Tuesday, 7 June 2011

That's it, that's all.

Well we did it - 551 miles in 15 days (including 2 rest days - fewer than I had planned!) pushing our pedals across the mountains, hills and valleys of Nova Scotia. On a chilly Saturday morning we slogged out the last 25 miles to cape Sable Island and whooped in an appropriately cheerful manner as we entered Clarke's Harbour, an eerily quiet little town.. so quiet that we had to turn around and ride back to the mainland to find somewhere to eat! But we stopped on the harbour and gazed out at the endless ocean and hugged and smiled and sighed with relief.

Looking back, my fears were well founded- man, it was HARD; but nowhere near as hard as being a kid with a chronic illness or a parent/ relative / carer, so a great big thank you to everyone who donated to Brigadoon, that was the inspiration for the trip and I'm glad we were able to send few dollars their way.

To everyone who said I was mad / crazy / insane: my feet, hands, knees, back, bum and aching, aching legs would wholeheartedly agree with you - but I'm pleased to report that my head and my heart feel pretty damn fine. Simon and Hoss have been absolutely the best support team anyone could ask for; my trusty bike, I can't quite decide if I love or hate, but its gonna have a good old rest for a while, that's for sure. Thanks for reading the blog and to everyone who said I could do it - against considerable odds, it seems you were right :-)

Monday, 6 June 2011

That Friday Feeling

Camping on a patch of bumpy grass by the sea tonight courtesy of a nice old chap who sells delightful carved wooden ducks and loons, which we are thinking of purchasing tomorrow as mementos of our LAST DAY ON THE ROAD - only 20 odd miles to Clark's Harbour and the end of our little adventure!! But for this evening we were very content with chicken noodle soup on the beach and watching the sun go down over the ocean from our tents. Not a bad day's cycling today along another pretty coastline, relaxed enough to actually stop and take some photos as we went along. Hoping tomorrow is going to be another good one - looking forward to breakfast in Shag Harbour (?) before we head off on the final leg. Quite excited :-)

Friday, 3 June 2011

Sunshine and Showers

After a lovely night and fabulous dinner with our good buddies at the Croft House B&B in Granville Ferry, we reluctantly set off to tackle 38 miles of horrendous winds, speeding traffic and narrow roads, resulting in some long miles inching my way along the gravel hard shoulder, we made it to Weymouth where, after a momentary yearning on my part to throw my bike in the river and walk the remaining 100+ miles, we gratefully sank our exhausted butts onto lovely soft beds in the charming Goodwins Hotel. We could have been tempted by pizza at the 'Sissiboo Delight' but I guess it wasn't all that delightful as it looked long since closed, so we opted for the Weymouth Diner which served up fantastic seafood platters with much cheer and gusto. Back at the hotel, the landlady tapped on our door and told us to check out the nightly appearance of a racoon on the neighbouring chimney - hilarious!

The storm raged through the night but we awoke to another beautiful day and set off for Meteghan, a nice short hop of just under 30 miles, very pretty coastline and not too many hills. We actually did some proper sightseeing today which was a first - had a quick shufty round the biggest wooden church in North America, quite an odd setting being in a tiny coastal community.

So here we are in beautiful Cape Saint Mary and ready for two more days of slog to reach the end of our journey - I can sense the first giddy waves of accomplishment through the fog of exhaustion.

Monday, 30 May 2011

The Nicest Guy in Nova Scotia

After a long, LONG day cycling yesterday, I was dead on my feet and would have happily pitched my tent on the highway, but luckily Si is a bit more demanding and pushed us on for another few miles until eventually he rolled into a farmhouse gateway for another stab at negotiating the corner of a field for our tents.

A truly lovely chap called Steve not only happily offered his barn and his field but then appeared with 3 cold beers and the offer of his 'cabin' instead. So we spent a very happy and extremely comfortable night in the most delightful little house in the middle of the woods; the boys went for a swim in the river and drank beer while I curled up in my sleeping bag in the gallery bedroom. Fabulous - a big thank you to Steve and family - may your organic farm grow and prosper.

