Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Nick goes on an expedition

Last weekend we trogged to The Lake District (when did that drive get so long?) for the annual Silver and Gold Practice Expedition.  The only time you’ll see me wild camping, which is a shame as it’s really rather nice.  As soon as the Moose is older, I hope it becomes a more frequent sight.  The route was along the ridge south of Buttermere and over Haystacks – which Jerry went to pains to point out was Wainwright’s favourite hill.  I think Rambling Mike loved this bit of trivia, it must have made his weekend.  The route wasn’t terribly long, but pleasant enough despite the cadets occasionally trying my patience.  It was lacking a bit in fresh water, though everyone else seemed happy boiling the ‘flowing’ water that had just been sat stagnating in the tarn.

I neglected the fresh food this time round, last year I took way too much broccoli, in preference for some whisky. Actually, it was that Spirit of Broadside stuff, and Mike took some Oban 14 – most delicious in that setting.  Everyone was impressed/appalled when I pulled out the whisk glasses.  I don’t mess about.

The weather held out and wasn’t as hot as we feared during the day or as cold as I feared at night (I took a sub-one-season sleeping bag).  Mike and I even went for a swift (time, not speed) run on Saturday evening, which was great until the sole fell off my shoe and I went over on my ankle a couple of times.  We then had a dip in the freakishly warm tarn and came out dirtier but less smelly than we went in. The rain then set in for most of the night which made next to no difference other than giving me a sopping tent to dry out when I got home.

In other news, I am now at my fattest since my oh-my-God-I-am-so-fat-I-need-to-do-Insanity days.  Psyche remains low, nay, absent.  There are 12 days until Ride London 100 and 73 days until the Spartan Beast.

Teenagers on a mountain. They have no idea how famous they are now
Essential gear
They really do love me

Monday, 14 July 2014

Suzie C returns

It turns out that one can, sort of, forget how to ride a bike.  With the RideLondon 100 less than a month away, I thought I better get Suzie out and make sure she works.  I planned to go for a ride at the weekend, but as with most fun plans, that went by the wayside as I became fixated on re-varnishing the floor.  I did give her a cleanup though, and she is still a fine looking machine. 

She hasn’t been let out for over two years and even then I only very rarely rode her to work, when I planned to extend my commute for a training ride – she isn’t really suit to the urban jungle.  It was like trying to drive an F1 car to work – everything was different, twitchy and scary.

Firstly, I must be a bit fatter and more inflexible than I was as the drops felt very low indeed. The brakes were weird, plus there is a back one.  The pedals are harder to clip in and, inevitably embarrassingly, out of.  The steering is insanely direct (weird how it can feel so different).  I can stop pedalling – which just felt bizarre, but does mean you can lean into corners a lot more. I also often lost power for a moment at the top of the pedal stroke occasionally – hard to explain, but to do with the free spinning nature of Suzie and the coaster.  The bike weighs nothing, the wheels especially.  And there are gears – what are they about? It took me nearly ten miles to remember that you can change two gears at once by pushing the lever further.

So now I sit here with back ache from only 45mins of riding which doesn’t bode well.  On the other hand, she is like shit off a shovel, a proper bad ass of a bike.  And until she kills me, I love her.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Le Tour de France

Yesterday we walked up to Epping Forest to watch the odd spectacle that is the Tour de France.  After meeting quite early, we decided to avoid the crowds by heading through the forest to come out on the route further away from any side roads.  This was a good plan in its outcome, but the execution was a bit of an adventure as we head off path to cut through to the road – battlePram took it in its stride (an exaggeration, I was puffing) but Jane (or actually Holly, who took command of her pram as Jane carried Arthur) and Matt had a bit of an ordeal keeping up.  Even at this, one of the most inaccessible bits of route, it was fairly busy. 

The caravan eventually rolled on through, and not a rubber croissant in sight, but we did get a packet of tea and a packet of herd seeds (not potato seeds, despite the McCain branding, for a potato seed is a potato and probably shouldn’t be thrown at crowds from moving vehicles).  It is basically one long advert for various weird stuff, and wasn’t as big as I expect but was at least novel.

There was a long wait for the riders and they seemed to be running quite late, though I have heard no mention of delays.  The first two passed with us barely noticing as they were surrounded by vehicles.  These guys had broken away from the pack as the racing flag was waved at zero km and only got caught at about 8km from the end.  Then the main peloton came through and didn’t appear to be going terribly quickly – we were sat after the Epping sprint and before the peloton decided to catch the two escapees, so they probably were just ticking over when the passed us.  So the ‘race’ itself wasn’t all that impressive, but as a day it was very enjoyable, with a nice walk, picnic and three mostly happy babies.

In the buggy!

The approach 'path'

These two led from km zero until 8km from the end - epic but doomed