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Archive for April 2012

Essex country lanes – 29 April 2012

Posted on Monday 30 April 2012 by Anna Bagi

The plan for this ride had to be changed twice due to engineering works on the Chelmsford line. The alternative rail route – c2c – made it very difficult to avoid dual carriageways and A roads. Thanks to Mel for doing the surveys with me.

On the day the weather forecast was really bad and as a result only one person turned, Mary, out of solidarity. We decided to do the whole ride nevertheless.

It was only light rain till Billericay, where we had our prolonged coffee break. From there until lunch we had head wind and heavier rain, including a road that had turned into a ford. We had a basic, but nice pub lunch in Bicknacre, which took quite a long time to be served. more »

The Water in Majorca Don’t Taste Like What it Oughta

Posted on Monday 30 April 2012 by Philip Coleman

I’ll let you into a secret. There is a simply wonderful place you can go to ride in the springtime, just over two hours flying time from London.

Actually it’s not much of a secret. Every spring more than a million cycles pass through Majorca’s Palma airport as the island becomes a concentrated festival of road cycling for those looking to put miles in the legs ahead of summertime putting in a rare UK appearance.

It isn’t hard to see why Majorca is so popular. April in Majorca promises circa six out of seven days per week of unfettered sunshine; usually tempered by a light, cooling breeze. The quiet roads offer a wide variety of terrain from fast and flat country lanes, sheltered by billowing marshland grasses through to epic Alpine climbs frequented by many a pro team training for the Giro or TdF.

Throw in some beautiful scenery, roads as smooth as the baize on a snooker table, lush coral blue bays and a tourist infrastructure that has geared up completely for the cyclist and you have the perfect destination for some high quality riding and a brilliant apres ride scene. There is even a Rapha pop up shop!

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Saviour in a Pink Cap

Posted on Thursday 26 April 2012 by Sue Dorey

My last attempt at leading a ride was not a resounding success (I got lost 50m out of the station, a Central London CTC record unlikely to ever be broken), so I planned meticulously this time. I had an OS map, street maps of Hitchin, Stevenage, and Knebworth,  yard by yard written instructions,  a backmarker (John Silvertown),  a middle marker (Stephen), all I lacked was a GPS (and the technical know-how to operate it). Simon and I had recce’d the route only a week ago, so I felt (almost) confident as I led the sixteen punters off towards the Musgrave Arms at Apsley End. more »

Easter into Wales

Posted on Friday 20 April 2012 by John Aizlewood

We rode out from London in three days, but the weather had suddenly turned cold. There were plenty of spring flowers in the hedgerows, encouraged by the previous warm spell. We were nearly over the Cotswolds when snow hit the North of England but only had an hour of rain on the way to Stratford on Avon. The next day my saddle broke, but a quick repair lasted for the rest of the tour, and a steam train ride on the Severn Valley Railway saved a lumpy 20km on the way to Coalport.

Paul Carsten Nina Laurence Sarah at Coalport

Nina, Sarah, Laurence and Carsten joined us there having visited Industrial museums in the afternoon and booked our evening meal in a local pub. We crossed the historic Ironbridge the next morning and found afternoon tea in Acton Scott which was used for the TV series Victorian Farm. Their geese made an attempt on one of our panniers, but Ortlieb defeated them.

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The Five Countries Tour: “It’s all about the cake, really”

Posted on Monday 16 April 2012 by Gail Riekie

Readers hoping for details of exactly where we went on what day, how many kilometres we cycled and metres we climbed and how fast we rode, are advised to look elsewhere.  There is only one statistic I wish to quote here.  Careful calculations by a sweet-toothed participant – Sarah W, since you ask – revealed a personal tour average miles-per-dessert ratio of ten to one. “It’s all about the cake, really”, she said, when asked to summarise her first Central London CTC tour.

What follows is a personal and impressionistic account of the 2012 ‘Five Countries’ Easter tour.  There is no attempt at balance and I take full responsibility for any inaccuracies or distortions….

My report begins in Monschau, Germany.

For those of us who opt for early bed rather than late bar when on a cycling holiday, the fragments of chatter at breakfast can conjure up a disturbing picture of events the previous night.

