Category Archives: Personal

Waving Goodbye to 2020

I entered 2020 feeling broken, Covid then broke me a little bit more.

All the things I had planned to help me cope, slowly got cancelled one by one, although before the Lockdown I did manage a walk with the Norfolk Legstretchers, something I hoped to repeat but then lockdown happened.

I really wasn’t enjoying riding my bike, so the first lockdown in March gave me a good excuse to stop, During this time I did a lot of solo walking and exploring, discovering Roydon Common, Reffley woods, and Leziate, beautiful places all on my doorstep. As the nicer weather came I longed to be back out on my bike, so I started off with some short solo rides, something I thought I would never enjoy but they filled me with Happiness.

As soon as we were allowed I started riding with my friend, Sue, as our confidence grew, our rides got longer and longer, then when it was safe Lynne also started cycling with us. We loved cycling together, having fun, discovering new places, taking photos, having picnic lunches, all our rides became a pleasure with no pressure and no one shouting at me if I got a puncture!

Just for fun, we got our own cycling shirts and became known as the FFF girls (Fabulous Fearless Females) next year I am sure there will be more of us !.

Our biggest achievements was a 100-mile ride to Ely, then after joining some Audax Guys I knew from my Audax riding days, we did their Halls 200km route, which we just loved.

As well as all the riding, and even though all my running events had been cancelled I was still enjoying my running and run/walking, I missed parkrun dreadfully so I started meeting up with Maria on Saturdays encouraging her on her road to recovery, over time she improved and we were able to do the George Munday 10km as a virtual run.

The ladybirds were also a huge part of my healing process providing lots of support and laughter where needed, just like my wonderful colleagues at work who I know felt all my pain more than anyone.

My big plan for 2020 had been the Coastal Marathon, which of course was cancelled but I did manage the Coastal half route a couple of times, a 15 miler around Sandringham and a 13 miler in Wymondham all with various friends.

Now as we wave goodbye to 2020 and move into 2021, I find myself stronger happier and more confident than I have ever been.

There are lots of plans for 2021, including The Lap of Anglia, Sandringham half and the Coastal marathon plus lots of long rides with the FFF girls……

2021 is definitely the year for lots of Laughter Fun and Naughtiness !!

Roydon Common

Roydon Common, a magical place I discovered just before COVID 19 and lockdown. 

Disappointing weather over the weekend meant biking plans had to be canceled, so, after a  drive to Thetford to drop off a bike with my son I  made the most of a blowy showery day by getting out for a walk across the common with Sue.

Roydon Common is looking stunning after the rain, So much has grown since the beginning of lockdown and those lonely solo walks, there are so many wildflowers out now with an array of stunning colours, it won’t be long till the heather is in full bloom either

Luckily we got round the 6 miles without getting wet, unfortunately, I arrived home to find my waterbutt had been blown over in the wind but at least it wasn’t me getting blown off my bike!

 

Moving on to new adventures…..

With Geoff’s sudden and unexpected departure from my life, its been a difficult few months, much harder than I expected or have let on !! I have tried to keep myself busy forcing myself to go out on my bike, weather permitting, knowing if I stopped riding now I would never ride Annie again, which would be so sad !!

Things felt slightly better once I admitted to myself that I no longer wanted to run Cambridge half marathon, I was worried about letting my friends down but really couldn’t face the thought of going to Cambridge. Once I made the decision it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and it was nice to make Amanda’s day by transferring my place over to her.

I have also learnt that there is more to life than biking, running and driving up and down the A10 ! I have re-discovered the joy of reading and going to the cinema, but most of all I have learnt how to love myself again and discovered what wonderful marvellous friends I have.

My life will never be the same but who knows in time it may be better so now its time to plan some new and wonderful adventures!

Positive Steps Forest Festive Challenge

Little did I know when booking this event that it would not turn out to be quite the Festive event we had planned. Geoff returned from Bangkok on December 4th and dropped a bombshell, He intended to put his house up for rent and return to Bangkok ASAP leaving no room in his life for me, anyone that knows me will know how devastated I am.

It would have been easy to take time off work and hideaway for a while but that’s not my style and on Saturday 7th December I found myself driving to Kings Forest in West Stow Country Park to meet Gina and Jayne for our 20-mile challenge, an event put on by Positive steps in aid of the St Nicholas Hospice Care.

