Monday 27 October 2014

Pushing the envelope, St. Crispin's Day Night Ride

This was going to be a VERY special event for me and BumbleB.

This would be our first full on attempt at doing 100 miles on a single event.

The St. Crispin's Day Night Ride wanted to create a ride that had all the quirkiness of England. Obviously tradition, but then eccentricity, a challenge but one that was do-able by ordinary cyclists. We wanted a sense of endeavour and most of all we wanted to create the fellowship of shared experience.

Well it definitely was an experience and one that we will treasure for a long time. I chose this event as it was billed as relativity flat, no hills to speak off which suited me just fine.

As always we was meeting up with my partner in crime Mr. OrangeBrompton at one of our favourite meeting places, Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner.

Waiting for @orangebrompton to get to start of St. Crispin's Day Night ride 2014 #SCDNR2014 #bromptonbicycle #nightcycling
The legend waits
We was a little nervous but knew once we was in the company of my cycling partner and friends those worries would fade away.

A few things jumped into my mind while we was waiting.

"Would I make it till the end?"
"Would I have a puncture in the middle of no where?"
"Would I get lost?"

and a million other thoughts jumped into my head. As quickly as they jumped in I pushed them aside saying that we was prepared for anything that would come our way. BRING IT!

The LEGEND is ready for St. Crispin's Day Night ride 2014 #SCDNR2014 #SCDNR #nightcycling #bromptonbicycle #sonxs #edeluxii

After awhile we saw Mr. OrangeBrompton heading our way. A good shake of the hand and we knew it was going to be a night to remember. We met up with a few other cycling buddies and headed down to the start point at Chiswick Boathouse.

I have to say when we arrived I didn't really see that much it was pretty dark but with flood lights pointing at the main check in area. ALL riders where checked in and handed their "passport" and cycling cap. Given instructions on what the signs looked like on the road and told if about the information in the passport regarding break downs, emergencies on route. Very well organized, better than some other events that you have to pay ALOT more for. 

There was a ALOT more Bromptons on this ride as I was told last year there was just a couple so the London Brompton Club put the word out and my fellow Bromptoneers heard the call and we basically invaded. As always someone managed to make a batch of yummy flapjacks, this time it was Ann M's turn and I have to say it tasted yummy when I had mine in the middle of nowhere at silly o'clock.
Signing up for the #SCDNR2014 #night #urban
The man in charge, Rob

As the clock hit midnight we started to move. Dozens of cyclist all "clicking" into their SPD's is always an amazing sound to me, with so many clicking in all at once I knew it was the start of something legendary. This was the start of me and BBB's journey for our first "Century Ride" something that we promised ourselves at the start of 2014. There was nothing more to say but click in and DO IT!

At first the LBC tried to stick together for the most part, making sure everyone got though junctions etc but with all rides everyone is doing it at a different pace.

Passing the queens pad. #SCDNR2014 #urban #100miles #100milesofcycling
I tried to keep up with David P, Ann M and my buddy OrangeBrompton but after about 25-30 miles the crazy pace was just too much for me & I knew I still had another 70 odd miles to go yet so I started to pace myself according.

After getting out of London the group really thinned out as I knew it would and I found myself cycling pretty much on my own. In the past this would have bothered me greatly but I focused on the task at hand, the rhythm of my pedalling and breathing pushing out the negative thoughts that started to form.

Luckily I had made sure I downloaded the course to my Garmin and with a combination of this and the event signs I managed to keep on course.

I can't even remember much before the first pitstop as I was focusing so hard on making sure my breathing and cadence was comfortable but eating up the miles. I even set an alert on my garmin every 25miles so I would make sure I would snack and take water. The weather was perfect for this ride, not to hot and not to cold just right to have 2 maybe 3 layers on at most and my cycling under shirt, Bumble B long sleeve jersey served me perfectly. Not once did I feel cold even when we started to head out of the city and into the dark countryside where the temperature would drop a few more degrees compared to the city.

There was a point at a round about where the signs where not as clear so I followed a few cyclist that had zoomed passed me earlier but then my Garmin warned me that I was off course. I tried to shout to them to say they had gone the wrong way but the darkness swallowed them up and I could only just manage to see there rear lights flashing into the distance. Maybe they are still out there in the darkness still trying to find the way.....who knows....

I can't remember how far the first pitstop was but I was hunting it down as I heard there would be cake. For all those that know me I LOVE cake, I know it can be a bad thing but for cycling its not so bad as you burn it off. For this century ride I would be needing ALOT of CAKE.

