Tag Archive: Love this!


Cycling Love this!

Reasons to go cycling in Scotland number 1

Another thing I used to do here was post inspiring videos or links to other people’s posts. Seems a shame not to record some of these as links shared on Twitter seem to be more and more transitory and fleeting in nature and soon forgotten. Google helps finding that thing where they went to the place that you know with the and on the…? Using obscure search terms to finally nail down what you’d been trying to recall but can’t bring back into current memory.


This one jumped out at me the other day and is just the kind of thing that appeals to me.

Watch the video and then read the full write up. There’s so many stunning images in that post. Riding with friends in remote places like this seems like an absolute dream although reasonably accessible. An overnight train from London and then off round the wilds of Scotland.

One of the nicest things about the Pannier write ups is their little bits of research and studying of mapping. I have a massive soft spot for these little sketches of the route too.



Cycling Love this!

For the love of cyclocross

I guess this isn’t really about the bike as such but more about the ridiculous amount of fun I’ve been having on it and a new found respect for Cyclocross and riding silly bikes off road. It’s a bit of a ramble but I’ve done lots of fun things on a CX bike and wanted record it in some way.

At the end of last year I got hold of a prototype Bowman Foots Cray frame and forks in bright orange. A trip to the parts bin, Wiggle for a few items, a borrowed chainset and a further borrowed set of wheels later I had a little CX ripper for playing about on. The intention was to race a season of cyclocross over the winter but this never really happened for a variety of reasons. I managed a long commute home on the towpath to test it out and loved it.

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My first proper ride of the bike was around my favourite MTB loop round Surrey. It’s not super technical, apart from a few lines here and there but by and large could probably even be done on a road bike, albeit quite slowly. I used to ride round here on a six inch travel monster with a backpack full of stuff and think it was amazing. Freeride really was a load of old cobblers. Bikes got super heavy and took a lot of the actual riding out of riding.

I convinced Steve and Aggie to join us and had a brilliant time riding unsuitable bikes on mountainbike trails.

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See the smiles? So much fun being had on a misty autumn day.

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I came off in a thorn bush, we had loads of punctures between us but we all had an amazing time and managed a 45km off road loop. Sweat, mud, blood but no tears!

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Bizarrely my first proper CX event was on a Boris Bike at Incredibly Cross. On the way back from Surrey we’d been discussing the US CX events and the inspiration for them. A bunch of friends, secret locations, beer hand ups, dressing up, inappropriate bikes… Basically a lot of fun larking around on bikes and no Cat 3 nonsense. The last two piqued my interest.

How about I do it as Boris on a Boris bike?

Steve (the organiser) seemed keen so the following week I got a charity shop blazer, shirt, tie etc, a wig and hired a Boris bike before heading out south to Mitcham to ride the course.

A slight pang of self consciousness arrived as I cycled into the park where 60 or so other riders were all in the usual CX get up, lycra, proper SPD shoes, nice bikes etc. Too late to back out now I guess.

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Lot’s of giggles were had though with everyone being very funny and saying how nice it was to see the Mayor of London riding CX. I had a go riding the course. It went surprisingly well with the massive tyres although lifting it over a log and pushing it up a massive hill was less fun. It’s heavy, real heavy at 23kg! The big tyres did help though.

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I did actually manage to race it though and did even manage to overtake a few people. After a few laps I was exhausted. Jacket off, beer hand up and a few more laps. Loved it when people shouted “on your left Boris” as they rode past. I was pleased to ride the up hill section with turn to the right. The people watching were great too with more shouts of encouragement.

The end couldn’t come soon enough and I was so glad to finish. I won a prize for ‘most inappropriate bike’ with fellow BCC ride Ben winning ‘best outfit’ for his space suit and helmet!

Sam Melish was out with his nice medium format camera and got this portrait of me which is great.

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Boris bikes also are good for carrying packages, large and small as the next photo demonstrates. I couldn’t get the elastic over Adeline securely in place and eventually she got tipped off.

