Category Archives: 300, 000 mile club

Rapha Festive 500 2014 – Numbers within Numbers

Rapha Festive 500 2014This year’s Festive 500 unintentionally acquired a theme – numbers.  Like a Russian doll within 29,000 would sit 500 and within this 8 would sit and within this 4 would sit.

The journey to the two biggest numbers, 29,000 and 500 would be accomplished by working through to number 8 which would lead to 4.  Here’s how things unfolded.

Day 1

The day started quietly with a ride to work on near deserted roads.  I was let off early as ’it twas the night before Christmas’.  With time on one hand and a bike on the other, the lanes beckoned. From Fulham I shimmied along old father Thames, then through to Syon Park.  Then there was the endless grey of Southall and Hillingdon, temporarily broken up by a short stretch along the Grand Union canal.

Finally into the lovely lanes of Buckinghamshire as twilight arrived.  Not as many houses decorated with festive lights as in Essex on the weekend, but enough to make the night bright and warm.  A small chunk of local suburbia and then I was at the door to the bikeroom.  102km

Darkness

Day 2

Christmas Day and a brilliantly sunny day waited, so time for a festive spin.  Scotti (MTB) was taken out of the bikeroom for his second Festive 500 ride.  Rack bag with inbuilt co-pilot was attached and the Garmin set in motion.  We headed for one of my favourite local loops, which contained ample skog and leaf chutney for Scotti to enjoy himself plus some super lanes.

The sunshine had brought out lots of folk walking, some of which shared season’s greetings.  The roads were as quiet as a mouse, which was rather nice.  I spotted three topless Noddy cars despite temperatures being somewhat nippy.  The count of fellow bike riders was seriously sadly no more than the Noddy cars. 72km

The Picture House, Bricket Wood

Day 3

This wasn’t just Boxing Day, but provided 62km could be ridden the number 29,000 would appear.  The day dawned cold and grey.  I dug ZoeC out of the bikeroom and off we went, with the co-pilot in winter cycling coat in the rack bag.  I zigzagged through my local lanes, pinging in and out of three counties (Middlesex, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire).  Unfortunately, the weather forecast was right and bang on schedule it began to rain.

The Co-pilot

A watchful eye was kept on the Garmin for 62km to turn up. This happened just at the Croxley Green prime sign.  The biggest number of the numbers within numbers had been reached.

Despite the rain, stopping for a commemorative photo was a must.  With only 12km to go until reaching home and with the 29,000 captured, the trundle home was really quite jolly despite the rain becoming heavier. 80km

year total, 29,000km

Day 4

A short errandonneuring ride with Scotti and the Gecko trailer.  Quite cold, but towing a fully loaded trailer of groceries up hill home kept me warm.  As that well known supermarket says ‘every little helps’. 14km

Eranndoneur

Day 5

The quite cold of Day 4 was blasted into old news by the super cold day of Day 5.  By 3pm the roads had defrosted enough to venture a-wheel.  Using some well-known former commuting routes, a swift two and a half hour ride was put in.  Thoughts of Pat Kenny, AUKs late great super mileater creeping out into the dark of the night to come by some illicit miles came into my head as I zoomed through the darkness.  Did normal people go out for night time bike rides I asked myself?  Answer still pending.  51km

Christmas cyclingDays 6 and 7

For these days I was back to the commute.  So just bog standard days.  However, I wasn’t to know that Day 6 would up the ante on super cold and that Day 7 would lift the bar higher.  Frost masqueraded as micro snow and some Big Apple ice dancing was performed in tandem with Scotti.  Thankfully we remained up-right.   128km

Christmas pudding for the head

Day 8

The cold of the final morning of the Festive 500 hit an all-time high, er low of -2C.  The roads were seriously quiet which translated into super icy as there weren’t enough cars to chase away the ice and frost.  Work were being kindly and I was able to leave early.  The icing on the cake was that the weather had changed its mind and had decided not to be cold.  Without hesitation I headed the long way home to enjoy the extra free time a-wheel.  Before reaching home the number 500 was past and then added to.  92km

Fulham Bridge

And the numbers as that old C&W song goes;

  • 29,000   is the number of kms that I have ridden this year
  • 500   is the number of kms that you need to ride to complete a Festive 500
  • 8 i  s the number of riding days for the Festive 500
  • 4   this is now the number of Festive 500s that I have completed

It’s been a rather splendid Rapha Festive 500.

