Sunday, 29 December 2013

Boroughbridge and Wetherby with Otley CC

93km today with the Intermediate group from Otley CC, a step up from Ken's B group.
It was a good pace, I was tired by the end and got dropped like a hot snot on the very last hill.

Saturday, 28 December 2013


Hardly cycling weather is it?
150kph gales yesterday.
Isn't it great??!
'Oh it's windy again, shame I was going to head out for a 100k spin, now, well, I'll have to stay home and eat 100+ tubes of Pringles.'

I did manage a 90 minute spin Christmas Day though.
Lovely route out to Kirby Overblow-Sicklinghall-Linton-Collingham-Harewood  and home for Christmas lunch.
For the record, I did all the washing up.

Gears were jumping a bit, and brakes needed tightening.
Tried tuning them last night, but I get confused whether the cable needs tightening or loosening in relation to how it jumps on the cassette.
I'll learn at some point, but they were a little better today over a short, windy/ rainy 8k, so I got something right.

Hope to meet Ken and the B group from Otley crew in the morning for club spin to Hebden/ Cracoe.
Bit concerned about keeping up, legs worryingly had nothing in them today going up a few little hills.

Will try cycling over to Otley at 'winter training zone 2' speed.
Whatever that really is for me, I still haven't the zones set up.
Highest bpm so far was today - I hit 172 whilst being blinded by the sun, avoiding a massive pile of horse shit, 2 dogs and their walkers along Gallowgate lane.

I don't like chasing max heart rates, I much prefer chasing my resting heart rate, which was 47 beats over 1 timed minute the other morning.
I'd like to think that means I'm really fit, but I know it just means I have a genetically low hr, because the way I felt today after a 20 minute cycle was the absolute opposite of fit.

Castley Lane, North Yorkshire
Christmas Day cycle - gorgeous weather

Monday, 2 December 2013

Kilcock 70k

Lovely cycle out to Kilcock today, no wind, no rain, no big hills - except for Knockmaroon then Lower Road on the way back.
I'm getting better going up knockmaroon for definite, and at 40 it's a great feeling noticing any improvement which tells me I'm getting physically better / stronger.
I don't have to use the last gears of my cassette going up anymore, granted it is a massive 12-30 cassette, but it's an improvement for me.
Gears shifted well today too, which I was a little concerned about given my removing and replacing the cassette for the first time yesterday.
New brake pads worked really well too.

I fancied an easy cycle alone today.
Said hello to a couple of Rooks and a stunning looking Heron on a grass verge, but they didn't say hello back, unless they muttered and I didn't hear them.
Think I saw lots of Fieldfares/ Redwings in the trees around the farmlands, but couldn't be certain, they were just black silhouettes as they flew awayon my approach.

Cycled Strawberry Beds, Lucan, Leixlip, Maynooth then onto the Rye River Cafe in Kilcock.
They were just closing when I got there (2.30pm) but they did me a sausage s/w (don't ask) and a gorgeous coffee, which I was very grateful for.
I got talking to another cyclist who was just finishing his coffee, he told me he was out on his own because he had missed his club spin from Clondalkin this morning from being out late last night.
I'd say that's a common enough occurrence when Sunday spins usually leave at 9am. For me that means a 7.30am alarm, which isn't always welcome at the weekend.
It certainly wasn't going to happen this morning anyway.

Returned from Kilcock through the back roads which tookj me through lots of farmlands.
I love the smells and sights of the farms, feels like home I suppose.

Garmin stopped navigating from Kilcock, no idea why, it sometimes does that resulting in a few wrong turns, but got home in good time and really enjoyed the cycle.

River Liffey, Lucan
One of the many, many farms on the way home

big fat dunkey/ connemara / shetland pony - who knows?

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Winter Ready

Fitted some new Swissstop Flash Pro Green brake pads to my good bike.
Successfully removed, cleaned and re-assembled my cassette.
And finally fitted last year's Schwalbe studded winter tyres to the new wheels I bought a few weeks back for my commuter.

Winter, I am ready.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Knaresbourough with Otley CC

New Yorkshire bike waiting at Pool bridge to join the other bikes for a spin out to Knaresborough
The Cavalry arriving from Otley
Nice hill on Folllifoot lane, think this was a group of beginner women, they all gave a cheery 'Morning' as they cycled by. We were stopped because as we were all cycling down that hill someone's tyre exploded. On inspection, Ken reckoned the  brake pads had been set too low and had been rubbing against the tyre for so long, it wore away and the tube exploded.
Puncture fixing skills put to the test. There were only 7 of us on the Sunday spin, I really like that small a number for a cycle.
I also really like that Otley top and the fact that he carried a spare tyre around in a Morrisons plastic bag on the back of his bike. That guy drinking water had just got back from Hong Kong at 5am.
Coffee stop Pots of tea and bacon buttie stop - Knaresborough, North Yorkshire
Look at that.
River Nidd, Knaresborough, Nov 24th 2013

It was a nice cycle again with the Otley crew.
I hadn't been through Kirkby Overblow before but will make sure to go through it again, it was a really pretty little village.
After we'd had our fill, I had to get back home, so said goodbye to the others and headed back.

