locations along the way.
One of the drawbacks with a motorhome is that you have no alternative transport and if you want to go anywhere you either have to drag the lumbering thing with you, use public transport or take a bike. (Some people actually tow a small car but one of the reasons we swapped our caravan for a motorhome was in order to avoid towing.) So we decided it might be fun to take the tandem.
The first tandem excursion was a couple of days after we had arrived in France on the overnight ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe. We had stopped at an Aires in the village of Montville just north of Rouen. The plan was that we would cycle into Rouen and visit the cathedral. Hubby reckoned this would be a round trip of about 12 or maybe 13 miles. In the event it was more like 25 or 26 miles, was extremely hilly, alternately cold then hot then cold and took considerably longer to get to Rouen than we had envisaged, giving us only about an hour in the town before our return trip. I have to say I wasn’t overly impressed with the cathedral but have since learned that there are two in Rouen and I think we went to ‘the wrong one’. Maybe next time!
We then spent a few days with some friends who run a B&B near Alencon before moving on south so it was about four days before we got on the bike again. This time we were at an Aires called La Petite Gare at Uzerche, an old railway station. The track has been removed to create a public amenity and cycle path. It was a lovely gentle and flat ride! It was hot and we were in shorts and t-shirts. This was to be our last ride for a while as we wended our way via a visit of several days with my cousin near Toulouse and a few other overnight stops plus two days at Carcassonne – lovely medieval city, could have done with longer here – until we arrived at our daughter’s some 45 mins drive inland from Tarragona in Catalunia, Spain.
We stayed here for about a week and as we had no intention of driving the motorhome up and down their lumpy, bumpy, rocky, narrow track on a regular basis the tandem was our transport of choice. On it we made trips into the local village and to the nearest town, Mora D’Ebre. I have to say it was colder here than I had expected and we were glad we had packed some warm cycling gear. On one ride we nearly ran over a large snake that was thrashing about in the middle of the road. I wondered if it had been knocked by a tractor that went down the road ahead of us. When we returned down the road a short while later it had gone so can’t have been badly hurt.
Then we discovered that we had six broken spokes in the back wheel! Why the wheel didn’t collapse we will never know. We tried to get some replacement spokes from our daughter’s favourite bike shop but they didn’t have the correct size. It was a few days before we managed to get any and by then we had moved on to a campsite near Peniscola, north of Valencia. We bought ten spokes so we had four spare. A few days later we broke another and this was to be the pattern for the next several days. We bought another six spokes in Oliva, just south of Valencia, when we only had one spare one left. The next day another broke. My husband had not been convinced when we bought it that the tandem had its original wheels and when the chap from the bike shop in Oliva looked at the wheel he said the spokes were not of good enough quality. Now we had replaced all the ‘inside’ spokes in the back wheel with stronger ones and checked their tension. Fortunately we had no further trouble.
The bike next came out in San Sebastian after a horrendous drive over the mountains from Pamplona in the snow! (After two days of almost continuous heavy rain) This is not what we went to Spain for. Once the snow and rain had stopped we had a gloriously sunny day, though cold, and rode the tandem through the town and along the sea front. What a lovely place – though riding a tandem through town with all the roadside furniture and pedestrians drifting around over the cycle track does not make for easy riding. Maybe we would have been better with solo bikes! Every time the pilot slowed down without warning it jolted through my body as I tried to peddle against sudden resistance, being unable to see ahead too well to anticipate!
Our last tandem ride of the trip was around the old city at La Rochelle, France, again a very interesting place. There had been a marathon earlier in the day and although the event had finished when we got the bike out the place was still heaving and again a tandem was not really the ideal bike for the stop/go conditions. After that it was back to our friends near Alencon before returning to the UK, it was pretty cold and frosty so the bike stayed on the back of the motorhome.
It was great fun to have the tandem with us but in retrospect taking the solo mountain bikes might have been a better idea – easier to get around towns and less likely to break spokes out in the rough countryside.
Now the tandem needs a thorough overhaul – especially the back wheel! Will we use it again over the winter? I don’t know but if we do I’ll be sure to tell you all about it.
01 Aug 2016 12 Comments
Are you a cyclist or a bike rider?
I ask this question because my Dad, a keen cyclist in his youth, made a clear distinction between the two. Simply put, a cyclist is one who rides for sport, probably covers long distances at speed and takes his cycling seriously, whereas a bike rider is someone who rides a bike from time to time more as a leisurely means of transport.
Before he married my mother Dad used to go touring on his road-racing bike for his summer holidays, stopping overnight at youth hostels, sometimes on his own and sometimes with a friend. As a small child I remember that he would cycle quite a long way to work and back before graduating, via motor-cycles, to cars.
My mother also rode a bike but by Dad’s definition she was a bike rider. She used a ‘sit-up-and-beg’ ladies cycle with a wicker basket on the front to go shopping or visiting friends. My sister and I always had bikes, again ‘sit-up-and-beg’ types with which we used to sometimes accompany Mum, occasionally to ride to school or visit our own friends. Often in the summer holidays a bunch of us would take a packed lunch and a bottle of lemonade and go out for the day on our bikes, riding round the lanes – it was safe to do so in those days. Never at any time would I, according to my Dad’s criteria, have been considered a cyclist, merely a bike rider.
My husband was also a keen cyclist in his younger days, riding out regularly with his cycling club. We have always had bikes and sometimes rode out as a family once our eldest son could ride on his own. I had a kiddie seat on the back of my bike for our youngest son and our daughter rode on a seat on my husband’s crossbar. I admit I did find this a struggle with the extra weight behind, especially uphill (I have never been very good at riding uphill even without a passenger!). In more recent years neither of us have done a great deal of cycling and the bikes have been largely confined to the shed, although we do have folding bikes on board our cruising yacht which have proved useful when going ashore to buy stores etc.
As they got older all three children have become keen cyclists, indulging in mountain biking, time trials, triathlon and general road riding with some success. My husband too has returned to cycling, mainly because he has trouble with his knees and can’t walk very far or very fast these days – but he can ride a bike. All of them my Dad would class as cyclists.
As for me, I actually enjoy walking but it is a bit boring on your own so, if you can’t beat them join them, I have now taken to riding a bike more often though as far as my Dad is concerned he would probably still only consider me to be a bike rider – I still do not have the stamina to do more than 10-15 miles and I still struggle uphill; but I’m working on it. Maybe I will eventually turn out to be a cyclist after all!
The illustrations accompanying this post are courtesy of Google Free Clip Art.
29 Jul 2016 2 Comments
This one is specially for the feminists among you! :
“The bicycle is just as good company as most husbands and, when it gets old and shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community.”
Ann Strong, Minneapolis Tribune 1895