Wednesday, July 25, 2012

GS Gazzetta on Tour

One of the best things about cycling are the people that you meet. They tend to be a friendly, helpful bunch and riding in a group with others has become a really enjoyable pastime in my retirement. And so, when I received an invitation to ride with the Shifnall Cycling Society on their Summer Social Ride I was delighted; but a bit apprehensive as well.
' Not to worry ', Andrew said, ' we wont be travelling at more that 20kph and the route that I have in mind is  mostly flat'  ( I should not be writing this next bit but I will ! ) ' Besides, some of the ladies will be with us and that will keep everything slower'  ( No more chocalate cookies for you Andrew! )
On reflection I should have known better I suppose.  Half the group had been training in the Alps the previous week, climbing the Col du Telegraphe before proceeding to the 2645m summit of the Col du Galibier and then onto the Col du Lautaret, never more than 4 Cols per day they said modestly. Not all of them had been to the Alps, some had remained behind to train for triathalons and cross country events, indded a fair few had been out running prior to joining to-day's ride.
With thighs of a size that would have made even Chris Hoy tremble with fear ( not the ladies I hasten to add, they were more Lizzie Armitage shape ) these lean , mean racing machines were ready to roll.
I was at least 25 years older than the eldest member of this peleton and my legs were beginning to shake with the fear of what was to come.
As our group assembled in the glorious sunshine

Wiggins, Froome, Cavendish and the rest of the TdF were leaving on their triumphal ride to Paris.
It is worth noting here the similarities between our peleton and that of the TdF; with the exception of myself, none of the other riders' bikes had mudguards and large saddle bags stuffed with the essential cycling accessopries such as cake! My Thursday CTC veteran crew would not have approved!
And so we rode, undulating would be a better description that flat but the maximum gradient was never more than 8%. There are some beautiful villages in this part of the world as we sped through Shropshire ans crossed into Staffordshire. The lanes were packed with cyclists ranging from the road warriors in their matching lycra gear to leisure cyclists out enjoying the summer sun, indeed I waslucky enough to meet another Mercian devotee who had loving assembled his machine.
The total ride was around 63km with an ascent of 620m and so Andrew had been true to his word and kept it well within my scope. My average heart rate at 141bpm with am peak at 162 was at continuous race effort for me but led to a wonderful and joyous day.
A big thanks to all at Shifnall Cycling Society for giving me such a warm and generous welcome.
I amn really enjoying travelling to meet and ride with other cycling groups but perhaps with my limited capabilities I should stick to those who travel at a more sedate place. I fear that I am holding these youngsters back.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Wiggys Challenge

Paul is the chairman of G S Gazzetta and is a powerful and enthusiastic cyclist; or rather he used to be.. Things have not gone to plan just lately and so, in order to get back on track he issued the following challenge to others whose good intentions did not match reality.

"Calling lapsed cyclists like I am at the minute - I challenge you to cycle everyday for the next week starting today for 5 days. Let's get back on our bikes and in the routine together for one week. If, like me, you've had a difficult time getting into the routine of cycling after illness, injury or just not felt like it then join me for the next 5 days as we help each other get back on our bikes"

On your bike, turbo trainer or spinning classes count too, let's get everyone moving again.  2 miles, 2 hours or 200 miles, every little helps.

This note describes my attempt to respond to the challenge.

Day 1.
Mondays is the day when our group of four Old Age Pensioners, including me, go for a gentle meander around some of the local derbyshire lanes but this day was different. Torrential rain, with more promised, had left reports of many roads flooded with chaos everywhere. So two of our number had decided to stay at home and so Alan and I, intrepid members of Derby CTC, set off to view the watery landscape. Leaving Mickleover we headed along the NSN68 to Derby and then rode alongside the River Derwent. Whilst high and moving fast, the river was contained and just gave the hint of suppressed power. Leaving the river we turned and headed towards Swarkestone and its ancient causeway, the idea being to turn off and follow the road up to Milton where a new tea shop had been opened. However, around here the banks of the River Trent are higher than the surrounding roads and these banks had burst.  Abandoned cars littered the roads where intrepid drivers had tried to drive through the flooded road. The water still looked deep and so we made a detour across the causeway and up through Stanton with the aim of rejoining our route the other side of the flooded stretch. Principle fine, execution poor.  We rejoined the road only to find further floods and so the only way was to brave the elements.

nce through the floods we climbed to Milton, and then ventured over the top through Ticknall and Calke before descending into Breedon for a well deserved lunch. From there it was up the wall to Breedon Church and then down to join the Cloud Trail and head back home.

Total journey was 66km with 500m ascent. See for details.

