Winter is here

Tim Selfie
Hello!

I’ve had a self induced few weeks off the bike while doing a mini challenge and some intense training for a half marathon that I completed last week.  Yes, I ran 13.1 miles on the road in just under 1 hour 59 minutes.  I may be a little hooked on the idea of doing more of this, but more on that another day. For now though…

It’s on!

Yes its on, the heating is on. Winter is here! I have caved and let her put the central heating on (but I will be checking the thermostat everyday) and as every bike ride is likely to include a mud bath, its nice to know I can come home to a warm house and a hot shower!

Its the season to “make the most of it”. Getting out on those cold and damp days, rather than when its chucking it down with rain, and get out and do some “Winter miles” for those “Summer smiles”.

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Winter miles they say…

The trails on my doorstep are muddy from about mid November through to March.  We pray for the frost and stick to the ones with rocks, roots and less clay content. There is no winter/mud tyre that can cope with clay!

This limits  our options so its time to get some longer rides in. So I got my Winter Season off to a good start on Sunday with about 35 miles of pedaling.

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Mud bath

It was just me on Sunday; though I did make plans to meet a few others from MB Swindon for a coffee stop in Marlborough. However that didn’t happen due to the other group of riders having some mechanicals and running over an hour late.

So I did what I like to do and rode, explored, made it up as I went along and stopped to take a few photos.

I had my own “mechanical” that involved forgetting my keys and the rest of the family had gone out. Luckily like a good Boy Scout (I was never in the Scouts), I was prepared.

I was wet and beginning to get cold, so armed only with the contactless paying capabilities of my iPhone I somehow found sustenance and warmth by way of a visit to my local Costa for a cup of tea and cheese toastie. I changed my wet socks, broke out my spare gloves too…  I survived Bear Grylls eat your heart out!

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Not a very exciting blog post, but with so many photos taken on Sunday I had to write something and share them…

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Coffee Stop #1 of the Day. Greggs in Marlborough
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Obligatory Instagram photo

 

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Here’s some of that mud I mentioned
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Somewhere under there is a crank and chain ring
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That’s nice!
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Tea and Cake

tea and cake stop
A Brew with a View

We became a total cycling cliche today.

After about 30km of riding and thinking it was time to track back we came across a new trail feature on one of our local routes.

We haven’t been out locally as a group on a Sunday morning for a while and this was the first time we had ridden to Beckhampton on ride in a good few weeks.

It’s not that far from home really and its never really a highlight on our rides other than the a few little rooty features that we have a little play on from time to time. However today we all stopped and were very excited to see a little trailer selling tea and cake!

It’s pathetic really but the novelty factor of it suddenly appearing as if it were some sort of oasis in a desert meant we all had to partake in the tea and cake…

What a cliche, but who cares, let a just hope they keep it up and are there for the rest of the summer.

Tea Break

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I start a new contract next week and I’m going to be busy so this week I have been trying to make the most of time to get out as much as possible.

Last night I made sure my kit and my bike was ready and my stove and a tea bag was also on standby. Yesterday’s ride to the Devils Den made me realise I should have had my camping stove and made a proper tea, so this morning I was going to do it properly. I even took an OS map today cos I was going somewhere unknown.

A 42km round trip with a tea break in the middle was a great start to the day and by 10.30am I had had my bike fix for the day.

I’m also very pleased with this photo.

A nice cup of tea

mid ride brew stop

Anyone who knows me knows that mountain biking is much more to me than just riding a bike. Mountain biking keeps me fit, gives me time to think, provides me with the odd thrill at a bike park or on a steep hill side and it’s my socialising time with friends, friends that I have met because of mountain biking. I also like to take photos and bikes take me places I wouldn’t necessarily go on foot or can reach by car. Getting out doors and enjoying the view, nature and peace and quiet is up there possibly at the top of the list. The other benefits are bi-products of this “hobby”.

tea brewing equipment

While group or club rides are great fun, when riding on my own I can enjoy the peace and quiet at my pace, take as many photos as I like without keeping others waiting and generally slow things down if necessary. This week I took this to another level and introduced a proper cup of tea into my ride.

Some friends of mine occasionally bivvy camp and have camping and cooking gear. Bivvy camping is next on my list of biking activities but first I just had to try the #MidRideBrewStop.

A visit to GoOutdoors earlier this week and a little over £30 later and I had all I needed to make a cup of tea on trail. Now I have been known to take a flask of coffee out on long rides and it’s certainly nice to have a hot drink on a winter ride, however I had been reliably informed that making a fresh cup of tea from freshly boiled water is unbeatable.

Yesterday I rode out for a few hours trying a new 1×10 set up on my Giant and also took my tea making kit. Stopping in a sheltered spot and unpacking the stove and tea bag felt a bit silly to start with, but once the water had boiled, and a mug of tea brewed it all made sense.

Stopping and taking a few sips from a flask is ok – a little boost of caffeine, some warming liquid to take away a chill has its benefits, but taking the time to enjoy a full freshly brewed mug of tea is something else. I thought I was enjoying the sights and sounds of my surrounding countryside when I stopped for a breather at the top of a climb, or when I paused to take a photo; but sitting for 10 mins with a cup of tea is totally different.

I started hearing birds and the sounds of trees, took time to admire the views properly and had a proper time to think. Mostly my thoughts were about my new 1×10 set up and whether or not I needed to get that extender ring, but still it was a whole new experience.

GoOutdoors, JetBoil, High Gear

The kit wasn’t expensive and wasn’t the smallest I could have purchased. I was recommended some Alpkit equipment which I may well get my hands on, but this gear from GoOutdoors was cheaper and it’s larger capacity will come in handy for some summer camping with my son.

Now I will be planning some of my solo rides around “nice spot for a cuppa” locations so expect some more tea brewing stories and photos this summer.