Category Archives: mileater

Mile Eater Diary – March 2012

March started with the weather gods suffering from some kind of delusion. They clearly thought it was April rather than March, so provided nearly two weeks of glorious sunshine and soft kindly breezes. However, in the run up to Easter, someone switched the sun off and it was back to the chilly temperatures of winter, accompanied on occasion with endless grey skies.

The Bike Butler had installed Scottie’s Alfine 11 speed hub and it was time to put this new and exciting technology (to me) to the test. The first spin to collect some groceries showed lots of promise, once you got used to a little more weight at the rear of the bike than with the old dérailleur set up. Working my way through MG’s utilitiare challenge meant that Scottie was called upon to perform more day-to-day tasks, including riding to work and eventually pulling the Gecko trailer fully loaded with groceries. He excelled at it, with his lovely new range of hub gears. Having now ridden him enough kms, Scottie is again a firm favourite for utility tasks, including commuting.

The first event in March was the South Bucks Chiltern Hills Brevet. Organiser Terry Lister, ensured that he didn’t get caught out under the trades description act with the ride constantly winding up and over the Chiltern Hills for 200km in glorious sunshine. The South Bucks DA did an excellent job of providing tea, cakes and savoury delights for many hungry cyclists on both the 200km and 100km as they passed in and out of the HQ in Great Kingshall.

Then a change of pace with the Man of Kent 200km. It declined to play in the Kentish hills, but instead found, for the most part, flat roads to ride on. The bunch set off in chilly, foggy conditions but donning arm and leg warmers with the hope of better things to come when the sun came out. Alas, this didn’t occur, but the pesky headwind turned into a marvellously helpful tailwind to gently push riders to the arrivee.

The now cold weather followed me and the Bike Butler through the Chunnel and over to Paris for a Union des Audax Francais brevet. This is a group brevet at a scheduled pace of 22.5kph with defined breaks, including lunch, and led by appointed riders. The event started and finished at St Remy Les Chevreuse on the outskirts of Paris and wandered along gently rolling D roads, returning on schedule at 7pm with 200km on the computer.

In things to look forward to, there is Casper the Little White Moulton’s return from his surgery at ‘The Hall’. Plus going over to Queensland, Oz for my first rando Dirt Ride. The Bike Butler and I will also be doing the Beaches and Beyond 1000km rando that Frank Papp created before dying from a collision with a kangaroo whilst training for last year’s PBP.

And last but not least, my Rapha Festive 500 patch arrived. Well worth the effort of putting in the kms over the Christmas period and lots of fun following fellow festive 500 participants on Twitter and Strava. Something to put in the diary for this year.

Mile Eater Diary – February 2012

As January quietly slipped into February the weather gods kept to their commitment to provide temperatures that where akin to those found in a freezer. Not daunted I continued to pedal; hermetically sealed in my club mega windblocker jacket along with plenty of merino wool and windblocker cycle longs. Just as I was approaching the weekly minimum 400km target the weather gods did the dastardly deed and spent a whole Sunday depositing loads of nasty cold white stuff on the ground. I was left looking out of the window admiring the fine whiteness of the outside world for the next 7 days. The only respite came when I was able to sneak 12km down to Sainsbugs and back on the Brompton in between top up snow fall.

Thankfully, the weather gods got fed up with their little game and allowed the weather to fine up and purposeful cycling to recommence. The improvement in the weather was so good that a near perfect day was provided for the Reading Kennett Valley Run 200km randonnee. The peloton contained many of the ‘usual suspects’, including YACF’s Lyrca Man and RideHard in search of their February Randonneur Round the Year award ride. The controls at Hungerford and Bratton were as usual excellent, both cafes happily coping with a mega influx of hungry cyclists. Mick Simmons and his team did a fantastic job at the arrivee providing a warm welcome and a great post ride feast.

The Bike Hub app is great, particularly for navigating around central London. The best bit being that it knows all the cycle paths and cut-troughs that only a local rider would know. However, when it decides to have one of its bad bike Sat Nav days, things get not only interesting but very, very frustrating. Riding the Brompton to my new place of work with the Bike Hub navigating (as and when it felt like it) provided some unexpected but interesting urban adventures. The route is now safely logged in my brain’s navigation SIM card, so no more suffering from the vagaries of Mr Bike Hub. Although, having tried other bike Sat Nav Apps, this is the best one by far and keeps improving all the time.

The Bike Butler sourced and installed the most fantastic pair of pedals onto the Brompton. The Wellgo plug-in pedals allow you the luxury to choose either SPDs or flat pedals but when folding the Brompton, the pedals aren’t in the way as they simply pull out and then plug in when you are ready to ride again. Having thoroughly tested them in and around town, including on Gypsy Bugs Utilitaire challenge, they get big ‘thumbs up’.

