Monday, 18 July 2011

Planes, Trains and Racing Cars

One of my New Year's resolutions was to take more time off for riding during the week.  Young family means family stuff at the weekends so no time for riding (usually).  Today was a day for riding not working.

So what route to choose?  Maximum riding means from the door and a couple of weeks ago I'd ridden with some people from JustGoRide around Ticknall (about 25 miles from home).  During that route we came across a lovely looking bivvy spot with rocks and caves and everything.  So I did some route planning which was 'improved' by Pete to get me there for a possible future bivvy night.

Route in the good old GPS and off I go - into the rain :(

I had the iPhone on with endomondo running which worked really well.  It's an App that tracks your progress and gives you updates on your speed and distance.  But the really great thing is that it shows your position on a web based map and your invited Friends can shout messages at you and they come through the headphones!  Also good to know that people are keeping an eye on you if you're out on your own.

Rain stopped after about 30 mins and so did my existing trail knowledge.  Working off the GPS I managed to get the wrong side of the canal and nearly had to swim.  I backed up and 5 mins later 'Bridge Closed' - can't mean me... Ah! no bridge at all.  Back track then over barbed wire fence onto road - YAY!  Another level crossing closure and I was finally in Castle Donnington.

Leicetershire are rubbish at footpath maintenance.  Loads of overgrown footpaths and lack of signs.  I could hear engines in the distance though.  That meant Donnington Park Racetrack.  It must have been a trackday as there was a good mix of cars on there, few porsches, few MX5's.  Found my way round the track and across a few wheat fields onto much needed tarmac again.

Melbourne looks like a fancy town with lots of shops painted in National Trust colours - Taupe, moss green etc - no decent coffee shop tho - rubbish.  A business opportunity there for someone.  I carried on to Ticknall hoping for caffeine.  The village shop did 'cappuccino' (frothy instant) and a 1 lb slice of toffee flapjack (1000 calories at least).

Only a couple more miles to the bivvy spot.  Beautiful quiet spot with caves and ready made campfire places but could be an early dog walker route.

Packed lunch finished, time to head back via the East Midlands Airport flight path.  I checked out the lovely looking (on the map) track round the airport - no good - lots of Private signs :(

Back on familiar ground I made up for the earlier delays with the help of a tailwind

56 miles in 5 and a half hrs - good day off!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Rainbow Bivvy

When will it stop raining?  When will the weather look like the forecast god-damn-it!

I haven't slept  in the woods this year and I'm missing it bad.  This date was fixed ages ago and the weather's been awesome for most if the run up to this Friday.  Excited preparation and non-riding on thursday night.  Trying to remember where everything went and how it hangs on the bike.  Tested the good old meths stove in the back garden - all good - bring on Friday.

Rain during the day on Friday - no problem, that means less for later when I'm in a bag in the woods.

Home time and the lightening starts - arse!

Eating and watching out of the window as wave after wave of stairrods rain / hail arrives from the west.  Texts and phone calls to friends.  A number of wimp outs followed.  I decide to give it another 15 mins as I'm sure it's clear after this downpour.

Right - that's it, I'm going!

Leaving the house towards a rainbow to the east.  We're heading north.

Meet point and 2 others are there.  Simon and Rob.  Poor show!

Simon's loaded up for a night in the woods.  Rob is just coming for a ride, no bivvy stuff - he'll regret this later.

Up the old railway line with loaded bikes and slippery tyres on wet roots.

It keeps getting warmer and brighter.  No rain.  Lovely views over rolling fields full of wheat and barley.

We leave Rob cursing his lack of bag at Burntstump and head towards the smell of chips and kebab meat - Blidworth bound.

Chips eaten al fresco, Tesco stop for pastry, pub for 3 pints of awesome beer and a meat raffle.  Into the dark woods for kip.

Comfy woodland bivvy spot, whisky, ear plugs and a good night's sleep.

First thing bivvy mornings are the best.  Waking up with lungs full of fresh air, the still of the wood and the sunlight streaming across the tree trunks.  Get the coffee on and warm the pastries.

Back home in time for coffee and cake - everybody's happy

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Nats Longnor Ride

Today was my day to lead a ride for club.  Longnor just inside Staffs was my choice of start.

A beautiful day for a ride.  The group was 21 strong. Fay was the new rider - trainers, flat pedals - bit worried.

The ride's only 15 miles and its a nice social ride, some nice double tracks and road sections for a chinwag.

Scorching weather and some ultra rocky descents made for a great day out.

Adamski - the website guru

We even saw a troll

Everyone survived - even Fay who said she enjoyed it.  She's hoping to come out with the club again on my next ride on the 7th August at Ashover - we'll see if she turns up...