the Twitter Ladies Cake Club

Yesterday was fun, in fact a lot more than fun, it was EPIC! Via Twitter, me, @pebblesnbambam1 (Jen), @Ninja_Smerklo (Bev) and @helsbels1272 (Helen), decided to meet up for a ride in Shrivenham. Unfortunately Helen couldn’t make it (it’s a shame as it was a brilliant day!).
Waking up yesterday morning it was still raining, and on the drive over to my parents, I came across a couple of mini floods. The most major one on the A339 which had traffic lights around it (Yes really!). Now I grew up in the area near where Jen lives, and I know how much it can flood – so the first question I asked my parents (whilst eating a fry up) was: ‘Is Fawler bends flooded?’ This is the tiny village at the bottom of the hill next to Kingstone Lisle, and the bends in question lie between there and the next village, Uffington.  As neither had been down that way, they didn’t know, but there had been plenty of traffic up and down the road, so I hoped there wasn’t!

I had arranged to meet Jen in Uffington and cycle back to Shrivenham with here to then meet Bev. As I arrived in the village, Jen txt me to say she had to go a different way because it was flooded the way she was coming from, so I set off to meet her by the lovely village of Fernham. I was hoping the stream wasn’t high enough to have covered the road, and thankfully we were lucky! Now I’ve only talked to Jen (and Bev) via Twitter and Facebook, but immediately recognised Jen – wearing her Wiggins Sky Rainforest Rescue jersey (she won it, lucky bugger!)

Needless to say, there was a few puddles on the road, but nothing major! We got back to Jen’s, and it wasn’t long until Bev arrived and we had a coffee and set off!

Funnily enough I don’t think any of us stopped talking much, and it was great to meet these two lovely ladies. Bev used Endomondo to track our route, although I had a fairly clear idea where were going!
Shrivenham, out towards Highworth, Lechlade…
Ahh, I won’t tell you about our toilet stop for Jen in Highworth, although thats where I got my ‘Cat 4 Tattoo’

Chainring greasemarks!

I tend to lean on my chain and not notice, thanks for the pic Bev!

Then we cycled onto Lechlade, where we had a cafe stop http://www.theteachestlechlade.co.uk/#!
What a gem of a place to find! We could lean the bikes outside, and see them through the big glass windows, and we even had our lattes and cake bought over! I’m not sure how long we stayed, chatted and laughed. But I would recommend it to anyone on a bike, that likes cake and coffee!

From Lechlade, we turned back toward Faringdon, then on the road toward Little Coxwell and up (at the roundabout) onto the A420, then back to Longcot, Fernham, towards Uffington (along Station Road) and up through Fawler to Kingston Lisle. Bev made the hill look far too easy, whilst I just about got up it! We then showed Bev the infamous Blowingstone Hill – bit steep that one! then back along the B4507

Me digging a gel out – just don’t ask why I didn’t have it in my jersey!

to Compton Beauchamp – showing Bev the White horse Hill on the way – and back through to Shrivenham.

With the little extra bit of cycling, my bike clock said 41 miles! The furthest I’ve gone yet 🙂 With friends, and endless chatting, you don’t realise how far you have gone. Just wished these two lived a bit closer to me!

We also cycled round to Subway and back (in Shrivenham) and it’s never tasted soooo good!

I had an unforgettable day, meeting these two lovely ladies, and had a cracking ride on the bike. Hopefully we can do it again, and maybe the three of us do a sportif somewhere along the line! And get Helen to join us!

Ladies, you were awesome! Thanks for looking after me (the slow one!). 🙂
This is just the start of the Twitter Ladies Cake Club! #TLCC

cheers!

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Getting dropped and getting back on!

Yah is the first word that comes into my head. Getting dropped, for non bikie people, means starting with a group of people and then seeing them sail away into the distance. Hmm, not fun.

Again I got there far too early and hung around for ages. Chatted to a nice bloke called Steven who was equally early – his friend had got stuck in traffic, and they were doing the 60miler. Eventually Mum and Dad arrived, I’ll have to get Dad to have a go at one of these, and I registered and waited for Annie to arrive. Unfortunately I didn’t see her, and she hadn’t signed in so I was faced with the prospect of doing this alone. I’m not sure what time I set off in the end, and promptly got passed by all but 2 going up this stupidly small hill! Hahaha I said I was slow! I’ve got to admit that on your own doing this isn’t that much fun for a first timer, and when a group passed me the first time I just sighed and got on with it. Then another group passed me and I wanted to cry, but told myself to shut the hell up and get on with it. So I did. Then I started passing a lot of people with punctures, just at the bottom of the hill that went on forever. Oh my lord, I was wobbling but determined to get up there in bottom gear, and it got steeper! I knew a car was behind me, and had been for some time, and thought it was best if I pulled into the side as it was fairly narrow. 5 second break. I wasn’t sure I’d get up the hill, but I did, even though for the next mile or so I puffed along in bottom gear. I really could do with a friend right now, I kept thinking, and as I got to a t-junction I could see rather a lot of people cycling past. Had I gone the wrong way? Then I remembered we had been told at the start that there was the three counties cycle ride on. Most people were doing that! I passed a couple of them, and felt a bit better! Then I saw a feed station, and realised at the last second that it wasn’t ours – it was the three counties one! Needless to say quite a lot of people who had passed me were stopped here, but I didn’t feel it was fair, so I carried on. (I later heard several people complain that the ‘first’ feed station didn’t have any cake!!).

