Saturday, February 1, 2014

Last Ride of 2013

28th December, family lunch commitment and, after breakfast, I reckon an hour's ride in the sunshine. Schedule cleared by management, and all kitted up, I pluck Pearson from his hook in the garage. “barring punctures or mechanicals,
see you in under an hour” I say. Under half an hour later, I feel that dispiriting bump of rim and tyre crushing together to announce the exit of air from the inner tube (that achilles heel of all bicycles). A smidgen of atmosphere remaining I roll back home to effect the repair in the comfort of the garage. . . . . .
When changing the inner tube in the rear wheel of a fixed wheel bike, it is best (I find) to place the machine upside down. Like a novice cyclist. The reason for this (there had to be one) is the difficulty of replacing the wheel so that it is in line with the frame – and that the chain has the correct tension. If you have to do this on your own, you soon run out of hands.
The Bottle Cage flopped . . .
Before turning the bike onto its saddle and 'bars you have to remove the bidon and (in my case) the container for spare tubes, tyre levers &c. The bottle cage flopped in half. Next job, pull the mudguard stays from their fixing. The rear mudguard came apart about a foot to the rear of the brake caliper. The morning wasn't improving – but at least opening the brake calipers produced no further surprises.Rear wheel off, check the tyre for an obvious cause of deflation. I find three flints and a 3mm thorn.
Now, I realise that the sharper brains amongst you will want to take issue with my muddled measures ('about a foot' and '3mm'), but I'm not the only one. Newspapers are constantly confusing themselves and their readers with “police are seeking a 6ft (1.80m) white male” and we all mix up tonnes, tons and kilos and that's before you get to hectares, acres and fuel that's £s per litre and miles per gallon. And how come America uses Imperial measures but with slightly differing scales? And yet, and yet – I'm entirely comfortable with this confused state of things weighty, lengthy, voluminous and temperate. In my picture framing, I find metric is perfect (provided one ignores centimetres) – but the height of a person feels best in feet and inches. Kilometres are fun for cycling, because you get through more of them in an hour – but only when the signposts are playing to the same rules. The idea that we should change all our signposts is shocking. So much of our culture is bound up with distances, and our place names would lose their meaning. Or would you prefer 10k Bottom or 16k Bank?
. . . Then  the rear Mudguard came apart
Where was I? I was prising flints from the rear tyre – and then spending longer than expected to remove the thorn. Now, at this point any reasonable person, being in possession of another bike (with the added advantage of being in good working order) would stop wasting time. I wasn't in that state of mind at that moment – but my wife took the initiative and burst on the scene “why don't you get on another bike or you'll run out of time!” she barked. Thank goodness for that intervention. Grab Mercian from its hook, swift check on tyres etc, and away. 13 Miles later, and last ride of 2013 completed. Bright winter sunshine, rich dark shadows - perfection. I have ordered some inner tubes, and a pair of mudguards - plus a rear light to replace the one that my bike 'shed' a week or so ago.
All spruced-up and hanging with friends
It was only the next day that I realised that Peter Stephenson-Wall had joined Justin on the list of crash victims. At the time of finishing this, Peter is back home, but will be off the bike for quite a long time - and Justin is also home, but faced with several weeks of a load-free right leg, (though still able to joke that he left West Suffolk Hospital so soon before Peter that the Wheelers seem to be 'hot bedding' Ward F3). Club Sponsorship of The Wheeler Ward anyone?


