Saturday, 1 September 2007

Price for a cylist’s life = £295

How utterly ridiculous is this. The law in this country is a total ass. You kill some through careless driving and get a £295 fine and six points – not even a ban! Morons like this should be banned from driving for life! So Julie Martin, how does it feel to have killed someone and got off so lightly! How would you have felt if a careless driver had collided with your daughter and killed her. Would you think £295 and six points was justice? It's about time the punishment fitted the crime.


A DRIVER involved in a collision that killed a cyclist has been ordered to pay £295 and was given six points on her licence.

Julie Martin, 50, of Manor Road, Benfleet, had been driving along Rawreth Lane, Rayleigh, with her 12-year-old daughter on October 27 last year, when she collided with cyclist Roger Beckley after turning right on to Priory Chase.

Mr Beckley, 56, of High Road, Hockley, had been cycling on the opposite side of the road. He died at the scene of the crash from head injuries.

Martin pleaded guilty to careless driving at Southend Magistrates' Court.

Full story:

Thursday, 16 August 2007

How cycling makes you younger

By Joe Beer

Have you ever thought that cycling could be making you younger? Think about it. Perhaps your riding is helping you beat the clock, holding back the years and giving you a chronological advantage. But on the other hand, if you don't treat yourself well, cycling could be adding a few years to your real age.

So try to be honest. Do you look, feel, act and think your age? What would the people around you say? There's a good chance others might have a different answer to your own.

Genetic make-up

Our ageing is not just a result of what we do, there's also a significant genetic component. For example, skin type, varicose veins or rate of hair loss are just three ways in which heredity will help to determine the hand that is dealt you.

How often have you heard it said that a person looks like their mother, father or grandparents? We might be unique individuals but our genetic building blocks will often closely match those of our parents. To counter the argument that we are bound to turn into our parents and therefore age as they did, we must consider both sides of the nature-nurture paradigm. Although genetics give us the building blocks, we can do much to make positive - or negative - choices that will affect our health and fitness and thus our rate of ageing.

Few smokers, excessive sun worshippers or totally sedentary people look good for their age. Their lifestyle choices tend to make them age more quickly than non-smoking, active people who slap on the suntan lotion. The person who smokes 60 a day and lives to 90 is a rarity, far outnumbered by those who have ill health and poor cardio-respiratory systems, and look to have prematurely aged.

In other words, what you do - the nurture - can make big differences to the genetic nature you start life with.

A good or bad hand

You may or may not have good ageing genetics, but as with those genes that affect your fitness, taking the right actions almost always has a positive effect. How you age can show how much you do or don't care for your body. Obvious ways to make yourself look, feel and perform older than you actually are include weight gain, excessive UV damage to the skin, lack of exercise and a poor diet.

As a cyclist, you're not sedentary, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you look good for your age. It could be that you are just starting out as a rider or that you are only recently getting back into the two-wheeled world. Or it might be that you're a long-time rider but that you've not got your weight under control. It's clear that many active people still fight weight as one of their primary demons. And if you stop riding, the demon will catch you.

You might have genetics that are very good at storing fat. If so, it's easy to blame your make-up and get yourself into a mindset where you accept that there's nothing you can do about it. But in fact it's nearly always possible to make yourself leaner, stronger or fitter.

Nature and nurture

The rest of your life starts now. Today. The take away message from this article is quite simple: you do have the power to slow down the ageing process, and to use cycling as a means towards this end. How fast you're ageing is a see-saw effect of nature and nuture. You must control the nature with how you nurture your body. Start right now by doing the reality check - do you look, feel, act and think your age? Write this in your diary, or as a Post-It reminder; don't just think it - write it down and acknowledge the truth. Good or bad.

Things to think about

Do I look good compared to my active and inactive peers?
Have I let weight creep on that's bad for my self-esteem?
Is my fitness as good as I tell myself it is?
Do my teeth, skin, hair and complexion look good or badly managed?
Am I positive, and good to be around, or a negative thinker?
How many sins have I got to balance with my cycling? Is it unevenly balanced?

