Monday, 22 August 2016

Anti-clockwise Around the Isle of Wight

In what is the first of an occasional series of 'Imps on Tour' ride reports (of which the Mann's, Pete Ramsden or Ayhan Uyar is surely next) I am going to tell you about Me and Holly's day trip to the Isle of Wight. We came down to Portsmouth on the Wednesday night as forecasts indicated that the only remotely rideable day of the week would be the Thursday. That day's weather proved to be even better than expected and the temperature hovered around the low twenties all day, with occasional cloud cover to prevent overheating.
Portsmouth looking brilliant on departure

 We rode from my Nan's house in Portsmouth to the ferry terminal and boarded the slightly delayed 10.30 sailing to Fishbourne on the 1987 built 'MV St Cecilia'. Cyclists put their bikes right at the front of the car deck, leaning against the bow door - with nothing holding the bikes in place we were glad of a super smooth crossing. The sailing was 45 minutes long and we were the first to leave the ship and cycle out of the port. We turned right out of the entrance and began our anti-clockwise journey around the island. Thankfully there are permanently marked road signs throughout which direct cyclists on the round the island trail and this is mostly what we followed the whole day, only occasionally deviating in order to see more of the towns or attractions.
Waiting for the Cowes Chain Ferry
The first miles to Cowes were gently rolling and before long you are taken onto quiet country lanes with very little traffic. In order to cross from East Cowes to Cowes proper, there is a chain ferry to take cars and pedestrians across the river mouth. We paid our fee and rumbled across, The cycle lane then takes you right along the seafront and on the right hand side we were afforded views of the Solent and across towards Southampton. We then headed slightly inland and the following few miles were on winding lanes through woods. We were occasionally passed by patient drivers, who all seemed happy to move at the slower pace of island life.
The Needles
Our lunch stop was at the picturesque port of Yarmouth, where we stopped at a deli for some huge slabs of pizza and some coffee, which we consumed while sat on the railings by the ferry port in the sun. We toppped up water bottles at the free outside tap and moved on. The next stop would be The Needles, not officially on the cycle route, but a nice picturesque place to visit. Being on cycles meant that we could press on past the car park and ride to the top of the cliff and look down onto the Needles from the old Cold War rocket testing site. This site was so secret during the space race that news outlets were forbidden by the government to report on its very existence, despite launch tests being so loud and visible that beaches on the south coast of England were regularly crowded with onlookers wanting to witness the spectacle.
A nice place to build rockets
After The Needles we followed the main coastal road spanning the south of the Isle; Military Road. There were occasional hills, but nothing that West Yorkshire legs couldn't handle. We stopped for more liquids at a beach's car park where there was an ice cream van. Holly was in the queue when a man said he hoped we hadn't cycled all the way from Halifax (we were wearing our Imps jerseys), it turned out that he too was from Halifax and was on his annual eight week holiday on the island with his wife. Small world. 
The Coastal road showing the hills and cliffs
The biggest hill of the day was at Blackgang Chine and I seemed to have built it up in my head from last year, as it wasn't as bad as I'd remembered and Holly was almost annoyed that I'd talked about it so much... The next town on the list was Ventnor, which had a distinct Mediterranean feel to it, with steep cliffs and narrow, winding roads. After a quick stop to admire the view and consult the map, we set off towards the twin towns of Shanklin and Sandown, which we seemed to catch in rush hour, but since the towns weren't that big it wasn't long before we were out into the countryside again.

By now we were in the North-East of the island and we ventured through the picturesque villages of Bembridge, St Helens (which happened to be where my Grandma was evacuated as a child during the war, where she had to share a room with 'Some Welsh Bitch') and Seaview, the latter of which is where we stopped for a well deserved pint of bitter from the local Goddards Brewery. This is where we took some obligatory swearing photos for Paul Cre, much to the annoyance of those at an adjacent table in the beer garden. The pub was right by the seafront and looked out towards Portsmouth and we could see a happy collection of yachts and ferries in the calm waters of the Solent.
Beer, obviously
All that was left was the five miles back to the ferry, which included riding through the biggest town of the day, Ryde. Once we had arrived at the port it was around half seven, we had to wait a little while for the 'MV St Clare' to arrive, but once there we were the first on yet again and went straight up to the lounge and armed ourselves with beers for the journey back.
The final route

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Circuit Training 16 August

A lovely evening weather-wise saw increased numbers again with Scott, D showing his face for the first time this year.

We had 5 PBs in total. Sarah B being particularly pleased to get under 22 minutes for the first time.

Total riders attending and doing a ride this year currently stands at 29 still well down on 2015 when we had 39 in total.  Come on you riders!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Sunday Ride to Ilkley

2 or 3 Weeks ago I had asked on that social media site whether anybody was up for a 50 mile ride and that if they were, they could meet me outside the Toyshop at 10.30 on Sunday. Well, I was literally inundated with no riders wishing to join me so I did a different ride instead, occasionally stopping to wipe the tears from my eyes.

This week the suggestion went down rather more favourably and at the allotted time there were very nearly enough riders present to form our own netball team. Holly, Sarah, Tom, Martin, Vick and I. The ride I had planned would take us to Ilkley via Bingley, and back to Town via Oakworth. The forecast for the day was pretty good and so most of us were out in our summer best.
We Missed You, Paul Cre

We headed to Stump Cross and then the scenic way to Queensbury, then Thornton, Allerton and Wilsden. As we were climbing out of Bingley, on Heights Lane, we noticed an unfortunate layer of greyish clouds coming from the west and with it a cool wind and the odd smattering of rain. Thankfully Martin 'Michael Fish' Gargett assured us it was merely precipitation, not rain and that all he could see was blue sky. We turned right at the T Junction onto Otley Road, which I had presumed from the OS map would be a quiet and quite lovely little B-road; unfortunately it was somewhat infected with Sunday drivers and we were soon leading a long line of motorists all the way to The Cow and Calf, where we waved them goodbye as we left it a little late to turn off into the Cow and Calf Café.

