Uh oh it’s a drometastrophy!!

Soooooooo here goes another load of drivel to keep the world informed of my exploits in the world of cycling . 

When I say exploits I obviously mean the occasional ride mixed in with the odd drometastrophy ( yes it’s a made up word but it will make perfect sense later ) 
Contrary to what Big Dog and Pilko would lead you to believe it’s been a good year so far with some pretty good and fairly regular 40 mile rides mostly involving the same routes East of The city that never sleeps ( Plymouth) Apparently Dartmoor is on my doorstep ……. Who knew ?? And now it’s drier even Maddie has had the pleasure of being ridden by me๐Ÿ™‚ . 
In an effort to widen my cycling ” skills ” I managed to win an hours coaching / fun filled riding at the home of British Cycling in Manchester. So apart from an 8 hour trip up the M5 /M6 (YES 8 FRIGGING HOURS) and two nights in Lenny Henry’s finest of hotels there was a fair amount of stressing involving mostly my capabilities as a cyclist ( Google souplesse) and whether I would actually fall off or not? Or maybe Rio was beckoning when I got scouted for Team GB
  
Now just to be at the home of British cycling where I visit every year for the National Champs was indeed a honour , but to come a cropper on the exact same velodrome as Wiggo and Cav had trained many times would indeed be the icing on the cake. 
Therefore I stand here as a proud member of the cycling community and say I ONLY WENT AND BLOODY DID IT!!!!! 
A full on drometastrophy was achieved on the finish straight about 40 minutes into my session . Some might say I was cocky or over confident but I’d just say when riding on the track DO NOT STOP PEDALLING !!! And the reason being those bad boys bite and they bite bad . When you have been catapulted over the handlebars and your sliding along the track and eventually you stop you may well think wow that wasn’t so bad it doesn’t hurt . But guaranteed when The sun starts to shine through Lenny Henry’s curtains the following day you will feel like you have been in a car crash …….for the caring amongst you I can confirm 3 weeks later I am fully healed๐Ÿ™‚
    

    

So next on the agenda Etape Ness possibly the most stunning of sportives there could possibly be. 
Now apart from scenery Scotland is blessed with being the home of Big Dog H and as the perfect host with his good lady wife it was decided we were to be honoured to ride Bealach na ba No 69 of 100 greatest climbs on the Saturday before Ness. This climb is widely rated as the hardest climb in the UK at 11/10 in the climbing bible . 
For the record the 100 climbs book is correct !! The first part of the ride ( after the 70 mile drive to get there ) is relatively steady as you loop up and around the Loch before being faced with the most bleak,  barren , unforgiving incline for approx 5-6 miles . I won’t lie it’s truly awful and possibly the worst hour on my bike EVER !! It’s relentless and despite the fact at one point we believed we had lost Big Dog over the side there was no way on this earth I was going to be heading back down to look for him before I reached the summit . Sorry H but am not climbing 5 miles just to be part of some amateur mountain rescue team :-) 
Needless to say he wasnt lost it was just a minor misunderstanding at the summit on where we were to meet in the freezing cold wind and hail before we began the 6 mile rim searing , brake pad burning descent back to the car !!! 
   

 

The following day was event day and as we had finally warmed up after Bealach na ba what better way to start the day than with some black pudding roulade and a TT style ride to the start in Inverness.
Etape Ness was once again a stunning and well organised ride  as you pedal along the shore of Loch Ness on an extremely chilly Scottish morning on closed roads . It’s not a particularly testing ride until you reach Fort Augustus and start the triple whammy that is Glendoe . It’s a proper job drag of a climb with a few false summits which adds to the fun but on reaching the top to be met by snow falling and a bagpiper is truly an amazing experience . The second part of the loop is a little bit more undulating with one or two little testers but is more than made up by the scenery as you circle the Loch and head back to Inverness .
Huge thanks to Pilko and Big Dog for waiting for me at the top of Glendoe and despite them both making out for the rest of the weekend it was hours the timing chips don’t lie it was 19 mins !!! 
Next up for me is a lifelong dream and Alpe duez and I can’t bloody wait for some more giggles and possibly tears !!!
 
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New year new start ……. Eventually

Happy New Year !!!
Yeah yeah I know it’s February but my cycling year started yesterday I went to the forgotten man cave called my garage and sadly my bikes hadn’t been stolen so a painful and chilly 21.3 miles later I was again a cyclist .
And that was my first ride since November 30th 2014 , yep last fricking year that’s what a slacker I have been!! Why such a slacker Braddos I hear you ask ? The reason for my slacking is I lost my mojo , not just lost it but it completely upped and went totally AWOL . Now this prolonged mojo loss has never happened before and truly am at a loss as to why .
But I would like to share the content of a hilarious text I received whilst I was wallowing in a mojo less world

Courtesy of Big dog H

Big Dog H ; ‘Hello, is that Trek HQ..?! I’d like to report a case of Trek cruelty please’. THQ; ‘It’s not the imprisoned Madone in Plymouth is it Sir? We’ve been inundated with calls about that poor sorry soul. Had a fabulous 2013, doing a LEJOG and pretty much left to rot since aside from a couple of teasing scenic sportives over the summer. One of our worst cases to be honest Sir. Tragic.’ Big dog H ; ‘Yes, I know, it is such a waste of such a fine specimen. And that’s the bike, if there’s any doubt.’

