Tag Archives: somerset

Ride Like A Pro 2015

Ride Like A Pro sepia support

After a quick evening spin on Thursday, and a rest day on Friday, my cycling weekend had arrived.  I did the Jaguar Ride Like A Pro last year, and I have to admit I hadn’t seriously been considering doing it again, but when they got in touch and asked if I’d like to do it again?  Well, I’m a sucker for an invitation.  To be honest, I did mentally debate it for a while, what with the Great Weston Ride the following day, but this year’s Ride Like A Pro was only due to be 48 miles, and I’ve ridden two days in a row before, and did I mention they invited me?  Yeah, done deal 🙂  I signed on the dotted line, aka the on-line registration form, and the die was cast.

Of course the fact that I didn’t have to be in Bristol until 10:00am was definitely in its favour.  So all I had to do this Saturday was get up at a reasonable hour, sling on summer kit because the weather was nice, throw (well, not literally) the bike in the back of the car and head North.  Result 🙂

Which brought me to Hartwell Bristol Jaguar, somewhat nervous, but under sunny skies, all according to plan on Saturday.  Why nervous?  Well although I did enjoy it last year, keeping up with the race snakes was hard work and, not helped by a gear cable failure, I ended up limping home with just James for company.  Would it be the same again?  As I parked up and started to sort stuff, the sheer amount of high quality gear being unloaded and paraded around didn’t make me feel any more confident.  However I had been told they were hoping to have three ability groups – fast, medium, slow – and rather than be daft enough to opt for the fast group this year, I had every intention of being slow and not pushing it, especially with Sunday in mind.  I was doing my best to keep the nerves at bay.

me want

I went inside the showroom – I mentioned it was a Jaguar ride right? – and admired the cars in passing on my way to use the facilities.  I then chatted to Jack who’d invited me, and familiar face Ride Leader Pete who led us/me last year, while signing the relevant paperwork.  Time to get properly ready then and hope it would all go according to plan.  Whilst faffing I got chatting to another rider about the route and the day and where we’d come from and the like.  A little while later, whilst waiting for the rider briefing, he popped up again and said…if I was from Axbridge, and cycling…was I in fact the Cycling Mayor?  Well…yes…as it happens…I was.  Am.  Whatever 😉  Aw shucks, someone who reads this.  How cool is that? 🙂

ready for briefing

Time for the ‘tick every health & safety box’ rider briefing then.  Which Jack did very well, to be fair.  My heart sank somewhat when it became apparent that the plan was for us all to be one group for the whole ride.  Oh dear… Resolved though I was to do my best I had visions of me just fading slowly into the background…and I found myself thanking my lucky stars that I’d downloaded the GPS route, even if my Garmin isn’t all that good at those.  At least I would be able to get around on my own without getting lost!

photo op

So, after some obligatory photos with the Team Sky Jag, it was time to head off.  It took us quite a while to get out of Bristol, what with traffic lights, traffic, and the like.  And being one big group, which tended to get a little bit strung out as a result, I think it’s fair to say we didn’t make some of the rather impatient motorists like us any more than they had done before!  On the upside this meant we were all pootling along at a more than tolerable speed.  I wasn’t deluded enough to think that this would last but it was nice to have some time and space to warm up in.

Which took care of the first five miles or so I think.  And took us out by the Long Ashton Park & Ride and out towards Nailsea which, on Sunday, would cause a certain amount of déja vù.  Now that we were out of the big bad city, the group speed started to go up, as expected.  I decided the best thing to do was to try and stay near the front so I had a way to drop back if necessary.  However the roads through Wraxall and beyond were more rolling than anything else and dropping on the ups didn’t seem to be a problem.  I even had chatting company for a while which was nice.  It was definitely going better than the same time last year when I definitely remember struggling more.  Actually I think this year’s group were overall a little slower…even if they’d hate to hear me say it…but you won’t hear me complaining!

