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4th May 2015
Riders: Richard, Rob, Laurent, Tim, Nick, Jason, Jon & Daffyd
Brighton & back road ride
Weather: 14°C

No report for over a month but there's been plenty of riding goin on including an edit of my Cycle Superhighway to Hell video providing highlights (or lowlights depending on your point of view) of my daily cycle-commute. Make sure you set the definition to 1080p and crank it up loud for the full effect.

But back to this weekend and more specifically May the 4th (be with you) as the alarm goes off errr.. alarming at 5-00 in the a.m. for me to rise and prepare for the first road century (that's 100 imperial miles to you) of the year as we hit the well trodden (ridden?) route to Brighton and back. But we have a number of Brighton virgins with us this morning on a great ride organised by Lord Jason of Waggers, long-term member of the forum including dyed in the wool MTB'er Monsieur Laurent 'Fishybob'.

I'm riding the Specialized Allez which is featuring the new Ultegra wheelset I bought from AlanSD, also of this parish, including a set of Continental GP4000S boots and the difference from the Shimano R501 wheels and Conti Gator Skins is indeed noticeable.

We leave Ewell at 6-15 a.m. having met most of the riders and head over to Merstham to collect those based more East than us (Rob, Laurent & Tim).

And they're off again. The pace is pretty high and we aren't really riding as a group. I'm pushing harder than I would want to at the start of a long ride like this and I know I'm going to pay for it later but it's a beautiful morning and we fly down to Turner's Hill and then the long descent off the top of Turner's Hill; about 14km to Lindfield.

Ditchling Beacon is soon upon us and I'm lagging at the back. My lack of climbing this year to date and the sniffly nose and tickly cough which suddenly appeared on Saturnday morning are coming into play. But I clean the beast and it's another long descent into Brighton and an egg and bacon sarnie at The Regency Restaurant; much appreciated at a mere £2-95.

We head off West along the seafront to Hove and then up the climb to drag ourselves over the South Downs again followed by a superb descent which sees me hitting 81kph before reeling it back in due to a wobble on the front wheel.

The miles roll by but it seems like I'm going backwards. I'm chomping down on the power bars and keeping hydrated. I know I have enough in the tank to get home but the pace is still high and I'm hanging on at times. Fortunately for me Daffyd takes the opportunity to get lost just past Rusper Village Fete and the Royal Oak and we have a half-hour rest as he repeatedly rides up and down the same road looking for us.

We eventually get going and I'm feeling revived and as various parties split off to their respective routes home there's just three of us who make it back to the start point, 100 miles, 2,000 metres of ascending and just shy of 7 hours riding later, for a swift post-ride beer.

Cheers Jason and Happy Birthday for Tuesday.

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


17th May 2015
Riders: Richard, Terry & Rich Lonegroover
Ranmore Rampage
Weather: 19°C

My evil masterplan that I hatched 24 years ago with the birth of the first of two sons finally bore fruit this week (in fairness, Louise did most of the hatching). Sam, my eldest got fed up with the poor performance of the Prince Albert (which is nominally his bike anyway) and not only bought some parts for it but fitted them too including a ten-speed X-7 SRAM clutch mech, X-5 SRAM shifter, 10 speed cassette and chain as well as having bought an Avid bleed kit the week before and bled the brakes to improve performance.

To complete the upgrade I've even fitted a, wait for it lads; dropper seatpost (sssshhhh! don't tell anyone). It's Wob's old post that he wasn't using and he gave it to me for the princely sum of £17 which was the cost of the service kit as he serviced it before donating it to me as the seals were a bit worn.

The three of us (Sam, Ben and myself) put in a 60km road-ride yesterday afternoon as part of our continuing training towards the Alps TDF trip and I got out the house first thing this morning to meet Terry and Rich Lonegroover at the LOMAC (which now seems to have re-opened) for a long ole' MTB ride.

It's a typical Terry ride with lots of climbing, lots of technical riding, doubling back and criss-crossing the same path to ride all the best bits and plenty of road sections to link them together allowing me to hit the magic 50km for the morning before returning home for a superb moussaka washed down with a bottle of red wine: I love it when the in-laws are in town.

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on.

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


22nd/23rd May 2015
Riders: Richard, Alan & Greg
London to Paris - road trip
First Leg
Second leg
Weather: 17°C

Friday evening
Last October Greg rode solo to Paris and ever since then I've been planning on doing something similar. After a few e-mails and many texts between me, Alan and some planning by Greg we devised a ride to Paris that could be achieved within 24 hours. That's a great challenge in itself but it was more aimed at ensuring our ever loving, understanding and long-suffering wives were able to sign off on the trip.

And six short weeks after planning it came to pass that Friday evening arrived and Greg rocked up to my house in Ewell, just outside London village for us to start the great adventure. We head up to Banstead to collect Alan, the third of the triumvirate plus Rob who is going to accompany us on the first 20 miles or so down to Newhaven.