The food in the café was agreeable enough and they didn't charge as much as one would expect with a captive audience like this, which was nice. The only problem was the temperature and the wind, which meant we didn't feel like lingering too long out in the marquee, despite the blankets on offer.
Glamorous Models of the Café Blankets, note the Baked Bean Juice highlights

After a quick lunch we descended into Ilkley, where it was necessary to join the A65 for a short while before turning left  onto the fabulously named 'Cocking Lane' which meandered its way to Silsden, where we joined Skipton Lane to Cross Hills. Just shy of the A629 roundabout we had to wait briefly for a rotary bridge to be spun back into position so that we could pass over the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

Ta Sarah for this

We were faced with a fun and long climb out of Sutton and then headed towards Oakworth, descending further to the foot of the valley, crossing the Worth Valley Railway track and then finally making our last significant climb of the day, culminating in the Dog and Gun climb. From there it was A629 to the Victorian Beer Café, only stopping briefly as Martin decided to have a puncture in Ovenden. Twas lots of fun and a nice relaxed atmosphere, though it was a bit cold and windy. Will have to do again in the near future.
Top Pumper Martin Gargett

Circuit training 2 August

Given that several regulars were away and the fact it was foggy and wet the WatchMann gave everyone the option of not turning up via Faceache and everyone seemed to decide this was the option for them except for Pete Brearley who turned up. As it happened the weather improved and I gave it a go for a self-timed lap by trike which took 16.02 moving me immediately into last place for the season so far. Mr B and I then rode a quick cool down lap as he had also done a self-timed lap but not recorded the time or something....thence we adjourned to the Spring Rock to recover.

Of course this is the current trike record for the circuit until Mr Ellis decides to come and show us how it should be done......

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Circuit training 26 July 2016

On a somewhat cooler night with a bit of a wind a massive number of 5 riders did the rounds overseen by the usual crew.

Mr P Brearley also rode round at speed but failed to start in a proper manner so was ignored....

No PBs this week I'm afraid.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Anglesey to Knutsford 207km (aka The Proper Imp) - by Nicola Matthews

I spent the weekend in Anglesey riding and racing. It was my first race back after a long time off with a virus. I didn’t have too many matches to burn and blew my box big style, but thankfully hung on for 10th. Feeling pretty grim we made a plan to ride home from Holyhead the following day. Luckily not my home, but Alan’s home, near Knutsford. That made it 207km… And if I completed it I’d feel like a proper Imp 😊
The plan was to set off at 9. That quickly became 10 after lots of chat in the dorm into the small hours. Loaded with food we set off with a good following wind. Seemed to get off Anglesey quickly, but not without a photo at the train station with the really long name that ends in gogogoch…
We navigated the tunnels around Llandudno thanks to an ingenious set of cycle paths and bridges and stopped for a butty on the beach looking out to Great Orme.
In Conwy route 5 led us onto the front and a photo with the smallest house in the UK. We also met a young lad from Germany who seemed to be struggling to find the route 5 signs, so we rode with him a bit. He’d been riding with panniers and a tent for 30 days and his next stop was a train to Dover. He said he was fed up of his bike now! But in the 30 days he was here he’d have seen some dreadful rain and a mini heatwave so I don’t blame him. We took a bit of a detour to help him out then ended up on one of the longest, steepest hills I’ve ever encountered. The surface wasn’t great; large patches of gravel and moss meant that standing up was treacherous and my standard chainset could have done with a few more gear options! But at the top of there we were greeted with some amazing views and the start of the hilly section of the ride, that would last pretty much until we hit England. Lots of steep ups followed by steep downs eventually got us to Holywell. 122km in and time for a stop.
Alan has done some good café research and we stopped at the café at Holywell Pet Cemetery. It was quite an experience. Toasties and Welsh cakes with bottomless tea and coffee filled a good hole in the belly. But a slightly disconcerting view of the graveyard…
I used the opportunity to go to the loo. The toilets were off the side of an office. The walls of the office were lined with row upon row of tiny coffins. After that we made a hasty exit and were back on track for the last 80km.
Mini fist pump when we hit the England sign as it meant a mostly flat run into Knutsford through the Cheshire lanes.
The furthest I’ve ever ridden and great fun. At over 2000m of climbing it was far hillier than I thought. North Wales was great for riding though. Really good, quiet roads and Sustrans routes. And obviously beaches.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Circuit training 19 July 2016

A stunning evening with the glass reading a heady 29 degrees C saw a total of 12 riding (a joint record for this season so far.) Two new faces tonight Nick Gaukrodger and Ben Stead who immediately claimed 4th fastest time of the season.

Messrs Smith, Gargett and Cre all claimed PBs with Paul going under the 20 minute mark to move to third fastest time and both Martin and Chris moving under the 19 minute mark whilst retaining their respective placings at second and first.  Chris's time of 18.08 particularly indicating that sub 18 minutes is on the cards.

Youngest rider Tom Simms improved his one lap time by exactly one minute so well done to him too.  Next stop two laps!

Staff and watchers were the usual sundry assortment including El Presidente who was sporting  facial bruising as it turns out he was brought off by an errant 10 year old jaywalking kid after Grimpy's road race.  Who knew? A belated get well soon.