Hahah that is the kind of hilarity I receive to try and lure my sorry arse back from the wilderness ๐Ÿ˜„ cheers for that Glenn .

So now let’s do a rewind back to the 30th of November to discover something that happened on the ride of that day . I only went and FELL OFF . Yeah crash bang wallop a big ol heap of lard on the floor , and the saddest part of the whole episode apart from the scabby knee, cut bib tights and bruised ego was it was the most ridiculous crash ever caused by a disguised kerb onto a cycle path !! Damn you Plymouth City Council and your kerb , no kerb, kerb cycle paths …….. You owe me Bitch !!!!!! I hope I scuffed your freshly painted red footpath !!!

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Obviously no new year resolutions this year as I failed to keep last years so stuff it I won’t bother this year . Not even gonna mention a target mileage as too many people remind me when am way off target ….. Baaasssttaaads!!

But it does look like if I can get my fat arse out on the bike the first half of the year is gonna be busy and extremely tough.
Much excitement as I am once again signed for Etape Ness in April a stunning sportive on the shore of Lake Ness in a land far far away called Scotland , and then guess what hehehe so excited am actually fulfilling an ambition from when I was about 11 and used to watch The Tour on Channel 4………. Am only gonna be cycling up Alpe Fricking D’huez ……… Oh yeah read it and weep 4 days in the Alps in May !!!!
After what am hoping will be a classic French trip next up is Coast 2 Coast in June . As excited as I am about France I must admit to dreading the C2C. It’s 150 miles in one day it’s stupid and so am I , simple as !

So that sums up the latter part of 2014 & the 1st month of 2015 . Hopefully after yesterday woeful ride ( average bpm 160 is good isn’t it ๐Ÿ˜„ ) the mojo is back and am rolling again…….. We shall see hahahaha .

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A little Sportive review ( it’s all about the goody bag )

After a little Twitter based to and fro with an extreme sports store down here in Devon @bigpeaks I thought it may be of interest to do a little review of some of the sportives I have done over the past couple of years. As always these views are mine and mine only and purely judged on the pros and cons as I see it looking back . As we all know the memory can play tricks , if it doesnt why did I do Etape Cymru again this year ๐Ÿ˜„.
There are a number of different factors that need to be taken into account when looking at sportives and it’s the difference between an awesome ride and truly woeful experience . So with this in mind I will take into account the weather , the route ( how blinking hilly it is ) , the company and of course the feed stations and goody bag !!

So here listed in no particular order is a little review of many of the sportives I have ridden and can remember any details of ๐Ÿ˜„

1. Lands end 100
This sportive took place in October when I rode it and there is a blog that refers to it back in October 2012 . We chose to ride the shorter route as it was Uncle Jons 1st sportive . The start was well organised on a chilly October morning in St Ives ( I think the start may have moved since I rode this) . A stunning route that follows the coast anti clockwise via Lands end and along the south coast before cutting in land and back to St Ives . Stunning costal scenery without a doubt with undulating terrain . A few bigger lumps as you cut inland but nothing too stressful ๐Ÿ˜ณ.
Feed stations quite small but adequate choice of bits and bobs . The goody bag was a cycling cap and a magazine ( which I already had bought ๐Ÿ˜ฉ)
This ride gets 7/10 on the Bradometer

2. Cheddar 100
As the name suggests this ride started in Cheddar in Somerset . This was a strange little ride, we again did the shorter route which missed out on the descent of the gorge but did head up Brent Knoll . I seem to recall getting a lot of cramp on this ride , weird ???
Again a well organised start and with decent feed stations . But to be frank and I have done quite a bit of cycling around the cheddar area a lot of the route was boring , long straight roads then 90degree bends followed by another long straight road . It’s really not the organisers fault just my personal thoughts on it . It was also blowing a gale when I rode this which doesn’t help on the exposed roads . I don’t recall the goody bag on this ride but do recall the little sad pat of cold pasta we were given at the end ๐Ÿ˜ฉ
Gonna go for a 6/10 for this little un

3. Etape ness

Soooooo Scotland and closed roads what more could you ask for ? Ah yeah mountains …… Yep had those too , oh and did I mention the bagpiper at the top of Glendoe???. Stunning ride in a stunning location in perfect weather . So good I aim to ride it again in 2015. A big mention must go to the Well organised filtering on the approach to feed stations that Ride London planners could learn a lesson from !!! Great marshalling on the closed roads and well stocked feed stations . A near perfect sportive from me 9 /10

