Wednesday, 26 March 2014 can't hide it you might as well embrace it.......

Second week off and I've been out cycling again, which is good and very good for my PMA whatever that is. On Sunday Bonus and I were invited to go and ride mtb's by one of our workmates and a couple of his mates who rode a bit. I'm always wary of riding with strangers and worry about my ability after having a bad ride a couple of years ago. Things looked ominous when we met and they were riding very expensive full suss carbon mountain bikes with bling bits but they were both really nice fellas. With living in a small town it turned we knew someone who knew someone who knew someone's brother etc so it was all good. They set off at quite a lick along the road to Dunster and both myself and Bonus thought here we go but things settled down once we hit the rough stuff. It was weird riding somewhere I knew on tracks I hadn't ridden before so it was good to store them to expand my routes for the future. There was a lot of up in the first bit of the ride and me and my big wheels went up them really well, they're great those wheels and all in all it was a really good ride, new trails, new faces.

Bonus has a big book of mountain biking with loads of routes in and he's been wanting to try some out for ages so we did, sort of, we've tried some routes in the past and to be honest, we got lost. We loaded up the Bonus-mobile and set off to Porlock Weir to tackle a route along bits of the Worthy Toll road and then the Coast Path to County Gate on the Devon border. Not really knowing the route our only mistake was to try and ride the steep rocky bridleway whilst looking at the gentle slopes of the toll road beneath us basically get us to the same spot. After that we negotiated our way pretty well along some great tracks hidden in the hedgerows and along fields.

Not really knowing the route took its time with stopping to check the map when we reached fields with no obvious tracks or signs but we got there in the end. We then headed down to the village of Malmsmead in the Oare valley made famous in the Lorna Doone novel. 

We then set off along the valley which is a really beautiful peaceful place but as we were in a valley it meant up again but the track we took had a nice gentle gradient back up to the main road. A muddy and rocky blast back to where we started, hardly got lost at all.

Today it was back to the road bike, I hadn't ridden on my own patch for ages so I thought it was about time I did a big loop with hills. I took it steady up the toll road knowing I'd planned a big ride, well for me, ahead, it was as quiet as ever, sunny, light winds, not too cold, not too hot, just right. It's great place to be in decent weather once you get on the main road along the coast, quick, not too lumpy and the big descent down to Lynmouth. Another up back to the moor, I was feeling slightly crap but I think that was down to me going quicker, well that's what the stats indicate :) I tried a new up from Simonsbath which was a good climb then made my way along the top of the moors to Dulverton.

After a stop for refreshments it was up the valley and back towards home. This turned out to be my biggest solo ride excluding sportives etc. and I think I didn't fuel enough and was feeling a bit tired as I made my up to Wheddon Cross, gel and a can of something fizzy and down the hill. The sugar kicked in and I managed to keep a decent pace once on the flat and back t home, another great ride, I enjoy this cycling stuff.

Friday, 21 March 2014

........A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise....

Two weeks off work what's a boy to do? Well this one has been cycling, I'm fed up of doing stuff around the house and don't get me started on gardening. First ride of the week was on Tuesday with my old mate Bonus who came out of hibernation to go ride the mountain bikes. As I was getting ready the sky went black the air turned cold and it started to rain, oh well. Waterproof donned, layers added, I popped in the house to get something and when I came out the sky was blue and the sun was out, weird, layers and waterproof duly ditched. I suggested a ride up to Stoke Pero Church, he hadn't ridden up there before and it means the ascent of Dunster Path which is a proper mtb climb. Steep rocky bits, gulley's, rain channels, real skill needed which I don't have, points lost for dabbing, no junior kickstart for me. We went up the road to the church, there is a bridleway through the fields but as it's lambing season we didn't want to go worrying sheep ;) It was blowing a bit up on the exposed moor and it was quite a relief to get to the church and some shelter.

