"Honey-tasting parties will be the new alleycat"

Would you Adam and Eve it, Bike Snob NYC integrated beekeeping in his cycling blog (Bike Snob NYC - half way down the post):

"I do think that beekeeping is going to be the next fixed-gear. In fact, it's following exactly the same trajectory as the fixed-gear trend--it's slightly obscure, it has an element of danger, and now it has that all-important catalyst, a trend piece in the New York Times"

On a serious note, the profile of beekeeper 'David', mentions that his favourite honey is from the Linden tree, or lime tree. At the last FNRttC to Whitstable, I was telling Aperitif how lime tree honey is my absolute favourite. It is sublime. The honey I extract in August is a very good blend, but once I kept a frame out because I could see a defined area in the comb that looked very different from the rest. I decided to extract it separately, and it turned out to be lime honey. It was beautiful. It is also an unusual honey for an urban beekeeper to obtain, because the conditions have to be just right for the bees to go to the lime trees - and that time doesn't last long. Neither do the bees favour the lime tree, if there are other sources around. But once they are on it, you'd think there is a swarm going on. So, I watch out for this. There are lime trees in the area and when they are flowering, I watch to see if the bees are on it. Then I'll look in the hive for signs of lime honey. Alas, it has only happened once in the last 8 years. I must say also, of course, that no bought lime honey has every tasted as good at the 1/2lb I once extracted. If I could get hold of the same, I would pay as much as £50 for a jar.

The William the Conkerer 200 - Update

The way I got into work today was a better indicator on how this ride went than my finishing time:
  • All the people I come across on my commute to work, were all a little further on their way than usual
  • Had to stop myself from pinging my bell too much as it was getting me into a trance
  • When I got to work, I went straight for breakfast rather than shower first
There were a few familiar faces participating, which is always nice. Anton is a regular now. And Mel eased off to have a chat also: "Don't know if I'll last 8 hours on these handlebars", he said. Can you imagine the banter that followed: "Is that because you're taking it easy today Mel?" Truth is that he wasn't used to the type of handlebars on his newly acquired bike. The 8 hours reference was neither here nor there for him (but it was to us!).

I had given myself 14 hours (pretty much the time limit), but there was a push to finish before dark, so 12 hours wasn't bad in the end for a hilly 200. I only stopped to eat and take a couple of iPhone pictures.

M25 cutting through country side

The other picture was taken at Rotherfield - couldn't help myself.


The day wasn't too eventful, apart from ... not causing a car accident ... but if I hadn't been there, the prang probably wouldn't have happened. I was descending down a hill at a bit of a speed, I braked, slowed down, as I saw an oncoming car wanting to turn right. The car stopped ... bang, somebody drove into him. Ouch. I wonder if anybody saw the aftermath? In Crowborough, I think it was.

Then there was the unknown object thrower. We went through quite a few lanes. I like cycling on these lanes, but there isn't much space for cars to pass. A big people carrier came along and a pesky little child threw something at me through the open window. It was close range, but still quite a good shot I thought, hitting me in my most padded area. I was contemplating what to say, should I meet the car at the T junction. It was going to be 'Good shot', 'You rascal', or both. When taking a break at the next info control quite a few miles further, I noticed half a piece of a digestive biscuit sitting on top of my saddle bag. Very good shot!!

The fuel stop at Yalding was very welcome. We, that is Stephen and I, who by then had formed a groupette of two, both enjoyed the break. Its amazing what energy you can draw, not just from eating, but from the presence of somebody who understands what you are doing. The organiser, William Weir, was there to stamp our cards and provide food and drink.

The route covers some wonderful scenery and picturesque villages. Goudhurst in particular caught my eye, very near Sissinghurst. It is a small village and has an unusual feel to it because of the way the church is elevated above the surrounding, beautiful buildings.

I really enjoyed this ride (3000 m climbing has its rewards) and since Redhill is quite easy to get to for me, I might look out for more of William's rides.

19 Sep - The William the Conkerer 200

Next Sunday I'll be doing an audax I haven't done before and will not do again: William the Conkerer. Why is it called William the Conkerer? And why will I not be doing it again?

Here is what the organiser wrote: "This is a delightful 208km route from Redhill to Battle via Mayfield and then up to the North Downs via Yalding. It is a hilly route with some great views over wide expanses of Surrey, Sussex, Kent and London. It is eligible for inclusion in a Brevet de Grimpeur de Sud claim. The event will run in 2010 only (a different ride will be run 2011)."

There is a nice profile image on William Weir's excellent website: Frere Yacker.

I'm seeing this ride as an autumn equivalent of the Poor Student, except its hillier and its not in Oxford. In fact, the only thing they have in common is that they are 'shoestring' events.

Frere Yacker nicely summarises what a 'shoestring', 'x-rated' or 'basic' event entails:
  • An outdoor meeting place at the start (i.e. no village hall or other facilities)
  • Controls that will (generally) not have a person manning them
  • No-one to meet and greet you at the finish
  • No fixed finishing control – you simply get proof you returned to Redhill
  • Posting the brevet card at the finish using a SAE provided on the day
  • The usual audax comments about the need to be self sufficient, no marshals, support vehicles, broom wagons, rescue service, route markers etc etc.
If you are not put off by any of the above, you'll have a great time! I'm looking forward to it, it will be a challenge and I'll need to prepare rather than just turn up!

Bikes and Bees in One Day!

Bike without chain

And look at that light

Was thinking of Andy Allsopp here.

These pictures were taken at the bike museum in my birth town of Roeselare. My dad and I visited after attending a bee congress. Bikes and bees in one day!

After going round the museum and watching the videos you get a good feel of the excitement around local cycling heros, from Odiel Defraeye (first Belgian to win the Tour de France), Merckx, de Vlaminck, Maertens, Boonen... Barry Hoban gets a mention.

For the Flemisch Bee Congress, three speakers had been invited to talk about why they choose to work with a certain subspecies of bees: the Buckfast bee, the black bee or carnica.

A difficult question being answered by the Prof.

My dad was given an award for his 50 years in beekeeping.

As we left the congress building I spotted this - the notice in the window translates as: "Forbidden to park bikes". I guess they'll get around removing the bike stands sometime.

"Verboden fietsen te plaatsen"

Phillips Bike

The stars must be aligned. I learned about Phillips bikes via Clare Baldings Britain by Bike programs. A few weeks later I come into the possession of one.
I'm quite chuffed with this. Not that I need another bike, especially not one which I'll only use a couple of times a year. I do have visions of offering Hanwell Honey from the bike, at the next Hanwell Carnival. But first, there is the restoration ....
Any advice? Sure I don't have to go to India to pick up a few replacement mudguards?