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

Still Progressing

Celebrate No1 son's 49th Birthday on Friday by risking a ride with the informal group of cycling chums all guaranteed to be older than he. First group ride since 5th September last. The thermometer outside the kitchen door offered -4c by way of encouragement. I piled on the garments until I resembled a lycra snowman . 
This outfit has a destabilising effect, as I realised yesterday. When dressed up in the same foolish outfit at the start my second ride on Pearson the fixie, I found that getting my leg over the saddle led to falling sideways against the side of the house - not a very elegant way of setting off. "pensioner in legover-failure incident" might be the local headline.
And the above paragraph was very much in my mind as I prepared to launch the Mercian on to the A1088. Moving, successfully, to the crossroad by The Dog with right arm outstretched I charged into the road to Tostock (just managing to keep ahead of vehicles approaching from in front and behind). Cruising down what Neil Dykes calls 'The Smugglers' Route' I'm well under way. At the agreed meeting point, Justin and TomTom are already there. Soon joined by Stephen L and Ron Fisher. After such a long absence, it's reassuring that little (if anything) has changed. We spend ten minutes discussing possible routes, and probable tea stops. Someone suggests we should decide where to take tea before we address how best to get there. I abstain. I'm not going all the way or, perhaps less amusingly, pulling out early. How about not stopping for tea?
If I remember correctly, we are to go to Hollow Trees by way of a typically abstruse TomTom variation on a well loved (and previously familiar) route through Boxford. We head off from our familiar meeting place towards Drinkstone, and thence down the hill to the Rat Valley. At the foot of the hill we come to a cunning bike-handling confidence test. A white van was waiting for us, having just turned into the hill at the junction. The road past the van was covered an splodges of ice and not particularly wide. Obviously climbing off and tottering by on foot wasn't an option, since my four chums have all whizzed through with effortless confidence. So through I went, successfully. There had been an earlier few patches negotiated comfortably - and there would be a few more. This is why one cycles with friends. A confidence building learning curve. And without incident.
Right and then left, up past that Mill that has been converted to apartments (Hancocks? Hickocks?)and on southwards. Whilst some of our number took a pit  stop, TT, Peter and I looked at the Memorial to WW2 USAF Airmen based at Rattlesden Airfield  and Peter asked, having seen the small, separate memorial stone to one Shirley Lee.  "Is Shirley a man's name in America?"  "Yes, Peter and so are Gene, Tracey and Jessie" (there are more but I can't remember them). A quarter of a mile on, past Punchards Farm we pass Louse Lane, which causes more discussion - and I mention my favourite 'Whelp St' (not to mention 'Baby Lane' which we passed about half a mile back).
At Bildeston I ask TomTom where we were heading "Chelsworth" he said. This was pretty obvious, I was just hoping there was a different route westwards that didn't use this little climb OR Semer Hill. Ah well, here goes. Skip the Granny Ring (the last attempt, a week ago, had led to an unshipped chain and ungainly dismount - or unmanly disgrunt as Susan just suggested) All went well, if jolly slowly. The descent into charming Chelsworth was much faster than the last time, and I did that charmless thing so popular with slow, unfit riders. Cruising past the waiting group at 25mph (or more) and not slowing down until it suits us. Fortunately the burn-out point usually comes pretty soon. Just outside Monks Eleigh, where I realised the plan was to turn left, I made my excuses and left - claiming to go to Lavenham.
Original Title mentioned Morieux - should've been Preston
However I turned right through Brent Eleigh and then up to Whelp Street and Preston. As I turned left from Whelp St (which I now realise is a hamlet rather than just a street), I am gently overtaken by a very clean Land Rover Freelander. As reach the end of  Preston St Mary, I see it coming back. The driver (a distinguished looking gent) stops and the window drops. "Do you know this area at all well?" "Fairly, how can I help?"  "I'm looking for Welt Street"  "Ah, Whelp Street. And I tell him" It isn't often I'm able to help someone with a direction so quickly and accurately. And as for the coincidence after our 'Louse Lane' discussion, well, how weird is that? OK, not very, since we were so close to the place (about 800 yds).
With various changes of direction as I toiled into the north easterly breeze, mostly at a 10mph grovel (but that was fine since I wasn't trying to catch anyone up) I  rolled onto the forecourt of Orchard House at 12.00. Only now was I able to check my watch and change the mode of my computer The Snowman costume plus two-finger 'Sealskinz' precluding any agility without stopping and removing gloves. With the temperature still no more than 2c, that was never going to happen until I reached home.
36 miles, 13mph. Still Progressing.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

22nd August 2012, Cavendish Tea Room revisited.

