Thursday, 28 April 2011

Sponsorship update....

Some more thank you's are in order!...

The audience at The Pokey Hole - Never the Bride gig
Richard, Malcolm and Mark from Fearn's Garage.
Worcester Ventilation, Rowland & Geoff

Thanks a lot everybody!

On the Waterfront....

No, not the famous film starring Marlon Brando, this 'Waterfront' was the destination for our 'pub-run' this week.

Gary and I cycled, as usual, to the start point in Burton on Trent, from there we travelled out via Tatenhill and a few interesting estate tracks to Barton under Needwood. The Waterfront Pub is part of the prestigious Barton Marina development situated on the Trent & Mersey Canal. There's an enticing collection of shops and eateries and lots of canal boats - including one, the book barge, that is actually a floating bookshop.

The Waterfront Pub
The Waterfront Pub has been built in the style of a Victorian canal-side warehouse. It boasts inglenook fireplaces, cosy lounge areas, a selection of real ales (we enjoyed a couple of zesty pale-ales) and a 120 seat restaurant, plus theres a marvellous outdoor seating area overlooking the marina.

There was a good turn out for tonight's ride and the sunny weather made the evening extra enjoyable. My mileage for the evening was 30.5 miles.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Highspeed thanks!.....

A big thank you going out to Highspeed Engineering - -for their donation to the cause!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Big Thank You's....

...Great big 'thank you's' going out to:

Jill & Howard Tasker - who arranged a raffle for us at their recent 25th anniversary event - They raised over £100 - That's great - Many thanks to both of you.

Roy Lilley at Lindum Lofts - - Who has offered sponsorship - Thanks Roy - hope the hangover wasn't too bad!!!

It's Monday....

... April 26th - only 39 days to go before we start the first stage of the trip.

Suddenly time seems to be running out. There's the harsh reality that we have to ride all those miles, the feeling that we haven't done enough to prepare, the worry that it just might be too hard for us....

The recent weather has helped tremendously though, I've been out on the bike every day since Feb 1 and April is set to be my biggest monthly mileage ever! - I don't think I could have done any more - at least not this month.

As May approaches the realisation is creeping in that there isn't much time left - whatever happens though we will be trying and doing our very best, not least for all the people who have been kind enough to help us with donations.

I'm looking out of my office window right now and the sun is here again - I feel the urge to get changed and do some more miles - I've been out this morning, but not far, it was cold - but the warmth beckons me and tempts me to do more. I'm going!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Crown, Elford....

Wednesday's 'Beer Ride' this week saw us making a trip to 'The Crown Inn' in the charming Staffordshire village of Elford.

Elford is situated on the bank of the River Trent between Lichfield and Tamworth. It is said to derive its name from the great number of eels with which the river here formerly abounded. We arrived after travelling from Burton on Trent in hot, summery conditions. The tables outside the pub were busy with people enjoying the glorious evening. We managed to find a table and enjoyed the first of 3 pints of really quite refreshing and welcome beer.

The Crown has changed landlords quite frequently over the last few years - and on our visit this evening it seemed there is another new face in charge. However the pub was busy and I noted with interest that they have a varied and interesting series of Gourmet Food nights - Tapas night was last week, this week it was Seafood. The restaurant section of the pub seemed to have attracted some customers and we noticed some building work on the adjoining barn at the rear - looks like an extension and a landscaped garden are being added.

I like the Crown - it has an unspoilt atmosphere to it, and retains the feel of a traditional country local. Well worth a visit if you're in the area.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Full Boar...

It seems posts are a bit like waiting for buses - nothing and then a whole load turn up.

Last Sunday Gary and I entered our first 'Sportive' ride. It was local and so seemed the ideal opportunity for us to dip our toes in and give it a go.