Saturday, 21 July 2007

A Break in the Rain

Well it stopped raining today and out popped the sun which seemed a good enough excuse to get out for a ride before it started raining again.

I didn't have any route planned, just a rough idea in which direction to head. I really enjoyed myself, even though there were 17 mph headwinds. Funny, I had aches and pains from the London to Southend ride, but I was still really stiff when I started out. Good thing was though everything loosed up pretty quickly.

The best part was coming back along the long, straight, stretch along the sea front and having a car pull out in front of me – well no, that wasn't the best part. The best part was then drafting him at 30 mph and making eye contact in his rear view mirror when he checked it. I must have stayed there behind him for around two miles until he pulled in to park.

Distance: 28.6 miles
Time: 2 hours 4 mins
Average speed: 14 mph

Friday, 20 July 2007

Southend Bikathon again

Here we go again! I have signed up for the Southend bikeathon (26 miles) this was my big ride last year and so it's encouraging to see how far I have progressed since then (even though I didn't cycle for about 6 months after the bikathon!). The big question now is, do I do the ride on road bike to see how quickly I can cover the route, or do I ride one lap (13 miles) on the mountain bike with Seri in the trailer?

Thursday, 19 July 2007

The Big Day

It was up with the larks at 5.00 to catch the train to London. I didn't need to be at the station until 6.20 but had to catch a train from home to Southend to catch the train to London - if that makes sense!

Got to the Southend station at 6.00 only to find it hadn't opened yet and there among the cyclist were an assortment of revellers of Southend's night clubs waiting to catch the first train home.

We were told that our train didn't leave until 7.00 but could catch an earlier regular service if we wanted to. So of course we all piled on the first train to leave which was a pity for others wanting to catch the train as there were bikes everywhere making access to the doors impossible.

On route to London we passed through a tropical thunderstorm, complete with forked lightning and torrential rain - everyone starts praying that that doesn't become the order of the day. Luckily by the time we get to London, the rain had cleared and it was beginning to look like a good day weather wise was in store.

After riding a meandering route through the back streets of east London, we finally arrive at the start in Victoria Park. The start was very well organised, as was the rest of the ride, with no queues for registering as we rode through what was described as a drive through tent to hand in the registration form. Then it was on to the starting line a couple of thundered yards further forward. A five minute wait and the group I was in were off!

It didn't take long to reach the outskirts of London, although that was when the fun began with a long, steep uphill climb. Quite a few people were already walking and, without being cruel, I did wonder how many of them would make it - there was still a further 50 odd miles to go and some already looked exhausted.

From then, it was a fantastic ride, going through country lanes. Mind you, whoever said Essex was flat should try cycling this route some time. And the headwinds we rode into all of the way, made it just that bit more challenging.

Total climb: 1788ft Total descent: 1784ft

There seemed to be a lot of riders getting suffering punctures along the way but no real mechanical breakdowns that I could see. And there were a wide ride variety of bikes - from carbon frame road bikes, to mountain bikes and yes, even a Brompton.

One particularly memorial moment was when I was with a group cycling down a slight hill, only to round a corner and be faced with a ford right in front of us. The person I was drafting managed to shoot across the road and brake in time, but for me it was hang on and pray. Luckily, in spite of the rain we have had lately, the ford had barely any water in it and so I got through ok. Although I did hear someone talking after the ride about how they had seen someone ad come off there.

With only 20 miles to go, I was still feeling pretty much ok but decide to stop at the next refreshment point for a break. Feeling rather peckish and tired of cereal bars, could I resist that big, fresh cheeseburger being cooked on the pub BBQ? You guessed it, no! And what a mistake that turned out to be. I got back on the bike and metabolism had slowed to a snail's pace while my stomach got to work on the burger. The next 10 miles were a slow, hard ride. Never again!

I finally reached Southend and caught up with a group of riders as were crossed the finish line. That was fantastic as the crowd there waiting for friends and family clapped and cheered everyone home.


And so it was that I met up with the family and we headed off to a local spaghetti house for recovery food - a large plate of pasta washed down with a pint. Oh well, at least I had burnt off the calories already!

