Posts Tagged ‘Cake’

BobMMM (1)

The obligatory post cake selfie

There are days when there is nothing better than leaping out of bed ready to take on a lovely ride in the spring sunshine on Gracie the trike. Today was not one of those days. I was feeling tired and lethargic and I wanted to stay in bed. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’d lured Keith to come on the ride with promises of eating his body weight in cake I would have probably stayed in bed for another few hours.

I met Keith in the car park of the leisure centre where we signed on, chatted to all and sundry and indulged in some preliminary cake eating. Keith seemed happy that the early cake quota on this ride had exceeded his expectations.

We left the car park at the head of the pack and instantly found the first obstacle. Men in fluorescent jackets had been busy closing one of the roads in town by erecting all kinds of barriers and signs. The road we had been instructed to take on the route sheet was very closed to traffic, luckily it was not closed to pedestrians. If we were being law abiding citizens, we would have taken the diversion or pushed our bikes along the pavement. It was, however, early on a Sunday morning so we took the most obvious course of action.

Once we were reunited with ridable road we bowled along at a nice rate chatting about the trivia of life. I slowly became aware that we were way out in front. There was no one coming up behind us. This was strange. I’m much more used to people flying by me at this stage as the fast-paced ones disappear up the road never to be seen again. It doesn’t matter how much I like to kid myself that I’m in that group, I’m not and when riding Gracie I never will be. I was certain that someone would come past when the road went vaguely upwards. The extra weight of a Trike and my inability to go up hills almost assures this. It didn’t happen; I was starting to get suspicious now. I wondered if I’d printed of the correct route sheet or maybe I’d missed an instruction. I even wondered if the rest of the field had been wiped out by a stray asteroid.

Reality intruded on my revelry, the left side of Gracie started to feel a bit soggy. I tried to ignore it but it was followed by a little metallic bumpiness. I slowed and someone behind me told me I had a puncture. The tyres on Gracie are quite a tight fit, I bought them for the colour, everything else was a minor consideration. Keith and I spent a strenuous five minutes of so deploying the full range of tools and swear words to prise the tyre from the rim. If we’d had grappling hooks and crowbars we would have used time. Everybody came past us as we cursed and swore. At least that confirmed we were on the right route. Eventually we won the fight and got Gracie reinflated but that didn’t stop me fretting quietly that the tyre was going down, I’m never that confident with my puncture repairs, I’ve had far too many failures.

BobMMM (3)

Eating cake to the memory of Bob

We could have tried to catch up with everybody or we could have continued at a leisurely pace admiring the spring scenery as we passed though the countryside. It was too nice a day to rush so we took the easy and more enjoyable option. Had the pubs been open we would have been very tempted for a spot of refreshment. We passed some very nice looking (but closed) pubs.

I’ve often wondered if two people on two wheels is faster than one person on three wheels, today the answer was trike overtakes tandem. This is a useful bit of knowledge for when I’m playing cycle top trumps.

Somewhere outside of Ditchling Keith started to smell the cake and slowly speeded up. I watched as he slowly got smaller. I wasn’t going to chase him, there would have been no point. I guess that a couple of hours riding alongside a Trike can make someone a little stir crazy. I caught him up at the cemetery that was acting as a control. This was the whole point of the ride, to visit Bob. We ate some cake to his memory.

BobMMM (2)

Bikes hiding behind a hedge so the South Downs don’t see them

Keith confessed that he had never been up the Beacon and as we were crossing the bottom of it, it seemed rude not to. I had no intention of taking Gracie up there; it was not something we relish. Luckily there was a group of Rovers who were going up so he would be in good company. I said I would ride slowly so he would catch me up somewhere on the way back.

I spent the rest of the ride spinning gently through the countryside in a world of my own making waiting for Keith to affect the catch, just like the sprinters teams do to the lone breakaway in the Tour de France. The closer I got to the finish the more convinced I became that Keith and the Rovers were bearing down on me. I was being the plucky breakaway rider soloing home and they were the big teams hunting from another victory. They never caught me and I got the pick of the cake.

