Saturday, 31 October 2009

Web Address Change...

Just a quicky to say I've changed the web address of this blog.*

(* sorry for any inconvenience)

Thursday, 29 October 2009

A ride to the beach café

Since my rediscovery of bicycles my Mum has decided that she too wants to get a little fitter, so yesterday she and I decided to go on a leisurely pootle to the beach and to visit the beach café for a slice of one of the best fruit flapjacks ever.

[Photo of the worlds best flapjack taken during
a previous trip to the café]
So off we trundled, taking the long way round to enjoy the scenery and some tricky off-road. All went to plan, until we finally got to the beach to discover the tide was in, so all we could do was sit on the slipway and watch the waves (and laugh at a woman dodging waves to try and clean poop off her child’s wellington boot with a very short stick and the seawater – surely it would have been easier if she’d made her son go and walk in the water – it was a waterproof welly after all! Some people are silly!)

[Resting on the slipway]

After a bit more people watching, we went up to the beach café to treat ourselves to the worlds best homemade flapjack EVER. Sounds great; but I was soon faced with a dilemma. I should point out that although the café always serves numerous other tempting cake options, I always have their date flapjack, as it is gorgeous. Today however, they were truely testing my devotion by placing some scrumptious looking chocolate Brownies on the counter. Mmm! It looked so moist and mouth-watering that I couldn’t take my eyes off it. It was luring me in and trying to break me. STOP! I always have flapjack from here. NO! This can’t be, I can’t change my mind, the flapjack is always to die for! ARGH! The fruit in the flapjack makes it a marginally healthier option, despite all that sugar and syrup. OH MY! ... the Brownie just looked soooo tempting. EEK!

The decision was too much to handle so after much debating Ma bought us both a piece of the legend-wait-for-it-ary flapjack and a piece of Brownie to share. Hey and let me tell you… that enticing brownie was even scrummier than it looked (Sorry there’s no picture, but I couldn’t waste time photographing it… it needed to be eaten and enjoyed!)

After our satisfying pit stop we decided to continue our adventure and rode down an interesting bit of coastal bridleway. In the past I have always enjoyed this route as there are usually some very friendly pigs, hens and geese that you can chatter too and pet!

[A friendly pig]

Sadly yesterday, things didn’t look quite so bright for my feathered and curly tailed friends. Stuck on their gates were big posters advertising "Christmas Pork" and "Christmas Geese". I was somewhat mortified! Don’t get me wrong I am not naive enough to not know that pigs are only bred for meat, but this blatant marketing seemed somewhat cruel! I am sure that the Pigs and Geese didn’t need constant reminders of their fate, every time someone passes, reads the sign and then stands there discussing which one looks the tastiest or fattest. I couldn’t bring myself to pet them this time – it just seemed mean, I didn't want to encourage them to trust human beings. I want them to revolt and turn against the humans! Just imagine – George Orwell would be so proud!

[Not quite as friendly but very inquisative]

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The cruel twist of fate….

After such a remarkable start to the month… things took a turn for the worst. No sooner as I had posted my last celebratory blog entry, I got a nasty cold!

I blame Mikey, he’d had a cold the previous week! But me being me, and always having to go one step further, got a truly stinking strain of it:- a permanent headache, a sore throat that felt like I’d swallowed a shed load of carpet tacks, a soaring temperature, aching joints and a barrel load of snot! Interestingly, when I entered my symptoms to they said I had the dreaded swine flu – what a bunch of scare-mongering! What’s wrong with just having a good old fashioned cold?

Anyway, whatever it is, it left me too poorly sick to go out on my bike. More annoyingly though, despite my best efforts to keep the infection off my chest, it has left my lungs in a sad old state! Grrr! I had hoped that the last few months getting fit would have helped more. Guess I shouldn't grumble though, as things probably could have been worse so I won’t let it damper my enthusiasm.
Miserably though, all this means that I still haven’t made it much past my 100mile target and also even sadder still; I haven’t had another opportunity to ride in my spiffy new hi-vis jacket! Pfft!

Thankfully, I am starting to feel slightly better now and am itching to get out on my bike. Just can’t decide if I should wait for my lungs to completely clear or go for a ride and let the wind blast it all out!