Timewise, I completed the 60 miles in around 4 and a half hours, averaging 14 mph which I was very pleased with - but if only I hadn't had that cheeseburger.

Would I do it again? Most definitely and am seriously considering the London to Paris ride next year.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

The Big Day Tomorrow

Well, so at last I am nearly at the big day. I'm feeling pretty confident about the ride, especially after last weekend's 20 miles on Saturday and 52 on Sunday. All I have to do and is clean and lubricate the bike this afternoon and then get a good night's sleep.

The weather is a little worrying though. The Met Office have a issued a severe weather warning warning with lots of rain forecast but I am hoping that this will be changed for later today as it looks as though things will be ok up until about 3 o'clock. In fact the BBC are now forecasting:

which is brilliant news! But I really must stop obsessing about it

Well, I tried to stop obsessing and failed miserably. Here's the latest:

Monday, 9 July 2007

First half a ton – Done!

Well the weather held out this weekend so it was back to catching up on missed training rides for the London to Southend ride next weekend. I was quite a bit behind where I had hoped to be right now and was beginning to get slightly worried. On Saturday, I did a fast 20 mile ride which was fun but Sunday was the big day when I had planned to break to the 50 mile barrier.

I set off around mid-day (no time to watch the Tour de France, but doing is better than watching!). I was determined to take things slowly and more measured and had a route planned which was ‘there and back again’. So as long as I made it there, short of getting on a train, I had to ride back. And what a great ride it was. Well all apart from when some asshole in a 4x4 decided there was no way he was even going to slow down as he speed towards me along a single track county lane. It was slam on my breaks, haul the bike virtually off the road and wonder just how stupid some people are. But there was no way he was going to spoil my ride as I was about 5 miles away from the magic 50 at that point. I kept checking the bike comp as I got close to the 50 mile barrier and let out a cheer when it read 50.01 miles!

Mind you, I have to say by that time I was riding in automaton mode – my legs moving by willpower more than anything else.

So the total distance ended up at 52 miles with an average speed of 14.5 mph – which may not be much be Le Tour standards but is something which, if I do say so myself, I am very proud of. The legs are a little sore from lactic acid today but who cares!!!

Now the 60 mile London to Southend ride doesn’t sound quite as daunting as 50 miles really was a psychological barrier for me.

It’s amazed me at just how quickly it is to make progress if you stick at it. I can remember a few months back when my longest distance was 12 miles. So any beginners out there, just keep at it!

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Riding in the rain, just riding in the rain

I was having a conversation with someone at work the other day which went something like this:

“How’s the training for the L-S ride going?”
“It’s not because of the never ending rain”
“What will you do if it’s raining on the day?”
“Still do it”
“Well shouldn’t you train in the rain then?”

So I girded up my loins and decided I would get out on the bike today, come rain or shine. Well, as it happens, the forecast looked ok, so I set out and hoped for the best.

Man was the wind strong, gusting at 26 mph. Still it gave me a good work out. I was about four miles from home the heavens opened and it absolutely bucketed down. So that made my mind as to whether I was going to do a final 13 mile loop. Home I arrived wet through and freezing cold. Still that was an experience, cycling in a 26 mph wind in a monsoon! It really had better not be like that on the day or I might just change my mind and get the train home!

Today’s stats:

Distance: 35.85 miles
Time: 2 hours 28 mins
Average speed: 14.5 mph

Monday, 18 June 2007

Sunday 18 June

Another good ride today. I set off on what is just over an 18 miles circuit wondering if I would attempt three circuits and break the mile barrier. All went pretty well, apart from a car pulling out of a driveway, turning right and looking all the time to his left so he didn’t see me. As I approached him I thought “he must look this way soon in case a car is coming”. But no, he just kept going. I was going too fast to stop so just yelled and went round the front of him. Luckily he did turn and the last minute and braked. I did think about yelling something appropriate but just waved a “thank you for not hitting me”.

The wind was a bit blowy, and from the direction which meant headwinds most of the way round. But no rain and sunshine for most of the time too.

