The wonders of modern technology
Posted Mar 3, 2019
Just reunited a lost wallet with its owner via facebook messenger and email.
Our friends found the wallet, messaged me on FB as it contained a student ID card for Cardiff Uni. I asked who it was so I could email them. Did that and got a reply saying he needed it now as he couldn't get into his halls without it. So I had to then find our where my friends were and direct him there. It wall worked excellently.
Couldn't have done that back when I was a student. I guess these mobile phone thingies might be more useful than some give them credit for sometimes
Read Tolkien (go and look at the website for the upcoming film of Lord of The Rings it looks good biggrin ),
Posted Feb 7, 2014
Really, one day I'm going to *have* to update my homepage. This is now stunningly out of date
Let it blow, let it blow let it blow.
Posted Nov 3, 2013
Well I'm starting to not bother to journal about Audax now as it's becoming the norm rather than anything special these days but yesterday was one of definite note.
200 km Ride in South Wales, the Transporter 200, so named as it used to involve a little jaunt across the Transporter bridge in Newport which is rather more like a cable car ride across the river than a bridge as such. Sadly since 2 years ago the bridge is closed in the winter and so you have to just ride past and admire it now.
It's only a minor part of the ride now - it's reputed to be an 'easy' 200 as it's largely flat. But this rather ignores two monster climbs in the Brecon Beacons. Wentwood just before Usk and the famed 'Devil's Elbow' south of Sennybridge - the latter being the signature climb and one I'd not done before since I failed to get onto the Dragon Ride sportive last year.
The ride itself would probably have been just another audax but we were faced with 'challenging' weather conditions. In audax-speak it would probably have to be described as 'a bit damp' and 'somewhat breezy' But this really means there were repeated and sustained torrential downpours and 'a bit breezy' means winds gusting up to 60 mph and getting slightly worried that you were going to end up under a fallen tree.
Before we got to the beacons proper I was indeed rather pleased to be in the shelter of hedges and trees and even more pleased that if the trees were going down (a real possibility) then they were being blown away from me . All this was tinged with a nagging fear that I was soon to be attempting to crest an exposed mountain top as we took on the Devil's Elbow.
Now climbing isn't my strong point in cycling as I'm too large to be an Albert Contador but I was EXTREMELY chuffed to make it up the steep and relentless switchbacks of the Devil's Elbow despite headwinds to make your eyes water and gusts that were literally blowing the more lightweight guys and gals off their bikes. This was my best climbing performance to date - if I can do that monster in those conditions I am now more determined than ever to make the slopes that have defeated me now.
So a dreadful set of conditions to attempt a 126 mile cycle but I survived and am very very pleased with my performance
I seem to have finally learned to pace myself also as I am in better post-ride condition than ever and my time was actually quite a lot faster than most of my recent rides. A fine days cycling even if the weather was very far from fine.
My audax season
Posted Sep 24, 2013
So last Saturday I completed my rides for my first audax season.
The audax (long distance cycling) season runs from October 1st until September 30th y'see.
So after trying and failing to get into a Sportive and thereby discovering the existence of audax through internet forums from cyclists spreading Sportive hate I joined audax UK in December after about six months of cycling experience. I thought I was getting good by this point but audaxing has shown me my limitations and taught me a few harsh lessons but also given me some achievements that make me burst with pride when I think about them.
So my rides for the year with distance points (1 per 100 km - minimum of 2 per ride as rides less than 200 km don't count as 'long distance') and AAA points (awarded for climbing - riding up many steep slopes).
January - Dr Foster's Winter Warmer from Cardiff - 200 km - 2 points - debut ride
February - Gospel Pass 150 km from Chepstow - 0 points but 2.25 AAA points
March - The Dean from Oxford - 300 km - DNS (did not start) - It was snowing like fek - amazingly 3 people did actually ride and complete - nutters!
April - Two Battles 200 km ride from Tamworth - 2 points, and I WON!!! (well arrived home first at least)
May - Cambrian Series 3A - a 'permanent' (i.e. non calendar) event - 300 km - 3 point and 4.25 AAA points - this was HARD! Went from Chepstow to Tregaron and back via some proper nasty climbs - including the famed Devil's Staircase - which forced me to walk.
June - The National 400 - 4 points - first 24 hour ride - tough tough tough - mostly psycholically. From Tiverton in Devon.
July - The Buzzard - a 600 km ride from Leighton Buzzard - 6 points - strangely easier than both the 300 km and 400 km rides I did - although don't tell that to my ulnar nerves
August - Dr Foster's Summer Saunter - 200 km from Cardiff - 2 points
September - Wem We Get There - 200 km ride from Tamworth - 2 points
Ferryside Fish Foray - from Cardiff - 200 km - 2 points
Border Castle Randonnee - from Chepstow - 200 km - 2 points and 3 AAA - rediscovered my climbing boots after having them knocked out of me by the 3 big rides.
