Saturday, 5 April 2014

Beaters, Fish and Bikes!

Hello blog lovers.

My lovely hubby was invited to a days fishing at Bewl Water, it was with his sea fishing buddies, who he usually goes fishing with on a boat out in the sea, but today they all wanted to do this fresh water fishing. So while they were busy getting all tangled up in their fly fishing lines me and a couple of the other wives who came along decided to hit the trail on our bikes.

I had no idea what sort of state the trails were going to be in, or indeed how long it was going to take us to get around around the lake, especially if the trails were all wet, muddy and impassable.  We arrived at Bewl Water for our 9 am meet up, and I met all the other fishermen.  It turned out there was only 3 of us wives who were going to do the cycle route around.  The Old Boy introduced me to his fishing buddies, who incidentally all go 'beating' together as well, for one of their fishing buddies who is a game keeper, I believe.  Beating is what they do to get the birds up in the air when there is a shoot on!

But their particular fishing today was also a friendly competition, it was for the 'Beaters Trophy', and who could get the biggest trout using the fly fishing technique!  I guess it all adds to the fun for the day.  But us ladies, well, we will not be sitting in a tiny boat, in the middle of a lake freezing our asses off! Oh no, we shall be hitting the cycle route around the lake.  It's approximately 13 miles around from beginning to end, so we should be back way before the boys get bored of catching no fish!  But there is a rather nice cafĂ©/bar there, so we shall make ourselves very comfy in there while we wait for them.

We started off, going clockwise around the lake, after a quick pit stop for me tho,  I have been on this route before and I know there is no toilets anyway!  I do think there is a pub half way, but I am not quite sure of where, as you have to make a slight detour to get to it. But still, it's only 13 miles around, the pub may not even be open by the time we get to it.

When we arrived at the reservoir the chap in the ticket office warned me about the trail being a little churned up by the tractor, and enquired whether my bike is a road bike!  When my bike has got not quite road tyres, but still pretty skinny!  I shall just have to hang on tight and hope for the best! 

Over the top of the dam we cycled, and then through the first of the gates along the way,15 minutes into the ride.  Pat, one of the ladies, put on her 'Map my walk' app on her phone, just to see how far we will ride today.  Going around through the gate, in the opposite direction was about 6 ladies walking.  I wondered if they had actually started their walk or was nearing to end. 

I was out in front of the other two ladies, Pat and Shirley.  I wasn't sure of their cycling abilities and was worried that I was going along to slow for them, but they assured me it was a perfect pace.  We wasn't going out breakneck speed, this ride was all about just being out here because I other half's were here, so why not get out and enjoy the day together as well! 

This route is a very, very undulating route, with long upwards and long downwards and everything in between!  It turned out that the other two ladies last cycle ride together was sometime last year!  So they were please, very pleased that the pace was a very slow one, and I could relax a bit, thinking that I was going to fast for them, because it turned out that I was in fact leading!

How on earth I ended up doing that I don't know, by sense of direction is useless.  I guess you are all wondering, 'How can you go wrong, as long as you keep the lake on your right Old girl, you should be fine!'  Well, there was a couple of in land bits to go on to go, so that's how I knew I would go wrong, somewhere, probably on the road section of the ride!

Guess what folks, I did get a bit ahead of myself, and I actually missed the sign to get back on route. after we had to do a little bit of road riding!  I am not good at the whole orienteering thing, but between the three of us we circumnavigated the reservoir successfully and had fun. No pressure, just full out enjoyment.

Oh yes, the winner of the beaters trophy this year.......was The Old Boy!  Most chuffed with him!

This is some of what we saw en route!

Gorgeous display of flowers along a driveway
We saw so many pretty flowers today.

The sun shone throughout the morning

Pat and Shirley by the flowers

No countryside ride is
complete without the lambs!

The winner of the beaters Trophy!

Some of the other chaps who went fishing

Just a fantastic day!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Cheese, Cheese, Cheese, Cheese Cheese!

Hello blog lovers.

What a lovely day it was today! The sun was shining brightly, it was warm and the afternoon promised a beautiful time to be had by all. So the Old Boy planned a nice route, taking in lunch somewhere, half way through.  My type of riding.

