Sunday, 5 July 2020

One route in pictures

Brockham church and my bike

I have ridden this for a while, it's a good mix of flat and hilly lanes. The only busy bits are through Redhill and Reigate. I don't ride through the center of either town so it's not too bad. The rest is country lanes, normally fairly quiet.

I included a picture of the Royal Oak public house in last weeks post. Here is the church at Brockham.

Christ church Brockham
Christ Church Brockham
Picture taken on Tuesday as I sheltered from the rain under the covered gate. The church was renovated some time ago, and the entrance moved to provide a view of the green.

Or, a view across the green to the two pubs. You can just see the Royal Oak on the left and the Inn on the Green on the right.

Brockham green Royal Oak and Inn on the Green

Through the village, and a narrow bridge leads to Kiln Road which in turn takes you to Betchworth. This was where most of the big houses were built, that some of the people of Brockham worked in.

betchworth house and church
Betchworth House and church
Close by is Wonham Manor, again shielded from the road. The herd of deer is visible through the fence.

deer Wonham Manor

Then to finish this post; another pic of the bike. Not exactly snow capped Alps in the background I know. But you have to work with what you have. 

Brockham park.
Brockham park
Fresh water comes to Brockham.

On Saturday I finished off the last of my birthday cake before I went for a ride. I absolutely flew round.

birthday cake

Sunday, 28 June 2020

What a scorcher

I have been very lucky with the mostly pleasant weather. It has rained but it's never been so bad I didn't go out.

This week the sun stepped up a few notches. By Wednesday I was starting the struggle, so on Thursday I didn't go out until mid afternoon. It was still very hot but at least there was the occasional patches of shade, not available at midday. 

water bottle

I stopped under a tree for a drink and something to eat, it was just the boost I needed to get home.
For the first time in my life I might have a tan that people will notice. Normally when I get back from holiday I'm asked if it rained the whole time. I put plenty of suncream on so any colour change takes a while to develop.


I rode a new route, riding through Irons Bottom. It's south of Reigate on the way to Leigh, pronounced lie. Two roads I took to get there were Hogtrough Lane and Philanthropic Road; between Nutfield and Earlswood.

There is another strange name near Godstone; Bullbeggars Lane.

I might start scanning the map and head for a location just because of the name.

No more weird place or road names but I did stop to allow a grass snake to move off the road.

Friday wasn't such a good day, I got my first puncture on the road bike. I saw some debris too late  and couldn't avoid it. Ten miles from home and at first I thought I might have damaged the tyre or wheel; the hit was very hard. But fortunately it was only the inner tube, once swapped, causing a snapped tyre lever, I was good to go. I decided not to continue on my intended thirty mile loop, but head straight for home. I hadn't left the house even later, just after five because of the heat so I was now running behind schedule.
fixing a puncture
All fixed, time to head home.
I bought the bike in May 2019, and in the last three month alone I have ridden it well over twelve hundred miles without a problem. That is a long way without a flat tyre.

What difference Saturday was; I now left later than normal to avoid the heavy rain. I got a little lost but made it back in good time.

The Royal Oak Brockham

I stopped for a drink from my water bottle opposite The Royal Oak Brockham. It'll be opening soon, so I may return for a beer. The only question being; is there somewhere to lock up the bike?

Nearly home on Saturday and saw this group. How good is this?

Sunday, 21 June 2020


This weekend marks nearly three months of lockdown. I never thought it would last this long, I'm sure most people didn't.

It has been a weird period; life has gone on, whilst also being paused.

I have cycled over 1900 miles, and none of my clothes fit. Yes; there is 7.4 kg less of me, that's 5 cms less around the waist. 

Hills that once presented a tough challenge - are still not easy - don't fill me with dread. I can now climb them confidently. 

Here are some recent pictures. The kona hasn't had many outings lately.

how much do your like your bike?
It's been mostly about the Giant, I find it much more responsive and rewarding to ride.

On Tuesday it rained all morning, I was still determined to get out. As I got on my bike the rain stopped and I had a nice warm ride. A little muddy, but still very pleasant. It started raining again as I got home. How great is that?

The bike got fairly muddy; it's amazing how much muck appears when it rains after a long dry period.