Then I heard someone behind me, who promptly overtook me. He was only going a bit faster than me, so I managed to sit in his wheel for a few miles until I saw ‘our’ feed station. I stopped with a sigh of relief, and got talking to three blokes who were doing the short 30miler that i was doing. ‘Can I tag along with you?’ I naively asked when they said how slow they were. ‘Sure.’
i tried the High5 energy drink they had at the feed zone, it was pretty good actually! Also had flapjack and jelly beans! It was also time to take off my lightweight rain jacket (it had been cool at the start and although I wasn’t hot, I thought it’d be easier to take it off as I didn’t really want to stop again.
So away downhill I went, sodding freezing now I’d taken my jacket off!! (I only possess a short sleeved jersey that I bought yesterday from Pedal On) But as soon as we hit the flat my legs wanted to give up, and it wasn’t long before I was getting dropped, and the three blokes were out of sight up the next small incline. It was fairly warm by now, I was sweating buckets and blowing like an idiot, but was determined to get up the next hill, hoping there would be a descent somewhere along the line!
Then a couple of miles later, there was and I found myself overtaking the 3 that had dropped me! I’d never felt so good! Looking behind, they had disappeared a minute later, then my chain came off! Damn it! Only took a second to put back on and I was away again. Then traffic lights appeared, which gave them a chance to catch up with me, by now I’d had an energy gel (why didn’t I think of it earlier?) and took off away from them again!!
Turning a corner, a chaffinch nearly caused me to have a heart attack when I thought it was going to fly into my front wheel! instead it flew in a straight line in front of me, giving me a chance to admire its colours!
Suddenly there was only a couple of miles left, and before I knew it I was at the finish! I got my time 2 hours 40 mins. My bike clock said 2 hours 29 mins (it stops when I stop moving, so it had taken into account my stop at the feed station and when my chain came off).

I’m sooo happy I did it, although it’s not as fun on my own, and I have no idea if Annie turned up in the end. I’ll email her later and find out.

I will say this wasn’t as well organised as the Wiggle Magnificat, the maps given out were a bit rubbish, and I was unable to download the gpx. file before the ride. I was lucky enough to get there so early I could park opposite the village hall (where we registered). I just wish the Evans blog had been better updated with the details of the day. However the route I did, with the explanation at the start, I thought to be extremely well marked out. Although I did hear several people complaining that it wasn’t!

No matter what, I really enjoyed it, and am fairly chuffed with my time! I will post photo’s later…

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Thanks for reading this, can’t wait for the next one!

Cheers!

My First Sportif

If you read my blog, you will know I was pretty damn nervous about doing a Sportif! Many thanks for the supportive comments guy, it means a lot!

I was up at 5 this morning, had a bowl of porridge and a coffee and wondered what on earth the weather was going to do. I don’t have much kit, so went for my Muddy Fox tights, grey cycling t-shirt (Polaris) and my Altura waterproof jacket as it was meant to rain. I also took my reflective yellow Endura top.
I arrived at Newbury racecourse far too early in hindsight (7.20am), but it gave me chance to look around and chat to a couple of people. After I signed on – I took a look around but couldn’t see any ladies doing the LadyCat (26.3miles) so went back to the car. Thick drizzle and a low cloud base meant me putting my reflective top on as soon as I’d unloaded the bike. My parents arrived – they wanted to know what it was about, and Dad thinks he might just have a go at a sportif now! We walked up and got a coffee, then as it was 8.15 I thought it would be a good idea to go and bring my bike up – we were due off between 9.10 and 9.30.
I talked to a couple of girls who had the pink LadyCat numbers and we all agreed to set off together about 9.10.

The sheer amount of people sporting Team Sky Procyling kit was just slightly unreal! There were very few ladies (that I saw), but I was happy to see it wasn’t just me wearing trainers!

By 9.10ish I’d met up with a few ladies, who were hanging around talking, but me an a couple of others were eager to be off as it felt a tad chilly with the constant heavy drizzle. We were soon on our way, and although I puffed a bit going up the hill, I was fairly surprised to find myself at the front with an older lady on a mountain bike. We carried on as we were going about the same speed.

The first bit was fine, until we came across a couple of short sharp hills – bloody hell! We both made it up them, and she stayed with me through Ecchinswell and Kingsclere, just the other side she got a puncture but told me to carry on. A girl on her own had just gone past us, so I decided to catch up with her. By now I had been blowing for the last 10 miles or so – so I had an energy gel – and it was nice!!
I caught her up and found we pedalled at pretty much the same speed. Annie was great company and knew the roads we were going on as she lived in the area, then we hit the sodding 10% hill. She told me she usually walked up it!! I just made it up there without getting off – although the thought did cross my mind!!

Apart from a longer, less steep hill up to Brimpton, that was pretty much it and we happily pedalled away. I looked at my bike computer – we only had 3 miles left!!! Then it heaved down with rain and we both got completely soaked!

Yes ok I did sprint for the finish line!

Wow, now I know why people like doing this. It. Was. AMAZING, even if we were both soaked and my white saddle is now black and purple (I’d guess my cheap tights ran!). We both had a great laugh and thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, its over 2 hours since I finished and I’m still grinning like a loon!!

Very glad I took a change of clothes, ironically got changed in the female jockeys changing rooms!

I think it’s best to do this with someone who goes roughly the same speed as you, I was lucky Annie was about the same fitness as me as well.

Might be doing the 30 miler in Reading next week – we’ll see how it goes.

On another note – food was shit and expensive. There was no one to collect the timing chips – although the guy sat in the Wiggle tent told us to take them home.

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But I absolutely loved it! And I want to go again!!!!

Keep smiling! I need cake….