November 2011. Enormous, but warm and friendly.
We didn't really wait for Pete to be away on holiday before we returned to the Cavendish Tea Rooms, but we felt easier about the visit. Our previous call  is documented in my blog of 23rd November 2011, "The search for the most expensive scone is over" was the title. When I wrote that account I was unaware (these days it is not unusual for me to be unaware, due to age-related Mutton. Rhyming slang; look it up) that Peter had, on that occasion, had a full and frank exchange of views with the management  regarding value for money. I did record my own surprise at finding my usual fiver inadequate to the task of clearing my debt - but I was terribly restrained and merely held my tongue and borrowed from TomTom. In any event it was probably for the best that the terror of the tearoom wasn't with us. Peter will always tell it like it is, especially if the way it is isn't to his liking.

August 2012. Even bigger, but chilly. Cool, even. Hence shades
A picture of decorum

A perfect ambience

Glenn Morris hopes they won't  spot what he's hidden under his napkin
Back to the present then. But with a nod to that previous trip. But more about that later..  . . . Justin because, having looked it up, I realise that there was a similarity in the circumstances. TomTom brought someone to the tea stop by a different route, and someone who had a puncture arrived late, with an escort. Last year it was Dawn Demarco who had the puncture, and was helped by Chris Wiseman and TomTom - who brought them to Cavendish along the main road, while the rest of us took the back road route. This time it was new Mercrediste Graham Dixon's second puncture, and it happened on the main road just short of Cavendish, and it was I who stopped to assist.Though this had the appearance of a second puncture, it was actually the sliver of flint that caused the first one which had been hiding in a cut in the cover for about twenty miles (they do that; if you find no cause for a puncture this means that you've missed it. There is always a cause, and if you don't find it you will most certainly get a repeat deflation).

I never finished this Blog. I came across it this Sunday morning 17th February 2013, after Publishing my 15th Feb edition. The photos are jolly, so I'll publish right away. Maybe we'll be able to repeat a visit in the spring or maybe it has gone the way of all premium scones. Maybe someone knows? Perhaps there Solicitor? No!  that's quite enough Solicitors thank you.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

15 Feb '13.Two Convalescent Rides with Un-planned Starts

I went out on a different15 mile circuit yesterday. There had been a gap of about a fortnight before that - due to the weather. I have read various accounts, from Wednesday Riders, of foolhardiness in the face of snow and ice which have only served to reinforce my resolve to wait for the arrival of Spring. Suddenly, Spring is here (or possibly some counterfeit day or two of  clemency. I don't care which). The sun is up, the grass is riz and a few birdies is tweeting - so I thought "I'm damn well getting out for a proper ride". Fickle fate took the initiative, by giving me a very tenuous justification for a ride. But first; a warning.
You are probably expecting not only a cycling-related blog, but a piece solely and exclusively devoted to cycling. So, if you are not interested in motor cars, and feel cheated, then you would do well to fast- forward past the next four paragraphs and see if there's anything more to your taste at the end. I can't be any more specific, as I don't know how much time I'll devote to my first long ride for nearly six months.
 We were let down  by two of our motor cars - all right, all right, it's true. I'm a cyclist with three cars. I don't care. We are ludicrously attached to them all. There is no logical reason for three - one is essential, obvs. Our 1965 Triumph Spitfire isn't exactly practical, but we've owned him since 1986. He's transported two bikes plus camping equipment down through France to Le Mont Ventoux - in fact, to the summit of Ventoux. How could we possibly abandon a chum like that? The Red Baron is a Dual Fuel (Petrol & LPG) 1988 BMW 325 Touring (That's German for Estate Car). He was, until a year or two ago a 1989 BMW Touring (you know what that's German for by now). We bought Red Baron II because his bodywork was better, and persuaded the sellers to transfer Baron I's mechanicals and seats and lots of other stuff. So deep attachment again. Then we bought another BMW for daughter Polly when she was learning to drive. Now she's in Plymouth, at Uni (as she and her chums would have it) and has no use for a car. Yet again we feel unable to part with ' Baby Beamer'.

