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Stage 0: Rectory Road to Waltham Abbey

We set off from Si and Nesta's house near Rectory Road station at 7:15am and reached the official start at Waltham Abbey at around 8:30, somewhat later than intended, having cycled along towpaths up the lea valley to get there. The last little stage was full of puddles so we were rather muddy.

Stats for stage 0

Distance: 11.1 miles
Cycling Time: 1 hour 10 mins
Total Time: 1 hour 15 mins (5 mins map reading!)
Average Speed: 9.5 mph
Max Speed: Not recorded, but probably around 14 mph

Stage 1: Waltham Abbey to Widford

Here we met Clare, David and Naath and faffed for 10 minutes before heading over to the starting line. The first stage is across the park and along towpaths, but when you come out onto the roads it's straight up a small hill. This is harder than it looks partly because there are so many cyclists so you can't just pick your own pace. And when I tried to stick it in bottom gear on the rear the chain fell off, leaving me stopped and with very oily hands before we got moving again. Still, Clare and David kindly waited for us at the top. After that we continued at a pace which was determined by how fast Naath and I could manage sensibly as far as Nazeing, where we had a rest and a drink at the top of the hill, then on to Roydon. Mike and I were in the lead at this point, and sailed past the first official rest point here, thinking it was too soon since the last rest, and accidentally leaving the others behind. It was interesting doing the Nazing to Roydon stretch, since this was the bit we did in the van last year. Anyway we carried on as far as the next rest stop in Widford. This was probably the nicest of the rest stops. Being in a playing field there's lots of space, and they'd provided some tables and chairs which made the rest more comfortable, and had the poshest trailer-loos I've ever seen: clean, carpeted, nicely painted, wooden doors on the cubicles, paintings on the wall, and posh soap and moisturiser at the big sinks - a nice little touch of unexpected luxury. Here Mike and I sat and had our first meal of cream cheese bagels and chocolate brownies, and waited for the others to catch us up.

Stage 2: Widford to Langley

After Widford we managed a few more miles en masse before Mike and I unintentionally pulled ahead. This section was all pretty straightforward, none of the hills are very big, and it's all on nice country lanes. We got a short unexpected break when my sister called to tell me some news, and we had a chat while standing by the side of the road in the shade. Once again we weren't ready for a stop at the next official resting place in Furneaux Pelham, so continued on as far as Langley and the grass outside the Red Bull, where we collapsed in the shade of a tree and lay down for 10 minutes before tackling more bagels and jaffa cake rolls. We stayed here quite a while really. Checking my phone I saw that the others had stopped at the previous rest stop, so we figured we were still ahead, and vaguely kept an eye out for them. I suspect now that they may have passed us while we were lying down and stopped further along the rest stop, and then left before we did. This is the only explanation we have for them getting ahead!

Stage 3: Langley to Cambridge

Anyway after Langley you begin to get towards the section with the real hills. There are two that are a real slog, quite close after each other. The first one is less steep but longer, and you get a nice fast bit of downhill after it before you hit the second hill. In our case we were still going 20 mph when the hill arrived, changed quickly down several gears, then dropped into the bottom chain ring, and slowly pedalled up, and then were somehow at the top without having run out of either breath or gears. I was rather surprused, as I'd been struggling with some of the other hills and had been expecting this one to be more difficult! Still, we didn't stop for a rest but sailed down the other side. This is in some ways the most fun stretch of the ride, with a long long long sweeping downhill. I'm still too much of a wuss to let myself freewheel the whole way, but the curves are mostly gentle enough that even I didn't feel the need to slow right down for them. Sadly here I picked up a flat from something sharp which had vanished by the time we came to inspect the tyre, so we had to stop for repairs 3/4 of the way down towards Ickleton. This was hampered slightly by me putting my bags down on an invisible ants nest, and then Mike's pump giving up the ghost so we had to flag down someone with a better one, but eventually we got going again. Not sure what I did but my indexing was a bit squiff from here on in, which was a bit frustrating, but I wasn't sure how to sort it out and just carried on, occasionally having to change up a gear and back down again to stop the one I was in from rattling. At Ickleton we again skipped the rest stop, and that's where the pretty bit of the ride ends. Up to there it's been country lanes, but here you soon hit Hinxton and are quite pointedly directed to join the cyclepath on the pavement along the main road. Once round the roundabout you're back on the road again but it's big and not very pleasant as far as Shelford. Then it's right and over a gentle hill and then in past Addenbrookes and along Hills Road, St Andrews St, Short St and Maids Causeway to the finish at midsummer common. The traffic definitely gets stroppier and less patient as you get back into town too. But still, we reached the finish with enough energy left for a little sprint over the line at about 3:30, tired but happy.

