New bikes

Got to try out a few new bikes yesterday! Technically it was only 1 new bike as I’d ridden the other 3 models before but it was still huge fun!

It was all thanks to the lovely London Recumbants at Dulwich Park, who hire out various bikes/trikes by the hour for to ride around on πŸ™‚

I hired myself one of the adult banana bikes, got a Nihola child carrying bike out for my dad and a combination of banana trikes and some other neat trikes for the smaller kids.

The adult banana trike was great fun. Even tho the gearing was a little low for really high speeds it was still huge fun to get the speed up then slalom up the path! I did learn an important lesson tho – NO HARSH CORNERING AT HIGH SPEEDS!! Doing so can result in firstly you ending up on 2 wheels and POSSIBLY tipping yourself out…….I didn’t *quite* go that far but being up on 2 wheels is good fun! Also the back-pedal braking takes a while to get used to, especially when heading towards a bush!!

We completed 1 full lap of the park before meeting up with the rest of the family and then proceeded to swap bikes. I had a go on the Nihola again which was as much fun as I remember from last time (even more so actually, the wet surfaces meant sliding the rear was even easier!) and my dad got the hang of the banana bike quite well and was actually lapping the small traffic island with good speed! I even had a go on the smaller kids trike which was a proper fixed gear which meant I go pedal backwards to go backwards!

We managed to capture some pictures of the “action”

Banana Trike - huge fun albeit a bit undergeared for speeding πŸ™‚

The biggest kid there πŸ™‚

The Nihola child carrier bike - one that I'd seriously consider buying as it's so damn functional and fun πŸ™‚

2 weeks!

It’s now just over 2 weeks until ride day. I’m feeling rather positive as I completed one of my main goals a few weeks back, but haven’t got round to blogging about it!

This “goal” was to set a new PB for daily mileage with a ride of at least 80 miles. I ended up doing 81 and feeling remarkably good at the end of it! I don’t want to try riding any further then that between now and event day and I then maybe tempted to do a century and I want to wait for that!!

I set out with a rough idea of where I wanted to head and just rode. I missed a turn or 2 but in doing so I found some excellent cycling roads heading away from Box Hill and managed to successfully avoid the slip road to jct 9 of the M25 πŸ™‚ On the return leg I took in a small section of the Surrey Cycleway Link along Headley Road which was a lovely ride and then managed to again find my way back to somewhere I recognised!

Since then I used the following weekend to get the garden sorted. The cherry plants have now taken up their final place of residence in the fruti/veg patch. Our flowering stock has beeb planted along the front to try and tempt some friendly bees in, or at least that is the intention once they blossom. The proudest part tho IMHO is the hanging basket that I fixed to the wall for the strawberries πŸ™‚ I can’t wait until the grow a bit and tumble over the side! By mid-summer when they are covered in strawberries it’ll look fab! I also cleared out the otherside of the garden which had (as usual) been used as a bulky rubbish dumping ground over the winter…..I even re-discovered my old road bike which is patiently waiting for a SS conversion! One day maybe…..

T-1 Month

Boy does time fly! I now have less then 1 month until my first proper sportive and I’d be lying if I said I’m not nervous!!

My training hasn’t exactly been going as planned so I’m still a little down on mileage. I hope to correct this on Sunday by pointing myself and the bike due south until I hit Redhill then turning left and not stopping until I find the lumpy bits πŸ˜‰ After a few rides over the lumpy bits I’ll try and find my way home, hopefully having covered about 80 miles and consumed some energy bars and gels to see if they agree with me!

1 month from now I’ll probably have very sore legs but inside I’ll feel invicible πŸ™‚

My girly girls

I’ve never really encouraged the typical gender stereotypes with any of the kids so I suppose I should really be surprised when my 4 girls spent almost the entire time I was digging up the vegetable patch searching for worms!

They don’t appear to be bothered by the dirty, slimy things and positively adore finding all the mini-beasts so I suppose I shouldn’t really have been surprised as to what was the highlight of our short weekend bike ride.

