Monday, 26 August 2013

Only Fools and Bicycles?

Hello blog lovers.

I think someone forgot to switch on the rain today, it was a gloriously sunny and warm day!  No complaining from me, we eventually got out for a nice ride! It really was a very pleasant ride, even with those darn hills.  It can't be helped, to out to the countryside we have to climb hills.  But I was just going to go at my own pace, enjoy the sunshine, enjoy the changing sites and if I have to get off and walk, then so be it.

I made sure I had some drink in my rack, and we set off.  I was testing the running watch again, see how it handles for a bike ride.  I was sure it was set up, and it was going as the thing was buzzing away on my wrist telling me it was doing things.  But it is not there now!! It seems to have disappeared from the watch, it's not in the history. So unless I should have put in all the numbers first, for instance; Time, distance, etc, then I have obviously done something wrong! I really wanted to see how it coped on a bike run, especially as I could pause it and the satellites connection was never lost. Nor did it go to 'power save' mode like the Garmin does, and you have to get the satellites back again. Oh well, I shall just have to add the Old Boys at the end.

Sorry, jumped the gun a bit, but I wanted to get the TomTom thing out of the way, as it's still annoying me!  So today we are going to ride out and head towards Yalding way.  Whether we get there or not, it doesn't matter, there are plenty of pubs on the way if I can't cope with those darn hills! The Old Boy can do a fast blast tomorrow without me, if the pace of todays ride is to sedate for him.

The first part of our road trip today is our usual route, up to Halstead, so there is that climb to do first. It was just as we were passing Knockholt station that I looked at the watch to check on the numbers, and I could see it was still saying "go".  I'm sure when I tested it on a run I just ran and it did it's thing.  but I know I did 'plumb' in my distance, and the time I wanted to do it in.  But you would think that a watch, once switched on and it says 'go' would start recording.  And it did, when I switched it on to the next sceen, as it kept buzzing! OOOO makes me mad when things don't work for me!

Back to my ride.  I eventually got up to the roundabout and had a bit or a drink.  I was feeling quite warm now, it seems we were in the hottest part of the day so far.  We then were going through to Shoreham Village, but instead of turning left, heading for Eynsford we turned right, heading for Otford.  I have been up this road before.  I think I found it challenging then!  So today, I was just going to go at my pace, slowly and steadily up the hills! I was not going to put any pressure on myself to speed up them (....don't laugh, it may happen one day) or even to keep my backside in the saddle either. 

I was keeping an eye on the TomTom watch, and it was coming up for an hour. That's an hour since Knockholt station, and I was really  feeling the heat, and the hills were getting to me. For 17 miles I managed to stay in my saddle! Yes there were down hill bits, which I loved! But the hills seem to come think and fast.  Then the nastiest little blighter of all ready up in front of me! I did not manage to stay in my seat for this one! Jelly legs got the better of me and I had to walk up the hill.

We went through Plaxtol, my first photo stop! Even though we passed through some beautiful country side. But I was concentrating on damn hills! Here is just a couple of them at Plaxtol.

The Church at Plaxtol

From here it is all down hill. It looks like it on the map, doesn't it?  But there are a few tiny undulations of the roads that still get me puffing, and thinking, I really want something to eat now.  I was just pleased when he pulled into the Bush Blackbird and Thrush!  I was so very ready for some refreshment and something to eat!  We both opted for a ploughmans, with a pint to wash it down.

I don't think we were going to get as far as Yalding! With full bellys, we headed of after about an hour, for East Peckham! (I bet you were wondering where the Only fools and horses title was coming from.) And also, only crazy people will love riding up hills on Bicycles!  Of course its not East Peckham in London, we are going to a very lovely Village and then ride to the lovely weir there.

Here, this is what it looks like, and being such a lovely day, there were plenty of people and boats about.  Here, have a look at some of the pictures I took.

From here though, as it was getting late, we decided to ride to Tonbridge and get on the train!  I was feeling quite tired anyway, and I was very grateful for this suggestion!  On the way to Tonbridge, we stopped of at The Man of Kent pub for one last drink.  And a lovely little stream to look at, with the fish that just seem to hang around there!