Arriving at Halliford Mere Lakes and Pavilion we could feel the warmth of the hot beverages & the sweetness of the cakes in the air. We had arrived at heaven. Our hosts where very supportive of all us crazy cyclists and ofcourse  as soon as they saw me and BumbleB made them smile even more.

After a lovely hot chocolate, cake and refill of my hydration pack we was off again. We didn't want to stay to long as we still had quiet a away to go.

First pitstop & hot chocolate #SCDNR2014 #bromptonbicycle #urban
BBB keeps hold of my hot choco
Now it was onwards to where we would be picking up out bottle of wine. This was a pretty lonely time for me. The dark country roads most of the time it was just me and BumbleB with the awesome SON Edeluxe II. I have to say after being in serious darkness I was glad I didn't have to worry about my batteries going. Every once in awhile other faster cyclists would pass me always giving me words of encouragement or saying they love BumbleB.

A few times I was thinking, "What the hell am I doing out in the middle of nowhere?!" I would mentally slap myself & say your here because you want to be here, need to be here. To do 100 miles on a single ride.

Not for someone else,
Not to win anything,
Now shut up and PEDAL....

We got into a good cadence, breathing and taking on sips of water every 5-10mins. Every 10 miles or so I would have a bite of a flapjack or my guava jam sandwiches I had made.

We saw light in the distance but it was just another fancy building with flood lighting, we kept going. I noticed that quiet alot of homes looked pretty experience as they all where gated and had touch key pads. I wondered if the people living there knew what was happening just outside there door that all these crazy cyclist riding past.
At about 05:00 I received a txt from OrangeBrompton giving me words of encouragement along on my ride & I knew he had most probably got to the half way point. He knew how important it this ride was for me and had ever confidence that I would complete this ride without problems.

There was a junction and I saw 2 signs, one was saying back to London.

Surely we hadn't missed the point where we was to pick up the wine and hot food. I looked to my left and saw some cyclist a 200 yards away, they looked refreshed and I noticed bottles sticking out of their saddle bags and backpacks.

We was close, VERY close.

I looked to my right and down the road I saw someone in HiVis and a headlight. At 06:00 in the morning no one but a marshal for this ride would be out so we turned towards him as we got closer I could see a smile on his face. A welcome sight after 66 miles in the darkness, he said well done and pointed me towards where the main stop was. There was another marshal a little way down who also had a smile on her face. I knew that the "BumbleB effect" was in full force and was pointed towards a hall. Outside we saw alot of big wheeled bikes but with a Brompton and especially BumbleB we was going inside.

As we entered the "BumbleB" effect took hold as everyone turned to see us walking in, tired but in good spirits and ready for a little rest & hot food. I collected my bottle of wine and got my passport stamped & grabbed my stew.

Our prize. Stamped "passport" & bottle of wine. #SCDNR2014 #bromptonbicycle #wine #100miles #100milesofcycling
Stamped passport & wine
I had the chicken stew which I have to say was pretty damn good. I wolfed it down and felt the energy slowly returning. I remembered to keep stretching as best I could so my muscles didn't cramp up on me. My brain suddenly came to the realisation that we had broke my record. Our longest single ride to date was 64 miles back in 2012, we had beaten it by 2 miles but we still had to cycle back to the start to finish off our century. I knew we was in the home straight now and I was extremely happy.

Ferking made it. 66miles my biggest to date but another 36+ to get back to start #SCDNR2014 #bromptonbicycle #food #nightcycling
I was surprised to see David P still here but he was waiting for Ann M as they got separated along the way. When Ann M did finally arrived she had got a little lost but found her way back.

More of my clan just arrived. #bromptonbicycle #SCDNR2014
Thankfully Ann M & David P let me tag along with that on the return journey, a mere 44 miles.

Just before we was heading out a few more of the LBC clan arrived, looking tired but glad to have made it this far and ready for the return journey after break and food. I couldn't stay as I would have started to seize up.

I was warned there was a few smallest hills on the return but we wasn't as bothered as I knew we was heading back to finish this ride. We stopped a few times on some of the hills but I'm finding that I'm doing it less and less each ride. Anne and David did wait for me at times as they know me and hills don't agree.

Returning to the Halliford Mere Lakes and Pavilion I knew we didn't have far to go, just another 14 miles. I looked at my Garmin and it was saying 88 miles, I never thought I would ever seen that in my life but it gave me a happy glow.

