Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Inaugural All Inclusive Social Derby Mercury Audax

2 July 2017
 Remember this day.
This was the day of the Inaugural All Inclusive Social Derby Mercury Audax.
A 100km cycle ride in the sun around the lanes of Derbyshire and Leicestershire

And it WAS inclusive and it WAS very social.

Around 40 cyclists with ages ranging from 9 years to 70 years gathered at Derby Rowing Club for the Grande Depart

and soon we were off..on a typical Nigel start which involved off road rocky paths up a very steep incline with bike barriers every 50 metres..we were told this was ' necessary' as otherwise the course would be 200m short of the required 100km target..hmmm

As the peleton sped through the centre streets of Derby all were resplendent in the club colours with a wide range of styles on display reflecting the long tradition of the club.

Initially the course was flat and it was easy for the group to stay intact but eventually the road began to climb and the peleton began to string out..imagine the TdF but at a 'slightly ' slower pace

Of course with the hills came the pain to an old body like mine could soon be easily dropped. But this was a social ride and any stragglers were shephered back into the throng by the experienced and stronger cyclists. In my case Martin, fresh from his hard work towing the pro cyclist from Raleigh, Adam, up Hedge Climb in Mickleover

now had the task of bringing me back into the bunch

But one of the great things about this ride was no-one would be dropped and as the peleton waited at the top of the climbs to regroup, there was no rushing off once the last man ( usually me! ) joined so that I too could rest and recover

Though my natural domain on all rides is Lanterne Rouge, there can be exceptions and after a coffee stop at the bottom of Breedon Mountain, I shot ahead to capture a picture of the group as they resumed the chase ( A bit, well a lot really ! of poetic licence here :-) )

We were on the homeward stretch now, heading back to the Derby Rowing Club for tea and cakes and a little liquid refreshment

But a brief stop for a group photo at the Weeping Poppies

For me, it was the best Social Ride I have been on. I only started cycling when I retired at 60 years which was 10 years ago but here I was made to feel welcome, looked after on the climbs and generally people made sure that I was included.

Truly an All Inclusive Social Ride and thank you to them all

A great day in the saddle.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Mercian Vincintore Special..the Prince of Bikes

Just looking back  I came across this..it was 5 years ago now and I had just taken ownership of it as a 65th Birthday Present to myself

My Mercian

Since that day it has carried me over 30 000 km and given me so much pleasure

I had just started cycling then and was never quick, and now even slower..but it still gives me fun and enjoyment

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Derby Mercury All Inclusive Social- Part 3

Obviously the first two Social Rides were not only a social success but also a great training exercise for many cyclists.   The previous rides had attracted between 35-40 riders but today's event was reduced in number to around 24 cyclists.. The onset of the Racing Season meant that we had youngsters out racing at Darley Moor ( where Sam T took his first ever win in the U-12 event ) and at Swynnerton where Ben got on the podium ( as did Eve R in the funny women event :-??? )) and the place was swamped  amongst a sea of blue and white. With seniors competing in the BDCA 25 at Etwall and at  Churnett Valley , then many of our regulars were away.  Though why Rob W decided to go and ride the Challenge at Paris-Roubaix is a mystery to me when the Social Ride could have offered him equally challenging  conditions PLUS Cake!!

Once again a Hare and Tortoise Group were formed with the intention of meeting up at the coffee stop at Rosliston and then again at the Great Northern to  discuss war stories.
Great thanks are due to Sarah and Duncan G for plotting and leading the route and keeping everyone together...NO-ONE EVER gets dropped on a Social Ride..not even doddery OAPs like me :-)

It was a glorious sunny day and there were originally about 17 on the Tortoise Group though a few  peeled off on route as they needed to get some serious interval training done in readiness for the Club TT season starting next week.

I am expecting great things from Sasha, Jen, Mark and Nick as they made their excuses and left.

The Social Rides are noted ( at least they are now after the first epic mountain adventure where nearly everyone collapsed ! )  of being fairly flat and on those inclines that did occur Phoebe G was there to give encouragement as she waited for us oldies at the summit.

Sarah was acting as Pathfinder and ignoring the cries of the GPX Garmin Gang, resolutely stood by her principles and kept consulting some paper thing covered in squiggly lines, which led to a great mystery tour and an off road section which made Paris -Roubaix look like a ride for wimps.

It did however have the added benefit of creating extra distance allowing Carrick to achieve his first ever metric hundred ride.

