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!