Stats for the official route

Distance: 47.8 miles
Cycling Time: 4 hours 30 mins
Total Time: 6 hours 50 mins
Average Speed: 10.6 mph
Max Speed: 27.5 mph

The end

And that's it for another year. We rang David to see where they'd got to, not having seen them overtake, and discovered they were already in the Carlton. Apparently they finished about half an hour befor we did. They asked us to join them but we decided to go home, shower and nap and then curl up with some KFC in front of a DVD before bedtime. Looking at last year's account we weren't very significantly slower in the actual cycling time, which rather surprised me since I feel a lot less fit than last year. But actually I suspect the fitness was still only building up from there, and I'm thinking too much of how fit we were by September and the Oxford to Cambridge. I don't know if we'll do that again this year, but we've got a few days cycling in Norfolk planned for the week after next, which should be nice. And we're definitely up for this again next year.

Route map, drawn very roughly but to give you an idea, at bikely.

Stats for total distance

Distance: 58.9 miles
Cycling Time: 5 hours 40 mins
Total Time: 8 hours 15 mins
Average Speed: 10.4 mph
Max Speed: 27.5 mph

lnr: (Default)

Thursday evening I took my bike over to Whittlesford Parkway station (as it's now called) on the train, and joined Mike in cycling home. With a bit of back tracking it came out as about 10 miles. Since it was intended as a bit of practice for Sunday we even took the route over Granham's Road from Shelford, instead of using the new bike path along the railway. Route map on Bikely (produced with the help of Toporoute).

Today we've packed our bags up with waterproofs, bottles, snacks, repair kit, maps and first aid kit, and had lunch and now we have an hour or so to kill relaxing and fettling the bikes a litle before we head off on the train to Tottenham Hale, which is about 2 miles from Si and Nesta's house. There we intend to hang out for a while and have a nice dinner and crash overnight. We'll be getting up at a ludicrous hour to cycle north from Rectory Road station to Waltham Abbey where the ride starts, we've picked up a couple of the free Transport for London cycling maps to help us find our way, mostly along towpaths in the lea/lee valley. Then it's c 47 miles home to midsummer common in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer. So far I've raised £70, although £25 of that was admittedly from myself, and mum's promised something when she's visiting in a fortnight's time. I think Mike's raised £65. If you would like to sponsor me it's not too late, you can sponsor me here.


Jul. 16th, 2007 01:39 pm
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Life's pretty quiet mostly at the moment. Work's ticking along nicely enough, though with a few frustrations. We're still watching lots of DVDs (finished season 6 of Buffy now, plus several films. I really don't recommend the Famous Five musical we watched though). We've been to see the latest Die Hard film, and the new Harry Potter. And of course I'm learning to drive, and I've had several lessons, most of which have featured some practice at driving in queues in the pouring rain. We even managed to come to a standstill in the A14 on Wednesday evening. In amongst the day to day stuff we've had a couple of nice weekends.