Because we set off late due to stuff happening, we loaded the bikes in the car to take us to our starting point, Penshurst Station. His plan was to get to Cowden for lunch, and then head off in a different direction, to try and find this Kent Ramblers path, from Bassests farm, for a future expedition on foot! We were going to be cycling through two counties, Kent and sussex!  But fortunately, we are only going to be touching on the outskirts, and then back again!  Somewhere next this area is a place where you can put one foot, in one county, one foot in another county and then lean over and touch yet another county!  Kent, Sussex and Surry all meet somewhere here.  And then we will get back to the station where our car is parked.  That was his plan, anyway.

What I don't think he figured on is me!  Since I have not done as much cycling as I did last year, by fitness has really hit rock bottom!  It's like starting out all over again.  I think I will need to get out and do cycle rides to Farnborough Village and back, for a few weeks to get my fitness back.  Just getting up the slightest incline was totally torture for me!  I was sweating and puffing out my back side!  Unfortunately for me, this beautiful area is the most undulating place I know!

There were short hills, long hills, steep hills, tiny hills, the were long gradual hills and there were short steeper ones!  I was really going to earn my lunch!  I was so glad when I saw the sign for Cowden!  Because that was our planned lunch stop!  We had 10 mins to get the bikes through to the back garden and order lunch before the 14:30 deadline!  We made it!! Look what we ordered!  It was most delicious indeed! 

A lovely ploughmans lunch!

We had a photo opportunity before our lunch stop, it was at Mark Beech.  There was a lovely church there which we walked around.  Here are some of the pictures of it as well as a couple of others from The Fountain at Cowden where we had our lunch.

The church at Mark Beech

In the doorway

So pretty
They like cyclists here!

A great stop for lunch here!

After lunch, and with a very fully tummy, we continued our journey to find Bassests Farm, and the footpath that we will do one day on foot.  There were more hills, and of course I was finding each one a huge struggle,  The 'energy' I had put into my tank, (my tummy) I was hoping was going to stay there!  I really do not like hills! All the little and the large undulating, steep and not so steep hills were beginning to GET ON MY FECKING NERVES! I was getting annoyed that I just couldn't get up them, and I was beginning to get tired.  To cheer me up a bit the Old Boy kept up with the banter, which ended up as "Cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese" as we discussed our lunch that we had! It did make me smile, didn't make the hills any easier to get up though!

The Old Boy noticed that the time was getting on and we had to get back to our car while it was still light as we didn't bring our lights with us.  He decided to go back the way we had came and get to Penshurst station via a slightly different route.

Of course this was also littered  with hills.  But the scenery was just fabulous, the sun was shining, it was still very warm, and at least I a able to be able to peddle my bike!  We packed the bikes back into the car and headed off to look for that path.

Yes it was a tough ride for me, the Old Boy was in his element however, he thrives on hills, downhills as well as the up hills.  But one good thing that I have noticed is that I can apply my brakes now and I slow down on the hills so that I can go slower around the bends, my hands seem to be coping with them so far.  I am feeling good about this new upgrade on the B-iatch, I am feeling positive!  I feel as if a scouse brow for her will not be necessary!

Oh and we finally found the footpath that he read about, and we took a quick walk up there, I had to take a picture of this fabulous house! Truly stunning!

Such a beautiful old, old house!
Look at those timbers.

Geeky stats for todays ride.  This is from the Old Boys Garmin, I didn't take mine, as I always forget to switch it on and off when we makes stops! Just look at all those undulations!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Life Is A Breeze!

The B-iatch being a
Hello blog lovers.

I'm back out here, I'm enjoying my riding, and being back on the B-iatch!  Today Yvonne was taking Breeze ride to lovely Ladywell in Lewisham.  And it so happens I have nothing pressing to do but to go along and join in.

After yesterdays glorious sunny day and me stuck indoors waiting for boiler man to come round I was itching to get out. But the weather was nothing like yesterday, "well, at least its not raining" I thought to myself!  The last Breeze ride I went on it was raining, and all the other ones that I had seen on line, the rain was there to keep the ladies cool!

