Cold winter miles


Cycling in the cold doesn’t have too much to recommend it, especially if you are 61kg and 190cm. Or in old money – 9½ stone and 6 foot 3″ (135lbs for American visitors). On Friday I went out with the temperature hovering just below 2 degrees. I didn’t enjoy the ride at all. After a few miles, I did a u-turn and went back home. When hands are freezing to the handlebars, I don’t worry about trying to take any photos; but today the weather was a little more clement and it made a big difference.


I rode out towards Knaresborough and Harrogate because the forecast in the East was drier than in the West. But, despite the lack of rain, I still got wet cycling over a lot of small lanes covered in wet greasy farm manure. You just have to surrender to getting wet and dirty this time of the year. Still it was a mistake to take only one pair of legwarmers up north (originally colour of white) Continue Reading →

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Off the beaten tracks

As a partial follow up to finding cycle routes, sometimes I will take a short detour from roads frequently travelled. After spending 20 years cycling along a road, inquisitiveness makes the better of me and I will go up a side road, even if it is a dead end. It’s like wanting to tick off all the roads in the local area.

In trainspotting circles, there is something called a ‘line basher’ – it means you endeavour to travel over every railway line. Apparantely, you used to be able to do the whole London Underground network in a day, if you travelled non-stop. I’ll take their word for it. But, after 20 years cycling over the same terrain, there is part of me which wants to go down that road I’ve always gone straight past, just because – well it’s there.

Quite often these dead-ends are just that. Another road to nowhere, but sometimes it can give a rewarding view, interesting location or even unexpected climb.


View from above Oxford Eynsham road

Last Saturday I was on the road from Eynsham to Oxford, after 50 miles in the Cotswolds. It is a flat, rather uninspiring road – a narrow B road, with a constant stream of cars overtaking at 50mph plus. For cyclists going back to West Oxford, it is a road much travelled as there are not too many alternatives. When you get on this road, there is no relaxation or admiring of the scenery. It is the kind of road which is head down and get home as quick as you can. Continue Reading →

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How to plan cycle routes

A reader asked an interesting question – how to plan a cycle route?


Part of the attraction of cycling is finding new routes to ride. If I go on a long ride, of over 3+ hours, if possible, I like to find a road I’ve never been on before. Even if a minor variation, it is always good to take a new direction.


Generally, I don’t use any technology, I have a Garmin, but have never used the map function. For someone who makes a living online, I’m a relative Luddite. I prefer the old school plan of looking at an OS map 1:50,000 series and then trying to remember it. There is beauty in an OS map. I’ve spent many hours looking at the contours, trying to find the hilliest route within the shortest distance. (most uphill meters in shortest number of miles, if you can follow my thinking)

These days, my one concession to technology is sometimes taking a photo of a maps when visiting new areas. But, generally I quite like to just ‘follow my nose’ and see where I end up.


There is a certain freedom in just choosing the road which looks most inviting and hope it is going in the general direction. If you follow this approach you will both win and lose some situations. I remember riding up and down this busy A road by Sowerby Bridge, in the rain looking, for the start of Dog House Lane – a new steep climb in Todmorden. I never found it that day, but I did ride up and down a road getting overtaken by articulated lorries. I kept racing up these right hand turns – uphill farmtracks which proved to be dead ends. Taking strava segments which had about four people on the leader-board. Some poor chap thought that “climb to Uncle Bill’s old farm and then a dead end” was a safe KOM and then some mountain goat comes along and nicks it off you just because he got lost. It has happened quite a few times! It has also happened that some farmer has come out to eye suspiciously this sweating cyclist – why has he come up this road when it ends in my farm? I sheepishly do a u-turn. Continue Reading →

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Using miles or km for cycling?

The other day, I struggled to wake up, and when I did wake up, I had sore legs, a saddle sore – and it felt great! The usual aches and pains of cycling, but a small price to pay for being back on the bike.


On Saturday I managed 60 miles through a damp and grey Cotswolds. For three and half hours effort, whilst struggling to remain warm, 60 miles doesn’t sound too impressive compared to the perceived effort. I think I should switch to km, 100 km sounds more satisfying than 60 miles.


Continue Reading →

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Self massage with rollers

At the end of last year I received treatment from an osteopath for my saw hip. He felt the problem was primarily in my right gluteus muscles. A lot of the treatment involved deep massage – working on the tender muscle. He was trying to loosen the knotiness.

When he did a similar deep massage on the left glute, it wasn’t painful. So it was reassuring, in the sense that he found something which wasn’t right. The interesting thing is that when cycling, the problem manifested itself near the hip. (sacroiliac joint was mentioned a lot.)

A few years ago, I bought one of these massage foam rollers from Amazon.  Trigger Point Performance Foam Roller (£30)



Initially I bought to work on some tight hamstrings. But, it was recommended by osteopath for working on the glute as well.

It’s fairly easy to use, just roll around and work the muscles you want to give a bit of a massage.

At around £30, it is certainly much cheaper than paying for a daily massage. It was useful to use over Christmas holidays when I was abroad.


