FNRttC August 2010 - Whitstable - Update

Every time. Every time, it lives up to expectations. What is it about this ride? On Saturday morning, I was asking myself why I don't do this every Friday night. Lots of reasons of course, but one thing is for sure. My other half, who normally has heard enough about rides, this time, was all ears and ... asked if she could meet me in Whitstable next time around. Yes, yes!

However ... next year, the full moon will not be during the August Bank Holiday (I think the Bank Holiday weekend made the harbour atmosphere that little bit more special).

The ride starts with a good dose of night time London, all lit up in different ways: Hyde Park Corner, Buckingham Palace, Westminster with Big Ben, the London Eye, OXO Tower and Tower Bridge. Sights people come from all over the world to see. Then onto the south side of the river, where we go through Bermondsey and onto Greenwich, Dartford and beyond.

I like the spot which marks the boundary between London and 'nearly in Whitstable'. It has a good feel of old London with new generation taking place - the area is called 'More London', as etched into the Water Benches fountains.

These 'Water Benches' are just next to another water feature, which is called the Rill. Its a cut through the paving with water running down. I find it absolutely extraordinary, I like it, but its such a trip hazard!

The Rill
Photo by Tim Hall (see link below)

Next thing you know, you are at Andy's Cafe. At least we all call it Andy's Cafe. While I was queueing I was trying to make sense of its real name:

Maybe the owner used to be Andy Snacks, and the cafe was called 'The Andy Snacks Cafe' (still doesn't sound right, does it). Then the new owner wisely thought to keep the original name, but never proofread the new shop fascia design. There again, it could be rhyming slang that has gone right over my head ...

We went at quite a pace I thought. Granted we stopped a lot for regrouping, but when we were going we were flying. Dawn, sunrise, early morning at the Milton Regis stop (people were out buying papers by then), the thought of breakfast by the sea ...

The location for breakfast can't be better, on that balcony overlooking the sea. The cricket came on on the screen, the bar opened, ... then some people with time schedules started to leave to catch the train back to London, some people without time schedules were settling in, some people with time schedules kept planning to get the next train.

And I went off to the harbour to have oysters and champagne. You can't go to Whitstable three years in a row and not have oysters. It had to be done.

La vie est belle

After half a bottle of champagne, everybody was my best friend of course. The oyster seller explained why I can't take oysters to London, which I thought was marvellous. I couldn't thank him enough for being so honest. £4 for six oysters - fantastic!

I took my time, people watching, visiting the fish market, strolling back to the station eventually ... but would you believe it, it appears from a post on the cycling forum that 'the settlers' would have taken a train after me!

Photos are on the slideshow till the next post or here: Clicky

And there are some fantastic shots taken by Tim here: Clicky

FNRttC August 2010 - Whitstable

Yeh!! Its that time again. Off to do the night ride to the coast. 80 riders are expected and so is the moon - should be fun. I intend to stay on a bit and find oysters and champagne for brunch.

Edit: Found my spot: Harbour Garden Cafe

How can I be so excited about a nightride I've done before? Have a guess ...

Look at this Whitstable forecast - I can't wait!!


14 Aug - The Radnor Roundabout 100

What a beauty!

Beautiful scenery all the way. If you want to get the feeling of being right in the middle of Wales, do this ride. From start to finish the landscape was stunning. I loved it.

It was a nice to ride just 100km also. I took me back to my early audax days, when 100km rides were still a challenge. In fact, I was also on the same bike I used to use, and all that goes with it: no saddlebag but a small backpack, long stops at controls, no lights to carry, just one bottle of water, 9AM start, hardly ever being without company, etc.

At Rhayader tea stop.

The reason for a shorter ride was twofold. First, I had completed a 200 in the area only last Thursday (The Severn to Wye 200 PERM) and it would give me a chance to meet up afterwards with the holiday group of people I was with. The idea was to have late lunch at the Stagg Inn at Kington, a Michelin starred establishment.

The holiday group of people I was with felt guilty afterwards, for having enjoyed such a fantastic meal, without me being there. Don't know why they felt guilty, because it was completely my fault that I had underestimated how long a 100 can take!

When I got to the start in Gladestry, the riders for the 200 were getting ready. Here is the organiser sending them on their way:

When I returned back at headquarters I said that the ride was over too quickly - I wanted more. Ross suggested I'd ride the Tregaron Dragon on the Sunday. No thank you! I heard about that ride - it is said to be harder than La Marmotte!

These rides are part of a cycling weekend organised by Ross Jeal. It should be called the Gladestry Cycling Festival really, with so many ride options, catering, camping, .... All very well organised. Thank you Ross! Ross' site: Gladestry Cycling Weekend

The photos are here:Clicky

12 Aug - The Severn to Wye 200 PERM

This was a beautiful ride through the Welsh border counties of Shropshire & Herefordshire.

To get a feel of the atmosphere watch Clare Balding's Britain by Bike episode 'The Welsh Borders'. But be quick - it will not be available after August 2010 - and unfortunately available in the UK only: The Welsh Borders. It covers the Aston-on-Clun Bride's Tree ceremony (at 3 minutes). And I loved the section on the cycling club the Hitchin Nomads (at just before 17 minutes). Pause at 17:53: that image would make a good Christmas Card. And of course I would agree with Renee Stacey's statement: "Once you've made a cycling friend, you've made them for life".

I was on my own though, the whole day, since I was riding this on a Thursday as an audax permanent. The closest I got to making a friend was when I was stopped on the Ironbridge bridge itself. A guy said he was admiring my bike and that he'd like to start riding rides like this. So we talked a little about racing versus long distance bikes.

There was a comedy moment in the unusual Mistletoe tea rooms. Unusual, because the tea rooms were like somebody's sitting room, with tables and chairs but also sofas, bookshelves, trinkets of all sorts, and tea was served in bone china tea sets. Proper loose leaf tea and everything. Had lovely hot scones with Earl Grey tea and bought a card of a woodcarving showing a cyclist in Wiltshire, with a white horse in the hillside.

Anyway ... a very elderly couple were being taken out to tea by a slightly younger couple. The very elderly lady was struggling, I had noticed. And the slightly younger lady had noticed it also. She asked "Are you allright dear?". This was repeated a couple of times, because the very elderly lady was very deaf. Lets ask the very elderly husband: "Is she allright? Her breathing is a bit laboured!" To which the very elderly husband replied without looking up: "Its her trousers". Next thing I knew, they were asking the proprietors for scissors. Eh?

Getting into and out of Ironbridge was quite fun with some fantastic descents! Ironbridge was busy, I regret not stopping - apart from the chat with the guy.

The photos are on the slideshow till the next ride or here: Clicky

The Severn to Wye 200 PERM

I'll be taking the opportunity to do a couple of rides while on holiday in Herefordshire.

On Thursday I'll be doing the Severn to Wye 200, and
on the Saturday I'll be doing the Radnor Roundabout 100.

Sunday: Route

Sarah does it again!

Camp Bestival brings the cyclist out of Sarah.

I remarked that she doesn't do the distances I do.


I'm not looking too comfortable myself!