Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

I just wanted to take a couple of minutes to say Happy New Year to everyone who's been a part of the Shifnal Cycling Society in 2012. To those who've taken time to read the ramblings on here every bit as much as those who've ridden with us.

And what a year it's been. From our local roads around Shrops and Staffs, to much further a field, it's safe to say that we've ridden further, higher, and faster in 2012 than ever before.

However, 2013 will be with us soon and it's time to look forward as we enjoy our memories of this year. We've already got some very exciting projects on the horizon, and it's looking to be another vintage year.

So thanks again, and can i wish you all a happy and healthy 2013. Now get out there and ride your bike(s).


Saturday, 29 December 2012

My Top Ten Rides of 2012

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad App
Great Riding, Great Beer!
Almost all of my best thinking is done either when I’m riding my bike, or during the malted recovery beverage consumption which often follows. It was during the consumption of the fine ale in the picture above that I had the idea to list my favourite rides of 2012. Many great ones have missed the cut, but here’s my top 10, with a few words to describe what made them so special.
10 – The Shifnal Cycling Society Summer Social Ride; A summer’s day, the lanes of Shropshire and Staffordshire, and a social ride with friends. What more could you ask for?
9 - The Summer Solstice Century Ride; To mark the longest day of the year we devised a simple plan, complete a metric century, and then drink beer. A match made in heaven!
8 – Project 330; This was all Martyn’s idea; He threw the gauntlet down early in the year to cover 100km in under 3 hours and 30minutes. Date selected, route chosen, it was time to pedal! A great night and in the end we made it with time to spare. Will we beat our time in 2013?
7 - An Mtb ride with my eldest daughter; If there’s anything nicer than watching your kids enjoy the simple pleasure of riding their bike, I’ve yet to see it.
6 – Shifnal 2 Parkend/Brian’s Last Stand; The first a2b entry on the list was a ride from Shifnal south to meet the rest of the family deep in the heart of the Forest of Dean. A great day in the saddle, made all the more poignant by saying goodbye to an old friend.
There’s already some epics from 10 to 6, but the top 5 is full of rides out of the very top drawer. My legs are aching just writing about them……
5 – The Cambrian Challenge; A ride across Wales in the Dark. Starting from Ironbridge at midnight, and arriving in Barmouth for Breakfast.  Riding along the estuary towards Aberdovey as the sun came up was a truly magical experience.
4 – Shifnal 2 Goosnargh; My in-laws live in Goosnargh just outside Preston, and when the opportunity arose to ride up there instead of using the tin box, I grabbed it. Another epic day in the saddle.
3 – The Welsh Epic; 13 hours riding, and 314kms covered. The Moon lit both the start and end of this most epic day of cycling. From Shifnal to Aberdovey, and then back to Shifnal. Just awesome!
2 – The Velominati Shropshire Hills Cogal – Would anyone turn up to this ride? Organized for the web based community Velominati, I could never have imagined things turning out so well. You can read all about it here.

And the winner is.......
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
On Top of the World!
1 – The Alpine Cogal – Riding in the wheel tracks of the greats of this great sport. A triple whammy of the Col du Telegraphe, Col du Galibier, finishing off with the Col Du Glandon. A post ride beer has never ever tasted so good!
What a year of cycling, and the list could have been so much longer. I’m not sure how I’m going to top this in 2013, but I’ll certainly be giving it a good go!

Friday, 28 December 2012

The last #BikeToWork of 2012

It must be said that cycling does provide the ideal opportunity to absorb more of the surroundings that would normally be overlooked if travelling by car. Things like the gradient of the road, the road surface, the weather and the scenery.

Whilst commuting to work this year I have been lucky enough to witness an array of these sights, sounds and smells that are oblivious to motorists in their tin boxes. Beautiful sunrises, thick fog, torrential rain, ice, floods and great wildlife such as squirrels scurrying between my wheels.

As @936ADL and I set off for the final #BikeToWork commute of 2012 our minds were focused on where we would be able to acquire coffee and bacon on our arrival in Telford as our regular eatery is closed for the Christmas break.  The rain had eased off and the temperature quite comfortable as we dipped into the Ironbridge Gorge seeking out the disused railway line known as the Silkin Way that would deliver us into Madeley.

As we circumnavigated Sutton Hill island in Madeley, I happened to spot the greatest example of stealth parking I've seen in a while. We went around the island again to get a closer look.

@936ADL admires the parking
Concealed parking
The reality of the matter was that the driver of the vehicle had obviously failed to recognise that the road on which they were travelling (probably at great speed) was punctuated with a rather large island.

Unsuccessful application of breaks resulted in the little red hatchback becoming deposited, and rather neatly concealed, amongst Telford & Wrekin Council’s finest shrubbery.

The hilarity of the situation was suddenly quelled as @936ADL asked “Is there anyone in there?” I rubbed the rain off the rear window and looked inside. Thankfully, the car was empty. Its occupants had been able to flee from the scene. Recognition must be given to the trees and shrubs in the middle of the island that probably saved someone’s life last night by providing a soft landing for the out of control vehicle. Had it have been a brick wall, or lamppost, then @936ADL would certainly not be smiling for the #BikeToWork picture.

You will pleased to know that the commute into work reached a pleasantly satisfying conclusion at the Sainsbury's (Telford Bridge Retail Park) restaurant where sausages and coffee are served up in abundance.