As I got to this junction, the rain water was evaporating from the hot tarmac.

Thursday tested my determination; it rained heavily for thirty minutes at the start. Yes, I left the house while it was raining.

Most of the ride was rain free, but the roads were slippery so I took it easy. I arrived home in sunshine, with a grey tan on my legs. It is amazing how much crud you pickup.

grey tan after a ride
grey tan after a ride

I don't usually make a big deal about the distance I ride, everyone has different schedules into which cycling has to have time allocated. But; I did 206 miles this week, despite rain most days. I'm very happy with that. The toughest part is riding alone, I can't wait for group rides.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Cycling Nirvana

I've been cycling much more than normal over the past few months. It took me a while to adjust, and then it became routine. Unfortunately so did the usual routes and destinations. I had a dip in motivation; reversed by exploring new places. As traffic increased my criteria changed. I looked for quiet lanes, which meant two weeks of cycling through Bletchingley, Outwood; turning around at Smallfields. Three or four miles at the beginning is really poorly surfaced - potholes, gouges and sunken drain covers. This short section was putting me off going out. It's not just hills or distance that causes fatigue; constant jarring can be equally tiring. On Monday I tested an alternative. There is more time in the saddle, but it's worth it.

Most of the route is this well surfaced, and the drivers know how to overtake cyclists.

The steps drew my attention to a big house - easy mounting and dismounting from your horse at the gate.

steps to ease mounting and dismounting from your horse at the gate

Even the rain during the second half of the week didn't dampen my enthusiasm.
Wednesday and Thursday I missed the short showers, but Friday I got soaked. It was on my way home. I was getting hot by then, so it didn't really affect me. I hope the weather improves again, or am I spoilt?

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Tilting at windmills

Windmill and magpie

A new month, I think my last before going back to work. The sun is still beaming down on my rides.
For my windmill loving blog fan; here is another picture of a windmill.

I often feel I'm fighting an imagined foe - motorists - and their intolerance of cyclists. I'm not sure it's made any difference, but I'll keep reporting them.

June has arrived and the world is starting to get back to normal. Social distancing is still the norm, and it's likely to stay that way for some time. We can however meet other people, if we keep our distance. For two months the only non virtual contact has been during trips to the shops. 

Last Sunday I rode to Westerham to meet Matt, I arrived first and knew we wouldn't be staying. People sitting on the green looked to be well separated, but unfortunately other cyclists and a group of Vespa riders seemed to think big groups were okay. I called Matt and told him to stop, turn around, and head for the churchyard. This was a good decision, we had our own benches with no-one else to bother us.

Separate benches social distancing

A few people did arrive later, but they all had their own seats, so all was calm. We chatted about this and that, as normal. And arranged to do this again next weekend.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

The joy of cycling

Cycling today I was reminded just how good it is. I wasn’t far from home but I was surrounded by great views. The weather was just right: no wind, the sun moving in and out of white fluffy cloud. And this route didn’t have too heavy a vehicle content. I know how lucky I am, and as I have said many times before, it’s a great way to unwind.

Cycling is accessible to many, they just have to try. And it’s not just the fully able bodied. I’m not totally sure this guy was disabled but it does show what can be done if you are. A recumbent, propelled by arm power.

Not cycling everyday is going to be a challenge when I go back to work, I wonder if a short loop will be possible at lunch time.

I go through periods of not being very motivated, I still get out and feel so good when I get back.

I stopped to take this one this week. The phone for when you were mobile of my youth.
Yes youngsters; when you were out of the house, this was how you contacted your friends. If they weren't in you had to rely on their mum taking a message. Then continue on to the pre-agreed meeting point, hoping they would be there.

red phone box
a rare sight

The next picture was taken a few yards from the one above.

post box gate

And then there is the occasional lager when I get home.

hop house 13 lager

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Behind the scenes

I stopped to take a picture of my bike and forgot about the camera on the handlebars.

In the background if you follow the road into the distance, it's the top of a steep hill.

As I cycled away I realised there was now footage of me faffing around to get the shot I wanted. I'm happier behind the camera so BTS is rare.

Before you ask; I forgot that in my mouth was the bag I use to keep the camera dry. It looks like a weird transparent beard. It's only a short clip; I was there for a several of minutes.