I would be amazed if any of you were impressed by the forgoing, but I thought that I'd throw it in as background. The real problem was that the Baron wouldn't start. We were about to take Baby Beamer to our good friend John Gagen at Cockfield, for a service.Traditionally (weather permitting) I would put a bike in the back of whichever vehicle was in need of attention and ride back (then collect when done). For the last few months I've not been able to do this, so we use two cars. I was to drive Baby Beamer, which I took  out of our drive, waited for Susan, then walked down to the garage to check on progress. "He* won't start!!" Susan bellowed. (* each of our cars is a chap) I moved into the driver's seat with the calm reason of one who knows about these matters. Sit in car, apply key. Turn engine for maybe four, fruitless, minutes. I can now tell the problem. "He won't start!!" I yell. I diagnose a petrol-pump related problem, but don't feel in any fit state to crawl under The Baron to investigate. We phone John. I outline the problem, and, like a totally ideal Garagiste, after a moment's thought he says "Shall I come and have a look?". John's workshop is about half an hour from Norton. He will need to finish the jobs he has in hand, but will be with us in about 5 hours. Wonderful. So, since the sun is still out (etc) and it's the first mild day for, er, well, days, I decide on the 15 mile circuit mentioned at the start of all this nonsense. Excellent ride, with a modicum of modest climbing. Average speed (as if anyone cared) 14mph. Quick shower, brief lunch, John arrives in in his black 1991 BMW 318 Touring (did I tell you about that?) and sets about the Baron. Problem identified eventually by a whack to the bottom of the petrol tank.This gets the pump whirring which starts the engine (which also runs on LPG, petrol is only needed for about ten seconds to start the engine after which it just runs on gas). We decide to leave the Baron running. Unfortunately, the petrol pump isn't the type expected, so John will have to source another. It seems best to fix it tomorrow. He will now go home, and we'll take the Baron to Cockfield. and leave him behind the workshop. John leaves. We have the Baron, quietly rumbling as he ticks over (petrol-head term) Susan goes to get Baby Beamer. "He won't start!" she shouts in disbelief. More to the point, the electronic key doesn't work. This means that not only will he not start but we can't even open the doors. Susan cleverly extracts the traditional key from the electric item. All this allows us to do is to get in and sit in the driver's seat - impotently. Phone John. He suggests jump leads to encourage life from a suspected flat battery. Looking for our collection of two sets of jump leads, and failing to find even one, we realise that both are in the tailgate area of  Baby Beamer. Susan has to climb over the front seats, open the rear seats to allow access to the tailgate and crawl round to find the jump leads. We connect the Baron to the Baby and immediately, nothing happens at all. Phone John. He'll be over at 8.30 in the morning.
Morning. John arrives and, as we finish breakfast, we hear the sound of two engines. Baby B has a flat battery, when I used the jump leads I used to the wrong connection. BMW use an odd arrangement involving storing  the battery in the boot and a couple of contacts under the bonnet. There is no problem with the red one, but the three very similar black ones give plenty of scope for error. We will bring the Baron to Cockfield. Only problem now is that Susan is due in Cambridge at 11.00. There's sunshine, and the temperature is inching it's way towards clement. So I will take a bike and ride back - someone has to do it, what a sacrifice!
 Leave John's workshop (which is correctly at Cross Green) and head left onto the A1141 and head home. But why? Do I really need to?

Of course not. The weather is looking sublime. How far would I be able to manage? Turn left off the A1141 towards Cockfield proper  and turn right just after the old railway bridge up Perrydown Lane (no, I didn't know it was called that either) and head south. To Bildeston and right towards Chelsworth. Ahah! A proper climb. Oh dear, it's steeper than I remember. By a lot. Decide that it might be prudent to engage the Granny Ring. A bit of grinding and churning, then finally Clatter-Clatter Grind - and the chain is off and down the inside, cranks rigid. Decide that I would rather not fall off, and succeed  in my effort. A long fiddle to get the chain out from behind the chainring and back on again. Coast back down to make the re-start less hazardous - after all I'm still very shaky in the bike-handling department. I even have to be careful taking a drink (and then replacing the bottle). Just how sad is that? The left turn in Chelsworth through the very narrow bridge and up the hill past Chelsworth Hall is steep, but not as bad as the previous one - and beautiful, and soon eases to a gentle gradient up, to join the A1141 (again), and left to Hollow Trees. This feels very special indeed. I am  under the impression  that the time is about 11.20. However, on my way home I realize that my watch has stopped. I caught the winder on a cycling journey. What else can go wrong? Amazingly, nothing. Well, not yet, anyway.
Scone and tea for £2.80 and a chat to a husband and wife cycling combo at the next table - they were having a huge salad lunch. I thought that  I recognized them, but my ability to remember names is now really terrible, so no chance. They Asked if I'd ridden the Suffolk Punch. I told them I'd just taken a few snaps - they hadn't ridden it either, but spoke of it in awe, and referred to friends who had, and had suffered (in a good way)

