Sunday, 10 November 2019

Cold toes

sunrise with mountain bike
I just missed the best part of the sunrise, but the clouds kept the picture interesting. 
It's been threatening to get cold for the last week or so. The car windscreens have been frosted on my road once this past seven days.

As predicted on the last post, my feet were freezing shortly after leaving the house. The rest of me was lovely and warm. The cold took my by surprise, as it always does. It gets gently cooler each weekend, and then suddenly I have painful toes.

I'm still thinking about the summer, and longer rides to little villages and pubs. How are they now so far in the past?

I am determined to get out no matter the weather, I'll stay at home if it gets too dangerous though. December last year, had me slipping, sliding and eventually going down. I have been lucky so far. Matt and I do go out in the snow, it's not that bad until it starts to melt. The fun wears off quickly, as we get wetter and colder. The likelihood of ice is what keeps us inside. Hit a patch and it's almost guaranteed to end painfully.

Today was a lone ride, Matt has been plagued with punctures. It's become very common to get an abort due to a flat text; very frustrating.

Being on my own meant I could choose a different route. I rode along roads that normally lead to Brighton or at least a pub a few miles short of the coast. I knew I wouldn't have time to go that far, so at ten miles I turned around and headed for home. Unfamiliar roads gave the ride new interest. Matt and I rarely have the spare time we use to so we do less exploring.

The picture below was taken yesterday as we sat at the bus stop drinking our beverage of choice, I have had the mud guard for years. But the humour in the name only just dawned on me. They're a British company based in Cornwall. It does as good a job as the big guards you attach to the seat post, but doesn't work loose all the time. I think it looks neater too.

mucky nutz mudguard

Next weekend it'll be time to increase the layers of clothing, and maybe avoid the slow way to the bus stop. It's always the first to get icey and both times I have fallen, it's been on this road. The problem is the B269 is an unpleasant place to cycle. People drive along it with little regard for cyclists, and the cycle path is poorly maintained and at this time of the year thickly covered in wet, slippery leaves. I'm sure it's where Matt picks up his punctures. On the way home we part company at the start of the road; I turn off down a twisty lane, and Matt often takes to the path.

Thirty six miles this weekend, with plenty of hills; I'm really pleased with that. Apart from holidays, I have barely missed a ride.

Can't wait for next weekend.

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Saturday, 26 October 2019

A blustery day

This morning's ride was almost missed. I went to sleep to the sound of strong wind, it was the same when I woke. The weather had been unpredictable all week. But it wasn't raining so I went out.   

Other cakes are available, but not in my cupboard .
Wet leaves, slippery roads and gusty wind is not a great combination, but I had to blow the past week away.

Seventeen miles, some of it off road was a good chance to do just that. It wasn't cold, so a pleasant hour and half was spent in the saddle.


On the way back I decided to get a move on, the meandering route meant a mixture of head and tail wind. The picture above is from my go-pro. I had a tail wind but was still impressed when the speed display went off. Until I heard the car approaching. Maybe I won't be entering any road races on my mountain bike.

Back at the house there was one cake left in the packet, no good for sharing with the wife, so I did the only thing possible, ate it quickly.

Tomorrow is predicted to be bright and sunny, it'll also be the first day of winter. And I'll have had an extra hour in bed.

The next few weeks are normally dry but the temperature starts to drop. Each year I get better at choosing a warmer cycling wardrobe, I haven't quite perfected it for fingers and toes though. I'll complain about it, but still get out. What else am I going to do?


