Monday, November 13, 2017

The Derby Mercury All Inclusive Poppy Ride

For those who have been following my posts you may well recall my report on the first Mercury All Inclusive Social Ride , an event which attracted well over 30 riders of all ages and abilities. You may also recall that the leader, Dave B managed to set a world record for attrition with only 8 survivors making it grovelling to the finish line.

For the Poppy Remembrance Ride, once again over 35 riders gathered at Broadway for the  event.  This time though, due to the mud and freezing temperatures, there were two echelons, the Off Roaders and the Overlanders with the Touring Secretary Nigel C leading the Muddy Ones and Ian S leading the Road Warriors. Meticulous planning by our famed duo had arranged for the groups to intersect at various points along the route before finally all meeting up at the Queen's Head in Little Eaton for food and refreshment.

Sadly I have to report that only 2 riders managed to complete the designated route and neither of them were the ride leaders.

Indeed it was only the Lanterne Rouge, ( Lorraine and myself ) who did actually complete the journey.

And so a new Attrition World Record was set. Step Forward Nigel and Ian !

This ride was different to the other Social Rides in that there was a time cut off of 11-00 to reach the War Memorial at Weston Underwood

 but a delayed start, punctures, and the hills, ( oh those hills! ), meant that the Overlanders were always struggling to meet the target time. Indeed Mugginton Mountain with its conveniently placed graveyard on its summit managed to decimate the peleton and only a few survivors made it the top .

Withe the blustery wind, and temperatures trying valiantly to get into positive territory, refreshment and a warm welcome was urgently needed.

However the conditions must have been so severe that the Off Roaders could stand the conditions no more and took refuge at a hostelry in Holbrook rather than go to the designated meeting point.

Meanwhile the main peleton continued to splinter and the excuses for leaving the plan were both varied and creative. Julie thought her dog might be missing her, Ian claimed to have lost a son, Gill thought her daughter was in danger of getting cold whilst others had just given up the will to live.

And so, this was a Social Ride WITHOUT a cake stop !

Though in conclusion, someone managed to heartily refuel

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Brooks and Me

Women tell me that childbirth can be a painful experience ( but obviously nothing as bad as man flu which can be verified by talking to any man ) but once the act is accomplished then the pain is soon forgotten.  Well in the world of severe pain then breaking in a Brooks Pure Leather Saddle can come pretty close to suffering man flu.

I wrote about this Battling With Brooks just after  my birthday when I turned 65 and acquired my custom made dream bike, a Mercian Vincitore Special.

My first Brooks saddle , acquired when I started cycling at age 62, was a Brooks B17 Honey Leather Saddle with copper rivets and after 8 years and thousands of kilometers it has at last softened and acquired a very comfortable shape.

Like many cyclists I am aware of the saying that ' Weight Kills ' , especially when climbing, so the obvious conclusion is to lose weight.  This can be achieved by one of two ways, eat less cake or reduce the weight of the bikes components...being a Tea Shop Tourist type of cyclist the former was obviously out of the question and so component weight reduction was the only option.

And so I have acquired a Brooks Swift saddle with titanium rails.  Being narrower than the B17 and with the lighter support structure this seemed the obvious way forward.

BUT..I had forgotten the pain and suffering involved in breaking in the new saddle..indeed I am not sure that my life expectancy is long enough to achieve that task and so far all I have been able to achieve is a load of saddle sores :-(

However there is a very good reason for riding a bike with a Brooks saddle in that, if things get really tough, you can always eat it. To do so would not be entirely without precedent. Snowbound in California's Sierra Nevada mountains, the ill-fated wagon-train migrants of the Donner Party resorted to eating their leather clothing and bootlaces, before moving on to eat one another.
There are no known cases of cyclists dying from starvation, resorting to cannibalism, or even eating their leather saddles, yet hunger is a regular companion on any long distance bicycle journey.

