Friday, 30 September 2011


Today I took my very first MTB night ride! I wasn’t sure how I would cope with riding in the dark, but more significantly how I would manage riding off-road as it seems like such a long time since I have ridden any of the MTB trails. Before we set off I was pretty apprehensive, but at the same time excited!

On leaving the village we kept to the larger bridle paths so I could get myself used to riding in the dark before venturing onto the single-track. Immediately I was having fun!The limited visibility and dense (fallen) leaf cover meant that I didn’t have time to see any obstacles that normally would un-nerve me and I just rode over stuff that usually I would have panicked about.

In the dark everything seemed really different. Not in a bad way… just different! I had borrowed Mikeys Lupine Wilma so had a super bright light which gave me great front visibility, but on the narrow single-track I kept getting a little freaked out by the hedgerows. The complete darkness to the sides really left me struggling; everything in my peripheral vision felt it was leaping out at me and far too close for comfort. Admittedly sometimes it was too close and I returned home covered in nettle stings and bramble scratches. Some of the tracks were very eerie with tunnel of trees now having dangling long tendrils of bindwind falling out, which looked really pretty in the moonlight.

It was such a great experience, the world seemed so peaceful with just the rustle of leaves and hedges as we disturbed the wildlife. We didn’t see as many animals as I would have liked. I wanted to see a Badger and a hedgehog, but was happy enough seeing a few rabbits and a frog and a fleeting glimpse of a bat. The highlight was most definitely a huge rustle and wooshing noise above us in the trees as we obviously disturbed a monstrous pterodactyl. OK, so it was more likely it was a large owl or a buzzard but it sounded HUGE and made me jump.

Despite the lovely recent weather some of the singletrack was covered in very deep mud. Most of which I pedalled through without incident, but some of which I ended up having to dab into the deepest mud in the world. Nooo… my beautifully white shoes are no longer white! Next time I will remember to wear my winter boots, even if it's lovely and warm outside.

We returned home with just under 10 miles on the clock, which I was pretty happy with as it feels like its been a long time since I have riden off road and I coped with it all pretty easily.

Can’t wait for the next MTB night ride. ;)

Sunday, 25 September 2011

... Meh

After such a fantastic few days with Amy and Ali at the start of the month, things quickly returned to the mundane.

The weather also took a quick turn for the worse, leaving us with very VERY wet weather. It was awful, it was either dense fog or heavy rain, making every day grey and miserable!  Unsurprisingly, this meant I had very little motivation to get myself out on the bike and for the last few weeks I have been feeling very uninspired!

The arrival of the highly anticipated pink VeloCake jerseys, gave me a push in the right direction and to christen them we went for a very "quick" spin. (The jerseys didn't arrive until gone 5pm so there was very little daylight left and without any front lights - my front light has gone for repair - we were only able to do 7ish miles before dusk. The good news was that, as most of you know, the pink jerseys look super fly! ;-)

Unfortunately that enthusiasm vanished quickly; as work continued to wear me down and with no improvements in the weather. Plus the huge disappointment of the black VC order which had a number of screw ups.

Meh! I was feeling really stale.  I was mentally and phsyically exhausted.  I just didn't want to be on my bike anymore. Every ride was a struggle. I hated every moment and when I got home I was flatter (in mood) than when I'd left and more exhausted than ever. I decided I needed to go and see the Doc. Maybe I had a virus? Maybe I was becoming anaemic? Something wasn't quite right... Or maybe it was just a lack of exercise, leaving me really lethargic.

That week I epically failed my monthly target only managing a measly 26miles. Pfft!

The following week I knew I just had to pull my socks up and get out and ride, and just grin and bear it.  So I forced myself out of the door, despite the weather, if it wasn't raining it was dense fog, and as always the wind was cold and strong.  Most of the rides saw me armed with winter boots and jacket. Blergh! What happened to Summer? Somehow, I made my 50mile target.... It was miserable and all the rides were a tough slog...

