Sunrise at Chanctonbury Ring

“(…)how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong, but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once, to find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions, facing the blind, deaf stone alone with nothing to help you but your hands and your own head.”

Christopher McCandless

On Tuesday night I cycled down to Chanctonbury Ring on the South Downs to arrive before dawn so that I could see the sunrise. I’d planned on going on Sunday to see the it on the solstice, but cloud was forecast, so I delayed it by a few days. The ride down was a nice route and pretty easy cycling. I had reached the suburbs by dusk and enjoyed the empty roads. It was a clear night and as an added bonus I got to see a thin moon set.

For the last few miles approaching Chanctonbury Ring there was a bit of nightime off-roading involved, but it wasn’t so bad that I needed to get off and walk at any point.

I arrived about 45 minutes before sunrise and the sky was already beginning to lighten. There were some campers on the Western side, but I had the Eastern side to myself. I found a nice spot to rest and had a quick nap for 20 minutes before waking to watch the sunrise. The hill sits proud on the South Downs, so the view over which the sun rises is impressive.

I then cycled over to nearby Cissbury Ring. This is a much larger area of land, less mysterious and more natural looking than Chanctonbury, and also very beautiful. From there I cycled down to the coast and along to Brighton, then back to London via Ditchling Beacon and Farthing Downs.

The way back after Ditchling was tough; the temperature went above 30C, and combined with hills and hot-tempered heavy traffic didn’t make for as pleasant a journey as the way down had been. There were nice sections though, some leafy lanes and smooth tarmac.

223 km (138 miles), 2,263 m (7,425 ft) elevation, 4 cheese rolls, one pain au chocolat, a few Percy the Pigs, a sorbet, and gallons of water.

I’ve labelled this number one of a series so that it might encourage me to do some more rides themed loosely around the Solar System. Until next time.. 🙂

Windsor cycling trip

A ride to Windsor to test the latest wheel builds and grab a photo of one more Lionel Stanhope painted sign. A sunny day; I managed to tan my hands a shade of pink. The route out was via Battersea Park, Putney, Richmond (though we were denied access to cycle through the park), Bushy Park, Shepperton, Windsor Great Park (also denied access to bring bikes within 1km of The Long Walk?!). Fish and chips in Windsor. We took a less scenic and more direct route back. The security guard at Nine Elms Waitrose said my bike looked cool. Obviously a man of taste. Popped into London after dinner to top up the miles to one hundred. Wheels still in one piece. A nice day out.

July/August cycling

Back on the bike after my ankle operation, and in addition to the usual commute I got in a few long, fun rides. I pressed ‘pause’ on long rides in the first week of August to concentrate on running for a bit. There’s more to life than cycling after all! More of that later…

Dunwich Dynamo 2015

Dunwich Dynamo is an annual semi-organised cycling event which starts at London Fields on a Saturday evening and after cycling through the night you end up over 100 miles away at Dunwich beach sometime on Sunday.

It was a nice night. The weather was kind to us right up until we arrived at Dunwich, when it started raining.

Old brake padsDaylightDaylight pedalling

One advantage to doing this ride on the Brompton is that we were able to just fold our bikes up and put them in the hold of the coach rather than stacking them up with loads of other bikes in the trailer.

Cycling throughout the night is a tiring experience. This is what the coach home looked like(!):

Knackered

Mid-weekers

In the summer we did a few extra rides mid-week after work, and explored routes in Essex, Hertfordshire and Surrey.

Country laneNice horseyTower at sunsetCycling in the suburbs at twilightPizza deliverySurrey sunsetSurrey promiseBoxhill at dusk

Saturday river ride

On a particularly sunny Saturday, three of us rode to Richmond and then continued along The Thames. This was such a nice ride we’ll have to repeat it in a larger group on another sunny day.

Sunny dirt trackRegatta on The ThamesRiver boatAt the palaceWith the deerThe Bridge

Dartmoor Hills

‘Four go down to Dartmoor’ – the sequel. We went on a day-trip to Devon, taking an early train down, a cycle around, and a late train home. Daniel planned this route, and it was packed with hills, breathtaking views and sunshine.

Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100

I did the Pru 100 on my big-wheeled bike. It was really well organised and cycling through London on closed roads is an opportunity not to be missed. There was a bit of congestion up the hills in Surrey, but otherwise a very enjoyable ride. It was really nice to see so many spectators lining the streets too. My time was 5h44m. I’ve signed up again to be considered in the ballot for 2016. If I get in I’ll probably do it on my Brompton to add extra fun 🙂

Pru 100 finish lineMedal winnerMmmedal

June (not much) cycling

I didn’t get to do much cycling this month as I had an operation to remove some metalwork from my ankle.

Five years ago I got side-swiped by a van whilst riding my scooter on the way to work. I flew through the air a bit and landed into the kerb. When I looked down my foot was pointing the wrong way, so I asked someone to call for an ambulance.

A&E
A&E 2010

Luckily I had skipped breakfast that morning, which meant I could be anaesthetised and operated on that same morning. I received excellent treatment at University College Hospital.

I had some metal work fitted. There was quite a lot of ligament damage and subsequent swelling which meant I got to spend 5 days in hospital and then another week of prescribed bed rest at home, before a month of bumbling around on crutches.

Bionic
Post-op bionic X-ray

Recovery was slow, but in due course I was back on my feet.  I appreciated my mobility more, and felt motivated to do more running and cycling. The scooter was a write-off at the accident so I started cycling to work again. In fact the more I did, the better I felt.

Every day over the past 5 years the ankle has been a bit of an annoyance because it gives aches and pains e.g. whilst walking, and the two bottom screws poked out slightly which meant I couldn’t wear boots. Also if I ever knocked that part of my leg it was pretty painful! So I went to see my GP earlier this year who referred me on to a consultant back at UCLH. The consultant agreed to the removal of the metalwork from the left-hand side of the leg. So in June 2015 I had the op under general anaesthetic, spent a week with my foot up and then another on crutches. After that I received the all clear, so started cycling again, albeit taking things a little easy.

Other than commuting, I did just one longer ride in June with the London Brompton Club, on the first day I was back cycling. The route was a gentle, flat ride along the Thames to Greenwich. It felt good to be back 🙂

LBC Thames ride
LBC Thames ride

IMG_2835.2015-06-24_195553IMG_2837.2015-06-24_20073011400987_514409162044563_5501055402282976899_n


I also went to two bike-themed events at Look Mum No Hands this month.

The first was a film screening event in conjunction with the BFI. One of the films shown, Racing Cyclist, featured Barrie Witcomb. He was also at the event and did a Q&A session where he talked about his life of cycling. This included what life was like training and racing in Britain in the 60s, as well as working in the family bicycle shop and hand-building frames.

The other event I went to was the book-launch of the English language version of The Grand Tour Cookbook by Hannah Grant – nutritionist and caterer for one of the pro tour cycling teams.

The Grand Tour Cookbook
The Grand Tour Cookbook