Monday, 24 April 2017

Merry Monk Audax 105 km and build-up of miles for M to M

25th April 2017

The weather forecast for Sunday was looking good after a chilly start.  I was looking forward to the event as the route was a good one, nice distance and also I was to meet the replacement for Dave for my upcoming Manche to Med ride through France. I had agreed to meet Peter at the start with the intention of getting to know each other – this worked well!
I decided to drive over to Langport park there and cycle up the long hill to High Ham for the start, 3.6 miles seemed a nice distance to warm up and at the end of the day it was 3.6 miles down hill!!
I parked in the car park next to the church, unloaded my bike, gear sorted, shorts, short sleeved helly vest, short sleeve jersey with arm warmers and windproof gilet, I had fingerless mits, my hands were cold!!! Riding to the start.

It was a lovely ride up the hill, I arrived at the event headquarters in good time, tea and toast was offered and gladly accepted. There was a large group of the Wheelers already there, they had cycled over from home 20 miles! So by the end of the day they will have cycled over 100 miles, respect to them!

I finally met up with Peter, joining me on the M toM , shaking hands and initial chat before we set off on the Audax. There was over 100 in our group setting off for a descent down to Langport, 100 riders had already gone at 8:30, so a good turn out for the event. It was still chilly for the descent and stayed that way across the levels past Muchelney Abbey through Kingsbury Episcopi, Shepton Beauchamp before starting the climb up to Windwhistle.

The sun was now out, and as we approached Dowlish Wake at the bottom of the Cudworth climb, a long climb steep in places that exited near the golf course at the top of Windwhistle hill, Peter and I had a slight problem here , he stopped a ta junction, I cycled past, he didn’t notice and we had some confusion waiting for each other .

It was a long descent down to Forde Abbey, and when we arrived the sun was now gaining warmth, a beautiful spot, coffee and a time for a snack. The next stage of the event was to be ‘lumpy’ climbs and descents over to Sherborne. As we climbed over to Cheddington and Winyards Gap it was warm, the hedgerows were full of wild garlic and blue bells, the woods at Winyards were a blue sheen very beautiful, filling the air with a lovely scent. The long descent on good roads to Halstock was enjoyable, Peter and I were now on our own, coming across small groups occasionally. The route passed a very calm Sutton Bingham Reservoir, the drinking water for Yeovil, a short steep climb before the busy villages of Bradford Abbas etc. we were now close to Sherborne the second checkpoint and the second Abbey [hence the title Merry Monk] the checkpoint was in the middle of the town, so lots of traffic after the quiet roads out in the country.

We checked in and as the café was very busy we were able to get a cup of tea from Waitrose next to the café, it was hot as we sat in the sunshine with our sandwich lunch, lots of bikes stacked in the courtyard, and clearly we weren’t the last to arrive! 74 km covered so far. Peter and I had chatted as we cycled, comparing our preparation for the M to M.

The sun was now fully out, cotton wool clouds as we cycled out from Sherborne, a long busy uphill to the Somerset border [we were currently in Dorset] before we returned back to the quiet lanes onto Yeovilton. We were now on our return back to High Ham, after Yeovilton we went through Ilchester back on to the busy A road , lots of traffic again, the road now rolling but with a good surface, I was thankful when we turned off as we had also been cycling into a head wind, back to the lanes to Somerton, some beautiful country side and great cycling. We had managed most of the route to follow the route on the Garmin GPS rather than keep looking at turn by turn written instructions. I was still feeling good even though we had covered well over 50 miles.
The last few miles before the final climb back up to High Ham were nice and steady riding, quiet lanes, blossom out on the fruit trees. There was a final sting in the tail with the steep climb up to the event HQ – 66.9 miles covered a great day out and good to meet my riding colleague for M to M. The hall had a great spread of food, donations to ‘Air Ambulance’ I helped myself to a bowl of trifle and a piece of fruit cake with of course tea!

I said cheerio to Peter to meet again at the Portsmouth ferry terminal! I cycled back down the hill to my car, a lovely descent, at a good speed, I still felt I had some energy left, but was glad I didn’t have to ride that extra 20 miles home!

A fantastic day out, a well organised event, one for the calendar in the future. 66.9 miles Audax and 7 miles to and from car, 74miles total.

Monday [yesterday] I had to visit a couple of school crossing controls for their yearly check. I drove to the first one in the morning as it was 12 miles away, and I had to recover from the day before! But the afternoon visit I managed to cycle over , the temperature was now quite chilly, so back to windproof and three-quarter tights. I went over Winsham on the way out and back through Haselbury Plucknett, Hinton St George, a lovely ride and another 27 miles covered, 104 miles in two days, so a good start in my build up for M to M.

Forecast for the week is to get colder again so back to winter gear, mudguards etc.

New shorts, new tyres are on order and this week I will fit my new cassette and chain to prepare my bike for M to M. I only have one more bikeabilty course in May.

Great weather and lots of cycling.