Signing in at the start
Organised by 'Full Boar Events' this was a 52 mile sportive ride around the lanes of Leicestershire, Staffordshire and South Derbyshire. We ride these areas regularly and we knew what to expect. The weather was good, we paid our entry and set off at about 9.45am - there were about 60 riders, maybe more - this was the first time for this event and the riders seemed to consist of members of Mercia Cycling Club, Coalville Wheelers, a Triathlon club and a mixture of various 'leisure' riders. All in all it seemed a good mix and everyone was friendly at the start line.

The route was lovely - mainly quiet back roads free from any major traffic. We passed through some beautiful villages, a few of which I hadn't been to before. There were a couple of testing hills which saw a few people dismounting (not us though!) and some roller coaster descents to set the heart racing.

After the ride
We completed the course in 3 hours 19 minutes - not very fast but okay. We stopped a couple of times on the way round to take on fluids and I had to dig out my tool kit to adjust my saddle which cost us 10 minutes - so we know we could have maybe got under 3 hours without too much trouble. At one point we were at the front of the peloton which felt good and we generally moved pretty quickly on the faster stretches.

It was a good work-out, and with the ride too and from the start point we clocked up around 70 miles for the day.

Here's a video clip and I've added a couple of photos.

The Vernon Arms, Sudbury....

I apologise, my postings have become a little erratic of late - probably because I'm spending as much time as possible actually riding!

Anyway, last Wednesday (13th) I went out with the Mercia Club to Sudbury, which is quite a ride from where I live, almost in Ashbourne! - It was a reasonable evening weather-wise, not as good as the week before, but despite a forecast of rain it remained dry if a little cool. We met in Burton on Trent as usual and were soon travelling through quiet country lanes on our way. It's a good pub The Vernon Arms, they serve draught bass plus a couple of 'specials' for your enjoyment. There's a cosy, friendly atmosphere which makes this pub ideal for a bike ride.  I noticed they were busy serving meals as well, plenty of people dining so they must be doing something right.

The pub is an old building, crammed with character. The open fire makes an idyllic scene when accompanied by a pint for those winter nights.  Built as a coaching inn in 1671 the stables were through the archway at the side of the building. You can still see the marks in the stonewall, worn away by the leather breeches of the Ostler’s boy (stable boy at the inn) who sat on the stone ledge waiting for the ‘Red Rover’, the coach from Lichfield.

The Vernon Arms crest is just above the main entrance. Across the road there is Sudbury Hall built in the second half of the 17th century. Many of the existing buildings in Sudbury date from this time. Sudbury Hall is now owned by the National Trust, The main hall is well known for its beautiful staircase, featured in the BBC’s 'Pride and Prejudice'. Next to the hall, but partly hidden, stands the church of All Saints. The church was recorded in Doomsday but has been extensively restored in later years. Sudbury Village has changed very little since the 19th century.

On the way back we stopped off at the most excellent 'Hilton Fish Bar' - by now it was dark and I'd been riding since 5.00pm and no supper! - A bag of chips eaten outside really hit the spot! - I got home after midnight - 65 miles for a Wednesday evening!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

A Good Ride, A Lapse in Training and Back on the Bike

A very busy weekend. As Paul said in his last posting we managed to get out on a glorious Friday afternoon and notch up nearly 60 miles. This is great for me as I cannot get out as easily as Paul during the week although this Month I am up to 250 miles.

Saturday saw another journey back home to my home town of Plymouth for a family re-union. These are happy occasions, usually every six months or so, Mum, my sister Tracy, step brothers and sister Robin, Richard, James, Nichola along with husbands and wives Bryn, Val, Claire, Sally and Claire get together in a restaurant and always have a very loud and fun night. These nights entail good food and copious amounts of wine. The wine tends to bring out the more creative thoughts in our brains.

Anyway it looks like the Exmouth Exodus could be on the cards for later in the year. This is similar to the Dunwich Dynamo, the route is from the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, cycling through the night to end up on the beach at Exmouth for breakfast.