Geeky stats from the Old Boys Garmin

Friday, 23 August 2013

Sunshine and Breeze! Ladies Style

Hello blog lovers.

Sunshine and Breeze made a for a perfect ride today.  The weather was just simply spot on for a gentle ride to Ladywell for an Americano and a coffee & walnut cake!  The sun was shining, it was lovely and warm and not even a breeze to cool us down. "Hang on a minute there Old Girl" I can hear you all saying "Where did there Breeze come from then?" Well let me just tell you.

Today I was meeting up with Yvonne Wright, one of the champions of the Breeze Network.  This organisation is solely aimed at women cyclist, to encourage them into cycling.  They have women only rides of differing abilities to various places, (usually cafes with cakes, yum!)  Not a testosterone filled cyclists among them!  You may think that its all a bit sexist, but .......tough! There are some ladies that do feel a tad bit intimated by all the lycra clad, speed junkies on super duper, 'lighter than a feather on the International Space Station', bikes.  So to encourage all ladies to get on their bikes Breeze was 'invented'  I think Yvonne said that only 3% of cyclists are women? I shall have to check that out, you know me and figures!

Anyway, I was going to cycle to the meeting place, after all this is a cycle ride.  When I have been on the Fridays rides, I have always rode into London, following Big E and the Old Boy. But today it's different! Today I am all by myself and I have to find my own way to Cator Park in Beckenham!  This is one thing I am not very good at, finding my way around.  But fortunately, I had two routes to choose from, both of them more or less just straight roads with hardly any twisting and turning.  Surely even I can do that!?

So I set off in plenty of time, after having brekkie and a cuppa, putting the lippy on, after all, it's going to be a nice genteel ride to Ladywell!  I am taking the Specialised out, I need to see if she is going to 'do my hand in' on a shorter ride.  Or if it is entirely my fault for holding on too tight, or not shifting my hands enough. But for now, I need to concentrate on getting to Cator park.  Armed with my route prompts and map I rode out, smiling, feeling very confident, and glad to be out on a beautiful day!

Needless to say I arrived at Cator Park with no problems.  I had to pull over by the Chinese garage to to check which road I was meant to go down, but all was well.  I couldn't see a sole at the park, well, not a sole with a bike that is.  I was wondering if in fact they had left without me, but I knew I was early, but about 10 minutes.  I cycled down the road for a bit, looking to see if I could see any ladies on cycles.  Two ladies were just getting their bikes out of the car. "Are you going on the cycle ride?" they asked me "Yes I am, but I can't see anyone else." I said to them  I told them I would cycle up the road a bit, and then come back if I had found any other ladies. 

Well, we were the first there, Yvonne arrived about 5 minutes after. Here is a picture of them, in fact Laura, Sue and me were the only ladies on todays 'exclusive' first time with Breeze ride!  Yvonne gave her apologies  and introduced herself to us.  Although me and Yvonne have spoken via FB messaging, we hadn't actually met, so it was good to meet her, and the two other ladies!

Yvonne, Sue and Laura

We were going to go on the 'Waterlinkway' route to Ladywell, have a coffee and cake, (although that was only me that was eating the cake!) and then make our way back to the start.  It was a brilliant route to ride, very few roads to negotiate only cycle paths, a great route for any riders that want to build up their confidence for riding their bikes. 

I couldn't believe it, it seemed like only half hour had passed and we were entering Ladywell Park.  There were no little squashy people playing on the slide.  It looked so inviting, and Yvonne thought it a great photo opportunity. Well I do like to pepper my blogs with pictures, so guess what,  the bikes were abandoned and...

Yvonne went up. Here, take a look.

"You're next" said Yvonne to me.  After hearing her say that it was a tight squeeze, I really didn't think I would get my backside up the ladder, let alone down the slide.  But after Yvonne polished (and dusted) the slide on her descent, I couldn't resist a little go. So up I went.  Now I have these little short legs, and the first step was challenging! and then trying to get through the hole at the top (think loft ladder type thing here) I had to hoick my self up and haul myself through.  Here is a picture of me just after getting to the top!

Me looking exhausted!

Then it was the descent, posing, I threw my hands in the air so that pictures would look fabulous in my blog today.  It was then that I realised, not only had Yvonne made a fine job of polishing and cleaning the slide, but my arse isn't that big anymore! 

