Thursday, November 26, 2009

Billy-Bob Wipe Out

It was a dark and stormy night and Billy-Bob and Al briefly contemplated a night in front of the telly. In a bizarre episode of history repeating itself Jimmy spotted the holes in Billy-Bob's socks and insisted on replacing them with a pair of Dad's. [If there are any friends/relations of Billy-Bob or Jon reading please take note - Christmas is round the corner and they could both do with socks, Ed.] A cup of tea and a mince pie later they had shaken off their lethargy and started to get ready.

Jon arrived a little later than usual but was fully geared up and ready to go. Soon all three were ready, Billy-Bob sporting a brand new cycling jacket, bikes were fettled and they set off up Cams Hill bound for Dundridge. Thankfully the rain had eased and the sky was clear and star-lit. The ride up to the Hampshire Bowman was uneventful and Jon had soon procured three pints of lovely beer. The Boys sat at their usual table and discussed the rather depressing topic of work.

Jon gets the beers in at the
Hampshire Bowman

Leaving the TCA favorite watering hole the trio descended Sheep Pond Lane and were soon back in the pub in front of the fire at the White Lion supping Bowman's Wallop's Wood. All too soon the ale was finished and the Boys started the short trip back over the hill to Hambledon.

Hats off by the fire

With 500 yards to go Jon and Billy-Bob accelerated towards the vicious descent of Cams Hill. Al followed and got a spectacular and nearly all-to-close view of Billy-Bob wiping out on the slick road as he applied the brakes too hastily and the rear of the bike slid from under him. While Billy-Bob was clearly in pain he seemed most vexed about the holes in the sleeve of his new jacket.

Eventually the riders were home and enjoyed pasta with meat sauce and Billy-Bob and Al enjoyed a bottle of chianti... for medicinal purposes of course.

(Posted by: Al)

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Return of The Orange Beast

Thursday ride was a bit hit and miss with Jon's bike just back from repairs and Al having to send his apologies. John H was apparently entertaining a Chinese girl... Billy Bob turned up with no bike but with clothes that had seen better days. His excuse was that he had chucked his wet clothes from his last ride, a long time ago, into a corner and had forgotten about them. His yellow mack was turning green with mould and the rest of his clothes were not much better either.

After a quick cup of tea and some puff pastry mince pies Billy-Bob mounted the Orange Beast, (Jon's ancient Halfords Apollo) while Jon rode his mended Scott. As normal, the Canal track was strewn with dodgy occurrences and people: We noticed a supicious hoodie youth clambering a wall to a house. Riding at steady pace, taking account of Billy-Bob's lack of fitness and more pertinently the heavy Orange Beast, we got to Chichester Marina where the front wheel of the Beast unfortunately fell off going over the sluice gate bridge. Jon almost did himself an injury trying to right the bike because of its weight but managed to fix the loose bolts with a huge wrench from his back pack.

At the Crown and Anchor we enjoyed a couple of pints of Tribute and then decided to cycle up to the Earl of March at East Lavant. This took us about half an hour where we tucked into crisps and pints of Harveys Best Bitter. A short trip back resulted in serving of Spaghetti Bolognese and Sticky Toffee pudding.

Sadly no photos as Jon forgot to charge his camera.

(Posted by: Jon)

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Guy Fawkes Night

The evening started in usual fashion with tea and cakes... but these were not just any old cakes these were hand-baked Welsh cakes which had been freshly made in the afternoon by Maalie. The evening then took a bizarre twist when Jimmy took exception to the holes in Jon's socks. He insisted on climbing the stairs and digging a pair of his Dad's out to furnish 'Other Jon' with a new set.... and supervised the donning of said socks.

Jimmy supervises Jon's sock change

Tonight the TCA had the honour of entertaining regular visiting rider Maalie who would be on Al's spare bike - Jon donated his old lights while John and Al relished the rare opportunity to give their road bikes an airing - this would be a road ride to TCA favorite 'The Hampshire Bowman' at Dundridge.

Unused to his son's spare bike and insistent on chatting to Jon about his recent birding exploits Maalie lagged behind. Still, the TCA is always keen to accommodate visitors of any ability and regrouped at intervals throughout the ride. As the ride wended is way across the A31 and up hill towards Soberton the two Jo(h)ns became inpatient and pulled ahead and Maalie and Al enjoyed a chat.

It was with some surprise therefore that Maalie and Al found they had reached the pub first. Both plumped for a pint of Bowman's Nutz and settled down to continue there discussion. Some minutes later the back markers caught up and ordered their beers too. The the route was dissected until the point where the digression was made was uncovered, by which time beers were supped and it was time to move on.

Next stop Soberton, after the descent of Sheep Pond Lane of course. More Bowman's beers and an impromptu appearance by The Sloppy Porridge Maker. He was quickly forgiven for turning up in his 4x4 when he bought another round of Bowman's! All too soon it was time to head straight over the hill and back to base.

Dinner consisted of spag. bol. and home made apple pie (courtesy of Maalie again).

Freshly Baked, by Maalie

(Posted by: Al)

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jon's New Lights

With John H on his travels in Toulouse and Billy-Bob working, it was left to Jon P and a firing-on-three-cylinders Al to keep the dream alive. After customary discussion of the woes of work, over cake and tea the boys got out for 6.30pm, cycling earnestly through the back streets of Chichester to start along the canal route. It was one of those curious evenings where the choice of apparel was not necessarily obvious - it was very mild for the time of year but there was still a nip in the air. Both riders deemed is 'shorts weather' but took the precaution of a thermal base layer and a waterproof top. Winter gloves were left at home.