Today the Big Fat Cry Baby Monster that had been galloping behind me for a couple of days finally caught up with me on yet another horrid hill, so I had a red face and puffy eyes to add to my patches of sunburn, mozzy bites and unwashed hair - photographic evidence of me on my hols will be strictly censored. My lovely husband force-fed me cinnamon roll and gave me a hug and my lovely son insisted on burgers and fries at the next fast food joint and hey presto I was back on some sort of form. Big milestone today as we reached Wolfville so we are almost on (second) home turf and due for a day off; just back from a boozy night at Paddy's and nothing to do tomorrow except sleep, eat and swim in the pool. Glad I packed that bikini after all :-)

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Hot Sun, Cool Rivers

Perfect blue skies today and lovely quiet roads this morning made for a happy start to the day. Annoyingly my knee decided to play up which kept the pace slow but we rolled into New Glasgow by food o'clock and feasted on quesadillas (cue Napolean Dynamite quotes) and chips. Found a bike shop to stock up on spares and headed out of town in a heat-haze barely dented by the persistent wind - stopped for ice cream for me and beer for the boys and now we're camped up by the river in a picnic/country park type area and hoping no-one's going to ask us to leave when it closes at dusk.

It struck me today that I have absolutely the best travelling companions a girl could ask for; my husband and son have been unerringly patient, cheerful, kind and encouraging; I'm a lucky girl.

Six days cycling done - quite a few more to go... But hopefully only 2 until our next day off -woohoo!

Friday, 27 May 2011

On the road again

After a fabulous day of motel living (donuts, Subway, rubbish TV, bubble baths, mascot shopping -see pic!) and a bizarre encounter with a mad shopkeeper, we hit the long road south again today. Cool, cloudy, a delightful lack of wind and gently rolling roads made it almost a pleasure to be back in the saddle again and the miles flew by without too much pain. We are now slightly ahead of schedule, having stopped in Antigonish at a very nice student cafe for lunch and then pressed on for another few miles - today we tipped just over 200 miles in total - only 350 to go!

Had to ride a couple of stretches on the main highway today which was very scary and really made me appreciate the quiet backroads we are on the rest of the time. The sun came out late afternoon so another first being able to ride with bare legs; on the downside the sun has bought out the blackflies, so we pitched our tents in a frenzy and dived inside to wait for sundown when hopefully they'll naff off. Poor old Hoss went for a dip in the river before doing the tent bit though so he's been eaten alive!

I'm not quite so comfy in my tent today as my lovely inflatable mattress died on me so I popped into Walmart and got a foam mat, which stinks and feels about as bouncy as paper. But its warm, sunny and peaceful and I don't ache as much today so I'm pretty content with life.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Wind and Wild Camping

It's Tuesday and I am completely wiped out. We didn't make it Port Hood yesterday - 60 miles against a fresh wind after 2 days of mountains was too much to ask of my skinny legs. We did about 40 before deciding to try our luck with some good ol' country hospitality: 'excuse me ma'm, we're doing this ride for charity and are dead on our feet-might we camp in your field?' Blank look. 'Of course we would pay you something..?' Umm... No.

Hmph. Fortunately just up the rode we found a handy little corner in the woods and out of the wind so pitched tents and hoisted our bag of food up in the trees a safe distance from hungry bears - we haven't seen any yet but we have seen tracks, moose as well as bear.