On the down hill slide to rock bottom!

I didn't 'wedge' in to the sides like I used to the last time I tried to get on a childs slide! I flew down there like I was about to be launched into space!  Inevitably, coming to the bottom of the slide was way to quick for my little legs to cope with and I ended up sprawled face down in the dirt!

The ladies all very helpful.....taking pictures that is! And then killing them selves laughing!  I must admit, I was also laughing so much, I almost cried out for a Tena lady!  This is me picking myself up!

Me picking myself up!

We got to the coffee shop, and as there were only four of us we were allowed to bring out bikes through the shop to the garden, where we all enjoyed various types of coffee.  Do you remember the times that when you asked for coffee, the only question that was asked was "Do you want milk with that?" At least when I ordered my cake I just pointed and said "That one please"

It is a surprisingly small a world we all live it.  Have you all seen any those Kevin Bacon adverts on the telly, about connections, well, how about this for connections

Yvonne and I know each other on Facebook, due to the fact with both 'liked' Bromley cyclists page, Yvonne has someone that goes to secondary school which Laura and Sue both work at, in fact  Sue actually knows this person! Sue and Laura both come from Pettswood area, and by do I!  And now I have met these ladies in Cator Park! Now, I wonder if I can get thousands of pounds for saying that! Hello?...... anyone?.....just a couple of quid then?.....

Oh well, back to bike riding.  After our coffee break it was time to get back to the beginning and finish our ride.  We were taken through the other side of Ladywell park, which is just lovely, with more stuff for the kids to play on, a little river to dip your nets, and also a café mums and dads can use to grab a well deserved cuppa after running after the kids! All of that in the middle of London! Its' amazing what little gems are around our concrete jungles!  This is all of us at the other side of the park.

It seemed even quicker getting back, it's always the same when you have had a great time.  It seems ages to get there and then in a blink of an eye its all gone.  But I did stop for one last photo opportunity, the river that runs through the park! 

A lovely ride, and lovely way to be introduced to the Breeze Network and lovely to meet three lovely ladies! 

I took my Garmin, so check out the route from Cator Park to Lady well Park, brilliant if you have kids that want to go for a cycle ride with you. will notice a slight U turn, I kind of went the wrong way, but looking now at the map, I was still on track for where I wanted to be anyway!  This is why I need road by road instructions!

And......just one last picture, the bruise I have!  If you do go on the slide, HOLD ON TIGHT! If  ionly I could say it was cycling related, "The Old Girl girl was making the last turn on the last lap when Victoria Pendleton clipped her back wheel, sending her sprawling in the watching crowds" 

My war wound!

Friday, 16 August 2013

'B' is for........?

What is B for?...
Hello Blog Lovers.

Well I decided as I have a free day I would just pedal my Specialized in a loop around my area. No really huge hills, and the traffic is not that bad, I have been in worse! But when I woke up this morning there was the wet stuff falling from the sky!  Darn it.  How am I supposed to 'try out' the changes on my bike if the wet stuff comes down?

Only one thing to do and that's fall back to sleep and dream of winning a prestigious award for some sort of cycling event!  But as you can probably tell, I did eventually go out for a ride. Only after doing the house top to bottom.  And only because my son eventually came out of his hibernation and started to make a mess again! Agghh, I think I would rather cycle around in the rain than to watch the eating machine leave a trail of devastation in every room that he goes in!

The sky had cleared and it even felt rather warm, but that could be due to my manic house cleaning.  I had my 'running' Garmin with me, mainly because I'm not quite sure how to attached the Old Boys 'bike' Garmin to my bike so I shall just have to remember to turn it off once I reached my 'Lets have a nice cool cola" stop.

I was looking forward to this ride. It's just me, nobody else, I don't have an agenda, I don't need to be back at a certain time and I am not meeting up with anybody on route! It felt quite liberating really.  Sometimes solo cycling and running is even better than rest days!  The route is one of mine and the Old Boys short routes.  I didn't want to go far, even though I had all of the afternoon to do as much as I wanted. I didn't want to include any hills either, major hills that is.  I need to 'ease' into my Spesh, try out the changes etc slowly and gently. I think that could be the answer.