My ride to Beckenham has a mixture of ups and downs,  plenty of opportunities to test out the new brakes.  I am hoping and praying that these are just what I need, and no other adjustments needed!  I left early, I want to just meander down there, I know the route, and there is going to be traffic to deal with.  A great test run!

I was hoping the sun will come out, I was feeling the cold wind as I rode through my local park, why couldn't it be like yesterday!  I was so glad that I had put on my rain jacket, but I was regretting, slightly, for only putting on a short sleeved jersey underneath!  Maybe the hill climbs will warm me up.  For now though I will concentrate on the new braking system.  Lets see how my hands cope with them.  I really don't fancy getting the 'Scouse Brow' for my bike, 'Suicide brakes' they used to be called, but apparently a lot better these days! Thank goodness for that, I say!  It is a solution to my problem, my weak, pathetic hands, but altering the look of 'her' like that, well, it really will be like giving her a scouse brow!

Here is a picture of a 'Scouse brow' for those not familiar with the term

Take a look at those falsies!

Can you see the connection!

I got to Cator park with plenty of time to spare, so I decided to let 'B-iatch' do a bit of modelling, which is where the picture at the top comes from.  Don't she look pretty nestled among the little flowers and the trees!

Soon two other ladies turned up for this ride, for this, Yvonnes (the Ride Leader) 1st Breeze ride anniversary!  A year ago Yvonne took her very first ladies Breeze ride out to Ladywell! First to turn up was Paula, with Mary joining moments later, then the smiley Yvonne, with a big cheery hello and 'happy birthday'.  She came bearing gifts too, for all those that turned up, we all got one of these.

With lights flashing on it

With out flashing light

After the introductions the conversation turned to the bikes "Well you've pimped up your bike Donna"  said Yvonne, "What else have you done to it?" So I started to tell her, "Well, she has had 'implants' in her handle bars, new lovely cushioning gel pads, she has new black 'clothes' around her handle bars, and now she has had these super duper new brake calipers" I said, as I pointed to each new enhancement!  "I can see that" she said!

Then Yvonne continued with the 'A' 'B' 'C' of biking checking!  Air, brakes and chains!  Then we were off for a birthday Breeze ride, exercise, great company and the coffee and cake was on Yvonne!!  Well, not literally, but when we get to the coffee shop!  This was Paula's first Breeze ride, her friend told her about it, so she was looking forward to it.  The council will be doing some work on the route that we tak, and Yvonne wasn't sure when they will be starting it.  Which could  mean that we will be riding on a bit of road that is normally very busy, so it was a welcome relief to find that they had not started!

I was quite warm by now, although the sun was still trying to burn through the clouds, I wasn't feeling as cold as I did when I first started out.  We  rode on through the waterway link, by the river, looking at the ducks.  Yup, it's a going to be a good ride.  We arrived at the park, where on my very first Breeze Ride, I came down the slide at an alarming rate and flew off the end, and ended up in a heap about 2 feet from the slide!  All in good fun, but I wasn't tempted to have another go though.

We were soon at the coffee shop, looking forward to having coffee and cake!  And, as a birthday treat, Yvonne was in the chair!  a chocca mocha cake for me and Yvonne, a chocolate fudgy thing for Paula, and something ridiculously healthy looking for Mary, some sort of seed bar!

Me and Mary at the front with  Paula and Yvonne at the back.

We were soon ready to head back to Cator Park, all too soon our ride seems to be coming to an end.  So to prolong the pleasure a bit more, it was photo time!  I just called out to all the ladies to halt, in different places, to lean on or over something (something I have learnt from having a photo shoot done) and to hug trees! 

Here is some pictures of our ride, and just for giggles, I got the ladies doing their very best 'C&A' catalogue poses!

Come up and join me!
Any king fishers there?

Yoo hoo, We're over here!

Look at the Muriel!

Be kind, hug a tree!

All in all though a very lovely day!  The sun even came out for the ride home from Beckenham! What more can you want.  Oh, of course, Geeky stats, and being me, I forgot to switch it on a couple of times, so it will look a bit odd!  But the gist of the ride to and from Home/Cator park and to and from Cator Park/Lewisham.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Boo! Guess Who?!