4. Action medical research Bristol to London

Funny ride this and bloody long too , think we clocked 124 miles this day so expect a fairly long day in the saddle . Also expect to have a few logistics to sort out which is always the case on a one way trip ( although AMR can provide transfers ) , also don’t expect to finish in London as the name would suggest . The year I rode it finished at Kempton race course which is inside the M25 so will let them off . Excellent feed stations as always on Action events with hot options available. Great goody bags too but beware you do ride on some fairly busy fast roads ( complete with road rage) particularly in the first half of the route . The Bradometer is saying 7/10 for this one maybe with a bit of kudos for saying ” yeah I rode from Bristol to London ”
Again mixed ability ride complete with the amazing postman on Royal Mail bike !!!

5. Ride London
An amazing and iconic ride in 2014 despite the route being cut short and the shocking weather . How they manage to keep the feed stations stocked for over 20000 riders God only knows but they need to sort out decent filtering into them as was so dangerous at these points. But to enjoy closed roads around London is beyond words. However it’s gonna lose a mark as its a logistical nightmare and expensive , maybe one to ride and say “yep done it ” . With the money you pay to enter you’d expect a quality medal and goody bag and that’s what you get . oh and don’t forget to soak up the crowds ๐Ÿ˜„ This is one seriously organised ride and you can’t doubt the amount of planning and the organisation involved.
9/10

6. Etape Cymru ( or b#####d Etape Cymru as I call it )
This is a real toughie and with that comes a different feel and maybe approach , you have some serious cyclists on some serious machines so if that intimidates you I would pass on this ride . That said its a huge achievement to get around this bitch of a ride. Once again on closed roads however that’s rumoured to be changing for next year. Have ridden this one two years on the trot now and it’s worth it for some stunning scenery and fast descents . Not worth it for the squits i endured !!! Good quality medal at the end and the best boiled spuds ever !
8/10

7.Action Medical Research Bath 100

Another ride I have done twice , once at each distance . A great route with plenty of variation despite the busy roads at points . Not sure the start at the top of a massive hill is a positive but it’s well organised as AMR events seem to be and with quality goody bags and feed stations. Quite a hilly little chap this one topped by the beast coming out of Bath near the finish . Well worth entering and real mixed ability of entrants too.
7/10

8. Dartmoor Classic

Hardcore you know the score ! Nasty nasty have a pasty on this little fella! Entered this one to do the long route and got to the feed station and bottled it . A great start village and sign on and well marshalled and signed route , but how hot was this ride in 2014 !! Oh and how tough ? Be prepared to take this one on and if your doing the Medio distance you will be climbing non stop pretty much to the half way point . But the views of Dartmoor more than make up for the aches and pains .Great feed stations but I understand they had problems later in the day . And with the weather maybe another water stop may have been an idea ? Gonna lose a point as my timing chip failed but all in all possibly a sportive everyone needs to try at least once .and it is certainly a mixed ability sportive . Goody bag and medal great quality and a tee shirt too ! But it’s the organisation which sets this above many of the rest . I do believe this is already sold out for 2015 ๐Ÿ˜Ÿso if like me you missed it there is a reserve list .
8/10 ( 9/10 if your timing chip works )

9. Wiggle Isle of Wight

I really enjoyed the novelty factor of this ride starting in the ever lovely New Forest before heading to the ferry port to get a transfer across to the island for a circuit and back onto the ferry ….. See how novel that is ?
The biggest draw back for me was I rode it alone and it makes for a long lonely day ๐Ÿ˜ฅ. Another draw back once again my timing chip failed ( am I to fast for the timing chip to work perhaps ) and despite emailing the organisers they never replied . So a few negatives from me but hey it was novel so all good in the hood as they say . Quality goody bag from wiggle and no problems at the feed stations and a very picturesque ride indeed.

7/10

So there you have it Bradometers work is finished for the day feel free to ask any questions .

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Etape Cymru p##s anywhere & crap anywhere