So think then of those outlanders who next March will be attempting the Indian Pacific Wheel Race from Freemantle to Sydney Opera House, a distance of 5500 km and which will be completed solo and completely unsupported

Monday, September 25, 2017

Derby Mercury 79th Birthday Social Extravaganza

One of the real success stories of this cycling season at Derby Mercury has been the popularity of the Social Rides and the way they have attracted the less ' racing condition cyclists ' in the Club.  Starting off with a surprising turnout of over 35 riders on a cold, damp January Sunday morning, the rides have steadily increased their reach, and yesterday ' The Birthday Ride' attracted over 100 participants.
To make these rides truly inclusive there are 3 options

a)  a 79 mile  ride for the fit and fast

b) a 79 km ride for those who like to chat and eat cake

c) a 79 furlong ride for the Mercury Future Stars

The whole experience is topped off by a BBQ back at ride HQ, and, for those lucky enough to have chosen a seat at John's table, a slice of the most sumptuous Orange Chocolate Cake

The Fast Boys left early and blasted off into the Peak District and I did not see them again until they stormed past me in a blur of blue and the whirring sound of deep rimmed wheels through Sudbury on their return journey.

The Social Group comprised riders covering an age range from 10 years to 70+ years with an equally wide range of fitness and capability and snaked their way to the coffee stop at Denstone Hall

 where we turned the place into a sea of blue.

Refuelling is a serious business and a lot of thought needs to be given to the correct nutritionally food

Though the cyclists around the tables seemed highly satisfied with their choices

Meanwhile the Mercury Future Stars , along with their support staff,  had made their way to Elvaston

but with the excess energy of youth, burned some of it off on an assault course

before returning for burgers and cake.

It was a great day in the saddle, the weather was kind and the organization great

Thank you to all.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Derby Mercury RC All Inclusive Social Picnic Ride

I was told that ' The Picnic Ride ' used to be an institution within Derby Mercury but had not been held for a I thought I would see if I could revive it.

The aim was to make it truly ' All Inclusive '  from youngsters up to Old Age Pensioners like myself, and, as an addition hold the picnic at a place where mothers with babes in arms could also easily reach. And so I chose as the Picnic Destination, the Tara Centre at Etwall, a place with spacious grounds and, if some weight weenies decided not to carry their own food,  a good cafe serving all the essential nutrition that a cyclist could want.

I chose three routes:

a) a 12km ride along traffic free greenways which Nick offered to lead.
b) a 45 km tortoise ride at around 20kph which I would lead
c) an indeterminate fast route for the road warriors

In addition there was a further option

d) a car ride with a free car park at the  Tara Centre.

In the event there were a lot of good things that came out of this ride and it is difficult to choose the best one.

We did manage to attract around 40+ people to the picnic and the main peleton certainly managed to span the entire age range with the youngsters especially impressive on the racing hill climbs. Mums and OAPs took a more ' measured ' approach to these mountains but one of the seasoned cyclists always went with them to ensure safety.

No one got dropped and Neville very kindly acted as Lanterne Rouge and mechanic though his only maintenance task was to fix a couple of dropped chains and rescue a flying water bottle.
The good thing about being ride leader was that I could set the pace; the bad thing was that I was always head into the wind.

 Being at least 20 years older than any other rider I always worry that my tortoise pace for them ( race speed for me!! ) is spoiling the ride for others but no-one complained.
Another great thing about the ride was that we attracted some new people to group rides who were tempted by the short distance ( 45km to the picnic and 20km back to the start point ) and so felt confident to bring their children along too.

It also turned out to be a family event as mothers and toddlers did join us and the Divas were out in force

as well as some of  the seasoned cyclists

It was good to see a mixture of current and future cyclists

All in all a good day out...and as I had ordered a good sunny day that made it even better.

Thanks to everyone who came and kept me company

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Belisha Goes Exploring

The vast majority of my cycling is done on my Mercian and my Giant...however I do have another bike, a Brompton the colour of a Belisha Beacon.  I acquired this from one of my sons who had originally bought it to commute to work in London but decided he preferred a ' proper' bike. He is also very safety conscious and wanted to be clearly seen..hence the colour.
My idea was to use it for local errands and, more importantly, to explore distant lands outwith the borders of Derbyshire. Take a train trip to exotic places and then ride and explore. This post is about one such trip.