Saturday 22nd April 2017

The week leading up to Easter the weather was fantastic, it was the time to get my legs out and dig out the short sleeve jersey. After my ‘bug’ it was nice to meet up with the Wobblies once again for our Wednesday morning ride, a bit chilly to start but definitely shorts, short sleeve jersey and arm warmers, 8 of us headed out over the Blackdown Hills round the back of Taunton, through Bishops Lydyeard to Hestercombe House for coffee and cake, Hestercombe is famous locally for its rediscovered gardens etc, it was quite busy as it was the first week of the Somerset schools holiday, we had to wait quite a while to get served but it was worth it as they did a lovely seeded flapjack, after 35 miles to the coffee stop I was glad of this as it was a long time since breakfast and I knew it was 20ish miles home. We cycled back over the levels through the vast new housing development of West Monkton and Creech St Michael, a lovely morning out 53 miles covered. 

I was out with the Wheelers again on Good Friday afternoon, lulled into thinking it might be a steady ride, which it definitely wasn’t , going up to Langport I found myself on a line of cyclists moving at a fast pace of 23 mph! it was soon my turn at the front and I managed to keep the pace for my share before sitting at the back, the pace was kept up and by the time, we had got round to Martock where we were supposed to stop for tea the average speed was up around 19 mph, unfortunately the café was shut, as it was bank holiday. After much discussion  the group [9 ] decided to call at the Pub at East Lambrook, as I was getting tired after the 25 miles so far and not feeling very warm [ the temp had dropped quite a lot and the wind was very chilly and against us for the ride home] I decided not to stop and waved good bye leaving them to their coffee at the pub. It was a hard ride home into the head wind and seemed to get colder, my average for the whole ride was 17.5 mph, very fast for me!!! Another 40 miles covered. 

My bike still had the mysterious creak, I had changed the bottom bracket etc but still the creak was there. Then I had a brainwave and took out the rear quick release greased  the cam along with the thread on the rear gear hanger, and it worked!!!! No more creaks, I now have a new BB that I didn’t need, but I now have a spare.

Easter Sunday was again a lovely day I had arranged to meet up  with Mike who told me he had not been out for a few weeks, so we went down onto the levels once again, a much slower pace this time 42 miles average speed 12.5 mph!
I had also managed to run 6 miles a couple of times in the week to keep my running legs! So a good week with over 130 miles covered.

Easter week I had 4 days Bikeability so not much chance to get miles in, however , I did manage to cycle over to the West Monkton course on day 2 , 16 miles each way, the morning was very chilly at 3 degrees, needing leg cover, by the time I was riding home though it was back to shorts for a pleasant cycle back over the hills.

Tomorrow is the Merry Monk Audax 110 km from High Ham round through Forde Abbey and Sherborne back to High ham, weather forecast is good and dry, so should be a good day out.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Catch up

April 12th 2017
It’s been several weeks since I updated my Blog in fact it’s since the Grizzly in March. Once I had completed this I felt I needed a break from activity, blog writing etc. But the mind has this way of making you feel guilty when you are not doing those things anymore, so I have run 37 miles since the Grizzly [not all at the same time!] my best run being up in the Peak district when we had a couple of days at Chatsworth in the Camper van, I ran up and on to Baslow Edge, on a beautiful evening, with clear blue skies and a warm temperature for the time of year. I have tried to get back more into cycling in preparation for my French trip and for the couple of Audaxes I had planned, sadly a heavy cold last week put paid to last weeks ‘Dustman Daves Doddle’ 105k from Bishops Lydeard to Yeovilton and back and it’s the Merry Monk 110 k Audax in two weeks from High Ham. However I have managed to cycle 340 miles since the Grizzly, the weather over the past month has been superb, dry and sunny with warmth in the sunshine when you got out of the Northerly breeze.
Here are some main points from the last month
  • ·         A trip to Gloucester to Granddaughters mother’s day service – camped at Briarsfield Cheltenham for 2 days.
  • ·         3 days camped at the Caravan Club site at Chatsworth House near Baslow.
  • ·         Walk in Dovedale, Baslow edge, bit of ancestor home finding around the Cromford. area as ancestors worked in the mills around the area.

Flowers in Dovedale 

·                                               Ilam Hall in the Peak District, the Italian Garden

  •        A 6 mile run up onto Baslow edge as well as a 4.5 mile run round Cheltenham.
  • ·         Park run at Seaton PB of 25mins 53 seconds on a damp drizzly morning.
  • ·         A nasty bug that took away energy and left me feeling rubbish for a week.
  • ·         A few bike rides, longest one today[Wednesday 4th]  53 miles with the Wobbly Wheelers, to Hestercombe House on the edge of the Quantocks, now I have my energy back I have managed to cycle 125 miles since Sunday [ Wednesday today ]
  • ·         Used my Titanium bake last week, after a winter on my Ribble, sadly I have a creaky Bottom Bracket so ordered a new one from ‘Wiggle’ on Sunday along with a new cassette and chain and it came today! So tomorrow I hope I can get rid of my creaks!
  • ·         Had a couple of weeks heavy with work, Bikeability courses,
  • ·         Before we went to Chatsworth I had to have a new battery fitted to the van, as it wasn’t holding charge and then last week, my starter motor was causing problems so a new starter motor the second in 4 years, it’s been an expensive couple of weeks, I just hope that’s it for a while and the van is reliable again.

I hope I can get back into writing my weekly Blog as I get more into my preparation for the Manche to Med trip!!!