First 2015 ride

A decision last night led to me and Verity (@v_girlracer on twitter) having a winter ride today.

After chatting to a couple of people, I decided I need to get out on the bike. I’m absolutely useless at sitting indoors, however I’m great a finding something else to do. I actually think I’d lost my confidence a bit.

It was chilly this morning, but a beautiful winters day. Ideal to layer up and head vaguely toward Wantage (well Costa had a coffee *waiting* for us!).
A quick check of the bike, pump the tyres back up (yes I can do this) and away I go down Fawler hill. The road surface is terrible and I’m a bit cautious because of ice, but the hill is fine.
As soon as I’m at the bottom, I find my riding style has changed. I’m not happy whacking it round in a big gear like usual, I actually find myself happier spinning the pedals a lot quicker in an easier gear. I don’t bother over thinking this, I do what feels good instead. Although I do tank up the road to Uffington to try and warm up a bit!
I collect Verity and we head off back the way I’ve come from. This means up the short snappy 10% Fawler hill. I get a bit more pessimistic than normal as we hit the bottom, but just go at it. Halfway and I’m blowing, but I’m still spinning up there, then out of the saddle for the last bit… and I’ve done it. Despite the weight I’ve put on. I ease down, and do a couple of circles to wait for Verity, and we head off. I’m pretty gobsmacked actually!

I had a vague plan of my route (the route is on MapMyRide) but had to make sure Verity was ok with it.

We head toward Wantage, detouring via Sparsholt and Childrey, before heading up Childrey Holloway and hanging a left at the crossroads. I again do this a lot easier than before.
Up on the exposed road we have a class view of the Vale of the White Horse slightly behind us, and Oxfordshire in front of us. Apart from my legs feeling a little numb with cold, I’m ok. And rather pleased with myself.
A nice long downhill into Wantage, avoiding the potholes and shouting morning to the other cyclists, and then up past King Alfreds Center Site and up to the traffic lights. Straight across and out through Charlton towards Didcot. We go via West Lockinge, where I rode out for Henrietta Knight in her best years, then back up a short climb and across the miraculously clear A417 towards Lains Barn. It’s a lovely long swooping downhill on rather a good road surface, and it’s on the flat at the bottom that Verity admits to feeling the cold in her fingers and toes.
Luckily my fat keeps me warm! Lol, its more likely my striking Ana Nichoola winter gloves and merino Castelli socks. And my 6 layers.
We carry on out to A338 and come back past the Williams F1 site. I’m still spinning in a lower gear and really enjoying it. I’ve no idea how far we’ve gone and I really don’t care. I have one near miss on this bit of road, a black BMW at the traffic lights. But the bus driver gives us loads of room as he passes, so I grin and thank him. We head straight for Costa, only to find that the Arbery Arcade had closed the passage off to the back of the shop, where we could’ve sat down. So I stay with the bikes out the front, whilst Verity grabs up coffee. I’m conscious that my knees sometimes stiffen up in the cold, so I keep stretching them and earn some very strange looks. Not that I care!
Eventually we head back up to the crossroads and right towards home. We now have the longest most continuous hill on our ride. But we’ve both ridden it before, and it does have a couple of flatish sections. I’m confident enough to get out of the saddle and sprint onto the top, then wait for Verity. A nice long downhill to Childrey crossroads and then up to the second avenue and down the other side. It’s the tiny hill after this that nearly has me, I cringe up the last few meters blowing like a train. Thankful I can stop to wait for my friend!
It’s an easy ride to home then, and I suggest Verity might want to look at some thermal bib tights.

So I’ve gained in confidence from this. Knowing I can actually get to the top of Fawler hill has lightened my outlook on getting out there more often.

So thank you to that one person who really did put me to shame by suggesting I do have afternoon hours (2 max) that I can get out in. I knew I did. But putting something like this into practice when you don’t feel good about yourself isn’t easy.

I now have to find something to do on Monday and Friday evenings. That or start my own club (that idea is from the legend Jo Tindley last year).

So, want to ride on the downs around here with me? Give me a shout.

Thanks for reading. I’m not apologising for my sense of humour!

Keep Smiling 🙂

It Takes Time…

Isn’t that a song? SO…

Tour De France update:
Right, I pick Melissa up early Sunday morning from Heathrow. Drive to Folkestone. have coffee. Get on the Eurotunnel. Over to Calais, Have coffee. Drive to Pau for check in Monday at the 1st hotel. Have caffeine. Watch Le Tour finish in Pau. Have a drink or several. Find out where everyone is.
Tuesday: Coffee. Breakfast. Tweet. check out and drive to 2nd hotel in Pau. Wander around. Take pictures. Tweet. Blog.
Wednesday:Coffee. Breakfast. check out of hotel. Drive to somewhere near the Tourmalet. Annoy people on Twitter with incessant tweeting ‘wish you were here? nah nah na na nah.’ Meet up with Twitter friends. Have coffee with coffee. Incessant road chalking (including hashtags). Get excited by the caravan coming past. Try not to fall down the mountain whilst fighting for freebies. cover my ears as the screaming starts. Cheer on anyone riding a bike. Shout ‘Allez’ rather a lot. Pretend I speak French. Set up tent and camp.
Thursday: drive like an idiot to Cote De Burs. Repeat Tweeting, Chalking, getting excited by the Caravan and cheering on anyone on a bike. Pretend I speak French, Dutch and Italian. drive to feedzone for Friday. Oh lots of coffee.
Friday: Plenty of coffee. Sleep. Food. Chalking. Cheering. Fight everyone for bidons and musettes. Crash and burn. Caffeine. Camp somewhere. Tweet.
Saturday: drive to Paris and park early. Coffee. Stretch legs. Check in hotel. Catch train to Chartres. Watch some of Time Trial. Catch train back to Paris. Blog. Tweet. Facebook. Get changed. Find Verity. Party with the Team Sky Fans.
Sunday: work out where to meet Team Sky Fans. Coffee. Coffee. Breakfast. Tweet. go to Champs Elysees. Be there stupidly early. Get madly excited. Coffee. Meet lots of people. Pretend to speak French, Dutch, Italian and German. And possibly Flemish. And Welsh. Watch race…… haven’t figured out the next bit, but may include partying…..
Monday: drive to Calais. On Eurotunnel. Folkestone. Coffee x 3. Home.

Except we have a problem. Melissa needs to be back to Heathrow by 11am. Whats the cheapest way of getting back?

hope you enjoyed 🙂

Ciao xx

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!
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