Hmmm... decisions decisons...

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A week of seconds

The last few days have yet again been pretty good in the world of “Katie being on a bicycle” and it has also been a week of “seconds” (which will make sense if you aren’t already too bored to carry on reading)!

Firstly I have already cycled my target of 100miles this month. OK, for some of you reading this, it may not be that impressive to you, but for me it is quite a milestone and only the 2nd time I have achieved this target since starting out on my bike again. Yay me!

I’m also really chuffed as my lovely new yellow high visibility jacket arrived – so now I don’t have any excuses to not ride during the winter months. I wore it out for the first time yesterday and surprisingly I didn’t feel like a complete clown wearing it.

Talking of yesterday, it was my 2nd time venturing out alone. I decided to ride my equipped Globe and meet Mikey at work and then ride back with him (this way I can get some miles in before it gets too dark). I made short work of the draggy hill out of the village and then enjoyed the speed of the downhill through the next town, despite a howling crosswind. It wasn’t until I got out of there that I actually realised just how windy it was. The waves were lapping over the coast path and there was a treacherous wind coming off the ocean. Ah well, this was all part of the excitement and even though the thought did cross my mind to stop, I continued to pedal. After riding a very slow and difficult mile I suddenly realised that I actually had very little control of my bike – which I discovered when I stopped pedalling for a millisecond and was aggressively blown off the track. I was suddenly scared!

The normally full coast path was deserted – obviously anyone with any sense was at home, as unlike me they had heard the coastal weather warnings. I felt isolated and very vulnerable to the elements. Argh! What could I do? I was not even halfway but could see that the ocean was getting considerably rougher further along the path. Sadly I realised the only sensible option (for a novice like myself) was to go back the way I’d come, as I knew that even if I did manage to get to my destination I would be too exhausted to make it back again. Thing was, I wasn’t actually sure I would even make it back the way I came, as the sudden realisation of the wind’s power had stripped me of any confidence. Amazingly, I made it back to a where I could wait for Mikey - which itself was actually pretty hair-raising when a strong gust of wind threw me in the path of an oncoming car. Minutes later Mikey rolled up looking a little bedraggled and windswept. Despite my failure to make it across the coast path he seemed quite impressed I had got as far as I did as even he had struggled to maintain control over the wind. Anyway we then took the long way home through the tree’s which provided us with some shelter.

So, on to my next “2nd”… my 2nd ever puncture (this time on my MTB) and yep amusingly, you guessed it, yet again we had gone out without any spare tubes or a repair kit! Thankfully though, we were riding with my Mam, who must have been a good Girl Guide as she had everything we needed for a quick fix. Phewph! I guess, I really must invest in the bare essentials as it really is hopeless relying on Mikey! I have my eye on an Innovations Survival Canister, which I’ve seen on the internet, but being that we live in Cornwall, there appears to be no local stockists and I always like to see things to check the quality before I spend my hard earned cash!
Finally, this weekend I was able to attend the 2nd “Team VeloCake” CycloCross race where the boys excelled in their full team colours! (If you haven’t seen it already please visit for my full race review!) Kind of wished I had thought about racing myself, as it looked fun and with my new cycling skills and increased athletic ability (Oh ok, I’m not actually very fit but I am much fitter than I was 3 months ago)! I just know could have finished on the podium. Oh ok… It’s not my skill or ability that would get me a prize, it’s the fact that there was only one female entrant, so I could have been 2nd if I had made it to the end. The way I look at it, that would have been the best way to start my racing career…. And also a great way to end my racing career - as obviously I’d need to retire after getting such a great result!

In other VeloCake related news, I want to say a BIG thank you to a certain someone (I wont name them for fear of repercussions and poaching accusations!) who has cyc-logged ( their miles for Team VeloCake and taken us way up the leader board and into a much more respectable position. If you’re reading this, you know who you are, so a BIG thanks you from me.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Ridin’ with the rellies – a gentle pootle with some gentle folk!

...Wow! My 2nd post in a week!


