Monday, 17 September 2007

Bmf tail end bike rally

I've just spent the weekend at the BMF tail end bike rally. It's always good fun but I'm always pleased to come home. There is only so much drinking and sleeping in a tent that I can take, in fact if the rally was any longer it would become a real test of endurance, probably a test that I would fail. As it stands though it's a great weekend, although not something that you would want to do too regularly.

My accomplice for the weekend was Mickey, his weekend was made extra tough as he had to travel up on the back of my bike. Over a long distance the last place on earth you want to be sitting is on the back of an xt660 with loud exhausts, but we made it. The bike managed the journey with no problems, however the lack of luggage space gave us a few difficulties. We had to take a tiny tent, which was described as disposable and cost £7.97.... We also had no room to take drink so I left Mickey at the showground and went back out for beer. I ended up at a small local store and purchased 48cans of lager, then returned to the rally and we started to drink them.

A lot happened durring the first night but my memory of it is for some reason a little blured. At some stage I rode a mechanical rodeo bull, we met some people with flashing teeth, ate some alcoholic sweets, rocked to live music and drank lots of lager before stagering back to the tent.

The next day was predicitably tough we both went through bad spells on and off for most of the day, I started worse than Mickey but at about 1.00pm Mickey seemed to have a relapse and we spent most of the afternoon asleep on the grass. We later learnt that one of the people we were talking to the night before came over to say hello but he couldn't wake us up. A sorry state to get in.
We recovered enough to walk round the show and also to check out the bikes in the camp site. When in the camp site I noticed something quite frightening. A guy, who I had seen the night before staggering around drunk, was sitting by his bike with a spanner in his hand, scratching his head with his front brake in pieces. Scary stuff, made even worse by the fact that the bike in question was a zzr1100, and capable of 180mph... We managed a few more drinks on Saturday night but what with having to ride home the next day we took it quite slowly.
When we came to pack up and leave other campers seemed to feel sorry for us, one group offered us a new tent for nothing as ours was the worst they had ever seen, and another guy gave us a rucksack that he no longer needed. What we really needed however was a taxi home...
That's about it for now, my next post will probably be in a couple of weeks time when I am getting ready to ride the penny farthing from coast to coast...

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

King of the mountain?

I'd like to say that I rode all the way up Ankerdine on the penny, but I have to confess that I pushed most of it. I probably made the slowest ascent of the day but it was worth it. Loads of people turned out to watch the climb and it was good to see that even the pros found the climb hard, look at the face on the rider in the first photo, he's really hurting.
My day started with a slow ride into Worcester to see the start village. Loads of people showed an interest in the penny, one guy from cycling weekly took a few photos and said he would try to get it into the magazine. Hopefully this will happen as I would love to get a mention in the comic, obviously I would rather be in print for winning the national 25 mile time trial championship but this is also obviously not going to happen, so a comedy picture of me and the penny will have to do!
The whole race seemed to be well organised, we even had a commentary car telling us about the riders in the break and the road closure seemed to work well. Unfortunatly, despite my encouragement on Ankerdine, Roger Hammond didn't quite manage to win the stage but all in all, it was a great day.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

The Tour of Britain hits Worcester

Stage three of the race starts in Worcester tomorrow and I am going to ride the penny out to watch the race at Ankerdine. I have decided on Ankerdine as, previous readers of the blog will already know, it's a climb I have first hand experience of. Racing up it as a stand alone event is hard enough, the tour riders will be 60km into the stage with another 90km to go. It will be interesting to see how fast the pro riders go.

Although I'm really into cycling I've not actually watched that much racing live. I did go to watch Armstrong in his last tour de France though, and it was an amazing experience. We rode up some of the famous climbs just before the race came through so the crowds were massive and the atmosphere was amazing.
The first stage that I watched went up the climb of Ax-les-thermes, I can't really explain what I felt when the main riders came into view for the first time. A few hours earlier I had struggled up the climb at snails pace, then Armstrong, Ulrich and Basso came up the mountain side by side, looking almost effortless. The crowds parted around them and I genuinely felt that I was in the presence of greatness, and I'm sure that others watching felt the same. It sounds stupid I know, but I have never felt that before, or since, it was an incredible experience. The other thing that has stayed with me is the support for the riders from the crowd. Most of the fans were French, a fair number of Spainish and then little groups of English, Americans, Germans etc. All of the fans without exception offered their support towards all of the riders. The french desperaply didn't want Armstrong to win again, but when he came though they all gave him a clap and a cheer, the fans appreciated his performance. They would have preferd him to have gone badly but nobody offered anything but applause towards him. Imagine that at a football game...
On another day I managed to get a couple of photos as the riders went by, this one is of Jan Ulrich as he suffered up the climb to St lary Soulan. Jan was unlucky enough to be competing against Lance Armstrong and some of the strongest teams in history. In any other era Jan would have ruled.
Anyway, tomorrow I will cheer on all of the riders at the Tour of Britain, I'll just try to cheer a bit harder when I see anyone British! I'll update this post later in the week...

