Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Sinai Ride Day Two - Tuesday

The "BIG" day, 125km to our second camping night. A big group start after some warm up "star" jumping and a hearty breakfast, now leaving the coast and heading inland, and a welcome to the hills of the Sinai! The first 25km covered without much issue and soon our friends in the yellow shirts showing us to our first water and comfort stop of the day. Traffic was not too bad and most gave us a wide passing, although we could never quite guess if the "horns n waves" were ones of encouragement or "get out of the way"! The last riders on the road came into the first stop approx 20mins after the first, and with no shelter from the sun 40mins plus standing in the full glow of the sun required a second helping of sun screen.

The next 25kms was a bit more fun. Leaving with the "lead" group of 7 or so the pace picked up a little, and in no time we couldn't see the "pack". Looking back again we could see that Theo, the Tour Leader, was trying to get over to us, heads down and we soon had a "Tour de France" chain gang going all taking our turn on the front. We couldn't shake him, but he wasn't gaining, until a small incline slowed us but not him, the following descent saw a grinning rider join us, sweating a little! As we entered the outskirts of a small town, our Police & Tour Guides pulled us over, our speed had pushed a gap between us and the main pack to one that they were not happy with, so we had to wait whilst they pulled back some time. the next water stop came and went.

Cycling was on long flat roads, no wind to speak of and seemingly never ending. It had been hoped that the 75km stop was for lunch, but a change of plan meant this was pushed to the 100km mark, energy bars and water stop bananas providing enough fuel to keep us moving.

The forth part of the day proved to be hard going, the long roads seaming to grow as they stretched out in front of us, a "comfort" stop saw me lose the front group, and hard as I tried I couldn't`t get back to them, I slowed and let a second group catch me up so I had company. Their pace was a little slow though and I sadly pushed on, alone. A long left turn saw the road start to climb, not a big hill but a drag, and in the full heat this prove a real test. Through the heat shimmer a could make out a figure by the road, as I got closer I could see it was one of the group taking a comfort stop, and before long I was on his back wheel. "PJ" his bruises from yesterday, now a lovely purple in colour. Turns out PJ was a bit of Geologist and his description of the various rock formation distracted us both from the task in hand, getting up the hill. About half way up we come upon some roadworks, no traffic lights or cones here, just battle your way through, the bemused faces of the workers as we pedalled past a joy to behold. I think PJ was struggling a little, he latter admitted he was and kindly thank me for getting him up the hill!, as the pace dropped, we both had mentally calculated that the 25km should be up, but with the heat and effort we could have been wrong. The hill eventually flatten out and, as all up hills do, started to go down, although the wind meet us and so it was anything but a coast down.

The lunch stop was heaven, the guides had taken over a "cafe" so we had shelter, toilets (proper ones!) and food, Spaghetti, chips, fish, salad, bread... with plenty for seconds! 25kms to camp, turning left the slight side wind we had been experiencing, now was a full blown head wind, so although the road was relatively flat the going was tough.
In what seamed no time six of us had ridden through the bunch and had a good distance between us and them, pedaling hard for the glory of being first to camp. The heat was beating down and the guides had agreed to put in a "quick stop" for water at around 15km. Shortly before this 3 of us required a comfort stop, we were emptying a Camelback in around an hour, what goes in must come out! The chase was on, 3 v 3, in our sights the 3 front riders, we could see them stop for the water, and were off again, should we stop, we slowed and the guides poured water over us! cheers! The pursuit began again, so close, and yet so far, the two groups pedaling for all we were worth. In the distance the road drifted to the right and as it did we could make out figures by the road side, "is this the yellow shirted guides?", if so we had little chance of catching the lead three.
As we saw, little more than 1/2 a mile ahead, the three bikes turn left away from the road, the chase was up, we slowed, catching our breath.

A great days riding, a camp fire and sleeping under the stars, a great day.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Mercian Bikes

As you may know, I am a bit of Mercian Bikes fan. Readers of Cycling Weekly would have been fond, I am sure, of the Helms cartoons, heres a couple he did for Mercian -

As you may be aware, Helms sadly passed away recently, but what great fun his cartoons where, sadly missed.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Commute 18th January 2010

Commuting update -

Monday 18th, first cycle commute of the year (and only second ride of any sort!) and was glad to be back in the saddle a little chilly but pleasant, remembered to take charger so as not to be riding home without lights! Tuesday followed, but a little different as had to take Midget for MOT, so new Boardman was dismantled and carefully stashed in the Midget, so as to ride the 12 miles or so from the garage to work. (Oh, joy it past the MOT) Still getting the Boardman set up, seat position wise and need a good distance ride to really settle down the set up, but appears as good as the reviews.

Weds & Thurs where car days, Friday up and cycle gear on, stepped outside to let out the Chickens, pouring down with rain. This was forecast, but over my Wheetabix, decided that the car would be a better option today and so drove to work with a guilt trip as the weather improved and was dry by the time I reached work!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Sinai Update Monday - Bike Day

So, the day is at last upon us and its another hot one, a lazy start as we take it turns to choose a bike, fit pedals, saddle etc.... We, as a group, had a lot of "tall" people, more then we had large bikes, so extra beach time while we waited for these to come. The bikes, "ok", not quite "Apollo", but I not think I would have challenged them to any real Mountain Biking!

