Archive for the ‘Rides’ Category

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Cycling To CityLink

Tuesday September 14, 2010

Since my epic ride to Pembrokeshire in April, I haven’t really been out on the bikes and I haven’t been running either.  I’ve had a few gentle rides into town and a leisurely ride or two when on holiday in Norfolk, but no ‘real’ rides.

Thought I’d get out on the Trek today.  I had a parcel to collect from the CityLink depot in Aylesford so I thought I’d get some exercise and some fresh air.  The parcel was only a book from Amazon so it would easily fit on the Trek’s rear rack.

It was slightly over 7 miles each way so a total journey of 14.8 miles was a pretty respectable ride after such a long break from long(er) distance cycling.  It was nice to feel the burning in my legs as I struggled up the hills and it was good to feel the rain on my face.

I’ve missed cycling…

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Total Raised For MNDA…

Saturday June 12, 2010

Well, it looks like all sponsorship/donations are in for my 307 mile ride for charity.  My total is now at £2,889.10 (144% of my target) – a brilliant total, my thanks to everyone for their fantastic generosity!

You can still donate, if you feel like it, by simply clicking on the link below.  If you want to read about my ride then the report is available here.

£2,889.10£2,889.10

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307 Miles For Charity

Sunday April 18, 2010

At the beginning of 2010 I was keen to make the most of the year ahead and to get out and spend more time on my bikes.  I began to plan a number of rides and challenges, from short local rides to longer more intense ‘journeys’.

One of the major journeys I was planning was to cycle from my home in Rochester, Kent, to my parents’ home in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire – a distance in excess of 300 miles (483km).  Then I began thinking a little more about it…

In the latter half of 2009 my father was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks the upper and lower motor neurones.  I didn’t know much about the disease so thought I’d take a look around.  Then I found the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA), a registered charity, which supports sufferers and families in addition to funding awareness and research programmes.

So, with that in mind, I decided to cycle the 300+ miles and raise money for the MNDA at the same time…

Read the full story of my charity cycle ride, my struggles, the kit I took and review my route via this link.

(Click the link above to view my full Charity Ride report or click below to donate to the cause!)

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First Cycle Of 2010

Sunday January 24, 2010

I broke the Trek out this afternoon and went out for a leisurely ride.  Covered just under eight miles, looking around and taking in the changes around the town.  There’s a new Premier Inn being built near the M2 motorway bridge so I had a quick look at that from the bridge and then down at ground level, not sure when it is scheduled to open but it’s popped up quite quickly over the past month or so.

I got up to just short of 30mph on one of the down hill sections and it was great to be out with the wind in my face after having been off the bikes for such a relatively long period of time.

This was my first outing in 2010, hopefully the first of many.  Now I just need to plan my major rides and excursions for the year and spend some more time in the saddle.

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Rochester – Night And Day

Saturday November 28, 2009

I decided to head out on the Dahon on Thursday night with my tripod strapped to the back.  I wanted to test out my camera’s night capability and the Dahon was the best method of transport for the job.

I had the bike kitted out with all my lights including the NiteRider MiNewt and I headed off into the darkness.  I managed to cycle 5 miles during the few hours I was out and got home just as the weather turned.  The last mile of cycling was in the rain but I was happy that I had a good ride and should have captured some good images.

Saturday afternoon I headed out again, this time without the bike but the camera attached in its pouch on my belt.  I was heading to Rochester Castle again, but this time I was going to go inside!  I’ve lived in the area for around twelve years and have spent a lot of time relaxing in the castle’s grounds but I’ve never done the ‘tourist thing’ and gone inside.

There’s nothing much inside, it’s basically a shell but it was worth paying the £5 entrance fee for the view from the top.

It was a very windy day and standing on top of the ancient building was breathtaking in more ways than one.  The sun stayed out long enough for me to take a few photographs and to look down on where I usually sit.

There’s been a castle here since 1066 so it’s got a significant history.  The first stone castle was built around 1087 by the same person that was responsible for the cathedral next door and also the Tower Of London.  For more info, click here.

More photos from my Night and Day trips can be found here, on Flickr.

M2 Motorway At Night (2)

Dahon, Gate and Tripod

Rochester Castle In November

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37.7 Miles, Sunday Morning

Sunday September 20, 2009
The Bikes

The Bikes

Another ride today, 37.7 miles in total around parts of Kent but this ride was a little different – I had company.