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After this I did actually want to ride the CX bike again and took it out to Swinley Forest. As I was getting ready in the carpark another rider said to me…

Stick to the fire roads and blue trails and you’ll be fine

I smiled and nodded. Not a chance. I wanted to go and have a blast round the trails. All the trails. Again there’s nothing too crazy there and if it was I could just slow down. I did the blue then onto the red, down the tank traps, down the trails by the reservoir and loved it. Sure, my back hurt when I got back but it was great fun. It’s also so much fun rocking up to the top of a trail with everyone tooled up with big bikes and goggles and then saying ‘morning’ to them before heading down the same trail. The ridiculousness of it all brings a smile to my face every time.

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I’ve been back for another trip round Swinley recently and had a similar reaction although with one person telling us off for going too fast and wanting to go past him. Why go slow on amazing trails? Strangely I’ve ridden a lot of the trails faster on a cross bike than my usual MTB!

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There was another Incredibly Cross event before Christmas which happened to be on the same day as my office Christmas party. Fortunately they were both in the same part of town and close to our flat. So I left the party, got home, changed and got the bike ready to head down to Christmas Cross. After the Boris ride I fancied riding a decent bike and just enjoying it. However my concession to dressing up was to cover the bike in a set of cheap LEDs from Amazon. Christmas bike!

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Having a large dinner and a lot of beer during the day wasn’t the best plan for racing but I had a great time on the course. There was a tight bend where everyone had congregated which meant lots of shouting whilst trying not to stack it riding round a mucky corner. Fortunately Robin had a megaphone which meant he could shout even louder in your face each time. This is by far my favourite photo from the evening as taken by Roland Ellis.

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Others turned up with various fancy dress outfits including PK as a chicken and Bash with some badly placed antlers on his bars. I’m sure it seemed like a great idea at the time.


I finally entered what you might call a proper CX race. The New Years Day madison at Herne Hill. I tried to not drink too much the night before but Will and Marta had other ideas. Hangover in full swing I had a go at the course with Will as my partner. Muddy and sketchy but great fun. Pushing up big bob round the back and trying to do mounting and dismounts for the again was fun. More practice needed for sure!

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There was one more Incredibly Cross event to end the season which involved more mud. More heckling. A stupid little crash on the way there and most importantly smoke bombs in a field in North East London.

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A smaller turn out but just as much fun!

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The next event was the White Hills Chalk Ultracross ride down near Brighton. It was meant to be 75km offroad round the wonderful hills of the South Downs National park.

This is a ride on Cyclocross bikes; a nod to The Three Peaks but with the attitude of Boulder Ultracross and, well, more English – there’s extra kudos for turning up on a single speed. The ride ends in the pub – a place where all good rides should end

There’s a post on the Morvélo blog which explains it in a bit more detail and has a good summary of the day. Mine is as follows though. The weather was pretty horrific. The ground was gloopy. The wind was windy. It was really quite cold. It was so windy that we all got blown off our bikes a few times. I’ve developed some riding skills over the years but until now not had to try leaning at 45 degrees into the wind just to stay upright.

Having said all that our cross bikes did take us to extremely beautiful spots which made the effort well worth it.

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Fortunately others were also suffering and the ride was cut short with the last few hills skipped. After warming up in a friendly pub, eating all the chips with cheese we headed back to the end of the course and to the warmth of the van. One for a slightly nicer day perhaps.

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At some point over Christmas myself and few others from Brixton signed up for the Dirty Reiver event in Kielder Forest. A 200km off road event on cross bikes. It sounded like fun at the time but now it’s only four weeks away and I’m thinking of all the fitness I might not have for this. I did a 200km audax last Sunday and really felt it the next day. That was on smooth roads for the most part.

