Thursday, 15 April 2010

Because you can

I'm sitting on the train blogging and listening to Nick Cave's Murder Ballads again, just because you can. Isn't technology wonderful? Come to that Stagger Lee is mind altering at high volume too.

After a long winter layoff, I decided that drastic action is now called for and rode the Dorset Coast 200 Audax last weekend. 132 miles, 11hours 30 minutes, 9985 calories and 12,000 feet of climbing was certainly the short sharp shock my body needed, even if I was the last man (or woman) home. This is the 5th time I've ridden this event, the first being 1982 but the first I've had to walk up Abbotsbury Hill (Fantastic views of Chesil Beach), Sector Lane or Spyways Hill. At the top of the latter, fortunately after I was back in the saddle was a "Gentleman" with a camera telling me to smile and pretend I was enjoying the experience! I think I was nice to him, but was too far gone to be sure.
The Boy Wonder did the Rapha Hell of the North Cotswolds on Sunday and apparently it had a similar effect on him but it's all good prep for June. Round 2 is this Sunday as I'm riding another 200k, this time the Witham 200 through North Essex and Suffolk. Club 10's start the following week with track training only a week or two after that. Combine this with an occasional commute and the miles will start to build up. All I'll need then is that turn of killer speed I've been looking for in vain for the last 30 years!

I know its there somewhere......

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Its Holy Week


and the big question is can Tommeke or Stijn make it 3 at Flanders. If I recall correctly, only about 3 riders have got 3 Ronde's in their palmares and of all those currently in the pro peloton only these two, both riding for Quick Step have more than one win. But, but but....Stijn Devolder could equal Antoine Magne's records of three on the trot having won in 2008 and 9. that would be a proper hat trick.

The whole of Belgium is wetting itself in anticipation.....

If he wins don't even bother talking to the Belgies for at least a month.... hmmm.....Mind you, if Tom boy wins a fourth Roubaix next Sunday as well, they'll be totally insufferable until at least the Giro and Roger deVlaemink will probably be scared enough to get back on the bike and try for No.5.

All we need now is snow like we had in 2008.

What a prospect......

(Photo - Stijn Devolder on the Muur Kappelmuur on the way to winning in the Belgian National Champions Jersey) Mrs Kipper and self are behind the KBC banner at the top)

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Effing Mumfords

We went to see Mumford and sons at the Shepherds Bush Empire the other day. I have to confess it was not quite what I expected. And the aftermath just confirms this.....
As usual for shepherds Bush gigs we had an early dinner in a nearby Italian restaurant and proceeded to the venue once the doors had opened. For a change (and surprisingly) the goons decided to search my bag which was on its way to the cloaks in any case. HaHa for them! In my bag I had: 1 pair of handlebars, 1 handlebar stem, a pair of Campagnolo Ergo levers, 250g of Fortnums tea and a jar of Fortnums Blackberry jam. Well that threw them! I was ESCORTED to the cloakrooms by a heavy just to make sure I put the bag and contents in the cloakroom. What did they think I was going to do? Flick tea leaves at the stage?

So we finally got in well in time for the support, of which there were two, both of whom appeared to have other links with the headliners, but never mind, they were both good value and acts to watch out for in the future. Finally Mumford and Sons took to the stage and at this point it dawned on us that not only were we at the last (or nearly last) gig of a very succesful first national tour, but we were on their home turf and right in the middle of what passes for a mosh pit in such refined company. Mums and Dads were in the balcony while old school chums etc. were down with us. It certainly added to the atmosphere and the boys were in cracking form, Gromit.
I say "boys" and I mean boys... From the album and associated email newsletters I had expected a band of "not so youthful" experienced musos (maybe from the west country) who might have been on top of their game for years, but no.. I don't think any of them actually shave yet!
None of this should serve to distract from the evening. They played pretty much all of their first album Sigh No More in a very deft manner and added a few new tunes which admittedly did not sound as strong as the older material but will likely get more defined with repeated listening - I'll give the benfit of doubt here.
The aftermath part 1 - On the way out I paused to have a look at our fellow gig goers... I must have been the oldest person in the standing stalls by a good 20 or 30 years - even Ed or Rachel would have felt old in this company! Suddenly I didn't feel quite so comfortable. . . . .
Followed by the aftermath part 2 - Since the gig I've noticed that both BBC and ITV are using Munfords tunes during programme trails. Now I really can't get them out of my head.

Productivity at last.

Yahoo! The decorating is finally done, the pictures are back on the walls and the house is back to looking like its a home again. We've got two pictures bought in San Francisco to frame and hang, but wall spaces are allocated so its only a matter of time before we get that one done too. Its been raining on and off all day but we also got a load of stuff down the charity shop and the conservatory now looks suspiciously empty. I suppose its only a matter of time before it gets filled with toot again but it looks nice at the moment.
I've also changed the stem on my new Flying Gate touring bike about 4 times this afternoon but I think I've got it dialled in about right now. A bit of a shake down tomorrow will tell if its right and then I'll be planning a charity ride from Warwick to Home overnight on it some time before Roubaix to sort the legs out.
The first race of the year is next Monday, the club's Easter Egg 10. There's usually a big field for this one and I have got a few miles in during March so far and although I've only done about 45 miles at a time, some rides have been quite fast and I am starting to feel back to normal on the bike. It will be interesting to see how my time stacks up against previous years. In 2009 it was my 4th race and I managed a 27:59. In 2008 I'd done 4 races and clocked 26:48. I think this year I'll be lucky to get near either of those times but pride says I have to beat 29 mins - I could probably walk it quicker... Time will tell.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

I don't believe it!