So 25 points and 9.5 AAA points.
Awards- Super Randonneur (a series of 200, 300, 400 and 600 km events in one season)
Brevet 1000 - 5 x 200 km in one season.
Gold Grimpeur medal - for riding a 300 km with more than 4 AAA points,
Yay. I'm soooo much fitter than I was - I have gained much skill in bike maintenance although I'm not there yet - and I have learned a lot about what my body is, and is not, capable of.
Next year I plan on some of the classic rides - The Brian Chapman Memorial - a 600 km ride from Chepstow to Menai Bridge and back - 8.25 AAA points(!)
Brevet Cymru - 400 km and another stab at the Devil's Staircase.
I plan on losing more weight to help with the climbing and getting a bike with a triple chainset - lower gearing to help with the climbing.
I seem to be reasonably fast as I'm big and powerful but long periods of climbing mean that my gravitationally challenged build is a proper handicap at that particular aspect of cycling.
I hope also to thereby prequalify for Paris-Brest-Paris - a 1200 km ride - in 2015. That is ride a 600 km event so I can enter early in 2015 and not risk missing out.
I also plan to suss out how to eat properly on these rides. I suffer from an inability to eat after a while on the longer rides and this is an _issue_ as eating is massively important.
Posted Jul 16, 2013
OK, so ride report as promised. Apologies for its length but I cut and pasted from somewhere else so it's not like I typed it more than once
Well this was my first 600 and what an experience! Phew that was HOT
Ride Route - Leighton Buzzard - Pangbourne - Chandler's Ford - Salisbury - Sherbourne - Exeter - Wells - Cirencester - Brackley - Leighton Buzzard.
Stared 7.00 am Saturday 14th - time limit 11.00 pm at finish on Sunday (pace must be between 15 kph and 30 kph)
Flew off at the start, often riding at the head of the peloton as we made very good speed to Panbourne. My handlebar bag demonstrated some issues here as I lost various belongings from it on the road. If it hadn't been for that I would probably have arrived at Pangbourne ahead of pace as we were getting it up to 18.1 mph when I lost the first item from the barbag and had to stop and recatch the peloton for the first time.
Controlled at the co-op in Pangbourne and headed off with a now smaller group consisting of Bikey Mikey, Aidan and iCycle (yacf monikers). This dwindled to three as iCycle went his own pace but he was to be still seen at times for most of the day - saw him again at Sherbourne for example.
At Chandler's Ford I lost Mikey and Aidan as I followed my GPS while they clearly stopped for food. So I had a club sandwich and an ice cold lager at a Harvester for my lunch. Then headed for Salisbury on my own. The heat started to really get up now and in Salisbury I sat at a lake by the cathedral and dunked various parts of my body in the water as I listened to charming teenagers discuss OD-ing and cameltoes (yeah, they were lovely )
After controlling here and going well so far off ot Sherbourne I went on my own. On the way to here the heat and the fast beginning started to take its toll and the choppiness of the terrain drained my soul. I linked up with iCycle and Aidan again into Sherbourne but we split here as I needed proper fuel and they wanted to go to yet another garage. So I stopped at The Crown a newly opened pub it seemed. I was aware there was some heavy climbing to come soon and I was well knackered already. So my thoughts were to get some major calories down my neck. A problem that was going to get worse started here though as my body started to reject food. I'd suffered this issue at the final control on the national 400 before though and that stuffed me - so I forced a lovely bowl of soup and a chocolated fudge cake down my neck. Interestingly my body had no such problem with liquids as I inhaled a pint of lager as I waited for my food (it seems I was thirsty ) so this was followed by two more pints - this time of Orang Juice and lemonade.
Controlling here was an issue though The pub had only just opened so the receipt was just a small piece of paper with some numbers on it - no address, no time. So I got the guy at the bar to sign and date both the Brevet card and the receipt. I hope this is OK, I've also 'checked in' there on Facebook and have a GPS tracklog to back up my timings... I 'checked in' on Facebook at most controls just to let my various FB friends my progress - it never occurred to me that it might come in handy later on!