The event had a nice festive atmosphere, most people had made the effort to wear some kind of festive clothing, including me !! and the whole event was very well organized.

The half marathon distance and the 20 milers start together and stay together until the 20 milers go on to complete an extra lap. After all the rain in the week leading up to this event we were very lucky to get a nice dry bright day and much to our surprise there was little mud or sand on the route, it was just nice and springy underfoot.

The marshalls were fantastic friendly and very encouraging, and we had some of the Famous cheesy feet at the feed station, along with cinnamon trees and other goodies. We did wonder if we would dislike the fact that the route was made up of 3 laps but you actually don’t notice.

While enjoying a cup of tea at the finish it was nice to chat with some of the volunteers, one man was telling us how much he loved marshaling at these events, was also interesting to hear there had been 82 nonstarters, which is a shame when so many others wanted a place. and amazingly £6500 had been donated to the hospice.

All considering it was an enjoyable day and good therapy for me surprisingly we did well with a moving time of 4.34 and elapsed time of 4.46…..

Next it’s the ELY NYE 10km then the LDWA 26 mile Stansted stagger

Suffolk Lanes Extravaganza 200km Audax (20th July 2019)

In 2016 we rode the 100 miles of Suffolk Lanes Audax and enjoyed it so much we thought we would do the 200km as part of my RRTY, the weather forecast was for thundery showers but this was not going to put us off.

Not quite such an early start which is always good for me when riding on a Saturday but as we arrived in Bildeston at 8 am we were greeted by a heavy shower of rain, luckily it had blown over by the time we started at 8.30.

I reminded Geoff about how he hates starting off at the front and how its best to let the faster guys go tearing off first, a mistake we made on our last Audax, so we hung back for a few minutes then had a good start alongside Fixie Mick Ady and Jayden all from my TTT rides and Simon from Cambridge CTC.

For us, it was a very fast start as Geoff was determined to keep up with Fixie mick, at one point I almost lost them. We stopped at traffic lights and while I was helping Simon out the lights changed and the others were off like a bullet while I got caught by the lights again, then I had the dilemma of should I try and catch them or hang back with Simon, in the end, I decided to try and catch them. Just when I thought I would never catch them I found Geoff waiting at a junction for me and before long we were back in the group. Making it to Halesworth and the first coffee shop with an avg speed of 16mph.

Everything was going smoothly, in fact, I was very impressed with Geoff he certainly rides his Fixie much better than his geared bike! Then just before we reached Orford, I got a puncture, which meant we lost our little group as I told them to go on because we could hear the thunder in the distance. It took 2 attempts to mend the puncture as we discovered one of the new inner tubes had a split near the valve, by this time the thundery shower had blown over and we realized we would never catch the others up.

Shortly after getting our card stamped at Orford Geoff got his first puncture followed quickly by 2 more, luckily Simon who is an expert on puncture repair helped us out, combined with the help of a car driver who happened to have a track pump in his car !! We never did find the problem, although it could have been the cheap inner tubes, anyway, it was solved by using a liner in the tyre where it kept puncturing.

After all this Geoff had lost some of his enthusiasm but once we reached Framlingham and re-fueled we continued on our way with Simon, finishing the ride with no more dramas !!!

Interestingly it was the highest avg speed for Geoff on a 200km so he definitely does better on his fixie, due to the faster pace I only took one photo, at Orford, the rural route was  beautiful especially Orford Castle which is the only castle I saw out of the 3 we were meant to pass on the route !!!

This Audax was number 10 out of 12 for my Audax RRTY, next month it will be the Mildenhall 200km ….. after I have done the Lap of Anglia. 

Solstice Sunride (22nd July 2019)

I have wanted to do a night ride for some time now and I always thought we would do the Dunwich Dynamo, then Geoff discovered the Solstice Sunride, the logistics of this ride made it very appealing, you start in Cambridge at any time you want with the aim of getting to Lowestoft for the 4.30am Sunrise. The only cost is for transport for you and your bike back to Cambridge.

The plan was to get up on Saturday do Cambridge Parkrun, potter about for a few hours, then aim to start the ride around 6.30pm, after a late afternoon snooze, needless to say, the afternoon snooze did not happen, I put it down to excitement !!!

