Tag Archives: coffee

Evans Ride It Wiltshire Downs 2015

Dad's 70th birthday cake

Me oh my, I am such a long way behind. But there’s been so much going on! Riding, working, Dad’s birthday, life…what can I say?

A lot of the two weeks prior to this sportive was spent trying to get my knee better.  Resting more, riding less.  Though probably not quite enough of one and too much of the other.  But hey, I was trying…!

Ashton Windmill  Alan and his tart

Since the Welsh Raider, when things went a little pear shaped, I’d done a flat easy run with Alan, a flat short loop on my own, another easy run with the ever-patient Alan, and a nice seaside loop with, unsurprisingly, Alan again.  And slowly things had been getting better.  Riding was not pain free but it was improving, and the time required to recover off the bike had been coming down.

Cycling time: 6:32
Distance: 99.2 miles

All of which means it was time for another sportive.  The Evans Ride It Wiltshire Downs, to be precise.  It’s fairly local, which means a shorter drive and more time in bed.  And coming as it did, the day after the clocks went back, that means another hour in bed, and daylight to drive in.  Very handy!  Even better, the forecast was good, and that drive took place in autumn sunshine, something you wouldn’t have predicted considering that it spent all Saturday p*ssing it down…!


HQ was at Wiltshire College, Lacock, at the end of a long, muddy, leaf covered drive, which would turn out to be pretty typical of all the roads for the day.  It may have been dry overhead, but not under wheel!  I parked up in a muddy gravel carpark a little way from registration and decided that I’d get sorted and then register rather than to-ing and fro-ing.  It being October, even with the sun shining, it was pretty darned cold, somewhere around 6°C, so it was just a case of putting on all the layers I’d brought with me, loading up the bike and my pockets, and heading off.  There were toilets in a changing room block opposite where the gentlemen were queuing and where I didn’t have to, and as it turns out, there were also more inside by registration.  I registered, and the lady stuck my timing sticker on the right hand side of my helmet which was unusual, it’s usually t’other side.  No bike number, so presumably no photography either, a map, and a High5 race day pack, and I was done.  Since I had no intention of returning to the car to stash anything, I plundered the pack for the useful and discarded the rest.

the long queue to start This is NOT a race

Back outside, and the queue for the start was stretching a long way back, which was a bit disheartening, with the thought of standing around in the cold for ages not appealing.  Still, it turned out not to be too bad in the sunshine, and the other riders around were chatty and sociable and as riders were being let away in fairly big groups, it wasn’t long until we were the next group, with me right at the front of it.  No pressure then!  After the usual rider briefing, a demo of the black on pink arrows, again novel, and a reminder that this was all supposed to be fun, we were off on our way.

Wiltshire College doesn’t half like its speed bumps!  I’m not sure when we stopped being on the estate, presumably when they finally ended!  Somewhat oddly, I seemed to have left my group pretty much behind me, so it felt like it was just me heading out into the Wiltshire countryside.  My camera had somehow run out of batteries, so there’s not a lot of photographic evidence of my day sadly…which is a shame because it was absolutely beautiful out there.  Glorious in fact.  I’ve cycled around this area before, most notably on the White Horse Challenge, but a lot of this route was completely unfamiliar to me, and I’ve never seen the Downs stretched out around me like that before.  Stunning 🙂

Food stop at The King's Arms Food stop goodies

Having got my layers spot on, after the initial chill had worn off and I’d warmed up, so about an hour then, I was pretty happy out there.  There were a few ups, but nothing too terrible, and most of it seemed to be being fairly flat or rolling.  So, on to mental meanderings and route decisions to mull over.  There were a lot of options, and route splits came one after the other – no front loading this time.  Would it be the Fun route at 15 miles?  Nah, don’t be daft.  Ok then, how about the Short at 34 miles, the Medium at 63 miles, or the Long at 80 miles?  Hm…  No rush to decide though.  The first food stop came at 28 miles in, in a pub car park, where the two outdoor toilets were proving woefully inadequate for the number of people wanting to use them.  I duly queued, and then after grabbing some jelly beans, and taking the odd photo with my phone, headed off again.  The next route split came shortly afterwards, but even though I reckon there were at least three things wrong with me, because I’m lucky like that, I still reckoned the Short route would be too short.

