Saturday, 17 December 2011

All Bad Things

Happen in 3s - so they say.

But before that I must finish off Thursday's proceedings or, at least, give them more credibility. The fact is, on our Thursday night tour around Wigan we had, as usual, a tremendous selection of real ales at the chosen venues and I personally had five pints of beer, all different and all unbelievably tasty. I know for a fact that this would not have been possible without the efforts of four lads from the North West of England who got together forty years ago and set up what we now know as CAMRA. I understand that the lads in question are all still with us and I therefore salute you all - Mssrs,  Hardman, Lees, Mellor and Makin - take a bow.

Friday was my hungoverish designated rest day and it was just as well. I was clocking the weather on the BBC website, and also the real weather outside, and it never looked good. What a shame "the weather" had conceded defeat so early in the contest. There would have been an honourable draw on Thursday when I went out and was forced back, but there was no way I could have got out there on Friday when there was full, proper, snow all over the place, the cyclist's no go area. So then, if I hadn't gone out today, Saturday, it would have been four days without a ride and that would be looking weak.

So off I went in the rain. I got fifty yards when I realised I should really be wearing my new waterproof pants so I went back and changed. I set off again and after fifty yards again heard a ripping sound. My new pants had a reflective strip along the hem and this had caught in the chainring. I tucked my pants into my socks and set off again. Fifty yards later my pedal clip caught on the ground and detached from the pedal. I decided there and then to give up and went home. The biggest disaster then occurred. While closing the garage door in a semi-strop I broke my fingernail. So that was it for the day. I settled down and watched the darts on telly and then researched camp sites in Holland for a bit. I then noticed the weather had cleared and there was an hour of daylight left so I clenched my teeth and off I went on my other bike and did a gentle 11 miler. It was very cold but there was no ice and I felt so good afterwards.

I celebrated my mum's 89th birthday last night with all the family. It was a really good do but I'm a bit delicate today. We have beautiful clear skies and sunshine but I won't be out today. So glad I went yesterday. Maybe a small one tomorrow and, with a bit of luck a long one with the Wigan Wheelers on Tuesday.  

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Arrangements Over There!

I received two encouraging emails on Thursday, one from Terry Harrop who is my contact in the FIG (Fethiye International Group) who administer the CCC (Calis Children's Charity). There are some very positive things happening over there in that warm place. Thankfully, he didn't mention the weather. Nothing is cast iron as yet so I can't say too much. Details to follow as and when. The other was from Keith Campbell who has set up a new website - - which has a page publicising my efforts, which is nice to know. The website is worth a visit for anybody intending to visit Fethiye, or anybody curious about the town and the surrounding area.  

This morning, Friday, I made my way to Ashton (by car) and met up with Harold from the Wigan Wheelers. The weather forecast was cold but with no rain and little wind. We set off Southward, just the two of us, until we met one of Harold's usual companions coming back the other way. He had set off before us and had hit the rain and had enough. As we spoke the rain started and it was freezing rain too. We were soaked within seconds and decided to turn back and "live to fight another day". So that's just 5 miles completed today but they all count. There was a time when that would have been an achievement, for me anyway.   

Just had the rallying call from Nigel with regard to tonight's session and he has proudly announced that he has "been to the Market Hall" which can only mean one thing. My withering criticism last week has done the trick and there will be some crackling going on tonight. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Stepping Up

I really wanted to avoid using "Stepping Up" as a title but couldn't think of anything else and today did seem appropriate.

What is it with dogs and sticks? Every time I throw the stick I know for a fact he will chase after it, and he will do it all day. He will never turn around and look at me and say "No, I can't be bothered", and do you know why?
Because he can't talk. Seriously, there is a reason though. They don't get moody, do they? Why don't dogs get moody? Is it possible I'm spending too much time alone on this bike? If so, it's only going to get worse.

I took Barney down Coppull Lane to the dam this afternoon after what can only be described as an epic ride this morning. My first as a 61 year old. As it happened, the chap I had spoke to at the Wigan Wheelers, Harold, wasn't well when I rang him this morning and he wasn't sure if others were going out today. I was running a bit late and didn't fancy going to Ashton, the starting point of their Tuesday ride, not knowing if there was going to be anybody there. Instead I set off myself  in the bright but (very) chilly and (quite) breezy sunshine, on the new bike again. I did the usual 19 mile route with a big loop off around Horwich which incidentally has really good cycle lanes. This all added up to 55kms (34.2 miles) the longest I have done during this schedule. Apart from feet like blocks of ice I felt OK at the end, good enough to take the lad out anyway, after I had warmed up a bit.

Now that the new bike is sorted, I've moved on to researching camping equipment over the last few days. There are so many tents, sleeping bags, stoves etc. All different weights , pack sizes, prices, good points, bad points. It would be impossible to choose until you find that almost every item has someone on YouTube demonstrating how good, or bad, it is. Some are genuinely helpful people but there are some who just seem like some kind of wannabee TV presenters. I will keep looking and will leave my decisions as late as I need to. There's no rush. 81 days to go or is that 82 - Leap Year?

Early night tonight. Must do some work tomorrow.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

New Vehicle Arrives

I need to finish off Thursday's story. It just so happened my daughter needed a lift to work on Thursday evening so we struck a deal. OK but you need to nip into the Market Hall and get me some scratchings from the butcher's. The little beauty agreed and there were indeed scratchings on the table at the end of the night. I didn't tell the committee the full story at first. They thought I actually went and bought them myself despite my earlier extreme efforts. Anyway it was a good result and we had a laugh. The beers in the anvil were unusually good. There was a Brewer's Gold, a Brewster's and a Rooster. It could have been confusing if we'd been there at 11 o'clock but we got out of there early enough and did the usual route homeward.

The new bike, a proper touring bike, a Ridgeback Panorama, arrived on Friday morning in a big box with an unfeasible amount of bubble wrap. It looked good and even I could tell that the specification was better throughout than my other bike. It needed a few tweaks here and there so I couldn't get "out there" straight away as I wanted to. I was like a kid on Christmas day. Anyway, I was a bit hungover from Thursday so, as it turned out I had a rest day. I felt OK by Saturday morning and it was better weather and I ended up doing the 11 mile route on the new bike. It felt good, and I'm sure I made the right choice and it will safely see me through my trip. The feeling was surprisingly not much different from my road bike. The computer display is metric though and I can't be bothered changing it so I will be dealing in kilometres from now on.

I spoke to a gentleman from the local bike club, the Wigan Wheelers, and found they do longish rides, 50 or 60 miles, at weekends and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, weather permitting. I am thinking I will have another day of tomorrow, Monday (since it's my birthday as well) and hope the weather is OK for Tuesday. If they don't go, I will just do a long one myself.