Sunday, 26 August 2012

.......Ride! You know its not enough........

A rare Sunday off so time for a rare ride with the club. Lots of riders turned up again the vast majority resplendent in their Minehead Cycling Club jerseys. It was nice to see some familiar faces and its great that I'm finally getting recognised now I've been out a couple of times. Everybody split up into their groups for the day, I tagged onto my usual bunch and we took the lumpy route to Porlock. We somehow met up with the fast group in Dunster and it was great to be spinning along in a group of about twenty all in the same jersey.

I've done an extra night shift this week so was feeling a bit tired (excuse No 78) but managed to keep up most of the time. We met up with the more gentile group who had beat us to the hotel for coffee. With it being the bank holiday a few had to get back home, including me as we were told we had other stuff to do, up and down the toll road was the agreed route. Legs were aching heading up the toll road but my average speed was looking awesome, then I realised I hadn't turned the garmin back on ! I just managed to stay in touch with Mike and Alison but they were chatting all the way so were probably cruising. We all met at the top and I headed down first but was soon passed by Brian, who I think is in his seventies and is as fast down as he is up ! A quick spin around the villages and back home in time to be told we wasn't going out anyway, oh well.....

Here's the strava bit minus the first two miles up the toll road but it makes the gradient look hardcore ;)

I rarely take any pictures when out with the club. I feel a bit awkward asking if people mind me taking pics, that and I'm usually puffing at the back struggling to keep up.

Off again next Sunday so hopefully I'm allowed to stay out and go for a longer ride.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

.......It's you and me against the world kid.......

A quick blast, the roads are a bit busy around here at the weekend and I fancied some peace and quiet. Landmark moment, up to the ridge line, no stopping, a first, but not quicker than Bonus, one day ;) I did pass some downhill boys walking up the hill. I don't think they were too impressed by some old fat bloke in full lycra spinning past them, ride the bikes kids, it easier than pushing them.

Purple pathway....
A quick moan, laying branches across tracks to achieve whatever you think you are achieving is a bit bloody stupid. Sit back and think about the consequences if you cause an accident, enough said.

That's it, not much to say, ride your bike, enjoy life :)

Strava bit

Friday, 17 August 2012

.....when you're strange, faces come out of the rain.....

I should class today's ride as a recovery ride, not because I've cycled up a mountain but went on a shopping trip with the missus and her apprentice ;) A trip on the train to the shiny shops in Cardiff, I only sought new music to listen to, all this fashion and brands stuff goes over my head. I did see a lovely purple greyhound statue but it was a bit pricey, you can't beat a bit purple in your life, I'll wait for the sale. I think I only went to carry bags and make sure the girls didn't miss the last train home.

As we seem to have had summer in March I set off into the Autumn gloom. It wasn't raining but I didn't fancy heading over the moors, it can be bleak and cruel up there sometimes a bit like life. A couple of my blogging friends seem to be going through some emotional times at the moment and the weather seems to be reflecting the mood. I don't have the eloquence like some to reflect on things but my thoughts are with them.

My legs felt like lead as I headed along to Porlock, I didn't eat much yesterday and nothing you could really class as carbs. I had to get out though, it's been a week ! Warm and breezy and no rain but everything felt a bit of an effort as I negotiated Porlock rush hour and headed down to the weir. I think the weather and Dunster Show had sent all the holidaymakers in the opposite direction and it was nice and peaceful down at the weir.

Back the way I came, a not so quick loop around Allerford and up the hill to Wootton Courtenay. Still not raining and I was finally warming up. I seem to quite like slowly spinning up hills, I don't why, strange ?

As I made my way around the hill the rain came and it was a wet ride to Dunster but I'd warmed up now and was feeling quite good. The traffic must of been bad out of town as lots of motorists had decided to take the normally quiet and narrow back road to Dunster. A couple of brushes with the hedgerow and nettles as impatient people couldn't be bothered to slow down. Back up the hill and home, soaked to the skin but happy.

Here's the strava thingy

A day for a tune like this......

Thursday, 9 August 2012

....I Don't Believe In Peter Pan Frankenstein Or Superman.....

