Tag Archives: group ride

Crashes, sunshine, foxes & dogs. (30 days of biking so far)

Things have been a bit mad here since the start of #30daysofbiking but I’ve finally found some time, so here is a little round up of the first sixteen days…

Day One - Riding without stabilisers.

Ride: A 40 mile loop through the Ashdown Forest.

Bike: Claud.

Rode to Groombridge where I ate lunch and lots of easter eggs with my family. I also rode half a mile with my cousins Josie (who can ride without stabilisers and has a dolly seat on her bike) and Tom (who is very nifty going over speed bumps on his micro-scooter).

Josie looking Pro in my helmet and glasses.

Days Two, Three, Four and Five- Riding to work, mostly..

Rides: The short ride to work, and a couple of lunchtime errands.

Bikes: Claud and Annie

The good thing about no longer working from home is that my studio is now a 5/10 minute ride away. That little bit of time on the bike is the perfect separation between work and home.

Annie, at the studio.

Claud, at the studio.

Day Six- Coffee, cake and an eclectic collection of bicycles.

Ride: A seafront ride to Shoreham and back.

Bike: Annie.

7 of us rode to Shoreham for coffee – two road bikes (belonging to Sid and Gill), one single speed (that would be Annie), one mountain bike (John’s), one Isla bike (Fynn’s) and one bike with a trike on the back (the combined leg power of Mandy and Cain). Love it.

Some of our bikes, at the cafe stop.

4 7ths of Team Cafe Ride.

4 7ths of Team Cafe Ride.

Day Seven – Vulpine collisions and crash-filled racing

Ride: Night ride and a trip to Chertsey (by car, sorry) to help out at the racing

Bike: Annie

All the best lessons are learnt by making stupid judgements, in other words: the hard way. I missed a train and ended up riding to Lewes in the wee small hours of the morning. I was riding Annie, who is kitted out for city riding, and as such doesn’t have the kind of lights which illuminate the pitch black cycle path on the side of the A27. The end of this story is that a fox ran out in front of me, I slammed on the brakes and…ouch, over the handlebars I went. Luckily I was rescued by a sensible person who told me what a wally I was. Lesson learnt.

After some sleep I woke up only slightly bruised from the vulpine incident, and headed off to Chertsey to watch some friends racing. I ended up in the passenger seat of the Assistant Commissaire car, which was fun. The only bad thing about the day was that there were a LOT of crashes. Highlight: Team ASL360′s Anna Railton winning the women’s race :-)

Women’s race…that was a nasty hill.

Days Eight, Nine and Ten - If only I was one of those people who can cycle in a pencil skirt and heels.

Work was really, really busy until day 10. I had some important meetings and stuff that meant I didn’t get much riding in, other than the short trip to work. To make up for this, I took Thursday off for a day of bike……

Day Eleven - A love of gears and afternoon beers.

Ride: 32 miles of Sussex roads, with Monika.

Bike: Claud

Mon came down from London for the day, with her swanky new Genesis bike. We had lots of fun despite a few clippy-pedal-fail moments (not mine) and some wrong turns (mine). Mon’s been riding way longer than I have, but this is her first geared bike. What better way to celebrate than to find some hills to go up..and down :-)

We ended our Sussex ride in a Sussex pub, naturally.

The post-ride pint.

Days Twelve and Thirteen Just the short commute, again.

Day FourteenGood Lord, is that the SUN?!

Ride: 52 miles of glorious sunshine

Bike: Claud.

There are fewer things better than making new friends – especially if they ride a bike! Carine had read the blog and spotted that I was organising a road ride – having recently bought a new road bike and rediscovered her love of cycling, she joined Claud and I for our Sunday ride. We had coffee, and tried not to get too over-excited about the blue skies. It turned out we needn’t have contained our excitement – because it turned out to be a stunning day.

We avoided the crowds of the Brighton Marathon by riding over Devil’s Dyke to Henfield, out to Partridge Green and then East through Hurstpierpoint and Hassocks to Ditchling, where we stopped for coffee and food. I think I had a grin on my face for pretty much the whole ride – you just can’t beat a sociable ride on a sunny day. Once we’d conquered a few last hills and got back to Brighton, I decided to make the most of the day and headed out for a few more miles on my own.

Coffee stop at Ditchling Tea Rooms

Carine (who regretted the long sleeves!)

Day Fifteen - Ditchling Beacon has expanded in the heat.

Ride – Lewes to Brighton the painful way (over that hill people go on about)

Bike – Claud

I was pleased to find that I could still get over the Beacon in one go without the promise of free food at the end (the last time I rode it was for the Puncheur Sportif). Having said that, I am sure it has got longer and steeper since then.

Day SixteenThe dog ate my homework.

Ride: The 24ish miles to Steyning and back, with good intentions.

Bike: Claud

Dogs often feature in excuses – so here is mine:

I rode to Steyning last night to compete in my first time trial. I was a bit nervous, but mostly excited. On my way there I came across a very sweet looking dog wandering up the road on its own. Naturally I stopped and had a little chat with the creature, she was very sweet, and after knocking on some doors we reunited her with her owners. The conclusion of this tail (see what I did there?) is that I got to Steyning 5 minutes too late to enter the TT. Still, I had a very nice ride home again, and feel like I have now balanced out my karma after the fox incident.