So on Thursday night I headed to Richmond Park with Rob, Matt and Ed to do some ‘gravel laps’. It seemed like a good idea. Ride the cross bike, get used to it a bit more, ride off road a bit, ride in the dark (as no doubt we’ll end up in the dark on the Dirty Reiver). I expected it to be fairly boring and tame. But riding a cross bike offroad in the dark is great fun. The best part, it’s accessible from work, is a better work out, is actually quite fun hooning it around at night on a loose surface and you can stop at the pub on the way home. More importantly it’s not as mind numbingly boring as laps of Richmond Park on the road!

It does seem like CX bikes or the new gravel type bikes open up a whole world of possibilities for riding. I stopped using my MTB as it was such a ball ache getting anywhere to use it from London. But this allows you to ride there and mix up roads with off road as well as go a little faster.

Next up? Well there’s this Dorset Gravel Dash I have my eye on, especially after reading this ride report from last year by Jo Burt.

This quote amused me…

Gravel Racing has become A Thing in the USA where they have vast amounts of endless horizons and vast miles of unmade road to reach them by, and they’ve invented Gravel Bikes to ride them on.

I say invented, I mean marketed a new bike for something you could have done on all sorts of bicycles that have existed for the last 100 years or so. Think of a cyclocross/29er mountain/touring frankenbike and you’ve pretty much got a Gravel Bike, just add carbon and an arty Vimeo. It’s most like a ‘cross bike but with fatter tyres and lazier all-day geometry and maybe the capability to bolt epic adventure all-day stuff to. It’s all about the Epic.

Seems like lots of people have been having fun on these kinds of bikes and I just didn’t know it was out there. Viva le Cross!


Cycling Love this!

Brilliant service from Bontrager

I’m more and more amazed by some of the service available in the bike industry. I’ve had a pair of Bontrager RL road shoes since March and they’ve been brilliant. Lovely and stiff, comfy and look pretty good. Looking at my Strava I’ve probably done about 8000km in them. Sadly they had started to come away from the soles on the left shoe and on the off chance I showed them to the guys in Balfes to see if there was anything that could be done. That was last Sat and now I have a brand new set of shoes thanks to the amazing warranty of Bontrager UK. They didn’t even want the old ones back so I now have a set to wear to death through winter and a lovely box fresh set for the spring! Credit where it’s due, that’s brilliant service!


Love this!


Amazing new brand and identify for Emma from &Agency.

A photo posted by HUTTON (@weequizzie) on

A photo posted by HUTTON (@weequizzie) on


Art Love this!

Future archaeology

The idea that we’re currently creating archaeology for future generations is a pretty fascinating one, for me at least. Whilst our digital history might not be so permanent the idea that someone might uncover evidence of our existence in the future is pretty interesting.

Which is why I love this piece by artist Matthew Sawyer entitled FUCK YOU to the future (without me), 2014.


Via lots of people.


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The Runners

Catching up with Emma’s blog I found this. So beautiful the stories shared and incredibly edited.


Funny Love this!

Sarah Silverman does TED

So last weekend we had a friend round for dinner and as usual by 11.30 conversation turns to “Have you seen that thing where they do this”.. and well you know the TV goes on and you start laughing at YouTube videos.

We watched all sorts of funny stuff til 1am but this stuck out as being one of the funniest. I’ve no idea what the TED people were thinking when they invited Sarah Silverman on but the results are spectacular.

Funnily enough it never made it to the TED site.


Cycling Love this!

A busy weekend in Wales

Graham kindly organised a weekend in Wales which has been in the diary for ages now due to needing to get a booking at the hugely popular Old Skool Mountainbiking lodge.

We left on the Friday morning which was great to avoid the after work dash. We met Graham at the services on the M1 and headed up to Cannock to get a loop in there.

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Arriving at Cannock we met Graham’s mates Matt and Mark and did the usual faff in the car park and got on it. Within five minutes I was completely soaked in sweat. It was so warm in the forest and a merino t-shirt was clearly the wrong idea. As is usual with Cannock it takes a while to get used to the terrain, which in some ways is similar to Swinley. Those rounded polished pebbles always seem to worry me but after a while we got used to it. We stopped regularly and at one point chatted to a guy who had fallen off the little north shore section into some stinky mud. It’s hard not to smile but he had seen the funny side fortunately which was good as most of the left hand side of his body was covered in mud.