Sooooooooo Etape Cymru which translates as Stage Wales I know this cos I have a very clever friend from Leeds who since Le Tour ( the tour ) visited Yorkshire has now become a fully fledged European who speaks fluent French and measures everything in km’s …….. Apparently all the signs in yorkshire are now in km and am sure it won’t be long before he has bought himself a left hand drive Citroen or some other suitably ugly french automobile !!!
Anyway after the longest journey from the heaven that is Devon I arrived in Wrexham to meet Big Dog H and Le Pilko and it was getting late so being athletes and more importantly men Curry and Beer was the plan !!!
Now wrexham , where to start on Wrexham hmmmmm if your from this area i would just jump to the ps at the end and let bygones be bygones !!!
Wrexham is quite possibly the oddest place I have ever had the privilege to entertain myself in . It’s hard to put my finger on why this is but it appears you really don’t have to dress up in any particular manner to enter the pubs and clubs of Wrexham . I didn’t realise you could still buy shell suits !!! Also it seems everyone knows everyone from young to old . Luckily 3 Middle aged athletes can fit in just fine until one of them decides to urinate on a pub terrace area . For security reasons I won’t name the urinator but we knew it was time to leave when the doormen arrived๐Ÿ™‚ . Weird how the freaks of Wrexham accept shell suits etc but as soon as an outsider decides to relieve himself outside of a toilet enviroment it all kicks off ???
Ps we sneaked back in later so up yours !!!
Pps saw the most enthusiastic dj ever playing to about 15 people , he really believed he was playing opening night at Manumission bless his cotton socks .
Crazy nights in Wrexham and I kid you not we got quite drunk and felt it on the Saturday when we finally dragged our weary arses to sign on Saturday afternoon . Now sign on is always a constant let down for me as I always expect some razzmatazz but it never happens unless you fancy a massage for a fiver !!!
Lunch was a square pie which was good and a high point in our whistlestop tour then into town for some coffee time . Where the discussions about what to do Saturday night happened and it was decided dinner and just one or two pints . And that is what we did . Yeah you were expecting me to say and “we got absolutely lashed and got back to our hotel at 3 in the morning ” nope remember which town we are in the options were limited and we take our cycling very serious .
So event day or Le grand depart as Le Pilko calls it now . After a hasty breakfast yoghurt and pancake ( crepe ) we were off on our way to the racecourse for another totally unorganised start which had been delayed due to route troubles . But hey at least we started together this year . One aim this year to beat last years time by an hour …… No worries we can smash this !!!
So having done the Etape last year we knew what to expect but Jesus it’s no easier the climbs keep coming and coming , how did we forget how hard this ride is ??? The first real biggie is Horseshoe pass which to be honest does drag on at first but it’s by no means the harder climb on the route . As per the deal I always let Big Dog and Le Pilko go on ahead on the climbs to recce it for me , it’s a privilege only I get as team captain and it’s jolly good of them to ride off into the distance on every climb to check it’s safe for me๐Ÿ™‚
I think we were all actually feeling better this year compared to last years event but then about 2/3 into the ride i had a problem ………. A Friday night curry problem and things were getting very desperate , very desperate indeed . Stomach cramps and the need to release whilst wearing bib shorts on a 85 miles bike ride is a recipe for disaster . Another recipe for disaster is following me into a porta-loo that I have been sat on for 20 mins with the squits .
This year again the Etape was closed roads although rumoured this could be ending next year if anyone has not entered a closed road sportive it really is something else .its quite possibly the most amazin feeling to go flying down some of the descents in Wales not having to worry about traffic . It’s stunning stuff it really is . Try it I say !!

One of the toughest climbs on this ride is called Minera I believe . You come along some flat then hit a 90 degree bend and it’s straight up with no chance to take any momentum up . It’s a real toughie and drags out on to a moorland which albeit isn’t steep it goes on into distance for miles . There is then a stupidly dangerous descent which crosses a ford before you wind your way along a valley for a good for miles . This is the ideal unless you have stomach cramps and are now looking for a suitable place to dump a load at the side of the road . A suitable spot was found and for the first time in a many a year I had to do what no human should have to do more than once . I used fern leaves to wipe my bum ๐Ÿ˜ณ.
It felt better now so up the final climb which is on the side of a valley with stunning views ton the final feed stop ….. 20 mins in the portaloo and off again to the finish which was a fairly fast ish undulating route, across the cobbled bridge and along the finish straight to hear the announcer call out our names ……. What a buzz , we had done it .
Ugh forgot we gotta ride back to the hotel still …… Stupid idea !!!!!!

Huge thanks to big dog h and Le Pilko who am sure could have easily knocked an hour and a half off there times from last year if it wasnt for Friday’s curry messing me up . Thanks for waiting chaps and thanks for the hand sanitiser !!!

Not a lot of riding At the mo as am currently going through a loss my mojo period for various reasons but will be back riding soon hopefully ๐Ÿ‘

Ps knocked 6 mins off last years time
Pps Wrexham is weird
Pps how I never pooped myself during that ride i will never know๐Ÿ™‚

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An Englishman , 2 jocks and a Francophile fix a puncture !!