White Horse on the Downs coming into Avebury

I did decide however that, although the longest route appealed, and let’s face it, it was a beautiful day to be out there, it would be unwise to push it. I reckoned I could manage the 60 without making things too much worse, whereas with the 80, with the bigger climbs in the extra miles, I might set my knee’s recovery back quite a way, which seemed like a daft idea.  So when the next split came along shortly afterwards, I took it.  Which meant that I was half done already and on the homewards stretch.  A stretch that took me through more beautiful countryside but back on to more familiar turf.  Not that I’m complaining, I love cycling through Avebury 🙂  The lack of novelty did make it feel slightly like harder work though somehow, less to distract the brain from the effort being put in?  I guess I was also getting tireder, I’m fairly sure I hadn’t eaten enough, (nothing new there then), and being ill does have a habit of taking it out of you even if you are doing a very good job of ignoring that 😉  Still the scenery continued to keep my spirits up far enough.  Multi-coloured autumn leaves, close cropped fields still golden in the sunshine, blue skies stretching for miles…  Sorry, since I’m short on photos I thought I’d try poetic words instead 😉

riders over the finish line

Towards the end there was a long draggy staged up that went on for a couple of miles.  Hardish work but my kind of climb, and man, the descent afterwards was way more than worth it!  OK, so there were “Caution” signs and there were other riders who were gingerly braking their way down, but I could see all the way down, it wasn’t very bendy, and there wasn’t any traffic coming so….yep, I was the loon hurtling down on the right with a massive grin on my face 😉  A couple of miles after that and I was back negotiating speed bumps, and then crossing the finish line, where I was given another High5 taster pack.  Job done 🙂  There were lots of happy riders milling around in the sunshine and eating the hot food on sale.  I took a break on a step with a can of fizzy lemon, before making my way back to the car.

Cycling time: 4:04
Distance: 62.2 miles
Avg: 15.3 mph
ODO: 11487.7 miles

High5 taster pack

I may not have done the event justice, but I’d definitely do it again.  In fact I actively want to.  The route is lovely, the scenery is stunning, and it’s not too challenging – so it was perfect for this time of year.  Maybe next year I’ll get to do the long route 🙂

route map 2 route map 1

If life gives you demons, make a deal

all blue

Increasingly rubbish weather.  Increasingly rubbish me.  It’s getting harder and harder to get out on the bike.  And it’s just as hard to find reasons to do so when I actually can.


Sure, when you’re riding with a mate, or mates, it’s easier.  There’s conscience, company, and frequently coffee.  All good.

But when it’s just you?  Or in this case just me?  Well not having been out this week, my conscience was gnawing away at me.  The weather seemed like it might be tolerable.  Two out of three ain’t bad, right?  But I was having trouble remembering why I should be doing it.  Another couple of hours cycling around familiar and thus contemptible local roads on my own?  Hm…

So, since I have otherwise had a very constructive week and still had some things to do, I decided I would make my ride about getting some of those done, and make up my route around that and as I went along.  An ride that would be both errant and run errands.  Or ride errands 😉

Et voilà…

Job one: put on my new socks because I wanted to test them out on route.
new DeFeet socks
Job two: post a rented DVD back to Lovefilm.
Job three: ride to George’s and drop off a bag of spare kit for her. Which involved the novelty of riding with a pack on my back, and the discomfort and extra heat that went along with that.  Ick.  Hence that being the first stop en route.
kit delivery
Job four: get some less familiar miles in.  Meander, wiggle, roam, take roads at a whim, and then join up the dots.
Strava route
Job five: pop into Cheddar Cyclestore and buy new cleats for my winter shoes.  I discovered earlier this week that I had clearly harvested those that they originally had at some point earlier this year, and forgotten about it.  I don’t half get through cleats!
Cheddar Cyclestore cleats
Job six: Go home.  There was no job 6.  Just job done.  Out, but not down.  I remain undefeated 😉

Cycling time: 1:56
Distance: 31.8 miles
Avg: 16.4 mph
ODO: 11100.7 miles

The fastest way back home

One week.  Four rides.  It’s probably time I put metaphorical pen to metaphorical paper right?

