Sponsor Us Here

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Weakest Link

We were so close!

We left at 9.00a.m. just 30 minutes later than planned; clothes still drying, panniers being packed, that last cup of tea being downed.

Morning sunshine speeding up the drying process.

What a fantastic morning! We got a full 2 miles down the road before having to stop for the herd of milking cows lazily wandering from farmyard to field. As we rolled past, gate shut, we could hear the cattle, demeanour transformed by lush Spring grass, galloping alongside us.

The ride was improved by Nic managing to get her gearing sorted and make it up the hill that had yesterday caused much muttering and resulted in Nic walking.

The junction that heralded 'Nic's' hill.

We decided on an early stop because we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see a dinosaur footprint (photo below). We saw some fabulous carp cresting the water at the site much to the amusement of the cackling moorhens on the lake's central island.

We pedalled happily through villages that give the Cotswolds it's well-earned reputation; Donnington, Broadwell (our first stop), Churchill, Bledington. What a choice for a lunch-time stop - The King's Head, Bledington. Superbly peaceful surrounding, shattered a little by a slightly hyperactive, hungry Jake who was soon quietened by the plateful of cheesy chips and a go on the see-saw.

Not all of us had the energy for swinging on the playground equipment but this pose was more fitting to the tranquil atmosphere.

Refuelled, we headed home for the last 10 miles of our ride, planning to revisit Broadwell via Upper and Lower Oddington. It was not to be, almost at the junction for Upper Oddington Jake's chain, the weakest link, pinged - again. Twice in three rides but this time not 100 yards from our door but 3.5 miles of walking and coasting.

Jake, there's something missing! You are the weakest link.
So, our average speed got hammered, our target 40 miles was cut short by 5 miles but we have a result. Matt at Bourton Cycles was great, a quick check showed that our 10 year old's legs had stretched the chain to
a length no self-respecting chain should reach.
Together with the new chain we got a scary tip-off about the Cornish hills and have been pointed in the direction of the local 'training' hill know as 'The Drainpipe'.
Let's do it!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Things that conspire ...

You know that long bike ride? The one we mentioned yesterday, taking place today - yep, that one. I don't think 14.77 miles quite qualifies, not even with the .77.

So, we collected Jake's bike with duly mended chain and we should have just sped off into the Cotswolds to start our 40 miler. However, I was reminded that Jake is off to climb Snowdon with his cub troop (pack, whatever) in a couple of weeks raising money for charity. No walking boots - they were last seen in a dormitory on the school residential trip - oh the hectic life of a 10 year old. Anyway, this meant a quick trip to acquire new boots so that he can break them in before the climb.

A delayed start to our ride was put back even further by a frantic internet search for a suitable vehicle to replace Philip's beloved Peugeot that has had enough after 260,000 miles - NO LUCK!

Off we go then. No! A promise made a couple of weeks ago came back to haunt us - we found ourselves lopping, chopping and digging up shrubs in Philip's daughter's garden. Berberis and Cotoneaster, what great shrubs for hacking into when wearing shorts and t-shirts.

So, finally at 5.00p.m we left for our tiny pedal. Nothing too strenuous but 3 miles in Nic stopped, complaining of sore, running eyes, "It's like having peeled 12 onions." The joys of being a wearer of glasses and cycling never having been fully explained - oh, for a cheap, effective solution.

Then, Nic again delayed progress by bottling out of one hill having messed up her gear changes and wimping out of getting started on a hill. The spedometer said 2.9mph - what a bonus to our average speed.

It was though, the most glorious evening, warm, clear with lots of fabulous scenery as we bowled along through the Cotswolds; fields of just mown grass, hedgerows of flowering hawthorn, a huge heron flying overhead and contented flocks of sheep with fast-maturing lambs at foot.

Tomorrow's the day - target ETD 8.30 a.m. - watch this space.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Up and Cycling!

60 days to go and counting...

It seemed such a good idea when the snow was on the ground in January - a bit of a challenge in the sunshine. Jake was busy pedalling in the West Midlands Under 10s Cyclo-Cross League and Philip and I ......were watching from the side-lines!

August, summer-time, let's do the south coast, Land's End to Dover. It didn't look nearly as far as the better known end-to-end challenge - and near the sea must surely mean sea level? The moral of this story being, pay attention in your geography lessons!

So, now it's getting serious and we're enlisting help - we've got bikes, always a good start. Slight problem that Philip & I have matching his and hers in red. However, we were professionally measured and have ended up with one of the names in touring bikes, Dawes, courtesy of the Cycle to Work Scheme and Vale Cycles, Evesham. Jake is riding his Isla Bike and it is out of racing trim and into pannier racks, panniers and sundry other weighty kit.

We are making an effort on the fitness front as well. Poor Mac, David McKinnon of Elite Fitness, Cirencester, has his work cut out with a couple of middle-aged gigglers who have well-developed exercise avoidance skills. No, I really do get motion sickness and start to hyperventilate on a treadmill and yes, Philip does have the co-ordination of Mr. Bean doing Step Aerobics.

We will be keeping you posted over the next 8 and a bit weeks as we acquire our camping gear and attempt to cycle it up various unforgiving hills in the Cotswolds. A last ditch attempt at conditioning our leg, back and heart muscles.

Jake? Jake will be fine, he'll motivate from the crest of the hill or possibly from the crest of the next one and demand cheesy chips for his carbohydrate loading as we pass every pub.

Big ride tomorrow - keep up!