After tea I retrace to Bildeston and then turn right, up to Wattisham village, and slightly left back to the B1115 and right to Gt Finborough. The Wattisham bit was new to me - I'm familiar with going via Battisford , Combes and Jack's Lane - but crikey, what a grim and muddy lane up to the main road. Some very smart old conversions, but VERY few. Mostly semi-collapsed barns, broken gates and shabby farm machinery. And yet only a short way away, all was well tended. Just a three mile strip of sadness. If you live there and love it, I'd better apologize. It also looks the sort of area where grudges last, and retribution is enjoyed.

I am beginning to slow down, so a pause for more tea on my way through Woolpit, Chez Seggar.  Sue and I talk mainly about France and their impending trip in September to Le Mont Ventoux. and Burgundy until, finally, Rich. Returns from his ride. He told us tales of no room at Clare, and no café any more at Cavendish (we discuss the likelihood of a Cavendish revival) and how the then sped to Yorkshire Mary's in Long Melford. He mentioned Peter's two punctures,  the main course (so he said) for his 2.15 arrival.

So, 27.6 miles at Woolpit, and a satisfying 30.something at home. A proper ride at last.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wednesday 5th Sept. A long story

Peter Heath.
Yesterday the 12th of January 2013, for the first time in four months, I went out for a ride. On the road. Riding my Mercian road bike for 12 miles with Peter Heath. Why the long gap in my riding? I'll come to that shortly. Right now I want to share with you the detail of our ride, and how it came about – after all, not only have I not ridden since September, I haven't written a blog since 31st of July. To get me to the point of going on a 'proper' ride I had received offers of escort duty from three other friends since late October. But they relied on me getting my act together first, and I still had a slight feeling of anxiety. A couple of weeks ago I had tottered down to Beyton to meet the chums before they left on their ride. It was OK, but still a slight uncertainty. What was needed was a more positive incentive. Peter Heath.
His email carried an outline short route and a suggested time. Being Peter, it was an imperative suggestion “I'll come to your house on Friday afternoon, I'll phone first ” it ended. Then, on the day, the call. “What do you think?” he asked “Weather seems fine” I said. He turned up at 2pm and barked “Now, you're still happy to do the ride round to Woolpit?” . . . “Yup” Say I, . . . “RIGHT! Off we gosays Pete. . .pausing to check traffic. . . . “ALL CLEAR!!,” ….. and he twiddled off our forecourt and up the A1088 at what felt to me like a positively Wigginsian pace – and I'd yet to get my second foot in. I was already chasing and it was only the first few yards of our ride! How would I cope? But I was back on, just before the left turn to Thurston, “I caught up” I said “only because I waited!” Peter barked with a grin, and we cruised down to the hump back bridge over the Blackbourne (well, Peter cruised, and had no reason to doubt that I was doing any different). We discussed drainage, and the whereabouts of my new running route which used a brand new wooden pedestrian bridge over the Blackbourne and then followed a footpath and a Byway up the top of the climb to Great Green Thurston (on my run, I turn round and go back down hill to home, and a bath. No chance this afternoon). We climb (don't laugh )on the road to the Z bend at the top, and turn left towards Tostock. A hundred yards along the lane, past the excellent new house belonging to Harvey's Nursery, we pass the opening to 'my' Byway. We discuss Barn Owls, and marvel at the amount of standing water along 'my' route today. I relish hearing the sharp cries of warning from Peter “car behind!” “hole!” and “puddle!”. This is a proper ride. We go over the railway bridge, commenting on the newly restored Victorian houses on the right. Peter tells me that the railway is where Thurston officially ends. This was a surprise to me, as one who only recently aware that Great Green was IN Thurston. So on we went. Side by side along the lane to Tostock, down into the dip with another double bend then up through the lovely woodland to the junction. Then right ande left, then right again along the lane to Drinkstone, down past the windmills, the left and in to Woolpit. After a detour to the Health Centre (to collect Peter's drugs – I didn't ask), we stopped for tea in Woolpit and discussed post traumatic whatnots, over tea and cake and scones. In an act of almost excessive generosity Peter insisted that I have the only remaining scone, and that he paid for the entire repast.
Sharon & Rob at Thetford GC