Photos on Flickr

Kilometers Rich; Time Poor

 After last years trials and tribulations caused by a combination of getting sick and unknowingly wearing out my very essential orthotics, it’s been good to feel fit and healthy again. It wasn’t until a month or so ago, that I realised what an impact my soggy and ride weary carbon fibre orthotics had been making. They were the main reason for the back issues that I had suffered in Portugal and Australia. The new springy carbon fibre orthotics that were installed in November, had by May worked their magic. Riding up big hills now didn’t involve extended conversations with granny and the big ring on Casper again became the ring of preference for riding on flat and undulating ground. Riding became a joy again and resulted in lots of kilometres accumulating, but leaving me time poor for activities outside of turning the pedals and going to work. Hence the miles eater diary has been regularly fed but the blog has been on a rather low word diet.

Thus far the planned big rides have all worked out, even if the Israeli 1,000km brevet involved a nail biting finish with only 10 minutes to spare at the arrivee. The campaign to complete the Aigle d’Or has also been successful, with the final 1,900 audax kilometres being bagged in France and an autumn pizza party to look forward to with the Alsace 67 audax group. To keep things balanced, there is a second ACF R5000 award to claim. I’ve also taken Casper to meet the joys of the Welsh mountains on the Bryan Chapman 600 rando (my 9th edition). It was a splendid weekend a-wheel and I’m quite sure we’ll be back.

Next on the menu is London Edinburgh London, which starts Sunday 28th July from Loughton, nr London. This will be my 3rd edition. Through no particular planning each edition has been ridden on a different bike, a Robert’s steel frame then an Enigma titanium frame. For this edition it will be Casper the Little White Moulton. There is no pre-planned schedule for this ride. Like all of my long brevets, I’m using the turn up and see how it goes approach. Riding like this has so far always produced a memorable and unexpected adventure within the structure of a randonnee. Hopefully the one thing missing from this LEL will be ‘weather’, particularly rain or cold, which have graced both previous LELs in unprecedented quantities.

As we speak, Casper the Little White Moulton and the Co-Pilot are poised to commence the next brevet adventure.

Mile Eater Diary – March 2012

March started with the weather gods suffering from some kind of delusion. They clearly thought it was April rather than March, so provided nearly two weeks of glorious sunshine and soft kindly breezes. However, in the run up to Easter, someone switched the sun off and it was back to the chilly temperatures of winter, accompanied on occasion with endless grey skies.

The Bike Butler had installed Scottie’s Alfine 11 speed hub and it was time to put this new and exciting technology (to me) to the test. The first spin to collect some groceries showed lots of promise, once you got used to a little more weight at the rear of the bike than with the old dérailleur set up. Working my way through MG’s utilitiare challenge meant that Scottie was called upon to perform more day-to-day tasks, including riding to work and eventually pulling the Gecko trailer fully loaded with groceries. He excelled at it, with his lovely new range of hub gears. Having now ridden him enough kms, Scottie is again a firm favourite for utility tasks, including commuting.

The first event in March was the South Bucks Chiltern Hills Brevet. Organiser Terry Lister, ensured that he didn’t get caught out under the trades description act with the ride constantly winding up and over the Chiltern Hills for 200km in glorious sunshine. The South Bucks DA did an excellent job of providing tea, cakes and savoury delights for many hungry cyclists on both the 200km and 100km as they passed in and out of the HQ in Great Kingshall.