I was half-way round the second circuit when I decided not to bother with the third circuit and quit at 38 miles. The legs were feeling a bit tired but other than that, no real reason to quit other than I just really didn’t feel like doing the third circuit. No problem with that as I hadn’t planned on attempting the 50 mile barrier until the end of June.

So that meant I could have a little fun along the seafront with the wind blowing from behind and the traffic doing an average 20 mph. Oh How I love overtaking cars like that!

Got home feeling pretty tired after all of that but my recovery time seemed to be better than last week’s sponsored ride over the same distance as my ride today. The average speed was down a bit on last week’s though which could be down to going it alone (or maybe the headwinds).

The stats:

Distance: 38.8 miles
Time: 2 hours 45 min
Average speed: 14.1 mph

Monday, 11 June 2007

Sunday 10 June - 40 Mile Charity Ride

It was up at 6.30 on Sunday and off for a 40 mile charity ride (decided to leave the 75 or 100 mile routes until next year). Weather forecast is good. Porridge and fruit for breakfast, few last minutes checks to make sure I have everything and then it’s off in the car to the starting point.

Oh dear, lost already as I left the directions to the starting point at home. Then I remember that there is an alternative car park by Billericay station so head off there and, hey presto, just around the corner is Lake Meadows, the starting point.

Unload the bike from the car and head-off to register and discover that a clicking noise from the rear wheel, which had appeared on Saturday, has got worse. As I get close to the registration tent, the clicking has turned into a rattle. Just I was beginning to wonder if the bike would make it, I suddenly realise the cause of the problem – the rear wheel reflector was loose. Soon it is the ex-rear wheel reflector! Then it’s registration and 10 minutes to the off.

One of the organisers announces that the portaloos have not arrived to which someone replies, “What’s the guys address, we’ll go visit him and leave our calling cards in his front garden!” With no toilets on route several people, including me, head back to the public toilets on the other side of the park.

Finally, we are called to the starting line, giving a final good luck message and it’s off we go!

There is the inevitable bunching to get out of the park and nice curb to drop down which could damage a few wheels if not noticed. And finally on to the road. Like all sponsored events, the ride gets off to a slow start due to bunching, but that’s ok as it gives the legs a chance to warm up. After a short while on a main road it’s off onto country lanes which is rather nice. Only problem was though that I have to keep braking as two people in front are riding side by side chatting away and seeming determined not to let anyone past! Finally get past them and into my stride and am going at about the same pace as five or six others. Until we get to a hill that is and then my normal style prevails – I am rubbish at going up hill but love opening it up downhill. So everyone passes me going up and I pass them going down. I don’t know why, but one of the things I remember about the very early part of the ride is being overtaken by someone going up hill, who was standing in the pedals, and her friend shouting from behind “gears Gillian”. I think that will be my uphill mantra from now on!

The route is extremely well marshalled with not only the usual pointing to turn right or left, but also a shout of “all clear” so we knew it was safe to turn without having to slow down. Also, lots of water along the way which, as the morning warmed up will be very welcome if I run out of my own drink.

Stop at the half way point for a 10 minute stretch and am very pleased to see I have covered something like 20 miles in just over an hour and a half. I don’t expect to do so well on the second half as the legs are starting to feel tired. But that was before the wonderful down hills. Going down one I reach 38mph which is a great buzz before I started wondering what will happen if I hit a pothole! Luckily it was a quite country road, long and straight, so I stay in the middle of the road as most potholes seem to avoid the centre-line.

About 10 miles to go and I am going up hill with a right turn at the top. I slow down and nearly topple off the bike – I didn’t realise my legs had got that tired! Luckily there was someone from the Essex Roads Cycling Club chatting to one of the marshals and he rides along with me chatting for about quite a bit of the remainder of the way which made things easier until my legs got their second wind.

We come to a railway crossing which was closed to let a train pass. And there seemed to be most of the others I have seen at some point along the way. Either they have had a long wait or I have caught them up.

Then it is off for the last few miles along country roads before hitting the main roads in Billericay and a hill which nearly finishes me off. I catch up with someone who I had been passing earlier in the ride and who had then passed me before I stopped for a break. We ride together and chat as we cover the final mile or so to the finish. But man, why did there have to be a hill right at the end of the course!