So, how did I get to this? Wednesday the 5th of September, was the last ride that I had. Around ten of us set off on a ride that followed a route decided by me. We followed a fairly routine route north east, followed by the equally familiar course along to Croxton (which is always a surprise to me, it being such a familiar place when riding west from my previous home of Cambridge), then an enjoyable blast back to Thetford – especially enjoyable, since I was on Flandria, the best bike, and feeling good. Obviously 'feeling good' is entirely relative, and nearly always ends being caught just before turning right to Tesco and the Thetford Garden Centre, the latter being our refreshing destination. Jonathan Howe left before the tea stop – allegedly to ruin someone's life. Jerry Barton also chose the early bath. After our tea we took the usual and always enjoyable via Brettenham (yes, another duplicate) and up onto the A1066 to Rushford where, if my memory serves, Gareth Doman (one of our two Critical Care Medics) turned right to join the A1088 and reach home in Ixworth as quickly as possible. We follow the route (my route) to Coney Weston, where we turn right, as always, and follow the route that gives us the choice of left to Bardwell or straight on to Honington. As in 90% of the rides that follow this general route – we go left. I am on the front (must have been the best bike effect still operating) as we head south westwards. Alongside me is Glenn Morris. About ¾ of a mile along the lane, so I'm told, I hit a pothole, some tree-root distorted tarmac and land very badly. Glenn was unable to avoid my flight from right to left, and fell. Sharon Calton, Ron Fisher and Stephen Linden also fell (I apologise for not being more accurate here - but bear in mind that I had no idea what had happened to me, either). Bikes were damaged, I was later told. Mark Harris, Mark Saunders and Rob Webb managed to avoid falling. To those still conscious (that’s everyone except me) I looked to be in serious trouble. A good deal of blood and no movement at all. I was unconscious, so I'm told, for about five minutes. Sharon and Rob came to my aid and did all the recovery position stuff while covering me with spare clothing, trying to engage me in conversation. I came round just before the Air Ambulance arrived, but I was making no sense at all. Sharon later told me that I asked to be helped up – a spot of the Tom Simpson "put me back on my bike"? The Air Ambulance Doctor asked me questions (apparently) but I couldn't answer. My first memory was of two people working carefully on my left forehead with what I assumed (what would I know?) to be a needle and thread. They were discussing the sewing strategy. I think they'd been at it for quite a while, but I imagine that thirty stitches take some time.
This account, written in January 2013, has been delayed whilst I try to decide what form the blog should take. I began straightforwardly enough - 'pretty major prang' is the default, laconic, approach. But then there's a rather more to say, really. Cyclists, and probably all who do sports with an accident risk, tend to have a fairly casual approach to the inevitable damage of scars, bumps, bruises and grazes. Most injuries do heal pretty quickly. It's when one breaks bones or get's a bump on the head that matters become more complex. And for me that complexity has had a rather long term impact. Our Club Orthopaedic Surgeon, Soren Sjolin had warned me, as he chatted from my bedside at West Suffolk, that it might take me three months to recover. As any seasoned cyclist would, I thought to myself "I'll keep quite, but that can't be right".