Square steed

So I’ve ridden with Guy & Rob, with Alan with hills, and without, and also with Steve.  At times like these it is better not to be just with my imperfect self, just in case, even if I don’t say so, so the company has been both great and much appreciated.  I am extremely lucky to have my cycling mates.  And we’ve been lucky too, as there has been sunshine on both the hills and the Levels; our timing has been immaculate.  Along the way there has been coffee, cake, a Cornish pasty and lots of fizzy orange.  Liquids for me, solids for others of course…the moon may be inconstant but some things are not.

Some of it has gone great.  Some of it hasn’t.  Sometimes it’s felt like one but Strava says it was the other.  Sometimes it’s been both, one after the other, and great has turned into it just being time to get home as quickly as possible.  But however it’s been, it’s all been good really.  Because out there is good 🙂

cake Alan looking pasty

Yes I should have been writing about it all.  It’s what I do after all, no?  But in addition to it being the school holidays, working, and other things that might possibly count as having a life, thanks to the current analgesia regime, I also end up spending rather more time than I would like asleep.  What the mob call my non-optional naps 😉  On the days that I make it out of bed in time for there to be enough time left in the day for there to be time to have a nap that is…   It isn’t ideal, but then the alternative doesn’t exactly appeal either…them’s the breaks.  So there hasn’t been much time left for writing…I’m sure you’ll forgive me, right?  But tonight there is some time and tonight I have written.  Job done 🙂

taking Alan up the Gorge

Cycling time: 7:32
Distance: 123.6 miles
ODO: 10727.7 miles

In other news, Rapha have had their annual sale on.  And I hankered a little…but there wasn’t anything I really needed or wanted, and besides my budget restrained me.  But it also inspired me, and thanks to a jammy ebay best offer buy, I have the new mitts I might have gone for if I could have gone there.  I have finally replaced the mystical perfect pair I had years ago that tore and couldn’t be replaced like-for-like because they’d gone out of stock.  Still not cheap as mitts go, and they won’t stay this colour for long, but they fit like a glove (yes, I know, terrible, but they do!), and man, they are SO comfortable!  Let’s call it retail therapy 😀

new gloves

Just be who you are

life's a Maltese beach

Oops, it’s been a while.  Partly because we went on holiday for a week.  Mind you we’ve been back for a week now so that excuse is probably wearing a little thin.   This week’s excuse is rather more predictable/boring.  I’m mid pain patch.  Again.  And yes they are getting more often and yes they are getting worse.  So I’m on the shiny pills and as of this afternoon I’m also on the shiny patches.  It’s fun being me 😉  However this state of affairs is not conducive to clarity of thought, and stringing a sentence together takes concentration, so if this blog fails to be eloquent don’t blame me.  It was either this or leave it even longer before I wrote anything!

I have managed to ride a bit during this period of radio silence though.  Once before I went, twice since I got back, and then a coffee run today with Alan.  Riding involves less mental effort than writing does 😉  I’m never sure how time off is going to affect my cycling.  Will a rest have been a good or bad thing?  Alan reckons you don’t lose form that quickly, but that you do lose form mentally.  Which is kind of another way of saying that when you’ve had a break for whatever reason, and also if you’re feeling rubbish, your PMA goes AWOL.