I missed the TT, so I took a photo of my feet instead.

Here’s to the next 14 days!

Sunshine and sandwiches.

In wonderful contrast to the snow, sleet and rain that we’ve had our share of recently, this weekend saw some Winter sunshine for Sussex.

On Saturday I made the most of the weather and got out on my own for a few hours in the saddle. Having spent a fair amount of time of late spinning on a bike in a gym, it was lovely just to get out and RIDE. The downs were still dusted with icing-sugar snow – but it was nearly all melted from the roads. The beautiful views almost made Devil’s Dyke enjoyable. At the top I found myself grinning, and remembering that this is why I fell in love with riding a bike in the first place.

Edburton Road on Saturday

Melted snow & the previous day’s rain on Underhill Lane.

Sunday was a team ride, and being totally honest – I wasn’t looking forward to it. I’m still a bit nervous about cycling in a group, even though the guys in the team are great and I’m getting to know everyone. What if I fall off and look like a plonker…what if I get left behind on a hill…what if…SHHH Lois, get on with it woman, you’ll be fine.

And I was.

Clearly my bonking crisis on the last team ride made an impression, as I ended up with homemade flapjacks & sandwiches from Matt, and homemade bread pudding from John, all stuffed into my jersey pockets. If that’s not team spirit then I don’t know what is! I felt a little over-laden with essentially a packed lunch on my back, but 71 miles later – and only half a (very squashed) sandwich left, I was very grateful for my snack-filled pockets.

Breakfast. Not to be underestimated!

I won’t go through the route, because that will get boring, and you can see the map at the bottom of this post. What I will say is that apart from a few idiot drivers nearly hitting us, and one hill up to Friston which was hideously steep, narrow and full of traffic – I enjoyed every minute. And I didn’t fall off ;-)

Still smiling at this point…

These are going to be famous last words I’m sure – but I’m starting to enjoy climbing. Not the sort of hills that are so steep I wonder if I am moving at all, and unclip in a wobbly panic, but the longer, more gradual climbs. One such was the long climb up the zig zag road (Upper Dukes Drive?) from Eastbourne to Beachy Head. I’m not saying I sang my way up it with a smile on my face, but there’s something satisfying about getting from A to B, uphill, with only your legs and two wheels to thank. It’s the good kind of hard work, and, dare I say it, the good kind of pain. There’s a fine line there though..

I have never cycled against such strong winds as those on the top of Beachy Head that day. I had to lean my bike against the wind so that I didn’t get blown into the sea*. I’m looking forward to going back to those roads on a still day.

(*slight exaggeration)

So I finished my weekend with 105 miles on the clock, which is probably some sort of record for me. A few days later and my legs are politely reminding me of every one of those miles, by aching like hell. Still, there’s only one way to deal with that – let’s get planning the next ride.

Our route! Click map to see larger image

Hills, pie and sheep.

On Tuesday afternoon I joined friends Matt and John (of team ASL360) along with their good mate Matt Green, for the last leg of their day’s ride. By which I mean they cycled about 50 miles, of which I joined them for 17. Matt had mentioned the words “Ditchling Beacon” so it was with slight dread that I dragged Claud down my flat’s steps and onto the road to meet the guys on the seafront.

Despite my moodiness, after a few minutes of having fresh air in my lungs and my muscles warmed up, I started to remember that there is a good reason why I ride a bike – I bloody love it. It was a really beautiful, crisp day, too – perfect for a sociable Christmas ride and to admire some of Sussex’s finest views.

At the top of the Ditchling descent

We went the ‘easy’ way up the Beacon, which meant a longish but not impossible climb followed by a massive down-hill. Now, whilst we are on the subject, here is an admission – it turns out that I’m piss-pants scared of going down steep descents.

Under strict instructions (and sensible advice) not to brake the whole way down, or suddenly, I was a naughty cyclist and didn’t take my hands off the brakes once. It’s a miracle they still worked at all by the bottom of the hill. At one point I remember considering stopping, getting off the bike and walking. Every corner terrified me, and by the time I’d reached the foot of the hill my legs were violently shaking.

Shouldn’t that be enough to put me off doing it again? Maybe. But I didn’t die, and even if I’d fallen off I’m pretty confident would have lived to tell the tale. It would make a very good blog post, after all. 6 months ago riding 20 (flat) miles was a big challenge, and one that scared me. Where would I be now if I’d let that stop me?

Coffee stop at Ditchling Tearooms

I was relieved to be done with the epic downhill and enjoyed the rest of the ride much more, knowing it was out of the way. I didn’t really feel like I deserved a break after such a short ride but I’m not one to turn down caffeine or a comfy chair, so we stopped for a coffee in Ditchling.

Ditchling tearooms are great, by the way. There is a garage space where you can leave your bike and they are very welcoming of us sweaty, lycra clad types. The puddings aren’t half bad either…

Epic Pudding. (I ‘only’ ate half of this)

We took the scenic road back to Lewes through Plumpton and Offham, which partly retraced the Cycletta route, and provided some gorgeous views. We also came across these chaps, who put a smile on all our faces. It’s random stuff like this that makes me love cycling in Sussex!

