Category Archives: Sans brevet card

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.

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

Ticket To Ride

TUESDAY 10th SEPTEMBER
The fantastic company of the Moultoneers and a ride to Two Tunnels at Bath led by Dan Farrell was just too irresistible. So instead of Sunday being spent pedalling over to Hay on Wye we had a fantastic day on the Moultoneers ‘long ride’. Back in BoA at 3pm we headed home to Pinner by car to regroup and do some detailed planning which up till then we had rather over looked.

With the help of the Apple, the Internet and a Brompton train assisted ride to buy a train ticket, we now had a bomb proof plan which satisfied me and the Co-pilot. If the going got to tough for us we had a route ready and waiting on the GPS to make our life easier.

We are now ensconced on the Virgin train service to Glasgow, where we will alight at Lancaster. The Co-pilot and I are enjoying the indulgent delights of first class while Casper the Little White Moulton is in the bike room in standard class.

Once at Lancaster, we then ride to Longtown via Shap. The weather has fined up from Momday’s persistent rain, so it should be a great afternoon a-wheel.

Only down side is Postie is injured so we will be riding solo from JoG until we take our Caledonian sleeper home.

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A Grand Day Out – Pedal On UK (London)

The Prologue

PedalOnBlog23In order to start PedalOnUK me, my Condor bike, the Co-pilot, the pannier rack bag combo had to get from work in Isleworth to the pre-ride meet up, meal and overnight stay in down town Stratford (London E20). A micro adventure seemed to be in order. Therefore, I commissioned BikeHub to devise one by giving it the start and finish locations. Once created, it was fed into the faithful Garmin Etrex GPS and we were ready to ride once the home time bell rang at work.

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Given that the plan was to pedal rather then make donations to TfL each end of the Pedal On UK leg, keeping the luggage to a minimum was the order of packing. Various cunning plans were deployed, including leaving the Co-pilots sleeping bag at home. I was swiftly informed that ‘he wouldn’t be able to ride like the Sky boys’ if he couldn’t sleep in his own ‘bag’ the night before a big ride. I informed him that he was an international randonneur so could sleep anywhere, including the Holiday Inn, Stratford.

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For almost 100% of our journey to the inky depths of London, E20 BikeHub provided a delightful route. It saw us threading our way through some of the hidden gems of London, including some brilliant tucked away cobbled mews. We used the London Cycle Network several times and so got to experience bike rush hour, which although a little frenetic is a delight as it consists of bicycles and people of all shapes and sizes. Then, about 5km from our destination; The Holiday Inn Stratford, the joy of riding expired as we alighted onto CS2 otherwise known as the A11. If Dante had written about bike paths, this one would have featured in purgatory. Shortly after CS2 expired without warning we were at journeys end.

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The Stage (Stratford E20 to Cheshunt)

After a good pre ride feast and a nights rest at the Holiday Inn, the London Pedal On UK peloton was ready to ride. Our ride guides would be Saddle Skedaddle. The ride would be short, but with lots packed in. Our first port of call would be to pick up our ‘celebs’ and do one of many official photo shoots. The ride was short and sweet to rendezvous with Dame Kelly Holmes, David Stone (Paralympian road race trikie) Wayne Hemmingway and Lydia Rose Bright, which would provide the perfect back drop of the Olympic stadium to the shots that the Press would be taking.

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Then it was another short spin to Victoria Park for the bike breakfast where Pedal On UK was officially launch by Malcolm Shepherd, Sustrans director. Some socialising and ride reporting onto the PedalOnUK blog and it was time Pedal On. The next destination was the unveiling of the South Bermondsey portrait bench. We arrived to the most marvellous carnival atmosphere, despite persistent drizzle. With the portraits of Michael Caine, Phyllis Pearsall (of A-Z fame) and local cycling hero Barry Mason unveiled, it was time to pedal our way through central London via the Rotherhithe ferry which disembarks into the reception at the Hilton hotel Canary Wharf and then to the Paddington portrait benches where our celebs would end their ride.