I friend joined me for this ride.  We’ve been talking about setting up semi-regular rides and this was our first one.  I normally ride alone but today was fun.  He is fitter than me so he was powering up the hills and leaving me struggling behind in first gear!  To add insult to injury, he was even cycling back down the hills to see where I was!  🙂

We left just before 9am and headed up the Medway valley through Wouldham, Burham, Eccles and Aylesford before crossing the M20 motorway travelling through some of the back roads of Maidstone.  Just before Bearsted we turned North and again crossed the motorway heading towards Detling.

Passing through Detling, we cycled on single lane country roads towards Thurnham and we were overtaken by some road cyclists, groups of four or more, who appeared to be part of a cycling club.  They shot by with their more suitable gearing and slick tyres and a cheery shout of “Morning!”.

The Black Horse Inn, Thurnham

The Black Horse Inn

We stopped for a snack in Thurnham, near the Black Horse Inn and Thurnham Keep – good food at the Black Horse, spent many a long evening in there eating good food and drinking great wine.  The odometer read 13.3 miles at this point, 1h23m and an average speed of 10mph.

From that point, we cycled down into Hollingbourne before we hit the biggest hill of the day.  In 0.79 miles we climbed 332.5 ft – it was a nasty hill, I almost gave up but I put my head down and pushed through the pain barrier.

The next place we stopped was a small village called Bredgar where we grabbed a Mars Bar and a Coke from the local Farm Shop (CTC cyclists welcome!) before sitting down by the duck pond.  Nice village with some nice houses – worth a look if you’re passing.

Another Old House!

A House In Bredgar

Next stop was at Borden for a few photos of the church  before head down again and cycling back towards the Medway Towns.  Hempstead was our entry point where my friend broke off as we passed his house – he’d already cycled to my house in the morning so we ended up doing the same distance.  Then it was cycling alone back to my house.

A good ride.  It wasn’t sunny, but it was relatively warm.  No rain, which was great as earlier in the week they had forecast heavy rain.

More photos from the ride over on Flickr (click here).

The Route - 37.7 Miles, shown in yellow

The Route - 37.7 Miles, shown in yellow

The Rides Profile

The Ride's Profile

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Bonjour Dahon!

Thursday September 3, 2009
Ready To Go

Ready To Go

It was the Dahon’s turn for an adventure yesterday, Wednesday.  However, still a little sore from the 77 mile ride on the Trek on Monday, I had my concerns that I wouldn’t make it.  But at 0400hrs I woke up and I was straight out of bed.

The Dahon was going to France!

This was another one of my planned rides during my week off work.  Although I’m not going to get through all of them, I have now completed my new main ones: France and Hyde Park.

The first leg of the journey was to cycle to Rochester train station to catch the first train to the south coast.  The train was due to leave at 0533 so I had aimed to get there a little early so that I could take some photos.  Rochester was quiet so on my way I took a few night shots of the Dahon in the high street before moving on to the station.

I purchased my ticket at the self-serve machine, an ‘anytime’ return to Dover Priory station (£16.70), before heading under the tracks and up to the southbound platform.  The train arrived on schedule and we left Rochester at 0533, travelling south through Gillingham, Faversham and Canterbury (and others) on the way to Dover Priory.

The Dahon fitted easily between the seats on the empty train – it was in its element!  Although bikes are permitted on trains outside of ‘peak times’, there are no restrictions for folding bikes.

Station Info Sign

Station Info Sign

The journey took about an hour and ten minutes and I was soon at the station in Dover.  The sun was up by the time the train arrived so no lights were required on the 1.2 mile ride to the ferry.  There was a slight downward incline to the short ride but I pedalled hard to get there as quickly as possible, conscious of the fact that the check in deadline was near.

I’d made my reservation on Tuesday via the Internet (only £8) and, with bike folded, I checked in at the P&O counter before being whisked off by bus to the waiting ferry.  Again, the Dahon fitted easily on the bus and although there were a few curious glances, none were disapproving.  Of the handful of people on the bus, I was the only passenger, the others were staff/crew – I was to be the only foot passenger on that crossing.

Before long I was seated in the lounge on board the ferry with a good window seat and a large hot coffee next to me.  Soon, people began making their way up from their parked cars on the lower decks and populating the rest of the ship – its entertainment rooms, duty-free shops, bars and lounges.  I sat and watched.

The crossing was relatively smooth with only a slight swell in the middle of the English Channel and around 90 minutes later we were docking in Calais, northern France Bonjour mon amies! 🙂

On French Soil

Outside the Terminal

I disembarked and jumped aboard my ‘private’ bus (only me for them to transport) to the terminal.  And there we were, me and the Dahon standing on French soil.