Weekend before last was the Big Weekend on Parker's Piece. We avoided the music and the fairground rides but wandered along on the Saturday to potter through the French market. This yielded tartiflette and spicy sausages for lunch, plus some nice bread, ripe nectarines, shallots, chorizo and duck sausage. Then we headed south and spent the rest of the afternoon pottering around the Botanic Gardens, which was lovely. I've only been in about once before, and didn't really have a proper look around then, but we spent a couple of hours just wandering around and didn't manage to see all of it. Managed to slightly sunburn myself in the process, but sitting with a cold damp towel wrapped round them for an hour before bedtime took the heat right out of it, and by the next morning I was barely pink at all. The Sunday we invited Naath, Richard, Pete and Laura around to watch films: cake followed by Shaun of the Dead followed by Chinese followed by Hot Fuzz followed by key lime pie, all accompanied with rather too much booze for a Sunday night. It was fun.

This weekend has been quieter, but we had a very satisfactorily useful Saturday getting the shopping and gardening done, and then going out to dinner at CB2 in the evening. They've updated the Bistro Specials bit of the menu, which means sadly no more Lamb Shiraz, but I had mussels and a lovely thing made with tenderloin pork wrapped around bacon and spinach and a sauce I'd normally have had with red meat, and Mike had the black pudding and chorizo salad then the rib eye steak, with a sauce very strongly flavoured with rosemary which was yummy. Sunday was a very very very lazy day even by our standards. Breakfast around 10:30, skipped lunch in favour of a nap, lots of reading (I'm working my way through Harry Potter in French again) and geeking, a piece of cake mid afternoon, then a latish salad and quiche tea with the last of the duck sausage, followed by vegging in front of the telly until bedtime.

Not much happening this week other than driving lessons tonight and Wednesday, but next Sunday is our bike ride from London. We've got our crash space confirmed with Si and Nesta, and we'll be going out for dinner with them the night before - there's an excellent kebab restaurant just round the corner from them. Then we've got a weekend free before my mum and dad come to visit at the beginning of August. It's a quiet life, but a nice one.

lnr: (cycle)

David has kindly reminded me that it's only a week and a half until the London to Cambridge bike ride in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Anyone who wants to sponsor him, Clare and Naath should head on over to [livejournal.com profile] damerell. If you want to sponsor me try here instead:


Obviously I'm mostly doing this for the ride, but I do think it's a good cause. Last year Mike and I raised £145 between us for it. The most entertaining bit may well be the 11 miles through north London to the start of the ride from our crash space, altogether this should take the ride to just under 60 miles (the offical route is listed as 50 miles, but is more like 47 in practice). We're not in shape at all, but on shiny new bikes since last year, so we reckon it won't kill us.


Jul. 25th, 2006 12:09 pm
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I just want to say a big thanks to those people who sponsored me. I raised £75 in the end, despite not asking very many people, and it wouldn't be anywhere near as much if people hadn't been so generous. Mike also raised £50 offline.

Sponsorship page


Jul. 24th, 2006 03:31 pm
lnr: (cycle)

Harrumph. Well now I know why it looked like only 1 mile on the route map to the rest/mechanic point at Roydon. They've drawn the blob on Nazeing instead of on Roydon. And Nazeing was indeed about a mile from the breakdown because that's the bit we did at walking pace. Oh well.

Full route: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=316723.

The elevation widget is really cool, you can see just how steep each bit of hill was!

lnr: (cycle)

We got up at 5:20 and spent some time queuing on Midsummer common eating sausage rolls, and then dozing on the bus. We reached the start point at the River Lee Country Park, just outside the M25 at Waltham Cross at about 8:15am and as we got the bikes from the van we discovered my front tyre had come partially off the rim, and was flat as a pancake to boot. The mechanics at the start sold and fitted me a replacement inner tube, and eventually David and Robin arrived with the tandem, we filled in our entry forms, handed them over for the route map, and set off, about 9am.

