Wednesday 26 November 2014

LBC Ride : Richmond via Wimbledon Loop

Rain.  That was the forecast.

A week prior to this event, I have been checking my  iPhone to see if the weather will improve.  The opposite was true.  As the day got closer, the chance of rain is no longer a chance.  It was definite.

But I could not back out now.  After all I posted in Facebook that "rain or shine, thunder and lightning or even end of the world" I will be joining this ride.

This is my first time to join a ride starting from Richmond, so I allowed myself plenty to time to cycle there from my home. I wanted to arrive relaxed and not in a rush. I was 45 minutes early.   Few minutes have passed and there were no Bromptons around.  I was beginning to think I was in a wrong place.  Could there be another Whole Food Market in Richmond?, our meeting place.

Few minutes to 10.30 Anne and David, the host, arrived. Because it was a wet and gray sky, and because it was only me who turned up,  I was expecting David to say that we will just have few rounds in Richmond Park and then call it a day.  Which would be fine by me.  I was ready for anything that will happen that day.  I understand that they had a big ride last night and I don't want them to go ahead with the ride just because of me.

But no.  He was soon telling me and Anne that we will be completing the loop in about 4 hours and that we will be cycling along the Nightingale Lane which he added is interesting as it is a bit of an incline.

We waited for few more minutes just in case others would turn up.  Off we went and very soon we were in Nightingale Lane.  I am convinced this Lane is wrongly named.  Nightingale connotes something like caring, smooth and helpful.  This Lane I recon should be named Murdering Lane or perhaps Heartbreak Lane.  Because by the time you get to the top you would have suffered a cardiac arrest.  Yes heart failure.  This Lane looks okay from the bottom but as it turns mid way to the left, to me it looks vertical.  The shortest way to heaven ( or more suitably hell). All it needed is a rope and it would be a perfect mountain climbing site.

But it was fun.  I wont tell you how I got to the top, but I got there.  I kept blaming Zoomzoom for not giving me enough gears but Zoomzoom is telling me that I need more legs strength not gear. London is relatively flat and to have a lane this steep is a novelty.

We proceeded to Richmond Park.  It is everyone's favorite.  I could cycle here every day and I will never get tired of it.  It is beautiful anytime of the year. We exited at Roehampton Gate and from there David's navigation skill took over.   Map.

Our next stop was Wimbledon Windmill.  I am embarrass to admit that I don't know anything about this historic Windmill.  I am not a avid reader and I am short if not totally lacking in general knowledge.  This is one thing that impresses me about London, or UK or Europe in General.  You can basically touch the history.  And London Brompton Club (LBC) rides give me these opportunities.

We were back on our pedals again.  We passed by so many interesting places, park, open spaces, football/cricket grounds,  open fields, row of apartments , expensive houses, retail areas and on and on.  I recognised the high street of Wimbledon.  I have been here before because this is where I converted my drivers license into UK drivers license.  I believed the licensing office has since closed and that transactions are  now done online only. There is also Evans Cycle shop here where I preferred to go, rather the one close to my home because the shop here in Wimbledon has parking.

We stopped for lunch at Katavento Brazilian Restaurant at Merton Abbey Mill. Lunch break is one of my favorite time of the ride.  Yes for food and drink and rest and chat.  It also gives me the time to soak in the wonderful sights and atmosphere from the hours of riding just passed.  I ordered pastel and guava juice.  It was a delight.

I also had a rare chance of chatting with Anne and David.  They are stuck with me so they have no choice but to chat with me.  We talked about the previous night ride and night rides to the coast. They shared with me many of their riding experiences. We chatted about the beautiful people of LBC and many things Brompton.

I like Anne and David. Not because they help me fix my saddle which kept slipping down, but because they are nice real people. Anne gave me a tip on how to ride on wet road.  She told me to avoid those manhole cover, the metal bits and avoid the white lines as they are more slippery when wet.

Shortly after we finished our pastel and juice, Floyd Stuart, another LBC celebrity joined for the second half of the ride.

We zoomed passed many interesting streets and parks.  We cycle along the river Thames.  It is just magic.  London is so beautiful even when it is cloudy and wet.  I felt like I was reading a beautiful fiction book of which I could not stop turning the pages because I am enjoying the read. But this is real.  I would not want to stop pedaling because I am enjoying every minute and every turn of the ride. Forget about taking picture because I am over the  moon and I would not let any interruptions.

I never wanted it to end but soon we completed the loop and reached Richmond.

What a day it was.  What a ride.  What an experience.  The best company.  A big big big thank you to Anne and David and Floyd.  It was a small group but a big, very big beautiful day and memories for me.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

LBC Ride - London to Erith

Priceless ... is how I would describe yesterday's ride.

I have seen this event on the Club's calendar but because of my unpredictable schedule I did not sign up until the last hour.

My iPhone indicated that it was going to be a fine sunny Saturday but when I looked out, the cloud was not gray, it was black and it was raining a bit.

Come on. show me yours I'll show you mine.
What to wear is the second question.  As I am still relatively new to cycling, I don't really have full wardrobe of cycling gear.  Although I bought bits and pieces of cycling attire from Aldi ( a discount store ), every time I tried them on, yes it was comfortable but equally I feel I looked ridiculous wearing them. I supposed it is the fear of being labelled "mamil" that  scared me the most.

