Friday, 29 July 2011

Bike Porn Friday: Special Services

Dartford Tunnel Cycle Service bus

What, might you ask, is this image above? It's not a bicycle, for sure. Of course, the signage give it away: it is one of the few images of the doomed London Transport County Area Dartford Tunnel Cycle Service double decker buses, with room on the lower deck for our two-wheeled friends, and space on the top for jaunty cycle touring type, which ran as a service under the sea.

Lack of use meant they were pulled from service on the tunnel between Essex and Kent in the early 1960s.

The same thing happened to the bridge that runs atop the tunnel nowadays. Or at least Drs Doug and Matt failed to locate the Crossing Point, where one summons a land rover to ferry you across the cycle-starved new bridge, in advance. Instead, we resorted to the traditional purple line route to Whitstable (the Wuss Table), with Shaw consulting his iPhone like Frodo nursing his precious (a habit he will stop). Nonetheless, we got there, the train arriving after 112 km into Whitstable a 30 kmph rather than the recent 40 kmph triumph. It was hot, we were tired, and Doug had his lungs filled with phlegm. We arrived at the beach in time to find Friend of the Trois V during the annual Blessing of the Sea service. Sorry, Whitstablers: Doug was not Satan, despite appearances.

Thusly, the compass ride sequence was 50% completed, and wound up with a recovery ride today. And we leave you with the Bike Porn above.


Trois V!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

D'Itching Ride

Dr Matt is feeling the fear in advance of late August's trip to the Italian and Swiss Alps. With this in mind, I've taken a week off work and planned to shock the system into some semblance of shape. The initial idea was some sort of compass ride programme, with a 100 miles or km to the north, 100 miles or km to the south, 100 miles or km to the east and 100 miles or km to the west.

The croissant and I started with a ride to the south. I've always been taken by Matt Seaton's description of cresting Ditchling Beacon, glimpsing the sea and turning back to London (in part in a distancing of the writer from the only ride for charity mentality that has come to dominate so many people's views of cycling). Perhaps I would do this perhaps I would reach Brighton and ride a long the coast a bit, or perhaps I would take the train back.

A late start didn't bode well, and the legs felt heavy. But good time was made, and a reasonable route through Brixton taken. After an hour, the croissant and I were south of Croydon, having taken in Ikea and the Battle of Britain memorial. At Purley, we did better than the Gentleman's Team Time Trial Tweed Ride, and I found the glorious track across the common and hilltop road, presenting vistas to the north and south, meadows all around, and then a steep, wooded series of descents to the plain. Feeling pretty good, and even enjoying the hills I kept finding, I pressed on, finding pleasant routes like the well-named Cogman's Lane, and noting that the road outside of Hayward's Heath was still unrepaired, with the same deep pothole that brought down a Tweed companion still lurking for the unwary.

As always happens, on the approach to Ditchling, I began to feel weary. I passed the garden centre, which offered succour to Dr Doug on our first trip to Brighton, and slugged a gel. Then it was Ditchling and the Beacon.

It seemed like the worst ever climb of that particular hill. Perhaps I was out of shape, lacking fuel, or perhaps I had pushed it too hard to get there. Still, I pressed on, and realised that it was being alone that made it all the harder. I counted the turns, and took in the view. Then, I was at the top, and paused by the sign left from the Ditchling Devil audax last weekend.

Out of drink, I asked if beverages were sold at the ice cream van at the top. No, it leads to litter, was the apologetic answer. This was no time for Mr Whippy, so, I glanced at the sea, and turn the bike around, with a slow, but reasonably graceful descent. I had decided to see how far back I could get.

Supplies at Ditchling, then to Hassocks (of the Puncheur fame). Here, I took on another gel. I managed to squirt (or other verbs) it all over my arm and leg, leaving blood red goop to set. I wiped the stuff off my arm with what I thought was grass, but there must have been a creature or unpleasant fauna: welts and scratched appeared on what amounts to my bicep. It was now D'Itching Ride.

Then along an A road to Burgess Hill and other places. It was the beginning of the school run, and so not the most pleasant of riding, but good time was made. But I had enough, and turned off at Crawley Lane. Lovely, but oh so steep. Back through Copthorpe, watching the planes come into Gatwick, up over the ridge, and then down Church Lane at Bletchingly. Here, I was desperate to avoid the mountain I had descended south of Purley - and found White Hill Lane into Caterham on the Hill. 'On the Hill' should have been a clue. And yes, dear reader, I put my foot down to take a swig from the bottle kindly filled in the kitchen of the Post Office in Bletchingly.