Road block, Sussex style.

There are definitely worse ways to spend a Tuesday afternoon.

Thanks John, Matt and Matt for putting up with a slow coach :-)

Mulled Cider Festive Ride

Saturday 8th December at 12:00

We ride our bikes, and then we drink mulled cider and eat mince pies. Simple. What better way to get in the festive spirit?

Photo (c) Josh Thornton

We’ll meet at the Peace Statue on Brighton Seafront at midday and ride a loop that finishes back in Brighton. We’ll be riding at a sociable pace.

This is the route. 25 miles: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/157104001

All types of bikes and types of people are welcome, so long as you are nice :-)

Oh, and it’s free.

RSVP here.

Winter Solstice 100 RR

Winter Solstice 100 RR, December 21st – 22nd

This looks to be another exciting ride from those folks at Vélo Morphē.

It costs nothing to come along to this ride, and in that line of thought you are expected to be self sufficient (bring your own food & drink/spare light batteries/tubes etc). You are responsible for your own safety. It’s basically a ride with friends, but you’ll get to meet some new faces too. Saying that, there’s going to be vehicle support so you’ll be able to chuck some of your stuff in the van.

Taken from the VM blog:

“In the spirit of White Chalk Hills UCX and the Dunwich Dynamo we propose an A to B road ride heading east from Winchester to meet the rising sun on the sunshine coast and breakfast in Eastbourne.”

I’m in, are you?

Full details here.

Cycling cures (nearly) all ills

Last night I went to bed feeling pretty awful. I set my alarm to get up for a ride, but it was 50/50 if I’d make it out, or stay in bed.

The alarm went off and I had the usual argument with myself. Get up, go on, you’ll be fine once you’re up. Oh but it is so warm under here and you’re really not well. Etc etc. Eventually I hauled my sorry arse out of bed, under a shower, and put it on a bicycle saddle.

And what a beautiful day it was! Definitely better than staying indoors. A cold, crisp morning – the sun was shining and there were bright blue skies.

The guys I rode with today were previewing the route that the PUNCHEUR sportive takes. I met Morgan, a thoroughly nice bloke and the person behind the event itself, in Brighton and we rode to meet Mark from Cyclosport, who will be previewing the ride on their site, and James from RPM90, who support the PUNCHEUR event.

I knew that I was going to struggle to keep up, let alone with being a bit ill. I fell behind a few times but my companions were kind and slowed down for me (..thanks guys). It was a great experience to ride in a group, and to pick some things up from more experienced riders. If you get an invite, don’t turn down the chance to ride with people who are ‘better’ than you, however good you might be. It is a great way to be pushed a bit more, and there is nothing wrong with a slice of humble pie every now and then. Goes nice with custard, I hear. (Humble Pie is in fact savoury and goes better with mustard than custard. Ed.)

The route itself was beautiful, especially on what was one of the nicest days we have had in weeks. There are some fantastic small roads through Barcombe, Cooksbridge and Fletching, and the views across the Ashdown Forest are the best for miles and miles. I’ve said it before, but there really is nothing more rewarding after a hill than a lovely view.

When I was sick at the top of a (not very big) hill I decided that a shorter loop home might be a good idea, so I let the guys carry on with their longer ride and I hung a right to enjoy the long down hill to Maresfield. From there it’s only about 4 miles to my parents house – so I turned up, sweaty and muddy, to gatecrash their Sunday lunch. What else are parents for?

I’m afraid to say the bike ride didn’t cure my cold – and yes: I threw up, but the important thing is it cured my bad mood, and was infinitely better than staying in and feeling sorry for myself. I’ve got 30-something miles under me and next time I’ll go a little bit further, and a little bit faster. And not be sick.


[P.S. The Puncheur looks to be a great event, and one I intend to ride. Book in here.]

Day 16 – Bikes and Beer

This will be a short post, because I’m rather knackered after 45 miles of cycling.

We went on a lovely group ride today. Apart from the disappointment of my flatmate’s bike having a major mechanical fail, and having to leave him in Brighton, the day was a great success. A bunch of us met in Lewes, having travelled from Brighton, Woodingdean and Newick. We took the scenic route (with only one wrong turn, that wasn’t my fault!..) to Alfriston, where we met another friend and indulged in beer and pub food.

The route back to Brighton after lunch was the fun bit. And by fun, I mean hilly. The ‘High and Over’ into Seaford was steep, to say the least, and as we rode along the coast there was an unforgiving sea wind against us the whole way.

As ever, the views on the ride were wonderful. Rolling hills, fields of hay bales, pretty old buildings and later on the white horses of the English channel and the rolling cliffs along the coast. The photos taken on my phone don’t do them any justice.

All in all, a good Sunday.

Thanks to George, James, Rob and Sid for coming along today!



It’s a sign!

James, Sid and Rob at the pub

George with his heavy, heavy bike…

‘High and Over’ into Seaford

Apparently I wasn’t amused by the idea of a photograph after getting to the top of this hill….