So up and at it early this morning, hoping to make up some lost ground. The sun was shining and the wind was not so cold, but boy what it lacked in freeze factor it didn't half make up for in relentless ferocity - we actually had to pedal to keep going downhill! All very wearing so we decided to aim for around 40 miles to the Canso Causeway rather than attempt the remaining 30 miles to Antigonish. My tiny victory today, apart from endless miles battling the wind, was to not chicken out of riding across the Causeway, which is windy (of course), narrow, with BIG trucks bombing across. I raced across gripping my handlebars for dear life and rolled safely off the other side - piece of cake. A motel perched on the bay was just too tempting to resist, I had the most welcome bath of my entire life and am now tucked up in bed watching cheesy sitcoms after a hot dinner and a beer, with the promise of a foot massage from my lovely husband. Bliss.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Up the Mountain and Down T'other Side

After a stunningly scenic drive north on the east coast of Cape Breton we arrived at the aptly named Hideaway Campground and whooped for joy as our good friend and driver Chris had booked us into the most delightful little cabin, so we got let off camping for night one. Simon whipped up a fire and some tins of chilli which we ate on the deck while watching the sunset - perfect. Pleased to report that my fab new sleeping bag is every bit as toasty warm as I had hoped, so I slept like a log and snored like a wild boar. Awoke to rain and a chill wind; thankfully our impatience hit the road was tempered by protracted packing of gear, so by the time I took my first wobbly steps on the 550 mile trek, only cloud and a nippy breeze remained. Which was just as well-pretty soon we hit the steepest and longest climb I have ever encountered. Layers off, ipod on, and the lowest gear possible... 1,400 feet later I emerged triumphant at the top, red faced, shakey legged and gasping cold mountain air. Quite pleased with myself as I rode most of it and only pushed a bit! We then rode past snow drifts and through the clouds before whizzing down the other side (well the boys whizzed, Si at 41mph, I hung on to my brakes for dear life) into Pleasant Bay - and very very pleasant it is too. As it was our wedding anniversary, my lovely husband had booked us a motel, which annoyingly had ignored his emails and phone call and was still closed for the season, but by a stroke of very good luck the delightful Highland Breeze B&B was open for business, cinnamon rolls big screen TV and a warm welcome included. So we stolled along the beach, ate buckets of mussels and slept in warm beds. Anniversary antics excluded though-they only had one room free, so my son had a campbed in with us :-)

Monday - this is going to be a long blog by the time I get somewhere with a phone signal! Yesterday we climbed McKenzie mountain - I made it to the top with only 2 stops at 'look off' points, and no walking-very pleased with myself. Then along the ridge through freezing wind and finally down the other side - oh and then up again, and again. By the time we hit the real descent I had frozen fingers locked on my brakes, so dug out a pair of wool socks for improvised mittens. Sadly but inevitably by the time we reached the iconic Cape Breton rollercoaster my legs did not want to play any more so I trudged up a few slopes before we finally rolled into Cheticamp and pitched our tents. A huge 'surf'n'turf dinner watching gannets dive in the bay and that was game over for me by 6pm-cue sleeping bag for me while the boys played with fire.

I feel quite guilty this morning as they both froze their butts off all night while I was warm and cozy (did I mention I am in love with my sleeping bag?).

But finally the sun is shining and although there's a cold wind we are all set for a 60 miler along the coast today to Port Hood. Pancakes, bacon and maple syrup for breakfast and away we go.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Well Hello Nova Scotia!

Arrived Halifax airport yesterday, bikes intact and slightly jet lagged, to glorious sunshine and clear blue skies. Which I suspect might be a bit deceptive-the leaves on the trees are barely showing green, so spring is a few weeks behind the pace at home - I think the nights are going to be chilly.

