Our 2015 tour was organised after a winter and spring in which our cycling had been seriously curtailed by pressure of work. Accordingly (a) we desperately needed a break, and (b) I needed to be quite conservative about projected daily mileage.
I thought carefully about the trip in which I wanted to visit Barra, Benbecula, the Uists, Skye, and Mull, and I deliberately included two double night stays (on Barra and North Uist), so we could choose routes to suit how we were going. Where possible, I wanted to have some nice seafood in the evenings. All our accommodation was pre-booked. I had trouble finding B&Bs on Barra, where we ended up in the very excellent Isle of Barra Beach Hotel and in Tobermory – we ended up staying in Salen while on Mull.
Once again, we had less than ideal weather. While I wouldn’t say it was particularly wet, it was rather cold – colder than our recent experience of late spring-early summer touring in the Hebrides.
We rode our now not-so-new Thorn Raven Discovery tandem (see my multipart review – Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5). We didn’t have a single mechanical problem, though we did see minor oil leakage from the Rohloff hub while transporting it in the car.
Day 1 – Oban to Barra
Day 2 – Barra
Day 3 – Barra to Lochboisdale
Day 4 – Lochboisdale to Lochmaddy
Day 5 – North Uist and Berneray
Day 6 – Lochmaddy to Lochbay
Day 7 – Lochbay to Broadford
Day 8 – Broadford to Salen
Day 9 – Salen to Salen
Day 10 – Salen to Oban
In which I almost bottle out, then lose my bottle!
After last week’s relatively balmy conditions, this evening was a bit of a shock. Unseasonably cold, and with a very strong head wind for the out bound leg, this event was always going to be ‘interesting’.
Over the past week, I’d been having a bit of trouble with the front brake on my P5 bike. I had stupidly screwed the pressure point adjustment screw too far in, to the point the brake was no longer functional. This required a tricky disassembly and then re-filling the system with oil. It took a fair bit of application to do this. It wasn’t until the day of the race that I finally got this sorted out! There had also been some kind of serious accident on the course on the previous week (I don’t know the details, but sadly I think it involved several fatalities). This had needed some kind of repairs to the roadside barriers, and threatened a weekend open event, though it was cleared by Wednesday evening. Continue reading
This was my first time trial after returning from our tandem cycle tour in the Hebrides and was a return to the Stony Stratford course after three weeks (I failed to post a report on that event). It was actually the nicest evening for a club event this year, nice and warm and with only a light breeze to contend with.
The nice weather brought out the usual crop of airborne arthropods (the course is flanked by crops, livestock and waterways): throughout the event, I could hear insects bouncing off my aero hat! Actually, my legs felt they were still in touring mode, and in particular I found getting up the hill to Nash a bit tough, even tought than usual. Other than that, I cannot point the finger at any cause of problems.
I finished with 28:11, to take third place (second place on vets standard), behind Simon Cannings, who did a sterling ride, and Dave Glossy.
||.+ / –
||TeamMK / MKCA
|Time Keepers:- Steph Cousins & Tony Farmborough NBRC
|Pusher off:- Bryan Scarborough. NBRC
The club had agonised about whether to run this event – 24h beforehand, it was clear that we were heading for some pretty windy conditions, with gusts up to 50mph (and of course the Astwood circuit is pretty much on a hill!). We finally took the decision not to cancel, as the BBC forecast suggested the gales would subside to a mere 24mph by 7pm.
So I rode to work on my P5 as usual on race day. Unfortunately when I can to leave work for the race, I found it so windy that riding a P5 with a front trispoke was alarming at best and downright dangerous at worst! I got a lift home and switched to the P3 with a rear trispoke and a regular road wheel in the front. Unfortunately, this left me only 25 minutes to dash to the start. What the hell, I thought, I’ll go for it! Sadly, the railway crossing barriers were down and I got stuck for several minutes there. It was clearly very gusty as I pressed on. I had a tail wind up the hill to Cranfield and onward to the start point of the race, so I made pretty good time. I arrived a few minutes after 7pm (well warmed up), to find several riders plus timekeepers milling about deciding whether to abandon. By this time, the wind had really whistled in, bearing a nasty shower. A few riders ventured off down the course to evaluate the situation, and an in the end the wise decision was taken to abandon and we retired to the Bikebus cafe for a coffee before returning home.
It did seem as though conditions were better while we were in the cafe, but frankly I think that was an illusion – it was still pretty awful as I rode home, and I had a couple of very alarming gusts.
This was only my second ride on this fast 10 mile course (F11/10), based on the A41 Tring bypass. It’s a fast course because of the significant hill riders descend, but don’t have to race back up. The last time I rode the course, I got held up by a line of cars at the first turn, which sort of reduced the race to a training ride!
I went out to this event with Katja, who’s been seeing some good performances lately, and who was off about 15 minutes after me. As per usual, I felt a distinct lack of enthusiasm as we drove out to the event and as warmed up. Also as per usual for me, the enthusiasm suddenly surfaced as I was just about to start! Continue reading
This was the first time the Brogborough ’10’ course had been used for an NBRC club event. The course was first used a few years ago when the new link road to the Bedford bypass was opened, thereby rendering the old A421 quite quiet. It features a gift start hill that doesn’t need to to raced back up. On the other hand, the road can be quite exposed, and the surface leaves a bit to be desired in places. The Marston Moretaine roundabout needs a bit of care on the outbound leg, because the exit lane doesn’t seem in line with the entry lane!
On the evening, the weather was fairly breezy – what wind there was provided a bit of side and a bit of tail wind going out – though there was enough crosswind to make things a bit twitchy at times. Continue reading
I usually find the events on the club’s Stony Stratford course not to my liking – the course runs out via Beachampton and Nash to turn at a roundabout on the A421. The outward leg therefore has a fair bit of climbing and usually acquires a new set of potholes over each winter. In the event of roadworks or other interference in the course, we revert to a back-up course. In the backup course, riders bear left soon after the start and proceed via Calverton and Whaddon, to turn at the A421 (at a roundabout just along the road from the normal turn). The course retraces and finishes short of a give way junction. This is closer to 10 miles than the usual Stony course. Continue reading
Having ignored Team Grumpy Rule #2 (Don’t tinker with your bike the evening before the event. It will break, either then or, worse still, during the event) before Sunday’s ’25’, and having paid the price in mechanical up-cocks in the opening few metres of that event it seemed entirely reasonable, I suppose, to similarly disregard Team Grumpy Rule #5 (Never train or race with a bad cough – it will destroy your entire season) and to turn out for this club event on the Astwood sporting course. Continue reading
This event was on the F1B/25, the southbound course starting and finishing near Tempsford (the only F1 course remaining now the Black Cat roundabout has been “improved”. The forecast was really not encouraging: cold and breezy – at least it was a (sort of) tail wind from the south. I had chosen to ride the P5 with the Hed wheels (with a Powertap rear hub) that I used for Wednesday’s club event. In fact, I disobeyed Team Grumpy Rule #2, by tinkering with the bike on the day before, fitting normal brake blocks instead of the carbon-specific cork blocks. Continue reading
This was the first of our evening events in the calendar, and was on the revised Stoke Hammond ’10’ course, which moves the start away from the Kelly’s Kitchen roundabout. It’s potentially quite a quick course, I think, though the short stretch on the outward leg between the penultimate roundabout and the turn roundabout can be a bit challenging, as it’s uphill. Continue reading