Shepherds Delight

The other weekend we spent a couple of nights at an amazing retreat with a collection of beautiful Shepherd’s huts surrounding a stunning lake. 

Our hut was named ‘Shepherds Watch’ and the interior was exceptional. It was so cosy, so romantic and the perfect little hideaway. They say a picture speaks 1000 words, so here goes…

The huts backed onto some woodland so we went adventuring in the woods.

It was also the perfect excuse for some tasty treats and the weather was perfect. It was so idyllic eating bagels and drinking coffee for breakfast overlooking the lake. It was so serene and so quiet that you could hear the ducks dipping their heads under the water. 


There was also a fire pit and marshmallows provided (so many thoughtful little touches) that it would have been rude not to make use of them both. 


I would honestly come back here in a flash. I’m not entirely sure how much fun it would be if it had been raining and cold,  as the sunshine certainly played a large part in the ‘feelgoodness’ of the weekend. However curling up under a duvet and watching a film in the hut would have been bliss too. 

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5 ways to spot he’s hankering after a new bike (and what you can do about it)

1. Whenever you are out together he makes reference to you ‘treating yourself’

In the way that siblings are known to exclaim, ‘but that’s not fair’ your partner knows that if he plies you with gifts beforehand your guilt muscle will work over time if you even suggest that he can’t purchase a new stead. 

You’ve been twarted at the first hurdle here as there’s no way you want to return your new dress, bag, heels and the manicure you had post shopping trip in order to take the moral high ground – so you’ve not a leg to stand on in denying him his new bike. 

What can you do now? Barter. If he wants that bike he’ll be on dinner duties for a month or designated driver for the rest of the year. 

2. He talks about it as though he’s already bought it

If you’re not careful he’ll be buying more accessories before the new wheels have even arrived. There will be a new helmet, new bottles, new wheel bags and a new saddle before you know it – all so that he is colour coordinated with his new bike (his new bike that hasn’t even left the showroom or is present on his credit card yet). 

3. He has a sudden interest in your favourite colours

You’re watching TV of an evening and before you know it you’re being asked whether you would rate red over green or if you have a penchant for a matt finish over gloss. You may think he’s finally coming round to the idea of redecorating the house but if he’s holding any device that can connect to google your hopes may be short lived. 

4. He finds (and tells you about) ‘faults’ with his latest bike

A little like the scene in friends when Pheobe has issues with the left phalange, he could tell you anything was wrong with his latest bike addition and you wouldn’t be any the wiser. Offer sympathy for his Oscar winning performance but question that if you can’t see the ‘fault’ then it can’t be broken. You want to see a wheel with no spokes and a bike with no saddle before you let him even think about buying a new bike. 

5. He finds himself just ‘dropping by’ the local bike shop

So him and his local bike shop may be best mates but this might be down to the accessories he buys before every Saturday club ride and not because they would invite him on the works Christmas do. Assess how often he goes into the shop and if it starts becoming a post-work rendezvous you may have cause for concern – so treat yourself to that new MAC makeup whilst you still have the chance.

  

John Andrews, Tour Series, Time Trials and Racing on Airfields

The last few weeks Charles has been racing as usual and I have been playing a few more hands on roles at races, which on the whole, I have thoroughly enjoyed!

To kick off these cycling tales, is the John Andrews road race which was held on 7th June. The John Andrews is a fairly local race for us, which is always nice as it feels less rushed and stressful to get there and get ready for.

The weather was lovely that weekend and I made my way to the feeding zone. Getting to the feeding zone is something I always find stupidly worrying as usually there is a small section of the race route where you can pass bottles to the riders and I don’t want to mess up! The feeding went well though and for the first time this year our camping chairs got a look in and I had a semi-sunbathing session – in between leaping up for the arrival of the riders! Although Charles broke away on the final lap, up to the finish, he was caught on the climb and consequently sent out the back (I have no idea if this has anything to do with the excessive Guinness drinking that took place on our short break in Dublin…?!).

Following on from the John Andrews, I took an impromptu half day and Charles and I headed to Bath for the tour series. He was racing in the support races, before the main events in the evening. The Royal Crescent was part of the circuit route and even though I have visited Bath many times, I’m not sure I had ever fully took in the amount of cobbles that place has! It was a boiling hot day and the temperatures lasted long into the main events. The field of support riders quickly dwindled a few laps in when after a long drag up hill, the riders hit the cobbles and it was tough – very tough! Charles, not a fan of hills at the best of times, managed to last an impressive 30minutes of the short and fast paced race circuit.

We made an evening of it with dinner in ‘The Stable’, a great Pizza, pie and Cider restaurant that we have visited a few times before before heading to watch the main racing. The evening racing was great to watch and it was so nice to still be outside at 9pm and not feel cold at all. Everyone watching was in high spirits and the atmosphere was amazing.