I’m pleased to say that although I may have no confidence in my ability to ride a bike at the moment, my performance out there seems to indicate that I still can.  Which is good to know, and if it wasn’t for Strava I wouldn’t know, I’d just presume I was performing as badly as I felt I was.  There’s a lot to be said for Strava…it’s not just about segments 😉  So I’ve done some hills, and apparently done them well by my standards.  I’ve done some fast and flat too.  OK so I bailed on doing the hills we had planned for today, on the basis that it would literally hurt too much, but at least doing the coffee run fast probably had some training benefit, right?  Even if it didn’t, at least I still rode the bike.  I can only do what I can, and be who I am, and I’m not going to beat myself up for that 🙂

Cycling time: 1:36
Distance: 28.8 miles
Avg: 18.0 mph
ODO: 10604.1 miles

Eye'll be watching you



Bring me to life

Fairyland sunshine

Today, as is often the case on a Friday, Alan and I went to Fairyland for coffee.  However if variety is the spice of life, this would be a spicy ride.  Because, as is usually not the case, the sun was shining.  AND George came out to play!  Same route, different entirely 🙂

It was supposed to be a bimble.  I was in a very “bleurgh” mood and I have sore quads, presumably due to Wednesday’s hills, which is a little weird since I very rarely suffer from such things; my legs being used to such treatment!  Alan was also complaining of being tired as a result of the same, so had brought his race steed out to make his life easier.  And George wasn’t up for racing either.  So could somebody please explain how we ended up averaging 18mph?!  Funny how life goes, no?  I may not have felt like I was going well, but I guess we were.  It all perked my mood up no end.  Good times 😀

Alan and more cake George

Cycling time: 1:35
Distance: 28.7 miles
Avg: 18.0 mph
ODO: 9662.2 miles

While I’m here, because I like it so much, I’m going to show you my lovely new jersey from Cycology that I treated myself to a little while back.  Well, it matches the bike, so how could I not?  Rhapsody in blue? 😉

jersey front jersey back

Over the hills and far away

Apparently Wednesday is back to meaning hills again.  Well for this week anyway – I gather Alan has mad TT plans for future Wednesdays.  Each to their own, à chacun son goût, etc.  Believe it or not, I think I probably prefer hills…

busy Burrington Combe

We did a 35 mile 3 hill loop – Shipham Hill, Burrington Combe, and Old Bristol Hill – the various lumps being joined up by a fair amount of blatting around on the top of the Mendips where the wind was.  Where the wind usually is.  But since it was also warm and sunny and both my arms and legs were out, you won’t hear me complaining.  I’m sure that makes a nice change for you all 😉

Old Bristol Hill

And when the hurly-burly was done, and the battle was not lost but won*, we settled down outside The Oakhouse to bask in our glory.  Well in the sun anyway 😉  I could have had coffee.  Alan did.  But hey, it’s half term, it was my day off, the sun was shining (as I believe I may have mentioned one too many times now), so I opted for something a little more refreshing instead *grin*.  I admire Alan’s willpower in not joining me…such restraint! 😉

Cycling time: 2:20
Distance: 34.9 miles
Avg: 15.0 mph
ODO: 9574.6 miles

It all went a lot better than I was expecting; for some reason my PMA has been AWOL for the last week or so.  And you know what?  It was my fastest time up Old Bristol Hill ever!  Looks like I earnt that gratuitous pint after all 😉

post ride refreshment*And yes, I’m misquoting deliberately 🙂


Ace of Spades

Ok, so I was going to rest.  And I did.  Honest.  Thanks to some house/dog sitting I was doing, I spent all day on Saturday (minus one emergency out of hours vets trip – don’t ask!) and Sunday morning doing very little other than being curled up in a chair reading.  However by the middle of Sunday afternoon, home again, I’d more than reached my (notoriously low) boredom threshold, and sitting around the house on my own was doing me no good at all on many levels, so I forced myself out of the house and went for a stompy hilly walk.  After which I inevitably felt much better (though two days later my shins are killing me!), and which I rounded off nicely with a couple of pints outside The Lamb when I serendipitously bumped into a couple of mates.  It’s nice when things work out that way 🙂

And then on Monday, after a little prompting from him, Alan and I did a coffee run to Fairyland to see what variety of the weird and wonderful would be out on a Bank Holiday.  It did not disappoint, there were some fabulous characters on display, and the coffee at Heaphy’s was just as good as ever, especially when enjoyed sat outside in sort of sunshine.  Sunshine that came with a killer wind of course, which we weren’t looking forward to fighting all the way home…  Still, that sunshine and the relative warmth meant that it was the first time my pasty legs have been unveiled in this country this year, which should not go un-noted 🙂Ace of Spades

