Archive for the ‘ Cycling ’ Category

AJoG – Day 1 – Aldershot to Hereford – 198km

My route was adapted from my original LEJoG plan, just in case I changed my mind and wanted to add on the initial stretch. Therefore, my first day ended in Hereford (would have been coming from Tiverton).

I had aimed to leave at 8am, but as I expected faffing with kit and goodbyes meant it was closer to 9am before I set off down the road with the children running after me.

I took it very easy in the sunshine while I settled down with my packing arrangement. Several cereal bars and malt loaves popped out of my handlebar pouch on the first set of bumps I hit. Then after retracing my steps to pick everything up I was behind a couple of cyclists and two cars. The car directly behind the cyclists was being very patient and waiting for a section without road furniture, the second car (BMW) however was not. After swerving around looking for an overtake, they started tooting. If this had been a commute, I would have overtaken him, but this day I was happy enough to simply menace.



All want well until I had just passed under the M4 (leaving “The Shire”), when I noticed that my rear tyre was very soft. I stopped and took the wheel out but couldn’t see any obvious hole. Whether to just pump it up and carry on or make the change? I decided to change inner tube as I was stopped anyway. This flat worried me, because I had switched to lighter, fast rolling tyres for this ride, compared to my commuting tyre and I only had 2 inner tubes. Fortunately this was the only flat I had on the entire trip.


I stopped in Farringdon at a convenient cafe that turned out to be abit too cool for me. Everything was vegan / gluten free etc. The food was tasty, but rather small portions and pricey, while the owner wandered off upstairs to do some mixing of jazz or something.

Clouds gather


The clouds gathered and darkened as I navigated the lumpy lanes towards Gloucester, but fortunately there was no rain, because the descent into Gloucester was terrifyingly fast. I could easily have topped 50mph, but I feathered the brakes, so ended up only just over 40. I had worried about the long drag into Gloucester being very busy, but it turned out to be fine and the centre of Gloucester was quite relaxing, despite being a navigational challenge. On my way into Gloucester, I spotted a Subway, so helped myself to a 12″ sub.

I had sub-consciously got into my head that there wasn’t that much riding after Gloucester (maybe because I was worried about the city traffic), so it came as abit of a shock to first have a long busy B-road, then (after the M50 junction) a quieter, but hilly B-road with a terrible surface. Here was the first real point where my slow speed (compared with a 10 mile commute) and bigger distances out in the country started to hit home. So, it was with some relief that I trundled into the Hereford South Travelloge and had a slap-up meal in the adjoining pub.

I felt prety tired and sore on the hands and the bum, so I was a little concerned that the next day was…


2018 Roudup

Mileage & trip counts:

2016 2017 2018
Miles Count Miles Count Miles Count
Sirrus 24.8 2
Linskey 3793.61 161 2863 149 2647.14 154
Khatmandu 23.43 2
Khatmandu – ice 17.12 1 113.53 7 62.88 4
Raptobike 19.24 1 58.04 2
Vagabond 215.65 14
Other 18.4 2
TOTAL 3848.37 165 3082.8 162 2925.67 172

The mileage drop continues from the highs of 2013 and 2016.

However, the arrival of small devil no3 in January:

meant the whole of February working at home to support the wife. Whether this would have resulted in much more cycling is a moot point as it coincided with the Beast from the East. It also turned out that he was not a “car sleeper”, so someone had to sit in the back to entertain him. Not a good recipe for me doing a long ride to somewhere while the family drove up after.

I found myself lacking motivation to do circular rides from home, so the numbers are made up almost solely from commuting.

On the plus side, the acquisition of the Genesis Vagabond (post to follow) and the discovery of some new routes has made the non race bike days much more enjoyable than using the Khatmandu. This means I’ve not taken the car to work for months.

First big road ride

James made his first successful long road ride.

This took in a very quiet route between Norwich and Plumstead, including the Marriots Way cycle path. We were only passed by about 20 cars in the whole journey.

We had been given warnings that Marriots Way could be muddy and difficult, but the long summer had seen to it that we had no problems.

There was a great deal of talk before the ride from the boy that he was going to sprint the whole way, but in the end the pace was steady, with an increasing number of stops as we got further in (a phenomenon I know well from Audaxes).

Also worth noting that he managed to polish off a whole Kendal mint cake in these stops!

Welsh Cycling – Tywyn Peninsula Loop

A recent holiday in Wales provided the opportunity for some cycling adventures.

First, a ride around the Tywyn peninsula:

Unfortunately, this was on the one day of the holiday where the weather wasn’t great. That did mean I didn’t boil, but the views were not what they could have been.

My original plan was to follow small roads and NCN routes 82 and 8. I had decided to not use the mountain pass of NCN route 82, as some Google maps research showed it looked semi off-road. Instead I took the coastal A road round to Llwyngwril, then up into the mountains on a road that at least the google car had been down. The climb up from Llwyngwril was brutal. I was almost immediately into the red and was desperately trying to recover when the grade was “only” 15%. I did stop and push for a few yards when I felt I was about to explode. Annoyingly the 10m or so took me to the top! If I’d known I could have ridden it.

Once up the hill, the section from Llwyngwril and Dolgellau was very quiet (0 cars) and atmospheric. The views would have been awesome, but for the mist. The surface was not great (muddy / dusty patches which would have been fine in the dry), but that was expected. What I hadn’t known about were the number of gates across the road. I think there were more than 10 in the few miles section and for each one I had to dismount, then re-mount on a steep, slippy section. All this meant I averaged about 10mph without any particularly big climbs. At the top of the pass (while opening a gate), I spotted a cyclist coming up behind me. It tuned out he had been over the mountains on NCN route 82 and indeed, it was not suitable for road bikes! We chatted on the ride down to Dolgellau. Turned out, he was also a fan of titanium bikes (Enigma).