Last night we were in the Esquire Motel, which sounds uncomfortably close to 'Escort Motel' and is a bit Psyhco-esque, but on the upside has a handy diner where we wolfed down burgers, fries and an enormous seafood platter. Our buddy Chris is picking us up this morning to whisk us northwards to Cape Breton - Saturday will be first day on the bikes, so still plenty of time to steel myself for the task ahead.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Kit, kit and more kit

Well here we go - only one long hot bubble bath and a blissful night under my soft duvet before we fly west tomorrow. Its all very surreal, I don't think I will believed its going to actually happen until we push off on our bikes from Dingwall on Saturday morning. I'm all packed and ready to go, I have minimalist packing down to an art form (see pic - quite reserved I think). My lovely husband, meanwhile, has just recycled 2 old contact lens holders into rather stylish salt and pepper pots- we may be living on one-pan-pasta for a while but by golly it will be properly seasoned - fabulous! So - the burning questions now are: 1) will Simon fit everything in his panniers? 2) Will Hoss wake up in time to catch the flight? And last but not least; 3) just how stylish am I going to look for airport travel in waterproof cycling trousers and a lurid yellow cycling jacket...? Lovely.

Friday, 13 May 2011

FBH - am I scared..? Nah...

Its Friday evening, the sun is shining in between the showers, countryside is lush green and pretty and I am going out on my bike tomorrow - after a couple of glasses of wine and something yummy to eat tonight. I have only 3 days left in the office (admittedly with a ton of work to get done, but hey, its only work, and I'm on mental turbo charge) and then its off on the biggest adventure of my life, childbirth and marriage to my lovely husband excluded. Woop woop. And I'm not even tooooo terrified by the 1,400 feet of climbing on Day 1. No really, it'll be fine. I can always walk. Check out our fab new route maps - I tried to ignore the gradients but if you want to check out my pain, click on 'Detailed View'.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Happy soggy bunny

Well I'm more of a happy bunny than a scaredey-cat today, after a good ride yesterday in spite of getting caught in a downpour and arriving home soaked through. Hubby had to gently explain to me that (cheap) panniers that look waterproof are in fact just that - they look convincing while only in fact fending off a gentle shower. So more shopping today for 'dry bags' to keep my one set of must-not-get-wet-ever clothing, essential I think for those inevitable days when it rains and all I want to do is crawl into my lovely downy sleeping bag clad head to toe in merino layers. Of course it is entirely possible that it won't rain at all for 3 whole weeks - or perhaps only on the occasioinal nights we are in a motel? Oh yes, and I got a temporary ban from Facebook this week for being 'annoying' - I was only being helpful and messaging my sons friends to plea for sponsorship, cos I just know he won't find the time. So now I'm being sneaky and lobbing the occasional message while hopping around the wwweb. Annoying, possibly, but all in a damn good cause.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Big Fat Scaredy-cat

I've been trying to write a post for a few days now - I think I have rabbit-trapped-in-headlights-of-oncoming-oversized-Canadian-truck syndrome. (yes I know, that's a cat, not a rabbit.) I'm wavering somewhere between outright panic and a girlie wobble, and I need to seriously pull myself together. It was all going quite well until my training plan went awry, then I coasted downhill and crashed and burned at about the same time as I fell off my bike, and apart from a few 'righto, enough of this' moments I'm having a hard time getting back the buzz. But - thanks to all you fantastically wonderful people who are donating money to the cause, the balance is now tipping nicely towards cautious enthusiasm. I'm back on a last minute training frenzy (well, more flap than frenzy), I have re-assessed my kit list, thrown out anything that's not absolutely necessary - who cares if I look and smell disgusting?! It'll put the bears off for sure. So THANK YOU all you lovely sponsors - I truly adore you all x

Monday, 25 April 2011

The missing bike mystery

Its all gone horribly wrong - these lovely bikes were donated by Druid Cycles (which is particularly sad, as they had some bikes nicked themselves recently) and were supposed to be sold after our Pedal Pushers Party so the money could go to Brigadoon, and now they have mysteriously gone missing from the Haggerston - if anyone knows their whereabouts, please take 'em back so we can sell them, or donate a decent whack to Brigadoon directly. Very sad - they were lovely little bikes :-(

Saturday, 23 April 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Well, its been an interesting couple of weeks... after a string of nasty little winter colds, I was finally feeling fit and feisty and, due to training plan having gone right out the window, thought best to get back on the cycle to work route. Nothing too strenuous, just pootling through the park, when a nice polite chap rang his bell to pass - I pull in, too close to my cycling buddy behind me - bikes kissed and we hit the tarmac. My knees were never all that pretty, but now -Ugly.

