New Bikes - Are you thinking about spring and N+1

We agree that the number of bikes you should own is N+1?
Any cyclist will tell you, the number of bikes you should own is  the number you already own, plus one more.    It's agreed by us all.

If you are dreaming of the spring and spinning on a new bike, then the London bike show it the place to go, all the new seasons offerings, and of course it does't stop at bikes,  new kit, and just about everything cycling related, be it road, mountain or any other form of bike.

Thanks Shelley for the temptations to drool over, I'll be checking out the new machines

Chilly Weather Cycling

We all know what they say:  There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.  Well it is true with the right kit, you can still enjoy a bike ride throughout the year.

The answer is to layered up with thermal base layer long sleeved jersey over thick bib tights and woollen socks. So there is no excuse not to go out with friends even when it is just two degrees.  Shoes covered with overshoes, and hands snug in thick gloves.  It is chilly on the decants, when you are cruising and not putting in too much effort. Wind in your face, is nothing that a buff, neck warmer can’t cure. A cheap one from the supermarket, that cost under three pounds is worth every penny, protecting your head and ears from the bitter cold and worn under the helmet.  

The only time you truly get cold is if you stand still, fixing the inevitable punctures, thanks to the road gritters,  you can expect more than usual, so make sure you have a tube and a pump, and or invest in a set of good winter tyres,  ride a solid bike.

Cycling home from a night shift, in the early hours of the morning today was a little chilly. Dressed in jeans and boots on an upright heavy bike, a hoodie and a cycling jacket over the top, with a cheap pair of knitted gloves, that flashed christmas lights on the ends of the fingers,  I enjoyed the silly fun and felt like a kid, with the feel of crisp air in my lungs, cutting through the park, and watching the frost sparkle under the lights as I avoid the gritted roads as much as I could.  My day just ending as others are waking up.   I’m home before you have de-iced the car and feel pretty good too.

November Bike Rides

A mild start to the winter, so there has been no excuses not to get out on my bike, not a bad achievement for the time of year!

403KM done, in November, now I just have to work off a bit more due to the upcoming mince pies.

Liv Cycling Apparel - Even better than I thought.

How exciting, a big parcel has arrived, With a clue as to what was inside, from the Giant Cycling Gear blue and white tape around the box.

The competition prize from LIV - wow so exciting    A big shout out and Thank You LIv. It is all so much better than I though.   Now it is impossible possible to lose, not so fast and don't have a garage full of trophies,  but like Marian Voss wearing Liv looking the part and feeling great, when out on my bike.

This race day kit is superb quality with a fit like a glove, excuse the pun. The Liv Passion gloves have had their first ride this morning and already they feel as comfortable as a well worn pair, the gel padding in all the right places, it's even possible to use the touch screen of your gadgets while wearing them, that's a really nice touch.

The Streak Helmet adjusts with a Clinch+ system and hugs the head snug, I have no intention of banging my head to really test it out, the safety standards that it comes with ensure that it will provide all the protection possible.

So once again to everyone at Liv
Thank you

Digital Marketing

It is alway good to learn something new, stretch the mind, evoke idea.  As an eternal student always looking for new thought, I have had great fun on the FutureLearn MOOC : Digital Marketing.

It seemed like a natural choice having already taken their 'The Secret Power of Brands'

Not all of the topics were new to me, but my mind was stretched and it's fascinating to join forum and hear the views of others,

  • Collaboration is king 
  • Crowdsource the future 

Having never given much thought to Gamification, or Geo-fencing,  these topics and discussions were very eye opening,  I have been unawarely subjected to these methods of marketing, even when out on my bike and eating cake, a time when I turn the phone off, or is it.

Here's a reflection of my day

all that is left is the analytics, which I need to look at very closely :-)

New cycling kit

So I'll be starting next season in the Liv kit.

Thanks to the goodie bag at Cycletta ride last week, I already have the bottle and the socks.   Now with this prize of Raceday shorts and jersey, matching hat and gloves.  I should prehaps use the correct name, the Halo Road Helmet and Liv Passion Gloves,  I'm going to look kind of swanky in the full kit.

The technical detail, of the clothing, it goes without saying will be good, but I'll give it a full review when I have worn it a while.   I can't afford one of the Liv's new bikes, but can manage some funky new handle bar tape for when the bike has her next service. 

What colour do you think my handlebar tape should be? free polls

Hog's Back

The Hogs Back is so much more than just part of the Cycletta Surrey cycle route.  As I check out the 60K course route, I'm learning something about our, topography, history,  local beer, and the Pilgrims' Way.

The Hogs Back is a name given to the ridgeway on the North Downs, at an elevation of 154 meters, (that's over 500ft for those of you who think in impereal measurements) when I saw that, I had a little panic, living by the coast on the flat, here in the South Eastern corner of Kent, I'm used to starting out for the day on my beloved bike at sea level, and not very often climbing more than 50 meters or so.

Loseley Park
Creative Commons Photo courtesy of,  James Stringer photographer
The Cycletta day we will will be starting at Loseley Park, which isn't at sea level, so its not as bad as I first thought.  Yet The Hogs Back is still raised dramatically around the surrounding countryside the ridge on the North Downs.

I suspect that will be our  maximum hill climb of the day, after  looking at the Cyceletta course route map, over and over again, it looks like we cross it twice!  First from the South, at the easten end,  then again at the not so high point towards the western end.   I'm looking forward to the challenge, hope for a clear day so we get the opportunity to see the spectacular views that were seen by Jane Austen and written in about in a letter to her sister.
"Upon the whole it was an excellent journey & very thoroughly enjoyed by me; the weather was delightful the greatest part of the day. Henry found it too warm, & talked of its being close sometimes, but to my capacity it was perfection. I never saw the country from the Hogsback so advantageously."
The views will have changed since those times, yet still spectacular, I found this facinating BBC, in pictures article, View from the top of the Hogs Back, especially as I may have my head down and be struggling on the climb, too busy pedalling and panting to take it all in, you never ever know with the Great British weather they sky might allow us to take a look at the views.