Charles on the Cobbles!

The Royal Crescent

My duties as the devoted cycling widow have also moved to a supporting role at events. More recently at Ilton, I volunteered to lap count at a team time trial event. Lap counting is no easy task and involved ticking teams off on a sheet as they passed in front of me – counting their laps as they went, to make sure they did the allotted six required laps! This sounds simple enough, but when the teams are numbered 1-100, with four in a team and flying past all at once, it can get pretty confusing! I managed to stay on top of most of the laps and luckily there were 2 others also lap counting, so we could compare notes at the end! Charles was racing with 3 others from his team and they came 7th overall – not too bad after they nearly crashed at the finish!!

I have also been volunteering at the team circuit races, which I have mentioned before on a blog post (which can be found here). I have been at ‘sign-on’ which is a great opportunity to meet all the riders, as well as being coined, ‘Official Photographer’. The 2nd race in the series (which was technically the 3rd, due to the official 2nd race having to be cancelled due to severe bad weather) was a great night, and Charles came 2nd after a long ride off the front with another rider. The 3rd race was also a good night, albeit a little chilly and wet. The Henstridge series has now finished for the year but there will be a new road race for the club in August. The club is very lucky to be able to gain access to the airfield as the runway makes for a great circuit – very flat and fast paced – although the dead turns have caught a few out!

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To finish off this mammoth update, we also had a Summer BBQ for the cycling club, held on the 26th of June at Henstridge Airfield. Although it had been raining for most of the day, the weather held for the evening and everyone enjoyed the BBQ, live music and raffle. Charles managed to fulfil a dream and win to go on a flight around the local area, put on by some of the guys from the airfield!

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More race updates soon!

Happy One Year Anniversary – to me!

So today the blog is officially a year old!

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Hooray – I made it (we made it) a whole year and what a brilliant journey it has been. Only the other day I was scrolling back through posts and reminiscing – looking at pictures and reading my old posts is brilliant, although sometimes a little cringey. A little bit like family getting out old videos of you as a toddler in the bath playing with the shower hose in front of your newly appointed boyfriend (watching the videos that is with the new bf, not playing with the shower hose!) – believe me it has happened!

But I believe there is no other way that I would remember the little snippets of our racing adventures without this blog. In this digital age, gone are the days where you’d write on the back of a photo the names of the individuals and the date of the event. Wow, how funny would it be to write ‘Charles aged 25, off the back again – Sunday 7th June 2015‘ on one of my latest snap shots!

Nowadays we have to rely on the memory of our smartphones to click on the info button and receive the date and the time a photo was taken and the very impersonal announcement of how much memory the image is taking up. Writing this blog helps to reconnect slightly with the more personal side of life, instead of just uploading race results to Facebook and moving on, I get to add the emotional, amusing and sometimes downright silly moments that is life. So for that, I am truly thankful and long may it continue.

The blog has been a little quiet of late, but believe me, life (and cycling) has not! At the start of the month we took a trip to Dublin to celebrate our own anniversary (does a blog anniversary mean we can go again next week?!) and then Charles was racing the John Andrews road race the following weekend. I then took an impromptu afternoon off of work to join Charles in Bath where he was racing a support race for the Tour Series – Wow. Cobbles. Is all I can say. Then the weekend just gone we attended a time trial for which my alarm went off at 5am (!?!?!) but all this hilarity is in a blog post to follow.

For now, I’m off to track down a cupcake and light a solitary candle! Hip Hip…Hooray!

Henstridge Circuit Races

The club that Charles belongs to, which is also associated with the shop that he works for, finally managed to secure a race night with British Cycling.

The first night was on Monday 11th May at the Henstridge air field, Templecombe, and was a great success! I played my part for the club and volunteered to be at signing on and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The club is great and really friendly and lots of people entered, so it made for a very enjoyable evening!

The rain that we have been so accustomed to recently held off and as I drove to the circuit the car read a lovely 18degrees! All races went ahead as planned and only the under 16s had a brief interruption for the landing of a plane – It all adds to the excitement! I took along my camera to take photos for the club so I shall add some in below.

If you happen to be in the south west area or looking for an open, fast course why not come along? The next race is June the 1st.

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Find out more about the circuit via the British Cycling website here!

The Power of the Padded Short!

So last night, after work, this happened…

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I’m not sure if the sun had got to my head, the arrival of some padded shorts or Charles putting a lady saddle on one of his bikes but we went off on a little cycle together. I say a little cycle because it was probably the shortest bike ride that Charles has ever been on.

I will keep you posted on any future endeavours on the odd occasion I decide to move my gym bike to the road!

Tom Hawkins Spring Classic

If you follow me on Twitter (@mybfthecyclist) then you probably will have already guessed that we were at a race on Sunday!