At one point you have to make a choice between a longer and shorter trail. I looked at it with Matt T and we agreed on the longer one but somehow took the shorter turn. We were back at the car park pretty quickly and soon realised the mistake. This then begged the question of what to do next as a 10k loop round Cannock wasn’t really enough to satisfy. Graham and his mate Mark did the 10k again and Matt, Matt T and myself went out to do the full 25k loop which involved more sweat and airless riding in the forest. Although entirely worth it for some of the descents even though the braking bumps had become steps. At what point do braking bumps become drop offs?

After some food we headed off to the lodge via the most beautiful road I have ever been on. Matt spent most of it hanging out of the window taking pictures. Whilst the drive was enjoyable it was pretty hard to not look at the view so we pulled in and had a good look at the glory of the landscape beneath us.

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Stunning Welsh landscape

After that it wasn’t long to get to Sian and Daffyd’s place (The Old School House). As usual we were greeted to a very friendly arrival and tea/coffee/beer etc. We had planned to have a bit of a ride that evening on the road bikes but instead settled down to relax for a bit and then headed to the pub for dinner. Our extra 25k loop at Cannock had put the schedule back a bit. We didn’t manage more than three pints before heading back to get an early night.

I got up at 7.30 with Matt who wanted to go running up to a little wild swimming area further up the mountain. I rode up there with Mark but by the time we’d pumped our tyres up and got out we’d missed the two Matts and completely cocked up the directions. As it was raining we came back and got on with breakfast. Reviewing the GPS log when we got in we realised we had been within a few hundred metres of them which was a real shame. However it was a bit damp and it was good to get back and get warm and drink coffee whilst waiting for breakfast.

Aborted wild swimming attempt

Breakfast was superb as usual and reluctantly we headed out to Coed-Y in the rain expecting the usual damp ride. I bought a cheap jacket in the shop and Matt T grabbed some overshoes. They had apparently been having a good day selling wet weather gear! Matt went for a 13 mile run instead of riding but we headed out on The Beast. The rain soon subsided and jackets were too warm as it was still hot and muggy. The damp formed up this incredible mist over the valleys we were riding around.

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The trails were riding really well and The Beast has now become one of my favourite trails overall. The rocky drops and technical sections really great as was Fester and the Adams Family. It was great to fly down them and we hardly saw a soul round the trail. I even cleared the rooty technical uphill section that had become my nemesis on recent trips. We stopped at the little cottage for a bite to eat but bizarrely were one of only two groups there, the other being a couple. Normally it’s rammed so maybe the wet weather had scared everyone off.

One highlight was seeing an Owl fly a few feet in front of us and then sit in a tree and watch us. Amazing to see one during the day and also that close.

We skipped the final climb as the Beginning of the End was shut and it just meant a boring climb on fire road for nothing. We got back to the school house and had a shower and got changed before heading out on a route I’d previously prepared for the road bikes. I’d run it past Sian and Dafyyd first to check it wasn’t terrible and that I hadn’t made some obvious mistakes. I managed to convince both Matt’s to join me.

On top of a Welsh hillside

For the first part it mainly consisted on non-stop climbing on a single track road. I soon got to that point of no more gears. That dreaded place where you know you can’t just click through to one more like you usually can on a mountainbike. So nothing for it but to get out of the saddle and get grinding away at it. Matt didn’t seem overly convinced as per below.

Why did I agree to this?

Soon enough though we crested the top of the hill (mountain?) and were treated to some incredible scenery as we freewheeled down. We had also seen a few massive birds of prey as well as the usual many sheep. Having done lots of pretty technical riding at Coed-Y this seemed far more scary riding down a tiny little road with a gravel bit in the middle and stones and sheep shit all over it. Gently did it.

