Sunday, 9 May 2021

Let the pictures do the talking

The evening are getting lighter and warmer, presenting more opportunity for photography. So here are a few pictures you may not have seen. I'm so grateful for having beautiful countryside on my doorstep.


cherry blossom

abandoned bench



top of the world

Gentle gravel

surrey hills view



st lawrence church

more bluebells

farm mech

Hedgecourt lake

More gentle gravel

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Need for speed

Greenwich Park London Skyline

The title should really read; the need for high average speed, but it's less catchy. This is the way I measure my improvement in fitness; can I increase the overall pace at which I ride?

Highest speed if it's just the peak attained at one point of the ride doesn't mean a lot, it could be downhill, or for a short period that leaves you completely exhausted and unable to continue.

If I were racing it may be different. Another measure could be power output, that would mean buying a power meter. It would be interesting to see how much I could produce and for how long. But they are very expensive, so that bit of info will have to remain a mystery.

Strava helps a little, I can see times for climbs and sections I ride regularly. 

I'm not sure what the ultimate aim is; compete in races, or just keep it interesting. Am I being sucked into the cycling scene a little too far? Maybe I need to forget the techy stuff and just enjoy riding.

I have noticed that when riding with the club in a faster group ride than before I can now keep up and even overtake on hills. The first time I rode with the this group it was tough, now it's not so bad. It is still a social ride, with a cafe stop, which is more important. Then meeting Matt on Sunday is purely social. 

Face to face chats are so important, even if we have to sit at opposite ends of an outdoors bench. Hopefully the weather will continue to improve to make this possible every time.

The work is paying off, I was just going to ride to where I grew up, Greenwich Park in particular. Instead of riding straight home I detoured out to Biggin Hill. Two uncles had stables in the area when I was young. I'd spent a lot of weekends there in my teens when I shared ownership of a pony with my brother. We would ride our bikes down on Saturday, sleep in the hay loft and come back Sunday in time for dinner. As I rode past the Hurricane and Spitfire they have on display I realised it had been over thirty years since I'd last seen them. Where did all that time go?

Sunday, 25 April 2021

The reward is worth the effort.

Bolney Wine Estate

I've got a confession to make: I sometimes struggle with motivation to ride after work. During the day I waver between looking forward to it, and thinking about not bothering.

Hot chocolate Bolney Wine Estate

This week especially was difficult, especially Monday. The office in London has been semi open for a while, only being used if computer setups etc were required. With one or two people in at a time. The easing of lockdown meant we had the option to occasionally work from the office, still only a few people. at the same time. I choose to go in and I was surprised how deserted London is. Almost empty train carriages, barely anyone in Victoria station, or along my walking route to Neal Street. I left early but still got home after I would have normally switched off my computer. I had convinced myself to take the night off. After dinner I sat looking at the clock, was it too late to go? Eventually I couldn't resist and was on the bike a short time later. It felt great, as it always does. I had been lacking energy, the feeling was gone.

weekday riding

The rest of the week I reminded myself of that change. These rides also improve my fitness. 

weekday riding

So when the weekend comes I can go further and really enjoy it

Saturday was with my club, another new eating place - Bolney Wine Estate - and 67 miles. It started chilly, but ended under a warm sun and blue skies. Still only a few in the group, but a good chance to chat.

Sunday I was in Westerham again with Matt on our bench. A strong headwind meant it was extra work and chillier than Saturday. The green was sheltered so once the clouds blew away it was a pleasant place to be. Life is good.

The strangest part is the feelgood factor when I get home. I have exerted myself, plenty of hills to climb, but I have so much more energy, so much more motivation, and an uplifted mood. I'm risking being too evangelistic again, I can't help it. 

Cycling makes me feel that way.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Another post about cycling


Denniker Farm

I don't really have anything to post this week. The weather is improving - don't the British love to talk about this - it's cold first thing, but quickly warms up. I've continued to ride every day after work, up and down the same hill three times. I do it to improve my fitness and strength, so that I can go further at the weekend. That's when I really enjoy myself, Saturday with my club, Sunday with Matt. 

