Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Derby Mercury All Inclusive Social- Part 3

Obviously the first two Social Rides were not only a social success but also a great training exercise for many cyclists.   The previous rides had attracted between 35-40 riders but today's event was reduced in number to around 24 cyclists.. The onset of the Racing Season meant that we had youngsters out racing at Darley Moor ( where Sam T took his first ever win in the U-12 event ) and at Swynnerton where Ben got on the podium ( as did Eve R in the funny women event :-??? )) and the place was swamped  amongst a sea of blue and white. With seniors competing in the BDCA 25 at Etwall and at  Churnett Valley , then many of our regulars were away.  Though why Rob W decided to go and ride the Challenge at Paris-Roubaix is a mystery to me when the Social Ride could have offered him equally challenging  conditions PLUS Cake!!

Once again a Hare and Tortoise Group were formed with the intention of meeting up at the coffee stop at Rosliston and then again at the Great Northern to  discuss war stories.
Great thanks are due to Sarah and Duncan G for plotting and leading the route and keeping everyone together...NO-ONE EVER gets dropped on a Social Ride..not even doddery OAPs like me :-)

It was a glorious sunny day and there were originally about 17 on the Tortoise Group though a few  peeled off on route as they needed to get some serious interval training done in readiness for the Club TT season starting next week.

I am expecting great things from Sasha, Jen, Mark and Nick as they made their excuses and left.

The Social Rides are noted ( at least they are now after the first epic mountain adventure where nearly everyone collapsed ! )  of being fairly flat and on those inclines that did occur Phoebe G was there to give encouragement as she waited for us oldies at the summit.

Sarah was acting as Pathfinder and ignoring the cries of the GPX Garmin Gang, resolutely stood by her principles and kept consulting some paper thing covered in squiggly lines, which led to a great mystery tour and an off road section which made Paris -Roubaix look like a ride for wimps.

It did however have the added benefit of creating extra distance allowing Carrick to achieve his first ever metric hundred ride.

We did however all manage to return safely with no mechanicals and as we reentered the City Boundaries riders peeled off for home with the remnants enjoying a well earned drink at Ride HQ where we were soon joined by the Hare Squad

A great day out in the saddle at a pace and distance comfortable to all..truly an All Inclusive Social Ride.

Thanks Sarah and Duncan.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Derby Mercury All Inclusive Social - Part 2

Following the great turnout for the January Social, I offered to lead a Spring Social to celebrate my 70th Birthday.  The initial ride in January had left a number of cyclists gasping for breath and in need of urgent succor, so I emphasized that this outing really would be suitable for all and that the pace would be Tortoise Like and the climbing moderate, Hares would of course be welcome and could take a detour to give them a chance to stretch their legs.
And so, at 09-00 on March 12 around 38 cyclists turned up at the Broadway ( and a few more joined en route ) . It was great to see so many juniors out, as well as a large contingent from the Derby Divas.  The numbers were such that we set off in two groups heading towards Kedleston and then Mercaston where the advanced guard stopped to allow everyone to regroup.

The lanes around here are notoriously pot holed and scattered with debris from hedge cutting and so Andy T had already had practice in repairing his own  puncture before his skills were called upon once again.

Once all mechanically sound we set off in groups once again heading through Brailsford and on tp Alkmonton where, as it started to climb, Jen kindly took over lead rider duties to give an OAP some protection from the wind.

The Alkmonton Climb, whilst not vicious, is long and you might see from this next image that Duncan G was beginning to feel the pace as he pulled his tag along up the hill.

From Alkmonton the run was on to the coffee stop and one young lady, having been equipped by a whip from the esteemed Touring Secretary, urged her driver to much greater efforts

I had arranged for the coffee stop to be at The Salt Box in Hatton and in celebration of the day, my wife had kindly arranged for a Birthday Cake to be ready

Herbie had kindly offered to forgo the hillier part of the ride so as to reserve half the cafe in advance of our arrival, ably assisted by Mark H.

Cyclists can of course not live by Cake Alone and bacon sandwiches are a neccesity for growing people

It was a true party atmosphere and to a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday we all enjoyed the rest

Eve could not be with us, but she had not forgotten and sent one of her emissaries with a special present

Refueling over we went on the flat route to Willington and Repton before turning towards Milton Ingleby Swarkstone and home. For me around 77km with 575 m of climbing

For me it was a wonderful day out. No-one got dropped, the average pace was around 22kph and the the climbing modest with no lung busters.

