29 November 2009

November in a nutshell...

It doesn’t take much to work out that things have been very quiet here for the past month - no news means no blogs. But, as the end of yet another month is just around the corner I guess I should make a bit of an effort to keep the page up to date. So, here goes...

Lynda and I were both off work for the first week of November and, although we didn’t have too much planned, the poor weather meant we spent much of the time indoors. Monday was spent over in Nottingham walking around the shops. I can’t really say we went shopping, as the only things we purchased were chocolates! Admittedly it was very nice (and slightly expensive) chocolate but that was the sum total of our purchasing! Hotel Chocolat does, however, come highly recommended in this house!

Nottingham Council House.

Nottingham Market Square.

Whilst in Nottingham I managed to get my cycling fix by spending a little time looking around the Evans Cycles shop. Somehow I got out of the store without spending money, a rare event indeed these days! We would have looked around Nottingham Castle too, if it had not been closed. I guess Monday would be a good day to try and storm the castle if the need arose - nobody would be home!

Robin Hood - the only one left at the castle!

Whilst on our way back to the train station we passed Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, England’s oldest inn. I’d have loved to have stopped off here for a pint or two but as time was running short we had to make do with a quick photo of the outside. At least I now have a reason to go back to Nottingham.

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem.

The rest of the week was spent relaxing at home and eating out at lunch times. We visited three different pubs for lunch; The Bonnie Prince at Chellaston on Tuesday, The Dog and Duck at Shardlow on Thursday and The Newdigate Arms at West Hallam on the Friday. Wednesday was a healthy day - we stayed out of the pub and went for a walk around Elvaston Castle instead! After all the recent rain I had hoped to be able to photograph lots of different fungi but there was very little showing. We did manage to stay dry for the whole of the walk so that was something at least.

Elvaston Castle.

Much of November has provided a feeling of déjà vu on most days - I’ve ridden the bike to work, often in the rain, and almost always on wet roads. I’ve ridden home again in the dark and often in the rain or on wet roads. I’ve also picked up yet more punctures, two in the space of four days! The first left me pushing the bike the last half a mile home, the second was a slow puncture that saw me ride home, in the pouring rain, at near record speed so that I could get back before the tyre deflated fully. The rain was falling so heavily on that occasion that the air leaking from the tyre was actually blowing bubbles in the water! The bike was thrown in the back of the garage in disgust that evening and I didn’t go near it for another two days. Despite the weather, and also my bike, I have managed to keep adding a few miles to my total each day and have now covered a total of 3,331 miles this year.

That just about brings things up to date other than a few photos taken yesterday at the latest round of the Notts & Derby Cyclo-cross League. The racing took place at Sinfin Moor Park, which is just a short cycle ride of around 3 miles from home. Even after all the rain we’ve had in the past few weeks the course looked to have stood up to it very well and, from my view as a spectator, rode pretty fast. In true cyclo-cross style there was a fair amount of mud around but it tended to be the sort of stuff that didn’t clog up the bikes to any great extent. I’m still waiting for the official results to be posted on the league website but I’m pretty sure that Geoff Giddings, of the Raleigh Avanti team, managed to snatch victory on the line after a very fast sprint finish that saw the first two riders cross the line almost as one.

The charge away from the start line.

Steady on the down hill.

"Scream if you want to go faster!" But maybe take your road reflectors off!

Working together.

Team Raleigh on a charge!

The 1, 2 and nearly 3.

01 November 2009

Just bikes...

One way or another, cycling is slowly taking up more and more of my time. If I’m not riding one of my bikes I’m fixing or cleaning them. If it’s not my bikes then I’m out watching someone else. If I have to stay at home, I try and find cycling to watch on the TV! I think I may be getting the bug!

A couple of weeks ago Lynda and I went to the Moorways Sports Centre, which is just a short walk away, for the National Trophy Cyclo-cross racing. Riders from all over the UK took part in the day's racing as well as riders from Germany, Belgium and, I think, France. The weather wasn’t great but at least the light rain that fell for a time added to the excitement - if you were watching and not riding that is! The sharp, off-camber downhill turns caught many of the riders out and resulted in some rather impressive face plants. Luckily, everyone got straight back on their bikes and carried on as if nothing had happened.

This was only the second cyclo-cross event that I had been to, and the first big event, but I’m hooked. I already have other events pencilled in the diary that I’d like to attend. If anyone out there fancies sponsoring a total novice to the sum of around £3000 I’d be happy to take your money and spend it on the equipment needed for me to have a go!

And that was just the warm up!

The sprint away from the start line.

The transition from grass to tarmac.

The climb out of the sports arena.

Over the planks.

L to R... 3rd Jan van Dael. 1st Johannes Sickmueller. 2nd Paul Oldham.

My own cycling has been ticking along nicely each week and I’ve covered a total of 3,120 miles since the start of the year. Now my goal is to reach 3,500 miles this year - 1,000 more that I had initially hoped for. October was my best month of the year so far with just over 412 miles ridden. I also managed my longest single ride so far last month, a 70-mile hack around South Derbyshire! The ride should have been a 55 miler but I got carried away and just kept on adding extra bits to the pre-planned route I had in mind. In the end, the only reason I returned home when I did was because I knew that there was a roast dinner waiting for me! There was no way I was going to risk a burnt, or worse still, no dinner!

The past week has seen the run of warm, dry weather come to an end and I’ve had to contend with a number of wet rides to and from work. The Cannondale is now tucked away in the back of the garage and will be staying there until I can be sure that it’s not going to get a soaking on wet roads. If that’s not a good enough excuse then how about “I can’t ride it because it has no lights”?

Lynda and I are now off work for a week so I’ll start November with little or no cycling. I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed that I can make up the mileage later in the month and hope I don’t have too many pub lunches over the next few days! Yeah, like that is going to stop me!