Sunday 3rd May saw the Tom Hawkins Spring Classic at Uffculme, Devon. Luckily for us the race was on the edge of the Somerset, Devon border so only roughly an hours drive from home. A dreary 7:30am drive however was not lifting the spirits.

Charles had never ridden the Tom Hawkins before so we were both eager to see the course beforehand – Charles so that he could suss out the route and any tricky bits, me so that I knew where the bloody hell I was going and where exactly this ‘Pressure Washer feed station’ was likely to be. With a 4 mile neutralised section from the HQ the drive around the course took slightly longer than expected but I was super glad that we had scoped out the area and I was put at ease when we reached the HQ (even if the car park was packed and we had to park on the edge of the football pitch!).

The 80 rider strong field set off neutralised for the start of the race at around 10am, to then officially start at 10:30am. I can only imagine what the local residents thought with 80 cyclists, around 5 support vehicles and an army of well wishers, feeders and family, driving on behind. Progress was slow through the neutralised section and I found myself chuckling at the thought of the procession that was terrorising the Devon lanes. I was laughing even more when there was a total of 3 punctures in the neutralised section before the race had even begun! Not a laughing matter I know, but oh the irony! I eventually made it to the feed station with not a Sat Nav in sight – small victory to me.

The race was 9 laps long and I knew my job was important, dehydration and Charles do not go well and I was not about to drive an hour home with ‘Grumpy Bollocks’ in the passenger seat. I primed my position with visuals from the windscreen and wing mirror so that I wouldn’t miss the riders coming. I lined up the bottles in order of ‘previously discussed use’ and got out my pen and paper to write the laps and times down as they passed. I say paper but it was actually an empty loo roll holder – classy stuff these bike races, you never know when you might be ‘caught short’ as they say!

The first hour rolled by. The riders were 3 laps down and I had 1 successful feed and retrieve under my belt – feed the fresh bottle, retrieve the old (often flung into the crowd or skidding across the feed station). Another lap, another feed – boy that guy can drink, but I was not complaining! We were then treated to a torrential down pour of epic proportions, the type that only the mad, brave or absolutely stupid are stood out in. I left the dryness of the car to feed to Charles and bang the bottle was dropped. Partly due to poor visibility, partly due to the pure slippery-ness of the bottle. However shouting ‘bollocks’ did certainly not help the situation, although it made me feel better. Soggy and chanting, ‘It’s never the feeders fault’ to myself, I retreated swiftly to the car.

The next lap came and I knew this one really counted as after this it would be all guns blazing out of the feed station and off to the finish line…well, finish bridge over the A38. Ready with Charles’ bottle I stood on the edge of the banking and waited. The break of two strong riders passed, then would be the chasing group and then Charles in the Peloton…

‘HOW THE…’

…Charles was in the chasing group! Covering a gap of 90 seconds Charles had bridged to the chasing group, leaving the Peloton behind. I was super excited to now get to the finish and super chuffed to have successfully passed him his last water bottle!

Following another spectator – thank the Lord he knew where he was going, or probably more, thank God he wasn’t off home for Tea – we made it to the finish bridge with a lap to spare. Waiting on the bridge the skies treated us to yet another downpour as Charles finished 13th, slightly behind the chasing group after being dropped on the last climb. Not surprising though after the valiant effort to reach them from the Peloton!

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James Atherton Memorial, Good Friday Castle Combe & Ham Hill RR

I’m back!!
Brace yourselves, this is looking to be a long post!

So it has been a fair few weeks since my last post and the slight neglect of my blog has not been through idleness but in fact a very busy few weeks. It has been Easter, my sisters birthday, I’ve taken photos for a wedding and been on a couple mini holidays… needless to say I have also attended a couple of bike races.

These last couple of weeks I have also been taking my gym-going up a notch and heading there 5 times a week and totting up the miles on the gym bike, needless to say tiredness then takes over at the end of the day! I have been gym cycling mad and this last week I managed 65.07 miles over the 5 days. Admittedly this is nothing compared to what road cyclists do in a week but I have been pretty chuffed with my efforts. It can be a little tedious just on the gym bike so maybe in the next few weeks I will take to the road…?! Don’t hold me to that though, the idea terrifies me slightly!

Sunday 29th March was the James Atherton Memorial and the weather was atrocious. It felt like an awful October winters day when we left the house, one that should have been spent on the sofa with a movie marathon! I parked up on the side of the road in a lay-by that I had watched the race from the previous year. Armed with a magazine, bottle of water and a few fruit salad sweets I waited for the race.

In true comedy style, part way through the race Charles threw his empty bottle to be picked up by me. I say throw but he more lobbed it my way, straight onto the bonnet of the car! It made a definite clunk as it hit the bonnet and left other riders and the following commissaire chuckling away – luckily the bottle wasn’t cap down so there was no lasting damage! IMG_5459 Unfortunately Charles did not finish the race. The weather was terrible and the wind and rain was unstoppable! We headed in to Winchester once the race had finished for a lovely pub lunch and to warm up. We had lunch in a pub that was coined the oldest pub in Britain and it was delicious!