After all this up it was down but our path was blocked by downed trees which happened on a couple of tracks today, I'm sure the National Park Rangers will get around to them eventually. Decision time, up a steep track or a gentle spin along the river? Up, which was a surprise as Bonus hadn't been out for a while but it was a nice day and he's fed up of DIY too and was in no rush to get home. Steep climb then along Granny's Ride which is great but the descent meant negotiating under a fallen tree. It was a bit like a Krypton factor puzzle trying to get us and the bikes over and through the branches, it was a bloody big tree with a steep drop on one side. A gentle spin along some tracks to home, nice to get out with company again on dry trails in nice weather.

Wednesday meant another drive out this time to see Jennifer out Mendip way and a ride to the seaside, my seaside was warmer though with less wind, well it was when I left. Into the wind to start with, past the wonky church and a stop at a nice coffee stop with some really expensive photos for sale, I'm in the wrong business ;)  We safely negotiated Weston which was relatively grockle free and headed back inland. Another nice ride in good company, Jennifer took some pics and wrote a much better blog so I suggest you go and read it.

It was back to being Billy no mates today so I thought I'd go for a short spin on the MTB, well that was the plan. problem is I'm feeling really good at the moment, amazing what a bit of regular sleep does to boost the energy levels. So, I ended up doing a twenty mile loop which is starting to be the norm now but you have to make hay while the sun shines as the saying goes. Riding elsewhere recently also means I avoided the swaling which goes on this time of year, it's all about regeneration which over the past couple of years I hope I'm achieving.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

........any day now the Sun's gonna rise..........

Cycling on a weekend is quite a novelty for me due to the nature of my job so when I do have the luxury of a weekend off I do like to get out. Last weekend my friend Steve invited me over to the Mendips to go for a ride. It was initially intended to be a mtb ride but Steve thought the trails were not in their best state and we should ride offroad another time. So we hit the road instead in kind of half and half ride, half with the ACG and half on our own. After meeting Steve we headed off to Axbridge to meet up with the assembling masses, well about nine of us, in the square. I've ridden with many of these folks before so it was nice to say hi and head off into the sunshine with them.

Although it was sunny the head wind was a bit of a killer but it was nice to ride the flat for a change and even took a stint on the front, I'm good at being a windbreak ;) After a quick coffee and a quick giggle at the testosterone race up Mudgeley Hill, Steve and I left the ACG to to take a flatter route home whilst we rode up and down some lumpy bits. The lumpiest of these bits was a hill called Deer Leap but the only thing leaping was my lungs out of my chest, steep by name Mr D. It was worth it for the views across Somerset from the top though.

From here it was literally all downhill from the top of the Mendips back to Steve's and some quite lovely soup. A nice ride in good company in a lovely part of the world.

This weekend I met up with an old mate Drew who used to be my next door neighbour a few years back. He's invited me to join him riding form Birmingham to Taunton about 150 miles one day in June. He did it last year and he did something similar the year before and asked me both times but I always made excuses. This year we want to raise some money for cancer research in memory of our mate Gilly who sadly lost his life to Pancreatic cancer last year. As soon as I have some more info I'll post a blog and links if anyone can spare a couple of quid to kindly donate or perhaps could help in any other way?

We thought it would be a good idea to meet up and go for a spin and discuss things etc. This was another half and half ride, half with some lads from Taunton road club and half on our own. Another fine morning along the lanes of Somerset getting pulled along by twelve other blokes was quite nice. I didn't know where we were going so I couldn't possibly hit the front. The group stopped in Langport for coffee but Drew wanted to crack on and get some miles in and I didn't mind it was nice day to be riding a bike. I've ridden up to High Ham from three different directions now and this way is far the nicest. Down the hill and into the wind but it was so nice, Drew told me we were riding along roads that only a few weeks earlier had been submerged in the flood water that had engulfed these parts.

It was nice to be riding somewhere I hadn't ridden before which is relatively close to home so I may pop out this way again I enjoyed it that much.  It was also nice to see an old mate again who allayed my fears on what's going to be quite a challenge for me, I'm quite looking forward to it!