In hindsight, I’m glad I got up this morning, even if my only motivation was to not let a mate down

Man of Kent 200

Posted: March 26, 2017 in Audax, Cycling
Tags: , , , ,
ManofKent (2)

In an ordinary suburban street…

I really didn’t feel like doing this ride. I woke up but failed to get out of bed. I prayed it was raining to give me a legitimate excuse to stay in bed but the prayers didn’t help. Eventually I dragged myself into an upright position and went through the motions. If I hadn’t prepared everything last night I probably would have stayed in bed. The object of my lethargy was the Man of Kent 200 a one hundred and twenty five mile Audax ride around Kent. Last time I’d done this ride on Gracie the Trike but Gracie had been visited by the puncture fairy so I had decided to do this one on two wheels instead. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a long ride on two wheels. It should make a refreshing difference.

I met up with Mark at the start; Mark and I are veterans of many an Audax ride and more importantly we ride at about the same pace. We often put the world back in to shape whilst meandering down country lanes.

The first and longest section of the ride took us from the village hall to a vicarage for breakfast. I would like to think that the ease of the ride was due to my extensive winter training regime but I suspect that it was a lot more to do with the howling tail wind. It pushed us eastward with ease but we knew in the back of our minds that we would be battling it later. There was only one hill of any significance but the wind assisted climb seemed much easier on two wheels than three. After the climb was a long wind assisted descent to the first stop. This is how I always think cycling should be; moving at speed with the minimum of effort.

ManofKent (3)

My bike was at the bottom

The vicarage didn’t disappoint. A bacon sandwich was slapped into my had the moment I walked into the garden. I like that sort of service. The bacon was followed by a croissant and a chocolate biscuit just to make sure that I had all the major food groups covered.

The next section was still with the wind and this made life easy. We made our way quickly to a cup of tea and a large chocolate brownie in a garden centre café. We all knew that this was the end of the eastward journey, things were about to get a lot harder.

ManofKent (4)

Quality carbohydrates

The wind hit us about a mile from the garden centre. Things went from lovely to very Dutch in a matter of minutes. Now was not the time to be cycling alone and struggling with the wind. Now was the time to be in a group, to hang on to a back wheel and take shelter, and to do your fair share on the front battling against then elements. Mark and I teamed up with one other and we battled the wind with grim determination and bloody mindedness. There was no chat, no batter, just gritted teeth and a constant fight. We came to a junction and the other guy dropped off the back, he apologised saying that he couldn’t keep with the pace. This made me feel a little smug and then guilty at feeling smug.

There was a long descent along a beautiful valley near the end of the section; I assume it was a descent because the road tipped downwards. The wind counteracted any advantage here. I assume it was beautiful as one of the other riders told me it was, in the summer, when there is no wind. Today however, I didn’t see much apart from Mark’s back wheel or the road ahead viewed through squinted eyes.

ManofKent (7)

More quality cardohydrates

The next stop was in a station café, out of the wind and surrounded by the comforting smells of mediocre café food. We did wonder whether the small steam trains would take us back to the HQ but apparently the tracks didn’t go in that direction and it would probably be cheating. At least we felt like we had broken the back of this ride and were heading for the finish.

The route changed direction and the effect of the wind lessened. This was a blessed relief after the battle of the last few hours. We trundled along easily to the penultimate check point. Here we joined forces with another group. We were the youngsters in the pack the other four were in their late 60’s and early 70’s. This didn’t diminish their ability to stay on the pace. As we got closer to the HQ the pace increased. It was probably the smell of the tea and the aroma of peaches in ride pudding that did it. As we hit the final stretch it became an out and out race. There was no way that I could have been accused of letting the 67 year old win, he did it all by himself. It was a good sprint to the finish with neither of us giving any quarter.

