Category Archives: Personal

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 !

Cambridge Half Marathon

Where the months disappear too I just don’t know but somehow it was March and time for the Cambridge Half Marathon.

After recovering from my biking injury that had prevented me from running for most of last year I was looking forward to doing some running training ready for the Cambridge half, what I didn’t allow for was the continued menopausal hell ! and the fact that biking was the only thing for many months that made me truly happy !

After the Freethorpe 10 I really struggled with my running, everything became a chore, apart from riding my bike,then I decided enough was enough I wanted my life back so I gave in went Doctors and started HRT, suddenly I had my life back,I was sleeping through the night,I stopped hating everybody,(well almost everybody ?) but most importantly I regained my bounce, the zest for life and my confidence.

Finish line in sight

With only 4 weeks till the half marathon there was not much time for training but with a few 8 milers and a 12-mile slow jog along the coast, I went from thinking I would never do it, to thinking if I could bike 120 miles then I could run 13.

On the morning of the half marathon, Gina and Richard met me at Geoff’s and we wandered down to Midsummer Common hoping to find many of our friends who would be running, as like past years the atmosphere was amazing and it wasn’t long before the excitement started to build.

As I had no idea how my run would go I decided to run on my own, well as much as you can be on your own when surrounded by 10,000 other runners, just one reason why I love this event so much.

Before long we were all gathered into the starting pens, easier to keep warm this year as we had all been encouraged to wear an unwanted top that could be discarded as you set off, all items would then be collected and donated to the homeless.

Reunited with my glasses

The weather was cold with some drizzle, perfect running conditions, for some silly reason I made the decision to run without my glasses something I never do and it annoyed me the whole way round, I can see well enough without them but it just didn’t feel right and for this reason I just don’t like any of the free event photos as I just don’t look like me !

My favourite run at home is an 8 mile route which I run quite often,so the first 8 miles was easy enough, as expected the support from around the route was amazing, even nicer when it’s from someone you actually know, the water and gel stations were well manned and easy to get too, nice to see everyone aiming to get the used bottles into the bins, with the promise of them going for recycling.

Around the 10 mile mark I noticed the 2.15 pacers, I decided I would try and keep with them, by mile 12 I was struggling a little but was just in front of the pacers, then a call out from Geoff spurred me on,then,down the final straight a call out from someone else I knew made me stride out for the finish line,which I crossed with a time of 2.14, at this point one of the pacers tapped me on the Shoulder and told me he had followed my calf’s for a few miles and what fine calf’s I had, later I thought I should of told him they were cyclist calf’s.

I received my medal from one of my fellow Ladybirds which made the whole day just perfect.

Cambridge Shipping Lanes 200km Audax (16th February 2019)

February the month I hate most, having done 4 x 200km Audaxes we decided we just had to fit in a February one. We decided on a permanent event, Cambridge Shipping lanes 200km then we could choose when to ride it, unfortunately, the weather stopped play on our preferred date so we were left with only one option, 16th February, the day before my Valentine 10km run, not ideal but it had to be done.

Luckily for us, the weekend forecast was clear mild and maybe even sunny.

We left Cambridge at 7 am just as the sun was rising, something I still find awesome, we thought we would try and get to the halfway point before stopping for food.

The route was very rolling and took us through some beautiful villages including the historic Lavenham, by the time we got to Hadleigh at 11 am I was feeling quite hungry so we stopped for breakfast at Huffers, we keep trying to cut our break times down on these rides but it was still 30 mins before we were on our way again.

Another hour and a half of lane riding followed by a nice fast stretch into Shotley and we arrived at the Shipwreck pub on the peninsular, neither of us were really hungry or needing a break but it was so lovely we decided to have coffee and cake while enjoying the view. 30 mins later we were on our way home, I always love the halfway point!

We or should I say I got the first puncture as we were cycling through the Royal Hospital, a very interesting looking place which is not a hospital as the name suggests! I thought it must have military connections as once you have lived on a military base you can spot them a mile off! A lovely man came to help bringing a track pump, he also told us the history of the place, how it was now a private school, had naval connections and how originally it was where all the naval orphans were sent to live

Once on our way again, Geoff had a close call with a cat, who refused to move out the middle of the road then a deer almost took me out, the speed they run at was quite frightening, before long the sun was setting and the night time riding started.

Still a novice at this night time riding I tend to slow down a little and take my time especially when the roads are full of potholes, but we made it to Sudbury with no major mishaps, here we had our obligatory Audax Macdonalds stop, 30 mins seems to be our standard stopping time!

Just after Great Thurlow Geoff, had a visit from the puncture fairy, he was not happy especially as it was now dark, but with a bit of patience and using the spare tyre we were soon on our way, only for him to hit a hole further down the road and puncture again! This time he really was not happy, I recalled that in the write up I had read about the route, we would soon be at Balsham and it was all downhill from there, so I tried to comfort Geoff with this news but he was having none of it

Once we got going again my mind fixed onto the downhill into Cambridge and I am happy to say the roads improved and it was a fabulous ride back into Cambridge,interestingly the only hassle we had from other road users was from a Double-decker bus as we came into Fulborne, for some unknown reason he had his hand on his horn behind me and all the while he was passing, we thought it could have been because He thought I should be on the cycle path!