The climb out of Dolgellau while not as steep as the first, was pretty long and at a testing gradient. This was all on a decent road, until I turned off onto a cycle track for a few km to the A487. While most of the path was decent, there were a few hundred metres covered in sheep poo. This was treacherous when wet and got all over my cleats when I had to stop for more gates! The final cattle grid on the cycle path before the A487 was abit broken down and would have been dangerous on a road bike. This was the last straw and when I saw the turn off from the smooth tarmac of the A487 heading up a tiny lane into the hills, I decided to ignore it. It felt like I was way behind schedule (not that bad in reality) and I wanted to get back to enjoy and afternoon with the family. This turned out to be a great decision as the A road was fairly quiet (I got passed by about 20 cars) and I had an awesome descent to the Machynlleth turn off.

The section along the Dyfi estuary wasn’t as smoothly tarmacked, but the views were good.

After that, the Happy Valley was a beautiful climb and descent.

Followed by a mini time trial from Tywyn back to the cottage.

You can tell it’s Wales where a 45 mile ride leaves you completely shattered.

The only thing I would change is perhaps using the A road round the coast all the way from Tywyn to Dolgellau as I think it would actually be more fun as a road cycle.

Road to nowhere?

Last summer, work started on a cycle path between Camberley and Farnborough, which I believe forms part of “Blackwater Valley, Better Connectivity” scheme: BWV_20Better_20Connectvitiy_20Phase_201_20-_20Factbook_20v1

The previous winter, we had witnessed the completion of the “Orange Route” down the A331, with immense traffic disruption, creating an immaculate cycle path from an insanely busy roundabout to a supermarket and a dual carriageway. Great if you want to go shopping from Sandhurst, but not for much else. The “Blue Route” which this work looked like it was starting on makes great sense. There’s no other non-car friendly way between Camberley and Farnborough. Either the A331, with no pavement at all; the A325, with a tiny track on what’s not pavement and Hawley Meadow, which would be a beautiful walk, as long as it hasn’t rained.

Hawley Meadow, which the “Blue Route” traverses has a small track across it. I have cycled it a few times in summer. On a race bike it’s extremely bumpy and I can make about 10mph. Any time outside May – September it’s often covered in brackish “ponds” which I at least can’t get across on a mountain bike or on foot.

So, the sate of the “Blue Route” as it has been for the last 12 months:

The route starts well, Frimley only 2 miles through beautiful countryside, avoiding the horribly busy roads.

Lovely tarmacked surface, nice and wide. I’ll ignore the excavator tracks running across it, as surely it’s a tiny blip.

100m later, turning abit more strada bianchi. Still easily passable s long as you don’t have silly tyres.

100m later it’s turning more technical to go over a bridge.

Then, it’s gone. 1km of singletrack until the Frimley business park.

This is a real shame, because it’s only usable 4 months out of the year and I could really do without battling with cars on the 325 in the pouring rain. Also, the ride across Hawley Meadow, at least on anything other than a suspended MTB is so rough, that you can’t really appreciate the scenery. Once you get to the M3, the path at least has some gravel scattered on top of it, which smoothes it out and stops the water filled ruts. I kind of wish they’d spent their money on making something usable, rather than a pristine path that doesn’t go anywhere.

I have contacted the council several times about if and when any further work might take place, but I’ve never received a response.


2017 Roundup

Mileage & trip counts:

2015 2016 2017
Miles Count Miles Count Miles Count
Sirrus 152.69 4 24.8 2
Linskey 3243.03 158 3793.61 161 2863 149
Khatmandu 40.08 4 23.43 2
Khatmandu – ice 101.61 6 17.12 1 113.53 7
Raptobike 2.86 1 19.24 1 58.04 2
Other 18.4 2
TOTAL 3540.27 173 3848.37 165 3082.8 162

Big drop off in the mileage this year. Partly because I was crippled for 3 months and partly because I had no big goal. You can see that in 2016, 3 rides account for about 800 miles! That tallies with doing a 600 and 400k on top of the usual commuting.

It’s an indication of my long distance cycling progress, that while this wasn’t really a big year for cycling, I “only” did rides to Bristol and Norwich.

Commuting speed, which still means nothing!

Plumstead – Holkham Raid via Strada Bianchi

An energetic morning ride to Holkham Hall.

It started out fairly cold and I was glad for full length gloves. The first half of the ride was into a mild headwind, but I had chosen small roads, so I had alot of shelter.

As well as the visit to Holkham Hall, I had spotted some Norfolkian strada bianchi on Google streetview and thought it’d be interesting to give it a ride.

The strada bianchi was a little muddy and potholed, but easily passable. It would have been better in summer and could be tricky if there had been more rain. There was an interesting climb, where the gravel seemed really slippery and I was struggling for traction despite the hill being only 5% or so.

Holkham Hall was several miles of good quality traffic free roads with quite a few other cyclists and runners out and about.

The coast road back towards Sheringham was quite busy, but I had a lovely tailwind all the way. A highlight was blowing away two competent looking cyclist on fixies on a hill out of Moreston Quay.

The climb up from the coast was very satisfying, as was being able to see familiar landmarks from miles off in the more rolling country near Plumstead.

I’m tarting to enjoy 70km rides very much. They’re a good challenge, but missing out the final 30k of a 100 where I always end up getting bored!

Parting shot of the Wells – Walsingham miniature railway.