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We continued to turn the pedals onto lunch in the Finsbury Park cafe, bagging the Downhills portrait bench on our way. After a fantastic lunch organised by Saddle Skidaddle a leisurely ride was taken via the Lee Valley Park to our arrivee at Cheshunt. Despite his inadequate sleeping arrangements (the rack bag), the Co-pilot’s form had been top notch. The local Sustrans group and Mayor welcomed us with the most marvellous cakes plus the cyclist staple of tea or ‘if you must’ coffee. It was then time to bid our farewells to our follow Pedal On UK peloton members and Saddle Skidaddle tour guides as we each made our way onwards in many different directions.

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 Heading for Home

It was time for BikeHub via our Garmin to show us the way home. All started well as we went up and over the Paul Culley Bridge. At the bottom of the bridge, rather than continue on NCR1 we had to make an awkward turn to take a grassy footpath. There were not dramas in riding this until we came to this kissing gate that would not let cycles pass. By detaching the pannier bag, then hefting the bike over the metal fence we were able to make our right turn onto a metalled road. All went smoothly for less then 2km, where we arrived at a set of big and very shut electric gates upon which was a notice that said ‘phone reception to open’ and gave a number. Not wishing to retrace, we took the phone option. The lady at reception duly released the gates for us and we were on our way. PedalOnBlog210Everything was going smoothly, BikeHub taking us on a quite and pleasant route. That was until a certain psstttt fairy struck. Front wheel inner tube swapped for one that would contain air rather than deflate, we were a-wheel again, arriving home at just gone 8pm after a rather grand day out with Pedal On UK and a 100km offering for the 2013 Mile Eater diary.

Photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/swift_swallow/sets/72157635198866152/

Pedal On UK – A Welcome Change of Pace

Pedal On8Back in 2012, with the Olympics just about on my door step, my preferred involvement was ‘hands on’ rather than buying a ticket and going to watch one of the events. Sustrans provided just the right opportunity, firstly by asking for volunteer Active Travel Champions from within the NHS (my employer) and then asking those volunteers if they would like to support BikeBuddies with their led rides to the Olympic events in London, including the Olympic Park. I volunteered for both as I love using my bike as transport as well as for leisure and formerly for racing. I particularly liked the idea of trying to get more people cycling and walking to work as I’ve personally found it of great benefit to my physical and mental well-being as well as my wallet.

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Leading the rides to various London Olympic sites was a lot of fun and enabled me to meet up with both Sustrans volunteers outside my immediate area and members of the public. The routes we used, particularly to the Olympic Park used quite back roads and Sustrans routes, so were a delight to ride thanks to the careful and meticulous planning / route testing of Lynne from BikeBuddies. It also unexpectedly provided an excellent opportunity to see the Olympics at first hand; the cycling time trial.

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Post 2012 and a change in work location; Charing Cross Hospital to West Middlesex Hospital I continued with being an Active Travel Champion. I’m not too sure if I have made a particularly big impact on people’s travel habits as the NHS is a slow moving organisation that is set in its ways. However, when I do get the chance to encourage people to walk or cycle to work I’m happy to chat and provide encouragement. As a result one colleague is now walking as part of his work travel a couple of times a week.

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Much to my surprise, I was invited to be part of the London Pedal On, which I happily accepted as it sounded like a great event to be involved in. It would also provide a welcome change of pace from the long distance riding that I was already planned, including London Edinburgh London 1400km brevet, which would be ridden just shy of two weeks before Pedal On. The promise of a mini urban adventure mainly on cycle routes clinched the deal.

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An unexpected spin-off of being part of Pedal On is to be asked to be a Ride Reporter for the London leg of the event. I’d been reluctant to ‘do’ the blog, Twitter and Flicker ‘thing’ back in 2012. But with the encouragement of the Bike Butler, it’s something that I’ve come to enjoy. The only problem has been that you can’t write a blog and spend lots of hours a-wheel at the same time. Thankfully the Ride Reporting will be done real-time, so a perfect fit with the riding.

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The London leg of Pedal On UK departs from the Victoria Park (Bonner Gate) on Friday 16th August 2013, 07:00 to 12:00. There are events for members of the public as well as the pre-arranged riding group. If you have time to come along, please do.

On The Rivet

The Bike Butler persuaded me to try a Brooks saddle a couple of years back, a ladies Brooks Imperial. Despite my protests that ‘the Swallow backsides are not made to fit a Brooks’, it turned out the female Swallow backside fitted a Brooks perfectly, unlike the male counterpart (my Dad and his Brooks B17 saddle had a large and very permanent falling out).

