Tag Archives: rapha 500

Rapha Festive 500 #10, Part II

Team Brevet Bird rides for Harrison’s Fund

To catch up with the story so far click HERE

Day 5

The Evil Coldness

The view out of all windows at Chez Hirondelle confirmed cold.  Cars were thickly covered with frost, as were roof tops.  The birds huddled in big, fat leylandii trees rather than venture out to the bird feeding station to feast on fat blocks, dried mealworm and other delicacies.  There was only one sensible option; to watch the world change from white back to technicolour.

Slowly the frost cleared and the temperature on the weather station rose.  The coming together of these two things was such that I could schedule a post-lunch ride.  Road conditions improved sufficiently to choose Beryl the Kinesis with her almost-skinny fat tyres over Scotti the MTB with fat Big Apple tyres.

I alighted onto one of my regular home office commute circuits.  New Year’s Green lane was surprisingly OK (no slush-puppy corner) but with the ford in full spate.    Keeping to the main road passing through West Hyde and Maples Cross saved sloshing through the streams in the lanes.  I didn’t need to cross the Great Lake of Deadhearn Lane which I feared may have exceeded bottom bracket height, courtesy of Storm Bella.  Then a needless climb to immediately descend into Rickmansworth and back home.

For the whole ride I was in tier 4, with a significant amount of traffic passing me.  The opposite could be said of walkers and cyclists.  As I exited Rickmansworth to Moor Park and home, the number of lycra-clad males on road bikes increased.  More Festive 500-kilometre chasers?

Arriving at Chez Hirondelle, we were so cold that three of the team jumped onto the full-blast radiator to warm up.  Alas, I am not a suitable size for the radiator so a superhot shower for me.

58km for the day, running total 351km

Day 6

Time to go and visit the vampires

My vasculitis check-up was going to be a New Year’s Eve treat.  Therefore, time to visit the Charing Cross Hospital vampires and get a blood test.  The morning was stupidly cold but without frost.  As Charing Cross Hospital is one of the sites I work at, it was auto pilot and alight onto my commuting tramlines at stupid o’clock.   From home to Hammersmith, the temperature didn’t get to 1c.  Tier 4 all the way and traffic was rare as hens teeth.

The next part mainly follows the river to West Middlesex Hospital, the other site.  The highlights of this 12km are the Capability Brown statue, Hammersmith Bridge and a rather good coffee shop, The Coffee Traveller.  From there, I took the roughstuff lane alongside Osterley House and the M4.  It was packed with walkers, dogs and kids on bicycles, but is a moment of escape from grey suburbia.  After this it was the Uxbridge Road, accompanied by motorised traffic with the occasional utility cyclist.

With Uxbridge behind me, I was at a critical decision point – 100km or 80km?  Beryl pointed in the direction of the longer route, so up the lanes to slosh through the streams I went.  There was no alternative to the Great Lake of Deadhearn Lane and it seemed to be peak hour with cars and cyclists in both directions.

The last choice near Chorleywood – straight on at the crossroads to go into Rickmansworth or turn left for bonus kms and extra hills?  The cold plus the call of the teapot were the deciding factors.  Rickmansworth then almost directly home as I couldn’t resist rounding the day up a bit more.

102km for the day, running total 453km

Day 7


The riding window is always pre-defined by necessary things, then reshaped by the weather.  Today, more frost and silly low temperatures but by 10am, I was good to go.  Keeping onto known ice-free roads, I headed for the Ickenham Pump, then over to Uxbridge and Denham again.  Another section of main road and into the lanes for a bit as the temperatures rose.  Again, lots of traffic, not many walkers or utility cyclists but quite a number of MAMILs who looked like Festive 500 folk.

Rolled up to my front door, pressed the Garmin button which whizzed the kilometres to Strava.  A virtual reality patch popped up on my phone and Festive 500 number ten in the bag.

48km for the day, running total 502km

Day 8

Into the freezer

A late start was a double guarantee, thick frost over night plus a telephone consultation.  The pedals didn’t start turning to almost three o’clock, what with lunch and the neurologist running late.