ManofKent (8)

It wasn’t going our way

Box Hill

Posted: July 15, 2016 in Cycling, Tricycle
Tags: , , , , , , ,

box 2

I’m not a climber, I’m not built for climbing and Gracie the Trike is not a mountain goat. Despite all of this we have struggled up a lot of climbs in the Surrey Hills. I rode some out of necessity, some because they had a name and some just to say that we had. Going uphill on a bike is not an enjoyable experience but having suffered a climb and survived is a retrospective pleasure. It’s because of this that the club run to Box Hill appealed. We’d not been up the climb before, it was meant to be a classic and there was a National Trust café at the top. The last point was the major draw, cake after hard work is always welcome.

It wasn’t a promising day. It wasn’t exactly raining; the dampness could be described as low cloud or drizzle. It just hung in the air and waited for you to pass though it to get you wet. It was very lazy rain. We all met up at the sports centre and sometime later headed out into the wilds of Surrey. Others on the run took great delight in drafting behind me. As a big person on a trike I blocked out a lot of the wind. I was not familiar with the roads to Box Hill, I usually cycle in a different direction when I’m out and about. It was nice to follow the herd and not think about directions. I could keep up with everyone on the flat but the moment the road headed slightly upwards I shot backwards and shot out the back of the pack. This didn’t bode well.

The last time I visited Box Hill it was to watch the Olympic road race. I’d not really noticed anything to do with the gradient apart from the fact that there were some of the best cyclists in the world speeding up them. I’d always assumed that it was steep. I turned onto the climb, selected a suitable gear and started peddling. I assumed that it would get steeper somewhere along the way. I worked my way up through the trees and around the zig-zags. The gradient was constant but not steep. It reminded me of one or two of the alpine passes I’ve traveled up. Every now and again a group of cyclists would push on past. This was a very popular hill.

box 3

Suffering

I broke onto the sunlight and recognised the field to the left as the one I stood in cheering a few years ago. I thin whippet like cyclist dressed in skin tight matching Lycra and riding a lightweight carbon machine came sailing past me. I glanced sideways and Gracie and uttered “nice one” before disappearing up the road.

The car park signaled the end of the climb and the start of the cake. The queue was long but the massive slice of Victoria sponge made it worthwhile. Now there was just the question of riding home on tired legs.

box 1

Cake!!

Dialpost

Gracie and friends, Eager to start

A ride in February is always going to be at the mercy of the weather. The forecast was not promising but sometimes the reality is different. The forecast had mentioned rain. It wasn’t raining at the start and this was a bonus. It wasn’t freezing either. I did this ride once in sub-zero conditions and people were complaining about their water bottles freezing. Today was relatively benign by those standards.

We met up for tea and biscuits in the hall before the ride. It was a chance to catch up with a few people and see how many were doing the ride. I was told that nearly 100 had entered so there will be no lack of company out on the road. I’d come along on Grace the Trike, as I’ve not taken Gracie on this ride before. I am slowly becoming aware that more people recognise Gracie than me; it was how Mark knew I was there. Mark and I have trundled around a few Audaxs over the years, so we are used to each other company.

The start was heralded by the beeping of Garmins and Satnavs. We headed off into the lanes of West Sussex. I watched the fast boys disappear up the road and settled down to my usual pace. A few minutes later Mark had caught me up and the banter began. He was riding fixed I was riding a trike, we soon realised that we were probably the epitome of everything Audax. We should have been wearing tweeds and plus fours to round off the look.

Up ahead the lights started flashing for a level crossing, a group had stopped and another was slowing. Just before the train arrived one of their tyres burst dramatically. There was a small explosion and a cloud of dust was ejected from the tyre. Everyone at the crossing was looking suitably shocked and impressed at the same time. This started the theme of the day, passing people repairing punctures. It must have been something to do with the roads.

Mark is an engineer. He works on big machines. He has a very large tool box and an impressive collection of tools. Most of his tools have been found on the roadside. He seems to have the tool spotting gift. One moment he’ll be beside me chatting away, and then he’ll suddenly stop, saying that he’ll catch up. A few minutes later he’ll return with a big smile on his face and some sort of double handed flexi widget extractor sitting in his saddlebag. I never see tools, I have no idea how he does this.

