N+1…or 2

I have written before about N+1 in the context of bicycles, where N is the number you already have and you are asked how many you need, so now I have a confession (or 2) to make. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about our participation at the Eroica Britannia (here), what I didn’t mention is that we bought a bike. There were several trade stands at the Eroica, selling bike parts as well as ‘vintage’ (i.e. Eroica suitable) bikes.

One particular stall, which we visited on the Saturday and which also hired out bikes for the event, had for sale a Claude Butler Mixte bike. For those who may not know what it is, a Mixte (pronounced Mix-tee) is a sort of cross between a ladies step-through bike and a man’s crossbar bike, they have a downward sloping pair of thinner tubes rather than one thicker tube, which gives strength to a lighter weight bike. Often considered a ladies bike they are really unisex and multi-purpose. We were rather taken with said bike, which was in excellent condition for its age and my husband offered to buy it as it wasn’t very expensive. I was tempted but eventually said that I didn’t really need it so why buy it? However, overnight I thought about it and decided that it would be useful to me as a winter bike and for some minor off-roading as the tyres were fatter and more ‘grippy’ than the skinny tyres of my race bikes. So first thing Sunday morning, before our Eroica Classic ride we went back to buy it – it had been sold!

Henry Burton Salmon MixteThe stall owner showed us another bike he had, a salmon-coloured Henry Burton Mixte. Now Henry Burton bikes were made in Stafford not far from where we live, (the shop is still there but they no longer make their own bikes); indeed the bike I was riding for the Eroica was a hand-made Henry Burton bike. He suggested we thought about it on the ride (we needed to get to the start). While we were out I saw a girl riding the bike having hired it for the event and I spent a little time talking to her about it. To cut a long story short we bought it. Then we had the problem of getting it home as we already had two bikes and our bike rack couldn’t take any more. Fortunately the seller’s business premises were only about half-an-hour’s drive from where we live so we arranged to collect it from him once back home.

We collected it on Tuesday afternoon and not being one to hang about my husband began fiddling with it straight away. On Wednesday morning he went to our local bike charity shop ‘Back to Bikes’ in Stafford to find some bits for the bike. What did he see there but another similar Henry Burton Mixte, this time in a sort of aqua-cum-pale green, which had only just come in and not yet been through the workshop. It is built to a higher specification than the salmon one, having amongst other things 18 gears as opposed to the 10 of the salmon one, and was cheap – half the price! So he had to buy it didn’t he? After all he is quite capable of doing the necessary refurbishment himself. I came home from my visit to the local supermarket to find him fiddling with a bike I had not seen before. His suggestion was that he did them both up and then I could decide which I wanted to keep and we would sell the other.

Henry Burton Green MixteHaving done some minor work on the second one he decided to try it up the road to see if it was okay. Fatal! He came back saying that he thought he might keep it for himself, for the same reason as me – it might be useful for ‘roads, tracks and trails’ riding such as we did at the York Rally last week.

So there you are, we now have N+2 and we hope to try them out on the Tissington and High Peaks trails next week – providing he has fitted my new chain and got the gears working properly. I’ll let you know.

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York Cycle Rally

York Rally Badge 2018

I arrived home yesterday from my second consecutive weekend away at a cycling event. This time the York Rally, based at the racecourse in York. We just took the tandem to this event and we were surprised at just how many tandems were there. In fact there were bicycles off all sorts: tricycles, tandem tricycles, recumbent bikes – you name it and it was there.

What a wonderful weekend! More low-key than the Eroica Britannia last weekend, this was very much a leisurely family affair. There was so much going on it was difficult decide what to do.

There were various rides to go on from Friday evening pub rides to rides out of differing duration to visit interesting locations on both Saturday and Sunday. These often overlapped so some serious prioritising was necessary. Not being ones to frequent pubs very often we passed on the Friday evening offerings preferring to get ourselves organised on site and decide on our choices for the next day.