In ’ things to look forward to’, the spoke elves finally visited Chez Brevet Bird as February faded into March with the necessary spokes for the Alfine 11 speed hub and it’s rim. So once the bike butler has knitted the spokes with the hub and rim, the first spin on Scotti avec Alfine isn’t too far way. Also, I still need to check out if the ‘Remede du Randonneur’ works that I was recently given!

Mile Eater Diary – January 2012

After January 2010, it was like getting an extended Christmas present with the perfect winter cycling weather that January 2011 presented. Knowing that the weather gods can give with one hand and then take back as quickly with the other, utilizing the good weather a-wheel was a must.

A first was scored, by riding the calendar version of the Poor Student 200km randonnee event from Oxford. It is a ride that is usually cursed with cold and icy conditions. This edition was positively balmy. The route is simple but effective with intermediate controls at Malmesbury and Chipping Campden. It was a chance to meet up with numerous friends, many chasing the AUK Randonneur Round the Year award. This included from the YACF forum Lycraman, having successfully completed his first in 2010 and RideHard who is aiming to obtain his first.

Unbelievably, the good weather continued and made the Willy Warmer 200km another fine day a-wheel. This is an excellent winter ride mainly on good A and B roads, with not too many secret squirrel info controls, so even in bad years it is usually rideable. The organisation as always was excellent, so a big thumbs up to Paul Stewart from the Willesden.

The weather gods were of course bound to change their minds and retract the good weather. The super freezy elves were let loose on just about the last week in January. A good day meant that its zenith at high noon reached a heady 4C. The only upside to the cold spell was little or no humidity. This translated as little or no risk of ice, so grumbling about the Sahara like conditions created by the spread but unused road salt seemed a little out of order. I closed the month with over double the mileage tally of January 2010, keeping quest to reach 200,000 recorded miles by the close of play this year on target.

In ‘things to look forward to’, my new Alfine 11 speed hub arrived. This is to re-new the rear wheel that I wore out on my Scott MTB in December after many years of faithful service over countless miles. I’m now just waiting on spokes, rims and my tame bike butler to put it all together and I can go out for a test ride.

2011 Mile Eater Diary Round-up

As ever, when the final tally for the year is totalled, you always wish it was a bit more. However, with a desperate January and February from unforeseen things like flu, complaining that 13,377 miles isn’t enough would be churlish.

Miles a-wheel of course usually equate to great memories and wonderful adventures. Within the 2011 mileage, there are heaps of both and plenty of rides with new and old cycling friends. To pick out one outstanding memory / adventure would be tough. Vying for top spot would be the inaugural Texas Stampede Rando 1200, my first ride on Casper ‘the little white Moulton’ and PBP Audax and PBP Randonneur. The two memories that stand out most are from the PBPs. The first is the unscheduled all night chase on PBP Audax with Dave Minter and  Yves, (a French rider) to get back to the peloton; achieved but with an uncomfortably close margin. The second is my last night of PBP Rando, riding with Edwin Hargreaves (on trike) to Mortagne-au-Perche trying to chase down Jim Hopper (also on trike). Although we failed in this mission, we had a party riding up hill and down, pulling back endless tail lights.

Being lucky enough to ride three international 1200s in one year ensured I met up with lots of old friends from around the world. It also gave me the opportunity to make new friends, including people that I had only ‘met’ via Twitter and blogs, such as the Daily Randonneur tandem team, Mary Gersema (Gypsy Bug) and Edward Felker. Following their escapades in the virtual reality world of the web is even better for knowing the real people.

The mileage year ended with an unforeseen splash, when Dave pointed me in the direction of the Rapha 500 challenge. With the Twitter, blogs and Strava all going, I rapidly got wrapped up in collecting kilometres and would up with a surplice at close of play. However, with the brief to collect photos and write about the week, the whole project was given an added edge that I really enjoyed.

Looking forward to 2012, there is plenty of milestones and targets out there. If the mileage gods smile kindly on me, I should hopefully reach 200,000 this December. I’ve been logging my miles since January 1999, so this will be a magic way point in my quest to become a member of the 300,000 mile club. Hopefully there will also be travel a-wheel with old friends in the UK and overseas and plenty of new friends to be found. There is also the challenge of capturing a whole 12 months a-wheel on ‘digital film’ via Flickr and Instagram, which although started late in 2011, has been a fantastic way of keeping an image diary to go along with the recorded miles.