Hello blog lovers.

Well, I'm back out on my Specialized! And I have made yet another upgrade to help with the issues of my weak hands pulling on the brakes from the hoods.  I went out yesterday, only to get back on my bike, test it out on a shopping trip to the bike shop and post office, but I ended up having this upgrade as well. 

The chaps at my local bike shop, Bromley Bike Company, asked me how things were going when I popped into ask about this 'thing' that had broken from the Old Boys bike, and when they started to talk about what could be done I just said "Ok, lets get on and do it"

Now what they did was to change the brake calipers, I now have these ultegra brake calipers!  Very posh! And, now this is going to sound really girly again, and really will show off exactly how much I know about bikes, but they look tons better on my 'B-iatch' of a bike!  And I am hoping now that with the upgraded braking system, I will hopefully need less power to be able to slow down and stop at junctions, red lights and emergencies and stuff.  That's what these new brakes should be able to do.

As they have this dual pivoting thingy-ma-bob, it means that both sides of the brake simultaneously and start braking quicker.  I think that is the idea of the whole dual pivot thingy.  So on they way back home from the shop, in the pouring rain, it was good to be able to see if it has made an improvement.  Well I can tell you, there is deffo a difference.  It was raining on the way to the shop, and I on the way there I had to brake hard due to a 'very busy important driving person' and I was just so glad that I wasn't going that fast, yet on the way back, still with the raining, I tested the brakes all the way home.  On down hills, and flats, and slowing down for junctions.  Fortunately I didn't have a chance to test them in a 'real' situation, but I am feeling a lot more confident that I will be able to stop or slow down when I need to.

And so on to today.  I decided I would go out for just a short ride, taking in a hill or two to test out the brakes in the dry.  The sun was shining brightly, the sky was blue and the fluffy white clouds looked as threatening as day old chick!  I started out and immediately stopped as you will see from my Garmin! I was chatting to the neighbours! And then just as I was about to go I bumped into a friend as well!  So I stopped the Garmin and only re-started it when I was going up the first very small hill.

I had no idea where I was heading but I have to have a steep down hill in there to really test out my brakes!  The only horrible steep hill that I know, near me, is Summer hill! So I was going to head for there, riding through the streets of Pettswood to warm up, or try and talk myself out of it, or maybe find a less intimidating hill!

Summer hill has always been 'bug-bare' for me, whether running up it or cycling it.  But today it was a test, to see if I can regain my confidence in riding faster down hills.  As I was riding towards it I tried to visualise myself on the other side, on the up side of summer hill, and I was thinking about which way I was going to go, and for how far I was going to go, anything apart from riding down hill!

I used to love riding down hill, on my white Giant, I had tons of confidence, I could slow down enough that I was haring down, but since I had issues with my hand becoming numb, and now the weakness in it, I have lost all of that.  So this is quite a test for me, I am hoping that I can keep a nice steady constant speed down hill, without my hand becoming tired while I hold on to the brakes.  But as I started the hill, I found myself going down on the drops, but only with the left hand!  Its a real steep hill and I really do need to know that I can slow down safely!

But still, I did it, all other less steep hills were ok, no problems.  I just need to keep my ass on the saddle, and do some miles, and while I haven't got much work these days I shall be doing this in the glorious sunshine, like today. Or if it starts to rain while I am out, then I will just have to get on with it, like yesterday!  Dealing with the dark, lights from the cars blinding me, can wait till I am totally at ease the 'B-iatch' and I am the one in total control!  So far she has had a new shorter stem, (which is where the 'B' came from), seat adjusted, new cushioning in the handle bars, new black tapes and now new upgraded, colour co-ordinated (ish) brake caliper's!  What else could she possible want?

Here's to some great cycling on my gorgeous Spesh!

Garmin stats to todays little ride about!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Cycling? Tonight? Really?

Hello blog lovers.

