Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Inspiring stuff from up North....

Gary, Dave the Damp and Paul from over the road all took part in last weekend's 'Tour de Leicestershire' - a 70+ miles circular romp through the fine countryside in this part of the world. I didn't do it. My back problem has made long distances just too much of a chore - I can't manage more than 30 or 40 miles at the moment - I've decided to ease off now and hope for some improvement into next year. I haven't seen Gaz since the ride - but I got a text 'I'm f**ked' was the leading line. As I remember it is a particularly hilly route.

I managed a short ride around the lanes last weekend - in fact two, one was 15 miles the other 25 - that'll do me at the moment. But if I can't ride my bike I still like watching the racing on TV or reading books and magazines. So I have two things worthy of mention from the past week. Firstly La Vuelta - I watched each stage this year - it was utterly compelling - after Chris Froome crashed out with a broken foot I thought my interest would wane - but no - the drama, the spectacle - those horrendous climbs! This years Tour de France was one of the best in recent years - but maybe La Vuelta pipped it? - When a three week stage race is undecided until the penultimate stage you know its been a great event. Congratulations to Fabio Aru but many commiserations to Tom Dumolin, the young Dutch rider who, from nowhere, catapulted himself into the big time. I suspect we'll be hearing more about him in the next few years.

As I said - I do like a good cycling magazine - and I subscribe to Rouleur which is the pinnacle, not only of cycling journalism but also of design and photography. But what really caught my eye recently was a story they ran on Martin Procter who rides with a local club in North Yorkshire. Every time he goes out, either solo or on a club run, he records the event with a beautifully hand written and illustrated entry in a sketch book - he's been doing it for some years now and has built up quite an archive. His design and illustrative skills are suberb - so much so that Rouleur commissioned him to design a front cover for the magazine and also some tee shirts for merchandising.

I've pasted a few examples below - quite inspiring for me - I might have a go myself!

Friday, 4 September 2015

Saturday - An early morning ride...

After the usual Friday night pub session with Gary and John I had made up my mind to get up early on Saturday morning and go for a shortish ride. We've got various members of family staying over for the weekend and with that all the usual organisation and ensuing chaos. I've been tasked with manning the barbecue for the afternoon - after making a batch of homemade burgers on Thursday night it's a task I don't mind too much. But first I feel the need to stretch my legs.

I set off nice and early - 7.30am. The roads are quiet as Christmas and its already fairly warm - today is forecast for a scorcher. I head along to Barton under the Beans and then turn towards Bosworth - I haven't been along this route for a while and the climb up to the market square is a daunting prospect at this hour. But it feels okay, I take it steadily but by the time I reach the top I'm leaking sweat. I make my way to Cadeby and then Sutton Cheney and on to Upton, but I turn left before the village making my way towards the A444 and Sibson. The sun is powerful already, burning through the clear blue sky and making itself felt on the bare skin of my legs and arms.

After covering 20 miles my back is aching - it's not debilitating; more annoying, a constant niggle that, no matter what I do, remains. I press on towards Twycross and then to Snarestone. From there a few more miles (and uphills) and I'll be home.

Passing through open farmland the fields that were flourishing with crops a week or so ago are now stripped bare. Some have round bales of hay dotted across the surface in the fashion of a modern art installation. It's all signals that summer is on it's last legs; teetering towards winter......darkness..... cold. It seems to be happening more quickly than ever this year, I've already noticed the evenings drawing in and it's definitely darker (and cooler) in the mornings. Its only three months since I was in France where the heat was sometimes overpowering, that three months feels like a year.