As we were preparing to leave, things started falling from the sky.  Not rain.  Nor pennies from heaven.  Nope.  Playing cards!  From up on a roof somewhere, they came one by one, until there was a little stream of them.  Maybe someone was bidding a symbolic farewell to a gambling habit…or maybe someone was just having a really bad game of solitaire…who knows?  It was the cause of quite some hilarity all around though 🙂  The first card dealt me was an 8 of spades but, arriving on the floor just as we were about to set off, was this little beauty 🙂  I crowed a little, and the leather-clad bikers at the nearby table appreciated the symbolism too *grin*.  No need to think of a lyric-related title today  – it was sent to me from on high 😉

Maybe that injection of cheerful is why the ride home turned out to be much easier than expected.  Or maybe it was the double espresso 😉  Either way it all went well, I was feeling good again, and I wasn’t wiped out afterwards, so I guess I’d rested enough.  Just as well, I don’t think I could take any more!

Cycling time: 1:41
Distance: 29.2 miles
Avg: 17.2 mph
ODO: 9539.7miles


Fly you fools

heaphys still life

 After the rain has fallen, which it did all day yesterday when I should have been riding and therefore wasn’t, comes today.  When it was neither raining nor windy, which would appear to be somewhat of a rarity these days and as such should be taken advantage of.  So Alan and I went out for coffee.  And cake of course 😉

Apparently I should have been going slower, and I should stop surging up hills.  I’m sorry, surging up hills??!!!  I’m fairly sure Alan must have mistaken me for someone else 😉  As for the speed thing well, yes, I know we have a sportive on Sunday, so it may not have been wise, but the legs were working and when they’re working and I have it together, which would appear to be somewhat of a rarity these days, they should be taken advantage of 😀

Cycling time: 1:40
Distance: 28.8 miles
Avg: 17.2 mph
ODO: 9341.9 miles

alan and his favourite cake

I’m a survivor

Today was an ACG ride.  A very well attended ACG ride.  Though our numbers were a somewhat movable feast, there were, for the most part, around 12 of us.  Guy led us on a merry dance around the Levels to Fenny Castle for coffee.  And then off up and down the Mendips for those that fancied such antics.

I’d really like to have joined them for that latter part.  Cycling me is feeling pretty good at the moment and although I know I still ill compare with my peers going up hills, I also know that I will get up them and that I am getting up them better than I have been.  However it was not to be.  There were indications early on that ups and me were not going to be friends today.  But on the flat after that, hey, I can do that, and I did, and I enjoyed it.  I’ve not been out with the ACG in quite a while, and catching up with everyone, be it on the bike or over coffee, was lovely.  But while they were all drinking coffee to wash down cake, I had to use mine to wash down shiny pills.

Chris on Cheddar Gorge

So I decided that I would go up Old Bristol Hill with them, see how it went and then make a call for the rest of the route.  I think it’s safe to say this did not go well.  It went well from a Strava point of view to be fair, which is weird, but from a pain perspective?  Really not so much so.  Doing more of the same was clearly going to be neither a good idea, nor pleasant.  So it was time to bail.  Chris very kindly volunteered to join me, or escort me, or just generally make sure I got home in one piece.  Which I/we did, because by then it was mostly a case of fighting the killer headwind on the flat along the top and then trying not to let it take us by surprise on the way down the Gorge.  I wasn’t entirely all together though, and I’m not sure how well I’d have done without the company.  Gratitude be due 🙂

Apologies to all for bailing.  It’s really not my thing.  Mea culpa, but I didn’t really have a choice. Hey, I was still out for a couple of hours, I made it up a big hill, the sun came out, the hills were green, the sky was blue, and the flowers were not all yellow.  It was very pretty out there and once again, I’m a survivor 🙂

Cycling time: 2:13
Distance: 33.3 miles
Avg: 15.1 mph
ODO: 9294.2 miles