It was nice out there though.  Pretty.  Sunshine, colourful lycra, Somerset countryside, what’s not to love?  Mind you, I knew it wasn’t going to stay flat and easy all the way around.  As we passed through the land of my father, through a surprisingly quiet Yatton, and on to Congresbury I knew that the first up of the day was ahead, and there was no way I’d be maintaining my place in the pack for that!

Right then, time for the up from Churchill to Shipham.  And actually I got overtaken by far fewer riders than I was expecting.  Which just goes to show that overall we were slower than last year 😉  It’s not the worst climb in the world, pretty gradual, with a steep kick out of Shipham, and then a lovely down which means you can then get quite a long way up the next kick to get to the top before the descent…

Which is where we met the Wiggle Mendips Sportive riders, who were coming down from Charterhouse to merge with us at the bottom by the Lillypool Cafe before going up to go down Shipham Hill.  Of course having far more momentum on my side than them, I shot past them many of them who, not realising I wasn’t on their ride, were a tad bemused about me cruising up the hill past them like that.  Very funny 🙂  After inevitably slowing down a bit for the last bit of the final up my favourite descent awaited me, complete with rabbits to chase and overtake.  And I had a blast going down – much much fun.  Especially as this year my gear cable didn’t snap on the way down! *grin*  Since we were heading for our café stop at Edelweiss at the bottom of Cheddar Gorge I didn’t even have to slow down at the junction where I normally turn right, and knowing those roads well, I had lots more fun hurtling past lots of less cognisant riders to get to where everyone was gathering.  As I neared the bottom of the Gorge, a Wiggle rider pulled up next to me to give me kudos on my descent.  Apparently he’d been pedal to the metal trying to catch me all the way down and hadn’t manage to narrow the distance between us at all.  Tee hee hee :D.

support car

Time for coffee.  Well it would have been, and was for many, but actually I fancied fizzy orange.  And I definitely couldn’t face the cakes, bacon rolls, etc that others were eating.  Not before Cheddar Gorge!  The café staff were a tad overwhelmed by us all, so service got a bit chaotic.  And £2 for a small bottle of fizzy Fanta seemed a tad much but hey, it went down at the same speed I’d just gone down 😉  There were also drinks and bars and things in the back of the support car too, as well as the opportunity to have your photo taken with it – all of which I let pass me by.  I was just wondering when would be a good time to head off before everyone else so that they could catch me up later!  After some time spent chatting to others in the sunshine I decided the time had come.  It turned out that several others had already headed off, so I told the Ride Leaders I’d be doing the same, and one of the others joined me too.

Gorge 1 Gorge 2 Gorge 3

Hello Cheddar Gorge.  Again 😉  I’d like to thank the Wiggle Mendips Sportive for all their riders who were doing the same as it meant that, unusually, I actually overtook lots of people on the way up!  Go me!  Somewhat amusingly somewhere in the wiggly bits, on the side of the road, was Phil of SportivePhoto fame…  I said hi, pointed out that I wasn’t one of his so he didn’t need to immortalise me, but he did anyway – and having seen the result on Twitter later, I think I need to buy that off him!  He did make me laugh though 🙂  And I even overtook some of “our” riders as we neared the top – the shallow the gradient the faster I go, and it’s not like I don’t know the climb, right?  Shame Strava doesn’t think I went up there at all…