Made it back again. Just 14miles or so left. #SCDNR2014 #bromptonbicycle #urban #hotchocolate #food
Hot chocolate but all the cake gone :(
Just as we was leaving to get back to the finish my garmin acted weird and turned itself off. I thought ok I stopped my ride so it should still be saved. Well when I did finally boot it back up I found that my 88 miles track had disappeared. I couldn't believe it. After all that I had no data of the ride. I calmed myself down and said to myself that it wasn't important as I knew we did the ride. I got my passport stamped & the wine so I definitely did it.

Anne, David and me kept together for the final 14miles back to the Chiswick Boathouse. 

We had arrived.

We had done it.

The legend has done OVER 100 miles on a single ride!

Job done. #SCDNR2014  #100miles #bromptonbicycle #100milesofcycling
I was feeling pretty damn good, everyone knew how big this was for me and it was smiles, congrats & hugs all over the place.

Now it was time for some serious breakfast as I was seriously hungry. After eaten my bacon roll and hot tea I felt truly LEGENDARY.

The #food of legends #SCDNR2014 #100miles #100milesofcycling

I want to thank everyone I rode with, my cycling partner in crime, Anne, David, & everyone else that was with me, passing me, being passed by me. Big thanks also go to the St. Crispin's Day Team for the organization for the whole event.

Next year? HELL YEAH sign me up !

If you haven't done a (100 mile) century ride yet I can't recommend this one enough especially if you have problems with hills.

til the next ride, Bee safe....

Sunday 19 October 2014

North Kent coast with the LBC

There is something to be said for going on a multi modal trip. Cycling to a main line station to catch a train to unexplored lands is always exciting for me. I have to also say I do enjoy heading to Britain's coast line. There is something about heading to the seaside that I just love. Can never get far by walking but on a Brompton well you have the whole coastline and there are always cycle lanes etc all around too.

Meeting up with Luka G, Graham P, David P, Anne M & my cycling partner Mr. Orange we boarded our trains having got our prepaid tickets at Victoria Station.

Just meeting up with the gang. Oh look it's the #sonxs & #sonedeluxii club

As always on these train journeys we managed to have a good chat about our up and coming rides this time its the St. Crispin's Day Night ride next week. This will be my first 100 mile ride and I'm looking forward to it as well as a little scared at the same time. But with my cycling buddies it will be fun none the less.

In the train to Faversham with @orangebrompton, David P, Anne M, Luka G & Graham P

We arrived dead on time at Faversham Station and was met my 2 local LBC members, Ivo & John +1 who I hadn't met before.

  Greetings to the locals and off we went winding out way out of the town.

Not long after we hit the open road with the weather being so good we all started to strip off a few layers.

Quick stop to strip off some layers. #lbclub #bromptonbicycle #urban

on our way to Whistable we passed a couple of touring tourist, maybe German couldn't tell who we all said hello to as we whizzed passed. They seem to be in no rush to get anywhere & they where loaded with just about everything.

Loaded for the long haul

While we was heading into Whistable I started to recognised a few landmarks. Last time I was this way was on a Friday Night Ride To The Coast ride long ago. This time though I hadn't been riding though out the night from London and was able to enjoy the scenery abit more.

Finally we came up to the Whistable itself and came across the port market were we regrouped.

Lovely scenery

Port Market

Family Photo?

My kin folk >:)

I would have bought a couple but I didn't have any where safe to put them while I was riding as we still had  quiet a number of miles to go yet. But I took it as a omen, good or bad I'm not sure yet as I would find out later on.

Right by the #sea. #bromptonbicycle #urban #seaside
BBB enjoying the sea air.

Just after I took this shot BBB fell over due to the wind. No biggie but then just as I was abotu to cycle off I found BBB's chain had come off and was caught between the rear triangle in a odd position. Took me ages to get the chain in the right position and ended up with very oily hands. Must remember to pack baby wipes or something that I can use to wipe oil off quickly.

In the distance you and just about see our next stopping point. A crumbling church at Reculver called "St Mary's Church"

St Mary's Church in the distance
Heading St. Mary's Church

The legend at the ruins of St. Mary's Church
Now this is where the fun begins.

After the church it was a long haul towards Margate. We cycled along a long VERY exposed wall road. Being on the coast it was pretty damn windy. Lucky it wasn't a full on head wind blew from the side so I found myself at times leaning into the wind.

