Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Nick goes on an expedition

Last weekend we trogged to The Lake District (when did that drive get so long?) for the annual Silver and Gold Practice Expedition.  The only time you’ll see me wild camping, which is a shame as it’s really rather nice.  As soon as the Moose is older, I hope it becomes a more frequent sight.  The route was along the ridge south of Buttermere and over Haystacks – which Jerry went to pains to point out was Wainwright’s favourite hill.  I think Rambling Mike loved this bit of trivia, it must have made his weekend.  The route wasn’t terribly long, but pleasant enough despite the cadets occasionally trying my patience.  It was lacking a bit in fresh water, though everyone else seemed happy boiling the ‘flowing’ water that had just been sat stagnating in the tarn.

I neglected the fresh food this time round, last year I took way too much broccoli, in preference for some whisky. Actually, it was that Spirit of Broadside stuff, and Mike took some Oban 14 – most delicious in that setting.  Everyone was impressed/appalled when I pulled out the whisk glasses.  I don’t mess about.

The weather held out and wasn’t as hot as we feared during the day or as cold as I feared at night (I took a sub-one-season sleeping bag).  Mike and I even went for a swift (time, not speed) run on Saturday evening, which was great until the sole fell off my shoe and I went over on my ankle a couple of times.  We then had a dip in the freakishly warm tarn and came out dirtier but less smelly than we went in. The rain then set in for most of the night which made next to no difference other than giving me a sopping tent to dry out when I got home.

In other news, I am now at my fattest since my oh-my-God-I-am-so-fat-I-need-to-do-Insanity days.  Psyche remains low, nay, absent.  There are 12 days until Ride London 100 and 73 days until the Spartan Beast.


Teenagers on a mountain. They have no idea how famous they are now
Essential gear
They really do love me

Monday, 14 July 2014

Suzie C returns




 
It turns out that one can, sort of, forget how to ride a bike.  With the RideLondon 100 less than a month away, I thought I better get Suzie out and make sure she works.  I planned to go for a ride at the weekend, but as with most fun plans, that went by the wayside as I became fixated on re-varnishing the floor.  I did give her a cleanup though, and she is still a fine looking machine. 

She hasn’t been let out for over two years and even then I only very rarely rode her to work, when I planned to extend my commute for a training ride – she isn’t really suit to the urban jungle.  It was like trying to drive an F1 car to work – everything was different, twitchy and scary.

Firstly, I must be a bit fatter and more inflexible than I was as the drops felt very low indeed. The brakes were weird, plus there is a back one.  The pedals are harder to clip in and, inevitably embarrassingly, out of.  The steering is insanely direct (weird how it can feel so different).  I can stop pedalling – which just felt bizarre, but does mean you can lean into corners a lot more. I also often lost power for a moment at the top of the pedal stroke occasionally – hard to explain, but to do with the free spinning nature of Suzie and the coaster.  The bike weighs nothing, the wheels especially.  And there are gears – what are they about? It took me nearly ten miles to remember that you can change two gears at once by pushing the lever further.

So now I sit here with back ache from only 45mins of riding which doesn’t bode well.  On the other hand, she is like shit off a shovel, a proper bad ass of a bike.  And until she kills me, I love her.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Le Tour de France




Yesterday we walked up to Epping Forest to watch the odd spectacle that is the Tour de France.  After meeting quite early, we decided to avoid the crowds by heading through the forest to come out on the route further away from any side roads.  This was a good plan in its outcome, but the execution was a bit of an adventure as we head off path to cut through to the road – battlePram took it in its stride (an exaggeration, I was puffing) but Jane (or actually Holly, who took command of her pram as Jane carried Arthur) and Matt had a bit of an ordeal keeping up.  Even at this, one of the most inaccessible bits of route, it was fairly busy. 




The caravan eventually rolled on through, and not a rubber croissant in sight, but we did get a packet of tea and a packet of herd seeds (not potato seeds, despite the McCain branding, for a potato seed is a potato and probably shouldn’t be thrown at crowds from moving vehicles).  It is basically one long advert for various weird stuff, and wasn’t as big as I expect but was at least novel.




There was a long wait for the riders and they seemed to be running quite late, though I have heard no mention of delays.  The first two passed with us barely noticing as they were surrounded by vehicles.  These guys had broken away from the pack as the racing flag was waved at zero km and only got caught at about 8km from the end.  Then the main peloton came through and didn’t appear to be going terribly quickly – we were sat after the Epping sprint and before the peloton decided to catch the two escapees, so they probably were just ticking over when the passed us.  So the ‘race’ itself wasn’t all that impressive, but as a day it was very enjoyable, with a nice walk, picnic and three mostly happy babies.


In the buggy!

The approach 'path'






These two led from km zero until 8km from the end - epic but doomed



Monday, 30 June 2014

Nick does Springwatch

Here are some naturish shots from our week in Southwold.  This may bore you. Tough titties.

Flowers from the charming alleyway behind James' cottage (note the careful phrasing there!):





And from Minsmere, RSPB Reserve:


Avocets, not just a missile
A large billed something
A Little Egret
A Stealth Bomber
A Damselfly (note wings sit parallel with body, Dragonfly's stick out)

Southwold


Not as grey as it looks
We have recently returned from a great week in Southwold.  It was the first full week I have had with the family since my paternity leave so I had a brilliant time just relaxing, playing and eating.  We didn’t really do a whole lot, though we did visit Minsmere RSPB reserve and take a walk down to Dunwich.  I even only went for two runs – very poor form.  We did ensure that Adnams brewery will be well in profit this year though, through rather generous alcohol consumption.  I also got quite into the World Cup and got away with watching a fair amount.

Willow seemed to enjoy the holiday, as much as a baby can, and was a charm as usual, though one does have to keep an eye on her now she is on the move. She only fell off the bed once.  I think the change of scenery put her off her food a bit but she seems to be back on it now we are home. 

Southwold is a lovely little town – it is very ‘nice’ and seems quite unspoilt given its reliance on tourism.  We’ll certainly be going back.  A massive thank you to James for letting us use his house there; Puffin Cottage. 


This is now cool
A large percentage of time was spent doing this

'Mummy, I am telling you, that was a Flamingo!'
Mummy signs 'Duck'
On our way to Dunwich

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

There is nothing like a faceplant to wake you up in the morning



I have a tendency to roll out of bed and onto my bike in the mornings – I am rarely full awake when I set off.  I grant you, that has changed somewhat since the LadyBabe’s arrival and her beaming smile does make me feel a bit more alive when I finally drag myself out of bed. But regardless, I am still not overly with it.  So it came as a bit of a shock when I found myself face down in the dirt at about 0804hrs this morning.

I cycle out to the road from the back of the house via the small woods, it must only be 200 yards.  I often have to stop and clear the crap out of my mudguards once I hit the road though, and have snapped a mudguard before when a twig lept up into it – the trials of wearing road mudguards off road, tiny clearances you see.  But today it must have been more log than twig.  I didn’t even have time to put my arms out (probably a good thing too, or hello broken collar bones) as my front wheel locked and I took flight.

I lay in a daze for a few minutes musing on the fact I was about ten feet from the road but all but invisible to passersby, before dragging my sorry ass up, checking for damage to the bike (amazingly no broken spokes despite the mudguard being wrapped round them) and checking my facial wounds (unimpressive despite the pain).  My helmet vents were packed with mud and when I cleared them I saw the cracks. 

This is the second helmet I have written off, escaping with little or no injury both times.  He says, as the whiplash begins to set in...

So, in short, always wear a helmet.

On the plus side, I can now replace my embarrassing Livestrong branded helmet.