The plan was to just cycle/walk around Calais and take in the sights, get some fresh air and relax.  I hadn’t planned anything for the day, I hadn’t really looked into what was in Calais to see and visit, I was just going to ride around and see what I could find.

Fortunately, Calais has its fair share of history so I wasn’t short of places to visit.  Dotted around the town were maps of Places of Interest to visit and alongside each POI was a sign detailing the historical background of each particular structure/building/site (luckily in both English and French!).

One of the things I had to do over in Calais was to ride on the right-hand side of the road!  On a few occasions I had to think twice before proceeding, but in the whole, I didn’t make too many mistakes.

French Beach Huts

Huts On The Beach

It was raining heavily as the ship arrived in Calais harbour but as the morning drew on it began to clear and the sun came out.  On the seafront, there were strong winds and that, together with the threat of rain, must have been keeping the locals and tourists off the beach.  I sat on the seafront for a while and just ‘chilled’, watching the ferries, the birds and the sea.  Rows of small beach huts were lined up in front of me and I eventually dragged the Dahon down the steps and between the huts before walking alone to the sea.  Calais seemed strangely deserted.

Back on the Dahon, I followed the beach road for another mile before winding back into Calais to search for the next sight to see.  Spotting some spires towering over the old skyline, I used my Garmin GPS receiver to lead me to them – one a church, the other the Town Hall.  Moving inland, there were more people around.  Perhaps being sheltered from the wind or perhaps simply gravitating towards the bars and restaurants; the residents of Calais were discovered at last!

As with most towns, Calais has its share of unattractive areas but it also has some very pleasant places, interesting history and old buildings.  Being a key crossing point to Britain, it does (unfortunately) attract more than its share of ‘illegal’ immigrants who try to cross the Channel for a new life in England – the infamous Sangatte Refugee Camp was only a few miles from Calais.  However, even though that camp closed years ago, cycling around Calais I saw numerous groups of individuals who were obviously destined to attempt their illegal entry into the UK.

Calais In Bloom

Calais In The Sun

The sun was out and the afternoon turned out to be very warm and pleasant.  I continued to slowly cycle around the town taking in the French air and watching the locals going about their lives.  I watched, ate, took photos and read a few chapters of a book (Brave New World, Huxley) and generally relaxed and enjoyed myself in France for the day.

I cycle/walked 10.3 miles around Calais during the day and at 1600CEST I was very tired – the day’s exercise and Monday’s Hyde Park exertion all catching up with me.  For my last hour or so in France I sat on the quay in the old harbour and watched the seagulls.  Then it was back to the ferry port to check in.

I managed to catch an earlier ferry back to Blighty and sat in the same area drinking coffee as I had done on the outward journey (although this was a different ship).  The GPS reported that we were speeding across the Channel at around 24mph and 90 minutes or so later we were at Dover Harbour.  Unfortunately, a technical problem hindered berthing and 15 minutes of ‘extreme’ vibration later a tug pushed us toward the dock to let us off.

Dover Priory Station

Dover Priory Station

It was raining heavily as I unfolded the Dahon outside the port.  I donned my hi-viz waterproof jacket, put the three Cateye lights on to flash, and mounted the NiteRider to the handlebars.  Then I was off!  The rain and wind slowed me but I enjoyed the 12 minute ride back to the train station where the train was waiting.  Despite the delay at the harbour, I still had 30 minutes before the train left Dover Priory to take me back to Rochester – time for a couple of photos.

The train journey took another hour and ten minutes and I watched as the stations went by, counting them down as I got closer to home.  GPS reported a maximum speed of 88mph on the train and it was handy to see my location on the Garmin’s  map as we shot through the darkness of the Kent countryside.

The final leg of the journey was a 1.7 mile cycle from the station to my house.  The rain was very heavy, it was 2100hrs and it was dark.  All the lights back on, I headed out.  The NiteRider really proved its worth in such bad weather.  The three Cateye lights, and the Knogs, all in flash mode, gave me confidence that I would be seen by other road users.

It had been a very long day but it had been good fun.  Getting out and about had been great, and a varied journey to France  had been interesting (cycle/train/ferry/bus).  I’d used the Dahon for the first time in muti-mode travel and it had been a success – this is something that I couldn’t have done with the Trek.

One final note: the Dahon is SO comfortable compared to the Trek with its narrow and hard seat.  😉

More photos from my day-trip to Calais can be found on Flickr.

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