Phew what a year it’s been since I last blogged which was way back In May after completing Etape Ness .
1st up after Ness was the Dartmoor Classic for some strange reason I was really looking forward to riding this beast and beastly it was it never let me down in the slightest .
Obviously every sportive starts with the obligatory ridiculous early start and the Dartmoor classic was no different apart from it started in my own County , result !!! The trouble with my county is it’s Devon and Devon means hilly , and I don’t like hills FACT !!
The Classic as it’s known locally (and maybe nationally who knows )starts in a small town on the edge of Dartmoor and then rises and rises ( haytor) and rises ( Holne) and rises and then rises a teeny bit more until you reach Princetown , it really is relentless .
Luckily for everyone involved the ” Classic ” was held on one of the hottest days of the year with the result being by the time I reached Princetown I was totally cooked in more ways than one and with approx 4000ft of climbing in the 1st 30 odd miles I took the sensible route and diverted to the medio ( read this as Neil bottled it ) rather than the Grande . Pilko is that French??
Gratefully the return journey down off the moors was a little more forgiving despite not having any water for the last twenty miles in the El scorchio weather . And like a trooper I finished and even managed to wangle a silver despite the timing chip not recording . Thanks to the German family in charge of the timing but to be honest you really weren’t very helpful at all by saying ” did you actually do ze ride ” YES I BLOODY WELL DID !!! And I have the tan lines to prove it .

So next up was the logistical nightmare that goes by the name of Ride London and if you have ever been ” lucky ” enough to gain an entry you will know exactly what I mean about logistical nightmare . Not only does it start and finish at different ends of London the sign on is also a different venue !!
Not everyone is as lucky to have a logistics manager to organise all my rides but even the ever faithful Big dog Hardie struggled with this one . But it’s his job he gets well paid for it and my head was gonna explode if I tried to even contemplate how it was gonna work. This event was also complicated further with the fact that the boy Chilts was coming from France and Mr V from Scotland .
After sign on we heard rumours that the course was going to be shortened due to the impending doom that was some rain and that was the case on the day .
It also turned out to be an amazing decision as boy oh boy did it rain .
We had a fraught journey to the start driving then cycling across London with the already in place road closures hampering progress to the point we turned up late and missed our start and then within 45 mins of starting the roads became rivers .
I can also say never have I seen so many crashes and so many punctures .So to miss out both Box Hill and Leith hill was most probably a blessing . After an epic and fast journey out of the centre of London we then got held up in Richmond park in the torrential rain for a good half hour whilst the aftermath of one these crashes was cleared up .
The rain of course gave nearly all of us something to moan about , but not all of us moaned cos some of us were way too busy moaning about their sleepless night in the Premier inn due to a snorage issue???

As for punctures how many men does it take to fix a puncture ? Well judging by Mr V and his efforts I would say 4 !!!
And that includes me as photographer ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

I can also say despite the horrific conditions and the fact 24000 cyclists entered the event and it’s only in it’s second year it truly is an iconic ride. I have never seen or been cheered on by so many people . And the residents throughout London and Surrey really seemed to embrace the whole event or maybe they just thought we were the pros ?? Easy mistake to make as am sure four Middle Aged men quite possibly look pro to the unknowing public !!!
And as for the finish wow to finish on the Mall in front if all those people was amazing and could only be beaten by unnamed member of our little group of two wheeled warriors nearly falling off as he raised his arms aloft crossing the finish line !!! Great work Big dog am sure nobody noticed ๐Ÿ˜‚
Then followed a great night out in the city that never sleeps …. Except it was asleep and we struggled to find a pub Open on a Sunday past 11 in the evening ?!? What has become of this great drunken nation ???

In the next episode of Bradley the Blog we will talk about Etape Cymru and Wrexham …… Crazy days and weird nights !!!

Ps special mention must go to the custard slice consumed in the cafe after Ride London top 3 custard slice without a doubt ๐Ÿ˜ƒ
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What’s that coming over the hill is it a monster? Nope it’s only Nessie !

So 1st update of 2014 so best make it a good one haha yeah right have no doubt it will be the same old tripe !!!

So where to begin ? Well as Christopher biggins used to say safari so goody. After what can be described as a moist winter spring has finally sprung and we are left with the now customary windy days …… Joy !!!

Despite all this I think my report card should read C+ must try harder !! A stone heavier than this time last year ( oh lord) but still managing to bang out some half decent miles albeit I seem to be a tad faster . Imagine what would happen if I lost weight !!!
Still getting beasted by nially chops and uncle J up hills so nothing new there either .

Undoubtedly the highlight of the year so far was the Etape Ness which was rather surprisingly held around Lake Ness ! Yes I know it’s a Loch so you don’t need to correct me but deep down we all know it’s a Lake !!
The weekend started with a stressful packing of Maddie in readiness for Easy jets finest baggage handlers and a trip to the wrong car park at Bristol Airport grrrrrrrr pack unpack and pack again grrrrrrr luggage checked in it was time to sample and make a pig of myself ( carb loading ) in the VIP lounge ( this boy travels in style )
After a short flight to Inverness and a welcome committee from Strava ,like I said this boy travels in style they even sent a huge Mercedes Benz to transport me . Sadly it had no noticeable door handles so I did struggle a bit ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

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It was then out for a post flight leg loosener and thorough beasting from my host Glenn . I blame the jetlag for my poor performance , it affects us all differently ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

The next day was a trip up memory lane as we drove to john O groats
And retraced our route from last years epic LEJOG ride . The memories came flooding back at was great to experience it again albeit from the comfort of a handle free Mercedes !!!We even stopped off at Harry Gows for a cake ๐Ÿ˜ƒ
Saturday evening it was a trip to the station to collect a fellow Strava and LEJOG legend the one and only Pilko . Before our hosts cooked us an amazing evening meal of curry . Apparently all the greats from the cycling world eat curry before an event ?