After all the rain we had today, (and there has been a ton of the stuff today) I really didn't feel like going out cycling.  I had done 4 miles jogging in the rain this morning, and I felt that maybe that is enough.  But the rain had stopped! you could see the stars! And as I have already said once today, if we wait for the perfect weather then we really wouldn't get out much at all!

So after the Old Boy had pulled on his lycra I felt as if I just had to get out there.  I got changed and we got out quickly, before I had a chance to change my mind.  Our route was going to take us up to Halstead.  I chose to go the nicer way to get to the A21, going through the ally now, is just not an option for me anymore.  I mean, who choose to run the gauntlet of dog poo and kids smoking a sneaky ciggie away from mum and dads eyes?

So through Palace estates it was, and up over the hill and down Newstead and Tubbingdon Lane.  Why we didn't go through this way all the other times I shall never know!  I am still getting used to the directions to certain places from here.  I know that if you go straight across now you can get to Farnborough Village. But we are going to Halstead, so there was still a couple of roundabouts we need to pass before we head there.

When we got to Halstead, the mist and fog really started to come down.  I was glad of my head touch!  I had that pointing at the white lines (when they were there) in the middle of the road to stay in the middle.  When I looked a head all I could see was fog! My glasses steamed up and I really couldn't see very far at all.  I had to stop on a couple of occasions to clean my glasses.  This is my first experience of cycling in the fog! I didn't like it! It was quite scary and maybe just a tad exciting! But at least I was lit up like a Christmas tree!  The head touch was on it's brightest, it was also on beam.  We must have looked like a couple of Darleks as we 'glided' through the fog.

We did stop for a pint at the Blacksmiths, and I sat so close to the wood burner!  I just didn't want to move.  I even suggested that the Old Boy go home and then bring the car to come and fetch me!  But the ride home wasn't as bad once we started riding again.  It's all down hill which is good, but those fog patches were still scary and blooming chilly.

We stopped off a Pettswood to grab something to eat and then rode on home!

A good ride considering, and the Old Boy was right (as usual!) I did enjoy it once I got out......well apart from those foggy bits!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Don't Look Now, It's Not Raining! Shhh!

Hello blog lovers.

Going out on my bike when it's cold and windy and raining, is not my idea of keeping cycling fun!  There was a couple of days that we could have got out on our bikes, but  other issues needed our attention, illness and goodness knows what else was keeping us from getting out. But this evening, well it was just too good an opportunity to miss.

A bit of bike maintenance, pumping tyres mostly, before we left to make sure there wasn't going to be any punctures or flats, and we were ready.  We were only going to stay very local we did not bother to take extra inner tubes.  We were soon Bromley bound, with  our lights blazing, reflective trim looking sparkly and a smile on our faces.

My cycling has really taken a nose dive recently, what with the problems with my bike hating me and the fact that I now seem to have less strength in my left hand, my confidence seems to have nose dived as well.  This evening I am riding on my Giant, with the flat bars, to build my saddle bum again and also to boost my confidence on two wheels!

During the time when we first bought bikes up until now, we have had various different kind of lights.  Lights that look as bright as a tea light in tin can to lights that have aeroplanes trying to land on cycle path!  I do like having bright lights, I like to know that people can see me! The lights that we both were using today were predecessors of the ones that we now use on our 'posh bikes', in fact the Old Boy uses an even brighter light than the one that I have now!  But it is always re-assuring when you get told that the lights are bright, as this young man said to us while we had stopped at a local car dealership, (the Old Boy can't pass a car dealership without having a nose around)

Anyway, after this little break (for me it is most welcomed), we had the small hill to climb up. Plaistow Lane! If the timing of the traffic lights is with you then you can get a bit of speed on as you come down to the lights, turn right and then use the momentum to get up there.  Well, this evening we had the lights with us, but then a car, just two or three cars ahead of us, wanted to do the next right and held up the traffic!  I had to stop to let this clear. Bang goes my momentum to get up the hill!

