Category Archives: Mile Eater

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

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A Mileating Start to 2015 – Steve starts chasing Tommy

Number 1 - One Tear Time TrialI’ve known Steve Abraham for so long now, I can’t really remember a time when his antics both on and off the bike haven’t been a part of my life.  Riding a November 600 with Steve and Ian Hennessey particularly stands out.   Steve’s ability to cover lots of miles, usually on brevets, and to eat large quantities of food is legendary within the Audax UK community.  Steve is putting both of these extra-special talents to take on Tommy Godwin’s long-standing year mileage record of 75,065 miles, set in 1939.

Being an audaxer used to riding his bike at odd hours of the night and not wanting to waste a minute of the 365 days he has to accumulate more miles than Tommy did, Steve started turning the pedals of his Raleigh bicycle at 00:01 on 1st January 2015.

Dream Machine - Mean Machine

After spending the night a-wheel, Steve rocked up at 10am to ride his club’s New Year’s Day 10 mile time trial.  Well, every little helps!  Donning a number befitting the winner of the Tour de France, Steve sped (relatively speaking, with 116 miles in his legs) down the North Bucks Road Club course.  Playing with a rather evil headwind and sleepy tiredness, Steve returned to the time keeper half an hour later.  After speaking to the men from the telly, it was time to get pedalling again.  As Nev Chanin used to say, time is miles.

And he's off

Steve departed with a small peloton of AUKs in the direction of Bicester.  One of these being Drew Buck, well-known super-AUK for his exploits on various crazy machines around Paris Brest Paris.   Bunch banter was good with Drew telling us various stories, including the PBP where he and Steve shared a triplet bicycle with Nigel Winter as their middleman.  The persistent headwind was a bit pesky and the appearance of hedges and houses to slow the wind down was much appreciated.

Steve & Drew - Two AUK ledgens

After a night feasting on flapjack, the hunger gods tapped Steve on the shoulder and it was time to head to a source of food.  Cue an early visit to Bicester on top of the one planned at 3pm for a mega feed before heading back to Milton Keynes.  Steve’s encyclopaedic knowledge of food emporiums was deployed and a baby KFC was chosen.  Standing in the queue, Steve enjoyed a brief moment of normal life.  Once replete with chicken (sans tea or coffee, as the machine wasn’t working), it was time for Steve to ride in circles until his next scheduled rendezvous with Bicester’s eateries.   I swung in the opposite direction to meet up with the Bike Butler and then home.

No coffee, no tea - got to be Pepsi then

Score on the One Year Time Trial door for 01/01/2015: 222 miles (358km in new money) – mine was considerably less.

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.

Womens 100 map

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.

Festive 500 2013_1

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.

Festive 500 2013_2

Festive 500 2012 revisited!

Festive 500 2013_3

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.

Festive 500 2013_13

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

Festive 500 2013_4

A traditional randonneur’s Christmas day lunch!

Festive 500 2013_5

A crisp and bright day showed the Cotswolds off beautifully

Festive 500 2013_6

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.

Festive 500 2013_7

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!

Festive 500 2013_9

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

Festive 500 2013_14

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.

Festive 500 2013_10

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.

Festive 500 2013_11

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

  • Stevenage6

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.

Stevenage1

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.

Stevenage2b

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.

Stevenage2

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.

Stevenage4

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

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.