Eventually, we were on the road to Purley, Croydon, Norwood, Streatham, Brixton, etc etc (amazed at how zippy those tiny street cleaners are). And then cruising up Regent's Park, deciding to spring home, and passing each and every rider like a complete dick. But we were home, 9 hours after setting out. The cyclemeter gave up with 5% battery, but the croissant had carried me 180km, and 1,200 metres of climbing.

(Stats before it conked out:
Ride Time: 6:21:50
Stopped Time: 1:30:18
Distance: 155.02 km
Average: 24.36 km/h
Fastest Speed: 62.64 km/h
Ascent: 1212 meters
Calories: 4846)

So, to celebrate, I went to the Hawley Arms for a pint. And, because of the wake going on upstairs (and one of the guests), confirmed that we had met in Sainsburys a couple of years ago.


Trois V!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Bike Porn Friday: Storytime!

Today's Bike Porn Friday is a narrative approximation of what it was like to participate ("compete" might be too strong a word) in the Rollapaluza Urban Hill Climb yesterday. A more considered report, possibly with pictures of Doug looking agonized, will follow next week or something. You should be able to find Doug's time sometime today by clicking on that link. It was undoubtedly slow.

Okay. One minute to start. Okay. Okay. Clip in. Okay. Thirty seconds. Okay. Okay. Don't fall off as you set out. Okay. Fifteen seconds. Okay. Here you go, okay, okay. Ten seconds. Okayokayokay. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Off. Whoops back tire slipped on the starting pad, whatever, I'm off okay lower part is easy stick with this gear actually you could go one bigger okay yeah stick there not too hard don't blow it all on the bottom okay yeah one gear lower yes this is okay starting to feel a little burn stay like this there's the cemetery gates get ready to shift into the little ring and really go what the fuck is that guy on the microphone really saying I'm "really suffering?" what a dick, no I'm not! --not yet, anyway just ride, Doug, ignore it, ride, shift whoops gear slip okay no biggie didn't jar just ride okay yeah ow yeah, ow, okay back into the saddle for a bit ow yeah okay back out crowd yelling crowd yelling okay okay yeah down okay yeah there's Jon yelling can hear his voice can't see a thing but the road yeah okay okay yeah okay it's gonna tilt back down here where's the finish ow god this is even more painful than the steep part ow yeah okay there it is finish line why is it getting further away? ow ow ow ow okay ow ow okay ow ow ow ow okay okay okay you're done! ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow I taste blood.


We like Dino Jr around these parts:

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Getting Shod - and Club Song!

Dr Matt's Shimano touring shoes have served him well since 2007, but a recent Thames foreshore mudlarking expedition kind of underscored that they were on their last legs. Sadly, no offer of some Dromarti Sportivos to test, instead a trip to Condor Cycles supplied this fine pair (no. 257):

Thank you Quoc Pham. A review of the Tourer will follow, after Dr Doug's forthcoming triumph on the hills of north London (and Galibier watching). And if he does, we can sing the new Club Song!
Trois V Club Song (mp3)


Trois V!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Hill Climb

On Thursday, Doug will be representing the TroisV in the Rollapaluza Urban Hill Climb. Yay! He does not expect to win. Details can be found here:


Friday, 15 July 2011

Bike Porn Friday: Getting it up

The Tour has hit the mountains, and the Trois V has in hommage hit the hills of North London (literally in the case of Doug's water bottle, or 'bidon'; metaphorically, if you imagine the rear of a Mini as a mountain, and the front wheel of the Key Lime Pie (KLP) as the front wheel of the Key Lime pie. But fear not, no pastries or their chefs were harmed, dear reader(s)).