Then a change of pace with the Man of Kent 200km. It declined to play in the Kentish hills, but instead found, for the most part, flat roads to ride on. The bunch set off in chilly, foggy conditions but donning arm and leg warmers with the hope of better things to come when the sun came out. Alas, this didn’t occur, but the pesky headwind turned into a marvellously helpful tailwind to gently push riders to the arrivee.

The now cold weather followed me and the Bike Butler through the Chunnel and over to Paris for a Union des Audax Francais brevet. This is a group brevet at a scheduled pace of 22.5kph with defined breaks, including lunch, and led by appointed riders. The event started and finished at St Remy Les Chevreuse on the outskirts of Paris and wandered along gently rolling D roads, returning on schedule at 7pm with 200km on the computer.

In things to look forward to, there is Casper the Little White Moulton’s return from his surgery at ‘The Hall’. Plus going over to Queensland, Oz for my first rando Dirt Ride. The Bike Butler and I will also be doing the Beaches and Beyond 1000km rando that Frank Papp created before dying from a collision with a kangaroo whilst training for last year’s PBP.

And last but not least, my Rapha Festive 500 patch arrived. Well worth the effort of putting in the kms over the Christmas period and lots of fun following fellow festive 500 participants on Twitter and Strava. Something to put in the diary for this year.

Mile Eater Diary – February 2012

As January quietly slipped into February the weather gods kept to their commitment to provide temperatures that where akin to those found in a freezer. Not daunted I continued to pedal; hermetically sealed in my club mega windblocker jacket along with plenty of merino wool and windblocker cycle longs. Just as I was approaching the weekly minimum 400km target the weather gods did the dastardly deed and spent a whole Sunday depositing loads of nasty cold white stuff on the ground. I was left looking out of the window admiring the fine whiteness of the outside world for the next 7 days. The only respite came when I was able to sneak 12km down to Sainsbugs and back on the Brompton in between top up snow fall.

Thankfully, the weather gods got fed up with their little game and allowed the weather to fine up and purposeful cycling to recommence. The improvement in the weather was so good that a near perfect day was provided for the Reading Kennett Valley Run 200km randonnee. The peloton contained many of the ‘usual suspects’, including YACF’s Lyrca Man and RideHard in search of their February Randonneur Round the Year award ride. The controls at Hungerford and Bratton were as usual excellent, both cafes happily coping with a mega influx of hungry cyclists. Mick Simmons and his team did a fantastic job at the arrivee providing a warm welcome and a great post ride feast.

The Bike Hub app is great, particularly for navigating around central London. The best bit being that it knows all the cycle paths and cut-troughs that only a local rider would know. However, when it decides to have one of its bad bike Sat Nav days, things get not only interesting but very, very frustrating. Riding the Brompton to my new place of work with the Bike Hub navigating (as and when it felt like it) provided some unexpected but interesting urban adventures. The route is now safely logged in my brain’s navigation SIM card, so no more suffering from the vagaries of Mr Bike Hub. Although, having tried other bike Sat Nav Apps, this is the best one by far and keeps improving all the time.

The Bike Butler sourced and installed the most fantastic pair of pedals onto the Brompton. The Wellgo plug-in pedals allow you the luxury to choose either SPDs or flat pedals but when folding the Brompton, the pedals aren’t in the way as they simply pull out and then plug in when you are ready to ride again. Having thoroughly tested them in and around town, including on Gypsy Bugs Utilitaire challenge, they get big ‘thumbs up’.

In ’ things to look forward to’, the spoke elves finally visited Chez Brevet Bird as February faded into March with the necessary spokes for the Alfine 11 speed hub and it’s rim. So once the bike butler has knitted the spokes with the hub and rim, the first spin on Scotti avec Alfine isn’t too far way. Also, I still need to check out if the ‘Remede du Randonneur’ works that I was recently given!