For those of us who do not have access to daily sports massage (like the pros) this is a good second-best solution. I feel the massage of glutes has helped to work through the problem. It is still there a little, but I will persevere with steady training and a bit of self-massage.

In retrospect, I wish I had used more massage back in June after big mileage month and the 12 hour.

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First training ride of the New Year

I rode in Greece, but it didn’t really feel like a training ride, more a leisure ride. Yesterday, I did a favourite training ride to Charlbury. 42 miles in 2 hours and a bit. For all the interruptions of recent months, I felt reasonably good and was pleased to average over 17 mph.


This photo is actually from Wharfedale on Christmas Day 2016, but I never had time to publish.

I was out on my bike (early Christmas morning), but suffering from a little bit of stomach upset. As a consequence I was cycling slowly and not enjoying the ride; because of the stomach ache I stopped to have a look behind. I was rewarded with this view of a rainbow arching over the tree – it was the highlight of the ride – an auspicious sign for Christmas Day.

I didn’t take any photos yesterday on the road to Charlbury; it was one of those grey, gloom days of January where the only mercy is a temperature of over 5 degrees celsius. But, despite less than inspiring weather, it was good to be back on the bike – able to ride for two hours without niggling injuries and interruptions. What comes next in 2017, I’m not sure. But it is great just to be able to get on the bike and blow away a few cobwebs from the mind and body.

42 miles down, 11,958 to go.

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Cycling in Kalamata Greece

I spent 10 days in Kalamata, Greece. It is a great place for cycling, even in mid-Winter.

For various reasons, I ended up not taking my own bike. It was awkward to hire a car which would carry four people, four cases and a big bicycle bag. I thought an VW estate may cope, but when I measured a friends boot, I knew it wouldn’t work and I had to leave the bike at home.

In other years, I may have paid some ridiculous money to hire a people carrier (or my own car), but since I’ve been off the bike during the tail-end of 2016, I thought another 10 days off the bike wouldn’t make much difference. At the best of times it can be a hassle taking a bike on a plane.


Hairpins in the distance. Insistently calling climbers

On arriving at Kalamata, our hotel had a magnificent view of the ocean, but also had a view of some beautiful hairpins, engineered into the nearby hillside. The sight of hairpins cut into the hillside made me wistfully regret not having a bike. The next day, I drove the hire car up the hill side and went for a walk. It is not the same, and the longing for a bike grew. It felt perhaps like an alcoholic going for a week of recovery and finding he is living next to a brewery.

Continue Reading →

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Starting from scratch

I have been going out a few times this week. Wet, grey, windy and cold, but its good to be back on the bike.


The great thing about cycling in Yorkshire is that you can be greeted by cyclists going the otherway with:

“Ey up”

It beats ‘hi’ anytime. There is always a bit of debate about the cycling etiquette of acknowledging fellow riders going the other way. In the days when cycling was a minority sport, the rarity of the occasion made it easier to do. Nowadays it would be hard work to greet every cyclist on the road. Maybe when I go back down south I will try greeting every cyclist with ‘Ey Up’ and see how it goes down. Continue Reading →

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Winter training bike 2016-17


This will be my winter training bike for 2016/17 (assuming I can get out to ride it). It is an old hill climb bike  with a Trek Madone frame – 10 speed Dura Ace groupset. After buying the Emonda, I thought about selling this Trek, but with the growth of 11spd and electronic gears – 10 speed mechanical has devalued in price. The likely selling figure seemed a poor return, so I have kept as a winter training bike.  I also have an attachment to the bike as I used it in 2013 Nat hill climb. Continue Reading →

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Cycling very slowly

The past week or so I’ve been ill again with some kind of sickness. It left me quite ill and weak, but I had an an appointment with an osteopath I wanted to keep – to work on the bad hip. I thought I would drive the 4 miles, but at last minute couldn’t bring myself to drive through the centre of Oxford so got on bike and cycled very slowly.


There’s always one person who cycles through mid winter in bare arms (or legs) but rarely both.


I’d lost a bit of weight, still recovering from virus and it probably wasn’t the most sensible thing to do. But, after sitting on settee for a few days I felt like a challenge. The main thing is that I cycled very slowly and on any downhill freewheeled. It meant I was getting overtaken by just about everybody on the road, which is quite something. It took half an hour there and half an hour bike. I was probably averaging 8mph. It was interesting experience, but not one I’m particularly keen to repeat.


Buses traffic jam

Even when still ill, I’d rather cycle than drive through traffic jams. I have some ideological opposition to spend 25 minutes driving somewhere through congested traffic when you can do same distance on a bicycle.

Cycling very slowly is harder work.

I nearly got doored by a van driver opening his car door whilst on mobile phone. I realised that because I was cycling so slowly, I was much closer to the curb than usual. You have less confidence to cycle at a distance from car doors when cycling slowly.

When I got to St Clements roundabout I tried to accelerate. You feel rather isolated cycling around there at 8mph, when everyone else is driving at much higher speed.

That was an experience of cycling very slowly, can’t say I particularly enjoy it.


Good job cars are banned from the High Street There seems more pollution around this winter or maybe when you’re ill you become more sensitive to it.


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