We started the ride with 2 fellow lappers, Julie and Darren and had a most enjoyable ride out to Mildenhall with them, passing 2 more lappers  Stephaine and Brian, on the way, it’s amazing how you recognize people by their riding style. Julie and Darren then went off to visit family while we carried on to East Harling and the halfway stop.

As we had made such good time to Harling social club, we stayed for longer than we usually would, but by 11 pm was eager to be on our way, so after adding a few more layers of clothing, and checking our lights we made our way out into the night.

We expected to be much slower on the second half of the ride, but our eyes soon became accustomed to the dark, by this time the roads were quite empty, so it was an awesome experience to be riding at night on roads just perfect for night riding, with Matt Darey blasting out from Geoff’s Bluetooth speaker.

After a while, we passed by someone at the side of the road putting on a jacket, as we sped past I thought I know that man !! Shortly after Aphid, another lapper caught us up at a junction, the 3 of us continued the ride together, by now we were well ahead of schedule again so we made our way to the 24hr Mcdonalds at Gillingham arriving at 1.25 am.

After a hot drink and chips, we continued on our way 45 mins later with just 10 miles to go. Usually, when you arrive somewhere at 3.15am you would expect the place to be deserted but due to Lowestoft having its new 24-hour First light festival it felt quite amazing to be pedaling down to the pier dodging tons of people.

We spent the next hour hanging around waiting for others to arrive then we enjoyed a bacon roll and coffee while we watched a beautiful sunrise before catching the transport back to Cambridge, wishing we were riding back !!!

Totally awesome ride with a route perfect for night riding but neither was prepared for just how cold it gets during the night on the East coast with an N/E wind…….

Everyone Rides to Skeggy 300km Audax (13th April 2019 )

This Audax was on my list of things to do as Geoff really wanted to do it last year but for some reason, we were unable to do it, I expect I was running or something !!  Anyway, I was determined we would do it this year even though Geoff seems to have lost a little bit of his love for cycling !!

The Travelodge at Alfreton was booked for 2 nights to make it all a bit easier, and as we traveled down I was excited about doing our 2nd 300km event even if Geoff wasn’t.

We set our alarm for 4.30am and had our egg sandwiches ready for breakfast, I still find it far too difficult to eat this early in the morning but managed half my sandwich before we set off for registration at Alfreton house, taking a banana with me to eat before we started the ride at 6am

Richard ThodayWe soon realized it was very cold much colder than we had anticipated, in fact, according to the BBC it had been the coldest April night for 6 years! By the time we reached the first control point in Newark, I was actually wondering if I was going to be able to carry on but after a bowl of the best porridge and honey I have ever tasted I was ready to face the cold again.

Next control point was at Woodhall Spa and for a short while we rode with a small group from Derby Clarion, the time goes much quicker when you have someone to chat with, they had great riding skills too, taking it turns on the front,unfortunately after a while we lost them going up a hill.

Next control was at Skegness, rumor had it that we would lose the headwind here which would be a relief ,it was on our way to Skegness that we met the amazing Richard Thoday , riding the 300km on a Penny Farthing, we arrived at Poppies Cafe together and spent time warming up over a bowl of soup and hearing about Richards record-breaking challenge in July, riding end to end on his Penny Farthing hoping to break the world record set in 1886.

We left poppies heading for the information control at Sutton on Sea, looking forward to the tailwind, first we had to stop and get a photo by the welcome to Skegness sign, then it was on via chapel St Leonard’s spotting the Butlins big top tent on our way,but no sign of the sea! Our route instructions said to write down the information found at the public toilets.

In Horncastle, I thought Geoff would stop for our receipt at the local Garage especially when I saw other riders there but he sailed passed and we stopped for a warm-up in Costa coffee, I didn’t find the soup very filling at lunchtime so I took the opportunity and had a very enjoyable Sausage bap.

Only 35km to Lincoln and lovely to see the cathedral on the horizon, in fact, this stretch was the best bit weather-wise, here we stopped at the local Coop for our receipt, added lights and another layer as the temperature was beginning to drop again.