Monday, 25 November 2013

My Yorkshire bike

Got my yorkshire bike! Another Scott, all the specs I wanted, from Drakes bike shop in Harehills, Leeds. Bike felt really great, made a few saddle/ handlebar adjustments, went for a test run in the pitch black, temp reached -1.9 ยบ around Dunkeswick. New lights showed up a dead pheasant in the road. Cycled by the train station,  passed my dad collecting my sister coming back from town, great to have a bike at home.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Seven Wonders of a club cycle to Mullingar

Cycle 118km to Mullingar, sleep the night, cycle 82km back.
With Orwell Wheelers.

Leave 10am Phoenix Park, Dublin

Saturday 18th November 2013

Notice the number of women? That's why I joined Orwell.

Orwell covers a whole range of cycling abilities - from Elite racers

To complete beginners.

with their beginner moustaches.

Babe Magnet
Missed the turn for Athboy so everyone took the chance to have a drink and eat a bar. Well, they did, I had just got my gloves off when everyone set off again. I'm sure they waited til my gloves were off.

60k in and we stopped at Tiffany's in Athboy for some pork chops. The young couple who run this cafe deserved medals by the time they had fed and served all of us. Hugely recommend this little cafe, food was very tasty, service was great. As trip advisor would say 'a gem of a find'.
At one stage, 4 of us decided to hang back from the main group and take it a little easier. Best decision ever. Instead of hurtling along the roads whilst trying to keep the etiquette of group cycling going, minding the potholes, minding the cyclist next to you, the cyclist in front of you and the cyclist behind you at the same time as missing everything. Dropping out of that, we got to relax, look around and stop in the wonder of Fore.

It was down to me, the girl from Yorkshire to tell the 3 Irish girls about the Seven Wonders of Fore.

5.The Water that won't boil  6.The Anchorite in a cell  7.The lintel stone raised by St Feichin's prayers.

8.The Seven Wonders bar, its landlady and locals  9.The random defibrillator stuck on the pub wall, secured with green masking tape

10. The weight of Grainne's bike 11. The Magical powers of a cold can of coke.

Escorting our bikes up their heated 4 star hotel room

Next day weather forecast = grim. 120km yesterday, 80km today - in the rain, would I manage it? I felt I would.

Does one wear the boil in the bag waterproof jacket to keep dry whilst running the risk of getting too hot? or leave it off, brave the drizzle and hope it stops? but if it doesn't - get cold?! Got to decide now because there'll be no stopping for another 40km. What's everyone else doing? They're all doing different things. Aagghh.

Little drink break. Louise and Helen there, not a bother on em - flyers, the two of them.

Someone made the call to go into the garage for tea/ coffee to get warm. It was the most perfect call to make, we'd been cycling for 2 hours solid in the pouring cold rain. you can see raindrops on the camera lens. Would you want these people close to you?
How about these?!

It was a great weekend, everyone seemed to really, really enjoy it.
Thanks to all the club members who did so much of the work we didn't see to make the routes/ hotel/ dinner/ bag carriage possible - much appreciated by everyone.
My personal highlights were breaking off into the group of four, stopping in Fore, that can of coke (thanks Gra), being able to cycle another 80km (quickly too) after cycling the furthest I've ever cycled just the day before.
My low point happened when I got home.
I must have been so tired I put my brand new white Orwell jersey into the washing machine with 2 pairs of black jeans, thinking it would be 'fine'.
Of course it wasn't and now my sparkling white jersey is a dull, dark grey- I've only worn it twice.
The shame.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Arrigut, Shipleh, Saltaire, Otleh, Adel n' Leeds


After flying my bike from Dublin to Leeds resulted in a cut tyre, torn tube, dented wheel rim and twisted brake calipers, I decided I wasn't going to risk flying my bike over again any time soon.
This meant, as the opening cry of happiness stated - BIKE SHOPPING!!!

There are millions of bike shops near where we live.
Harrogate (well Starbeck actually) is the home of Spa Cycles, a Mecca for touring/ audax cyclists, and as much as I'd love a Spa bike, these bikes are works of art, works of art which I can only afford to stand next to in the shop, pull the break levers and squeeze the tyres.

There's a few other places in Harrogate, including a Specialized 'concept' store, but again too pricey, unless I was willing to buy a triple - which I wasn't.
Can't understand why anyone would want a triple, all those gears - never being able to find the gear you want - no, not for me.
A Compact, 20 speed, 52cm aluminum frame with carbon forks and ideally a wsd (women specific design) with the smaller handlebars already fitted - that's what I wanted, in the most basic (read cheapest) form.
No flowers, no pink, no swirls - ideally black everything.

I headed off to Shipley calling into the legendary Ellis Briggs.
Eyed up some of their beautiful handmade Ellis Briggs bikes, but again, out of my price range.
I shuffled over to the cheaper 'factory made in Taiwan' section, looked at the Giants, but still couldn't really see anything.
John Briggs came over to chat and was very helpful, offered to order in a Giant Avail 3 or 5, but I wanted to buy there and then, so I left and headed down the road to 'All Terrain' in Saltaire.

