Friday, March 30, 2007

Stunted blogging

Easter is coming and that involves planning... trips to south wales

First there's a trip to the Fens for a week working for the new client. Hopefully blogspace will not be left behind. Tonight we are being seen-off by colleagues with a big Italian meal. Yay for pasta!

There are so many maps to buy.

Then there's the vanu to pick up. They have discovered the full service history - I knew we were right to buy that one. It will not be used for Easter weekend because I don't want to be stuck in traffic with all those other muppets. I will be used for extensive garden-shed-buying the week after.

A big Ahhh please for Uncle Tom who accidentally wiped his hard drive last week. A bigger Ahhh for my cuz who had 3 university essays to rewrite in as many days. He will take one lesson with him from college... never rely on dad's technology.

Miles cycled in March: 253

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Another rung

On Saturday we cycled to Marlborough.

Nothing new about this really, except this time we had a task to complete. A tail wind pushed us all the way which was annoying since I needed no inspiration to get there and all the time knew that getting home would be extremely difficult. Our average speed to Marlborough was 14 mph compared to my usual average of 12.

Close to our destination, the Trep got hungry but, despite efforts, there was no food in any of the little villages. Our hosts did, however, supply us with two hot steaming mugs of tea to accompany us on our quest of looking around, in and under the 27 VW Transporter vans, cruely kept within the confines of their fence.

In the end, it came down to a race to the line between a yr2000 van with a muckier engine and weird feeling gearbox but better bodywork and a stainless steel exhaust and a yr 2002 van with a few rust spots, a dead-looking exhaust but a cleaner engine that started straight away.

First we took the newer one out which was OK to drive. We went in, to make an offer but grumbling about the bodywork, the exhaust and just that we liked the other more. The dealer shrugged his shoulders and dug out the 2000 model from the back and gave us the keys.

It rocketed out of the steep driveway and zipped up the road. This one was much more fun to drive. There was little fuel in it so we ragged it a bit then came back to base to do the deal.

After a good half hour of chatting about the trans-Canada trip with the cyclist-salesman we headed off home, leaving the van to be kindly tended, touched up, serviced, MOTd and all the rest for our reunion in two weeks time, holiday weekends and excursions to Peterborough permitting. The ride home was all the more difficult for that roaring headwind, excitement and a huge hunk of chocolate cake consumed at Applebys tea-room in Marlborough before leaving.

Miles cycled in March: 208

I should stress that my family has a policy that cars are purely for the pleasurable indulgence of getting bicycles to races and therefore, the purchase of a motor vehicle does not in any way conflict with my principles. In the same breath, however, I admit it will get used for the other vital indulgence of visiting friends who live off major rail routes and parking at the bottom of mountain footpaths which will keep me occupied for entire weekends on end. What it will not be used for is commutes to work and trips to the shops. I am, in fact, having trouble persuading the insurance companies that I only plan to drive around 3000 miles in a year.

Monday, March 19, 2007

What to catch up on first

Our second Open5 Series Navigator race did not go to plan. The Trep was sick - and had been for two weeks. The doctor promised the Trep that the cough would only last one more week so the Trep reluctantly took the decision to spend the race taking a leisurely, un-stressful walk around the Yorkshire countryside whilst one half of Team Pamplemouse completed the event as solo male.

I walked for 4 hours along the ridge of Sutton Bank (photos) which is near Thirsk, about 30 miles North of Rippon on the A1. Sutton Bank is the name of a 1 in 4 road which climbs up a steep craggy embankment. The cycling "milk race" has climbed it many times in its history as one of the classic climbs to do in the country. Cars towing caravans are banned from using it and there are statistic signs warning that the road has been blocked 137 times so far this year by truck drivers that just don't realise what they're letting themselves in for. There is a hairpin bend one half of the way up which our brand-new shiny rental van handled without pain and the lady in the Rover in front exclaimed, "I was hoping you would push me up there" when we got to the top. I was tempted, I surely was.

It was with reluctance that I saw TSK off on his way. Part of me was jealous that he was racing alone. Part of me knew he would do better without me and didn't like that. Part of me knew that if I rode in my own category, I'd do better than us as a team and didn't like that because I like to ride with him. Part of me was looking forwards to a day of walking and wished he'd leave so I could get on with it. But that was mainly because I wished he was with me. Walking alone is lonely. Walking with dogs, fine. Walking with a loved one, fine. Walking alone - there's no-one to share the joys with.

However, the day was bright and I could manage to walk. I filled with glee as I realised I could manage to go further, further. Then I descended to a village in search of food and to time my arrival back at the van to greet TSK (with the keys) and get a rest before setting off on the long drive back. The deal is always that he reads the map and I drive - particularly when he's been racing and I haven't.

Back at the car park I was treated to the tail end of a classic mini-car rallye up Sutton Bank and laughed as people were treated to a bit of old fashioned speed as other cars were held up behind the little revving, struggling, smoking classic cars.

The final result of the race, TSK got 390 points without me and arrived back 6 minutes late. He was 20th. Quite high up the field compared to our usual score. So, as I embark on the second of my 70 mile ride to work weeks, I'm looking forward to the next Open5 series and praying to stop coughing long enough to go for a run... just one before the next race would be nice.