Just a shade under 50 miles at an average speed of a just over 18mph. Given that the ‘C’ group pace is supposed to be about 15/16mph average I guess you could say it was a bit over the top. I will forgive Dave for leading at such a pace today as there was a second, slower contingent of the C group. Within the group it was like riding a road race, you had to sprint out of the corners each time just to keep in touch. However I am not sure I can forgive him for adding the little diversion just before we got to Waddesdon which seemed to be solely for the purpose of including a stiff little climb!
The tea/coffee/cake stop was at the garden centre within the grounds of Waddesdon Manor, another National Trust property and formerly one of the homes of the Rothschild family. Not a bad little country pad I guess. I dined well on a substantial slab of muesli cake and a cup of black coffee to set me up for the return trip.
Waddesdon manor facade. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have been there by car quite a few times to visit the house but this was my first visit by bike. We usually go around Christmas time to visit the house, the interior is then decorated out in very traditional style and it is very ‘Christmassy’. It kind of gets you in the mood for Christmas
It was a thirty mile route to get there and twenty miles back. When we started to get towards ‘home’ some of the original thirty or so riders dropped off to head towards the southern side of Milton Keynes whereas the main group continued on our way to the start point of the ride at Stony Stratford. It did get quite hectic for the last seven or eight miles before the finish and the lead group had whittled down to about four of us. I thought it would be easier for me to sit in with them than to ease off and pedal back on my own in between the surviving groups of riders. Anyway, we were nearly done by then and I didn’t have to save anything for later!
I woke this morning with two of my favourite Randy Newman songs in my head, “I Think Its Going To Rain Today” and “Rider In The Rain”.
I pretty much knew it was going to rain today anyway because it was forecast. Not only was there was an over 90% chance of rain until this afternoon but also 23mph winds. However as I was the nominated ride leader for today I had to make the effort. Today also marked the occasion of my last appearance as ride leader for Team MK as I had mentioned in a post here a few weeks ago after my 70th birthday. It was just after another Team MK ride lead weather based debacle as it happens.
I duly set off at 8:30 for the ride to the rendezvous point at Stony Stratford. It was twelve miles of headwind pretty much all the way. It was like riding a twelve mile climb. The rain was quite light at the time I left but increased steadily all the way. The song “Rider In The Rain” was running through my head a lot of the time as I recall when I wasn’t calling myself all the names under the sun. Coincidentally the first few words of the YouTube clip above I found strangely appropriate. Another coincidence was that we watched a film last night and at one point Randy Newman was to be heard in the background singing “I think Its Going To Rain Today”.
On arrival at Cofferidge Close, Stony Stratford at about 9:20am there were only a couple of other riders there in total for all four ride groups (ABC&D). Only one of which was from ‘my ‘C’ group which on a ‘normal’ Saturday could be around thirty riders . Another arrived at 8:25 and it looked like just us three and we decided to call it a day. We would just make do with the ride there and back, which in my case was 24 miles anyway. By 8:30 another four appeared but our mind was made up and so was theirs, by us ! We then split up into two groups of four to go our various ways home. Those that were heading east being us and those who were heading south and west.
Click On The Image For Ride Stats
Out of interest, If you click on the Garmin link above you will actually see on the graph the noticeable difference in my heart rate between going out and coming back. By the time I got home my hands were frozen and I could hardly undo my jacket to get at the door key. Wouldn’t you know too that as I sit here typing now the sun is shining outside, I’m sure its still cold though.
I am going to kick back and relax a bit now, before the stress of watching England v Wales in the climax of the Rugby Six Nations Tournament and also waiting for Watford Football Clubs result to come in..
Having missed out on my scheduled Tuesday ride this week I was back on schedule with a ride today. The old favourite Ouse Valley ride but this time the other way around. It wasn’t the ideal way round so far as the wind was concerned but it was good to get a different perspective on the ride. I think its a bit tougher this way around as most of the climbs, such as they are, are in the first half.
Click on map for detailed ride info..
The ‘other riders on the road’ count today was three which is a slight increase over recent rides. After missing last Saturdays ride and also Tuesdays, not to mention quite a few more during the month there was no way I was going to achieve my 400 mile target for the month. March starts tomorrow and hopefully after the signs today Spring just might be on its way and I can make the target this time..
Today also marked a slight reduction in winter clothing worn. I didn’t wear my full winter overshoes today. Instead I just wore some toe covers. These just cover the ventilation part at the front of the shoes. They were very effective but then it was a lot warmer today.. a ‘scorching’ 7c average.
One thing I did notice whilst pedalling was that I had them on the wrong feet (see photo) to how they were probably designed to be worn. Not from any effectiveness point of view but probably from the view of Mr Castelli.
I expect ‘He’ and his directors and shareholders would have preferred the writing to have been on the outside of my feet and on display more. To be more easily visible to spectators along the route !!!