Jon was particularly keen to get off the beaten track to try out his new light system, a Lumicycle Halide system "...the absolute pinnacle of lighting technology" as the blurb says! Dodging the usual walkers and vagrants, Jon quickly had to resort to bimble pace to allow Al to catch up with his failing respiratory system. Of note the boys encountered a young Hedgehog on the canal path which Al just manged to avoid. Lucky for the Hedgehog, Al stopped to warn Jon who had lagged behind at this point. After a brief picture stop and a kicking of Hedgehog out of harms way, we headed south towards Chichester Marina.

Once over the harbour gates Jonperformed a full calibration of his new kit - lighting up Salterns Copse and exposing most of the wood and surrounding area. Al agreed that the system really was better than anythign he had seen before. The lights look stylish, yet understated and, after a characteristic flicker and few seconds warming up as the beam gained intensity, the power is astonishing.. and just one lamp.. and a four hour burn time!

The view from behind the
Lumicycle Halide

Once at Dell Quay and the Crown & Anchor Al enjoyed a pint of Youngs Special and Jon a pint of St. Austell's Tribute, whereupon plans to solve the nations problems were evoked. Amongst many ideas floated was recruiting prison inmates to run the Royal Mail and waste collection. We briefly considered the "John H light-weight shortcut" route straight back home at this point because we had thought we had taken over two hours so far; according to Jons watch it was about 9 pm. However, we were not put off and decided to cycle up towards East Lavant along the old railway track. Soon Jon had to admit a school-boy error in his time keeping: He had not corrected his cycling watch after the hour change on Sunday so in fact we had loads of time!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
No - it's Jon with his new lights!

Two thirds of the way along the track Al always anxious to do something different and decided to try out a footpath branching off this cycle track up an embankment and found a short cut down towards the Earl Of March at East Lavant. The embankment has some potential for a embankment challenge in the future. At the pub, drinking two pints of Harveys, trhe boys indulged in some people watching as the posh folk of Sussex in their fancy attire rolled up for dinner.

After cycling back via the Lavant Ford route, we got back to a traditional slowcooker special: Chicken Casserole was served up and for pudding a Belgian Truffle Chocolate Torte with each serving worth 40% of your daily recommended intake in saturated fat. Jon had chosen the dessert especially for Billy Bob knowing his taste for healthy food but he shouldn't be dissappointed as the remainder will be frozen for future consumption.

(Posted by: Jon)

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

New Forest Duathlon

As regular readers of this web site will know, earlier this year in a moment of madness John H and Jon P signed up to compete in the New Forest Duathlon. A weekend's training in July filled our heads full of what we should do and how we should do it, and with us both knowing our weaknesses (Jon running like a squiffy giraffe and John cycling like a bandy legged cowboy) the boys set about trying to prepare for the event. All too quickly the 25th October had arrived, and the intrepid pair arrived at Sandy Balls just outside Fordingbridge at a ridiculous time on a Sunday morning.

With numbers and time measuring chips collected and fitted, bikes racked in the transition area, all was ready for the event. Well almost; Jon was running around like a deer caught in the high beam of an approaching true. In true Jon form, he had left it up the very last minute to borrow a proper road bike from Ade, had little practice on it, and had not checked that the cleats on his shoes would suit the pedals). Meanwhile John had about 5 visits to the loo. In contrast John’s brother in law Mathew, who was also entered, approached the event in a calm and collected manner, although it must also be said that he had run the course and cycled it many times so was well prepared.

All the 'athletes' were assembled for a briefing on the race format and rules after which we were lead down to the start of the race, this in itself was interesting as the gradient (downhill) would have suited climbing gear. Then, with a shout of "GO!" we were all off, straight back up the steep hill for the start of the 6km run stage.

So not wishing to bore the reader further with a step-by-step appraisal of the event both of us were running almost side by side into the 1st transition stage, although for the assembled world’s press (Mrs John) John had to make sure he was just in front. 30 secs or so later John was out on the bike and heading out into the New Forest roads, 3 or 4 minutes later Jon got his act together and also got out on the bike. Jon soon caught up and took the lead. John managed to keep him in sight but as drafting was not allowed had to hang back (well that was his excuse).

The route undulated over 21km, although not technical the very strong head and cross winds affected all the competitors significantly. 40 or so minutes later, separated by about 30 secs the two of us made it back into the 2nd transition stage, where again John stormed through transition and Jon piffled around like a school girl in a make-up shop. John made it out onto the road just ahead, for the 2nd 5km run stage; the same hilly route was used.

During our training weekend the importance of what is known as 'brick training' was extolled, i.e. conditioning you to the move from a cycle stage to a running stage . Needless to say the name brick is highly appropriate as both of us later agreed that our legs felt like bricks as we tried to get them running again. 26 or so minutes later John ran throught the finish followed a minute later by Jon; Mathew had finished about 9 minutes earlier.

All in all we were both glad we had done it, but also that it was over. The organisation both before and during the event was excellent, certainly miles ahead of the Helly Hanson challenge that John signed the TCA up to a couple of years earlier. The event was also friendly; although tough it seemed to me that all the competitors (including the 2 or 3 elite world champions that turned up!) were all very approachable even whilst competing. As always circumstances seem to conspire to cock your best laid plans up, but both of us knew what we were in for, and the lessons learned during training and the event will help us in future physical challenges.

(Posted by: John)

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