It's not just Jane Austen who mentions the Hogs Back, there is also a detective novel, The Hogs Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts, could be worth a read, I'll be looking out for it in the local bookstore, to save it for a time to put my feel up, at the end of a hard days cycling with a bottle of the local brew from The Hogs Back Brewery an independent real ale brewery is based in Tongham, one of the villages, just below the ridge that we will cycle through.

The Pilgrims' Way, a hiking route I have often thought about walking, or possibly doing on a mountain bike does not run along the top of the Hog's Back but over the southern slopes, parallel with the ridgeway, and through the village of Puttenham, it looks like our route crosses it.   I'll be checking that out for another day.

So I'm ready,
  • Bring on the Book, 
  • Bring on the Beer - 
First I have small the matter of The Human Race -Macmillan Cycletta Surrey.
Forget the walking boots, Bring on the Bike.

Race Number, It's Arrived

Got home from work and opened my post box on my way in, to find my race number of the Cycletta Surrey ride has arrived.  Exciting stuff, but I'm wishing I hadn't eaten those donuts today,   still praying that the hills will not be too steep, and just about to download the route map, to inspect each incline in every detail.

We have a couple more days of training planned, before taking it a bit easy, and heading off to hotel the night before for an early morning start to the start line.  Two weeks and I will be doing my thing for MacMillan, even the small hills will be Surrey Hills! as Thanet is flat, will challenge me.

Am I ready to do this, only time will tell.

  • Now all I have to find safety pins to put the number on my jersey, can any expert tell me, is that the best way to do it?  I should I sew it on with needle and thread.
  • Timing chip to be stuck helmet and make sure I get it in the right place.
  • Coloured card, on handle bars, I'm on the red route, that's the longer distance one, Why on earth did I sign up for that?
  • Number stickers on bike seat post, front of helmet and coloured card.
  • Pack the snacks and fill the water bottles.

There is no doubt now, not only am I going to do this, I will be know as number 2534 on the 12th October.  The two of us, friends from Thanet on the entry list and both of us confident, we have put in enough training.  We are going to show you ladies what we are made of.  I'll be happy just to get across the finish line, then that will be a good days cycling, but I have always been a bit competitive so watch out.

Fingers crossed for fine weather.
If you see me on the road, please cheer me on I will need all the support I can get.

Kentish Hills

Rode on a bit further, and up a few more hills, now feeling proud and pooped

Cycletta, here we come

Earlier in the spring, my friend challenged me to join a Cycletta bike ride in October, the thought seemed daunting, could I actually ride that far.  Well I guess there is no time limit - I could just take my own pace, plod along the road, the fat fifty year old at the back, count me in I like a challenge.

Over the summer we have been training, going out at least a couple of times a week, exploring the roads of Thanet, sometimes I would even cycle to work to sneak in a few extra miles. Setting small challenges along the way.  15 miles at first was the first big achievement, to be celebrated with cake! On the slightest of hills I would end up pushing.

One evening having stayed on for an extra shift at work,  I had to cycle back home, late in the night, dark. I took the back roads on the country lanes from Eastry in Kent, it was a warm summers evening, I was in no hurry just wanted to get home safely.  My dim lights were aimed on the road, yet I still managed to go into one or two pot holes, I could't see the hills ahead, busy concentrating just looking out for the pot holes. No traffic at all.

I was feeling the bike, feeling the road and the odd bump, feeling the gears.   The air was fresh and there was slight breeze, I could hear every sound, the countryside was smelling good.  This was the first time I had ridden a bicycle with my senses, suddenly it all seemed to be a bit easier, cycling had become natural, cycling in the dark had been a turning point.  Just pedalling to get home, it was a joy, this was just as easy as driving  the car, gone was the normal huff and puff determination, that I had been putting myself through.  The realisation came not only could do this, I was actually enjoying it.

Ecstatic, that I got home before midnight, (really it's not that far), buzzing from the ride, straight online to look at Strava.   I wanted to check the map, I wasn't even sure exactly where I had been!   I know these Kentish lanes in daylight, but at night with poor lights, that's another story.  Certainly not the most direct route home, but who cares I wanted the quiet roads.    I had got up the hills, I had got up them quicker than normal, a personal best time without even trying!  Achieved a couple of virtual trophies, gosh I was so proud, finally I had mastered the gears.  Before daylight, I had been online to buy a very decent set of lights.

The friend and I continue to set small targets to our daytime rides, adding a few extra miles and the odd hill, here and there. Each its own achievement, and a sense of victory, I got up Granville Marina in Ramsgate, then promptly fell off at the top, so excited that I had achieved the climb, that I forgot to unclip from the pedals as I stopped.  Now I just keep going!

Cycle Sh!t Cafe

As winter approaches,  I brought a new pair of jeans,  a size smaller, not even tight!  of course the diet starts tomorrow!  Out with my buddy, on a training ride, we can now hold a conversation, we talk about the upcoming ride, and giggle like teenagers over the lush men we have met in lycra.  60Km isn't going to be as tough as we had first thought.   With three weeks still to go, we are well prepared, now it is just fingers crossed for good weather.

Cycletta Surrey watch out, we have decided to show you what we can do, see you at the finish line!