Now, in the middle of January and with plenty of time to think, I feel that "Maybe Soren was right after all" was probably the more accurate choice. Then the know-all, argumentative Bikie in me revised his opinion of Soren's judgement – aha! He thought. Soren was wrong after all. Three months? Optimistic nonsense. Closer to five is likely (Sorry Soren). The effects of the impact include a slight (but diminishing) problem with balance. So until yesterday (and there's more of that later) I only rode my road bike on the turbo (and even then I ran out of commitment after 30 minutes, and then several days to regain that commitment). The main advantage of sticking to the turbo was that I was less likely to fall over (not, I hasten to add, that I actually have fallen). I had tried the odd test in our garden, and the tendency to waver in the direction of the leg being swung over the bike was rather too pronounced for comfort. Before Christmas I began an heroic session of 10 min turbo warm-up on ATB (v effective, if anyone's interested) followed by my 5k off road run (at extremely gentle pace). Then it froze, then I got the seasonally obligatory cold followed by chest infection followed by Christmas - and now I'm back on (though not in) the running. An advantage of off-road running is that falling over is less likely - though in the early stages I was unnervingly wobbly. Another post traumatic effect (getting cod medico-technical now) is fatigue. Many attempts at physical or mental effort have been sabotaged over the last four months by the need for slumber. There's been a general slowing up (I rely on my wife Susan for opinions about what proportion of these shortcomings is due solely to being 69, or to a whack on the head) reading is slow, spelling a lot worse, memory has, er, um . . . . oh you know!. Now that I've moved into a more general discussion of all this, I might as well mention the mood swings and emotional incontinence. Or perhaps not.
This last section is one of the dangers of writing the blog - being boring about my health. I'm sure there will be readers who will criticise me for giving too much detail or a flippant lack of, erm, seriousness.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Wiggendish Ride. Wednesday 25 July 2012

Stephen Linden's contribution

Who's got the Picnic?

Peter bareheaded

Stephen Linden, Tom Cahill Smith, Ron Fisher, TomTom, Peter Heath, Dale Sturman, Tony Panting, Justin Wallace, Barry Denny, Peter S-W, Michael Lawson, Gerry Barton & me (SJH). Our prime mover for this jaunt into Essex and the Blue Egg Café at Great Bardfield was Peter Heath and we had been, in his email directive, encouraged to wear items of yellow or Union Jacks or anything that would celebrate the historic and astonishing success of the Sky Team in producing not just the Winner, but 2nd place and the Champs Elysées winner in the Tour de France. The title of this blog celebrates Cav as World Champion and regular at the Blue Egg, and Brad as the man who made history.
Peter without helmet!

