Autumn A-wheel

2014 Autumn tour with Casper the Little White Moulton and of course the Co-pilot is from London to Glasgow via Lindisfarne.

Live reports here

Three wheeling – ShelaghT goes Flatlanding

IMG_1561I don’t know which member of the team was most apprehensive at 6am, Saturday 13th September 2014. Me, the Co-pilot or ShelaghT. For all of us it would be three wheels into the unknown as the steersman and hanger-outer would be one person and not two.

We rolled out of the start at Great Dunmow into a very misty but beautiful morning. The first control would be the legendary Red Lodge truckers cafe. Trundling along sans our usual aid de camp, the Bike Butler (as he was doing a spot of faffing at the start) a peloton of two wheels grew around our three, including fellow trike on two wheels, Steve Poulton. With some very pleasant bunch banter the kms sped past. At the control we were greeted and stamped by that fearsome Brommie wheeler, Wilkyboy. An ample slice of carrot caik washed down with tea and we were on our way again. The Bike Butler arrived as we were almost about to depart, so we left him sampling the delights of Red Lodge.

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Yet more unexpected but wonderful company joined us at we headed for Whittlesey. First Mike Wiggley then the Bike Butler and AndyC. Whittlesey proved to be a rather fine oasis, with a selection of eateries, none of which was a service station. Rather then the standard UK randonneurs faire of baked beans on toast the Bike Butler indulged in a Tai green curry!

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Our next destination was Boston, less the tea party via the delights of Spalding. Here we partook of our first ‘Spoons’. We left AndyC doing a little light liquid carbo loading as Kirton-in-Lindsey beckoned. For this leg we were again joined by Mike W and Steve P, who were going to share the rest of our journey at intervals for the next 400km.

Leaving the local corner shop at Kirton-in-Lindsey, stripped almost bare by hungry randonneurs, we headed into the dark to the bright lights of Goole. The roads were very familiar from the many Arrows with the Cardiff Byways but were now given a new dimension with the extra wheel. The skull cinema provided replays of lots of kms shared with the legendary Dave Lewis as we rolled along. As we neared Swinefleat, we were greeted by a swift procession of headlights and cheery hellos from our fellow riders who were now heading to the arrivee. Soon we were threading our way through Goole to the 24 hour garage and 377km under our wheels.

Next on the menu was a little off route excursion to sunny Scunny for some well earned sleep at the Travelodge. In our search for the Travelodge we had our first sighting of the fleet of Eliptigos, headed up by Stuart Boemfield. Why they were in Scunthorpe which wasn’t on the route in either direction is still a mystery yet to be answered. Reception at the Travelodge was fantastic, ensuring the ShelaghT had a warm cosy spot to sleep until morning.

Five fifteen am and we were back on the road. This time for another arrow control town, Gainsborough. As we arrived at the control we made our second sighting of the Eliptigos who had been getting full value by riding all night.

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As time is kilometers, we remounted with about half an hour of control closing time. Our last sighting of the fleet of Eliptigos , esconsed on Stuarts back wheel was made as we passed them on route for Lincoln. Sleaford would be our next destination.

A swift second ‘breakfast’ was purchased at Greggs in Sleaford. We then pedalled into glorious sunshine towards the next control; another legendary cyclists cafe, The Green Welly at Chatteris. The route took us through splendid Fen lanes with some fascinating surfaces if your were three wheeling.

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We caught up with Mike Wiggley who after waxing lyrical about his bivy spot zipped off into the distance. Passing the ‘Spoons’ in Spalding was just too much to resist, so we stepped inside for a swift pint of orange and lemonade. We weren’t the only weak ones, as Steve Poulton couldn’t resist stopping for a cup of coffee. We left as a group of three which was going to set the pattern for the final kilometers of the ride.

 

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Arrival at the Green Welly was magnificent as we caught up with many friends. Veloman, from the French 1000km adventure was there plus a small peloton of the Big Green Audax Machine from Ireland. The Tomsk the Tank-Engine peloton was sat at a family table with their head honcho and ride director, Tomsk stamping and signing our cards.

 

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Leaving Chattris, there was now only 80km of this rather fine weekend of three wheeling left. Our mini peloton of me, the Bike Butler, Steve and Mike stayed together until the arrivee. Some guest riders flitted in and out of the group, including an exiled Kiwi YACF forumite Alotronic and a chap from Jersey doing his first 600km brevet.

As we free wheeled into the arrivee, except for the Bike Butler who couldn’t IMG_1626’cause he was fixed, not only had we bagged a rather lovely 600km BRM brevet but we had beaten final food orders at the Angel and Harp pub, which was our controls. Dinner, a spot of brevet card admin and it was all to soon to leave the fantastic company of our fellow randonneurs for home.