It all started after I fitted the tag-a-long bike to the newly refurbished bike at my parents house. It made sense to have it there as all the kids bikes are there so we can then go out riding. Of course once it was fitted we *had* to go out for a ride so I took them around one of my favourite routes from when I was young which involved some “off road” (large grassy verge) riding. Ella wasn’t to interested in this as it was much easier to ride on the pavement but my co-pilots didn’t seem to mind! Charlotte did moan that it was a bit too bumpy for her but Francesca seemed to love being dragged along by me! I was trying to make it was exciting as possible by racing round the trees and finding the bumpier sections! Much like their dad they are getting a taste for speed but none of this is what they told mummy about when we got back, oh no it was something much more interesting………a dead badger πŸ™‚ In fact it was so fascinating we had to stop again on the second time round so Charlotte could have a look and Gabriella pointed out she could see where it was injured! Isobel seemed fascinated with trying to poke the dead carcass and was quite upset when I told her “NO!”

One thing I did learn from those couple of rides, asides from my girls fascination with dead wildlife, is that I really should take them out for more rides. Whilst I do really enjoy getting out for rides myself it’s even more fun when I can hear them giggling and yelling along with me πŸ˜€ Roll on summer when it warms up and I’ll be hitting all the local parks with my 4 budding cyclist – Nicole Cooke watch out!

Things to watch out for

After what I thought was a nice weekend of tinkering I was rather happy with myself that my beloved bike was now running with a lovely fresh drivetrain! Through a bit of neglect my chain and cassette had worn quite considerably. So much so that any applications of Awesome Power resulted in much gear slippage which was obviously hindering my playing of The Game.

During said tinkering I did notice that one spoke was rather loose. As I have Maivc Aksium’s it wasn’t just a case of tightening the spoke nipple as the straight pull bladed spokes are a PITA!

Anyhow as I had already made plans for a ride on the Monday I carried on out and it was all going fairly well until our second big descent. I’d already bottled it on the first descent, knowing my wheel isn’t in an ideal condition and it being wet I just ended up grabbing handfuls of brake lever 😦

The second one was a bit more pleasant (Toy’s Hill I think in Kent) with much wider roads, but it was still damp so I was taking it a bit easier. That was until I spotted a rather large rock in my path……I manged to avoid it with the front wheel but hit it square on with the rear. I heard the expected “psssssttttt” noise and brought the bike to a stop. I tried yelling to my ride buddy Ben but I think a combination of wind noise from descending at 30+mph and him being 20 yards ahead meant he couldn’t hear me.

I gingerly walked down the hill until I found a little gate and set about replacing the inner tube. Another rider coming up the hill pulled over to check if I was OK and had all the tools I needed. Thankfully I come out well prepared and had 2 tubes, a puncture repair kit and mini-pump on bouard πŸ™‚

About 5 minutes later and I’m off rolling down the hill again except my bike is now making a rather nasty rattling noise….bollocks! I finish the hill and then catch up with Ben accross a junction and say I need to check the bike due to the rattling. Closer inspection of the rear wheel reveled another loose spoke 😦 At this point after riding 25 miles away from home and still only 1/3 through our planned route I made a call to head back, not wanting to risk any more tricky descents on the wheel.

We picked a route back via some lovely hills, Ike Hill was superb! Not quite sure why I say that about a hill but it was just a nice gradient and about the right length. We also decided to take on Westerham Hill which neither of us had done before. This was a lot steeper (Ben estimated it kicked up to about 10-12% for a about 1/2 – 3/4 mile or more) and I managed to drop my chain when going for the granny ring! I was however impressed I managed to get going again and clipped in with the 30×25 gearing before toppling over!

We then had an un-relenting headwind to contend with all the way back from Biggin Hill to Crystal Palace and Ben put it quite well:

I’ve never had to work so hard going down hill!

I got home with about 25 miles less in the legs then I initially intended but did however make it home with the backwheel somewhat intact! The spokes where certainly have some effect as I could certainly feel some brake rubbage under pressure when climbing 😦 Thankfully I didn’t need the bike this week for commuting as I’m working at the only site I don’t ride to! Also another blessing it having a Evans store about 5 minutes up the road from the office so the rear wheel is going in (hopefully!) for some TLC!

Then all I need to do is sort the indexing…….