Went for a cracking blast with my mate Bonus today. Up hill and down combe around Porlock, I've waffled enough this week, here's some pics of the ride.

Gloomy Start.....
Heading down.....
Just ridden down that !!
Next house, donations please :)
Sunny finish.....
Just before I set off I got call asking me to go into work for some overtime. I said no, cycling with your mates comes first, you have to have priorities in life :)

Wednesday, 8 August 2012 day is fine, next is black...........

I thought I'd get up early and hit the road before it got too warm and sunny, yeah right, I awoke to drizzle. I took the dog out instead to check the conditions and it was quite still and warm but the hills were shrouded in mist. Should I stay or should I go ? I decided to go, the drizzle had eased off and I've got to get some miles in before my next event, that and if I don't ride I might go insane !

The well worn route around the back of Dunster and up to Wheddon Cross and I was feeling really good. I was riding at a good pace for me and looking at my Strava stats it was my quickest ever time. In a year I can now ride to the top of the hill without stopping and I've knocked about ten minutes off the time. Lets hope there's no olympic coaches reading they might want a drugs test, I'd fail ! A quick breather at the bus stop and then up the hill to the Brendons.

Along the top and I decided to try a new way home today. It was dry on the top and as I turned off the main road to make my way down to Luxborough I was greeted by a road full of pheasants. Strange birds who insist on running everywhere but I suppose it's a bit risky taking off  for them :) Its a lovely little place but its at the bottom of a valley which means up or along the valley to Roadwater. I chose to go up along a road known as Stouts Way and very nice it was too. A nice steady climb up through the forest the smell of the evergreens in the air.

Hidden sign.....
Leafy climb.....

As I cleared the tree line I could see the clouds looming in the distance and after another short steep bit I was in the clouds and the road was covered in mud. Vision must of gone down to about twenty foot for a bit which made things interesting as I was now heading downhill.

Cloud rolling in......
Downhill from here....honest !
The road down to Withycombe was covered in mud, the summer rain must of washed the best part of the surrounding fields down the hill. The drizzle was back this side of the hill and I made damp progress back towards home.

A proper castle in the mist.......
A relatively quick ride, not too far and just over the two hour rule. I think I got covered in more mud today than I did on Sunday.

What to wash first ?.......
Here's my Strava bit, really pleased with my pace up to Wheddon Cross.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Exmoor Explorer 2012

It must be the first Sunday in August because every first Sunday in August is Exmoor Explorer day. It has been for about the last twelve years or so. Its a kind of sportive for mountain bikers, twenty five miles for the saner ones and thirty five for those who ride too quick ;) Its a different route every year and this year the route was kept under wraps to add to the anticipation of which way we were heading. This is my fifth I think and everyone has been very different. For the last couple of years No1 has tagged along with me but this year he's was striking out on his own....well with his mates.

It was absolutely lashing down in Minehead when we packed the car and headed up to the start at Wheddon Cross. As we got higher it got drier and even the sun was threatening to emerge when we got shepherded into the livestock market car park.

We parked up and met up with No1's mates and made our way to the registration marquee which was on the playing field. The organisers e-mail and text you your number so a quick verification and we had our tag to zip tie to the bike. No fancy timing chips, everyone starts at the same time and you are checked through checkpoints along the route then scanned in when you finish to give you a time.

Happy campers
We headed back to the car and got sorted. I put on my boil in the bag waterproof as it was a bit overcast which was a bit of a shame because I was wearing my new HBB jersey. I headed back to the start and left No1 with his buddies.

Surely that's cheating.....
No1 and his posse ;)
Mass start, five hundred bikers through a ten foot gate isn't ideal and I managed to get ushered through a side gate much to my amusement. No1 was most amused too when he passed me wondering how the old fella had a jump on him. On the road for the first bit to Dunkery gate, a road I've done a few times on the road bike but I paced myself up. I stopped at the gate before I headed off road because it was warming up nicely and I was boiling in the bag!