Thank you to everyone who came to help me celebrate...you all gave me a day to remember.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Derby Mercury First All Inclusive Social Ride

The normal weekend rides attract just a dedicated few and so there was a discussion to introduce an extra ride; an all inclusive Social Ride suitable for children to pensioners, for tea shop tourists to racers, for mothers to grandparents. And so our ever attentive Touring Secretary arranged just such a ride for an early January morning and asked Dave Banks to act as Leader and post a route. This gave me my first inkling of doubt as 100km with over 1350m of climbing did not sound very sociable to a doddery pensioner. Never the less I thought I would give it a try.
Obviously there is a demand for such a ride as 34 people of all ages, size and fitness turned up at the Broadway for the start and a few others joined us very soon after.
And so we set off towards Mickleover- Longford- Mayfield - Ilam - Weaver Hills and the Peaks.  I was the first to be dropped but I did hang on to at least the Crematorium. Indeed I managed to re-attach myself to some of the back markers as we entered Radbourne Lane, partly assisted by the fact that Duncan and Sarah Gell were pulling trailers loaded down with children whilst Di, Sasha and Jen took pity upon me, or so I thought.

 As we sped on towards Longford Di proffered the information that 32kph was a bit too fast for her as an average pace.  The main group had stopped and waited for us on Long Lane and so after re-grouping, and taking in lots of gulps of air, we shot off again towards Mayfield where once again the main peleton stopped and waited.   Even though we had only done about 30 km, Di said she felt as she had done 300km,  I was shattered and Sasha was unable to speak.  I am not sure how Ben, a first time guest on a Mercury ride, felt as he was bent double gasping for air. Meanwhile Duncan et famille were still toiling up the hills, it must be hard work pulling a 60kgm load up 15% inclines. There is a short cut here towards Ashbourne which Dave kindly pointed out and offered the information that his route was ' for guidance only ' as he had discovered some more hills which promised fun. FUN????
And so the group split, nine of us split off to Ashbourne,  three had already dropped out and gone home, and the true adventurers set off to the hills.

I am told that eventually fourteen made it to their coffee stop, at which point a Team Car picked up Ian and Josh Scales with some excuse of having to see a man about a dog !  If you believe that!
Of the feisty fourteen only eight survived to grovel over the finish line where upon Mark and Debbie Gray said they had never been on such a Social ride before having covered over 110 km and around 1750 m of climbing.
Our Touring Secretary awarded Dave a Special Bonus for having managed to break the World Record of total number of drop outs on ANY ride and having found a route which encompassed more than 20 cattle grids and six slurry heaps. On this latter point it is rumoured that Andy Thomas was nearly divorced when he brought Sam home absolutely covered in S*!t.

Meanwhile the Splinter Group recovered in Jack Rabbit's at Ashbourne before heading for home..or rather we would have headed for home if Sasha had not instantly gained a puncture, and, in the true style of a touring cyclist, did not have a spare inner tube that fitted her wheel. She was however equipped with a non-fitting inner tube!

Mechanical interlude over we made our way out of Ashbourne towards Hulland, Mercaston, Kedleston Park and home with various members of the Splinter peeling off en route.

 As we passed through Kedleston Park Di thought she was in need of the kiss of life but chose her sofa instead. 

A great and enjoyable day out..but I dread to think what a ' normal ' Sunday ride would be like !!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Review of the Year - 2016

This has been for me a good cycling year.

The annuity distance target was achieved with ease, and indeed, I managed to cycle further in a year than I have ever done previously.

                                      Total Distance   7147 km
                                       Total Ascent     57384 m

even though the total number of rides was down by 5% to 189 outings

Persuaded by a friend to try some Baby Audax ( 100km ) I entered Rutland and Beyond in  early February. The weather was bitter, the hills steep and my friend decided that only fools rode in tose conditions so stayed at home..I rode..and froze. But I did complete it.
This was soon to be followed by another event around  the Three Fields of Alfreton and indeed I had also entered Charnwood in the Spring but went down sick two days before and was forced to withdraw.

The standard Derby Mercury club runs are obviously too quick and too far for me but instead  I started to ride with a group of Derby Mercury Veterans. This group of past cyclists used to race and  tour decades ago before the introduction of these modern new  fangled carbon electronic gear changing things were ever thought about. It is great to listen to stories of races past and places seen.  They travel now more at my pace and every ride involves a cake stop .

Indeed it was with  this group that this year I cycled abroad for the first time when we went to France to watch the TdF and follow in the tyre tracks of Stage 1.

 The atmosphere was great, the food even better though the entire trip did expose my deep lack of linguistic skills .

Whilst I have mentioned that I am too old and slow to go on the normal Mercury rides I did join the 78th Anniversary Ride out to Denstone. This involved for me a 78 km trip alongside about 100 other cyclists from the Club covering the entire age range from 7- 70 years old. The pace was good, no-one got dropped and there was a marvellous BBQ prepared for our return.

I have also tried to integrate myself a little more into the Club by helping out at Time Trials and in particular the epic Everest Challenge undertaken by JK  and taking a few photos

All in all, I have had a good year
Next year I hit 70, and may lead a Social Ride in early March to celebrate the event..we will see

As for my new non-target driven approach, well the Annuity Chart says that 1000 miles ( 1610 km ) needs to be covered..better go and get my bike ready !