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Worcester pedal in the park

Today I rode the penny to Gheluvelt park in Worcester for a cycle event held as part of the Tour of Britain promotion. My cycling club, Worcester St. Johns had a stand so I was going mainly to make up the numbers on our stand.

When I got there I was pleased to see there were a number of other stands and quite a bit going on, I had a go at the roller racing and posted a time of 21.57secs., at the time good enough for 4th spot. I only had one go, and according to the girl running the stand I started slowly, but being so short it was more a test of pedalling speed and style rather than fittness, so I was pleased with my time as I have always thought that I can't spin. The people running the rollers were , I've not checked out the web site yet but apparently they do parties so it might be worth looking at if you are after something different to a bouncy castle.

The other penny farthings in the photo belong to a fellow club member, Martin, and are both for sale. One is an original from 1888, the other is a replica. Both are ridable, I had a quick go on the replica and it rides really well. The purists out there may not be too keen on it as the join between the backbone and forks is quite bulky, but if you're after a penny for fun or to learn on you could do a lot worse, e mail me if you're interested in either bike and I'll pass your details on. (more photos on ) There is also a trike in the photo, this was used by a club member, Gordon, to ride from Lands end to John O'Groats. Gordon did the ride to celebrate his 70th bithday!

A couple of select club members had a go on my bike and also a guy from the try a bike stand, everyone got on ok and the bike survived fine.

The mountain bike demo was pretty cool too. My photo doesn't do it justice but these guys seem to defy gravity!

All in all a good event, congratulations to the organisers.

I stayed untill about 1.00pm I think, I don't wear a watch at the weekends so that I am not a slave to time! Then I rode off to Vanfest at Malvern. Vanfest is a VW Transporter show and as a bit of an air cooled VW fan I thought I'd pay it a visit. It was a great ride over in the sunshine with lots of people cheering me on from their cars. Once at the show I checked out a few trade stands and chated to a few people about the bike. I also had a quick look round the vans for sale area but came to the conclusion that £10000 buys a lot of B&B, besides I think Split screen vans are too small to get my bike in and the later larger vans just aren't that cool. I had a T25 camper for a couple of years and it was fun but, sorry T25 fans, they are not cool.

The ride home was also good, I did notice that a couple of spokes on the penny had started to work loose, but the wheel still seemed true so I'm not to worried about it, I'll give them a quick tighten later. The only negivite thing about the day was a real rarity, a negivive comment. I was riding along in a dead straight line in full control when a car pulled up along side me, the lads in the car then shouted, "F*!KING IDIOT" to which I replied "F*!KING IDIOT? YOU'RE THE ONE DRIVING THE ROVER 213!" I mean, a Rover 213, why even entertain the thoughts of buying one? The only surprising thing about Rover going bust was that it didn't happen years ago. I don't swear that often, but I think he deserved it, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones..

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Penny farthing time trial

Back to the penny stuff at last! I've just done a club time trial on the penny, the course itself was only 5.5miles but after riding to work, then to the start, doing the event and then riding home I'm really tired. In total I must have riden about 35miles. This in itself is not that far but what with the hill climb a couple of days ago and last week I raced at the track and did two time trials, I'm glad the season is coming to an end.

The ride to work was fine but I was late leaving at the end of the day so I had to push on to get to the start. I was in time but lots of people had already signed on so I asked if I could go as number 0 so that I could ride at least some of the way home in daylight.

The event itself was good, I did a time of 21mins 6seconds. I had done this course once before on the penny and managed 21mins 10seconds so to go a bit faster was a surprise after the rush to get to the start. After the event I had a quick drink in the pub with some of the other riders then made my way home.

The first part of the ride was fine as it was still light. Then when the sun went down it become harder. To start with it was good, with just enough light to be able to see and owls and bats starting to fly around I really enjoyed it. Then when it became very dark it was just a case of surviving the journey. You really need to be able to see the road when on a penny and my front light was not really good enough, I made it home but riding in the dark is not something I plan to do too often.