I was really enjoying my ride again, but what I didn't count on was the ache in my arm! If it's not one thing its the other!  My hand still felt a little week, especially when I pulled on the brakes, but the discomfort now is in my left arm at the top!  I kind of slept on it during my holidays recently, whilst stretched out on a sun lounger enjoying the peace and tranquillity of Kefalonia!  Since then I have had this slight pain and discomfort  at the top of my arm, and it's all just a tad blooming annoying.

The last bike ride I had was on my Giant, and all though I felt some slight discomfort, it wasn't as bad as what I was having on this occasion.  I was glad I was only going on a very short 10 miler, including a stop for a cola.   I kept on shifting positions, changing my hand positions etc.  I also really concentrated on my core. Trying not to lean on the handlebars, and only use my arms for steering.  I would really love to be able to do what most of, but not all, other cyclists can do and that's to cycle with no hands! Then I can walk in to that café/bar up in London with a smile on my face!

I used to think that they all did that to show off, to look clever, but I have now realised that its because they have perfect balance and their core is doing its job, where as mine has only just started to realise what it is there for! I guess I should start to learn to get the balance thing going on! I just wish I could be attached to a rope and pulley in case I fall over! How on earth do you learn to do that?!

Back to the ride. It really was a very easy paced ride for me. I didn't want to put any pressure on my self to go super speedy (as if that is ever going to happen!) and also just to tray and relax and begin to enjoy my bike again.  I must admit, when I was just poodling along she did feel great! Such a nice smooth ride!  I almost smiled, until I had to shift again because of the ache in my arm!

I arrived at The George in Hayes, and remembered I had forgotten to bring along a lock! Oh dam and blast.  So I parked my bike just by the entrance of the pub, and did this 'crab like' walk into the pub, one eye on my bike and the other on the look out for the bar staff.  Fortunately for me I didn't have to wait long.  My cola ordered and I even treated myself to a packet of crisps, I  went back outside to enjoy my drink. 

As I was sitting there just taking in the whole solitude of my ride today, the rain started to ever so gently fall.  At first it was hardly noticeable and I thought I must have been imagining it.  I was looking at the sky, putting my hand out, looking at the table to see any signs, and I thought I would probably be ok.  But then it came down just a little more.  Just ever so gentle, like the early morning dew touching your face, (Yes, I have actually been up that early to feel early morning dew!) That made me decide to go home, rather than go a little further up the road, to Keston.

I went through Normans park and just enjoyed the traffic free riding for a short while. The rain still falling as heavy mist, making me feel quite 'sticky', is the only way that I can describe it.  I kept looking at the sky and hoped that it wouldn't actually pour down until I got home.  As it happened, the heavy mist rain fall was as bad as it got! Maybe I should have pushed out just a little bit more!

Anyway, geeky stats for you


Oh and just one thing more,  this a friend of mine, a great champion of cycling, enthusiastic and most considerate.  Put it this way, I had to stop once, on one of my bike rides, I had cramp.  I pulled up and got of my bike, the next minute this chap came out of his house to see if he could help, he thought I had a puncture, and lo and behold, it was Spencer!  Now that is a very considerate and caring cyclists.  Vote for him ....... pleasee!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Do I not Like Hills!

Hello blog lovers.

This evening it was bike riding time! I have to try and get my cycle legs back, get them strong, get them toned again.  I have been a bit lazy since the marathon, but I am picking up again with my running, and now I am picking up again with my cycling!

This evenings route is going through Shoreham and Eynsford. From there it can be two ways, we will just have to wait and see when we get to Eynsford.  But first of all its that A21 to get up, and then the climb up to Halstead!  It's the route we have done many times now, but my cycling legs have shied away for the moment.  I am going to keep on trying to push as hard as I can.  This route is a hilly route, and I have in mind not to walk on any of the hills! 

But this Old Girl is feeling tired.  Maybe the 5 miler yesterday is still in my legs (even though it took me 1:00:58 to get around the course!) or maybe its the great holiday I had just had (the podgy belly is stretching my cycling pants and top!) who knows, but I was plodding along very slowly, I felt. When we got to the right turn to head towards Halstead there was no stopping for a sneaky rest as there was no traffic to wait for. Straight to the middle and then straight over. No stopping for a breath, I have to get to the top, the round about. That is where I have decided to take a break for a minute or two, and maybe even grab the Old Boys drink!