If you haven’t ridden this brevet, it’s definitely one to put down on your to do list.  Although of the X-rated brand for AUK ride, the ride is brilliantly thought and laid out.  The route is rider friendly with minimum climbing with the charming towns and big view of the Fens, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire.

A Grand Day Out – VC 167 AUK National 400 2014

Nat 400 logo v2Friday Tea time. The Co-pilot expressed worry as we pedalled off on DaisyB to meet the Bike Butler to travel up to the AUK National 400km brevet. For captain confidence this was a little unusual. ‘Why’ I asked, ’cause it’s ten years since we’ve done this plus we didn’t have a third wheel in tow back then’. At 10am the following day we would find out if the Co-pilots worries true or just pre event tandem nerves.

Saturday morning dawned fine and sunny. McNasty style my saddle and pedals were installed on the back half of Rufus. The Co-pilot inspected Rufus’ rather wonderful toast rack bag and climbed in declaring that there was even a special pocket for him to sit in. Result. To complete pre brevet preparations Aidan and I took Rufus for a spin around the start car park. All was well, we could keep all three wheels attached to the ground and turn splendid circles in both directions.

At 10am on the dot the AUK peloton of round about 60 riders rolled out of the start and and straight onto a bike path. Rufus squeezed through the width restricters with just enough to spare. Off the bike path and onto the open road. All three wheels spun merrily and we sped off to the first control.

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The first control was at Ripon Spar Gardens. We were greeted by our controllers, Keith and Anne Benton, who have notched up 5 PBPs each. The cafe did us proud with a never ending stream of filled rolls and cakes. It was also our first taste of Yorkshire le Tour fever, with a half knitted bike; I’d never thought of using battenberg cake as pedals! Once we were refuelled it was time to head to the next control at Sedbergh.

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With the sun on our backs and the Bike Butler glued to our rear axle we rode along tour de France roads, which were decorated with tour bunting and yellow bikes of all shapes and sizes. We decided we liked the knitted jersey bunting the best. At the Sedbergh control we were welcomed by Steve’s team, which consisted of Kat, Lindsey, BOABlets #3 & 4 plus Steve’s guide dog. Kat and Lindsey and made and baked a spread of excellent food. Steve’s guide dog gave riders a swift leg wash with his tongue – how many rides do you get that type of service on!

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A-wheel again and our next stop would be Rosley control at 237km and new territory for both Aidan and me as we would then both be on our longest tandem trike ride ever.

The weather forecast had indicated some light rain. However, with a goodly sized group of randonneurs to pester the rain gods decided that they could do better than that and provided multiple hours of good quality medium to heavy rain. Rufus put a splendid show of his own on, as synchronised fountains of rain poured off his back wheels.

The Rosley control was another oasis of fine food and TLC. Bike parking was provided in doors and even Rufus managed to squeeze himself in. Amply repasted, we set off into the rain and dark to make our way to the sleep control at Slaggyford. Nigel, our route maestro provided an excellent night route over to Slaggyford on good quality roads that had a nice lack of technical challenges for those on ‘special’ machines.

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On arrival at Slaggyford, we were in yet another randonneurs four star oasis. Lots of familiar faces greeted us, with Julian checking us in and a whole host of helpers including AUK membership secretary – Mike W, Heather, an outstanding LEL lead controller and Daemon, AUKs very own film maker. Following yet more excellent food, it was decided that the luxury of multiple hours of sleep could be had. We would rise at 4am and depart about 4:30 am. This would allow for the rain to pass over but also that well known lady, Dawn to great us as we rode over Yad Moss.

Both the scenery and the food on this ride just kept surpassing it’s self. The control chefs had brewed perfect porridge accompanied by tinned peaches for breakfast. Before departure, a Blue Peter moment was had as Roger’s blanket was cunningly turned into two chest warmers by Aidan (he did have permission sir!) Suitably refreshed, attired warmly and refuelled it was time to get pedalling again.

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If you want a smooth ride over the Alston pave at the start of the Yad Moss climb, go by tandem trike. Rufus, ably driven by Aiden provided the smoothest passaged I’ve ever had on this climb. Yad Moss didn’t disappoint. As we climbed the clouds lifted and the sun came out providing a panorama of never ending views. The decent down to Middleton in Teesdale was a series of fast straights and swishing curves and sneaky hair pins. Once in Middleton, a swift break for malt loaf was had and we were on our way again. We would cover about 10km of classic London Edinburgh London route, including the wooden bridge, before we branched off to our control.