There is one big hill on this route. It coincided with the point when the sleet started to come down. As an incentive there was a control at the very top that was rumoured to be handing out hot tea and cake. It was a reasonably steep hill but Gracie and I had tackled steeper. It was a case of slipping into a low gear and grinding a way up whilst looking enviously at the lighter riders and machines going past. I don’t relish climbing hills like some people; they are just another obstacle to overcome. I was quite happy with the yell of “chapeau!” from the lightly tanned racing whippet on his finely tuned road bike. It made me feel like a real cyclist. The hill seemed to go on for ever and manoeuvres of the odd car on this narrow road to get round the cyclists were amusing. The freezing rain and sleet however wasn’t. The sight of the control and hot drinks was a sight to behold. It was a shame that the tea was tepid.

Now we had got to the top we had to get down again. I’m not sure which is worse, descending on a fixed wheel or descending on a Trike. Either way, both machines can make life pretty uncomfortable for the rider when descending at speed down a narrow, twisty and wet road at speed. The sleet just added to the discomfort. By the time I reached the bottom I could categorically say that my gloves were not waterproof. My feet had been replaced with blocks of ice and I couldn’t feel my hands. It took a long time to get back to normal operating temperature. A least the rain and sleet stopped, this made the ride marginally more pleasant.

There was a gentle climb to the next control. I ambled up in in my usual fashion but I did notice that I was passed by one or two people who had a look of grim determination. We had reached that point in a ride where the end is almost in sight but just a little too far away. I suspect that the grim ones were thinking that if a Trike could do it so could they (this was confirmed in a conversation at the end).

From here it was plain sailing on familiar roads to the finish. Mark and I made light work of the final 15km. we knew it was nearly over and that we had plenty of time. What’s more we knew that there was a big bowl of hot soup and a mountain of cake waiting for us. This made the whole endeavour so much more pleasant.

 

HandM1

A tour of the muddy lanes of Sussex

It’s been a while since I’ve been out on Gracie the Trike. Whilst I’ve been off on my travels over Christmas she has been sitting in the shed, clean, shiny and ready for new adventures. I’ve done this ride a few times but never on Gracie, it seemed time to fix that minor oversight.

A ride in January is always going to depend on the weather, despite the rain and cold of the previous week, it was clear but cold on the day. We mentioned this a lot at the start along with views of various forecasts which claimed we were either going to be soaked or sunburnt by the end. The usual faces were among the hoard partaking of tea and goodies at the start. We exchanged pleasantries before getting started on the ride that never seems to go downhill.

I like to have my moment in the front, this is only possible near the start and on the flat before the fast ones sort themselves out and disappear up the road. I take great delight in powering Gracie past all the groups and on to the front of the pack. I like to think that it reminds two wheelers that Trikes aren’t necessarily slow. It all goes wrong on the first climb where I’m reduced to the speed of a sick snail but until that point there is always a big grin on my face.

After a while the pace settled down and I teamed up with Mark for the first section of the ride to Mayfield. At times it felt like the tour of all the mud strewn roads of Sussex. The recent rains had washed muck all over the roads. In places in was hard to tell the difference between a river and the road. It was all character building stuff but I was starting to think that I had enough character building for one day. Mark and I pressed on to the warm oasis that was the first control. It was a small café rammed full of cyclists, I pitied the small group of non-cyclists that sat in the corner. I wouldn’t have liked my quiet Saturday morning coffee interrupted by a mass of Lycra clad cyclists intent on hot drinks and cake.

Hills Mills 3

An oasis of cake and hot chocolate in Mayfield

The next section took in the Ashdown forest and as it’s centre piece, Kitts Hill, locally known as “the wall”. First of all we had to brave a photographer. He was stood at the top of a significant rise. I assume he was there so that we didn’t appear as blurs. The usual dilemma ensued, do I want a photo of me grinning like a lunatic and waving at the camera? This would give the impression that this was a frivolous ride. Alternatively I could go for the serious cyclist pose of grinding it out up the hill. In the end he got the “I’m trying to make it look like I’m not suffering pose”. At least he gave me a little push to help me on my way.