On top of that there was also lots of activities on site so there was no need to go off for a bike ride at all if you didn’t wish. These included trade stands, children’s activities, talks a bike jumble sale (known as the Saddlebag Sale), Grasstrack racing and Cyclo Cross.

Stopping for Lunch

Stopping for lunch at Benningborough

On Saturday we opted for what was described as “a gentle ride along the ‘Way of the Roses’ to the National Trust’s Benningborough  Hall” where we stopped for lunch. This was listed as being 9 miles each way but in fact was slightly more and as we detoured on the way back to shop for a few food items we had forgotten we ended up doing around 27 miles in total, mostly off-road through wonderful scenery.

The ride allowed us to return in time to attend the ‘Bicycle Poetry Workshop’ at 5.00pm led by Bernadette Cullen, a keen cyclist who was also poet in residence at Yorkshire Arboretum. She read some of her own poems and then gave us a few exercises to trigger our imaginations to come up with our own poems. Whilst I managed to write something for each of her prompts I failed miserably in the short time available (the whole workshop was only an hour) to produce anything resembling a logical poem, though there are one or two things in my jottings that I might be able to utilise in the days to come. In the evening we looked in on an excellent live folk music session with a group called The Foresters but it was crowded and hot so we only spent a short while peering in through the doorway.

On Sunday we joined a ride through the Solar System from the Sun to Pluto and back! This was another off-road ride along York’s Solar Cycle Path. Along this route there are models of the planets in the solar system set at the correct (to scale) distances apart as well as more wonderful scenery. When you arrive at Pluto there is even a sign that points to Alpha Centauri stating the appropriate number of light years! If you wished you could then cycle on a few more miles to visit a couple of villages. My husband decided he wanted to get back in case he missed the Saddlebag Sale so we made our own way back – a round trip of about 17.5 miles. Back at the sale he managed to pick up one or two ‘spare parts’ that he was looking for so it was worth the return, but he did miss the Q & A session on ‘Flying Gates and Framebuilding’ (Flying Gates being a rather unusual frame design) he had planned on attending, but as he had spoken to the people on their trade stand on Saturday this didn’t worry him too much. We had also intended to join in the Grand Arena Parade but somehow, through heat induced fatigue we missed that too.

An addition to the scheduled events was the landing of a hot air balloon in the early morning and then two also took off from the site in the evening, creating much interest.

This was a truly enjoyable family event and one we shall ear-mark in the diary for next year. Maybe we will get our eldest son and his family to join us – our grandson would love it.

Eroica Britannia

We have just got back from spending the weekend at the Eroica Britannia held near Buxton in Derbyshire. The three-day event is a celebration of classic bicycles, pre 1987, and all things retro-cycling.

Tandem preparationWe went up to the event on Friday and as it is only about 1.5 – 2 hour drive from home we were there by mid-morning. We chose not to camp at the festival site as we thought this was rather expensive and so were on a quite site up the road a bit (much cheaper). When we first booked a few months ago my husband said it would be 3 miles to the festival site. As the event approached the 3 became 4 miles but in the eventuality it turned out to be 5+ miles with a couple of steep hills to contend with on the way!

Friday was also Day 7 of our ‘7 Days of Cycling’ challenge so we needed to get a ride in.  We had taken our tandem as well as our classic bikes and used this to pedal down to the festival and back in order to register for the Sunday Classic Bike ride. This proved to be quite a tough ride! The photo shows my husband preparing the tandem. We spent a couple of hours having a quick look round before pedalling back. We just got back before it rained.

It rained off and on all night and much of Saturday morning but cleared by late morning so off we went again on the tandem to enjoy the festival. It was a cool day though I soon warmed up on the hilly route down to the festival site. The steep hills on this route were beginning to worry me that I might not manage the classic ride we had signed up for. There were three to choose from: 100 miles, 60 miles and 30 miles. We had registered for the 30 mile ride but even so I was anticipating continuous steep hill climbs and I’m not over fond of hills. Once we were at the festival there was much to see, stalls with bike bits, whole bikes, craft stalls, best in show competitions for bikes, fancy dress etc. and a fun-fair to name but a few. There were so many bikes around and so much going on that I completely forgot to take any photos, I even missed the penny farthings. We returned to the motorhome in the late afternoon and had no sooner got the tandem on its bike rack when it began to rain again.