Should they complain my answer to them would be that I paid for them, they were not a gift from them and by wearing them I was actually advertising their product at my expense. However this is the case with a lot products, not only cycling. We the buyers become advertising boards for the makers. Its long been my theory that if you buy something with a makers name on it you should actually get it cheaper. Not as seems to be the case that you actually pay more for something with a brand name prominently displayed on it.
I decided to call the club ride off that I was due to lead today.. Its been very very cold here the last few days and last night I looked at the weather forecast for the local area and it was forecasting a temperature of -1c at 8am and a ‘feels like’ temperature of -4c with snow flurries up until at least 11am
I posted a message on the club Forum last night saying that it was likely to be called off with an update due this morning. When I looked out of the window at 7:30am there were snow flurries in the air and the thermometer outside showed -1c so I decided to call the ride off.
I am sure some will still go and do a ride, probably the ones who dont read the club forum? As appointed leader I didn’t want to be responsible for any mishaps. When its cold and your hands are cold its not so easy to control the bike and also your body doesn’t get properly warmed up, especially your legs.
I did a 50 mile ride, non stop, in the week when the temperature was ‘warmer’ +2c (Feels like -3c temperature) most of the way and I was riding harder and faster than the club ride would be with its multiple stops and slowing down. It was also over a hillier circuit and I never warmed up at all. I got cold right through and it took me about three hours after I returned home for my core to feel warm again. With a consistently harder riding group like the A’s and B’s I expect it would be fine but in the C Group there are multiple abilities and you cant please all the people all the time.
As I write this at 10:30 the snow hasn’t really materialised yet but is very cold still, it hasn’t warmed up at all. I feel kind of guilty of being a wimp but I think I made the right decision. I am sure there will be those who disagree but they wouldn’t have the responsibility. Its a free country and the roads aren’t closed so those who feel up for it are welcome to ride..
Anyway, I get another go in a 3 weeks time, March 16th, hopefully the weather will have improved by then.. !! Shorts and short sleeves to Marston Moretaine and sitting outside in the sunshine with a cake and a ‘cuppa’ !
That will be my last ride as leader as I have told Phil that I think 70 years old is a suitable landmark age to step down from ride leadership and make way for all those eager and willing young things who are just longing to step up to the mark and volunteer to be a ride leader !! The new rota starts in April so anyone from Team MK reading this hurry up and get in touch with Phil Balding to get your name down on the list to avoid disappointment !!
Only my second team MK ride of the year today, such has been the weather so far in 2013.
I was fairly soon regretting my ride yesterday afternoon that was going to be a gentle affair just to ‘get some miles in’ but turned out to be far from it. I blame the Garmin, I could see I was doing better than Wednesday and wanted to see how much better.. wrong !!!
There were about thirty of us at the outset so the group was split in two. Given my recent history I opted for the slower half. However I don’t know how wise that was as our half went a different route to the usual one which is quite flat and slightly undulating at most. This was much hillier but I survived so I guess its done me some good.
Todays ride was to Turweston Aerodrome, an old World War 2 Airfield. Its one of my least favourite places to go, mainly because of the access road to the cafe area. Its about a mile long and consists of slabs of concrete, probably laid to create a road of sorts in the second world war and has received little or no attention since. Every join between slabs is degraded and parts are broken off, there are numerous cracks that have developed into major hazards. Patching work has only made it worse, more cracks. If you are riding a bike with lightweight wheels its a case of having to try and pick the smoothest route, but there is no smooth route.
Once you reach the cafe and plane parking area its OK again.. and in summer its nice to sit outside and watch activities with the light planes coming and going. Today though it was a case of getting inside the cafe in the warm.
Whilst sitting there I spotted a biplane taxiing toward the take off area so I hurriedly grabbed my phone and made for the door to take a photo. I omitted to also grab my glasses so I was fortunate to get the picture that I did. I am not sure if it is a really old plane or a reproduction one but it looked good. Obviously of German origin by the markings or maybe just part of an air display team maybe?
The return was more direct and much shorter. We suffered one puncture in the group so we had a pause while it was repaired and we were soon back on our way again.
As usual things speeded up towards the end and group was split up into several parts. Next week its my turn to lead the group to Carlton.
This morning was my first hard ride this year on my usual thirty mile route up and down ‘my’ part of the Ouse valley. After a few rides getting some basic miles I decided I would put some pressure on myself this morning. I did the lap six minutes faster than my best time this year and eleven minutes faster than Mondays ride with gale force winds. Not the fastest I have done it ever but given the staccato start to this years riding not bad I thought.
It was a good day for it, sunshine and only about a 10mph wind. Cold enough, about 4c, to want to ride hard to keep warm. I am getting the habit of the photo taking too.