After frantically trying on several Lycra in space of 3 minutes, ( as I have only 3 and a half minutes, else I will miss the train) after which my bedroom instantly  looked like a changing room after a boxing day sales, I settled for my usual summer shorts and and long sleeve shirt. 

Nothing appropriate for cycling and for the day's whether except for the shoes which I just purchased a day prior.  These shoes are called "Amphibiox".  It cost me an arm and a leg , although it will only cover my feet.  The label says it is waterproof. I am yet to find out.

We caught the train to London Waterloo Station for 10 am arrival which gave us an ample time to cycle to the London Eye for 10.30 meeting time.  This also gave us enough time to say hi and hello to others  joining the ride.  I find that this is one of the best time because everyone is still feeling fresh and energetic.  The bikes are also at their best, looking all well  polished and showing all the new accessories and gadgets.  Of course, Zoom zoom is all smile showing off his new name badge. 
Ready for the start

Soon David, our ride host is giving a briefing.  David Parkinson needs no introduction.  He is well known in London Bromptom Club ( LBC ) circle and  beyond.  His skill in hosting a ride has been sharpen to perfection.  He has made it into a fine art.  I won't elaborate.  Just join him in one his rides and you will know what I mean.

Off we went. There were 12 of us until Geoff Snell joined us at some early point. I made sure I positioned myself in the middle of the peloton ( if you can call it peloton) aware that the traffic lights in London change at a blink of  an eye.  Being in the middle I felt secured that I wont be left behind.
Map image of a Route from November  2, 2014

Our first stop was at A Pound of Flesh for 50p.  A house made of wax. more ... I don't know anything about it and probably I would be too lazy to know any more. But I am glad I saw it.


Our second stop was at the Tower of London to see the Poppies.   more ... The poppies are impressive enough but it is the atmosphere that is so magical.  Billions of people were there on Saturday, thanks partly for the mid term break.  It was fantastic to see so many people wanting to take part of the remembrance.

..a house made of wax
This is one of the many reasons why I like joining the LBC ride events.  It gives me an opportunity to see and appreciate things that is happening around. 
Poppies at the Tower of London

The farthest point of the ride is Erith. This is the first time I have heard of this place and the first time I have been. I don't know this part of London.  I have been up to Greenwich from previous ride, but not beyond to Erith.  I am hopeless with direction and most of the time I have no clue of my bearing. So bad I don't know if I was on the North or South side of the river Thames.

The route was very interesting.  We passed by several busy retail areas, houses , new and expensive looking high rise apartments, industrial areas and factories.  The scene varies almost at every meter. And I may also add that the odor changes at every turn, from the most foul smelling sewage plant to the most  alluring aroma of a coffee.

I wish I am a good cyclist.  I am envious when I see a riders who can cycle with one hand on the handle bar and the other hand holding a mobile phone or a camera. For me not to fall off, I need to keep my 2 hands firmly gripping the handle bar  and if I can use my teeth to hang unto it, I would.  It was a dilemma.  My choice was to keep pedalling or stop and take a photo.  As I did not want to hold the peloton, I kept pedalling and missed on some of the photo shots that would best describe the ride. 

We stopped at the View Cafe more... for a brief lunch/snack break.  It is a perfect choice for a rest stop.  Thanks again, Mr David. As it turned out to be a beautiful day, we all sat outdoor, to enjoy the moment and to enjoy the view of the river and The Thames Barrier.  more ...
The Thames Barrier at the background

I saw Andrew Barnett on his own fiddling with his mobile phone and I thought this is gonna be my moment.  I seized the opportunity to join him in the table.  Times like this are very rare as he is normally surrounded by fans, admirers, close friends and confidants. Like David Parkinson, Andrew Barnett needs no introduction.  He is the famous "legend", the ever famous Bubble Bee. 
Zoom zoom rubbing shoulder with the celebrities

He is a nice guy.  We chat about his just recently concluded first 100 mile ride.  I learned about the LBC's early days and I also learned that he is one of the founding members together with a guy named Mick.  Now... that is one of my wish list -- to met this Mick, personally, hopefully sometime soon in the future. 

Off , we were on bikes again. This time we went to a place with more inclines. I am not sure if I can call it a hill but certainly it was not flat.  It was interesting and enjoyable. It made me shift gear.

On the way back I heard a big "bang"  coming from the rear of the peloton. I thought it was a firecracker.  It was a puncture.  And the luckly one is Geoff Snell.  There were 13 of us, a total of 26 wheels.  We all passed by the same area on that road, but it was the last wheel that got caught out. How lucky can one be. 
look.. this is how to fix it.

As the saying goes, all things work together for good.  And so we had a good demonstration on how to change a tube courtesy of Geoff Snell.  This was also good for me because it gave me a bit of a rest.  This was my longest ride so far.

We soon reached London Waterloo station where we said our goodbye and hasta la vista.
Zoom zoom loves the view of the Tower Bridge

It was a fantastic day.  I really enjoyed it.  Beautiful day, wonderful company, interesting route ... ah what else could I ask for.  

Truly... it was priceless.  Thank you everyone.