I had been planning on travelling light and fast but the ever growing kit list meant that I needed some kind of bag. I decided to use my trusty commuting bag as it has a waist strap to secure it and it's reasonably comfortable, plus of course I have ridden tens of thousands of miles with it so am used to having it sitting there on my left hip.

We follow the standard London to Brighton route to Outwood where Rob waves goodbye and we carry on down towards Turner's Hill and Ardingly and on towards Lindfield.

Dusk is starting to come upon us and the rear lights go on first. We hit a nice fast descent through a culvert that I know well from numerous London to Brighton rides and I accelerate past Greg when suddenly out of the brush on the right hand side of the road jumps a large deer. It races across the road in front of us as we slam on the anchors and it disappears into the woods on the left of the road as we laugh and scream, high on the adrenaline of a close shave. I tell you, that was a big buck deer and would have made a real mess of us if we had hit it at speed.

A stop to get our front lights working and we plough on. We are all three of us veterans of winter commuting and the darkness and the high car count doesn't phase us as we pound out mile after mile.

Just before Lewes and just after a horrible section of about ten km's of dusty gravel recently dumped on the road that reminded me of the Strade Bianchi we see a young couple on a tandem. They don't have lights having set out from Peckham about seven hours ago and are also heading to Newhaven for the same ferry. We ride with them to give them the benefit of our lights plus to save them referring to a paper map arriving in Newhaven at about 11pm having covered 80km or 50 miles and head to McDonalds although I only ever eat these when I'm drunk so I pass.

Down to the ferry terminal and there's loads of cyclists here which is a surprise, I thought it would only be the three of us but there's about 30 riders dotted about the place. It's easy getting onto the ferry as we have priority over the cars and board first and we find three leather reclining chairs and settle into them for the crossing. I'm glad I bought some spare layers so that I can get out of this sweaty gear and relax dry and warm to try to get some shut eye.

The ferry leaves at 00:30 for the four hour crossing. I manage to get some sleep but I really don't know how much and as we get off the ferry at 04:30 GMT or 05:30 CET and walk through passport control (some French bloke standing on the side of the bike path) I'm bleary eyed and slightly nervous about the 200km that is in front of me.

Saturday morning
All the other cyclists seem to instantly disappear as we head out of a misty Dieppe port just before 06:00 CET. It's not because they are faster than us, it's just that being a veteran of this route Greg knows a shortcut to L'Avenue Verte (the Green Road or path for those of you not familair with ze French language).

The first few miles, or kilometres; we are in continental Europe now you know, twist and turn through a park but we soon get onto an arrow straight path. It's one of the typical French cycling routes that Ben and I encountered in Arcachon last year; purpose built, away from the main road and super smooth tarmac that allows you to roll really fast and true.

It's cool in the mist and we collect a fine spray on our shins and forks. I'm wearing my brand new Casteli Squadra jacket which I bought because it's light and packs away into a very small space. It's not very breathable but it does the job of keeping the damp and chill off me.

We cross paths with another couple of guys who are doing the same route and we chat as we roll along. It turns out one of them is from Ardingly where we rode through last night and has lived and worked in Cheam and Stoneleigh which are very local to me. Small world as they say (until you lose your luggage as I quipped on Saturday).

We arrive at the village of Forges-Les-Eaux having covered 55km before breakfast and stop at a quintessential French roadside cafe. I gave up caffeine in 2008 but the smell of a proper french coffee (I love the smell of French coffee in the morning) and the thought of the miles still to go prompts me to have not one but two cafe au lait with the croissant that Alan (or is it now Alain?) buys from the Boulangerie across the road.

Back onto the road proper this time, no more cycle specific trails but in the main they are quiet B-roads and the tarmac is much better than the usual pot-holed, gravel covered misery that we encounter on most rides back in the UK. We are often within close proximity of the train line though and must be criss-crossing the main line as there are countless railway crossings on this section.

Pedal, pedal and pedal some more as we knock out another quick 45km. The early morning mist has lifted although it's still overcast but very mild and we strip away layers at the stop at the boulangerie in Saint Germer-de-Fly for a baguette and a can of full fat coke which soon has me jabbering like a madman into the camera (movie to follow later).

There's four more English cyclists in the square, two married couples who we chat to as was we quaff down the coke and baguette. I ask them if they were on the morning ferry (remember there were dozens of riders on the ship). No, they state, were you?

They seem incredulous that we were. They are truly gobsmacked when I tell them we are booked on the 20:10 Eurostar home this evening. I think they were just doing a bit of casual touring rather than our race to La Tour (again, for those that don't parlais Francais that means 'the (Eiffel) tower' as opposed to 'Le Tour' which means the Tour de France).

They head out of town before us but we pass them at the top of the first big climb and wave goodbye. We won't be seeing them again.

The sun is creeping out from behind the clouds now and it's a beautiful morning to be on the road. Very few cars, all of who give us a wide berth or plenty of warning as they approach. We chat amongst the three of us as we ride in single file but with a South African and a man with a broad Scottish accent being my companions I often struggle to understand what they are saying with the wind whistling in my ears and there's a lot of 'say that again' or just nodding in appropriate places going on.