After limping around for about a week (I'm too old for this game) I awoke with a sense of purpose yesterday - Good Friday, long weekend, lots of sunshine - time to see if my endless list of kit will fit into those tiny little panniers. Thankfully, with a bit of squishing, it does, not counting the fact that I still have to get inner tubes / first aid kit / extra tent pegs, and carry some food. So I loaded up the bike and was rather pleased with the result, it almost looks like it belongs to one of those nutters who think cycle touring is fun - oh yeah, that'd be me :-) Good!

So there it was, all packed up and ready to go - I felt duty bound to give it a little whirl around the lanes. Which was all well and good until I hit a slight incline. BAD. Never mind, 4 weeks today and we'll be on Day One cycling up and down them mountains in Cape Breton - loads of time to get fit...

Monday, 11 April 2011

We Pushed our Pedals and Partied

Every picture tells a story... and I seem to have uploaded these in reverse order. Just waiting to rescue the money we took on the door (we are a logistically challenged family, especially after a few pints), put the spankingly lovely Look Mum No Hands hats in the post to the prize-winners (because they were the one thing I forgot and left at home) and auction of the fabulous kids bikes from Druid Cycles - and Brigadoon kids will be all the better for it! Let me tell you - fund raising is HARD. But fun :-)

Friday, 1 April 2011

Pushin' our Pedals

All ready (well almost - ok - not quite) to hit the road to London this evening for our Pedal Pushers Party tomorrow - yay! Today has been cake bake day - Welsh Cider Cake, Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes, iced Carrot Cake Cupcakes and Chocolatey Flapjacks - mmmm. And I haven't eaten a crumb, they're all going to make a few dollars for Brigadoon tomorrow, how virtuous am I. We have a few party picnic games lined up for the daring or slightly drunk, and even my two lovely daughters are now the proud owners of these pretty bikes so they can join in the fun - so I think that's a perfect excuse for me to take the gentler route along the canal to Lee Valley cafe with them, just to keep an eye on them of course, while my husband and son head off with the fit and feisty riders into the wilds of London for a bit of a stretch. Perfect.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Toasty cosy warm I'll be :-)

GORGEOUS new sleeping bag, it's super scrumptiously soft, really quite roomy and a jolly pretty colour I think. Thank you Alpkit! Ok, so it cost me almost as much as our king size down duvet, but was considerably cheaper than the North Face one I had my eye on previously - everything's relative when it comes to a bargain. And being warm is my absolute number one priority so at cost per comfortable night its well worth it I think. The next items on my list aren't quite so exciting - hubby told me yesterday I need a whistle, head torch and survival bag... now, what colour whistle..? Pink? Red? Green? Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

I want almost everything....

.....in this shop: Bobbin Bicycles - check 'em out! Especially this helmet - although, as I'm tall with a particularly fat head (all those brains dont'ya know), I will no doubt look as daft in this as any other helmet. A bit of retail therapy would cheer me up - feeling bad because I didn't go near my bike this weekend but its back on the training plan this week with a vengeance. Two short months today we will be camped out in the wilds of Cape Breton trying to get some sleep before setting off on the long road south in the morning. Very excited and very scared.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Alcohol is baaaad

It's a perfect spring day and here I am sitting on the sofa with my laptop (not for long-I'll be out there in just a minute, honest) feeling exhausted and mildly hungover - slept in until 11am, shock horror - was it worth it for a bottle of champagne on Thursday and 3 glasses of wine last night..? The jury is out. It was great to catch up with friends in London and then enjoy some quality (?) TV time last night, but I feel like shite today and horribly guilty for wasting a beautiful morning on half a hangover. Did I really need the booze to enjoy it all? Not really. Not at all.