We did however all manage to return safely with no mechanicals and as we reentered the City Boundaries riders peeled off for home with the remnants enjoying a well earned drink at Ride HQ where we were soon joined by the Hare Squad

A great day out in the saddle at a pace and distance comfortable to all..truly an All Inclusive Social Ride.

Thanks Sarah and Duncan.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Derby Mercury All Inclusive Social - Part 2

Following the great turnout for the January Social, I offered to lead a Spring Social to celebrate my 70th Birthday.  The initial ride in January had left a number of cyclists gasping for breath and in need of urgent succor, so I emphasized that this outing really would be suitable for all and that the pace would be Tortoise Like and the climbing moderate, Hares would of course be welcome and could take a detour to give them a chance to stretch their legs.
And so, at 09-00 on March 12 around 38 cyclists turned up at the Broadway ( and a few more joined en route ) . It was great to see so many juniors out, as well as a large contingent from the Derby Divas.  The numbers were such that we set off in two groups heading towards Kedleston and then Mercaston where the advanced guard stopped to allow everyone to regroup.

The lanes around here are notoriously pot holed and scattered with debris from hedge cutting and so Andy T had already had practice in repairing his own  puncture before his skills were called upon once again.

Once all mechanically sound we set off in groups once again heading through Brailsford and on tp Alkmonton where, as it started to climb, Jen kindly took over lead rider duties to give an OAP some protection from the wind.

The Alkmonton Climb, whilst not vicious, is long and you might see from this next image that Duncan G was beginning to feel the pace as he pulled his tag along up the hill.

From Alkmonton the run was on to the coffee stop and one young lady, having been equipped by a whip from the esteemed Touring Secretary, urged her driver to much greater efforts

I had arranged for the coffee stop to be at The Salt Box in Hatton and in celebration of the day, my wife had kindly arranged for a Birthday Cake to be ready

Herbie had kindly offered to forgo the hillier part of the ride so as to reserve half the cafe in advance of our arrival, ably assisted by Mark H.

Cyclists can of course not live by Cake Alone and bacon sandwiches are a neccesity for growing people

It was a true party atmosphere and to a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday we all enjoyed the rest

Eve could not be with us, but she had not forgotten and sent one of her emissaries with a special present

Refueling over we went on the flat route to Willington and Repton before turning towards Milton Ingleby Swarkstone and home. For me around 77km with 575 m of climbing

For me it was a wonderful day out. No-one got dropped, the average pace was around 22kph and the the climbing modest with no lung busters.

Thank you to everyone who came to help me celebrate...you all gave me a day to remember.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Derby Mercury First All Inclusive Social Ride

The normal weekend rides attract just a dedicated few and so there was a discussion to introduce an extra ride; an all inclusive Social Ride suitable for children to pensioners, for tea shop tourists to racers, for mothers to grandparents. And so our ever attentive Touring Secretary arranged just such a ride for an early January morning and asked Dave Banks to act as Leader and post a route. This gave me my first inkling of doubt as 100km with over 1350m of climbing did not sound very sociable to a doddery pensioner. Never the less I thought I would give it a try.
Obviously there is a demand for such a ride as 34 people of all ages, size and fitness turned up at the Broadway for the start and a few others joined us very soon after.
And so we set off towards Mickleover- Longford- Mayfield - Ilam - Weaver Hills and the Peaks.  I was the first to be dropped but I did hang on to at least the Crematorium. Indeed I managed to re-attach myself to some of the back markers as we entered Radbourne Lane, partly assisted by the fact that Duncan and Sarah Gell were pulling trailers loaded down with children whilst Di, Sasha and Jen took pity upon me, or so I thought.

 As we sped on towards Longford Di proffered the information that 32kph was a bit too fast for her as an average pace.  The main group had stopped and waited for us on Long Lane and so after re-grouping, and taking in lots of gulps of air, we shot off again towards Mayfield where once again the main peleton stopped and waited.   Even though we had only done about 30 km, Di said she felt as she had done 300km,  I was shattered and Sasha was unable to speak.  I am not sure how Ben, a first time guest on a Mercury ride, felt as he was bent double gasping for air. Meanwhile Duncan et famille were still toiling up the hills, it must be hard work pulling a 60kgm load up 15% inclines. There is a short cut here towards Ashbourne which Dave kindly pointed out and offered the information that his route was ' for guidance only ' as he had discovered some more hills which promised fun. FUN????
And so the group split, nine of us split off to Ashbourne,  three had already dropped out and gone home, and the true adventurers set off to the hills.