A welcome bit of descent
Time for a breather

This continued for a while longer and involved opening and closing lots of gates as well as being barked at by a dog at each and every farm we passed. It really was the most incredible scenery and it felt like hardly anyone ever came up here. It felt like what you imagine road riding should actually be about, not a loop out to Kent or a few laps or Regents or Richmond park. It felt properly isolated and a proper challenge.

After a while we ended up on the main road briefly before turning off to do more climbing. This just seemed even more painful and the descents that followed were even scarier due to green slime on the road in places. We ended up in a bit of a chain gang to get past the next main road section and then back off through a few picturesque little villages and into the back of Coed-Y-Brenin. We ended up on the same gravel fire roads we’d ridden earlier and then up and over slightly to get back to the School House. Whilst it was ‘only 50k‘ it felt fairly epic due to the amount of climbing – 1100m or so. I’d imagine you’d get so fit living round there and riding that sort of terrain all the time on or off road.

Anyway, back for another shower and then off for more beer and as much food as possible before bed.

Next morning I had wanted to get that wild swim in. Having got up 30mins too late I ended up driving the van up there with Matt (and his mug of coffee) instead of cycling. It really is a beautiful location and Matt T was already in doing a few lengths. The water was brown and peaty but still clear. As I put my toes in I could see little fish around the bottom in the rocks.

Give us a wave Matt

It was painfully cold at first and I was gasping for air but once I’d got through the initial pain and shock it felt incredible.

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After a few lengths I got out to head back for breakfast. The feeling you get on your skin after a swim in that water is amazing. It’s so refreshing and I was fully awake by that point. Both Matt’s ran back whilst I drove.

After that it was packing up and off to Llandegla which didn’t disappoint as usual. The first climb was fairly arduous following the mega cycling day before and it was still hot and clammy. The trails were in superb condition and riding really nice and fast. After that we tucked into the BBQ at the cafe, oogled the bikes in the shop and headed back to London.

You always forget what a hell of a long way it is back. It’s generally a 550 mile round trip which is a hell of a lot of driving even split over a weekend. One of the nicest things about the weekend though was the mixture of activities rather than just a few hours at a trail centre and then beers. Taking the road bikes and having a swim all seemed like a good idea and will definitely be happening again. I’ve already started looking out for more wild swimming opportunities and hope to have a dip in a spot I’ve found in Hay on Wye in a few weekends with Emma. I wonder if she’ll let me take the road bike?


Cycling Love this!

What beautiful madness – Dunwich Dynamo 2014

I’ve been talking about wanting to do this since 2008 on and off and it always made my list of things to do. But somehow I never either felt confident enough to do it or it clashed with Birthdays or some other excuse was found. This year I’ve increased my cycling considerably, mainly as a result of getting a Garmin and using Strava. More on that another time, but essentially I’ve been tracking all my riding and upping the distance at every opportunity.

So I tried to get a bunch of people together and see if they’d be up for it. Graham, James and Paul and Magnus all agreed. Some of whom had done it before but James and Paul hadn’t. I also mentioned it to Andy who surprisingly to me hadn’t done it before either.

I’d spent a while thinking about the whole event and planning it in my mind. I was really keen to not ride with a rucksack at all and see if I could keep everything I needed in my jersey pockets. It’s so much nicer riding a road bike without a bag and I’ve even started trying to get to work some days without one. The only concession I did make was a little saddle bag, which although ugly, did a great job of keeping tubes and tools out of my jersey. My layering consisted of a jersey, arm warmers, gilet and then soft shell. I carried the gilet and soft shell in a little Rapha feed bag knowing that I’d put them on soon enough and fold the bag up in my jacket pocket.