Day one was a short sprint of 50km, a water stop at "approx" 25km, then to our overnight in a Bedouin tent on the shores of the Red Sea. The group soon spread out, amazingly so. Some keen to get the pedals racing, others happy to ease their way into the riding. Chatting away I found myself at the back, the tailwind making for an easy pedal and whilst the roads where busy they where flat and pothole free, but this didn't stop one of our number hitting the dirt a few kms in resulting in a fine array of bruises! As we rejoined the coast I picked up the pace and spent the remaining kms to the water stop catching and riding with the various groups spread along the road.

After the water stop, the pace picked up a little, with the stronger cyclists showing themselves, another crash keeping Doc. Brian busy, whilst two flats for Mike kept the mechanic in work.
Trying to catch the front group after a comfort stop, I found myself riding alone, enough curve in the road to not be able to see the group in front or behind. In time I began to wonder if I had missed the turn to the camp, but a sight we soon all longed to see soon came into view, the yellow tshirt of one of the "guides". A short ride "off road" found me with the first arrivals at the beach camp.

With little tide in the Red Sea the camp was right on the shore, and no time mattress where "bagged" cycle gear off and swim wear on! The smell of Sulphur filled the air, we where right by natural "springs" and several off us soon coated ourselves in the black smelly, but very warm - mud!

The sun was setting rapidly and dropping with it the temperature, so after getting dried off the queue for dinner formed, those new to head torches blinding all around, but with a failing generator they were positivity a necessity.
By 8.00 most of us were tooked up in our sleeping bags, most pulled out of the tent and under the stars, ready for the 125km day tomorrow.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Sinai - more tall tales..............

So in my last entry regarding the epic ride that was the Sinai Cycle, we were in Cairo. Sunday was a long day, first a quick visit to the Pyramids. Quite a shock to find them so close to the city and, I know this shouldn't be a shock, but how busy they where. The greatest difficulty after getting past the numerous "street vendors" was trying to a get a picture without masses of people / buses!

Cairo, what a mess!, I hadn't expected quite the sight and extent of the rubbish, every street a wash with it. We left the city behind and started the 6 hour coach trip to Sunday nights hotel, not a lot to see, so sleep became the order of the day, a brief "comfort" stop before venturing under the Suez Canal, the dividing line between Africa & Asia, and a chance to grab some rather nice ice cream.

We finally left the main road behind and began eagerly looking for our Hotel, like a group of package tour Holiday makers. Here we are, quite nice, very quiet and I think open just for us. A little stroll before the sunset found us on a beach, sun loungers, beach bar (closed) and, of coarse, the sea, within minutes a couple of us had changed and where enjoying an evening swim, just the ticket after such a long coach ride. Those not for the water, soon found a bar with TV, showing football, Manchester Utd playing! After a shower, dinning room found and a very nice buffet dinner. We then retired for the main event briefing, and the realisation of what we where to undertake came over us all, still that was soon forgotten and the bar revisited! This was our first chance to have opportunity to have a good chat, and after a few (small) beers the talk gave way to much laughter as stories of past trips & training tales gave us a smile to go to bed on.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Still No Ride!

13th January and still not a ride to speak of and, with more snow forecast, cannot see one in the next day or two. Looks like a good group ride on the 24th, the Mercia CC Reliability Trail, see - http://www.merciacyclingclub.org/ - a nice "metric 100", whislt Dan Fleemans more local "Tour of the Nock" is on the same day as a family event I cant really avoid, not that I would want too avoid it!, so at least one good ride to look forward too, but hardly the training I wanted to be putting in.

I can, I guess take comfort from the fact it is the worst cold spell for 29 years!

The picture?, a hot and sweaty day in the Sinai.

Monday, 11 January 2010

commute or lack of it!

Well so far this year my resolution to commute on the bike more has failed, so far 6 working days and no ride! I am to do my best to get in one ride this week........... but with more snow forcast am doubting if I will manage it.

The weekend did see some mountain bike fun, not as much as I would have liked but something is better than nothing. (did manage to do some garage sorting though.. oh and took the Midget for a spin!)

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

2010 then...............

Hello and a Merry New Year to all.............................

I still need to bring you an update of the Sinai trip.............. I promise too add loads of photos!

2010 off to a good start 6 days and not even sat on a bike, do "spin" machines count?, having entered both the Cheshire Cat 28th March and the (epic that is) the Dragon Ride 6th June, I need to get back into the saddle pretty quickly. At the moment I guess I could blame the weather............. but that would be a feeble excuse. (but the only one I have)

Joking aside, I did manage a good "end of year" ride, collecting the car left on Christmas Day from family in Northampton, recording enough miles (66+) for a "Metric 100" in around 4 hours, the A5 is not the most scenic road in the land and luckily was quiet!