I always expected February to be the hardest month for doing a 200km Audax but the weather was very kind and now I am almost at the 6-month point of no return for an RRtY….. I just have to keep Geoff interested and at home!

Btw the Valentines 10km run was the hardest run ever, my legs just did not want to work but I got my bling !!

Freethorpe 10

It’s the time of year when I am not sure if I am a runner or a cyclist. I tend to run more than bike as it’s a lot safer for starters and after my fall on black ice last January I am not taking any risks on my bike this year.

My running suffered due to my fall, as my side/back hurt every time I ran so I spent all of 2018 taking it easy.

Determined I would start 2019 with my favourite running events, I entered Freethorpe 10, Valentines 10km and Cambridge half marathon hoping I had kept some level of fitness from biking, surely if I can ride 134 miles I can run 13 miles!

Gina Linda & Sally at the start

Gina Linda & Sally at the start

Having just returned from Cyprus and having ran no more than 10km for around a year,I thought I had better do a longer run. So last week I set out to run 8 miles with a friend and much to my delight not only did I enjoy the run but finally after a full year I had no pain or discomfort.

Freethorpe 10 is quite an undulating route for someone that lives in the flatlands, but that adds to the enjoyment, today the weather proved more of a challenge, as not only was it cold but it was also very windy, especially on the more exposed parts of the route.

Then there was the dilemma about what to wear and I had to get the colour right. luckily I made the right choice with short sleeves and gloves, not that they stayed on for long!

Sally with her medals

Finisher Sally

I started with my friends, then after a mile we all settled into our own running pace, running our own race, happy to meet again at the end. Always good to see Geoff at the half way point with words of encouragement.

The route was well marshalled and they were great at shouting out words of encouragement. as I expected miles 8/9 were the hardest for me, especially as they were straight into the wind.

Anyway I was very happy to finish in 1 hour 43, with not even a twinge from my side/back, a few more longer runs and I might just be ready for The Cambridge Half on March 5th.

Cypriot 200km DIY Audax (17th January 2019)

As well as wanting to escape the greyness of England we thought it might be a nice idea to continue with our 200km Audaxes by doing one in the Cypriot sunshine.

Geoff found it quite difficult designing the route and it was soon decided that it would have to be an out and back with a few loops to make up the milage. In the end we settled with a route that was 204 km.

After 3 days of rain and storms, the worst they have seen for 20 years, a good weather day was predicted so we submitted our DIY Audax entry and hoped for the best ,we woke to clear skies,it looked the perfect Audax weather day.

Stunning views

We left at 7am just as it was getting light, the first loop through Paphos was a little irritating especially on a bike I was not used too, a cleat that was proving hard to clip in and the morning work traffic.

Once out of Paphos though we enjoyed the ups and downs of the coast road which bought many wonderful views as we passed Aphrodite’s birthplace .

Stalking the Army

Then on our way to the Episkopi we had to make our first detour due to the road turning to sand, great for mountain bikes but not lovely Canyon road bikes.

The climb up to Episkopi was made more enjoyable by the fit military guys running up the road,it was impossible to catch them !

Then it was on to Akrotiri where we had to make another detour when the road just disappeared into the salt lake.

Finally we made it into Limassol via the very busy dock road here we stopped for some food and to prepare for the ride back.

We started by meandering through Limassol’s busy city roads, the kind of riding I hate but we made it safely out the city thinking it would be an easy ride back along the roads we had come.

Where did the road go!

Most of the return journey was uneventful, just one detour due to another road turning to sand, more military Guys to chase up through Episkopi then a lovely sunset as we cycled back along the coast road by Aphrodite’s birthplace

Just when we thought we were home and dry, travelling at speed along the newly serviced road between Paphos airport and Paphos the unthinkable happened and Geoff had a fall !! There was a good gap between us and suddenly,I just realised Geoff was down,by the time I reached him he was back up but bleeding heavily. It soon became obvious that most of the blood was pouring out his nose,so once I sorted that the best I could,we decided to continue into Paphos,then stop and decide what to do. Luckily no damage was done to the bike.

Funnily enough the next suitable place to stop was a MacDonald’s, the other customers were quite shocked by Geoff’s appearance,we were asked if we needed any help but as his face only appeared grazed and his nose had stopped bleeding we decided to continue and finish our Audax.

So with the detours it ended up as 134 miles In13 hours 29 mins with one puncture and we are just hoping that Audax will approve these .

I was highly impressed with my Canyon bike not one ache or pain after all those miles .

The following day we paid a visit to the Doctors’s/ hospital where a broken nose was discovered!!!