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Our perception of the next 40km to our final control at Aldbough was that we were in plod mode. However, the GPS track hotly denied this and in fact we were keeping a very respectable pace. On arrival at the control we were greeted by Dick McT. Then that infamous duo of Kat and Lindsey were baking and cooking again along with the brilliantly helpful BOABlets. Freshly made muffins, with our without chocolate perfectly complimented the usual breakfast fare.

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With only 35km left to the arrivee we set off into a day that was warming up very nicely. We caught up with a couple of solos. Each time they were greeted by the Bike Butler to ‘hop on’ which they did, giving Rufus his own petit tail of riders, attached to his rear axel by you know who.

After such a splendid weekend a-wheel it seemed a bit of a shame to end it by turning in to the arrivee. But unfortunately normal like beckoned and it had to be done.

I’d like to thank Nigel and AndyC, who headed up the organising team of VC167 and friends. They provided an excellent route and administration. Another big thank you goes to all the control helpers, with out whom this event wouldn’t have been the first class experience it became for all of the riders. The TLC we received at every control was the icing on the cake. For me it was a real blast from the past, as this was just how National 400s used to be in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The next AUK National 400 is already in planning for 2015, an event that needs to go on the must not be missed list.

Photos on Flickr

Rapha #womens100 – 20th July 2014

Womens 100The offer of sister Rapha patch to join the three #festive500 patches ridden in 2013, 2012 & 2011 was enough to get myself, on Casper the Little White Moulton accompanied by the Co-pilot out for a 100km spin, the minimum qualification distance for this Rapha event. The temptation to bag more kms was averted having recently ridden the Mile Failte 1200km LRM brevet in Ireland, UAF 600km audax brevet to the Galibier and the Cycle Club Montebourg – Saint Germain de Tournebut 1000km ACP brevet in France over the past couple of weeks.

The day was made extra special knowing that my little wheeled friend, Poom CHANGBOONCHOO, of the Thailand Moultoneers would be riding a 100km with other women on tiny tyres in their bid to qualify for the Rapha patch in Thailand.  Other girlfriends were riding on big wheels; Georgina HARPER leading the Cardiff Ajax group and Audax Victoria’s Sarah CHAPLIN down under.  All successfully completed the challenge.

Where to go was the next question, the vote was unanimous, we would go around one of our favourite circuits that would take in old father Thames and a visit to the beeches. The only thing that the Co-pilot instead on was that photos would be taken and would include him doing his poseur thing.

Off we pedalled into a lovely warm day. As the little wheels spun around the sun came out and the sky went from a rather non descriptive grey to blue with fluffy white clouds. With only a slight breeze, the kms rolled by all too quickly. As we rolled up our drive to the bike room, the Garmin confirmed mission accomplished with 111km on the clock.

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The route

 

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A brief pause to admire Brunel’s handwork at Maidenhead

 

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Not a day to observe this sign!

 

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Enjoying the Beech(s)

 

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The Co-pilot on the Rivet (saddle that is!)

 

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Me and Casper

Rapha Festive 500 2013

Festive 500 2013_logoThis was my third consecutive Festive 500.  I was looking for a new twist in the string of rides that would form my 500km as I’d be covering pretty much the same ground as in the previous editions.   I decided to try and tell the story of the rides through the camera lens, rather than words.  Looking for photos whilst riding is always a joy and looking for new and interesting shots on very familiar roads is a challenge, which I hope I’ve met.  I tweeted the photos as the Festive 500 progressed via Tumblr for immediacy and also loaded the photos on Instagram.  Here in the blog, I’ve picked what I think are the best shots and added a few more words about my journey  to completing the Festive 500 challenge.  A new personal best mileater annual mileage of 17,039 miles (27,442km) would also be achieved by New Years Eve.

Preparation   Testing the deep-water cycling shoes seemed essential as the forecast was for another wet Festive 500.

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24th December 2013  Off to work was the order of the day for the night before Christmas.  Getting off work early, I took the opportunity to ride the lanes home.  The rain gods did visit and they gave a feeling of déjà vu.

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Festive 500 2012 revisited!

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A wonderful sunset ended the day as Scotti the roadified MTB bagged the first kms towards the Festive 500.

25th December 2013  Was the traditional (for me) Christmas Day 200km permanent brevet from home to Munsley Acre with the Bike Butler for the Marlboro AC Christmas holiday.

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A visitation from a rather too merry Pst….. Fairy, mere kms from home

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A traditional randonneur’s Christmas day lunch!

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A crisp and bright day showed the Cotswolds off beautifully

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Twinkle light at Newent with only a handful of kms to the arrivee and Christmas dinner with the Marlboro AC, my father’s old cycling club.

26th December 2013  Boxing day started off foggy before icy sunshine led to a beautiful day a-wheel with a small Marlboro AC peloton.