As and when, the randonneur bikes in my stable have had their Terry saddles switched for the now-beloved Brooks Imperial. Each of the new Imperials quickly became comfortable and being made of cowhide, provided the final bit of custom compensation for my short leg. Riding long randonnees was a delight, until rain came into the equation. The Texas Stampede 1200 killed the first of my Imperials as the cowhide seemed not to cope with some large helpings of Texas rain, despite a rain cover.  The nice comfy little dimples grew as the kilometres increased.  The saddle got downgraded to my Brompton well within a year.  The kilometres of 2 PBPs (Audax and Randonneur) plus some weather hastened the life span of another Imperial that year.  Yet again formerly-little dimples became big fat ones, leading to compromised comfort.  Chatting to other dedicated Brooks users, several seemed to be experiencing similar problems with their modern Brooks saddles as the Bike Butler and me.

Brooks new & old

At the recent London Bike Show, the Bike Butler had a long, but not exactly fruitful conversation with Mr Brooks with regard to the issues we were experiencing.  The next port of call was the Carradice stand, where until this year you’d only expect to find bike luggage.  However they are now the UK distributor for Deborah Banks’ Rivet Cycle Works saddles, which had already caught the attention of the Bike Butler on the internet.  After a long chat with Mr Carradice, who had used a Rivet saddle that he was seriously pleased with, plus being able to take a close look at the saddles in the flesh, an order was placed.

upside down

The Rivet Pearl was installed on my audax winter bike.  The first test was a 70km spin.  The Rivet felt little different to a Brooks ladies Imperial even though it is a male saddle.  It didn’t have the instant perfect comfort of a Brooks due to being significantly firmer, but this wasn’t a problem.  The next test was a 200km randonnee.  Again, the Rivet was still noticeably firmer that a Brooks, but that didn’t impede overall comfort.  270km and still no dimples; unlike my Brooks Imperials which after this level of usage were noticeably ‘broken in’.

on the bike
I’m almost sold on the Rivet saddle over my current Brooks.  A few longer rides, such as an Easter Arrow, will decide whether my 3rd LEL will be ridden on the Rivet.

Finally, the blog is up and running again.

After suffering almost total power failure from May onwards in 2012, lots of time has been spent in catch up.

Firstly chasing miles; the 200,000 mile point continued to beckon after some disappointing long rides in 2012. The most frustrating and entertaining event being GSR 1000km, where my cycling orthortics took their own exciting trip to Oz via London, Stansted, Paris, China, Sydney and Melbourne. They finally caught up with me at Port Campbell as the long distance Abandonneurs (me, Paul Cribb, Howard Dove, et al) rolled to the 100km point on our ‘ride to redemption’, the GSR 300km from Port Fairy to the finish. The year ended on 13,108 miles, with the home straight of 100,000 to ride for entry to the 300,000 miles club being passed by the end of February this year.

Moulton Melbourne

Riding was made more challenging last year when my Graves Disease went out of remission. Persisting with a couple of 1000km brevets delayed getting well a tad and proved very frustrating. Completing these rides became impossible; a completely new experience for me. Thankfully, my immune system has decided to play ball again and I’m back in remission.

Riding the Met

100% pedal power was finally restored via my podiatrist kindly sorting new orthotics for me, in exchange for some dosh. It turns out that carbon orthotics have less miles in them than me; apparently they are not designed to do 50,000 miles before replacement. My podiatrist has commanded that my orthotics are MOTed annually so I’ll regularly be pedalling to Muswell Hill, rather than on regardless.

Origami

2012 allowed lots of a-wheel photographic opportunities that led to a nine month Flickr upload backlog, now mostly cleared. I’ve enjoyed reliving a kaleidoscope of bike-enabled memories including leading BikeBuddies rides to the Olympics, becoming a Sustrans Active Travel Champion, taking part in several Origami rides and finishing with an aquatic Rapha Festive 500.

London Olympics

The last nut to crack has been uploading some randonnee/ audax ride reports that had collected virtual reality dust in the inner sanctum of the Mac. The following ride reports have finally been added; 2011, the year of the double PBP, chasing an ISR patch in double quick time and riding with the herd around Texas Rando Stampede.

Xmas floods

The Brevet Bird & her faithful sidekick, The Co-pilot.