Very slowly going up towards the roundabout, my legs are beginning to get that 'jelly feeling', but I still have no plans to stop.  At the top, by the bus stop, that's where I will take my feet of the pedals. It seemed a long, slow plod up there, the Old Boy was behind me, encouraging me to push my legs more, to knock up a gear, but I just couldn't do it. The hill felt like it was going on forever!

Finally though, we did get to the top! And I stopped, even though the Old Boy tried to encourage me to keep on going.  I needed a drink!  It was thirsty work! But it really was just a quick pit stop, and then we were on our way again, to Shoreham and beyond.

Shoreham is a very pretty village, with at least 4 pubs that I can recall! And we didn't stop at one of them.  Mind you, my new regime is no alcohol until Friday and the weekend, if there is a function of some sort. Sunday through to Thursdays is alcohol free days.  I have also limited myself to just 3 cups of teas a day, instead of the usual earnfull!  I really need to lose a good few pounds!

We sped through Shorehamm, when I say sped, of course there is a hill to climb out of the village, so we went as fast as I usually do up hills, and the we went to Eynsford. More hills, but I think I did these ones a tad quicker than the ones I have just done.  I keep trying to go as fast as I can. 

We did stop though...once we were at Eynsford though, we did have a stop! We both opted for cola! Yup, a new regime indeed! As soon as we finished that we decided that we are going up 'Foo Kin Hill' as Nagging sister called it once, and it's stayed as that. but the really name is Crockenhill Lane! Even that sounds awful, it has the word 'hill' in it!  But again I was determined not to walk up any of them, even though by now I was feeling very tired.  I wasn't even answering the Old Boy, he was still sounding 'chipper' and like he is out for a morning stroll around the garden! 

There was mention of heading up to Crittals Corner, I really was looking forward to that hill. It's a long hill, on a very busy road, totally uninspiring hill, but then the Old Boy said "So which hill do you want, Knole Rise or Poverest?" I opted for Poverest.  I don't know why, but it is the first hill that we reach, more or less, that leads home.  There is of course Leesons Hill, but that is just way to horrid!

I pushed up this hill, it almost felt like 'a Hill to far' but I managed even that today! So not too bad for a potbellied Old Bird, who does have a fantastic tan though!

Me in Kefelonia! Just to show off really!

Geeky stats from the Old Boys Garmin and he was behind me for 98% of the time!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Early Start!

Hello blog lovers

It was only 8 in the morning, on a Saturday, and the Old Boy was waking me up to go and get ready to for a bike ride.  It is only going to be a short one, about 20 miles, but I was going to take my White Giant bike.  My hand is getting better as time passes, and the weeks holiday I just had seems to have really helped things even more. 

For the time being I will use my Specialsed on shorter more relaxed rides of 20 miles and under.  And work up to more longer challenging rides each time.  I am trying to get this old body of my to learn to ride in the new position on my bike. I think maybe jumping straight from one style of riding and into another style of riding and doing it over longer distances, was maybe a contributing factor to why my hands went all weird!  At least its one notation I'm thinking about!

So todays bike ride was going to be a minimum of 20 mile, which means we could end up doing a little more, depending on how we feel, or more than likely, how I feel!  The week away has left me with just a bit of lazyitus and maybe a tad feeling of bloatedness! (ok very bloatedness!) So I wasn't expecting miracles, or indeed anything resembling speed!  It was all about getting back out there and doing it.

A climb up to Halstead left me in no doubt about how many miles I am going to be doing today!  20 miles, and that's it!  So from Halstead we made a steady (slow) climb to Cudham North/South Lane and then carried on climbing up to the Shampan!

I was really feeling it, I didn't really want to push out any further, or any harder, as I have a race to run tomorrow morning! A 5 miler! Nothing like giving myself a challenge for when I have a fantastic week on a beautiful Greek island, Cephelonia!

Altogether I think we rode about 23 miles, as we went to Hayes from Biggin Hill, to indulge in a coffee and bacon butty!  An average of about 10 miles an hour I'm guessing.