This is Tyringham House with its deer park near to Newport Pagnell. I couldn’t see any deer today though, maybe they are on holiday or at the butchers ??
I also managed to get the photo of the damaged dry stone wall that I couldn’t take the other day due to a flat battery on my iPhone.
This could be of use to anybody interested in dry stone wall construction? I am not sure how many cycling dry stone wallers there might be out there but you just never know!
It was a chilly ride this morning thats for sure.. I was definitely under dressed for the occasion. I should have worn my thicker top.. during my ride it dropped down to 2c and stayed there until I got back close to Olney where it rocketed up to 3C !!
Loop ride based on Maulden, Bedfordshire. (Click the map for full ride data and larger image)
It started out as a planned 50 mile ride but a combination of the cold and remembering that the last time I did this ride just before Christmas there was some major drainage works going on near to Haynes that forced me into ‘cycle cross’ mode through some mud. I didn’t want all that bother again so took an alternative route to avoid it. It was shorter on miles by about 5 but not on climbing. The repairs carried out to the rear wheel seemed to stand up well, especially given the state of some of our rural roads at the moment. (Some of the major roads aren’t so hot at the moment either come to that ! )
My mileage is above the schedule for 400 miles this month. I am at 38% so far so may need to adjust the target later but I’ll wait and how the weather adjusts itself first. It looks like we may be in for a cold spell and some snow at the weekend is a possibility apparently.
Talking of being above schedule my blog viewing figures have inexplicably rocketed suddenly over the last few days.. from around the regular 25 – 30 views a day it jumped on successive days from 90 to almost 200 and yesterday was 514 ! I don’t know whats going but I am not complaining, just curious as to what might have caused it. However I would like to welcome all the extra viewers and hope they hang around for when the season really gets going. Meanwhile, as always, all comments and suggestions are welcome.
Last Saturdays Team MK ride went unexpectedly well for me. I was very apprehensive about pace and distance after such a long lay-off. I thought I had lost more form than I appear to actually have. I started off in the middle of the group of 27 riders and kind stayed around that area as much as I could for a while sometimes in the first few miles I found myself dangerously near the front but using my wiles I dropped back each time that occurred. After about 10 miles i saw our ride leader Alun was riding alone at the front, nobody was moving up to fill the space so in a rash moment I rode up the outside and joined him on the front and we set a steady pace and chatted away and I felt quite comfortable actually. After that I pretty much stayed at or very near the front all the way to Jenny Wrens cafe at Winslow which we reached after about 32 miles.
After a cup of coffee, a toasted tea cake and some pleasant chat it was time to move off again for the final 12 miles back to Stony Stratford and my car. I found myself in a group of about about 12 riders as we had combined with another group of Team MK riders at the cafe and some of ‘my’ group were still there I think but I was keen to get back so i went with these faster riders but once again I lasted the pace so all seems fairly well in the fitness department considering the lay of but plenty of room for improvement yet.
On Monday I went for a solo ride around one of my well ridden routes. I have every intention of riding the 30 mile plus version of it at the outset but after a mile or so I became aware of a noise from my rear wheel and I suspected wheel bearings, probably a result of the rain and grit washed onto the roads over the last few weeks. I was then thinking I would take the opportunity to turn off my planned route at Emberton and revert to the 20 mile version so I could get back before too much damage was done. However by the time I reached that point the noise seemed to have ceased so i reverted to plane A and completed the 30 miles.
On inspection today I found that a clean out of the bearings and re-greasing and replacing was all that was required so it was duly carried out and all ready for a ride tomorrow hopefully.
I see that Lance Armstrong is not going away and is booked to appear on the Oprah Winfrey show in the near future. I just hope that he is going to confess his sins and let that be an end to the matter so that cycling can get on with wiping away talk of his misdemeanours from the headlines. What he did is all history now and it should be allowed to go away but I have feeling he is not going to admit anything. This is mainly because it will cost him a lot of money in repaying people who he sued when they previously accused him of drug taking and have now been proved right. I think it will be a tale of self pity and trying to paint himself as a victim in all this rather than the admission thats required to allow cycling to carry on with its post drug taking era.
I continue to see more and more riders about on the roads on my rides, and not only weekday rides, even in the week I see plenty of people around country roads on their bikes. Far more than I ever saw even a couple of years ago. I think its the Mark Cavendish, then Bradley Wiggins effect making people realise what a good sport and healthy activity cycling can be. I think its those riders and their successes on the roads and subsequent positive publicity that led to them being elected sports personalities in successive years and therefore coming to the forefront in the publics eyes. There is a lot of good stuff going on in cycling in the UK at the moment and I just hope any negative vibesfrom Mr L A’s affairs doesn’t detract from that success.
Advice, Encouragement, tips and updates on all I know and believe. Creative Writer, Philanthropist, Website Consultant, and Independent Recording Artist . I have a need to learn as much about the world as possible.