Exposed pathway

We made it to just outside Margate where we decided to have lunch at a cafe. With the wind we had gone though it would take us a good few hrs to get back to Faversham.

Rest stop & munchies. #food #hotchocolate #ketchup

I did have a pretty good Lasagne and Chips. The weather was so good that there was alot of people here most of which where eating on the tables outside.

After out lunch stop we headed back to Faversham back across the exposed walkway. Again the wind was hitting us sideways but we just powered on though it.

As we got into town we stopped off for some well earned ice cream at a local ice cream parlour.

Won't be a proper trip to the #seaside without having a icecream now would it.
Rum & Raisin Ice Cream

Like they say, you can't go to a seaside town and not have an ice cream no matter the weather. It wasn't long till we heading back to the station to catch our trains home. We was very lucky with the weather as on our way back we could see it starting to get cloudy in the distance.

Another great ride with my Brompton buddies and extra thank you to Andy L for recommending it and David P for is awesome guidance. Catch our trains home we said goodbyes to Ivo, John & friend. On the train back to London I was remembering to keep stretching as best I could, I even had a little nap. It had been a long but enjoyable day of cycling.

Now my mind is thinking to next weekend when we shall be attempting out first 100 mile ride, the St. Crispin's Day Night Ride.

Cycling Data: LBC Ride: North Kent Coast


Monday 13 October 2014

"Let there be light", and at once there was light

With autumn arriving and the daylight hrs getting shorter and shorter my mind was turning to my lighting. Don't get me wrong I simply LOVE my CREE headlight but one a couple of occasions I forgot to charge the battery and found I had to commute with my backup flashers.

I always have atleast 2 sets of fully working lights on BBB just in case batteries run out on my main set but I always find a BIG difference in what I see and the way the traffic actually interact with me while riding.

With the big CREE headlight EVERYONE sees me coming and I have no problems with getting cut up by other traffic or people walking out infront of my just as I'm riding past. When riding with my back up flashers its a hell of a different story.

It wasn't a hard deciding which dynamo I was going go with anytime I have asked anyone about dynamos Schmidt's Original Nabendynamo (SON) has always been mentioned regarding there reliability and no maintenance.

With that I ordered up the new SON XS Brompton front wheel hub in silver and black from . I could have got yellow but would have taken an age to get. Also ordered the SON Edelux II LED Headlight & Busch & Müller Toplight Line Plus dynamo LED-rear light brake light.

SON XS hub wheel, SON Edelux II LED Headlight (Gold) & B&M Toplight Line Plus
SON Edelux II LED Headlight

SONdelux XS
Fitting was easy, just replacing the light front wheel with this one, being a front wheel it was done within minutes. The longest part was swapping the Marathon tire and inner tube over.

When I was trying to install the Busch & Müller Toplight Line Plus dynamo LED-rear light brake light I realised I ordered the wrong one, the mounting is too wide for the Brompton's bracket. I got the 80mm version and not the 50mm which the Brompton bracket is so I will have to exchange it. Connecting the rear light is simple enough just a cable that the light comes with plugs directly into the Edelux II and controlled by it too.

PAD: 11th October 2014
All done

I have ridden with the SON XS hub and my greatest fear was that I would feel some resistance, but I'm happy to report I found it no different than before tbh. I have to get used to not being able to turn it off instantly using the switch as even when you turn it off the light stays on draining the charge from the inbuilt battery which takes about 4 minutes. In some situations like on a train station platforms this could be a problem as your not supposed to have any lights on the platform as the driver could confuse it for a signal. Luckily by the time you've entered the station and got to the platform is more than 4 mins and will be off. The B&M rear light also turns off as it is connected to the same circuit as the Edelux II so will turn off and on at the same time but also has its own off button too.

As of this posting I have actually used the light twice and I'm very pleased with this upgrade. Just need to get the rear light and it will be complete.

Looking forward to any night-time adventures with confidence knowing that BumbleB is ready to rock and roll at anytime, day or night :)

Links to the goodies
SON XS Brompton 16'' (349x17) front wheel 28- spokes hub  from HiBike
[Direct Link]

Busch & Müller Toplight Line Plus dynamo LED-rear light brake light from HiBike
[Direct Link]

Schmidt Edelux II High Power LED Headlight - Gold Anodized from SJS Cycles
[Direct Link]

Quick video I just edited together.... Need to go somewhere proper dark to really show it off though.