In contrast to the What Stable? run, Doug had done a lot of preparation, and came up with a challenging but also enjoyable course through the hills of North London, including some unattempted climbs, such as the wrong way up (that is, up) West Heath Road. We knocked off Regent's Park, Swain's Lane (slow but steady - we look forward to 18:31 next Thursday), WHR (hard, then easy), before heading to Crouch End and Ally Pally (Dr Matt finally found some form at this point). Then East Heath Road (highlight, Doug finishing his drink, announcing, 'I wish I could just throw it to the roadside like the Tour riders', followed by the bidon jumping out in said fashion and Doug scrabbling around to retain it. I cycled slowly up the hill at this point). At some point, during the first descent, a Mini in front of the KLP slowed, and the Pie slowed into it. For a second, I thought that its rider might come off, and almost rode into him as well, but all was well, and it was all just slow-motion hommage to the current inability of Tour riders to stay upright.

One and a half hours, perhaps 300 meters of climbing, a reasonable average speed, and 1300 calories used up later, we adjourned for showers and the collection of Joe, who was work shadowing me. Thinking that important life-skills should be included in the penumbra, I had taken the precaution of a furlough from work, and we installed ourselves in Look Mum No Hands, after a convoy through town (noticing two Yellow Jersey-jersied women handing out flyers) and proceeded to consume milkshakes, pies, cakes, a beer, coffee, ice coffee, water, and observe the finally-exciting stage of the Tour, as the Tourmalet was ascended by Geraint 'Welsh Steel' Thomas, who gave us all a fright, twice, by trying to ram cars on hairpin descents. He deservedly won the courageous rider award. And we even saw the Shlecks do something.

Joe was also hard at work, observing freelancers at work, and producing what I feel is a most excellent summer Trois V kit:


Trois V!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

What Stable?

So on Sunday Doctors Matt and Doug decided to ride out to Whitstable, on the Kent coast and known for oysters, there to join "Friends of the TroisV" Emily, Katie and special U.S.American guest Judi for a swim and some beer and some food. Matt researched the route; Doug did nothing in preparation.

Anyway, we set off from the Midway Meeting Point (Pratt Street) at about 7 a.m. and barreled past TroisV HQ, saddened to know that Jon and the mascot were not there (or so Jon claimed; has anybody ever heard of a place called "Devon"? He missed out on a midweek hills ride to something called a "Glasgow". The London streets are pretty empty at that time on a Sunday morning, so it wasn't too long before we were over London Bridge and pacing past the Royal Naval College and Greenwich Park, where horses will jump over hurdles during the 2012 Olympics. Somewhere between these points Matt remembered to turn on the cyclemeter so we'd have a boatload (get it? Naval College? Boatload? Anyone...? Try the veal!) of stats.

We were delighted to discover that not only does Thamesmead actually exist, but there's an East Thamesmead, a North Thamesmean, a South Thamesmead and also a West Thamesmead, and that each of these Thamesmeads, along with Dartford, is ludicrously well-signed from the A-roads. There are also lots of bike lanes along the A-roads out there, though I imagine that during rush hour they don't make things any more pleasant on the commuting cyclist.

So but anyway, we made a few minor wrong turns, one of which was caused by our naive (and really, insanely stupid, based on previous experience with NCR 4) faith in National Cycle Route 1, which led us to a dead end behind a supermarket that smelled of bread. We wasted little time in correcting our route (if memory serves, this happened in the also well-signed town of Erith) and cranking along our merry way. And good thing too, because what I've yet to mention is that this ride was a race, and we had only a few hours from our departure time before the Southeastern HS1 train, like the HTC Highroad train, would organize itself and take up the chase. We wanted to arrive in Whitstable before our ladyfriends.

Onwards! There were a few hills along the way, including the wonderfully named Knee Hill, our first climb of the day, and a climb, Matt later confessed, would have been avoided had we not diverted from our route out of London towards Kent earlier on. Whatever! We climbed like champions!

In Rochester we saw a submarine, and somewhere before then we saw a Hindu temple of some kind. We got a little baffled in the area of Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham, which kind of blended together in a mass of A-road. From Rainham we diverted along a winding B-road, which was a lot of fun and on which we saw a lot of other riders (all going the other way). We began to "do the math" on our approximate position and how long we'd been riding and started to realize that we had a decent chance of arriving before the 12:38 train, as long as we kept up our pace, which we thought was pretty good, and didn't get too lost, which is always a possibility with the navigationally challenged TroisV.