We finally ride back into Lake Meadows. I am pretty tired by now but full of the normal emotion that I feel when I finish events like these.

Just time for a sports recovery drink (warm milkshake type – yeuk!) and well earned bacon roll (yum) then it was off back home for the rest of Sunday.

I did have one final surprise though as when I checked by bike computer at the end it said:

Distance: 38.6 miles
Time: 2 hours 38 minutes
Average speed: 14.8 mph

Which was not only the furthest I had cycled since taking it up again earlier this year but also the fasted average speed. Could have been the downhills and almost certainly partly due to the company from the guy from Essex Roads. Also, as a result of the bunching early on and having to use the brakes a lot, I had changed my riding position and was resting my hands on the top of the brake levers more than usual, so was lower down. But no matter what, two new personal bests which I was very proud off!

Can’t wait for the London – Southend ride.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Another long one today

Although when I first got up I wasn’t sure what the weather was going to do – the BBC said hot and sunny, outside the window said grey. Well the grey and overcast won the day but it turned out to be perfect weather – well for me anyway. I included part of the end of the London – Southend cycle run which I had been planning to include in my training programme and, apart from a couple of hills, this seemed ok. I was struggling up one particular hill and the burning sensation in my thigh muscles was ubearable (good job no-one was in earshot) but I kept going and the pain started to fade. Not sure if this is supposed to happen or whether the nerves in my legs just gave up and died.

Some stupid woman made an attempt to knock me off my bike when she turned left at traffic lights – her wing mirror brushed my right arm; any closer and it would have been me knocked off. . Not one to hold a grudge I gave her a amile and a friendly wave before riding off

The last part of the ride included my usual run along Southend sea front and I was hoping to get pushed home but there was the inevitable headwind. About two miles from home I seriously began to doubt if I would make it.

Got home and a nice hour and a half nap!

As for the new saddle, in a word brilliant.

Things began to get a little painful after about 33 miles but then I think that is only to be expected at the moment and as I break it in (or it breaks me in) then there should be no problems.

Looking forward to next Sunday as I am taking part in a 40 miles charity ride which should be good training for the 60 mile London - Southend ride.

Ok, now for today’s stats:

Distance: 38.25 miles
Av speed: 13.6 mph

And the route:

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Beat the rain today!

Ah-ha! Got up this morning and the sun was shining. The forecast said rain by 10 but I thought I’d take a chance anyway. Guess what? No rain – hooray!! But then I did double the distance I had planned to do which meant I was knackered by the time I was three quarters of the way round the route. Never mind, still good fun. Well, good fun apart from the saddle that is. My sit bones (thanks to Tatia for that phrase) are in agony and I had to half ride, half stand for the last 5 miles. So I have given up trying to break the saddle in and have ordered a new Specialized Gel Saddle . With luck it will be here by the weekend, if not the mtb saddle is defiantly going on until it does arrive!

Distance: 18.8 miles, Av speed: 14.1 mph

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Rain, rain, rain

So, I take a week off to get some serious training in and what happens? Rain, rain and yet more rain . In fact rain everyday apart from Tuesday morning when I did my first 30+ miles.

And what is the forecast for the remainder of my time off? Rain Tursday and rain Sunday so at least I met get out Friday and Saturday

Oh and I have just signed up for a 40 mile sponsored ride on the 10th June - so what's the betting it will rain then too!

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

My First 30+ miles

Yay I have just completed my first 30+ ride. I started out on what was a warmish sunny morning and the weather forecast said that there should be no more rain today.

I had planed the route and drilled it into myself to be sensible, pace myself and not worry about speed. Which I did manage to keep to. This was also the first outing for my road bike and wow, what a difference from the hybrid. Great fun going down a slight hill at 30mph! Waved and smiled at several other friendly cyclists on the way which is a bonus.