Now many people would not think of  Stoke-on-Trent as being exotic but it is situated on the Trent and Mersey Canal and so has cycle routes to some local places.

Being an Old Age Pensioner and having purchased a Senior Citizens Railcard getting to places is quite affordable and so I set off from Derby to Stoke with Belisha

The canal path is adjacent to the railway station and so soon I was on my way and it was not long before I saw a symbol of this area's historic heritage and why the area is known as ' The Potteries '

The Bottle Kilns were common in this area and , firstly the canals, and later the railways, were used to transport clay in and goods out.

Moving all this stuff is hard work and so to assist small wagons were built and a selection of them have now been converted for use as seats where people can rest and watch the world go by.

Once out of the city and into the countryside the scenery gets greener and one soon encounters some of the many canal boats which still use this waterway.

These waterways also act as a great haven for wildlife as both the heron and I enjoyed the tranquil surroundings

After about 15 km I approached my destination

The canal path was good for cycling, the only real problem being the tree roots disturbing the surface making for a bumpy ride in parts

and then it was time to stop for coffee

The return journey meant just retracing my steps but the weather turned to biblical proportions with thunder, lightening and torrential rain so no stops for photographs. Indeed the weather only relented once I had reached the shelter of Stoke Railway Station but I did not let the weather dampen my spirits and now I am planning my next trip out with Belisha.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Inaugural All Inclusive Social Derby Mercury Audax

2 July 2017
 Remember this day.
This was the day of the Inaugural All Inclusive Social Derby Mercury Audax.
A 100km cycle ride in the sun around the lanes of Derbyshire and Leicestershire

And it WAS inclusive and it WAS very social.

Around 40 cyclists with ages ranging from 9 years to 70 years gathered at Derby Rowing Club for the Grande Depart

and soon we were off..on a typical Nigel start which involved off road rocky paths up a very steep incline with bike barriers every 50 metres..we were told this was ' necessary' as otherwise the course would be 200m short of the required 100km target..hmmm

As the peleton sped through the centre streets of Derby all were resplendent in the club colours with a wide range of styles on display reflecting the long tradition of the club.

Initially the course was flat and it was easy for the group to stay intact but eventually the road began to climb and the peleton began to string out..imagine the TdF but at a 'slightly ' slower pace

Of course with the hills came the pain to an old body like mine could soon be easily dropped. But this was a social ride and any stragglers were shephered back into the throng by the experienced and stronger cyclists. In my case Martin, fresh from his hard work towing the pro cyclist from Raleigh, Adam, up Hedge Climb in Mickleover

now had the task of bringing me back into the bunch

But one of the great things about this ride was no-one would be dropped and as the peleton waited at the top of the climbs to regroup, there was no rushing off once the last man ( usually me! ) joined so that I too could rest and recover

Though my natural domain on all rides is Lanterne Rouge, there can be exceptions and after a coffee stop at the bottom of Breedon Mountain, I shot ahead to capture a picture of the group as they resumed the chase ( A bit, well a lot really ! of poetic licence here :-) )

We were on the homeward stretch now, heading back to the Derby Rowing Club for tea and cakes and a little liquid refreshment

But a brief stop for a group photo at the Weeping Poppies

For me, it was the best Social Ride I have been on. I only started cycling when I retired at 60 years which was 10 years ago but here I was made to feel welcome, looked after on the climbs and generally people made sure that I was included.

Truly an All Inclusive Social Ride and thank you to them all

A great day in the saddle.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Mercian Vincintore Special..the Prince of Bikes

Just looking back  I came across was 5 years ago now and I had just taken ownership of it as a 65th Birthday Present to myself

My Mercian

Since that day it has carried me over 30 000 km and given me so much pleasure

I had just started cycling then and was never quick, and now even slower..but it still gives me fun and enjoyment

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 all gave me a day to remember.