So with boat loads of calories from Sherbourne the real climbing started. I met up with Steve on my way out of Sherbourne and we stayed together until Chard - well ish. I could see him in the distance still; until I stopped at Tesco in Chard for some sustenance. Anyway, I had suspected, as with other long audaxes that I might start walking hills and this seemed a likely time - but lo! fuel at Sherbourne did the business. I didn't walk up a single hill all day on Saturday and made all the big climbs either side of Chard. I will admit to stopping for a rest up the final one halfway up - but I mitigated this by heading up to the top and then realising I'd left my glasses behind where I'd stopped so I had return to fetch them and so did this hill 1 1/2 times! I arrived in Exeter at about midnight and had a Subway special. I got quizzed here by another customer who, as it turned out, was a cyclist too and was wondering what I was doing out so late. He gave me lots of encouragement when I told him
So last leg of the night and more calorie intake saw me fly into the Travelodge in Sampford Peverell - I got a real second wind here and steamrollered past a couple of guys about 5 miles before the stop.
Took three hours sleep and the rest stop putting me right up against the time limit in the morning. Had I realised what issues I was going to get later on I migth have given myself half an hour less but I don't regret the sleep it was lovely and just what I needed.
Woke up, had a crap shower (Travelodge - would a small bar of soap really be too much to ask?) and headed out in chamois cream covered fresh bibshorts and top. Yes I'm finally coming to appreciate el-lubrication and the rigours of all day in the saddle re posterior issues.
Legs were tired but I was delighted to see that the next leg was very benign with only 362 ft of climbing! I wondered if that in fact meant elevation difference and it turns out, yes, that is exactly what the Garmin meant So in fact I rolled into Wells having done rather more climbing than I'd hoped. It was *really* heating up by the time I got to Wells.
My body was still rejecting solids so controls from now on meant 1L milk, 1L of orange juice and loads of water. I did manage half a flapjack in Wells though.
Now the toughest of all tough legs began. Searing heat and some good proper west country choppiness preceded the mother of all climbs out of Bath. I'd stopped in Bath and had a rather nice peach with another guy called Steve, pretty much the last fellow rider I would see on the ride. This stop rather put me back right up against the time limit though although Steve was pleased that we had 4 hours to make the 60 km to Cirencester I was not so confident. I descended into Bath and then got lost as the Garmin tried to send me up duel carriage way style roads the wrong way. This was more or less after the climbs turned into 25% or whaterver those slopes are in Bath. I ended up having to actually carry my bike about at one point as I certainly wasnt' getting on on those slopes and wheeling the bike on cleats as those slopes were dangerous at times. So I used my phone maps to get me out of trouble and headed for Bannerdown. I'm not sure I could do that climb in benign conditions - I certainly wasn't beginning to attempt it in that heat. The air was dead and walking up to Bannerdown was little short of a nightmare in searing temperatures with very little shelter. This was my lowpoint. I was now walking and having been lost, significantly behind the time limit. My crumb of comfort was that i knew this was the last of the big climbs on the ride.
So when I got to the top I tried to make up the time to at least get to Cirencester by the cut off. A little joyful moment came 18 miles prior to Cirencester where I stopped briefly in the shade to check on the time with the Brevet card and was delighted to see that I'd 2 hours to make 18 miles. Easy. The moment I headed off - puncture! Snarl. Still, got it fixed and lost about 20 minutes. In the end I did actually manage it but only just and through controlling at Waitrose before I got ino Cirencester proper.
The rest of the ride was hopefully going to be easier now and I thought I could make the time up.
I could but it was tough. I was proper dehydrated now and I finally worked out why I could eat no solids. My body was incapable currently of producing a saliva. This discovery allowed me to eat again at the expense of time and I had a celebratory banana and energy bar plus my usual orange juice/milk/coke combination at the last control at Brackley.
I made the last two control points with half an hour in hand each time and rolled into Leighton Buzzard at 10.30 pm.
Here the receipt is again an issue but again I have GPS and facebook 'check in' to help me plus a signed handmade receipt and Brevet card from the Barmaid.
So... less than a year after discovering I liked to cycle a long way and 13 months since I began my post-student cycling efforts I have completed an SR (subject to validation).
(SR - Super Randonneur - rides of 200 km, 300 km, 400 km and 600 km in one season)
Bike related woes. Cable stretch means I've lost use of the front derailleur (for about the last 2/3 of the 600k) and I lost my lowest gear *before* Chard (GROAN)
It needs a new headset (kind of knew that already) and I suspect I've worn the chain and rear cassette althOugh the skipping I got towards the end might just be an indexing issue related to the cable stretch.
I need a new set of cleats after Bannerdown hill.
Issues with myself.
I have a very sore arse! I'm starting to agree that a racing saddle is not best suited to one of these things.
I've got numb heels on my hands and a numb right foot and more aches and pains elsewhere than I care to mention.
I broke my glasses on the way into Brackley. I lost a lense on the road and it won't go back in.
What _ an _ adventure! Congrats to all who made it and once again it was nice to ride with Mikey, Steve, Aidan, Ian and Steve. (we should just make things easier and just call everyone who rides an audax Steve )