When we hit Faversham we realized that barring accident or a series of punctures, we were going to finish way ahead of the train. We felt giddy. We decided to push hard anyway, just to see how well we could do. We still hadn't seen any signs actually pointing to Whitstable. But then we did! The B2040 to Whitstable! Let's follow it! And follow it we did. Though we followed it a little too far, because we weren't supposed to follow it as it turned into an A-road. So after an unnecessary climb we turned around and coasted back along our path, turning up Head Hill and cycling on to Goodnestone, to Graveney, and at a T-intersection, a sign pointing to Whitstable, 5 miles (8 kilometers in TroisV distance) away. We cranked up the pace--or as some of you might prefer, "put down the hammer"-- and traded the responsibility of taking the lead, watching the sea, pedaling hard, keeping our speed up around 40 kph for the final push to the sea, then along it and into Whitstable. We toodled down the high street, stopped to buy some snacks and drinks, then found a picnic bench with a view of the sea and a pub that serves pints of the local ale.

The train was--or those who were supposed to take it were--more disorganized that of HTC Highroad, and so we had over an hour before we trundled up the road and waited on the platform for not the 12:38, but the 13:08 arrival at Whitstable:

The rest of the day was spent swimming, drinking more beer, and eating ridiculous amounts of food before catching the train back to London. Here's a photo, taken after swimming and beer and food:

Here are the stats from Matt's cyclemeter. He started it late, so it's a little off (my on-bike computer said 124.55 km and average speed 27.2 kph) but not too much. Also, I don't believe the top speed for a second; I'm blaming GPS interference for that one:

Finished Cycle: 10 Jul 2011 11:46:55
Route: The Whit's Table
Google Maps URL:
Shortened Google Maps URL:
Import URL:
Ride Time: 4:13:09
Stopped Time: 33:11
Distance: 108.59 km
Average: 25.74 km/h
Fastest Speed: 79.34 km/h
Ascent: 173 meters
Calories: 3290


Friday, 8 July 2011

Bike Porn Friday: Rim Job!

A regular reader writes:

Marty and I saw this "sculpture" on Pleasant Hill Road in Freeport, Maine.
We thought it might have Bike Porn Friday potential. It is made of bicycle rims. Not sure what creature it is supposed to be.

Here's some rock:

Friday, 1 July 2011

Bike Porn Friday: Words! Words! Words!

So, uh, well, because none of the rest of the TroisV feels like posting anything, and I don't feel like looking up some sexybike photos, and because various things have been going on, here's a long description of various activities.

First, Dr Matt's book has arrived, and with it, the TroisV heads officially into print:

Moving swiftly along, on Saturday evening Dr. Doug attended dinner at the home of the Junior Member. This meal was notable for its delicious quiche (real men eat it) and equally delicious raspberry meringue. Calorific! It was also notable for the Junior Member being pleased to don his official club jersey for the meal, but then being a bit too shy (at first) to actually sit down at the table. The shyness quickly evaporated in favor of (in what I feel is true TroisV spirit) hurling abuse at the other official member at the table. Flotsnoo!, Cosmo, Flotsnoo!

Anyway, on Sunday Dr. Doug headed out with the Junior Member's mother, and follower of this very site, Isobel, on the Cycling Club Hackney's weekly Early Risers Ride. It was a biggish group, which split into two once we'd reached Epping Forest. The riders were nice people, the weather was sunny and hot, and I for one had a really nice time and will be joining them again down the road. Here's the stats from the ride, including a map:

Finished Cycle: 26 Jun 2011 11:11:08
Route: New Route
Google Maps URL:
Shortened Google Maps URL:
Import URL:
Ride Time: 2:22:25
Stopped Time: 42:32
Distance: 60.94 km
Average: 25.67 km/h
Fastest Speed: 51.84 km/h
Ascent: 295 meters
Descent: 304 meters
Calories: 1883

The Key Lime Pie received multiple comments, but not one of the Hackney Cyclists commented on the fetching club jersey, which I wore with pride. How disappointing.

The Doctors wore themselves out on Wednesday evening with a glorious hills ride up West Highgate, Swain's Lane and the Alpine Village, and Dr. Doug played at being a bike courier Thursday and Friday (today!), first delivering something called stroopwafels to City Hall, before running into an old foe:

and then today meeting Dr. Matt's sister and brother-in-law to deliver some keys and collect a ticket. For both of these deliveries, Dr. Doug saw fit to wear his U.S. Postal cap.

Time to rest and listen to rock.