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It’s been a weekend of not riding my bike, which may not have been wise given that I have a sportive looming, but nonetheless it’s been a fun weekend spent with Meghan mooching around London and visiting various markets filled with awesome old things and some nice t-shirts and stuff.
So having not ridden my bike, I made up for it today by visiting Brick Lane Bikes and spending a not insignificant amount of money on some handlebars, grips and new tires. And after the long drive home, and a couple of hours happily spent putting that stuff on the “Elvis” of fixed gear bicycles, it now looks like this…
Don’t worry Mike, it’s still got a front brake. And you know you like it, really.
I rode out to a local ball-buster yesterday with the intention of climbing it as part of my round-trip. But as usual, once I had been up to the top and down again I looked over my shoulder and gazed wistfully at the beast I had fought with just minutes before. The pavement winked at me. The memory of fading endorphins left a nostalgic vacuum in the core of my body. Just once more?
Within two hundred yards I was regretting my decision. I had not eaten adequately the day before, and my breakfast – a fried egg sandwich – wasn’t helping at all. A third of the way up the beast I was hurting. It was hot, and my legs were useless. I had no desire to reach the top again. The pain cave beckoned.
Entering the pain cave is something all cyclists do from time to time. It is cozy in there. The walls are ugly and there’s nowhere comfortable to sit, but you feel safe. Inside the cave, you don’t have to think about what’s outside the cave: in this case a seemingly endless, punishing climb. Inside the cave, the legs keep churning away with no relation to the distance being traveled. Inside the cave, the ride recedes into the background, and all that remains is the beating heart, the spinning cranks, the heaving breath.
At some point during my stay in the cave I decided to look outside. Lo and behold, I was almost at the top of a huge bloody hill! The weather was perfect out there. The view was lovely. I stepped out of the cave and was greeted with a wave of nausea, and I leaned over my handlebars to catch my breath. I wheeled around to the other side of the road and began my descent. At the bottom, I looked over my shoulder. The pain cave was a distant memory. The pavement winked at me again. Just once more?
One thing I love about riding around my local English countryside is stumbling across stuff I didn’t know existed. Like this evening, riding a couple of miles south of Withington, I found myself stopped on top of what I now realise was RAF Chedworth – an airfield built in 1942. From the ground there wasn’t much to see, the airfield is now a farm but from where I stopped I could see concrete strips still visible on the ground:
And from the air, you can see the road I was on cuts straight across one of the runways:
I don’t know why I get so excited about old airfields, but this just about made my day. Some dude has even explored the nearby woods and found tons of broken down airfield buildings next to this site. Awesome.
Imagine 1,500 square miles of green countryside. Everywhere you turn there are beautiful hills with oaks trees sheltering sleek black two-lane roads. The temperature is perfect, and the agricultural land is primarily given over to vineyards. What traffic there is generally sticks to the major arteries, and the remaining roads – the really cool ones – are deserted. There is 75 miles of coastline that resembles Cornwall, or south-western Ireland, and immediately to the east of the beaches are tumbling mountains dotted with sequoias. If you happen to find yourself in these hills, astride your horse, you’ll be utterly spoilt for choice: smooth pavement winds through the mountains, dipping into foggy canyons and climbing over toothy peaks. You get to know your shifters better on these roads than anywhere you’ve ever ridden before. Some of the climbs, like Annapolis Road and Skaggs Springs, seem to go on forever, switching in and out of the trees. The descents are terrifying. You can ride for hours and not get very far on the map, but your legs will feel like they’ve been through the grinder. This is what Sonoma offers. I haven’t ridden the whole county, nor have I ridden the whole state by comparison, but what I have seen puts any other riding to shame. If I could convince my family, I’d move there in a heartbeat.
In a couple of weeks I’ll be riding the Sky Ride Etape Hibernia, 85 rain-lashed and windswept miles of rolling, rough Irish roads on the Western coast of County Clare. I’ll be doing it along with a few guys from my place of employment, and a handful of our clients as a bit of a “jolly” only with some pretty hard bike riding involved.
My boss went out to Ireland to film a recce of the route a few weeks ago, it’s rough hand-held footage but I’ve done my best to tidy it up in the edits and split the film into four pieces. You can see the first three parts on our dedicated Etape website if you’re interested…
Thanks to the perceived “coolness” of fixed gear riding and bike messengers, Premium Rush, a hollywood film is currently being filmed starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It’s rumoured to be a re-make of Quicksilver.
Today apparently he went elbows-first into an NY cab during filming.
Fueling up on coffee to power through a bike ride? Sure. Using your bike to power a coffee shop? Now you’re getting interesting. Comprising two bicycles, a fold-up coffee bar, and a hand-cranked grinder, Kickstand Coffee is a mobile shop that aims to provide “the best possible cup of coffee to community events in [New York City] with the smallest environmental impact possible.”
In my quest to teach my daughter the fine art of riding her bike without training wheels I came across Gyrobike. Gyrobike’s concept is to remove the training wheels and incorporate a gyroscope inside the front wheel. Thereby keeping the balance of the bike subdued to where the little rider can get used to the feeling of pedaling and working on their balance. I like the fact as well that it introduces the idea earlier so they don’t rely too much on the training wheels… If this option is taken, I will keep you updated of the progress. Crossing fingers…