Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Drop!

Sometimes rides just don’t turn out the way you’d planned them do they? This morning’s commute into work was a perfect example. After a fairly hard ride last night with Mart and Johnny I’d planned to take it steady on the way in this morning. Things soon changed though………
It made a nice change to be on the Orange after the last few days on the road . The idea was to ride in over Nedge Hill, and to come home via an extended off road loop. However, as I turned into Shaw Lane I caught sight of another cyclist in my peripheral vision, on a road bike. It was time to make a decision. Did I sit up and allow him to catch me, or should I forget the steady ride, and see what I could do?
If there’s anything more satisfying than executing a ‘catch’, then it would have to be dropping the would be ‘catcher’. Even more so, when on a mountainbike. So decision made, it was time to put the hammer down.  A sly glance behind confirmed that I was well and truly in his sights, but could he make it stick? It was big ring stuff up and over the first incline before trying to settle into a steady pace. Suddenly I sensed something behind me. Not a bike though, but a car which passed quickly enough. No time to ease up, and I was soon past the stables and nearing the top. As I crested the final climb one last look behind confirmed that the drop has been completed!
What better way to start the day?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Summer Social Ride Report

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Sunday 22nd July 2012. Very probably the greatest ever day in British Cycling history. It was a real pleasure to mark this occasion by performing the most simple of tasks, riding our bikes. When I’d originally organised this ride, I had no idea it would give us the opportunity to celebrate the first ever British winner of the Grande Boucle, our very own Bradley Wiggins.

After weeks of terrible weather even the sun came out to mark the occasion. After the obligatory introductions, and last minute faffage, we were rolling away from our Shifnal base, at a few minutes past 10. The route was planned to have us back in time to catch the finish on the Champs Elysees.

As we escaped from the clutches of Shifnal and over the border into Staffordshire(dangerous I know), it was clear just how the events in France had captured the nation’s imagination. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many cyclists out. We must have seen literally hundreds of other cyclists as we meandered through the lanes, all paying their own personal tributes to Wiggins, Cavendish et al.

This was another very well attended ride, and we welcomed a few newcomers on the day. Perhaps most notably, Peter Roberts, a fellow cycling blogger, and member of the wonderfully named Gruppo Sportivo Gazzetta. It certainly makes the Shifnal Cycling Society sound very mundane……

The sun continued to shine, and the kilometres were passing quickly. Picturesque village after picturesque village passed by and as we reached  the 50km mark it was time for a well earned beer in The Dartmouth Arms, Burnhill Green.

After a quite lovely wonderful of Enville it was time to get back on the bikes and head for home. In no time at all we were coming back into Shifnal, and the pace suddenly lifted. Park Street may not be the Champs Elysees, and the Railway Bridge is a poor substitute for the Arc de Triomphe, but you have to play the hand your dealt. I could hear Scott approaching quickly on Max, and so it was time to wind up for the final sprint. In fairness I managed to sneak a few metres head start, but it’s always nice to roll by the finish line(Shifnal Dental Practise) at the head of the Pack.

After further re-hydration at HQ, it was time to head home to watch the final few kilometres of the tour. It certainly didn’t disappoint and we were treated to the vaguely surreal sight of seeing the Maillot Jaune leading out the Rainbow Jersey for a fourth straight win on the perhaps the famous boulevard on the planet. Chapeau!

What a fantastic end to a fantastic tour. Our ride wasn’t too bad either.

Thanks to all those who attended, and I hope everyone enjoyed it. I’ll try and sort out something similar in September/October.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Tinkering

Regular readers of this blog will have realised long ago my love of riding bikes. Road bikes, mountain bikes, commuter bikes, even tandems. Riding alone, with friends, with the kids, as long as it involves two wheels, I’m happy.
Something that’s not so obvious though is the huge amount of pleasure I get from maintaining these wonderful pieces of engineering. Many hours are whiled away in the garage, radio on, just tinkering. It might be making small adjustments to position, or perhaps trying out the latest eBay purchase.
More often than not the bikes are mine, but there’s also the kids’ and @ASL191’s bikes too. One of the many advantages of having more than one bike is that there’s always a job to do. It’s a sort of therapy, and is in stark contrast to the hours I spend desk surfing in my day job. I’ve always found that working on bikes makes you appreciate their beauty, and helps build a wider understanding of some of cycling’s more subtle points.
Perhaps the most tinkered with bike in the fleet, is also the most humble. My do it all, everyday commuter hack, come occasional tourer, the trusty On One Il Pompiino. Over the years I’ve owned it, it’s afforded me many hours of precious tinkering time. Wheels have been replaced, the gearing adjusted, stems and handlebars changed. Always with the aim of inching towards the perfect set. Will I ever get there? I hope not. I enjoy tinkering too much…