With the coast to coast ride coming up I think I may have to do some early morning starts to make the most of the daylight. This weekend I plan to get a few daylight miles in on the penny and take a few more photos....

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Ankerdine hill climb

Sorry, yet again nothing to do with penny farthings! I'll make up for this at the end of the month when I ride the penny from coast to coast, I promise!

Back to Ankerdine, anyone who has ever riden a bike will know how hard it is to ride up a steep hill. Well Ankerdine is properly steep, with an average gradient of 17% and each year at the end of the time trial season my cycling club holds a time trial up it.

I have prepaired my bike in the usual way, by taking off anything that adds weight like lights and mud gaurds and I'm confident that I will do a decent time. Last year I got up the climb in 3mins 41seconds. I'm not sure if I will go faster this year as I changed the gearing on my bike earlier in the year and my lowest gear is now a bit higher than it was last year.

I have also had today off work as well so I should be nicely rested. While I was sitting arround today I had the idea of attaching my camera to my bike to make a video clip of the climb. So I have now added back a few grams of weight, well it's always handy to have an excuse lined up!

Anyway if the video works I'll put it on you tube so that you can experience the pain of a hill climb... (seems to have worked ok, going up = going down = the first one is quite long so it's still processing, should be ok by 5th sept though).

For now I'm trying not to think too hard about the prospect of getting my heart rate to maximum and holding it there for 4 mins, actually I've just thought about it and that's going to be about 760 beats! If I was watching tv 760 beats would take about 15minutes.....

Well I survived the hill climb but went slower than last year by about 7seconds I think. I'd like to make a special mention to two fellow riders though. Firstly Ed Dursley, he tried so hard he was sick at the finish, good effort Ed! And secondly Steve Price, who flew up the hill in 2 mins 56 seconds! An incredible performance, I'm quite a fit bloke and half decent up hills but Steve took 53 seconds off my time, to use a word that is often used but rarely deserved.. Awesome. I am truly in awe of that time and so should you be..

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Almost a winner

Nothing to do with penny farthings, but I almost won a club time trial this week. My pb for this course is 24.02 so I was pleased with 24.08 considering I spent the weekend before drinking 24 cans of Lager, sleeping in a tent and eating rubbish.. If only I was more dedicated.....

10m tt Severn Stoke 30/08/07
Name Cat Time
R Graham G 23.51
D Preece G 24.08
B Boswell S 24.16
C McSweeney S 24.24
J Barnett G 24.35
S O'Toole V 25.26
A Taylor V 25.40
E Dursley G 25.49
D Evans G 26.11
B Whatton G 26.25
E Garton S 27.25
D Yapp V 27.32
G O'Mahoney V 27.59
W Douglas V(F) 28.35
D Burnage V 28.42
C Connell G 28.52
T Knight V 29.17
A Sims S 29.30
P Jolley S 30.24
D Morgan V 31.24

I also made my track debut this week at Halesowen. Although I didn't finish with many points I didn't crash so I was quite pleased. My best performance was in a 500m sprint, which is strange as I have always thought I couldn't sprint. The bigger bunch races were a bit to cut and thrust for me so I sat at the back of the bunch to stay out of trouble. Again I was quite pleased to finish them without incident and still in touch with the main group. With a bit more practice I can only get better...

The coments people make

Virtualy all of the coments people make when they see a man on a penny farthing are positive. This makes a refreshing change as fellow cyclists will know this is not always the case when out riding.

In this section of the blog I have tried to list the best coments that I have received whilst out on the penny, I will add to as and when I get any variations on the coments received.

Best comments to date. 2/9/07 (Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 0) sorry about the football reference but I'm so pleased Villa were the first team this season to wipe the smug grin off Mourinhos face, as for Drogba what a big girls blouse. Anyway, back to the penny stuff...

1. "Nice bike mate, Halfords?"

I was out riding the penny when a fellow cyclist caught me up and offered the above question. At the time it made me laugh, lots. Thinking about it, although I still find it funny, he would have had some time to think of what to say, Still brilient though.

When people have less time to think about what to say they typicaly seem to come up with one or more of the following.

2. "Do a wheelie!" I've tried, it's not possible.

3. "Nice bike, can you juggle as well?" For whatever reason people seem to think I must be part of a circus.

4. "Hey, penny farthing." For those who know what one is.

5. "What the f*!k." For those who don't.

6. "What the f*!k, what the f*!k." A coment made by a suprised lad in London when first Kat rode past on her penny then me on mine.

7. "No way!"

8. "Jesus Christ!" No, it's just me.

More to follow as and when people coment...