Now, this is the bit of our ride that infuriated me!  Maybe I am wrong here, but quite frankly, I don't think I am!  There is some temporary traffic lights just after the round about at the end of Plaistow lane, on the second exit. As I approached the lights they were green, we went passed them on green! It's not just a little bit of road works here, there is at least 50 or 60 meters of road works to pass by before you got to the other side.  Now I was riding along, after passing the green lights, which must have changed while I was passing the road works.  But before I had go to the end of the temporary road block the traffic ahead of me started coming towards me, on the road.  They had to drive on to my side of the road! Now they would never have done that if I happened to be in a car! I had to go onto the pavement to get out of the way of the them! 

Now, was I wrong! Maybe I should have waited to see how long the green light had been on before I went through it, waited until it had changed to red and then to green again, just to make sure I would have had enough time to pass by the road works!   Grrrr, makes me mad when people intimidate me!

Rant over! Still bloomin annoying though!  From there, it was just a few moments before we stopped off for a light refreshment at the Red Lion.  We sat outside, which is quite spooky really, it's winter time and we were sat outside enjoying our drinks.  Apparently the colder weather will soon be here. I expect my cycling to be taking yet another nose dive if it does!

We went through the high street, our destination is Hayes.  We are going to go through the ally way by the school and then ride through Hayes and up Barnet Wood Lane.  Just to make sure that I could be truly seen and to make sure that drivers were fully aware that I was on the road, I put my head torch on!  There, let them try and intimidate me now! I shall stare at them right in there own headlights!

We got home safe and sound, and both feeling fairly happy that we had finally managed just this small ride today.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

.....Erm.......Happy New Year People.

Hello Blog lovers.

Happy New Year to you all!

I must confess, it has been quite a while since I last had my backside on a saddle.  And boy does it notice! Where has my saddle bum gone, where is my cycle legs, where has my stamina gone?  Just a few shorts weeks of bloomin rain, cold weather, and zero enthusiasm for cycle riding and everything has gone!

Oh my goodness, sore backside is just half the story!  But, as the Old Boy has said, "Well it was good to get out"  The Old Boy has kept up his cycling, while I have been doing my running, (less time out in the freezing cold).  But today, it seemed the weather was with us, and I had no running commitments and the time was right. 

I decided to use my White Giant bike, my Specialized is all nice and clean, and looking at the state of the roads, I just didn't want to get it all mucky again. Also, I am still having a few issues with it, and I may do some other changes with it, but that is by the by. But our route is the nice way towards Downe Village, if there is such a beast, and it deffo is so much better than just pedalling along the A21.  Riding through Palace Estate, and turning left towards Orpington.  This is just a short hill, but my legs are feeling it as trying to get up Ditchling Beacon!.....ok maybe a slight exaggeration, but you can guess how my legs are feeling.

I was seriously thinking that I really am going to struggle getting to Downe village.  I was even thinking that when we do, I might just go the shortest way home again!  We did get to Downe, and I even had to have a short break somewhere on the way up too.  There was one particular place I was struggling so badly and going so slowly that I lost my balance slightly and wobbled towards the kerb, which had a very big ditch and the fence had barbed wire! My Nightmare scenario!  I was pleased I had my Giant, because If I had my Spesh, I know I wouldn't have been able to unclip and I would be ....well, who knows, I don't like to think about it.  But the Old Boy said, "You're going so slow, you can't even balance"  I don't think he could say anymore, because I could tell he was making up his own scenario.  The times that I have laughed as him as he fell off his bike, he is ready and poised to do the same!

So from Downe I could have said, "That's it, I've had enough," but instead, I headed for Jail lane, and decided to take the longer way home! Crazy I know, but really, to be truthful, I am quite disappointed in myself for not being able to do ride like I used to! And the only way that I am going to be able to get back to that same fitness is to ride, ride, ride and keep on riding!  I just hope the weather will be kind to us when on the days that I want to do my cycling.

It was still a bit of an up hill struggle for me, and of course the best bit was the long down hills towards Biggin Hill, and I think I got quite a bit of speed up as well! It did feel great to be back on the bike, and I really am looking forward to the summer months, for the nice long leisurely Saturday rides, with the Old Boy, with family and with friends.

Here's the geeky stats, the Old Boy kept behind me for most of the time, with just a couple of 'stretching the legs' as e put it, as he blasted down Church lane and then down towards Keston.