Near the top I caught up with the rider I’d left the bottom with, and also picked up one I’d overtaken, and so as three Pro musketeers we headed off over the Mendips without waiting for the rest of the group to catch us.  I had my reservations about this, mainly because I didn’t want to get lost, but we figured that between us and our various gadgets, we could probably find our way back.  Which we did, with the odd little wiggle where we weren’t quite sure about things.  I was a bit cautious about the West Harptree descent, not wanting another puncture.  Chew Valley Lake was as pretty as ever, and the country lanes afterwards just sort of rolled by.  Having done the ride before definitely helped, as sometimes I could remember the way, and also because it was all vaguely familiar, so it didn’t feel as long or as hard as last year, even including the couple of ups after Chew Magna.  Luckily the guys waited for me to catch up after each one!  The fast group caught us up on an up towards the end, but nowhere as soon as I’d expected, and then left us in their dust to head back into Bristol, followed by one of us.  My remaining companion Andy, as he turned out to be, stuck with me however, which I was most grateful for; it is nice to ride in chatty company.  He even waited when we got separated by traffic lights on the way back into Bristol on the basis that we’d done the last 20 miles together, we should do the last 200 yards that way too!  And then there we were, back admiring posh cars, and picking up our goody bags.  I’m pretty sure we were far from the last in too 🙂

I think there around 40 or so other riders on the ride, but I’m pleased to announce that I was the fastest woman today.  I was also the slowest woman.  Yes, I was the token woman! 😉  Not that I really noticed.  I was Riding Like a Pro which, as I’ve said before, in my situation would make me Lance Armstrong, so I was just another bloke out there 😉  I really enjoyed the ride, even more so than last year.  To be fair, the Ride Like A Pro supported ride bit only really worked for the first half of the ride, but at least after that, however splintered we all were, there was still a support car somewhere behind us.  However the route is nice, the weather was good, there was a really friendly atmosphere all round, and I definitely feel like I held my own.  A good ride for sure.  Maybe they’ll invite me back next year? 🙂

Cycling time: 3:03
Distance: 48.5 miles
Avg: 15.9 mph
ODO: 10363.5 miles

It takes three to Tango

a sign of things to come

Hey, don’t blame me, the title was Guy‘s idea not mine.  But there it was, so here it is. Gift horse, mouth, etc.  Bear with me…all will become clear. 😉

Of course it works on many levels.  I am, of course, three rides behind.  Which, incidentally, since clearly we’re counting things, makes four rides this week in total, which is pretty cool in my book.  Well, not cool, it’s been quite warm really 🙂

I’ve ridden in the evening, with Chris, with ups and kick-ass downs.  I’ve ridden in the afternoon, with Alan, in heat, and humidity, yet still with wind.  And I’ve ridden in the morning, with Guy and George, with sun and wind and hills and a brand new coffee stop.  Where there were three of us and three of these.  See, it makes sense now, no? 😉  Three rides then; and I’ve really enjoyed all of them.  Riding in weather like this feels like being holiday, and reminds me of all the foreign holiday riding I’ve done, which is just lovely.  Result 😀

three to Tango

Cycling time: 5:17
Distance: 82.2 miles
ODO: 10113.6 miles

‘S Wonderful

I appear to be behind.  Shock, horror, etcetera, etcetera.  Mind you, isn’t behind where I usually am? 😉

In fact I’m three rides behind again.  It does seem to go in threes like that.  Don’t they say good things come in threes though?  And also to those who wait?  Patience, grasshopper, I’m getting there 😉  So…with no further ado about nothing…here goes.

First off, a recovery coffee run with no coffee, as Alan and I both forgot that Sweets is closed on a Tuesday.  And a Monday, as it happens.  Oops…  Consider yourself forewarned and forearmed, so as not to make the same mistake in your turn 😉

Porlock Weir more gluten free cake

This was followed by a trip to Exmoor to see Gary which miraculously involved very few hills, actual sunshine, compensatory coffee AND cake.  Very nice gluten-free lemon curd cake, in case you’re interested, and ever happen to be passing by Kitnors Tea Room in Bossington, which you shouldn’t, because you should go in – it’s really nice there 🙂