I was glad I was not out on the bike early this morning as I was slightly jadded. However after driving the 240 miles back from Plymouth I managed to get out on the bike and get a creditable 40 miles in.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Glorious weather!...

Oh to be in England,
now that April's there......

The first lines of the oft quoted poem by Robert Browning seem entirely fitting on this most glorious April morning. The sun is strong and there seems little in the way of wind as I gaze from my window and contemplate todays ride.

We are a week into the month and I have so far accumulated 230 miles of good, hard riding. Last Wednesday's 'Beer Run' was superb - again, it was like a summer evening, we were able to enjoy some tasty Hobgoblin seated outside the Green Man at Clifton Campville it was a joy! And the ride home afterwards was all the more memorable for wearing shorts and short sleeves under a clear canopy of twinkling stars. Unfortunately for Gary he fell off his bike after he had left me. I've yet to find out the exact details, he tells me he suffered a few cuts but his bike is unscathed!

Today we are planning to meet mid afternoon and ride for maybe 60 miles - I'm looking forward to it - were it not for a few rather pressing work projects I think I'd be out right now.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Only 62 days to go...

It's getting closer and closer and I have the most uncomfortable feeling - trepidation, nervouseness, misgivings??? - will we really manage it? I am afraid my pessimistic outlook is a trait I have long been predisposed to - I tend to think of the worst instead of concentrating on the positive. Mostly I think this propensity gives me the advantage of overwhelming joy when things work out - if they don't I can always say "well I knew that would happen" or whatever... But this challenge is by far the biggest physical endeavour I have ever undertaken and is therfore littered with pitfalls. Although I am trying to prepare as thoroughly as is possible I wonder will it be enough? - Is there something else I should be doing? - will my legs/body be up to it? - what will be the mental effect of all those hours sitting on a bike?? - what effect will the weather have? - will we be able to get up all those hills?.... The questions are endless and are becoming more intimidating as the start date moves ever closer. I think all I can really do is more of the same - ie getting out on the bike - after all that's what it's all about - and my philosophy is, the best preparation for a long bike ride is to ride a bike!

It's Monday April 4th and as I look out of my window it's a reasonable start to the day - it's cold but warming up. I will try to get out this lunchtime for a 20 mile ride and then a further 25 miles this evening. This Wednesday our Cycling club starts it's weekly evening 'Pub Rides' - Gary and I enjoyed joining those last year and we'll be going out with them again. For me that means I will sometimes ride in excess of 60 miles in an evening - good training - but I'd better not mention the beer!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Excellent Service

This weekend I took my Roubaix back to the Plymouth Specialized Concept Store to have it checked over and gear indexing etc. serviced. The chap handing me back the bike noticed I had the bars set back quite a bit to lift them a bit higher. We discussed that I was having a bit of trouble getting totally comfortable on the bike. He suggested changing the stem to one of a greater angle. We decided on the steepest angle setting and this was fitted. Straight away I felt much more comfortable on the bike. Well done Ben !

P.S. The service I have received when buying the bike, the shipping arrangements and experience of taking the bike back for its safety check have been very good. The staff have been very friendly, knowledgable and helpful.

Friday, 1 April 2011

The magnificent 7 (hundred!)....

In a fit of bravado I have entered Gary and myself into the Round The World Bike Race which starts next February - We have plenty of time to train and LeJog will be the ideal start to the plan - and what an achievement if we succeed!

More immediate is my mileage for March. I managed the magnificent 700 (708.5 to be precise) - I'm reasonably pleased with that as a monthly total. I've ridden everyday for the whole of February and March and I've enjoyed it. Last Wednesday being the only really bad day - I got soaked through.

My intention for April is more of the same - and try to increase the mileage - riding two sessions a day where possible. I'm aiming for 800 miles minimum.

Our sponsorship is gradually creeping up - Total to March 31st is £2538.90.

By the way, the first paragraph above is an April Fool.