Sunday was of course Etape Ness day which would mean a silly o clock wake up call to ride to the start . Rather strangely the awful weather never materialised so there was disappointment all around when it turned into a fine day !!
The Etape route followed the Lake from Inverness and was stunning it was also closed roads which is also stunning , why can’t all sportives be like this ??
As we flew along the lake shore in a peloton of about 40-50 riders it truly was an amazing feeling quite possibly a top 3 feeling . All it needed was some gormless fool to slip his gears and the lot of us would be down on the tarmac . Sadly I was that gormless fool but luckily our host Glenn was alert to my silliness and am pleased to confirm no one was hurt in the making of this blog ……….
Obviously we had garmin problems as Glenn feels it neccasary to have garmin problems whenever we do an event but it’s his way so let him be !!

We eventually got to the king of the mountain timed stage and on this event we decided to let Pilko have his day and we eased off to let him coast to the top in 153 rd place . Fair play we let him win but he did well ๐Ÿ˜ƒ
The climb up and over Glendoe is a beast and climbs up in three sections but well worth the effort as all climbs seem to be allegedly .
The final 30 odd miles after the climb were undulating and fast and before we knew it lo and behold we had finished yay Us ๐Ÿ‘
Sadly we still had to ride back to Strava LEJOG HQ and yep it was all uphill ……. Grrrrrrrrrr

After a siesta it was time to sample fat Sunday ( apparently only fat people go out in Inverness on a Sunday ) and listen to Pilko wax lyrical about his huge wife ? Who knew she was six and a half foot????

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Beers were drunk & food was wrongly served and Half eaten then swapped in restaurants but did we complain? Hell nope of course not and we survived like brothers in arms who had cycled together the event they call Etape Ness.

The best of times and many thanks to our hosts Glenn & Carole who looked after us with amazing hospitality .
Also need to thank Harry Gow for the empire biscuits and I really look forward to the day when you are Scottish bakers of the year again and also the butchers in the town for delighting me with black and sausage roulade !!!!

No thanks must go to Pilko for suggesting a recovery ride on the Monday although I did get a nice pic ………….

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Ps huge thanks to the Cleminator for organising the GOJEL 14 challenge and I very much look forward to Yorkshire hosting the challenge in 2015

Next event Dartmoor classic in June ………just like that !!!

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It’s that time of year again

So here I am again it’s been a while and am not really sure why it’s taken so long to blog , maybe nothing exciting has happened ?
My cycling has pretty much been a good 40-50 miler at weekends and the odd commute during the week ( when I say odd I mean rare )
I have had a bike change which is always exciting as Lexy the Planet X bike was sold and I welcomed Tamara
C the specialized into my stable . I haven’t ridden her much as yet but I will I promise as she is stunning in her matt black jacket of loveliness๐Ÿ™‚
Maddie is still going strong and has covered nearly 3500 miles since she was born although she is a bit like Triggers broom from Fools and horses if you get me !!!
I just read my own post from this time last year to check out my resolutions and I can confirm all targets have been met so all is well . I have covered 3435 miles and nearly 200000ft of climbing so it’s no wonder my sores still flare up now and again. As 974 of those miles were on LEJOG it’s still a good effort and passes my target of 3000 miles and last years 1700 miles .
As for 2013 it will be remembered in my mind forever for LEJOG I still don’t think it’s sunk in what was achieved and I look back with so many memories but also regret that I can’t blinking remember more of it …… So frustrating !!!!!
Maybe I NEED to do it again?? Any takers ???

Plenty of challenges for 2014 to come no doubt , and as I have already signed up for a few sportives starting with the Dartmoor Classic it will soon be time to start shifting the weight again ( sigh ) and planning how to knock 2 hrs off my Etape Cymru time๐Ÿ™‚
And fingers crossed for the Ride London ballot this year …….

Another of my big pleasures from this year is the realisation that what was MY pastime / sport can be shared . It’s no longer my time but time with my sons as they both now love riding . Whereas it was all about me on a Sunday morning ride it’s now about Nially chops and myself and meeting uncle J to do something together . And that is a revelation to me to share my time on the bike and I love it all the more .