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The sun rises over the Malvern Hills

27th December 2013  Time to head home, up and over the Cotwolds and then the Chiltern Hills.   The day started off with heavy rain showers but, by Stow-on-the-Wold, had ‘fined up’.  However the promised tail wind failed to show!

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Stanway looked superb as we grovelled our way to Stow-on-the-Wold

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and a proper lunch at the CTC-approved St Edwards cafe.

28th December 2013  Time for some erandonneuring with Scotti back on duty, having spent the Christmas holiday at Munsley Acre on Zoe C, a flat-bar Condor cyclocrosser.

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29th December 2013  Rain stopped play; a zero km day.

30th December 2012  More Erandonneuring for a few more kms in the bank.

31st December 2013  My last opportunity to collect kms for both the Festive 500 and the mileater diary.

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The perfect sign to farewell 2013 and to greet 2014.

Factiods

Festive Total 705km
By Scotti 237km
By Zoe C 468km
punctures 1
photos taken 18
Audaxes 2
Shopping trailer loads 2

 

Scotti and the Skog

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The Bike Butler wanted to keep his Randonneur Round the Year going, just in case his 205km L’Eroica didn’t pass muster. I simply needed to feed the mileater diary as, due to bad weather and a rather good-looking Italian virus keeping me off the bike, it was getting rather peckish. Work miles simply weren’t enough to meet the diary’s voracious appetite. So it was decided that we’d ride the 100km Emitemmus Desrever as an Extended Calendar Event (ECE). We live roughly 50km from the start, so there and back plus event added up to 200km.

What we hadn’t planned on were the weather gods getting together to produce some really exceptional weather. Casper the Little While Moulton was cleaned and fettled ready to ride. However, given the forecast for big (and I mean BIG) winds and large rain plus the existing mega-skog factor and assorted leaf chutney in the lanes, I decided a change of steed was a must.

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Following a nano-second of thought, the most suitable steed in the stable had to be Scotti the mountain bike. At 14kg (he’s a tiny bit more but doesn’t like to own up), this bike was certainly going to glue itself to the road, no matter the strength of any side winds. 26” wheels shod with a Big Apple rear and a Nimbus Flak Jacket front were going to be surefooted on skoggy and pothole-infested lanes. With the Alfine 11 hub, puddles would have to be lakes before Scotti couldn’t splash through. And the final clincher, the dyno-hub would provide unlimited light for our return, given that the clocks had just gone back and the wind would be in our face. The only worry was; was I up to peddling Scotti for 200km? His longest ride ever was just over 100km, so this would be double-bubble.

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The ride out to the start was perfect. The rain had stopped and the wind was at our backs. The wind-assisted pace meant we arrived somewhat earlier than intended. However, that gave us the chance to enjoy the pre-ride ambience, admire the massed carbon bling and watch the well-oiled machine of Stevenage CTC volunteers ensuring riders were at the start line on time and with their brevet cards in their back pockets.

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Our group E started at 10:20 which was great as it meant we got to start with WilkyBoy, a little-wheeled AUK friend who was riding (as usual) his Brompton. He’d recently completed London Edinburgh London on it. He did a double-take on seeing that my wheels had grown from 20” to 26” (not full sized yet though!). The group sped off into the lanes to the first of three check points. The GPS track was perfect and Scottie, though not the fastest bike on two wheels, weaved through the hazard-filled lanes perfectly and seemed to sneak past quite a bit of carbon bling.

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Lunch at Saffron Walden (2nd check point) was very welcome with great service from the Mocha Café. Onto the final check point of the ride and the promise of WI caik! Would it be in the same league as Cheltenham WI caik? And the answer was ‘yes’. Fuelled by a rather wonderful slice of Victoria sponge, the last 25km to the arrivee into a rather large headwind was almost OK.

A quick cup of coffee and a chat to bhoot (tandem) and RideHard (with his uni-pedalled fixed wheel) and we were a-wheel again for the final 50km home into the headwind. Local knowledge, imparted to me by my Dad when I first stated cycling with the Marlboro AC, was invaluable. With the Bike Butler on fixed for the first time in many years and the weight of Scotti becoming a little bit noticeable, the reasonably flat route home was just what tired legs needed.

The Emitemmus Desrever in either its straight BP format, or as an ECE, is I think aStevenage5 perfect and very worthwhile ride for autumn. The organisation is brilliant and the route hits the spot; hilly enough to be interesting but not so hilly as to be disheartening. Since I first rode this as one of my very early brevets in 1997 as Summer Time Reversed, it has certainly grown but despite the numbers, it never feels manic and the controls/ volunteers always seem to be able to cope with the volume of riders. 

Radio Silence

Through a combination of hours in the saddle and limited Internet access updates on the ride are being made to brevetbird.tumblr.com