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The day before I dropped my van off with supplies in at the car park at Dunwich before cycling the 50k to Ipswich on the Brompton. I left a cool box with bacon, eggs, sausages coffee and beer in so that we could cook when we got there rather than queuing for the cafe. This proved to be well worth the effort in the end. On the actual day of the ride I had hoped to get a nap in the afternoon, in anticipation of the sleepless night ahead. Unfortunately I was too excited to sleep although closed my eyes for a bit. Emma cooked me a big bowl of wholemeal pasta before I left and I ended up getting ready a bit early before proceeding to pace around the flat a bit with all those nerves and excitement running through me.

We met James, Magnus and his friend, who was on a Brompton, at Camberwell before heading up to London Fields where a substantial crowd had already formed. We stood by the pub for a bit to watch the spectacle of it all and had a chat with a few random people as well as admiring the bikes. Everyone arrived and we headed off about 8.30. There was all sorts in terms of bikes and riders. Your usual roadie variety, the old bearded tourer, tandems with couples on, Boris bikes, plenty of Bromptons, trikes, recumbent trikes, recumbents as well as a tall bike and lots of other weird and wonderful things including one guy riding a BMX and another riding one of those cross trainer type contraptions you sometimes see round Hyde Park.

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Magnus got a route card just in case and at the bottom of the page was this fantastic quote.

In England they ask: “Is it for charity?”
In France, Spain, Italy or Flanders they murmur: “What beautiful madness.”

Madness indeed!

Trying to get out of London with the thousands of people on bikes wasn’t all that easy due to the sheer number of people on the roads and we lost Magnus and his mate on the way. These roads clearly were not normally design for or used to seeing these numbers as well as Sat traffic. A few young lads stopped outside a shop to high five everyone going past which was great. You could see there was the chance of some conflict with frustrated drivers though so we took a left through the side streets thanks to Andy and a bit of local knowledge. When we rejoined the ride we were on the stretch up to Epping Forest which has a gentle incline. Nothing too much but a reminder that it wasn’t going to be flat all the way. A neat group of us was formed although I found it all too tempting to ramp up the pace and chase others down. I had to remind myself that I was the only one with the map in the Garmin and that I should really be riding with and looking out for James and Paul who I had coerced into doing it. I also had to think of the many kilometres ahead!

As the night drew in the line of red lights formed this amazing long line of light stretching into the distance. A few people stopped to watch as we all came past and a group of three young girls told us they “… Loved us all!” which was nice. We settled into a reasonable rhythm but ultimately the pace was a little quick to keep everyone together. It felt great to be moving at such a good pace and felt like I was being dragged along by the whole event. A gentle south westerly wind also seemed to push us further along.

After a while we got separated from Andy and his other buddies. It’s not that easy keeping a group of around 8-9 people together mixed in with thousands of other riders. James, Paul, Graham and myself settled in to our own little group and caught up with the main group at the first pub stop. Whilst I didn’t dare touch the booze a few others had a pint. Having not ridden that kind of distance before I was really keen to make sure nothing jeopardised it at all. Orange juice and lemonade was fine for me.

We joined the group again and headed back out. By this point we were well outside London, past the M25 and into the rolling countryside. At points the blinking red lights stretched out for seemingly miles on end as the landscaped allowed. It was such an unusual and strangely moving sight to see. All these people moving as one through the night to their destination of the sea in such a peaceful way. There seemed to be very little noise that I was aware of, just the hum of the tyres in the road and the occasional change of gear.

The air was hot and humid when we started and I was beginning to think I wasn’t going to need my jacket. Shortly after this the heavens opened and we were subjected to what felt like 30mins of torrential rain. I put my jacket on and within five minutes it had wetted through. Shortly after it started collecting water on the inside around the cuffs. It felt nice at first to be a bit cooler but then it was just grim. Thoughts of cycling the whole thing like this just couldn’t be entertained as it was too depressing. It felt like one of those silly Rapha videos where they’re suffering on the Isle of Sky in the pouring rain. But it’s all good because it’s all about the suffering right?

Anyway it stopped after a while and our minds stopped freaking out so much. We stopped at another pub to dry out a bit and have some bars before pushing on. We didn’t really ever stop for very long at each place as I didn’t want us to get cold or too settled in. I was also quite keen to get to the beach before it got too mobbed as well as see sunrise on the coast.