Mike's rear tyre blew at about 4.2 miles in, just outside Bumble's Green. Having discovered it was unrepairable with materials to hand David and Robin rode on ahead to the next rest stop at Roydon, which looked about a mile away by the map. Mike walked and I cycled at walking pace for about a mile, then found a signpost and decided another 3 miles was too far to walk and called the mechanics hotline. After about 40 minutes waiting we texted Robin and David and told them to press on, as it was clear we were going to be some time. We were picked up about 5 minutes later and driven those 3 miles to the White Hart where a new tire and inner tube were fitted so we could continue, by this point it was nearly 11am. Our second incident occurred about a mile from the next rest stop at Widford, where trying to change down further when already in first (there's optimism!) I snapped the gear cable and suddenly found myself in 5th. Still, the next mile was fairly flat so we pressed on and reached the rest stop without too much trouble for a replacement.

After that it was all pretty straightforward. We skipped the next two rest points since we weren't in need of the rest or refreshment. Stopped for homemade lemonade and cake supplied by a small girl for 30p at the halfway point, and again at Langdon at about 2pm, where apparently David and Robin would have waited for us if they'd been able to eat at the Bull, but cyclists it seems were only welcome outside. Then we hauled our way up the two really big hills before Ickleton, with some difficulty but without having to give up and walk. At the top of the larger of the two I was very flattered that one of the ladies we'd met at Langdon complimented me on getting up them, and said I'd be a very strong cyclist if I were fitter. Praise indeed from someone who's obviously a more serious cyclist than I am. Still, the way up was worth it for the ride back down, even if I do tend to use the brakes to limit myself to around 22 mph - I get nervous much faster than that downhill. Ickleton provided cheap icecream, and we knew we only had around 15 miles to go. We had to stop shortly after that and let a little air out of my rear tyre, since it was bulging rather alarmingly, but the rest of the way was pretty flat and very easy going, and we sailed into Cambridge eventually at about 4:30pm, and I even had the energy left for a daft sprint over the grass to the finish line. Tired but happy, and chuffed to have made it.

The route seems to have been about 48 miles long, rather than the headline 50, and having done 3 miles in the van our final stats were:

Distance: 45.09 miles
Cycling Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes, 20 seconds
Total Time: About 7.5 hours
Average Speed: 10.8 mph
Max Speed: 23.0 mph

We staggered back to Mike's, had a nice cold shower and sat around listening to music for while, then went out for a pizza and headed to the Carlton for a quiet drink with David and Robin and a handful of others who wanted to try the tandem. David let me have first go because I wanted to get off home, and we went once round the block, but it was pretty hair raising to be honest. Naath apparently made a much less scared rider. The saddle being a *fraction* too high for comfort didn't help, and the handlebars were in a completely useless position for me, but I think I'd have found it less alarming if I didn't weigh so much. Still it was instructional :-) And on that note we went home to bed and to sleep, with a vague plan of doing the Oxford to Cambridge one in September.

And I just want to end with a huge thanks to Mike. It was a pretty easy ride for him, but without his encouragement and company I'd have found it even harder still. He let me believe I could do it, and hugged me and told me how impressed he was with my efforts at the end. He's a star.

lnr: (cycle)

Yesterday evening I didn't leave work til after 7. I didn't have any plans for the evening, and the weather was lovely, so I thought I'd take a bit of a detour on the way home. At first I thought maybe just along the river to Baits Bite lock and back through Milton and over the cycle bridge. It didn't work out quite like that though. 15.5 miles in total, in 1 hour 25 mins, with a 10 minute break in Cottenham for an icecream and a can of pop.

I spent my lunchbreak playing with the Google maps API to produce a rather shonky map:

Eleanor's mad route home

Other than that in brief:

  • My blonde streak has gone bright pink
  • Good #tropic and co party on Saturday with BBQ and BEER
  • Fun watching the World Cup final on Sunday
  • I finished knitting my latest top
  • Ballroom dancing continues fun, and dinner out beforehand on a Tuesday is nice
  • Post-ride Mike came over we ate chips and watched a bad film version of Jane Eyre
  • Train tickets are booked for my mum's 50th birthday week away
  • Week and a half til the London to Cambridge ride. You can Sponsor us! if you like

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