Living in Essex which, in my part of the world, is relatively flat is another big bonus, but cycling in a 20 mph wind wasn’t so much fun at times, particularly when cycling alongside exposed fields. Oh and lesson number 1, never believe the weather forecast! About 4 miles from home and the heavens opened. By the time I got home I was soaked through and freezing cold. But feeling very satisfied. One hot shower and a cup of tea later and I am itching to get out and ride again! I think I will wait tomorrow though as the bum is a bit sore right now – and I am going to put my gel saddle on to the road bike!

I ended up doing 32.5 miles in 2 hours 27 minutes which works out to what is for me a respectable average speed of around 13mph.

And here's the route:

Saturday, 26 May 2007

26 May - Sitting Around

I haven’t been able to get out for a decent ride all week and am getting really itchy feet. Still, I am off to get the new bike tomorrow which is cool. The only problem is though that the weather forecast doesn’t look to great – rain starting about 3 o’clock on Sunday and carrying on all through Monday – shame! The Met Office website says that Tuesday should be ok so I guess I will just have to sit around with a new bike and wait patiently until then *sigh*

Sunday, 20 May 2007

21 May - New Bike

I bought a new bike today - yippee

But I can't collect it until next Sunday - bummer

Friday, 18 May 2007

Friday, 18 May - Headwinds

It was a nice sunny day so I couldn’t resist going out for a ride this evening. Working from home was a plus as it meant I could get out on time so planned a slightly longer ride than the usual 12 miles. Checked the weather forecast and 22 mph winds were said to be blowing from the SW. So decision time. Do I battle along the seafront or go the other way round the route I had planned and then get an easy ride for the final six miles home. Being a lazy sort, I decide to do the reverse route and get blwn home.


The other route was basically 12 miles of gentle uphill into a 22 mph wind. So the gentle uphill suddenly turned into the south face of mount Everest. Still finally battle over and its time for a downhill run to the sea front and a nice easy ride home.

Yeah right! That’s when the foot cramp struck.

Fully recovered and it’s off looking forward to that wind to blow me home. I should have guessed really, the way things were going tonight that wasn’t to be. I turn along the seafront and wham! The headwind turned into a crosswind coming straight off the sea.

The gods must have been having a good laugh at my expense today.

Still I did manage a respectable 18.75 miles at an average speed of 13.1 mph

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Tuesday 15 May

Just back from another ride which wasn’t as long as I’d hoped for. Got in from work later than I had planned so I had to cut it short as it was getting dark. Still, it was a good ride along the sea front with not too much of a headwind – although it did feel cold around the ears at times. I can definitely feel it getting easier. Really looking forward to covering a longer distance this weekend.

Now, why is it that cycle lanes act like a magnet for people walking their dogs, going for a stroll or jogging. Don’t they realise that getting hit by a bike travelling at 16 miles an hour hurts – both them and me! Hey people, the clue is on the word bike lane – B – I - K – E. That’s something with two wheels, you have two legs. Please try and remember that!

Total distance: 12 miles
Average speed: 14 mph

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Sunday 13 May

I used to cycle quite a bit many moons ago (and I mean many!). I have just got back into the saddle again and realised just how much I enjoy it. I am almost embarrassed to say that I am doing only 20 miles at a time with an average speed of 14 mph – but being very unfit I don’t think that’s too bad and we all have to start somewhere right?

My aim is to step up the pace a bit and get out three evenings a week as well as my regular Sunday ride (to which I am adding a few extra miles a week) so will get there eventually.

I didn’t think I was going to be able to get out for a ride today as the weather forecast said rain, rain and yet more rain. Still, I got up early and low and behold, although it was overcast, there was no rain. A quick check on the Met Office website said that rain wasn’t due until 11:00 so it was goodbye grocery shopping and hello bike.

I had a really good run which I thoroughly enjoyed. It did start raining about three quarters of the way through so I decided to head back home. At least I could blame the weather for having to cut my ride short.

Total distance covered was 20 miles at and average speed of 13.75 mph.

What's this all about

This blog will probably be of no interest to anyone but me, but then that's cool.

I have signed up to for the London to Southend cycle ride, which will take place on 15th July, and thought I'd start a about the progress I am making in training for the event, then about the big day it's self.

If you do stumble across this page and would like to sponsor me, no matter what the amount, then please visit