As me and Mullerton were both off work this week we had planned to ride do the Coast to Coast Mineral Tramways Trail that takes you off-road from Portreath to Devoran.

In a bizarre twist of fate my visiting Aunt & Uncle had also planned to hire some bikes and attempt a route that they had seen Julia Bradbury walk on the tellywinky. Obviously, we decided it would be nice to do this ride as a family so we packed up Gary (My Kona CinderCone) and Spot (Spot by name, Spot by nature) and rendezvoused at a place ingeniously named, the Bike Barn.

To my amazement the place didn’t offer any safety lids with each hire bicycle but the bikes were of half decent standard and I guess as the route is quite gentle and rarely near any traffic helmets weren’t seen as vital.

Anyway, off we pootled and despite an earlier downpour the skies were clear and the sun was HOT HOT HOT! The route was relatively simple – no huge hills, just undulating, twisty-turny rocky, gravelly and occasionally very muddy tracks. The scenery was spectacular and ever-changing – shady wooded areas, farmland, mining engine houses, open quarries and broad sweeping estuaries.

9 miles in and we had reached our destination – a pub that sold a nice array of food. After a satisfying meal of butties and cheesy chips (and of course local ale for the males) we were back in our saddles and homeward bound.

My poor uncle put on a brave face as he was struggling with an uncomfortable saddle, but he was still smiling and being ever the gentleman - bringing up the rear making sure no-one got left behind.

(My Auntie & Uncle)

Halfway home one of the hire bikes needed bicycle repairman’s expertise as the chain had bust a link and the gears were unresponsive. Thankfully, this time, Mikey had the required tools and we were soon off and able to complete the ride.

Oh, I forgot to mention that we also saw the infamous Beast of Portreath. In the field where we had parked, we saw a giant black creature with piercing eyes. It looked wild and rabid. Sadly my camera was in the car so I don’t have any photos. Anyway, as we continued to unpack the car we suddenly found ourselves face to face with this crazed animal. Unknown to any of us it had stealthily crossed the field and sneakily jumped into the car, sniffing at Mikey’s cycling shoes. Mikey bravely grabbed it and removed it from the boot – as the last thing I needed was feline hair on the upholstery – I am highly allergic! And no sooner as he had done it, the determined beast jumped into my Aunties’ new Mini. What a menace! I have to say though, that despite its reputation I found the encounter with this furry beast far from scary – it was a pussy cat!!

Anyway, back to the tale at hand, the ride was lovely and despite it being nearly double the mileage I'm used to, I found it really easy and enjoyable and with 19 miles added to my monthly totaliser, I’m laughing.

... I just can't wait to do it again.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Striking out alone

Last weeks “Toilet Weekly" made me grin as the letters page included a piece about dressing like a girl to make yourself more visible on a bike. Mikey often comments on how much more we are acknowledged when I am out riding with him – particularly as car drivers allow us more time and space. But never has this been more evident as last Sunday when I ventured out by myself. Just me and my trusty bike, Basil!

As “VeloCakers” are aware, last Sunday saw “Team VeloCake” doing numerous CycloCross races nationwide. Much to my dismay I was unable to be a groupie at such an event (Don’t ask why – it’s complicated!) so I decided I would participate in my own race. OK, yes I was the only entrant but at least that would mean I could win! So off I went – not too far from home – just in case of a bike emergency, as Mikey still hasn’t prepared me a cycling survival kit.

This was my first lone ride since my early 20’s and I was slightly apprehensive before I started. I hadn’t even pedalled 200yards when an elderly farmer in flat cap and wellies stopped me. Eek! Was he about to stop me for cycling down a public footpath that clearly displayed signs reading “NO BICYCLES, NO SKATEBOARDS!” at either end. I was worried - but had to laugh when I realised he had stopped me for a chat about the weather. Still laughing, I continued on my way only to be face to face with yet another walker. OMG! Had my luck run out? Would they grumble about my wheels? Nope, again they cheerily smiled and said “Hello, Nice afternoon isn’t it?” Puzzled (by this nonchalance) I quickly came to the conclusion that it was because I was still in close proximity to a public house on a Sunday afternoon. But this joviality didn’t stop there.