Next stop would be Alfreton, the longest stretch at 65km, all rode in the dark, I actually enjoyed this night riding, the roads were big and wide never feeling truly dark, the sky had a glow to it, unlike in the countryside when darkness is truly pitch black! Feeling cold we stopped off at the Mac Donald’s in Ollerton for a hot drink, shortly after leaving here we bumped into Richard again on his Penny Farthing so we continued down the cycle path next to the A38 together, I enjoyed watching him maneuver the Penny Farthing along the bridge over the M1

At midnight we rolled back into Alfreton house 18 hours after we left.

While getting our Brevet Card checked and enjoying yet another cup of tea we discovered, 2 things our route sheet was an old one we had downloaded from the internet, for some reason we had not received the up to date information through the post. So no information was needed from Sutton on Sea and the first man back finished 6 hours before us and had been in the pub all evening!

While I would like to do a Summer 300 I am not sure I will be able to persuade Geoff so it’s back to 200 km for the next 5 months!

Horsepower 200km Audax (9th March 2019)

At last a calendar event, an opportunity to meet up with like minded people and soak in all the amazing Audax stories!

We arrived in Great Dunmow with plenty of time to get our Brevet Card and have a coffee, it wasn’t long before we were seeing familiar faces and chatting with other riders we knew from Cambridge. The talk was mainly about the wind and how it would blow us out to Snetterton then would be head-on from Snetterton to Newmarket before easing up again for the last leg home!

It’s all Bananas

At 7.30 am we all gathered outside ready to go, I love the way complete strangers chat away to you like they know you, Audax riding is so friendly, after the first few kms, the group starts to spread out as we settle into our own riding pace.

Our aim was to try and get to the halfway point at Snetterton without a cafe stop, and with the tailwind, we were flying along, as we came into Lavenham the church looked very grand and always makes me think wow! By 9:20 nick was stamping our brevet card, after eating a hot cross bun I had in my pocket we set off for Snetterton.

Due to the tailwind, we made good time to Snetterton, arriving at 11.40, making it a very enjoyable ride but as we turned into Snetterton circuit we got a taste of what was to come. At Tyrell’s Restaurant, the service was quick and efficient, as we ate, we thought about the howling wind outside and watched as other riders set off into the wind.

40 mins later we ventured out into the wind, the wind so strong we could barely stand up straight. As we set off I thought once we get out of Snetterton and back onto the roads it would ease up but I was wrong! The strong head/ side winds continued all the way to Newmarket and were the most ferocious winds I have ever experienced, I learnt quickly to observe my surrounding look for gaps in the hedges and keep the bike in a low gear, it was mentally exhausting and at times out my comfort zone!

The religious experience

Just over 3 hours later we made it to Newmarket, by this time I was dreaming about a cafe stop out of the wind, so my heart sank a little as Geoff turned into the BP garage, but we soon had food and a receipt for our Brevet Card. We also found other riders here too, including Nigel and our quick stop turned into a 30 min stop as we chatted away.

As we set off again we realised much to our delight that the wind had dropped and we had less than 50 km to do, after spending most of the ride on our own it was nice to see other riders too and the time passed quickly as we played leapfrog along the way, getting a blast of Nigel’s music every now and again also lifted my spirits.

Before long it was dark and I got the chance to try my new Volt 800 light out, I had bought it as an extra light to use with my volt 400, mounting it on my handlebars so I could turn it on and off as needed, it worked really well and I felt much more confident riding in the dark, the roads were reasonably good so our speed did not slow down due to the darkness.

We had 3 choices for the final return to Great Dunmow , the main road, which could be busy, the valley road which may contain potholes , or option C which was slightly longer , originally we (or should I say Geoff) had plotted out option C but was enjoying the ride so much we decided to keep to the main road, with the others, in hindsight we wish we had taken the valley road as the main road was quite busy and we had plenty of time so think the valley road would have been more enjoyable.

Finally at 18.40 we pulled back into the St. Mary’s Centre at Great Dunmow, to be greeted with soup, rolls and tea, as usual, I felt quite “high” from such an achievement and enjoyed the banter with fellow riders, while discussing the ride, we discovered that a few others had actually been blown off their bikes by the gusts of wind, but thankfully no damage had been done.

So that’s 6 out of 12 ! and surely the good weather is now on its way, April’s ride is a 300 so that will be an interesting tale !