I think this will be my default road route, not much traffic, just over twenty miles, a few good hills and I'm only out for an hour and a half.

And a picture taken not far from the above; it felt like I was in the middle of nowhere. But in fact it was just outside Bletchingley with lorries on the A25 visible in the distance.

countryside near bletchingley with the A25 in the distance

Missed the rain on Saturday, chilled out away from the road.


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Monday, 18 May 2020

Sports camera

When I started cycling as an adult about ten years ago I never thought I'd buy a camera to record my rides and report bad driving.

After a few close passes I bought a GoPro Hero. Eventually the battery wouldn't hold a charge for very long - it wasn't long to start with - so I looked at the alternatives. The GoPro brand is the Apple Mac of action cameras. Expensive, maybe not as feature rich as others but are easy to use; they are almost the default option.

Summary: Expensive, ok picture quality; poor in low light, short battery life, very easy to use.

gopro hero
it's had a tough life
My next purchase was a bad choice. It's a generic bullet camera based on a Sony chip. The picture quality is great, better than my old GoPro. But the rest is worse.

Sony bullet camera

I bought it because the retailer said battery life was around four hours, and could be swapped when flat.

The disappointment started when it arrived. One of the two batteries was DOA. This was quickly replaced, so that at least was helpful. Unfortunately neither lasted close to four hours. Other sites said it should run for around two and half hours. The best I got was ninety minutes.

I ordered two more batteries from another supplier, one was DOA. Again the charged life was not as advertised.

Less than two months later the batteries started to fail, eventually only one would hold a charge. Then that started to be troublesome; it was time to look around again.

A further problem I had relates to ease of use; setting the date and time, video record length and whether to show the timestamp. You have to attach the camera to a computer and edit a text file. What I didn't realise was that swapping batteries or memory card resets the above to factory default. The forums I read say this is not an issue with everyone. For me it means that if I had a spare battery, changing it or the card mid ride meant it reverted some or all of the settings.

Another issue was the supplied handlebar mount. It is so springy the camera continually flaps about. If it did have image stabilisation there is no way it could compensate. I tied it to the mount I had used for the GoPro. It was a bit of a bodge, velcro and bluetack, but it worked. The helmet mount was okay, but I could never get it straight.

Summary: Good picture quality except in low light. Poor battery life, and user experience. Cheap.

I went for the Cycliq fly 12. Mainly for the battery life. I looked at others with similar promises, but wanted to go with a recognised name, hopefully to avoid build quality issues.

Cycliq Fly12

I had heard the mount was fragile, it seemed okay to me. Although, it is the only camera I know supplied with a safety tether.

The issue seemed mostly to be caused by the twisting action to disengage it from the handlebar clamp. I decided to use the GoPro mount already on my bikes. It would mean I could just undo the bolt, rather than risk a twist. I also didn't need to buy another clamp.

Nothing is ever straightforward however; the mount isn't quite the correct width. I can't tighten the clamp enough the stop the camera moving when I hit a big bump. I'll have to find a shim.

First impressions: battery life is much better than my previous devices, it's very easy to use, the picture quality is as good as the Sony, the stabilisation seems to work, not as expensive as a GoPro.

I am using a 32gb microSD card, it's now the limiting factor if I want to record long rides. It does delete older footage when the card fills, and at low res it will start doing this after about two hours. Most of my rides are less than that so I think I may have found a winner.

Here is a video from it. If only more lanes were like this, just birdsong.

The pictures on this post were taken with my "big" Nikon, I haven't used it since my last studio shoot back in March. Just a week before lockdown came into force.

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Saturday, 16 May 2020

Cycling videos

I'll post some videos recorded whilst out and about on my bike; enjoy.

Leafy lane last Friday.
I wish more of my cycling routes were like this. Even had a driver stop to let me through. Happy days.






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Sunday, 10 May 2020


cake and tea at flowers farm

I have brought together pictures from some of the many rides I have had with friends. They make cycling so much more enjoyable.

Then there are the cafes.

Couldn't resist stopping to take a picture, big blue sky.

big blue sky

And of course had to include my bike.

bike leaning against a rock at the side of a field

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