CycleSeven

Death Valley Challenge

Day 1: Beatty to Stovepipe Wells

I put as my Facebook status that I was in the VIP lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3 but despite explaining that my wife had been on Simon Mayo’s request show the previous evening and actually spoken on air to request ‘Viva Las Vegas’ for me, I was not afforded access to the said VIP lounge so I was in some mock English tavern staffed entirely by Spaniards. My drinking companions were Phil, whose idea it was to cycle Death Valley and Jim who was Global Adventures guide for the trip. As a nervous flyer I was keen to neck a couple of strong drinks before boarding but was disappointed there was no ice for my G&T(s). (I bet they had ice in VIP.)

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The Touchup

April may be the cruelest month, but November is surely the dullest. It is dark and getting darker, cool and getting colder, frosty and getting snowier. Its one public occasion is sombre. I would lay odds that Shakespeare wrote his “winter of discontent” phrase in November. Grumble.

However, that makes it a good time to tend to the abuse and neglect, a.k.a. stone chips, suffered by Lady CoMo.

Lady CoMo’s paint has suffered from the occasional stone, and (most aggravating) shoes that rub across the crossbar. One cannot dismount a tandem by swinging a leg over its hind quarters without kicking the stoker in the teeth. This is generally considered poor form. Rather, the foot must be lifted, retracted, and replanted, all the while balancing on the other leg and holding the beast steady. Inevitably an unintended brush of the rubber sole against her shiny paint leaves a small, dull abrasion – aye, there’s the rub!

So this November I settled down with instructions from the CoMotion web site to make right the wrongs of our dear Lady.

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A Cycle Seven Champion!

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Do you recognise either of these cyclists? I don't expect you to recognise 2014 AAA (Audax Altitude Award) champion Martin Malins but perhaps his companion and winner of the Opposite Sex award may look a little familiar. It is, of course, Mary who won this years Audax Altitude Award points championship with a magnificent 137.25 points. I know just how much effort and dedication would be required to amass a total like that – I did a little AAA points chasing myself this year, but my efforts yielded a mere 36 points. 137 points must have required a long hilly ride on Saturday and Sunday on most weekends of the year, invariably alone, and often in bad weather. It is a tremendous achievement. Well done Mary!

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A Farewell Tour

The past two summers I have ridden through Winnipeg. As my project started to wind down, I began to think of my evening rides as a “farewell tour”.

Every ride started here, at the corner of St. Mary and Carleton. I would ride down Carleton, to the right. This photo of St. Mary Cathedral in the background is more interesting.

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Pretty Pretty: the Derbyshire Dales (Cycling)

We have travelled around England and Wales a fair bit this year, with our bikes but not always cycling. Some places lend themselves to it more than others—our kind of cycling anyway (that's me and Sandra). This week, in the Derbyshire Dales, where strangely I have never been before, we rode our bikes in the most gorgeous autumn weather imaginable. And the prettiest countryside imaginable. Why I've not been there before I can't imagine.

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England from the Tissington Trail

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Bracket racket: what's the bottom line?

I've been spending too much time lurking about on online cycling forums again. I must cut down – or cut it out completely. Maybe. I know that amongst the true gems of genuinely fascinating information there will be the inevitable verbal fisticuffs, misunderstandings and completely random tangents taken. Sometimes I think I post comments just so that I can be annoyed all over again when the original poster – or OP – fails to acknowledge my cycling erudition. The latest topic – actually two – I really mustn't allow myself to get drawn in to includes the advantages and disadvantages of Outboard Bottom Bracket Bearings or OBBB – or OBB. (Just be careful if you call them External Bottom Brackets or your abbreviation could clash with the one used for Eccentric Bottom Brackets and you'll be misunderstood and go and upset someone else no end.) I expect that the excessive use of abbreviations is a feature of most if not all such areas of specialist interest.

Bottom Brackets

From front: square taper, ball race cages; square taper, cartridge bearing; Octalink bottom bracket, cartridge bearing; Hollowtech II, external bottom bracket bearing

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Prudential RideLondon Grand Prix 2014

Last weekend I had a day in London between destinations. Pity. It was an opportunity to aquaint myself with one of the world’s great cities. By late afternoon my feet ached – I had walked for hours and decided to try a Boris Bike. Well, I couldn’t get the kiosk to work, nor could the crowd around me, so at least I didn’t feel like a total idiot.

So I kept walking. And walked right into a British women’s cycling race circling around The Mall. That explained the helicopter overhead. With only six laps left I found a spot at the barriers 150 meters from the finish line. Two commentators kept up a running banter, large LED screens gave a televised view of the race, and loud music pumped out the requisite techno beats of crowd-swelling music.

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Light on Cycling

It's almost a year since I cycled regularly. I've been out on my bike less than 20 times since last August. It surprises me to see this written but it's true. However, I have not given up cycling by any means. Nope. I've just had other things to do, beginning with re-roofing part of our house (stripped down to bare brick and concrete). In fact I've done a lot of things I would not have done in the comfort zone of daily bike riding.

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Le Grand Depart

Who could resist going to see the Tour de France's first visit to Yorkshire? Certainly not me. We have a friend in York whom we'd been meaning to visit for some time (since our last visit when CycleSeven cycled the Dales in fact!) so this was the perfect opportunity. We took the train from Southampton and it soon became clear that we weren't the only ones with this idea. The further north we went the more cyclists got on – the ones without bikes were easily identifiable from their choice of reading matter, all with the same story of inviting themselves to stay with long lost friends and relations. There was quite a buzz on the train but it was nothing to the atmosphere when we arrived in York to find it full of yellow bicycles.

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Yellow Bikes Everywhere

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The Thaw

Spring (finally) came, and now it has gone. It was only a few weeks ago that the last of the frozen water pipes in Winnipeg finally thawed. Winter’s frost was over 7 feet deep. The late weather did not help the cycling season, but eventually the legs started turning.

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