Both rides were very lovely on the company and weather front, but not so on the PMA or form front.  In fact, here’s me 😉  Actually, given the escapee escapades of Gary’s tortoise that day, he was probably faster than me!  Post Dartmoor Classic and a lot of riding of late and…well…who knows whatever else…I guess I was just tired and somewhat under-motivated…?  For whatever reasons, it just wasn’t quite working last week.  The sun was shining, and there wasn’t much wind, so the spirit was more willing than it might have been, but the flesh just seemed to be running on empty 🙁

not a slow tortoise

A while back I reached the conclusion that I really needed a break.  So this weekend I went away.  For a weekend away which did not involve a sportive.  Or in fact the bike in any way.  I had a mini-holiday in Bude, Cornwall, with myself.  My bike and I were on a break 😉  And it was totally awesome 😀  Life’s always better at the beach, right?  In addition to whole heaps of wave watching, sunbathing, paddling, reading, relaxing and whatever, it did however involve a fair bit of coastal walking, which my legs are now protesting vigourously.  Well just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean no exercise – that way madness lies!  Besides, I really enjoyed it 🙂  However, though I may not be able to walk properly right now, it would appear that I can still pedal.  Different muscles I guess.  Which brings us to today’s ride, a Fairyland coffee run with Alan to watch the festival stragglers drifting home, all of whom were looking remarkably clean as it happens.

And I was feeling better out there.  Again with the sunshine, and no wind helping 😉  Maybe the break helped too?  If so, maybe I’ll have to take more of them *grin*.  Sure, I may not have been breaking any records, but it did go better than I’d expected and I actually enjoyed riding the bike, which has to be good for the PMA, right?  Let’s see how the next few rides go…who knows?

Cycling time: 5:18
Distance: 79.1 miles
ODO: 10031.3 miles

(Blimey – the “new” bike has now done over 10,000 miles!!)





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

Pulling muscles from a shell ;)

sunny Levels

I went riding last Friday, but unless you want me to moan about the wind (amongst other things) again, it was fairly unremarkable.  Apart from the size of the slice of treacle tart that Alan ate at Sweets – that warrants a mention.  And a doggy bag probably, since even he couldn’t eat it all!  So I didn’t blog the ride, but I might as well slip it in while I’m here, for consistency’s sake.

treacle tart

Cycling time: 1:27
Distance: 22.1 miles
Avg: 15.2 mph
ODO: 9596.7 miles

Which brings us to today.  Which is of course hump day.  Again.  For some reason I came up with this particular route whilst attempting to drift off to sleep on Sunday night, with a vague idea that I might do it on Monday.  However the weather wasn’t in my favour, and life got a bit busy, and besides, hilly routes are perfect for riding with Alan, because at least I can just about keep up on those 😉

Two Trees out of saddle top of Two Trees views again

Of course it had to be a four hill route, since Alan had mentioned that we could easily have sneaked another hill into last week’s three hill route.  Gauntlet thrown down…  Be careful what you wish for, isn’t that what they say? 😉  And do you want to know which hills?  Of course you do.  And it doesn’t really matter whether you do or not because I’m going to tell you anyway.  That’s kinda how this blogging thing works.  So, in order, Shipham Hill, Two Trees, the A39 from Chewton Mendip to the aerial (which fails to have a catchy name), and Deer Leap.  How do you like them lumpy apples? 🙂

I wasn’t expecting it to go well, being back on the shiny pills and all.  But it did.  I just got on with it in a quietly feeling competent kind of way.  The sun helped, the wind didn’t.  Yes, the hills were hard work but, on balance, if pushed (which I wasn’t! 😉 ), I’d say they felt easier than the last times I variously went up them.  Which, according to Strava, is because I went up them faster.  Not PRs necessarily (though some of ’em were), but my best time up all of them in a year, or in some cases, in years!  How cool is that? 🙂  Apparently our efforts were worth a cream tea, if you’re Alan that is.  I’ll be having my reward a little later when Tescos have delivered – something cold and white methinks 😀

Cycling time: 2:36
Distance: 36.8 miles
Avg: 14.1 mph
ODO: 9633.5 miles

Ebbor Gorge smile cream tea

PS: yes the blog title today is truly terrible *grin*

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


If the hat fits…

Mayor Making 2015 groupI’ve been a tinsy bit busy this week…can’t imagine why…but I have managed to ride twice.  Not that either of these rides went entirely according to plan.