Good Friday at Castle Combe certainly let itself down compared to last year. This year the rain held off just enough not to get absolutely drenched but there was definitely no picnics on the grass! My mum and sister accompanied me this year as well as two of our loyal friends who came the previous year. In true British style we still braced the weather and brought a picnic, stood on the sidelines munching away!

Castle Combe not being the most exciting course to watch Charles finished the race whilst grinning inanely and waving to the crowd.

Sunday 19th April saw the Ham Hill Road Race where last year (whilst I was on a Hen Do) Charles suffered the most annoying fate of a cyclist – a puncture part way through the race. It always seems worse when your bike lets you down instead of your body. This year, however, it was the other way around as the hills defeated Charles but the bike remained strong. During the entirety of this race I was positioned at the feed station where Charles and I managed a text book worthy bottle feed whilst I beat off other riders who tried to snatch his bottle from me (Cheeky buggers some of these cyclists!).

I can’t remember how far into the race Charles resigned but he wasn’t alone as the riders that finished were significantly less in number than those who started. After the race Charles had the world’s longest nap whilst I made him dairy free flapjack – like the doting maid I am! I tell you, show that man a mattress post race and he is out for the count…

…perhaps the long snooze and failed Ham Hill race equated to a really good warm up as the following Tuesday Charles came an impressive 8th at Thruxton, in among some really well known riders. It was a glorious April evening at the race circuit  and although the lack of pre-entering and over subscribed rider numbers meant for some nail biting, ‘will he, won’t he’ race questioning, it was a fun race to watch. Propped up on the crash boxes the sheer number of riders was overwhelming! The 3/4 riders still give me the shivers as the large swarm of cyclists head through the chicane and out unscathed! You have certainly got to have the nerve and bottle to watch some of the finishes at these races!

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Catch you again soon!

First Points of the Season!

Mothering Sunday saw the first race of the season and Charles’s first points of the season!

It was a very chilly day at Castle Combe and Charles came 8th in the E/1/2 race – making the cold conditions worth it! With the addition of 8 lovely BC points due to being a national event March has started off pretty well!

The weather, although bitter, was dry and breezy and lots of riders made it to the race so the field was a good size. Charles created a break with his old team manager and the two kept going for a couple of laps before being joined by 7 others. The 9 guys stayed away until the end despite efforts from others to bridge the gap.

The 18 laps flew by with several cups of tea for company, a few laps contemplating whether the car would be warmer and creating mental lists of how useful gloves would’ve been!

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Revolution Series: Round 5

Last weekend we travelled to London to visit the Olympic Velodrome for the Revolution Series. We booked the tickets whilst we were on holiday in Prague last October and I can’t believe how quickly the last 4 months have gone!

The only Velodrome I had visited before last Saturday was an outdoor one in Bournemouth nearly 2 years ago to watch Charles compete, where I left with a very burnt forehead! On that occasion we were sat in the middle of the Velodrome and it was baking hot so I spent time sun bathing and not taking in the amazingness of the Velodrome itself, so I was looking forward to taking it in properly this time with Charles.

As the Revolution night was on the Saturday we decided to travel up on the Friday night and stay until Sunday evening. We stayed in Stratford which was a great location for the Velodrome as it was a nice 10 minute stroll away. Charles was telling me all sorts of things about Velodromes on the way to the event, such as the heat balance and the steepness of the track but I could only really take this all in when we arrived. The atmosphere was amazing and I stood at the steepest part of the track to really take in the sheer drop – incredible!

We had some great seats on the first corner so we had a great view of the start/finish line and of the race officials – I didn’t realise quite how complicated it is to keep track of the race, so the official pointing out the lead rider was very useful! The Derny racing was definitely a spectator sport as it was great to watch but it also seemed super dangerous and I’m not sure it is something I would be keen on trying! It was great to see Laura Trott celebrate her win with her derny rider at the end though as it was certainly a joint effort (even if Laura had to work a little harder to get her bike going!).

My favourite part of the night would probably have to be the individual mens sprint races. The one-on-one of the race was really exciting and the addition of the music in the veledrome really added to the tension! It is amazing the sorts of speeds that the cyclists can go. At one point the screen read an average speed of 44mph!

I really enjoyed the whole evening and the revolution series is certainly a great way to showcase the sport. I woke up on Sunday morning and was already googling the next round! Unfortunately it is in Manchester so a pretty long way for us to go and at short notice would have been some tricky organisation. I will definitely be keen to go again next year though if the series returns.

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Racing season is certainly upon us now and our first race of the season is next Sunday – I’m looking forward to it already!


You can read the full race report for Round 5 by visiting the Revolution Series website here!