I’ve been up the wall on Gracie once before. I knew the form. Slow and steady was the only way that I can do it. Slow and steady in the lowest gear, trying to ignore the fact that everyone on two wheels was inching past me. I’d like to say that my lack of hill climbing ability is due to the extra wheel and added weight of  my machine. It’s not, I do exactly the same on two wheels. It comes down to my lack of power to get my bulk up a hill. I’d like to think that I’m more of a sprinter than a climber but I can’t sprint very well either.

I love the top of the forest. Trundling along the road, admiring the views and knowing that every route away from here is down is a fantastic feeling. This might be why I overshot the turn. I could blame it on the route being modified since the last time I rode it but in truth I was day dreaming. I careered off the forest with the combination of fear and thrill that only a tricyclist going fast downhill knows to find the reason for the route change. Another hill to struggle up. The uphill on this ride was starting to get silly. This hill came with a photographer as well, so I had to go though the whole deciding which pose to adopt dilemma again. At least he gave me a cheery “go on Trikie” as I passed.

Eventually I got back to the Café in Mayfield. The cold was warded off with a hot chocolate, a large muffin and some banter with the organisers. It seems that I’m becoming know in the local cycling circles as “the barrow man”. It’ll confuse them when I set out on two wheels again!

Hills Mills 2

Gracie waiting patiently outside the cafe whilst I stock up on muffins

The last section of the ride hit the “Sod this for a game of soldiers” point. It usually happens to me near the end when there are more miles than enthusiasm. It usually lifts when I’m within a few miles of the end, when the prospect of not cycling any further outweighs the distance I’ve already travelled. Today was no exception.

The large hot chocolate and tiffin slice in the café at the end of the ride rounded off the day nicely.

HandM3

The route NEVER went downhill

BobMcMM (3)

Gracie waiting for the start

It’s the last Audax on my calendar for this year and the last chance before the Christmas madness kicks in to go for a day out on Gracie before she is cleaned and put away for the winter. I had intended to do this ride on the Beast last year but the wheel fell off and put pay to that idea. A ride at the end of November is always going to be fraught with weather based decisions. The forecast wasn’t being that helpful by mentioning nearly every climatic condition there could possibly be, ranging from bright sunshine to howling gales. In the end I just stuffed the saddle bag full of clothes for every occasion and hoped for the best.

BobMcMM (2)

Someone had a long bike

As usual I was the only person in the throng on a Trike, at least it meant that no one noticed that I’d put the back wheels on the wrong way round. I really had no desire to struggle yet again with the wheel nuts so they were going to stay that way for the duration. After lots of chocolate biscuits and procrastination I was underway. I don’t know how it happened but I was leading the pack for the first mile or so. This was a very strange situation to be in and I was relieved when someone overtook me to allow the natural order to return. I wasn’t so happy when they slowed down in front of me though. I had no desire to lose my momentum so I just went by, I few minutes later they passed again, the same thing happened. This was just getting weird. Eventually a small rise sorted things out as my natural inability on hills gave the other bike the advantage to finally stay ahead.

BobMcMM (1)

The melee at the control

There’s a tricky turn near Chailey. I have no idea why it doesn’t feel right as the route sheet describes it perfectly. I remember that last year I sat at the corner pondering if it really was the correct turning. It seems that the Girl with the Silver Helmet was having a similar dilemma this year. Her SatNav had directed her down the wrong turning, so now she was a little lost. We battled against the wind to the correct turning, watching one or two others go sailing past it. The wind had really picked up so I did the ignoble thing and drafted her until we hit a slope and I couldn’t hold her back wheel any longer.