So to sum up 2013 in a sentence

“Friends formed for life over one common goal & achievement ”

It’s been am amazing year on the bike for me one which I feel will Never be matched after LEJOG but hey let’s see what happens .

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Etape Cymru…….. Done

Etape Cymru …… Done
There simple as that , the UK’s toughest sportive is done .
If only it was that simple.
After a late change of plan I headed up to Wales early Saturday morning rather than the Friday . Which to be fair was a godsend for my roomie Big Dog Hardie as with hindsight he was glad to avoid a night without my snoring ( apparently its particularly bad between 2am & 3am ?? )
After arriving in Oswestry which surprisingly to me anyway is in England we headed down to Llangollen to meet Mr T and Pilko for some lunch and to sign on .

A quick recce of Horse shoe pass revealed it actually wasn’t as bad as we 1st feared๐Ÿ™‚

sadly this opened the flood gates and vasts amount of cider were then consumed this did result in a good nights sleep ( see notes reference snoring earlier )

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An early start of 6am was duly planned and then it was on to the shambles of the start . We all decided to take our own vehicles to avoid damaged bikes thus arriving at the start after being stuck in a queue to park for about 25 mins at different times .
After much fafffing , texting we all set off at different times needless to say morale was low , driving half way across the country with pals only to end up riding alone was not in the master plan๐Ÿ˜ฆ
What I didn’t realise was the Big Dog was having issues of his own , fancy starting the UKs toughest sportive whilst your Garmin is still sat nice and cosy in the boot of your car …. Oooops.

Onwards and upwards was the order of the day despite a relatively flat and fast start we all knew enough of what was to come .
We steadily climbed up then hit the 1st lump which was incredibly steep but not too long but certainly tested the legs and lungs.

Eventually we made it to the 1st feed station where gladly we all met up . Ahhhh relax this is more like it LEJOG Buddies back together riding along talking crap & moaning happy days .

Now Horse Shoe Pass is legendary around these parts and in all fairness it’s a stunning climb but certainly not the steepest and nowhere near the 20% quoted on the sign post . If anything the last mile or so is a cruise . It drags but would much rather ride that all day then the short and steep we are blessed with in Devon . The pass was classed as a timed KOM and with none of us likely to win I think we were all happy with our times๐Ÿ™‚

Now time for some descending and for Pilko to excel , you could almost here him cackling as he flew downwards . It’s then when you realise how amazing it is to have fully closed roads . The freedom to take up the whole road just makes an amazing difference . Although you need to mind thise cats eyes !!Those pros don’t realise how lucky they have it !!!
That said there were a few riders taking too many risks , at one hairpin there must have been about 6 skid marks going straight on and at another was an ambulance and a rather nice pool of blood ๐Ÿ˜ณ

Luckily we weren’t getting involved in any of these mishaps but maybe because we weren’t particularly chasing a time but just a finish !! Next year maybe different story ๐Ÿ˜€.

Hill after hill after hill was getting tedious but i was impressed by some of the road surfaces which looked despite being single track as if they had been resurfaced ( was this for our benefit?) and by the 3rd feed station weariness was certainly taking hold . With some big climbs to Worlds End amd over the moor to come it was becoming a real battle to keep the legs spinning. As time went on we knew we were near the back of the field but this also gave us the added bonus of being able to take the bends using the fastest line and not worry about anyone else . Did I mention closed roads was amazing ????
A few more little crashes on the way to Minera climb one of which was the second crash for one rider who slipped out on a nice fast wide junction …. Ouchers. Certainly made me think I would rather go slower than end up flying into a barb wire fence like one chap did !!!
Up to Minera and Worlds End was personally a hellish climb which starts off steep then drags up over the moorland for ever . It was a real low point for me as then it rained !!!!!!!!!

I don’t like riding in the rain never have and never will its as simple as that

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I get too hot with a jacket on too cold with one off and the road just gets too twitchy for me , in simple terms I am a fanny !!!
Unlike Pilko & Big Dog who seemed to excel in descending at speed in the rain , how they do it I will never know ? And Pilko even uses gatorskins and everyone knows they are hopeless in the rain !!
This Just pushed me on to close to my limits which I guess in hindsight wasn’t a bad thing and in fairness the only time I missed a corner was because I just swallowed a fly,I don’t know why I swallowed a fly , perhaps ill die …….

A few little digs before the last water stop made for a welcome break if it can be called welcoming in the pouring rain but we were able to stock up on Lidls Bakewell tarts and rather oddly boiled spuds sheltering under a tree ( us not the spuds they were on a table )

The route went in a loop ,obviously I suppose else it would be a long trip back to the car park ( Big Dog mentally struggled with this concept) but this also meant the last 15 miles ish were pretty fast wide roads and as always the last 15 endorphins kicked in and we were able to really get some speed up and cross the finish together . A few camp high fives a medal and a goodie bag and we were done .
Then on to meet Mr T who had finished got showered sorted his hair out polished his bike ,painted his nails , trimmed his designer stubble and was looking suitably spiffing all to await our arrival ………… Silky

So what can I say summarise?