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Throughout the ride you never really felt alone at any point. There was always someone around either riding or fixing a puncture or just stopped for a breather. There were also pretty good signals from a lot of the riders pointing out pot holes or man hole covers which made it even more pleasurable. One person hadn’t been so lucky and had taken a bad hit on their wheel. Fortunately their friends stayed there with a light to warn others of the danger. The road was generally smooth and it really did feel like you were gliding along. I tried really hard to keep a high cadence and not grind away at the gears. This seemed to do the trick and also eased the pain in my right calf which had appeared when we started – probably from the 50k Brompton trip the day before. My right knee had also started to flare up a little but by spinning out it soon subsided.

As the Garmin showed 100k down I felt like we had passed a milestone. It felt like it was simply a matter of ticking down in 5k increments to get there. It all felt quite achievable although I did feel like you had to turn something off in your head to get to this place and keep going.

I had the occasional chat with the odd stranger whilst sharing a similar pace. The one I enjoyed the most was talking to a couple on a tandem who were steaming along at a fair old pace. I also had a quick chat with a woman on a fixed who “…thought it seemed like a good idea earlier“. I passed her a bit later and tried to reassure her that it was only another 20k to go.

At one point we got to the bottom of a large hill and I stopped to re-group. A female police officer on the other side of the road wound down her window to tell me there was a cafe just round the corner that was open and drive up there to show me. It was very kind of her and we stopped there for a bacon roll (only £1.70) and coffee. I had a second with an egg as the first one was so delicious. It was so so good to eat some proper food and not energy gels or bars and it went down a treat.

Back on the road the water from the downpour had started to evaporate and we had this lovely cycle through winding country lanes in the mist again with the lights trailing off into the distance. Visibility was pretty poor but it further added to the atmosphere of it all. We got the occasional glimpse of the moon but it was cloudy for most of the night. I can imagine it would have been so different with the bright moon shining down lighting the way, maybe next year.

We stopped again later in a little village where we caught up with Andy and Big John having another pint. This was about 2am and a few of the locals were propped at the bar a little worse for wear. One of them took a shine to my hat asking if he could have it whilst I asked the barmaid for some water. Having paid good money for it I declined but passed him over to Andy who had the same one on. I left him to it and when he left the pub was minus a hat having sold it for £5 to a very drunk man who claimed it was his birthday.


Onwards again and by the time we got to about 140k we were treated to a lightning show on the horizon. Then the sun started to appear – well the light lifted as it was still cloudy and dawn appeared over the horizon. James had a bit of a mechanical, just a stiff link, which we attended to and then pushed on for the beach.

The route I had downloaded to the Garmin was completely incorrect by around 120k. So we gave up and just followed people which worked fine for the most part. Obviously this further reinforces the idea that you shouldn’t trust everything you get off the internet!

The last leg of the ride I got a bit carried away with the pace and left the group. I waited for them every now and then to regroup but then as we all seemed to know what we were doing I kept on. I got onto a bit of a power burn in my enthusiasm to get there although some Dulwich Paragon riders seemed to object to that. They kept passing me then trying to force me over as the other riders tried to sit behind the leader. A lack of hand signals from them further compounded my frustration. They were the only rude riders I met throughout the whole thing. I eased off the gas and just let them do their thing as tiredness and a dangerous group ride didn’t seem like an ideal combination. They had also led me off the actual route which was a bit annoying. Fortunately two others came past who seemed to have made the same mistake but knew how to get back. I had a really nice chat with them and it transpired that they had managed to avoid the rain through a carefully timed food stop. I couldn’t quite believe it as I still hadn’t finished drying out from our soaking 60k in! Back on the route I headed straight for the beach. On the corner where you turn in the the long road down I met another bunch and gave my remaining water to a women who had run out. We all discussed how utterly exhausted we were and then rode on. As I’d driven down this road on Friday I had a rough idea of what was left and decided to really give it some just to shake out every last bit of energy from my legs. I even ended up with 4th place on the Strava segment as a result!