So - off on my bike to wander around the country lanes and get my feelgood factor back. I need it - we set off to Nova Scotia TWO MONTHS FROM TODAY - eeek!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Now that's what I call cycling gear

Well they are called pedal pushers after all! Had to invest in a pair of these, after all I will be the hostess with the mostest at our fabulous fundraiser in London on April 2nd. Truth is, I've been hankering after some of these for a while, I think they're very pretty in a 50s kind of way and rather elegant, which isn't usually me. So I ordered some in red/white gingham and they arrived today! Haven't dared try them on yet in case they look horrid. I have a nifty pair of red pointy shoes that I think will go rather well with them and now I just need a new top - Saturday training ride might have to be combined with a spot of shopping...

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Picnic Party Prizes

Big thanks to Thor at Druid Cycles and Lewin at Look Mum No Hands - we now have some brilliant goodies to help raise money at our London party on April 2nd - what lovely people! I went to see them both at the weekend and came away with a thoroughly smiley feel good feeling, not just because of their generosity but because it was so good to see two quite different enterprises put together so well - may you both live long and prosper! So - if anyone is looking for a bike with soul, get down with the Druids, and if you want some cool gear and some excellent spiced apple cake and café latte, Mum's the word.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Let them eat CAKE

Training plan interrupted due to valiantly fending off a bit of a bug - on Sunday I thought perhaps it was the very delicious fish and chips I had for lunch on the seafront at Bexhill (a fitting reward for a 2 hour cycle around Pevensey marshes) that gave me a belly ache, but 2 days later it was still with me. However, on the bright side a few days of physical inactivity allowed me to put a bit of thought into the Pedal Pushers Party - the promise of cake and picnic games requires a spot of planning! On the cake front I'm thinking Bara Brith (but made with cider instead of cold tea), chocolate cake is always a winner and perhaps some carrot-cake-cupcakes. On the games front - hmmm... indoor picnic games... I have some ideas, but you wouldn't want me to spoil the surprise, now would you...?

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Pedal Pushers Party!

Well its all official now, my lovely daughter has got me organised and we're all set to go on April 2nd for our fabulous fundraiser in London - sounds like fun to me! I'm off to London next weekend for a spot of planning and to firm up the route, which looks ok on good old google maps but I feel the need to check it out properly before I lead a number of cyclists astray. Praying that the sun shines for us, but at least we've planned the picnic indoors to be on the safe side. Now all I have to do is find some nifty pedal pushers to wear, bake a few cakes, organise a few games and then enjoy the day!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

To put things in perspective...

...I might be bricking it over the impending 550 miles coming up, but here's a family that are whooping with delight at 'only' 950k to go! I love these guys and I'm going to miss their blog so much - hoping a book will follow. What I particularly love is their attitude of just getting on with things, rarely a grumble and copious celebration of the things in life that really matter. I take my hat off to them, I'll be thinking of Nancy when I'm slogging up those little hills in Nova Scotia.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Café riding is the way to go

Very happy today - my training plan instructed me to do no more than 1 hour 15 mins on a 'café ride' - that's where you don't do anything too strenuous and make it enjoyable - hence the café. So I donned denim skirt and boots, hitched up my panniers for the first time and set off to Usk, a moderate 7 miles along back lanes with a few gentle slopes which I tootled up in baby gears. I have been meaning to visit the farmers market in Usk for ages, which I was reminded of by that chap on the telly with a camper van this week, so instead of finding a café I found the market and had a happy half hour wondering if I needed such delights as alpaca bed socks and orange and ginger marmalade - I bought the latter as it's pretty much a necessity, the socks will have to wait. I also bought some lime pickle. a huge piece of welsh black beef, some proper carrots with mud and green tops - then I remembered I needed real necessities such as loo paper, tea bags and milk so scooted off to the local Spar. Feeling rather pleased with my neatly packed panniers but a bit worried about the weight, I headed home and was delighted to note that it didn't actually seem too much of a struggle - although had there been any proper hills it would have been a different matter. Still, one ridiculously small step closer to 550 miles on a fully laden bike.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Cycling in style