Given the conditions, I decided to trundle round one of my small standard loops from home as I was quite sure it was ice-safe.  Leaving suburbia’s relative warmth i.e. almost 2c and out into the lanes where the temperature rapidly dropped.  It settled under zero, so a touch chilly.  The pond in Harefield confirmed the Garmin’s temperature – covered in ice.

With 42km on the Garmin when I was nearly back, it was way too tempting to go the long way home.  50km is such an attractive number.  The reward was lots of beautifully Christmasly-lit houses.  The reindeer with his mask on was rather good.

53km for the day, running total 555km

Round up

I’m very happy to have bagged Festive 500 number ten.  This was certainly one of the more difficult overall.  Trapped in a reduced playground due to COVID and no coffee shops to warm up in with a good mocha and accompanying GF cake.  Also, my vasculitis currently causes a lot of pain and generally unwell and tired. It increases sensitivity to cold, particularly my feet.  I had to manage my riding time carefully to ensure that I didn’t get too cold.  If I got too cold, the result would be increasingly greater pain.

The challenge of telling the rides’ stories in photos in an area that I know so well was something I really enjoyed.  It makes you look more carefully at scenery you normally take for granted.  Some of the ride routes were based on visiting something that I wished to photograph, such as Ickenham Village Pump on day 7.

The thing I have not been particularly successful with is the fundraising.  Many people believe that this sort of thing is a pushover for me, so the riding lacks the ‘challenge’ that is generally required for fundraising.  The unseen disability is always problematic.  Do you keep quiet and just get on with it or bore the pants off people about it?  For the last three years, I have taken the approach of ‘just get on with it’, which has bitten me on the bum for this fundraising challenge.

Raising funds for a rare disease such as Duchenne, doesn’t resonate with people as say breast cancer.  From a research perspective, it is fantastic that technology such as genome sequencing is readily available and that the cohort for this disease is big enough for meaningful outcomes.  Hopefully finding out how it can be treated isn’t far off.  I understand why sponsorship is low but I take my hat off to Harrison’s Fund for their persistence in such a difficult task.

If you would like to contribute to Harrison’s Fund click HERE

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.

Rapha Festive 500 2012

#Rapha500 Festive Challenge Round-up

Firstly, thanks to Dave for telling me that this was happening, otherwise I wouldn’t have known.  It’s been loads of fun and provided lots of challenges beyond turning the pedals.  Looking for photos, particularly interesting shots or shots that tell the story of the ride, has been very satisfying.  Making new ‘virtual reality friends’ via the Strava website and Twitter has been great.  So, thanks Rapha for providing a great week a-wheel at a grim time of year in the UK and I’m very much looking forward to receiving my badge.  Grand Total 919km

All the ride photos can be found on http://www.flickr.com/photos/swift_swallow/sets/72157628538061435/

Day7 31/12/2011 #Rapha500

The grand finale of the challenge and the last day of the old year to garnish the mile-eater diary.  The idea of riding on New Years Eve was very appealing.  Also, rounding the Rapha5oo up to 900km seemed like a very nice number to end on.  So, despite grey skies (again!!!) and the usual pesky wind, I went out for my final ride of the year.  Visiting New Years Green Lane seemed like an appropriate thing to do, so I did.  Having arrived home with 57km in the bag, some grocery shopping needed to be done.  The Brompton and a further 10km beckoned, giving a fun finish to the riding as I dashed back from Sainbugs on a pink Bromie with its front bag loaded with groceries. Ride distance 67km – grand total 919km

Day6 30/12/2011 #Rapha500

A ride to the beech(es) seemed like a grand idea and, if I started turning the pedals early, I could avoid getting wet as the BBC weather forecast had rain scheduled for 15:00.  Unfortunately, the weather failed to read the forecast and decided to commence raining just as I was heading over to Burnham Beeches, about an hour into my ride.  I kept going, deciding that getting wet was just going have to be part of the day’s joys.  The sky was well and truly oversubscribed in grey rain bearing clouds.  However, that produced some beautiful moody skies and interesting refections on the Thames at Maidenhead.  Ride distance 107km – grand total 852km

