Archive for April, 2017

Children Cycling Adventures

A recent family holiday to Devon meant we had easy access to the excellent Tarka Tail. For the first time, the kids were really into the cycling.

First we did a couple of full family rides where the 5 year old gave a good account of himself. I had had the genius idea of giving him the Garmin and he greatly enjoyed calling out the distance, which, being km, built nice and quickly. The plan was to go from Great Torrington to Bideford, however, he wanted to go on to make 10k, so that we’d have 20k total:

He also did an excellent grind back up the 3% “Tunnel Hill” with his mum. A great stoic expression.

The next day we took the path the other way to the excellent Yarde Orchard cafe. The path this way is much rougher with a big climb:

The little one was not impressed by the very slow building of the km, but he made it and the descent meant the return journey was less than half the time.

Having met some older kids at the holiday cottages, the big one fancied a crack at Torrington to Barnstable. I warned him it’d take a long time, but he was still game. The first 10k he went like the clappers, then the stopping started to creep in. We stopped for lunch past Instow. I was expecting that he’d want to turn back after lunch, but the sandwiches (and cookies) evidently revived him and we pressed on to Barnstable. We made it and I took the lead on the way back so that the boy could take my wheel. This meant far fewer stops and we completed the 45km in just under 5 hours:

Most importantly, he learned to eat ice creme like a true Audaxer:

The evidently gave him some energy, because we flew up the “Tunnel Hill” and he said “was that it?” at the top!


Bad Start to 2017 Cycling

It all seems to have gone wrong at once cycling wise for the first quarter of 2017.

Firstly, there was a spate of punctures. I averaged about one inner tube change every 3 days after managing 2016 with none! In retrospect, I think the rear tyre had worn out as, having changed it, I’ve had no more trouble.

Then there was a strange disc brake malfunction, where the caliper got tangled in the rotor. Not a big deal to fix (new caliper), but a terrible noise on the way into work.

There was also another disc brake problem where the calipers started rubbing on the rotor whatever the adjustment. I called East Street Cycles to boot it in for a look, but the mechanic explained how to correct the problem, so another job done.

In the middle of this, one icy day, I took the old mountain bike to work with ice tyres. Exactly half way through the journey, the chain snapped! I carry spare chain links, but that’s for my normal 10 speed, not the 7 speed on the MTB. Also in retrospect, I think I should have just thrown one of the 10 speed ones in hand hoped for the best, but I thought scooting wouldn’t be too bad. It wasn’t apart from one piece of road (A325 from Farnborough to Frimley) where there was no real pavement.

Having got through all these mechanicals, I was ready for abit of un-troubled cycling. Then without warning something happened in my back. There wasn’t a great deal of pain, but my left leg started spasming like it did in 2015. Unlike in 2015 however, I then lost power and feeling in my left knee. It was a very strange sensation not being able to push my leg downwards. More worryingly, visiting the GP, they told me that because of the lack of pain, it probably meant it wasn’t a trapped nerve, but nerve damage and might well not get better! Not being able to run, cycle or walk up stairs at 37 would be no joke.

Fortunately, the power has been returning slowly. It seems that gentle bike riding loosens up the muscles and helps a little, so I’ve embarked on my own cycle based physiotherapy regimen. Touch wood the improvements will continue. The commute to work today was almost back to normal, so I’m hopeful, though I don’t think I’ll be doing anything “epic” for a while.