Ditchling is a lovely little village with narrow streets, a combination which makes it a magnet and trap for cars. I spend an amusing few minutes watching two cars impede the movement of all the traffic whilst they were doing the “after you, no after you” thing. Eventually it seemed rude to stay there sniggering at the politeness and chaos so I slipped on by. Ditchling was made sweeter by the fact that I wasn’t climbing the Beacon today.

The final approach to the midway control was into the wind. It really wasn’t nice. A long flat road had been turned into a never ending hill. “It’s all gone a bit Dutch” someone remarked as the crawled past. The tea and cakes made a welcome relief. The knowledge that the way back was with the wind made the cakes taste even better.

I’m sure that the speed of the return leg was all down to my superior fitness and technique. The wind may have had something to do with it but I’m sure it was only a minor part.

I met up with the Girl with the Silver Helmet again near the end; she had watched two people take the wrong turn and now doubted her SatNav. I was following the paper route sheet and had the advantage of getting lost here last year so we joined forces in heading the right way. She was clearly the stronger cyclist and slowly become a dot up the road before disappearing round a corner, never to be seen again.

As always the last few kilometers seemed to take an age but eventually I was rewarded with a slice of homemade lemon drizzle cake and five minutes of friendly banter before packing Gracie into the car and heading home tired and happy.

 

The Viper Run

Posted: November 20, 2015 in Cycling, Tricycle
Tags: , , ,

DSCF0470

It’s been a year since my first tentative turning of the peddles on a Trike so it seemed fitting to return to the scene of the crime for the food and cake fest that is the Viper Run. This time I would be having one last ride on the Beast before he is returned to his rightful owner.

The weather was not promising and unsurprisingly Mark and I arrived to find a debate going on in the tea rooms. It was late enough that discussion had turned from the choice of tea cake to the choice of route. As I dived into a pot of tea and devoured a tea cake decisions were made. We were going to go the not quite so long way. This wasn’t the short way as the rain had stopped but it wasn’t the very short way either as that was reserved for the way back. None of these deliberations meant much to me as I was a foreigner in the strange lands north of the river.

People started to prepare, a process that involves the ritual of the raincoat. It was here I noticed a definite segregation, Orange and non orange. The orange people massed around the assembled machines whilst the non orange milled about on the fringes. The feeling of needing to be going passed over us and, like swallows on a telegraph wire, we all knew it was time to get moving. We headed out following the man on the Moulton.

DSCF0468

Three wheeled hooligans chasing a man on a Moulton

I vaguely remembered some of the roads from last year but really had no idea where I was. I was actually more fascinated by the white Trike with the wide axle. White! White on a miserable day. White being splattered by road dirt and grime. White becoming speckled. I was glad that I would not be cleaning it. My knowledge of trikes is limited but the wideness of the axle was fascinating, it was wider than any of the others around. I should have asked but I never got round to it.

The group got split at a road junction, the Oranges ended up over there whilst the non Oranges made it across, was this the start of the non Orange uprising against the Orange oppressors, the dedicated milling around waiting for the others to get across said not.

The pace up to now had ranged from sedate to leisurely; Somehow I’d managed to get in front so I made my way along at what I thought was a similar pace. I do a lot of riding on my own so judging this is a little hit or miss. After a while I looked behind to find that there was no one there. Time to stop and take photos of the approaching pack of three wheeled hooligans!

DSCF0473

So much choice, so little time

The entire point of the Viper run is to visit the Viper, a charming country pub; to pretend otherwise would just be rude. We gave the list of beers a critical review before navigating the menu and settling down at a table. Outside the weather moved from damp to wet which justified to decision to make the route shorter. Beer was drunk, some of it from trophy tankards, food was eaten and tales were exchanged before we had to reluctantly accept that we really should get back on the Trikes. We had to get back to the tea rooms for the next course.

Mark and Jane

This is what you do with a trophy, fill it with beer and celebrate

One year of tricycling marked by a ride that spent more time in Pubs and Cafes than on the road, it seemed suitable somehow

CAKE!

Another piece of cake? Oh, why not?