Halfway up my 1st hill (which happens to be a single track lane) a man in an oncoming Land Rover pulled into a lay-by to let me pass and then gave me a broad grin and cheery wave.

I suddenly felt self conscious. Did I have my helmet on backwards? Oh my God, had I forgotten to put my trousers on? Did I have odd shoes? What was with all these jolly salutations? Phewph! I was fully and sensibly dressed and contrary to the advice from cycling weekly I wasn’t even wearing a pink and frilly Laura Ashley dress!

The greetings and chatter continued. The polite driving carried on. Everyone I met seemed really happy to see me and even the local horses and woolly cows came over to say hello. I had a great time! I felt like a true local – I had been accepted into the community and beyond.

Sadly, during the next ride with Michael things returned to normal. Cars whizzed by too close for comfort, grumpy farmers and miserable dog walkers uttered no more than a grunt which loosely interpreted could mean hello.

...By 'eck, being a lassy really does have it’s perks!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

A new month.... A new hope... but what to ride?

Last month I only managed 64miles... which was a long way off my goal but with 2 weeks off for injury/recovery time I am quite happy with my overall mileage. Anyway, now we have entered a new month so my monthly totalizer has reset and I am ready to roll.

The burning question now is what to ride?

When I was in my teens and early twenties my mountain bike was my best friend. I'd ride everywhere. It went on numerous trips to Wales & the Peak District with me. Basically back then, 100+miles a month was nothing... it was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy! Unfortunatly, since then, much has changed and my fitness level has dramatically changed to that of a 65+ old and the bout of Pneumonia last year left my already unfit/asthmatic lungs in a sad old state!

Another big change is our location. Sadly, there’s not much in the way of Mountain terrain around Cornwall. Don’t get me wrong there’s tonnes of off-road trails, but it’s very much lacking compared to what I was used to, such as N.Wales and Delamere Forest.


Which makes me wonder do I really need to have a Mountain-Bike? Would I be better with something else? Something lighter perhaps? Since my re-discovery of bicycle riding I have predominantly ridden my trusty hybrid, as I have found ridin' on the road, the best option to regain my fitness and stamina. The simplicity of riding smooth roads has drawn me in though and now I keep ponderin' if I still need a bicycle with suspension and big knobbly tyres?

Hmm? My misspent youth and the exhilaration that comes with mountain-bikin' remains embedded in my heart - I most definitely can’t ever see myself without my MTB. They're great, and have so many benefits… you get more burn on the legs, you have to be able to use your gears correctly and do more technical riding. And what about the excitement? Nothing beats that adrenaline rush of being so scared that you can’t even open your mouth to scream!

But as I said, I am currently predominantly riding on the road as I really do see it’s benefits for overall cardio and fitness. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I think I have actually caught the road riding bug. I love that all I need to do is get on the bike from home and ride. I really enjoy the speed that road ridin' offers; even as a novice rider I can see the advantage over mountain bikes on the road.

The only downside to road-riding that I see, is that sadly, it tends to get boring. Pfft… and how could I forget the other major drawback; the other roadusers - those blinkin’ loonatic car drivers!!

That said, and despite all the near-miss-accidents due to careless car-drivers, I am really enjoyin’ road ridin', but I keep asking myself would I be better off with something lighter? I love my hybrid with all its utilities (mudguards, dynamo lights, rack and - that all important - kickstand) but, oh, how the thought of something lighter and nippier keeps nagging away at my thoughts. Hmm? Again, I surely can’t get rid of my hybrid… it is far to useful with all its bit n’ bobs! Epecially for carrying stuff!

However, with Velocakes current cyclo-cross phase I now see that a cross-bike offers the best of both worlds. As quick and as efficient as road bikes, but with slightly bigger tires for those exhilarating short-cuts through granite and gravel trails that are so abundant around here.

So, I think a cyclocross bike would be my answer and as Mikey has a bike for almost every occasion… why shouldn’t I?

Maybe if I stick with this riding lark, Father Christmas will put a shiney Cross bike in my stocking!!

(Anyway, on that note I best go dig out my gel shorts its time for a whizz round the block before it gets dark.)