I have decided, after catching myself in the mirror post Sunday ride - not a pretty sight, let me tell you - that as soon as this big long sweaty bike ride is done, I am going to:
- ride my bike at a pace that makes me glow in a radiant fashion, not sweat like a skivvy
- always take a picnic
- only partake in trips where a pub, café or suchlike is the main objective
- wear pretty clothes - see pic of my intended cycling shoes.
I will dress in floaty shifts and rumpled shirts from Jo Browns and get some pretty panniers (for carrying cupcakes and a flask of tea of course). My only concession to functionality will be a helmet, I might try one of these. I'm done with what was once an exciting new wardrobe of lycra and technical sweat wicking fabric - bring on stylish cycling!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The NEW training plan

After some ups and downs with my patchwork training plan, which has been somewhat cobbled together and left me unsure whether I am doing too much / too little or am just plain past it, I am giddy with excitement as I now have a training plan (thanks for the tip Paulo!) which a) tells me exactly what to do, b) takes me right through the next 14 weeks to the Big Event and c) has rest days built in and easy to understand advice on how not to over train. So I have a lovely new spreadsheet all ready to tick off as the days go by. And I'm even - get this - going to take my bike with me when I go away for weekends and find somewhere to ride while I am away, so I'm checking out some routes in Hastings, London and Suffolk to do while I am off visiting friends and family. I have discovered that I quite like exploring on my bike, so this is all good stuff. I will be a Cycling Superwoman, oh yes I will....

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Big hills and a castle

Gorgeous spring day after a few days of rain, out on my bike today round the back lanes to Abergavenny and then off on route 46 towards Hereford - I was't intending to go all the way as a) didn't set off until gone 11am and b) I'm a wimp. However I did manage to crack all the hills, albeit VERY slowly. Stopped for lunch (tomato and basil soup, mmm) in a sunshiny corner where I was visited by some curious sheep, scared a few horses and said hello to some alpacas. Decided after lunch that if I carried on for another 5 miles or so I would make Grosmont which was well worth the effort, a pretty village with a nice looking pub (I resisted) and a lovely castle ruin where I stopped and took some pics and sat in the sun enjoying the view for a while. The ride home was hard work and I slogged up the last (tiny) hill chanting 'Bakewell Tart, Bakewell Tart' - which I wolfed down with a cuppa the minute I got home - fabulous. Am kind of reassured that I can do a respectable 30+ miles with some proper hills thrown in, but just a teensy bit worried about how exhausted I feel at the end - how will I cope with no hot bath, cosy sofa, and the thought of doing it all again the next day, and the next...? Hmmm.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Pedal, Picnic, Party

Our next little warm up fundraiser is in the pipeline! London, April 2nd - that's the plan, only in the early stages - 30 mile ride, picnic/pub then DJs dancing and drinking - who could resist?! Well... we'll see - but I'm counting on my London based kids to rally some troops. Watch this space...

In the meantime, must get on my bike this weekend - forecast says sunny and mild on Saturday so fingers crossed that's the day. Hmmm - where to go? Early doors to Llanthony and beyond? Or pastures new? Off to google some routes from my armchair - I like a spot of planning.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Llanthony Priory

A frosty day on Saturday put paid to my cycling plans but thankfully it was a bit milder today so I set off at around 11am, round the back roads to Abergavenny, up a stinky hill on the Old Hereford Road and through some very pretty lanes, lapping up the scenery and saying hello to several sheep and horses on the way. I arrived red faced and sweaty (lovely) at the Priory just in time for an absolutely fabulous cheese and ham toastie and a cheeky half of pear cider - lush. The ride home was a whizz - the roads I had found a bit of hard work on the way there must have been deceptively uphill, although they looked straight enough to me. Or perhaps it was the cider that gave me a boost. .. I was musing on the way home about the effect that 2 paniers + tent + sleeping bag might have on my ability to manage a decent pace, but in theory by the time I'm fully loaded I should be a bit fitter. On with the training plan then.

