Monday, 30 December 2013

Ice, Ice Baby

All this, in about 2 seconds: "I think Doug is about to skid.  But look, he's going to steer through it.  There: he's done it no he hasn't he's down.  Quick! I'd better steer round him.  But why am I skidding? I'm about to crash, here I go.  Damn.  That hurts.  I'm still sliding.  There goes my bike, sliding past Doug who's still on the floor.  Ow that hurts".  I stand up, thinking what an idiot, what if I've broken something before the baby comes (which is due in a couple of weeks), and then almost slip over again.  At about that point, the chatter above that had been going on somewhere deeper in my brain matches up with slower, conscious side and I realise that we have found a long chute of black ice: the first sign of the frozen stuff on the network of small roads that we had been following from Seven Sisters' Road to Burnham-on-Crouch.

Taking some good advice from Doug, who slowly checked his appendages and unclipped from his bike as he lay on the ground, we wolfed down some energy gels and drink and took stock.  The bikes were fine.  We were plenty bruised and pretty sore, my ancient Rapha softshell neatly shredded on the elbows and new for Christmas gilet ripped and imprinted with cog and chain oil marks, but otherwise fine.  The black ice, which brought us down, also saved us from too much road rash.  Plus, we were probably just pootling along.

Doug points out the ice
A few moments earlier, I think we were both struck by the beauty of the Essex countryside, as we rode past a gathering of beaters about to head out for a shoot, and then turned right down a narrow lane, the green fields, hedges and blue sky stretching out in front of us.  It had been a good route: the Epping Loop, but turning right into the flow of cyclists we had always noticed heading the opposite way to us, and then working our way east, with the plan of reaching Burnham-on-Crouch -- always noted in the BBC weather forecast, and intriguingly placed at the start of the Dengie peninsular.  50 miles or so, 80km, and a train back, since it was Christmas.  Already, we were yapping about plans for a longer route in summer, perhaps with a ferry and a Kent route back.  

Instead we had to push on, a little glummer, a lot sorer, and with Doug struck by a strong sense of déjà vu when we reached a ford.

Have we been here before?
The route picked up, and in about another hour we were coming into Burnham, a long, busy B road with mostly courteous car drivers.  The last 10km or so was reminiscent of the run into Whitstable - wind, taking turns at the front, and slowly turning up the gas.  

I left Doug at the station for a bit, and had a peek around the town, famous for its yachting.  I'm glad I did.

Bruised, but not broken, we give the route a thumbs up. We'll be back. (Here it is on Ride with GPS.)



Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Festive Christmas from the TroisV!

As the TroisV are currently split between Birmingham and Kent*, Dr Matt hitched his wagon to the Rapha Cycle Club, who are doing a series of rides for their Festive 500.  A leisurely ride through a deserted London (except for a few tourists and hipsters taking pictures of the hipsters taking pictures of the tourists taking pictures of the tourists, etc.), and a welcome at the slick Rapha cafe.   Some coffee (see fig 1), then a chain gang around Regent's Park to wake up the legs, a long gentle climb up to Hampstead, then a couple of loops around Hampstead Garden Suburbs.  Over to Highgate, down West Hill, which was turned blinding gold on the descent by the winter sun on the wet roads (no sign of myrrh), and an ascent of Swain's Lane: just what everyone would want in their Christmas stocking.  Back to the park, and I peel off at Parkway (fig 3), to come home, rather overexcited according to house inhabitants.  I put it down to the coffee.

fig 1: Some excellent pre-ride coffee

fig 2: Empty streets (and some Castelli)

fig 3: Camden - almost deserted


[*30.12.13 Correction: Kent is not correct

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Road Courtesy

Dear Mercedes-Benz Driver,

When I'm stopped in a line of traffic, a few inches from the rear bumper of the car in front of me, this is not an invitation to try to squeeze into that space with your large sedan; when that traffic starts moving, and the steep uphill road narrows for fifteen feet into a single lane before expanding back to two lanes, this, sir, is not the time to try to pass me; and when I look over my shoulder to see exactly where you are and how fast you're coming, and perhaps just to show my face to remind you that although I'm a cyclist, I'm also, you know, like a human person, too, this, sir, is not an invitation to throw your hands in the air and start yelling at me about whatever transgression you think I've made by pedaling my bike up a steep, single-lane section of road; nor does drifting over to pass me as close as you can without hitting me, while also squeezing out the cyclist right behind me, make you the bigger, better, or smarter person; it just makes you the bigger asshole.