So it was at the Carat Vitalhotel on Easter Sunday morning.  Fortunately I have a typical cyclist’s robust appetite, so the details that emerged did not affect my consumption of muesli and jaw-challenging German bread. The information that Tom is a master of ceroc is digestible enough anyway. But did I hear right when someone described the overall scene in the hotel bar as ‘sleazy’ and used the adjective ‘raunchy’ to describe Michael and Christine dancing together? I have Christine to thank for demonstrating to me (and the rest of the assembled breakfast contingent) the correct lassoing actions to accompany ‘The Cowboy Song’.  Glancing around the other tables, I try to identify the barrel-shaped and abundantly moustachioed gentleman who was apparently last night in the adjacent room sitting astride his male partner, microphone in hand, enthusiastically contributing to the musical entertainment.

Checking my facts at the end of the tour, in the restaurant next to Selwyn’s Paris pad, I asked again about the events at Monschau.  Michael, as ever a stickler for accuracy, attempted to demonstrate the exact position of Herr Barrel and partner by climbing on top of his injured grandson Albert (we shall later come to the cause of the injury).  When Albert protested at the inappropriateness of his Granddad’s action (and undoubtedly he had a point) Michael countered by insisting that it was the inappropriate nature of the behaviour that he was keen for me to grasp…

Well perhaps we should move on.  After all, I believe I am contractually obliged in this blog to say something about the cycling, the terrain, the weather etc. more »

In Flanders

Posted on Sunday 15 April 2012 by Bob Davis

For a few years now, CTC Central London members like Charlie, Naomi and Keith have been riding the Tour of Flanders randonee.

The randonee is a ride for “cyclosportives” or at least “cyclotouristes” (or “Voor Wielertoeristen” as my ride number has it) who go over the course of the famous race which happens the next day. The race itself is 250km, the first 100km of which are a largely a steady ride on the flat before getting to the heart of the race and serious racing action  – the circuits of the final 140km , which is where the cobbled climbs (“bergs” or “muurs”) are. There are two randonee courses which are both concentrated on the cobbled climbs, the 120km, and the easier one of some 87km which I entered. more »

Berlin: Heroes, Just for One Day

Posted on Saturday 14 April 2012 by Martin Hayman

Berlin: ‘It’s the new London,’ my young German colleague asserted when I told him I was to visit the German capital.

Hard to say if he meant its youth culture or its economic power; a little of both probably.

It had been long since my last visit (though not my first), in 1974. Surely none of the world’s great cities can have undergone such profound upheaval in that period, not even New York with its traumatic entry into the 21st century.

As on other of our previous city jaunts, to Marseille and Copenhagen, my wife and I resolved to tour the sights by bicycle. The previous day’s recce had left us somewhat footsore but in no doubt that our range would be greatly extended by bike. The hotel’s rental bikes were utility items with high, wide handlebars and that pesky irritant, the back-pedalling brake, that so hinders taking off from a standing start. But once underway they were fine as long as one relaxed into a gentlemanly (or lady-like) stance and did not try to cut any sporting capers.

Love Parade 2006: Straße des 17. Juni, looking east to the Siegessäule and the Brandenburger Tor

Our route plan was to trace a quadrant of die Mauer, the Berlin Wall, that had been the defining fracture of the Berlin I knew, and indeed of the Zeitgeist of world politics until the reunification of Germany in 1989. We set out from our hotel in the plush bourgeois quarter of the Kurfürstendamm towards Zoo Station. In the divided Berlin this was the central station and, though in the Western sector, was under the control of the GDR authorities, who ran the rail network. Grimy, sleazy, and heavily fortified, it stuck out like a sore thumb in the West sector; the surrounding quarter, redolent of Cold War paranoia, notoriously attracted spivs and tarts. more »

Chilterns Hilly on Easter Sunday

Posted on Monday 9 April 2012 by Bob Davis

The day dawned with persistent rain. In the knowledge that there were Easter Tours and other diversions for CTC riders competing, I have to admit that I hoped that nobody would turn up at Marylebone: I would then have an excuse for sloping off for some desultory laps of a park before watching Paris-Roubaix on telly.

But it was not to be, and just as well, because the rain disappeared by the start of the ride. Moral: it can always get better. The crew was Roger and Kay, and newbie Tom Bartlett, who turned up in the sub 10°C in shorts. We chastised him with reprimands about his lack of preparedness accordingly.

No, of course we didn’t! more »

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