Fuck yeah Dunwich!

It was such an incredible feeling getting to the beach. It wasn’t too busy yet but I got down there and shortly after James and Paul joined us. Graham had stopped for a coffee and arrived a little later. We had a few pictures and I bumped into Bakes from Chocolate Foot (an old mtb forum) who I hadn’t seen in a long time. Having done the pictures thing and trying to send a text to Emma to tell her I was still alive, I found Andy and his mates and got the beer open. It was delicious! I’ve never tasted anything so good. It started to rain again so we sheltered in the van for a bit before getting the stove out to make a stove top full of coffee.

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I did Andy’s group first as they were due to ride to Ipswich to get the train. Then after we had coffee I went for a swim. Whilst a little cold, but not as bad as I had expected, it was great to have some cool water on my legs and stretch out. Also it was great to clean of all that sweat and road muck.

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It felt like such an incredible achievement. I was particularly pleased that James made it and at a decent pace at that. This is after he emailed me earlier in the week saying he’d struggled to cycle to work one day! It’s hard to describe how it feels to have done that overnight and such a long distance – it’s the longest ride I’ve ever done. It is also meant I cycled 380k last week which is by far the biggest week I’ve ever had on a bike. There was a real sense of euphoria at the end as well as relief. We were also lucky to not have any punctures or mechanicals along our way.

Dunwich breakfast

After cooking our breakfast an enormous queue had formed at the cafe which I was so glad we didn’t need to use. We loaded the van and headed back via Ipswich to drop Paul off. I then stopped a bit after to have a nap before driving the rest of the way back.

Tired, really tired

I got in and proceeded to tell Emma all about it still bursting with excitement and also strangely emotional about the whole thing. It’s like someone had let you in to a secret club of sorts – those who have done the Dynamo are clearly different from this who haven’t. I then eat loads, slept for three hours, ate a bit more then slept for a little longer before getting up to eat even more and watch the football. I then slept like a baby overnight and unfortunately had to go to work the next day. I couldn’t face cycling so got the bus which I can’t remember the last time I did that. I spent all Monday thinking about our mad little adventure. I tried explaining it to some people but no one really understood. That’s fine though but it stands as the best bike riding experience I’ve ever had and so pleased I did it and with such an amazing bunch of people!

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And the vital stats? 7 hours 10 mins actual pedalling time, 1330m of ascent and 193.8km covered. Amazing what you can do really.



Love this!

All coffee is now rubbish

Yeah even Monmouth is really not that great when you’ve had the best frickin’ coffee in the world. This is a picture of me drinking the best coffee in the world, not in London, but in Bath. Bath of all places!


We were in Bath this weekend to see my Mum for her birthday and went into town after a run at silly o’clock with Emma. I really fancied a decent coffee after my Costa Macchiato special on the M4 the night before. A quick search online for “Decent coffee Bath” turned up a place called Colonna and Smalls which was via an article in the Independent listing the 50 best coffee shops in the UK. I thought I’d give it a go and was pleasantly surprised with just how nice it was. Everything from the interior, to the staff, to the way in which it’s all laid out and even the mugs, was incredible. They have three espresso coffees and then three brew type coffees. All chosen for their particular characteristics. We said we’d have two flat whites of whatever they recommended.

I’ve never tasted coffee like it. I like coffee but I’m not an expert but this was pretty special. Loads of flavour, perfect temperature, not too milky and a nice strong taste without being mental strong. Incredible.

The attention to detail is immense and goes right down to the tasting notes and the reasons why they don’t think you should have sugar in it whilst at the same time avoiding being patronising and intimidating for those not in the know.

Here’s to the world’s best coffee which I’m still amazed exists in my home town! The trouble is that all other coffee is now inferior and I live in London. Ahh well.


Pics by weequizzie