1. An amazing experience with closed roads that really made the event ,flying though junctions and around bends safe in the knowledge that you had no vehicles to impede you is awesome .
And it was done proper not a half hearted effort all 88 miles of it .

2. The stewards , NEG outriders and even the cheering and clapping from the inconvenienced residents of North Wales was amazing as was the organisation from Human Race .

3. No matter how good a cyclist you think you are there is always someone quicker ( 3 odd hours in this case )

4. No matter how good a cyclist you think you are the great leveller is hitting the tarmac at speed . Slow down guys your gonna get hurt !!

5. Next year am gonna knock 1 1/2 hours off my time (1hr 17 mn stopped time is too much)

Next event this Friday is Team Garmin ride out now that is going to be interesting ๐Ÿ˜ณ

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The drugs do work

So it is with much elation I am proud to announce the drugs do work!!
After months of issues with my sore bits I am finally cured !!! It’s a miracle !!! Well a miracle in the sense that a weeks course of antibiotics has managed to clear up my infections .Now before you get the wrong idea let me point you in the right direction . It wasn’t piles but at the top of my inner thigh where it meets the saddle and my erm ….. Saddle bags !!! It’s all the more pleasing it healed due to the doctor declaring I may have needed to have it cut , cleaned and stitched !!! Now if that doesn’t force you to heal nothing will !!
I am left with a pea sized lump but hopefully it won’t flare up again and at least I am no longer walking like John Wayne …… I think !!

As for riding its been a relatively quiet ish month apart from the odd spin with my teens . I also ventured onto Dartmoor to do some hill training but really really suffered , to the point when I actually felt like I would pass out. I was in total burn-out mode , not so good . It’s the most bizarre feeling in the world actively riding to find hills when I have had a lifetime trying to avoid them ( avoid hills ha it’s Devon not a chance )
But it’s all in preparation for the Etape Cymru in 2 weeks time ….. Holy crap ! How’s the preparation going ? Not good and I can honestly say I am pooping it more than when I did LEJOG .
LEJOG was ride from A to B with no time constraints , Etape Cymru is closed roads ( yay) but complete with a broom wagon ( boo) this presents a lot of pressure to compete and not get removed from the course , which will not only be embarrassing but costly too . It cost ยฃ60 to enter and the mountainous route and profile look horrific . Why oh why do I do this ??

So another hilly day beckons tomorrow ooooh can’t wait๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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Sunburn & saddle sores :-(

So since I finished my epic Lands End to John O Groats it’s been a pretty mixed bag for me in regards to riding .

My Intention was to keep rolling with any fitness I had found on the trip and that’s kind of what happened with a few short rides and a couple of 50-60 mile rides and all was going fairly well . That is of course fairly well and not fantastic !! Since I completed LEJOG I have been ” saddled ” with a couple of sores which quite frankly hurt ( am not too keen on pain) certainly not down below anyway!!
Before I continue I just hasten to state I am not a doctor and have had no medical training whatsoever ( I am 1st aid trained though ) so I tried the usual remedies Sudocreme, talc,germoline, anti bacterial soap and hydro cortisone cream all with varying degrees of success , they all appeared to work until I rode then Kapow lumpy sore bits back๐Ÿ˜ฆ and yes I do use chamois cream and have also used the same saddles on all my humble steeds for many years now !!!
My plan was then to take a few weeks off the saddle which worked out perfect as we had 2 weeks of foul weather ( am not as stupid as I look )
Two weeks later Boom the sun is shining and am back in the saddle riding fantastic distances with big climbs and am sore again๐Ÿ˜ฆ
To be fair it’s not as bad as it was but it’s still there after every ride . So any advice great fully received ?
On a positive side I have been banging in decent miles in This glorious weather and I am now sporting a fantastic cyclist tan !!!

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Got to keep it rolling now as Etape Cymru is getting ever closer and considering the mountainous route that broom wagon travelling at 13mph strikes fear deep into me !!

One final word the tragic news of two lejoggers being killed in Cornwall last week certainly struck a chord with all us cyclists . We are only ever 12 inches from serious injury or death so lets all respect each other !!!
These two fine gentleman set off on an amazing trip which tragically ended just 40 miles in so if anyone can spare a few ยฃ to help them leave a legacy it would be amazing๐Ÿ™‚
http://m.virginmoneygiving.com/mt/uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=mcmenigallwallace&isTeam=true&un_jtt_redirect

Ps did I mention I have some new
wheels ……………

Pps if anyone ever gets the chance to visit Devon and ride the coast road from Dartmouth to kingsbridge it truly is stunning , hilly but stunning๐Ÿ™‚

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