I am told that eventually fourteen made it to their coffee stop, at which point a Team Car picked up Ian and Josh Scales with some excuse of having to see a man about a dog !  If you believe that!
Of the feisty fourteen only eight survived to grovel over the finish line where upon Mark and Debbie Gray said they had never been on such a Social ride before having covered over 110 km and around 1750 m of climbing.
Our Touring Secretary awarded Dave a Special Bonus for having managed to break the World Record of total number of drop outs on ANY ride and having found a route which encompassed more than 20 cattle grids and six slurry heaps. On this latter point it is rumoured that Andy Thomas was nearly divorced when he brought Sam home absolutely covered in S*!t.

Meanwhile the Splinter Group recovered in Jack Rabbit's at Ashbourne before heading for home..or rather we would have headed for home if Sasha had not instantly gained a puncture, and, in the true style of a touring cyclist, did not have a spare inner tube that fitted her wheel. She was however equipped with a non-fitting inner tube!

Mechanical interlude over we made our way out of Ashbourne towards Hulland, Mercaston, Kedleston Park and home with various members of the Splinter peeling off en route.

 As we passed through Kedleston Park Di thought she was in need of the kiss of life but chose her sofa instead. 

A great and enjoyable day out..but I dread to think what a ' normal ' Sunday ride would be like !!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Review of the Year - 2016

This has been for me a good cycling year.

The annuity distance target was achieved with ease, and indeed, I managed to cycle further in a year than I have ever done previously.

                                      Total Distance   7147 km
                                       Total Ascent     57384 m

even though the total number of rides was down by 5% to 189 outings

Persuaded by a friend to try some Baby Audax ( 100km ) I entered Rutland and Beyond in  early February. The weather was bitter, the hills steep and my friend decided that only fools rode in tose conditions so stayed at home..I rode..and froze. But I did complete it.
This was soon to be followed by another event around  the Three Fields of Alfreton and indeed I had also entered Charnwood in the Spring but went down sick two days before and was forced to withdraw.

The standard Derby Mercury club runs are obviously too quick and too far for me but instead  I started to ride with a group of Derby Mercury Veterans. This group of past cyclists used to race and  tour decades ago before the introduction of these modern new  fangled carbon electronic gear changing things were ever thought about. It is great to listen to stories of races past and places seen.  They travel now more at my pace and every ride involves a cake stop .

Indeed it was with  this group that this year I cycled abroad for the first time when we went to France to watch the TdF and follow in the tyre tracks of Stage 1.

 The atmosphere was great, the food even better though the entire trip did expose my deep lack of linguistic skills .

Whilst I have mentioned that I am too old and slow to go on the normal Mercury rides I did join the 78th Anniversary Ride out to Denstone. This involved for me a 78 km trip alongside about 100 other cyclists from the Club covering the entire age range from 7- 70 years old. The pace was good, no-one got dropped and there was a marvellous BBQ prepared for our return.

I have also tried to integrate myself a little more into the Club by helping out at Time Trials and in particular the epic Everest Challenge undertaken by JK  and taking a few photos

All in all, I have had a good year
Next year I hit 70, and may lead a Social Ride in early March to celebrate the event..we will see

As for my new non-target driven approach, well the Annuity Chart says that 1000 miles ( 1610 km ) needs to be covered..better go and get my bike ready !

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Hills Are Getting Steeper

As I am rapidly approaching my 70th birthday I have noticed a remarkable geographical fact; hills are becoming much steeper and are lengthening in duration!  I may well send this remarkable insight to National Geographic for their education.

To counteract this evolutionary change I have needed to make some dramatic engineering changes to my bike fleet.

Witchcraft, my Giant Advanced TCR SL3 with an Ultegra Di2 Groupset has had a cassette change to give a 32t large cog from the traditional 28t. This was thought to be impossible but my LBS at Bespoke  have weaved some magic and it all works fine.

My beloved Mercian Vincitore Special was equipped with a Campagnolo Chorus Triple which only allows a maximum rear tooth count of 29.  So I have had this upgraded (?) to a Shimano Tiagra Triple with a 34t cassette.

This now means that I have a lowest gear on the Giant at 28 inches whilst on the Mercian it is now 23.3 inches.

I should perhaps point out here that my son thinks this is all needless as I had yet to encounter a hill I could not climb with the original kit.....and I am a bit loathe to confess to him that so far I have got nowhere near my new bottom gears...still I am approaching 70 and regard this as future proofing :-)