On Wednesday, to compensate for not getting any exercise in on Monday and Tuesday, I planned myself a 60 mile route.  Not the world’s most exciting route, to be sure, but with nowt better to do, and nowhere else to be, I figured I might as well.  Get out there, enjoy it, etc.  However thanks to the bl**dy wind (will it ever stop?), which eventually I really couldn’t face fighting anymore, I gave in, turned right, headed for home, and it turned out to be just 40.  Tant pis *gallic shrug*.

Cycling time: 2:33
Distance: 39.9 miles
Avg: 15.6 mph
ODO: 9482.5 miles

On Friday Gary H and I did the usual kind of Sweets coffee loop.  The man who “hasn’t done any training” hasn’t gotten any slower as a result even if that is true though, and keeping up was hard work.  I wish I could do no training and still be that fast! *sob*.  Ah well, we’re all built different, right?

Cycling time: 1:43
Distance: 28.0 miles
Avg: 16.2 mph
ODO: 9510.5 miles

However after both these rides, I was WAY WAY tireder afterwards than I should have been.   Even after resting in between rides.  Proper bone deep stuck on the sofa weary.  Too many sportives?  Too much else on my plate?  Not enough food (distinctly possible and probably not helping either)?

So, however gorgeous it may be out there, and typically it really is, I am not riding the bike today.  I’d like to but…  I may not tomorrow or Monday either.  Just as well I don’t have a sportive this weekend right?  I get the feeling I may need a break.  Sometimes you have to listen to your body I guess.  We’ll see…  Maybe I’ll go walking instead?  And maybe I’ll ride anyway.  I wouldn’t put it past me 😉  Still today, if you want me, I’ll be sat in the sun somewhere being busy doing nothing.

In the meantime, as the photo above reveals, on Monday I was duly installed as the Mayor of Axbridge again.  It went well, mostly, the usual hiccup, but nothing that doesn’t happen every year, and my two were awesome.  Kudos to my mob 🙂  So here I be, with a new hat and everything.  The Cycling Mayor once more, in more than name alone 😉

BTW I’d like to thank Paul from The Lamb Inn, in Axbridge, and Butcombe Brewery for donating the beer for my Mayor Making.  Credit where credit is due.  Nice beer too 🙂

new hat new Mayor old Mayor from one Mayor to another

PS: for those of you currently enjoying the unusually lovely weather on The Tour of Wessex, I think you’ll find that’s because I’m not there, and I shall be invoicing you all for my non-attendance shortly 😉

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

Too many people take second best

Ok, I’m lying. Of course it doesn’t have to be perfect.  What’s perfect anyway?  And good enough is frequently good enough 🙂

Today was about checking the legs were ok before the Black Rat this weekend.  Ok, I’m lying.  Again.  It was actually about seeing if I could go up a hill without another meltdown.  In the company of Alan once again, who will also be with me on Sunday.  We actually had sunshine, warmth, and no wind.  No word of a lie.  Yes, I know, miracles do happen! 😉

sunny Burrington Combe

And as it turns out, that hill?  Yes I could.  Burrington Combe.  Again with the not a lie 😉  Best time up it in a year as it happens.  Not just this year.  A year.  Good enough 😉  And I wasn’t pushing it, because I’m still too scared to do that.  But clearly there’s some form lurking somewhere there, when everything else is under control.  And having earnt some fun, Longbottom and Shipham were an absolute blast. So t’was short but sweet as rides go, but well worth it on the PMA front 🙂

Cycling time: 1:16
Distance: 18.9 miles
Avg: 14.8 mph
ODO: 9313.1 miles

Alan behind me