... but I got there and I tell you something. I felt better for it. :-) I guess lethargy really does give you lazyitis!! :-)

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Good friends and Geocaches.

We had our friends, Amy (Trio25) and Ali visiting over the bank holiday weekend which was ace! It involved lots of cake (obviously) lots of riding and lots of fun!

They arrived Saturday lunchtime and after a large slice of my home-made chocolate cake, we went for a walk down to our local beach for a paddle, some kite-flying, some lunch, some more cake and a tickle off a 'ickle foal. 

The last bit of my home-made choc cake.
We then went for a quick bike ride down the coast path to meet Mikey for his commute home.  On this ride they introduced us to the exciting world of Geocaching.
"Geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices."
Day Two involved more Geocaching. My goodness, its addictive! (Now I want a GPS!) This time it was on foot along the rocky coastal footpath. Four or five more caches found; we all found at least one each, which made it exciting. On our return more cake was consumed followed by a BBQ and Champagne. Another great day!

Team VeloCake on the hunt.
Day Three (Bank holiday Monday) and it was time to ride. The plan was to ride to Hayle for ice-cream and find a few caches.  The first Cache was only a few minutes from our village but despite finding the spot quickly it took quite some time to find the cache itself. Ali found it! It was in a film canister tucked into a crevice of an old stone wall. We thought that one was tricky, but the next one was even smaller.  The only way I can describe it is like a very old style dog tag, where you open it up to reveal a paper phone number. It was tiny wee! So small that Mikey eventually found it in a place that all three of us had checked already.

It wasn't until Cache three that I wished I'd given more consideration to what bike to ride. I'd opted for the road bike, as usually the ride into Hayle is on the road.  Unfortunately I hadn't taken into account the location of the Geocaches along the way. We were now off-road on little dirt tracks, full of rocks, roots and lotsa deep muddy puddles. On a mountain bike it would have been great, on a cross bike it would have been good, but being on Paddy's slick tyres and with his mudguards clogging constantly, I was finding it really tricky. I spent lotsa time walking - my shiney white shoes are now neither shiney or white. Anyway a great deal of fun was had finding the next few caches; finding little tracks that we would never have thought of going down before.

I was shocked to discover that the local Alpacas were also guarding a cache, so whilst everyone else found that, I stood chatting to them. Amazingly, Ali found that she had a special talent and could talk Alpaca'ese and they came trotting over. It took a while to gain their trust but then we had lotsa tickles. I've never stroked one before and their fur was gorgeous.

Ali's new friends
When we finally got to Hayle scrummy ice creams were consumed before heading homewards. We found a few more caches on our way and also introduced Ali and Amy to our friends Donkey and Cow. They were both out of stroking distance but we did find out Donkeys real name, he's called Whimpy, which made the trip well worthwhile. We were also shocked to discover he is well into his 20's. He's a wise old donkey!

A little further along and it was time to introduce them to the pair of young and little highland cows. "Och aye da moOOo!" Then it was time to take the long way home to squeeze in another Cache. Obsessed, us? Never! ;-)

Despite very tired legs, no sooner as we arrived home, we jumped back on our bikes (after finding some warmer clothes and more layers) and then set back down to the beach for tea at the cafe. Mmmmm... freshly made pizza's.  Then it was back up the hill and one more cache to get before heading home again. A splendid day!

It was back to work for me on Tuesday. I missed out on the ride to Lands End (not that I minded, my legs were shattered after the long walk on Sunday and even longer ride on Monday.) I also missed out on the early Wednesday frolics when Mikey, Ali and Amy went down to the beach for a swim in the sea. Sounds like a great time was had. When I finally re-joined them we had time for a quick bike ride down to Marazion for a pasty and their final cream tea of their holiday and one final cache (which incidentally we couldn't get to without drawing attention to it, as there were hoardes of people) before they set off on their long journey back up North.