Day 2

I am beginning to think there should be a prize awarded for the completion of this challenge.  Yesterday, and last week, I ventured into Leicestershire and on both occasions got thoroughly drenched. Soaking shorts in combination with a soaking wet leather Brooks saddle has had a detrimental effect on my undercarriage :-()  They say that as you get older you revert to childhood and I have reverted to the use of Sudo Cream to ease the pain. Never-the-less, the challenge continues.
Today’s ride went round the local lanes but the floods had not relented..indeed over night the rain had come down worse than ever. One of the main problems after the storms is that  gravel is strewn all over the lanes making descending trecherous, and I am not very good at that anyway. More flooded roads again caused a route diversion and to compound my woe, no toasted tea cakes at the tea shop where I had taken refuge from the latest deluge.

Todays statistics, 30km with 212m ascent. See

To-morrow may be an even  shorter ride to give my body time to heal

Day 3

This was as hard as I had expected. Not the distance which at 18km was short, nor the ascent of 217m, but , despite some extra padding it was an uncomfortable ride. At least it was dry and the tea shop at Meynell Langley is always worth a visit. I know; stopping for a tea and cake stop in midst a short journey is not really on, but this was an exceptional day.
To-morrow is my usual day for a long ride with the Derby CTC veterans. I will see how the body feels.

To-days statistics, see

Day 4

A lot of advice received overnight on how to both treat saddle sores and prevent them occurring in the first place. So, with layers of sudo cream, vaseline barrier, extra padding and a decent set of padded shorts, I determined to at least meet the rest of the crew at the starting point. We ride weekly and the members of the Derby CTC Thursday peleton come from all corners of the city environs and so we have recently taken to meeting up in a different tea shop each week to share out the pre-start ride time. To-day we were due to meet in Denby which though one of the longest pre-rides for me is fairly flat. The idea was to then climb some of the derbyshire peaks in a 80km ride which, for me , would have meant a round trip of ~120km which is close to my limit on good days. So I decided to leave them and return home following the cake stop. It is well known that I am not a natural climber and must moan more than most when the peleton veterans decide on a hilly route day. But, on the way back I purposely sought out the biggest hills just to test my legs, I just hope that none of the Thursday crew read this or I will never live it down.

Todays statistics 38km, with 210m ascent, see

One day to go!  I am still on course to complete the challenge.

Day 5


It is pouring with rain and i do not want to push my body through another drenching.

I have enjoyed attempting this challenge despite my inability to complete it. On the positive side I have met a number of lapsed cyclists at the tea shop stops on my tours and told them what I was attempting. Many of them have said that they have a bike in their garage or shed and would get out and ride. They may not become fervent cyclists but even if only one starts cycling again then some good will have come from my week’s efforts.

Friday, July 6, 2012

I met a traveller from an antique land..

When I retired four years ago and bought a bike I remember going on my first ever ride; a round trip of 10km which included a tea shop stop. I was cream crackered. This was an epic journey for me.
Since those days, my strength and stamina have increased a little, my original second hand, old and very heavy steel bike has been replaced by my Mercian stable, and now I am able to venture farther afield. Joining my local CTC ( Cyclists Touring Club ) has been a major encouragement.I now am a regular participant on the Thursday Ride and along with a bunch of mainly Old Age Pensioners we tour around Derbyshire with occasional invasions into the surrounding counties of Staffordshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. I christen these journeys the tea shop tours. Typical distances vary between 80-120km which for the majority of our peleton is well within their compass. For me it is pishing on my limits of endurance.
The definition of what constitutes a long distance ride is a very subjective judgement. Four years ago for me it would have been 10km, now it is more like 100km. But for others 100km is just a warm up.
I met such a traveler the other day. Paul comes from the  ancient land of Peterborough, had travelled by train to Derby and was then aiming to follow the National Cycle Network route 68 to Berwick-on-Tweed. This is a journey of around 570km and courses through some of the most picturesque, and hilly, land in England. Unfortunately Paul’s journey had not had the most auspicious of starts as he had got lost coming out of Derby Railway Station, going south instead of north and this had resulted in a 20km detour before he had got on to the right track. There is something to be said for a Garmin 800!! It was no wonder that Paul had felt the need for a cake stop at the Tara Centre in Etwall which is where we met last Saturday afternoon. Given his travails to date I offered to ride with him on the rode to Ashbourne, the next stage of his journey. He was headed for Buxton as his overnight stop and with a fully loaded bike powered by a 53/34 compact chain ring and a cassette with a maximum gear of 25 teeth, I did not envy him as he tackled the Derbyshire Peaks. Mind you, he was much younger than me.

The CTC is a friendly lot and Paul is a member of the Peterborough Branch and had aranged to join the Berwick Branch on their Sunday ride before catching the train back from Berwick to Peterborough on Sunday afternoon.  
I wonder if he made it?
He truly was a long distance traveller from an antique land.