Monday, August 14, 2017

The Derby Mercury RC All Inclusive Social Picnic Ride

I was told that ' The Picnic Ride ' used to be an institution within Derby Mercury but had not been held for a I thought I would see if I could revive it.

The aim was to make it truly ' All Inclusive '  from youngsters up to Old Age Pensioners like myself, and, as an addition hold the picnic at a place where mothers with babes in arms could also easily reach. And so I chose as the Picnic Destination, the Tara Centre at Etwall, a place with spacious grounds and, if some weight weenies decided not to carry their own food,  a good cafe serving all the essential nutrition that a cyclist could want.

I chose three routes:

a) a 12km ride along traffic free greenways which Nick offered to lead.
b) a 45 km tortoise ride at around 20kph which I would lead
c) an indeterminate fast route for the road warriors

In addition there was a further option

d) a car ride with a free car park at the  Tara Centre.

In the event there were a lot of good things that came out of this ride and it is difficult to choose the best one.

We did manage to attract around 40+ people to the picnic and the main peleton certainly managed to span the entire age range with the youngsters especially impressive on the racing hill climbs. Mums and OAPs took a more ' measured ' approach to these mountains but one of the seasoned cyclists always went with them to ensure safety.

No one got dropped and Neville very kindly acted as Lanterne Rouge and mechanic though his only maintenance task was to fix a couple of dropped chains and rescue a flying water bottle.
The good thing about being ride leader was that I could set the pace; the bad thing was that I was always head into the wind.

 Being at least 20 years older than any other rider I always worry that my tortoise pace for them ( race speed for me!! ) is spoiling the ride for others but no-one complained.
Another great thing about the ride was that we attracted some new people to group rides who were tempted by the short distance ( 45km to the picnic and 20km back to the start point ) and so felt confident to bring their children along too.

It also turned out to be a family event as mothers and toddlers did join us and the Divas were out in force

as well as some of  the seasoned cyclists

It was good to see a mixture of current and future cyclists

All in all a good day out...and as I had ordered a good sunny day that made it even better.

Thanks to everyone who came and kept me company

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Belisha Goes Exploring

The vast majority of my cycling is done on my Mercian and my Giant...however I do have another bike, a Brompton the colour of a Belisha Beacon.  I acquired this from one of my sons who had originally bought it to commute to work in London but decided he preferred a ' proper' bike. He is also very safety conscious and wanted to be clearly seen..hence the colour.
My idea was to use it for local errands and, more importantly, to explore distant lands outwith the borders of Derbyshire. Take a train trip to exotic places and then ride and explore. This post is about one such trip.

Now many people would not think of  Stoke-on-Trent as being exotic but it is situated on the Trent and Mersey Canal and so has cycle routes to some local places.

Being an Old Age Pensioner and having purchased a Senior Citizens Railcard getting to places is quite affordable and so I set off from Derby to Stoke with Belisha

The canal path is adjacent to the railway station and so soon I was on my way and it was not long before I saw a symbol of this area's historic heritage and why the area is known as ' The Potteries '

The Bottle Kilns were common in this area and , firstly the canals, and later the railways, were used to transport clay in and goods out.

Moving all this stuff is hard work and so to assist small wagons were built and a selection of them have now been converted for use as seats where people can rest and watch the world go by.

Once out of the city and into the countryside the scenery gets greener and one soon encounters some of the many canal boats which still use this waterway.

These waterways also act as a great haven for wildlife as both the heron and I enjoyed the tranquil surroundings

After about 15 km I approached my destination

The canal path was good for cycling, the only real problem being the tree roots disturbing the surface making for a bumpy ride in parts

and then it was time to stop for coffee

The return journey meant just retracing my steps but the weather turned to biblical proportions with thunder, lightening and torrential rain so no stops for photographs. Indeed the weather only relented once I had reached the shelter of Stoke Railway Station but I did not let the weather dampen my spirits and now I am planning my next trip out with Belisha.

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 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 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 !!