Mile Eater Diary – January 2012

After January 2010, it was like getting an extended Christmas present with the perfect winter cycling weather that January 2011 presented. Knowing that the weather gods can give with one hand and then take back as quickly with the other, utilizing the good weather a-wheel was a must.

A first was scored, by riding the calendar version of the Poor Student 200km randonnee event from Oxford. It is a ride that is usually cursed with cold and icy conditions. This edition was positively balmy. The route is simple but effective with intermediate controls at Malmesbury and Chipping Campden. It was a chance to meet up with numerous friends, many chasing the AUK Randonneur Round the Year award. This included from the YACF forum Lycraman, having successfully completed his first in 2010 and RideHard who is aiming to obtain his first.

Unbelievably, the good weather continued and made the Willy Warmer 200km another fine day a-wheel. This is an excellent winter ride mainly on good A and B roads, with not too many secret squirrel info controls, so even in bad years it is usually rideable. The organisation as always was excellent, so a big thumbs up to Paul Stewart from the Willesden.

The weather gods were of course bound to change their minds and retract the good weather. The super freezy elves were let loose on just about the last week in January. A good day meant that its zenith at high noon reached a heady 4C. The only upside to the cold spell was little or no humidity. This translated as little or no risk of ice, so grumbling about the Sahara like conditions created by the spread but unused road salt seemed a little out of order. I closed the month with over double the mileage tally of January 2010, keeping quest to reach 200,000 recorded miles by the close of play this year on target.

In ‘things to look forward to’, my new Alfine 11 speed hub arrived. This is to re-new the rear wheel that I wore out on my Scott MTB in December after many years of faithful service over countless miles. I’m now just waiting on spokes, rims and my tame bike butler to put it all together and I can go out for a test ride.

2011 Mile Eater Diary Round-up

As ever, when the final tally for the year is totalled, you always wish it was a bit more. However, with a desperate January and February from unforeseen things like flu, complaining that 13,377 miles isn’t enough would be churlish.

Miles a-wheel of course usually equate to great memories and wonderful adventures. Within the 2011 mileage, there are heaps of both and plenty of rides with new and old cycling friends. To pick out one outstanding memory / adventure would be tough. Vying for top spot would be the inaugural Texas Stampede Rando 1200, my first ride on Casper ‘the little white Moulton’ and PBP Audax and PBP Randonneur. The two memories that stand out most are from the PBPs. The first is the unscheduled all night chase on PBP Audax with Dave Minter and  Yves, (a French rider) to get back to the peloton; achieved but with an uncomfortably close margin. The second is my last night of PBP Rando, riding with Edwin Hargreaves (on trike) to Mortagne-au-Perche trying to chase down Jim Hopper (also on trike). Although we failed in this mission, we had a party riding up hill and down, pulling back endless tail lights.

Being lucky enough to ride three international 1200s in one year ensured I met up with lots of old friends from around the world. It also gave me the opportunity to make new friends, including people that I had only ‘met’ via Twitter and blogs, such as the Daily Randonneur tandem team, Mary Gersema (Gypsy Bug) and Edward Felker. Following their escapades in the virtual reality world of the web is even better for knowing the real people.

The mileage year ended with an unforeseen splash, when Dave pointed me in the direction of the Rapha 500 challenge. With the Twitter, blogs and Strava all going, I rapidly got wrapped up in collecting kilometres and would up with a surplice at close of play. However, with the brief to collect photos and write about the week, the whole project was given an added edge that I really enjoyed.

Looking forward to 2012, there is plenty of milestones and targets out there. If the mileage gods smile kindly on me, I should hopefully reach 200,000 this December. I’ve been logging my miles since January 1999, so this will be a magic way point in my quest to become a member of the 300,000 mile club. Hopefully there will also be travel a-wheel with old friends in the UK and overseas and plenty of new friends to be found. There is also the challenge of capturing a whole 12 months a-wheel on ‘digital film’ via Flickr and Instagram, which although started late in 2011, has been a fantastic way of keeping an image diary to go along with the recorded miles.