No I really don't believe it. February 2010 was the first month for at least 14 years that I have touched the bike for more than about 2 weeks and I've had a complete calendar month off! How did I manage it?
You could say that what with the weather this winter being the worst for 30 years or so (Official - The Met Office) and all of the other distractions involved in setting up a new consultancy business especially as I'm currently up to my eyes in Contract Law and desperately trying to remember stuff from Uni its not a surprise.
But today I rode to and from my Basildon office and boy I am soooooo unfit. Hopefully I'll get there in a couple of months.
Targets for the year, as stated in an earlier blog are fairly straightforward: Paris Roubaix Cyclo, two 100 mile TT's and the ECCA 12 hour. I ought to have started with 10 milers and hardrider events by now, moving up to 25's and 50's before the end of April but with training starting today a little readjustment may be necessary. I've decided that an early season based on 200 and 300 km randonees is probably a more logical approach, but its been a while since I rode a full 200k - 2 years to be precise (and that one was like last weekends KBK - Chapeau Ian Stannard!) and the 300k has always been a bogie distance for me as I've started loads but never finished one! A couple of 400k's would also be a good idea but time is seriously running out. Let the fun commence!

Sunday, 31 January 2010


There's a lively debate on the cycling forums at the moment about the so called linkage between food consumption and exercise, mostly about the "fact" that they are not directly related. I'm not sure there's any truth in this as every time I stop riding, running or going to the gym I put on weight big style. However, at my mum's 80th birthday party last September I couldn't help but notice that we Knowlers have a "body shape". Uncles Bubbles and Will had the "League of pear shaped men" body shape in spades and cousins Richard and Roger have the same "stylee" almost exactly. It now starts to look like I'm not far behind. It doesn't seem to matter what I do, or even if I suffer for it, I appear to be going down that road, a belly is starting to form. Mind you, this winter has allegedly been the harshest for 30 years and I really cannot, cannot, stand hours on the turbo. So what with starting up Crowstone Safety Ltd. and everything that entails I've been labouring under the inpression that my current total lack of fitness has been due to my lack of miles and that this has been directly related to my expanding waistline but maybe not so.
Maybe, just maybe, its all out of my control and all I should do is ride the dragon, get the miles in and relax in the knowledge that if I'm a bit porky it was all meant to be. Ed, Joe, take note.
In the meantime a serious lack of winter miles has meant a re-think of my usual early season strategy. For the first time in years I'm not going to ride either of the 2 traditional season openers, the Maldon and Hainault hillies. I must make a point of riding out to spectate though as I'm gonna be doing my winter training though the spring and hopefully I'll come into a bit of form and a lot of belly loss in the summer in time for Paris Roubaix (June 4th), the ECCA 12 hour (Early August) and a couple 100 mile TTs (Kent CA and ECCA?) in the summer. Why do I stress about this? After all don't I have enough to worry about in the real world?
Is there a real world that doesn't include bikes?

Saturday, 2 January 2010

So what did you get for Christmas?

Two weeks of almost total hibernation have yielded some unexpected results. As noted earlier, both self and Mrs. Kipper have spent the last fortnight in slob mode (copyright Dan Hutson). However, Christmas yielded a new MP3 player - 8 Gb with radio and tiny as whatsit as well as several Cds. So far I'm so totally stuck on Sex and Gasoline by Rodney Crowell and Sigh no More by Mumford and Sons that I haven't even got as far as properly listening to Now Again by The Flatlanders which also landed under the tree this year.
We saw Rodney Crowell supporting the Flatlanders at the Barbican earlier this year and I am still undecided who gave the best performance. I'd seen Joe Ely leading the Joe Ely Band over 20 years ago in support of Robert Cray (who we also saw this year) and kind of knew what to expect but The Flatlanders were superb. Rodney Crowell was altogether more low key than The Flatlanders (if such a thing can happen) but I was blown away by the quality of his songs and his confidently assured set. The CD does not dissapoint.
We've both been getting into Mumford and Sons since their EP was released in the summer. Now they have an LP length CD out and believe me it's a cracker! I can't wait to see them in March, especially as its at the Shepherds Bush Empire, a venue close to a really nice Italian restaurant and at which we have seen some seriously class acts including Stphen Stills in the last couple of years. I'm stating to think 2010 will be better than the calamity that passed as the end of 2009. Cheers Dears, as Glen Tilbrook would say.

Mr Blobby talking

As previously mentioned, the Common Cold has intervened over Christmas. It feels like we've spent the entire holiday in hibernation. That's not an entirely bad thing as I feel a lot better for it even though large amounts of snot are still making their way down my nose on an hour to hour basis. I've managed a few runs and actually been out on the bike once. (see previous post).
So the plan is to get fit again and lose a stone over the next year. (Yeah. Right.)
I don't normally do well on New Year resolutions but this year "something must be done".
Over the holiday, following an unexpected an very illegal redundancy (and yes they paid for it) I've set up a new Consulting Company and start my first contract on Monday. I only have one client so far, but full time employment for 6 months, so now I have to find a way to: a) Get more clients & b) Get race fit by March.
a) I have a cunning plan, Lord Blackadder.
b)We have a gym membership which we need to start using - like urgently - and I have to get some miles in my legs as well as more than a bit of speed, so here's the target.
Last March I rode the Maldon Hilly 20 followed by the Hainault Hardriders 50km. Times for the Maldon event in recent years have been:
2009 - 1hr 4m 35.
2008 - 1hr 2m 39s
2007 - 1hr 5m 54s
2006 - 1hr 2m 54s

And for the Hainault:
2009 - 1hr 38 31s
2008 - 1hr 32 41s
2007 - 1hr 34 5s
2006 - DNS

So 2008 is the year to beat. I'll keep you posted.