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Sunday, 20 October 2019

You can plan a pretty picnic But you can't predict the weather

autumn leaves, bike tree trunk

I didn't have a pretty picnic planned, but I hoped to get some cycling in. It had rained most days during the week, I knew I was going to be on my own for Saturday at least. All of these weren't helping my motivation as I woke up yesterday. But as I looked out of the window I could see it was going to be a glorious day. I headed to Westerham, my default target if I have a little extra time. It's twenty two miles there and back, with a few challenges to get the heart pumping. I felt over dressed, within no time I was boiling hot. Considering the past week, I wasn't going to complain.

black and white in westerham
A black and white shot at Westerham
Today was a little cooler, still dry and not really cold. I didn't have so much time, so it was a loop to Tatsfield via a little lane for the picture opportunity at the top of this post; seventeen miles in all. Plenty of fallen leaves, a reminder how slippery the roads can be. This time of year there is always the threat of wet roads, manhole covers and potholes. In a month or so ice and snow will add to the drama. It won't put me off, indoor trainers are no good for me. After twenty minutes I get bored and stop. If I'm out on the road, and stop, I still have to get home. There is no roadside assistance or rescue vehicle waiting for my call to action.

I have tomorrow off work, so I might get a cheeky ride in. The world, or at least Surrey and Kent, is my oyster.

Hope you had a great weekend.

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Saturday, 12 October 2019

Open your mind, only gates need to be kept closed.

close the gate sign

Like last weekend I kept it close to home. It's not cold, but a soaking was not in my plans.

This time I was out on my road bike so I added an extra climb. The route is gently up and down with only one serious climb. It was at the bottom of this hill I noticed the gate in the picture above.

It got me thinking about the many issues in the headlines at the moment. And how the internet generates a lot of discussion. It's a shame most is from closed minds. Maybe people should be fined for not having an open mind. There is nothing wrong with being passionate about your views or beliefs. It only becomes a problem when you are blind to differences.

Think of any subject, do a search on the internet, and you will be faced with polarised groups.

A few good rules I use to decide if I want to comment on an opinion are;

Check for name calling. A sure sign that one or both sides have nothing contructive to say.

Are facts quoted, without any checking? A lot of the time it's biased interpretation, highligting just part of the report, or just plain lies. If enough people share this, it takes on a false lagitimacy.

Another good one is to label people, it's much easier to shout this at anyone you don't agree with than to listen. It's usually a sign you don't have anything else to say.

I'll sign off now.

Be kind, and listen.

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Sunday, 6 October 2019

Dodging the rain

black and white bike on the hill

I went to sleep on Saturday to the sound of very heavy rain, and woke up to it this morning. It was fifty-fifty whether I'd go out or not. It's not the rain that was putting me off so much as the cold. This year I resolved to not be dissuaded by rain. I haven't done bad. But it's not summer anymore, did I really want to go out that much? I knew I'd regret it later if I didn't. I faffed around the house, not ready to give up, but not keen to go out. And then it started to easy off so out I went. By the time I closed the garage door it had stopped. I set off on a very local circuit, if it started hammering down I could return home.

The weather improved the longer I was out, it was even warming up. I was still getting a soaking from the wet road and puddles, no big deal.

I had to concentrate more than usual, some parts of the route was under water, there were slippery wet leaves and manhole covers to avoid. And the potential for potholes to be hidden by deep water.

I made it home safely, very few cars helped.

When I got home I looked at the app on my phone, somehow I had done fifteen miles.

I have been thinking about cycling to work, but it really isn't safe enough. Most of the route would be on Croydon's twenty miles per hour roads. But no-one comes close to that speed, when I am on those roads in my car it can be very dangerous. Like when I'm on my bike, everyone is desperate to overtake no matter how unsafely.

There is talk of subsidising the move to electric cars to reduce polution. It may mean less polution near roads, but it won't make them safer or more efficient. Ultimately people need to be persuaded to use altenatives. The money could be better spent making public transport cheaper, and more plentiful and on improving cycling infrastructure

There just too many cars, electric or otherwise.

This video from my ride could be of almost all roads; full of parked cars with little thought for anyone not in motorised.


My wife is in a wheelchair; how are we to pass along this or any road like it? Maybe by going down the middle of the road! Anyone with a pram would be faced with the same dangerous choice.

We can't go anywhere that is accessed by a minor road, unless we drive.

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