At the start of the Classic ride

At the start of the Classic ride

Once more it rained intermittently overnight. We had an early start in the morning as we needed to cycle up hill and down dale yet again to get to the event ready for a 9.30 ride start (the longer routes started even earlier). I was having cold feet and finding the route to the festival really tough! Once we were underway however I found the ride, while not easy, not as tough as I had feared, but it was definitely a challenge. I’m pleased to say I wasn’t the only one by a long way that got off and walked up some of the steeper hills, even some of the men got off and walked before I did. There was also far more of the ride on gravelly tracks than we had expected (we knew there would be some) and this makes for some challenging conditions as the tyres slide away from you over the stones. A fair bit of walking was done on these bits too.

Lunch stop

Lunch stop

Half way round there was an extremely well organised lunch stop, complete with an excellent brass band to entertain us and a free packed lunch with loads of water, beer, iced coffee, fruit drinks or whatever you fancied to choose from to drink. At the finish we were greeted with our names announced over loudspeakers to clapping from the spectators and yet more bottles of water to rehydrate us. We got our ‘Road Books’ stamped up, (having collected stamps at the start and the lunch stop) and were also rewarded with a free beer. As I don’t usually drink beer I gave mine to my son on our return home.

This was a very well organised event with a very friendly atmosphere. We did our good turns along the way by lending an Allen Key to one chap to fix his wobbly saddle and a bicycle pump to another chap who needed to mend a puncture and I’m sure many others did similar good turns. It was not an overly warm day and although most people dressed up in era style clothing the effect was slightly lost due to the need to wrap up warm, but there were some in ‘fancy dress’ or tweeds and brogues and ladies in 1920’s style dresses braving the cool weather. We, of course, still had our taxing 5+ miles back to our motorhome to contend with. The rain had managed to stay away during the ride but once more returned just as we were putting the bikes back on the bike rack. We were cold and tired and welcomed a restful evening with the heater on!

This was the first time we have done this event and we thoroughly enjoyed it although we are not at this stage sure if we will do it again. Even my husband found it quite challenging, having to use his angina ‘puffer’ rather more frequently than usual, but it is great to be able to say we did it. Next weekend we are off again on another cycling adventure. This time to the York Rally, a much less taxing event we understand. I’ll let you know how we get on.

 

7 Day Challenge Day 6

Yes, I know this isn’t a normal day for me to post and I am not posting a ‘small stone’ today, I just wanted to update you with Day 6 of the Cycling UK 7 Days of Cycling Challenge.

Setting off alone Day 6

Setting Off Alone Day 6

We are off tomorrow for the weekend at the Eroica Britannia classic bike festival and I will be off-line until our return on Monday. This doesn’t mean we will miss out on our Day 7 ride as we will be riding on our tandem (yes we’re taking that as well as our classic bikes!) from the campsite to the festival and back, probably about 8 miles in all, and we’ll do it again on Saturday. We will then have to do it yet again on Sunday with the classic bikes in order get to the start of our 30 mile ride over the Derbyshire hills and dales; I just won’t be able to report it until next week!

 

Chain Ring Tattoo

Chain Ring Tattoo

Day 6 (today) was simply a chance to spin the pedals round briefly and not miss out a challenge day. Our excuse is that we had a busy day and were short of time. We needed to go to the grocers, pack for the weekend and load up the motorhome. Hubby’s ride was only down to the local Pharmacy and back to pick up his prescription while I went out later on my own, just a jolly round a short local loop. Somehow I seem to have acquired a ‘tattoo’ on the short trip (probably while checking the stats on my bike computer on my return). I did about 3.5 miles, that’s all. We’ll be making up for it with longer rides over the weekend at The Eroica Britannia Festival.

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