The energy bars and gels are slowly being consumed. Every bar I eat lightens my load as I must have started the ride with about two kilos of food plus two litre bottles of water.

Alan is amazed at the number of GoPro mounts I have with me. I have two GPro's mounted on the frame, one on the front and one on the rear (thnaks again for the loan Laurent) but each time we stop I pull a different GoPro mount out of my bag including a selfie stick, a reverse head cam mount and chesty mount.

Another 40 km and the next stop is in the town of Marines where we fill up with water and smash another energy bar or two. The two riders we saw back in Dieppe arrive about ten minutes after us and we pose for a quick photo before pushing on again.

My left knee has started to swell up and is really aching. We've ridden a long way but there's still plenty to go and I really don't want to be stranded here in Northern France. Fortunately a quick dose of ibuprofen and paracetomol ensures that it doesn't trouble me again.

We've now hit the outskirts of Paris and with 170 km in my legs that's the farthest I have ever ridden but we still have another couple of hours to go. My Garmin has died but Alan and Greg's are still going strong. There's a very busy motorway crossing over the Seine and some extremely steep and fast descents where we keep pace with a motorbike who is carrying a passenger on the rear who turns around to watch us descending behind them.

We also bump into a group of half a dozen young British lads who are heading to the same place as us. Again they are amazed that we only arrived in-country this morning and despite them having about 25 years on me they soon drop away as the pace we are setting is too fast for them.

A steep climb into the rather ugly dormitory town of Poissy and we get a little bit lost before picking up a trail that would be better suited to an MTB than my 700 x 23mm shed Ultegra wheels as we bump over roots and more gravel. Fingers crossed, not a single puncture between us all weekend and I don't want to start now.

A long climb inside a park and we eventually make our way to the hippodrome cycle track where I am being overtaken by dozens of riders. Yeah I think, good for you but I bet you don't have 203km in your legs already.

The sun is out in full now and it's very warm and we are almost there and we get the first sight of the Eiffel Tower. So close and yet so far as it takes us probably another hour to get there via a circuitous route that aims to avoid the main traffic. Alan and Greg beat me through a set of lights and once they have changed I have no idea where they have gone. But I can see the Tower (we had lost it again behind the tall buildings) and so I dead reckon my way there having shouted into cab driver's windows and asked passing tourists (tojours a droite was usually the response) and I finally make it and hook up with the boys for a celebratory photo from a passing tourist plus the less spectacular selfie.

Both of their Garmins have now died too and after a short photo break we head back through the main traffic the circa 5km to Gare du Nord to drop off our bikes and then to a Belgian bar opposite the front entrance for a beer.

Back onto the train and I apologise to the woman who has the misfortune of sitting next to me that I know that I smell a bit sweaty but I will change as soon as the train starts moving. I have caught the sun today and have been cultivating those tan lines as per the Velominati rules.

At 20:10 CET the Eurostar sets off and true to my word I change into some fresh clothes before we meet Alan in the bar for a few more beers and chat to an American couple who are touring Europe.

Back to St Pancras for 22:00 GMT and there's a Thameslink train from St Pancras back to Sutton. Greg and Alan are up for cycling to Waterloo for a quicker train but I have had enough and stick around on an empty platform eventually de-training at West Sutton at 23:30 for the 5km ride back through Nonsuch Park and home.

An epic ride of over 300 km if you add on the unrecorded ride from the tower back to Gare du Nord and home from West Sutton that I really enjoyed. It's hard riding on little sleep but as long as you keep a reasonable pace and keep eating and drinking you can just keep on going. No punctures and no mechanicals for anyone for the whole ride. The only thing I would change would be an external charger to recharge the Garmin on the ferry crossing.

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on.

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


Ride Archive

December 2015
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all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015

Top

click to view click to view click to view Steve Neill Big Trev Orange Dave dialled bikes pewter headtube badge Dave and Dave outside LOMAC Dave on Summer Lightning A grinning Trevor Steve (again) Davebus and Neill on Stane Street Jason next to Denbie's vineyard Trevor struggles up the climb Dave followed by Jason on Stane Street Banstead Downs singletrack It was getting dark by the time I got back Richard (that's me!) Surrey Hills logo at the top of Coombe hill Gary dicing with the cars through New Malden Stag party Gary's Giant SCR 2008 model  A cheerful looking Gary part way round Richmond Park speed limits for cyclists! Kingston Gate, Richmond Park view off the side of Headley Heath Bianchi K-Vid carbon forks self-portrait whilst climbing between second and third hairpin on the Zig Zag Road, Box Hill Dave and Mat, the folly, Reigate Hill urban riding, Richard in Ashtead High Street a bit underexposed but a nice shot of the view from the North Downs Way Richard dropping in on Colley Hill No, not the Mediterranean, this is outside LOMAC, Ashtead High Street Richard showing off for the camera Mat and Richard, Stane Street Richard, Headley Heath Mat on Headley Heath Gary with our 'rabbit' in the distance Gary in the dusk Richard Gary chasing the yellow 'rabbit' in the distance Cas Cas Richard 'self-portrait'