FNRttC November 2010

I was supping Madeira wine in Madeira when I looked up and saw this:

A full moon

A full moon now sparks one thought: FNRttC.

I could have done it you know, I could have done it. I could have dropped off my luggage at friends in Brighton beforehand, done the last FNRttC of the season and celebrated Simon getting a London Cycling Campaign award. Then I could have gone round to the friends, swapped bike for luggage and made my way to Gatwick to catch a 1PM flight to Madeira. Plenty of time!!

But of course that would run the risk of a FNRttC ban 2011-2013. Imagine, a holiday, postponed multiple times because of an 'imminent' knee op and several consultations, a vacation you both desperately need, and especially together, you come in from work on a Friday evening and you tell your partner: "I'm off for a night ride and I'll meet you at the airport tomorrow. Don't worry, I can sleep on the plane." No, that would not be right.

Anyway, this gave me an opportunity to be an armchair FNRttC'er.

So, we were sitting on a terrace on the Saturday evening, when I noticed the outdoor wifi hotspots everywhere. The sight of the moon had already made me wonder how it would have gone this time: rain? not too cold? many punctures? any severe mechanicals? how did the newbies get on? would Simon's health and safety routine have been the best ever? did StuAff come off his bike? any pictures up? .... I was quietly going to do a little browsing.

It didn't take long for Sarah to cotton on: "Are you reading about FNRttC or something?". Darn, I shouldn't have pointed out the moon! "Oh, just checking, 5 mins ...." Sarah would carry on chatting on and off. And I would make sure I gave her all my attention. Wasn't good enough though, she still ended up saying: "Am I disturbing you?".

Then I nearly fell off my chair when I realised how I had missed a trick!! The Madeira Cafe!! What a lovely tenuous link! Me raising a glass in Madeira while the FNRttC'ers would have raised a glass in the Madeira Cafe, and that under the same full moon. Now I can feel part of it.

I love tenuous links. I was reading Rob Penn's book: "It's all about the bike". Rob's dream bike needed only one compromise. He could not get a 32-spoke rear cassette hub from Royce and had to settle for a 28-spoke hub. The reason? The maker, Cliff Polton, was on a beekeeping course and therefore no hubs would be made for several weeks. Marvellous!! Sounds like an intensive commercial beekeeping course abroad to me.

And here comes the next tenuous link: from bees back to Madeira

Funchal coat of arms includes four skeps

At Mercades dos Lavradoros

At front of concert hall

At back of concert hall

The Upper Thames 200 - Update

I had wondered if this ride was going to be about 'blood, sweat and tears' or 'banter, scenery and tea'. It was the latter and especially 'scenery'. Scenery normally comes with climbing, but if there is such a thing as a scenery/climbing ratio, then the Upper Thames 200 would have a very favourable score. Have a look at the photos, the link is at the end or here: Clicky.

I'm very envious of 'iddu' who captured an image of a Victorian Water Tank (1895) at Bix. He is right, I rode straight by.

I did however, make a point of stopping off at the Maharajah's Well (1865) in Stoke Row.

This had caught my eye, because the well and its cover was funded by the Maharajah of Benares, 'possibly in response to poverty and drought'. This is such an extraordinary reverse direction of development aid (if I can call it that), that you have to think something personal, political or symbolic is going on. Nevertheless, I'm sure the beneficiaries didn't complain. Stoke Row and Bix are only 6km apart. Water sources must indeed have been scarce.

Benares, or Varanasi, is a special place. It is a special place in its own right, but it is a special place for me personally also. Although the good things in religion interest me, I am not religious. However, I can get a little spiritual. The Ganges and Kumb Mela, I find absolutely fascinating. Can you imagine, in the last Maha Kumbh Mela, held in 2001, around 60 million people attended. To be able to bathe in your goddess, the Ganges, at that time must be ..... I can't find the word. As for me, I had been wishing for something for a long time, a wish I thought was never going to come true. I don't believe in wishes either, but when all is beyond your control what else can you do but wish. So the magical Ganges at Varanasi was going to be the place where I made my wish one last time (which says enough about the outcome!!).

Varanasi 2006

From the Ganges back to the Upper Thames ... There were quite a few familiar faces. I was pleased to link up with LiamFitz, and it was nice of pipsuds to introduce himself. I'm sorry I had to ask pipsuds about three times to repeat his name. The pip was ok, but the suds just wasn't going in. If only he had mentioned his YACF picture is Tintin!! In Belgium, Tintin is called Kuifje, which translates as Quiff. Tintin rides a fixed track bike, that is important to know!

Thank you to the organiser and helpers. With over 90 entrants, the event has some logistics to take care of.

Photos are on the slideshow till the next ride or here:Clicky.

Photo taken by RichForrest

6 Nov - The Upper Thames 200

Let's get the new year going with a 200km ride and one I have never done before: The Upper Thames 200.

Will it be blood, sweat and tears? Or will it be banter, scenery and tea?

The route, going anti-clockwise.
From Bikely.com