Day5 29/12/2011 #Rapha500

The mile-eater gods were still calling and I figured a bigger offering might be in order, so headed for one of my favourite local rides into the Chiltern Hills.  Despite the accumulation of kms in the legs and a substantial headwind with on-and-off rain for the first half of the ride, my legs were both willing and able.  The ride took me past some local sights, including the Liberty family home (Liberty & Co store, Regents Street, London) and Chequers, the PM’s country retreat. Ride distance 114km – grand total 745km

Day4 28/12/2011 #Rapha500

The mile-eater gods were calling, so I persuaded my trusty winter stead that another spin was in order.  A pleasant undulating ride through favourite lanes seemed like just the ticket, so a pleasant morning a-wheel was had in the lanes of Buckinghamshire.  The pesky headwind, an unwanted, but now familiar riding partner, was happy to accompany me for a good part of the ride. Ride distance 73km – grand total 631km

Day3 27/12/2011 #Rapha500

Finally the weather gods had chosen to be kind and had left the wind alone, so provided a helpful backwind for the Holiday 200kn DIY ride home.  A scenic ride (take that as euphemism for hills) was enjoyed, but with slate grey skies again.  The highlight of the ride was a spot of steam train spotting on the GWR railway (http://www.gwsr.com/) just after Gotherington.  The CTC recommended Edwards Cafe provided it’s usual excellent service and food to fortify us for the final push home through the roads of Oxfordshire, up Stoken Church and onto the roads of Buckinghamshire and into Middlesex.  Ride distance 203km – grand total 558km

Day3 26/12/2011 #Rapha500

Following  a hearty breakfast, the peloton assembled at Munsely Acre for the Boxing Day spin to the Boat pub with the promise of good ale and cider in store.  The peloton of 8 riders, ably led by Bob “Eccles” Addison took a beautiful route of lanes to and back from the Boat.  During the ride, the pssst fairy delivered two late Christmas presents to Eccels and Derek Jelley.  Ride distance 70km – grand total 355km

Day3 25/12/2011 #Rapha500

Despite asking Santa for a goodly tailwind for Christmas, a powerful headwind with a touch of drizzle blew in our faces until just after Gloucester which was roughly 30km from the arrivee and a kindly backwind installed itself.  Perhaps not a perfect day for the Crimbo 200km DIY, but a serious improvement on the snowy conditions of 2009 and 201o.  A warm welcome, a pint of “energy drink” and an excellent Christmas dinner awaited us at the Munsely Acre Guest house, hosted by Mark and Anne Brazier, where we were staying with the Marlboro AC Christmas holiday group.  Ride distance 203km – grand total 285km

Day2 24/12/2011 #Rapha500

Twas the night before Christmas and as a well known store says “every little helps” so sneaked out for a crafty 10km to raid Sainsbugs.  Bike with panniers was perfect as no parking issues and quick get-a-way as Pinner was at a grinder with cars.

Fettling bikes and packing baby panniers for tomorrow’s spin to downtown Munsley.  Weather looks promising providing it keeps to the BBC weather predictions. Ride distance 10km – grand total 82km

Day1 23/12/2011 #Rapha500

The weather (rain scheduled for high noon) dictated an early start and a race to get home before the rain, so the pedles started turning just after 9am. Despite a slate grey sky and the usual pesky nagging headwind, a great morning a-wheel was had around the lanes of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

At close of play, 72km in the bag (and on the trusty Garmin). The days bonus was that the rain doesn’t read the BBC weather forecast, so didn’t show up until about 12:30, so meant only 30 minutes of getting wet. Downside was that the normal weekday quite roads were infested with motorists on pre Christmas missions, which on too many occasions involved involved closer contact that I would have liked.

Christmas list to Santa updated with a request for a tail wind between home and Ledbury for the next ride scheduled for Christmas Day. Ride distance 72km – grand total 72km