Friday, 21 January 2011


Very excited - after months of umming and ahhing, I finally committed and ordered a tent - yay! It's super lightweight, has good reviews (well I read at least two) and although there's room for two in theory its all for me me me. Am feeling upbeat and inspired thanks to the fabulous Vogel family - click and read, its just brilliant. Am also thinking I should get into the 21st century and pick up an iphone or something like, to serve as camera / internet / email for the ride, as my lovely camera is sadly too heavy to cart around. Am sure by the time May comes around the next new gadget will be on the market and I could pick up a second hand one for peanuts - or doesn't it work like that...? Also making plans for a weekend-in-wales practice run in April across the Brecon Beacons with my son and husband - lets hope we get on, or it won't bode well for the big ride! Hoping weather warms up a bit tomorrow so I can get out for a decent ride, it's been freeeeeezing cold this week. Fingers and toes crossed...

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Free my mind

My poor little brain is suffering from planning overload so I've gone all 1980s career woman and created a mindmap - I feel a little calmer now. Planning now proceeding apace on several fronts:
- PR
- fundraising events
- route and timetable
- equipment: bike, camping and clothing

Need to get that last bit pinned down so I can try packing my panniers, which are still wrapped up in the boot of my car - however I want to get a bit further into the training plan before trying them out, don't want to upset the delicate balance between enthusiasm and despair at this stage.

Clothing's my biggest challenge; getting cold and wet will, I know, be the biggest de-motivator for me. I've always been a wimp on that front and although I can tough it out with gritted teeth on a day ride, that's with a warm bath and cosy bed waiting at the end, which won't be the case on the Big Ride. So far, I have listed one lightweight casual outfit, 3 changes of cycling underwear/tops, waterproof trousers & jacket, 1 pair of leggings and one thermal sleeping outfit. I'll try that in the panniers and see how it goes. As for bike equipment - just how many inner tubes should one take when likely to only hit a bike shop every 4 or 5 days??

As for PR and fundraising - am roping in the help of my younger daughter for a launch party in London in the spring and to spark off some other ideas - that's the thoroughly good fun bit I am looking forward to!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

4 and a bit months to go

Righto, festive fun is all done, back to work and on a countdown to May (130 days to be precise - gulp) and the big ride. Had a bit of a mental hurdle to get over to start planning, flipping between excitement and a quiet sense of dread, which was a little tiresome so I'm shaking myself out of it by getting off my arse and doing something about it.

Back on my bike last week on the one day it got a decent amount above freezing and had a good whizz round the lanes and over a few little hills. Changed my gym training to challenge some different muscles, and on the practical front booked our airport car parking.

Things on my essential must-buy list:
  • 2 man super lightweight tent (all for me - I need to wriggle)
  • extremely lightweight but extremely warm sleeping bag - am thinking down rather than synthetic, as reputedly warmer as long as it doesn't get wet
  • maybe some eVENT waterproof trousers - reviews say they are actually waterproof AND breathable, unlike the ones I bought last year for a cool £70 which are useless
  • more cycling shorts
  • nappy rash cream - no cycling shorts can be that good
  • ibuprofen gel
Things on my to-do list:
  • Make a list of who to contact to put the word out and get a spot of publicity
  • Set up a UK donation website for Brigadoon
  • Ask Brigadoon if we can call in on them on route through Aylesford
  • Review the route map and work out where we'll be when in case anyone wants to join in the fun
  • Double check the campsites
  • Plan a fund raising / launch party in London
  • sort out a bike rack for our buddy Chris to transport us from Halifax to Cape Breton / Clarks island back to Halifax
That'll do for now I think.