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Hills Are Getting Steeper

As I am rapidly approaching my 70th birthday I have noticed a remarkable geographical fact; hills are becoming much steeper and are lengthening in duration!  I may well send this remarkable insight to National Geographic for their education.

To counteract this evolutionary change I have needed to make some dramatic engineering changes to my bike fleet.

Witchcraft, my Giant Advanced TCR SL3 with an Ultegra Di2 Groupset has had a cassette change to give a 32t large cog from the traditional 28t. This was thought to be impossible but my LBS at Bespoke  have weaved some magic and it all works fine.

My beloved Mercian Vincitore Special was equipped with a Campagnolo Chorus Triple which only allows a maximum rear tooth count of 29.  So I have had this upgraded (?) to a Shimano Tiagra Triple with a 34t cassette.

This now means that I have a lowest gear on the Giant at 28 inches whilst on the Mercian it is now 23.3 inches.

I should perhaps point out here that my son thinks this is all needless as I had yet to encounter a hill I could not climb with the original kit.....and I am a bit loathe to confess to him that so far I have got nowhere near my new bottom gears...still I am approaching 70 and regard this as future proofing :-)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Derby Mercury 78th Anniversary Ride

I think there is a feeling amongst cyclists at large that cycling clubs are only for the super fit, with a concentration upon Time Trialing, Road Racing and hurtling around a velodrome at insane speeds.
Others of course prefer to spend their winter afternoons cycling over muddy fields, covered in mud and grime and freezing to death in icy winds..this I am told is the joy of Cyclo Cross.

Now whilst I cannot disagree that Cycling Clubs do engage in all these activities there is a much more social side to it all.

I am old and can never participate in these events but I can, and do, help out as part of the Support Team and find it really enjoyable and , though I am not a ' proper ' cyclist I have been made very welcome.

Occasionally though there are also highly inclusive events where everyone can participate irrespective of age and sporting prowess. Last weekend was such a time when Derby Mercury held their 78th Anniversary Ride.

There were three, or possibly four options; a 78 mile ride out into the back of beyond, a 78km ride to the edges of the Peak District, a 78 furlong option for those who wanted a gentle pootle, and a zero yards option for those who just wanted to partake in the post ride BBQ.

I chose the 78km option out to Denstone, a marvelous place for a mid ride break. I was a little concerned that I might not be fit enough to complete this ride so took a solo practice run a couple of days in advance to ensure I could manage the climbs. Having successfully completed this I felt more confident to go with the group and do the Anniversary Ride

There were over 50 riders on this ride, somewhat fewer on the 78 mile torture fest, but over 100 made it to the BBQ taking into account all the options

Below are a few images and here is a short video taken from the 78km Slow Group

Denstone Farm Shop and the Queue To Refuel

All ages were on the ride

A discussion on just how many punctures one should expect

A very happy me enjoying my ride out with the group

BBQ at Derby Rugby Club post the ride

Tucking In

In cluding my trip to the start and the ride home I managed to cover about 100km and climb just over 1000m. I was happy with that..but whether I will be able to manage 79 km next year remains to be seen

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Mercian goes to France

Being a very late convert to cycling, my experience of touring is limited, and when it comes to cycling abroad, then non-existent.  So, when I received an invite to join a party of Derby Mercury Veterans and Friends on a trip to Normandy I was delighted.

Eighteen of us met up in Derby and York Bike Liners who had made all the travel and accommodation arrangements soon had all our kit loaded onto the coach and trailer

Our trip coincided with the start of the Tour de France and it was our aim to try and watch the Monday Stage which went through Villedieu les Poles, the town where we had our base. But first it was onto Portsnouth and the overnight ferry to Roscoff

before racing down to Hilaire to watch the peleton flash past as can be seen in this short video

The enthusiasm of the local people was a joy to behold and one thing that really struck me was how much more  Cycling Friendly all the drivers were.

To celebrate the visit of Le Tour, Villedieu had put on a street party in the evening

We were there for a week and the group split up into different sections each day as riders were of different abilities and energy levels, but one common theme throughout all the rides was the necessity to try out the local Boulanger and Patisseries

In passing I noticed that the French Letter Boxes were of a similar design to our own with a similar reference system, though they chose a different colour

Stage 1 of Le Tour had started from Mont St Michel and was referred to as a ' flat stage '

Though that would not have been my definition and as I sped along in their tyre tracks it was nice to dream I was actually taking part

The weather was great and for those interested in seeing the scenery then there are a couple of videos

A Trip to Granville and the experience of cycling on cobbles

A Group trip to the Abbe d'Harbye

Being a load of Old Age Pensioners, then all the bikes were traditional with no carbon in sight

But Steel Rules through our Mercians !!

Now for next year..and let us hope that my language skills may improve