The All Terrain bike shop doesn't have any of the history of Ellis Briggs, but wow, does a visit to this shop hit you with history!
It's the surroundings of the shop that ooze history and cry out for a TV mini series to be filmed there and shown of a Sunday evening.
Saltaire in itself is a World Heritage Site, due largely to the huge textile mills and houses built by Titus Salt in the mid 1800's. The mills were built on the edge of the River Aire, so Salt + Aire = Saltaire.
All textile weaving stopped in 1972 and the buildings fell into disrepair.
In 1986 an investor took interest, poured a whole load of money into regenerating the mills and the buildings sprang back to life.
The mills now house a visitor centre, cafes, shops and an art gallery, including an exhibition of works by Bradford born David Hockney.

In one of the out buildings there's a bike shop, a biiig bike shop which has a good amount of wsd road bikes.
If you're ever in All Terrain and need some help, look for a man with glasses on his head called Alan.
Think a cross between the guy who always says 'cheap as chips' and Michael O'Leary.
Alan must have taken every bike down so I could stand over them to check frame sizes. For about an hour I tried different bikes and not once was there any pressure to buy, any impatience, he was just there to help me find a bike that suited me.
In heaven, every bike shop will have an Alan.
But no matter how many bikes I stood over and pedaled backwards, it wasn't happening for me in Saltaire, and me and Alan had to admit defeat.

I left the shop, crossed the road, bought a pasty from the bakery, ate it, watched the crumbs going all over mum's clean car, and drove over to Chevin Cycles in Otley.

I must have been in Chevin Cycles a hundred times toying with the idea of buying a bike, they had a Lexa I nearly bought a few times, but something always stopped me.
And here I was again, stood in the same spot, looking at the same Lexa.
The owner looked over at me.

'Were you in about January time?'
'Looking at the same bike'?
'Why don't you just buy it'?
'Have you got it in a 52'?
'I don't think so no, think there's more due in next week'.
So I left, without buying the Lexa - again.

It was nearing the end of the day, I drove over to my last option: Crosstrax in Adel, Leeds.
When I got there, it seemed like it was women's day in there.
Crosstrax is a small shop, so to have 6 women in there was pretty cool.
Three seemed to be having a meeting, one was getting her bike fixed and one was in having a chat with Matt.
Matt saw me and remembered me from when I called into them over Summer with my bust tyre.
Matt will also work in Heaven's bike shop, he loves his bikes and he's genuinely very helpful.
We chatted about what I wanted from a bike and I stood over a L'appiere and went out for a mini cycle up the road, but it wasn't easy to tell if I'd be able to do a 100km comfortably from a 3 minute spin.
I asked him if he could just order me in a Scott seeing as they used to sell them and I knew that would definitely fit me, he said they couldn't, but JD Cycles over in Ilkley stocked them and if I didn't break too many speed limits I'd make it over before they closed at 5pm.

In the car again, now heading over to Ilkley I mentally decided that if they had a Scott, the same as the one I had in Dublin, despite the increase in price, I'd just buy it.

I asked several people in Ilkley if they knew where JD Cycles was, but Ilkley's so full of tourists no-one knew. Eventually an Australian gave me directions and there it was, hidden away down a back street in a residential area.
I stepped into the shop and one of the owners, Jamie (who could also join the Dream team with Alan and Matt), showed me upstairs to the Scotts.
I described the kind of bike I wanted and Jamie showed me what they had, unfortunately the only 52 frames in my price range, and even stepping up a couple of hundred pounds, were all triples.
So that was that.

My sister called me wanting to be collected from Harrogate, so I drove over thinking about my day.
No bike, but I'd spent the whole day in bike shops, in some the most scenic places you could imagine, and been helped by some really genuine, nice guys.
I usually hate shopping, today was different.

Ellis Briggs Cycles - still making their own steel bikes in the traditional way. You could buy a bike from Ellis Briggs and cycle it along that canal way to Liverpool, seriously - you could, that path goes the whole way.

Ellis Briggs Cycles, Shipley, West Yorkshire.

Ellis Briggs 'Super Tourist'

John Briggs, brother of Paul Briggs, son of Jack Briggs, grandson of Thomas Briggs (co-founder).
Steps going down to the Mills
The All Terrain bike shop is in the building under that big chimney

Main Entrance into Salts Mills

All Terrain Bike Shop, Saltaire, West Yorkshire
1855 Gallery/ David Hockney exhibition

Salts Diner

Bookshop in Salts Mill

Exhibition of 'Rockstars in Yorkshire' Sandie Shaw

How the buildings would all be if it wasn't for the funding.

The Brilliant Crosstrax in Adel, Leeds.
Matt and the L'appiere I was trying. I think he said that woman (Helen) is a famous cyclist.
Women's day in Crosstrax.
JD Cycles in Ilkley

A few Scotts, but none in my size, or in my price range

Great idea, bike wash station at JD Cycles, Ilkley
My day trying to find a bike I wanted, at a price I could afford - summed up by that umbrella.