Ready for the off
Off road and up the rocky path up and over Dunkery hill. The only problem was the mixed ability of riders and a narrow track. I took it steady and overtook when the track was clear and always gave the rider I was passing a shout, a shame some people don't feel the need to. The route then headed over the moors on the boggiest, wettest track I've ever ridden. A shame really because if the weather hadn't been so crap lately it would of made for an excellent ride. I was struggling spinning out in the boggy mud, my own fault for buying summer tyres ! One poor bloke went flying over the bars when his front wheel disappeared into a hole, good job it was a soft landing if a tad wet. I checked he was ok and he was all smiles and jumped straight back on his bike.

Nice views......
After a short road bit and a nice ride along the top of the moor offering great views it was downhill from the top of Porlock hill down to Hawcombe. This was a great rocky descent that led to a steep uphill bit followed by a sweet singletrack descent down to Hawcombe. The next bit wasn't so sweet and the climb up to Ley Hill turned into a muddy trudge for me and a few others. It was nice having a morning stroll with like minded others though. Up and over the hill and some welcome jelly babies at the checkpoint and then the downhill to the tea stop at the farm in Horner.

Cake and coffee.....
Break time.....
No1 was already there but soon shot off and I got myself a lovely cup of coffee and some flapjack and cake and sat down and relaxed. The tea stop was at about the sixteen mile mark which meant there was about eight or nine miles to the finish. After refuelling, the route headed up Horner Combe, criss crossing the river on the way up. I nearly had a couple of offs on the river crossings but managed to stay upright, I should of worn wellies ! The route emerged from the woods and joined the road at Cloutsham ford which I rode a couple of weeks ago on the road bike. A steady spin up the road and I was quite chuffed I was passing people walking who had passed me on the lower flatter bits. After levelling off the road ramps up again, I got half way but ran out of legs, chuffed I'd got so far. Back on the moor and you could see Wheddon Cross in the distance, not far to go now. A rocky descent off Dunkery and then a quick and slippy descent down to Luckwell Bridge. The route was meant to go along some bridleways to the finish but the organisers had to re route because it was too muddy. So it was up the road out of Luckwell Bridge and a quick road blast back to the finish. No1 was already there but only just ! An overall time of 5:07 for me and No1 finished at 4:51.

A bit muddy.......
Another great event as always it was just a shame about the mud but it all adds to the fun but the rain stayed away all day. The organisers and everyone who helps all give up their free time up to and during the event do a great job every year, thank you.

Muddy cow.........
Distance:25.30 mi
Avg Speed:5.8 mph
Elevation Gain:3,115 ft

My Garmin for some reason missed mapping the first few miles but recorded the stats ?? Must of been all the others vying for satellite signals ??
Anyway here's my Strava bit for most of the route.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

.....wind was blowing, time stood still..........

Bonus decided it was time for a blast up and down Porlock Hill. We first did this last year when doing a organised ride with the local bike shop for bike week. Back then they decided to park at the top and do a loop down the hill and then back to the top. We thought it would be a lot more fun parking at the bottom, riding up and then blast back down, so every now and again we do :)  Bonus picked me up and we drove down and parked at Porlock Weir, breezy, sunny, rainy, aaah summer. Its not far, we go up, we go down probably about ten miles tops.

Needs a wash
That way......
We spun up off road for about two miles and then rode up the road for another couple of miles. It was quite pleasant, and we made good progress. We stopped at the top where my fan club where waiting again !

It was basically a howling gale at the top and then it started raining. It was great fun trying to keep upright in the cross wind as we headed across the moor, the rain was stinging the arms and legs like stingy things. We got off the moor quickly and made our way down the hill. We were soaked to the skin but the air was warm and soon dried out.
Porlock Mr Wet-shirt 2012
There's a myriad of tracks and Bonus was flying down all of them. I seem to have lost my downhill mojo somewhere but I'm sure I'll find it again, its probably in a drawer somewhere. Down the last rocky, rooty, wet bit and back to the Weir where the sun was out again.

We popped into the Exmoor Cooking Co for a bite to eat before heading home. If your ever down this way its worth a visit, freshly cooked food of all types. I had a coffee and a lovely slice of lemon cake and Bonus had chicken noodles in Gu Loa sauce, as you do after cycling :)

Not far, not quick but great fun, just need to find that downhill mojo again.