Their visit went far too quickly! Normally when people stay I get a bit tetchy as I like my space, etc and in such a small cottage that is quite difficult, but their visit was different, I wanted them to stay! We'd had so much fun, I didn't want it to end. I really hope they'll come back soon.

It was my ideal holiday. Good food, good friends, lots of laughter, lots of cake and to top it off plenty of riding and plenty of nice animals to talk to along the way. PERFECT!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

August - A rollercoaster ride

This August had a number of highs and lows and has been extremely memorable for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, August saw my 2nd anniversary of my "bicycle rediscovery".  Yay! Two years ago I would never have thought I would still be riding a bike, but here I am today; fitter than I have been in years and considerably smaller than I was this time in 2009.

Secondly, there was the horrid coach incidence, where I ploughed into the side of a large coach which pulled out in front of me on a roundabout.

Then there was Mikeys birthday... hehehe, as always birthdays are super! Not much riding was done but it was great fun nonetheless.

Unfortunately, then there was another accident! I can't believe that after two years pretty much without any, I have two significant ones within a few weeks of each other. I fell off my bike.... my first fall EVER! So what happened? I'll give you two clues... new cleats and new pedals!
It was my first ride on Ted for a while. He had new pedals at Christmas and hasn't been ridden much since, so the pedals are still tight.  It wasn't so much of a problem with my old Spesh Tahoes as the cleats were well worn in. Unfortunately, the new cleats in my shiney new Shimano shoes made a lethal combination.

I hadn't really noticed any difference for the first 5miles as I rarely had to unclip. So when I had to come to an abrupt hault - which is a long story that involves a tractor, a car and a transit van on a tight country lane all coming from different directions and trying unsuccessfully to get past each other at the tiniest T Junction - I wasn't prepared for what happened.

I couldn't unclip! The road I was trying to stop on was a slight downhill and I needed to take a tight left turn onto a narrow uphill lane.  I was desperately trying to unclip, brake and turn, but instead I just started falling (leftwards). Eek! There were large rocks I needed to avoid landing on and more importantly rocks that I needed to stop Ted hitting!

As I hit the ground I was mortified. The driver and passenger in the car were looking. The tractor driver was watching. (They were all still at a standstill - a stalemate as no one was prepared to move.) I tried to force a smile to let them know I was OK, but found they were laughing. Mikey, who was in front had now turned to look at me (he'd heard my loud cursing and stopped to check I was OK). He was looking at me in amazement -obvioulsy impressed at how gracefully I'd fallen. He thought I had managed to save myself from injury but soon realised from my eyes that I was in pain.

My arm was in agony. My left wrist had taken all my weight on landing and had twisted in the process, leaving my whole arm in excruciating pain. I wanted to cry but instead I tried hopping back on the bike. Ouch! My left wrist hurt and couldn't take any weight on the bars. We were about 5 miles from home and there was no simple way back. I wasn't sure I could ride it, but on these tight narrow country lanes it wouldn't have been safe to walk either. I had to grin and bear it. I rode the last 5 miles home unclipped from my pedals (as I was too petrified to clip back in) and only able to steer with my right arm and unable to use my back brake. It was a tad scary but somehow I made it!

I guess that it was inevitable that one-day I would have a SPD related accident... I'm just grateful that its taken nearly a year before I had mine otherwise I may have been put off them. ;-)
Thankfully Augusts rollercoaster, finished on a high note, as we had fellow blogger Trio25 and Ali come to stay, which was brilliant and very fun-filled (post to follow).


Longest ride 27.2miles (On Paddy the road bike)
Shortest ride 3.3miles (To the Chippy on Basil my trusty shopper)

Bike Totals;
Cyclocross:           11.6miles
Road:                    225.6miles (of which 26.3miles, I wish I'd been on my Cross Bike)
Hybrid/Shopper:    3.3miles
Mountain Bike:       0miles :(

Total Mileage: 240.5miles.