 If our rendezvous at the earlier hour of 0830 had been a Féte, and our outfits were to be judged in the Fancy Dress Competition, then Tony Panting (left) would have been the undisputed winner. Note the aero modification to the helmet (Of course Wiggo had the Roundel on his TT helmet as his modification). 
One approach to re-hydration. . . . . .
The guilty tyre
Our route was a  joint effort by TomTom and Justin, with a dash of Kevin Flanagan on the way home.The pace seemed quite brisk, and I was glad that I had decided to use the Flandria (best bike). We rattled our way to Clare via Glemsford and Cavendish heading to Essex and a crossing of the main road that most of us still think of as the A604. A short way west of our crossing, just a hundred metres short of Toppesfield, there was a familiar "CRACK!!" from the rear of the peleton. Stephen L had a puncture. But it as rather more serious than a mere flint or thorn, both the tube and the tyre having split - when the tyre was eased off the rim on one side, the damage was far more extensive than the photo shows. As is customary, several of us explained to Stephen exactly why it was entirely his fault (we felt confident in this, since we knew that he only recently returned to serious cycling). Mainly, we accused him of causing damage when fitting the tube. We (well, Stephen mainly) now had a problem. No one (natch) had a spare tyre  (well, ok, some of us were displaying something along those lines - but not the thing we needed). The ride had begun to resemble one of those irritating team-building exercises, where groups randomly thrown together solve problem like crossing  a river using a box of tissues, insulating tape and some twigs. Justin nipped to Toppesfield while the rest of us ran through further possibilities. Mrs Linden was at London learning to be an Olympic Games Maker, Stephen only had enough cash for the tea stop, and no credit card. No one seemed to be able to do any of those tasks now possible with smart phones - not even find were we where - and this with more than one Garmin available! Someone remembered that we had passed Malcolm Borg's Cycle Clinic repair and sales business as we left Glemsford, Gerry had the phone number, and Tom Tom used his photocopied fragment of Suffolk and Essex to explain our position (in both senses of the word). At this point Justin returned to announce great news, he had found a man who would summon a Taxi to take Stephen and bike to a bike shop. No one was listening. It turned out that the man had already phoned for the taxi - so Justin had to nip back and get it cancelled. I thought that Justin handled this reversal with admirable equanimity. With Malcolm due to be there in half an hour, we were able to do what we had really wanted to do at the start; leave Stephen behind.
He would try to make his way to the Café (about 5 miles) and arrive before we had left.
We made a classic Wheelers Clubrun restart, with half a dozen of us dropping the other five . . . . and not noticing that we'd done so until we had a considerable gap. Re-forming into an orderly group we sped to Gt Bardfield and on, southwards, to The Blue Egg. There were a lot of cyclists on the outside area, and more inside, plus a few 'civilians'. We had just formed an orderly queue when Kevin Flanagan arrived -with impressive timing, having ridden directly from his home in Hundon. One of the special features of this place is the ability to cope with large groups with ease. The fifteen or so riders from the Cambridge CC Wednesday ride (fast chapter) who arrived very shortly after us were absorbed with ease. The food is reasonably priced and, with the exception of the scones (which are disappointing) is varied and of high quality. Ron's Bread Pudding was the size and shape of a lump of Belgian Pavé. TomTom and I had bacon sandwiches which, though a bit slow to arrive, were packed with more slices of cured pig than one could count without dismantling the two, huge, crusty and fresh white bread triangles. Stephen had passed on to Peter a Union Jack plastic tablecloth (we were impressed when he brought along a bottle of Champagne in an insulating bag within a small rucksack, with which to ply us in celebration of his sixtieth birthday the other week, so we shouldn't have been surprised at this attention to detail) provided us with a customised table and later, a backdrop for the group photo (sadly, without Stephen) I commandeered my old friend Tim Williams from the Cambridge group to press the button.
Stansfield. The moment they drop me . . .
Just as we were leaving, a sweat-soaked Stephen arrived having been riding hard all the way from Toppesfield.  Good service received from Malcolm, and payment deferred, plus advice that because the tyre appeared to have failed (it came away from the cord) there might be a possibility of compensation from Continental. We allowed him to go and fill his bottle from the standpipe on the outside seating area, and set off, with a slightly different route led by Kevin, which veered left before Toppesfield. Peter S-W has a rear puncture, and we settle down in the sunshine while it is fixed. No one thought to bring a picnic, though. After this leisurely repair we crossed the "A604" at Ridgwell and headed for Clare via Ashen. Still a Glorious ride in perfect weather. Though it was pretty warm I was pleased that I had managed to finish two bottles by the time we reached the café and already getting through the refills as we sped back. After Clare it was, as almost always, a right turn to go through Poslingford and up the hill towards Stanningfield. This was when I felt that something wasn't quite right, I dropped back rapidly up this short (but sharp) hill that normally (these days) I manage quite comfortably. And I'm on the best bike and all. Get back on before Stansfield, pass the group, charge the bank up past the church . . and die again. Peter S-W passes me, with his rear tyre partly deflated. I only catch a distant glimpse of the ride two or three times before they finally disappear over the summit of the Cote de Hawkedon (see picture). Between Stansfield and Hawkedon Stephen L catches up with me, and thanks me for waiting - what a tactful chap, or was it sarcasm? We rode together (he waited after each climb, even uneven road repairs were becoming a challenge by this stage) until the point where I turned left up to Whepstead. At least SL had sound reasons for feeling slightly sub-optimal, having had no tea stop and passing his previous longest ride distance at about 60 miles. He expressed the desire to spend the afternoon asleep in his garden before turning out to collect Mrs Linden from the last London Train at Cambridge.
It is said that history is written by the victors but, as I have said before in similar circumstances, clubrun accounts can end up being recorded by the loser who gets dropped. But I'm not going to complain, I knew my way home (always do). I just regret not having the opportunity to say 'goodbye'.. . . . . . .sob. . . . .
SJH   PS, I haven't got the hang of moving pictures around on this latest version of Blogger - as you can see. I hope for improvements, especially if someone out there has a few tips . . . . .
 . . . . . .and another
Stephen L & Dale at the start