Archive for August, 2011
I’m grateful to John Bibby for alerting me to this video. I like the idea of microadventures. It strikes me as a great way to combine the challenge of an adventure without all the expense and environmental impact of long-haul flights etc. It may be a sign of advancing age but I have never been convinced that a gap year in New Zealand represents more of a challenge than a month’s Inter-railing and what this shows is that the challenge can be found even closer to home. That said, I think that there was probably a lot more planning that went into this trip than the video reveals – crossing the sounds in an inflatable boat is probably only advisable at certain points in the tides for example.
Here’s how to microadventure
Thanks to the Digital Flaneur for the photo from Lisbon, where the temperature is such that one must pay serious attention to the hydration strategy. Bizarrely the second thing I noticed is that the forks and the frame are from different bikes, necessitating different brakes.
I love climbing hills, but sometimes you just want to potter along on the flat, putting very little effort in and shooting the breeze. For Sheffield cyclists that means only one thing – go east! Lincolnshire is flat and the quickest way to get there from Sheffield is to take the train to Lincoln. Takes just over an hour, £17 return, it is just a pity there are no direct services on a Sunday morning. Run by Northern Rail there is a notional limit of two bikes on any train. Julia and I had no trouble getting on, although we did notice that on our outbound journey there were seven bikes on the train at one point.
Arriving in Lincoln it is best to cross the road outside the station on foot and exit the town using the Water Rail Way. This segregated cycle track takes you along the River Witham for 10 miles to Bardney, where the former station has been converted into a cafe and heritage centre. From there it is pretty much a flat southerly route along the river, largely on quiet country roads until a further cycle track takes you into Boston where we found another cafe and watched the world go by.
Exiting Boston to the south is more tricky and involves crossing the river on a major road before cycling along the side of the port. A very welcome but rather narrow cycle track tacks you over Fosdyke Bridge alongside the fast and furious A17. We stayed in Holbeach at the very friendly Elloe Lodge where the owners happily locked our bikes away for the night and didn’t mind us clunking across their wooden floors in our cycling shoes. A hot shower, a walk around and a curry and the best night’s sleep possible followed in rapid succession.
We were then faced with the question; what do you do when you wake up with 60 miles to ride and it is pouring down? The answer, start pedalling and keep pedalling, all the while planning to stop in Bardney for some fish and chips.
Two days, 115 miles, no hills except the climb back to the house in Sheffield. What’s not to like?
I love my Sidi Genius cycling shoes. They are really comfortable, I have had them since 2004 and have done a good number of miles in them. This is not one of them in the photograph, just a more modern example from the web.
One of the things I particularly like about them is that the bits that wear out are replaceable. Take for example the heels. £5 gets you a new set. The problem comes with getting the old set off. As you can see in the photo above, the heels are held in place by a very small phillips screw. Wear down the heels too far and the head of the screw gets worn away as well. The solution I found to the problem is to use a junior hacksaw to cut a grove in the head of the screw. You can then use a flat blade screwdriver to unscrew the old heels and before you know it the new ones are in place. Good for another seven years hopefully.
This was my third ride in the Phil Liggett, but the first for two years. In that time it has morphed from and audax into a sportive. So no route sheets – instead the route is signed. But the biggest change comes with the timing chip. Like it or not, it changes your behaviour, or at least it changed mine. I knew from two years ago that I had completed in just under seven hours. I knew this because I had finished before 3pm, but it wasn’t a target I was riding towards. However this time, with the timing chip behind the number strapped to my bars and clearly visible all the way round I thought I would try to beat seven hours.
It was not to be, out from Stannington towards Ewden Beck the headwind was relentless. A light drizzle wet the road and I was careful to take the descent towards the bridge on my own. I later heard that three riders had failed to stop at the bottom and ridden off the road. The climb up was sheltered and not too bad, but then the rain got more determined and by the time I arrived in Holmfirth I knew that the headwind would make the climb to the top of Holm Moss a tough one. I slowed down, ate my fruit loaf and peanut butter sandwiches and forced myself to take it easy until I reached the serious part of the climb at Lane Village. Fortunately just as I turned into the wind for the summit two strong riders passed me and I was able to hang onto the second rider’s back wheel.
Down in the Longdendale valley I started to think about switching to the shorter (100km) route. This thought stayed with me until the first feed station at Hayfield. Refuelled, I left to discover the rain had stopped. Taking my rain jacket off before the wind assisted climb up Rushup Edge, I started to feel better. The descent into Edale was as scary as ever, but by the time I reached the split in Hope I was committed again and headed for the joy that is Winnats. Two riders with me at that stage were approaching it for the first time and were audibly shocked when they realised where the road was headed. A third of the way up I was overtaken by rider who immediately wobbled and put his foot to the ground and I was forced to do likewise. I didn’t particularly mind. Read the rest of this entry »