Wednesday, 25 February 2015

George Pilkington Mills, my video tribute.

As promised in my previous post, here is a link to the short film we made when we visited the grave of the penny farthing end to end record holder.

A massive thank you to my friend Mickey for puting the film together in his spare time.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Visiting my cycling hero, George Pilkington Mills.

On Sunday 8 th February I paid a visit to the grave of my cycling hero, George Pilkington Mills. Now I doubt that many modern day cyclists have heard of George as he was cycling many years ago. In fact, in the year 1886 he set the record for being the fastest person to cycle from Lands end to John O'groats on a penny farthing. There are two amazing facts about this record, the first being that he only took 5 days 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete the 900 mile journey! The second point worth mentioning is that this record still stands, 128 years later!

I'm not going to be breaking this record and to be honest I can't see it ever going. Whilst I was at the grave, with the help of my friend Mickey, I made a short film about George, his cycling records ( and there are many) and I also mentioned my fast approaching end to end ride. Once the video is edited I will post a link on here.

Visiting the grave was a great experience, I'd like to thank everyone at the church in Shirley, Croydon for making my visit so enjoyable. Special thanks to Vic who I contacted by email with my initial enquiry, wondering if the grave was in their churchyard and he then went on to help me locate the grave. It was also nice that the vicar turned out to welcome me. I'm not particularly religious but he asked if he could bless me and my bike to wish us good luck on my ride. I welcomed this idea, thinking I might need all the help I can get!

All in all it was a great day and well worth the 320 mile round trip. If you're wondering how I made the journey then here's a photo of my hand made penny farthing roof rack, who needs a big car!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Worcester St. John's cc reliability ride.

Today I rode my penny farthing in the Worcester St. John's cc reliability ride. A reliability ride is basically an organised group ride, traditionally held in the late winter to help riders get fit for the coming season.

Today's ride had two route options and I chose the short route that avoided 20 miles of hills. However, even the short route was over 30 miles and as it was very windy it proved to be quite a work out!

The first group of riders started out at 9.30 am, I started in this group as I was aware that even the 30 mile route would probably take me over 3 hours. The faster riders and those doing the longer, harder ride , started about 10 mins after me.

This photo was taken at the start head quarters. Worcester auto club. A great little venue and I was already looking forward to returning here for my coffee and cake after the ride!

Once the ride got underway it was clear it was going to be a tough morning. The wind was extremely strong and riding towards Droitwich on the A38 was very tough going. For me, sat up in the wind on the penny farthing, it was really slow going. I couldn't wait to turn out of the wind and get some rest bite.

Fortunately for me the route was at least fairly flat, one or two climbs had my heart rate climbing but at least it was all rideable. The headwind did actually help at times, when I was riding down the quite steep road to cross the river bridge the wind held my speed back so I didn't have to get off and walk.

The head wind eased off at the turn in great witley and this was very welcome, the snow that had started to fall was a bit worrying for a while but it soon stopped.

The road back towards Worcester was on I knew very well, having raced my modern time trial bike along it many times in the beacon little mountain time trial. Fortunately this part of the course is the flat bit before the hills so with the help of the tail wind I was flying along... At about 12 mph.

As I got closer to the finish I started to get passed by riders who had done the longer route, it was great to get a few words of encouragement as they passed me. I just hoped they wouldn't eat all the cake at the HQ before I returned!

I needn't have worried, as I finished the ride and walked into the HQ I saw that there were plenty of cakes left. So I got stuck in and started replacing some hard burnt calories!

It turned out to be quite a hard workout, I'm going to have to hope and pray that the wind doesn't blow like this in April as my average heart rate for the 3 hour ride was 160 bpm. That's way to high to maintain for the 7 to 10 hours per day that I will be riding.

Overall it was a great day, thanks to the organisers and cake bakers for all their efforts and thanks to everyone who came along to make it such a popular and successful event.

This final photo is my heart rate data from the ride...