While out with the club a Caterham 7 passed us and one of the group remarked how cool it was. I thought about it and concluded it wasn't. I have changed a lot in the last ten years or so that I have been cycling. My attitude to motor vehicles has altered the most. They are just a means to get around if walking, riding or public transport is impractical to complete a task. Why do they need to be so fast, why do they need to be so big?

I get so much more from pushing the pedals around, far more than simply pressing one. It's a shame more people don't feel the same. All of the car adverts show increasingly bigger cars driving around deserted cities; where does that happen now? Or they are crossing rivers and muddy trails; how many need that capability?

Sunday was again a chilly start, especially the last mile into Westerham. But sitting on the green in the sun soon warmed me up. Coffee and an almond croissant devoured as we sat at opposite ends of "our" bench chatting about our week. 

Surrey Hills view

Stopped near the top of the climb to Botley, what a great view. So glad to be out on the bike.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Cycling; the magic bullet

Hever Castle April 2021

At the risk of being that cycling evangelist you try to avoid, more people need to ride bikes or walk more often.

There are so many benefits, personal, social and environmental.

I've mentioned the personal benefits on this blog; the social advantages are many. More cycling and walking reduces crime, boosts the local economy - helping to keep shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs open, and builds community. It encourages more activity, we have been told for a year to protect the NHS. We can do this if we all get fitter, obesity causes or contributes to many diseases and debilitating conditions that cost billions to treat. And less motor vehicles will mean less collisions, cutting casualties and deaths - 157,630 and 1752 respectively in 2019. 

These problems won't go away with electric power, brake and tyre dust will still be a problem and is harmful, battery production is polluting. It is likely to result in people driving even shorter distances, pavements will still be blocked by parking with cables adding to the problem. In London 30% of driven journeys are of less than three miles, in 2019 there were 3.9 billion more miles driven than in 2009. Battery powered vehicles are bigger and heavier, meaning more wear on the roads and less space for other road users. They'll need charging points, government and local authorities seem enthusiastic for the taxpayer to fund them; petrol stations weren't built this way. 

The taxpayer funds a huge road building program, yet travel times continue to increase. As the saying goes - The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. 

We need less congestion, those that need to drive will be able to do so more easily. 

I had the week off and really went for it, riding over 260 miles.

coffee at westerham

I had a few rides with Oxted Cycling Club, and met Matt in Westerham. Cafes a still only take-away so if we stop, it's not for long, and we all have to stand well apart.

ashdown forest

My cycling sat nav directed me to Hever Castle on Tuesday and Ashdown Forest on Thursday. Still a little too chilly to pause for long.

I even did a 3.8 mile run on Friday. My cycling muscles did not appreciate being asked to do this. A triathlon is not on the cards.

Friday, 2 April 2021



Fulking natural spring

Spring sprung last weekend, and the clocks went forward an hour. I set out on a road ride, the first since the 19th. Most of the outward route was into a headwind, I would be returnig on the same roads, and looked forward to a tailwind. Why then did I have to force my way home into a headwind? It's one of cycling's mysteries.

My chosen destination was Fulking, yes you read that correctly. I can't deny it was the name that brought me to the village, it was also just over 60 miles there and back. The distance I find just about right; long enough to be a challenge, without taking all day. 

The collection of houses, one pub and a church are in a valley, a spring was the original reason for the village being established.

bike fulking spring

Upon arrival I looked for a shop or cafe to buy food and a coffee. The pub was closed and that was it.

country lane bicycle

The journey to the village was mostly on main roads, they weren't very busy but it was a relief to turn into a quiet lane for the last few miles.

Sunday: Matt and I usually meet to sit at opposite ends of a bench for a chat over a cup of tea.

coffee tatsfield

As you can see, Matt and the tea were missing. A clocks changing miscalculation meant Matt was somewhat out of sync with the rest of the country. I arrived to a text saying he would be very late. It was chilly and I had a busy day ahead so I replied that unfortunately I couldn't wait. I sat alone with my coffee and waffle, bought from the little shop near the green. Then took off for home.