Royal Kilometers… A Tale Of Two Riders

radio four’s today programme switches on at 6am; or to be more precise, at 5:50, since the digital alarm is ten minutes fast. i, on the other hand, sleep ten minutes slow, so allowing for the international dateline, i have no real idea when i awoke to the sound of impending matrimonial bliss.
the mighty dave t and i do not favour fuss and palaver. we could live happily ever after without fol de rol, even if it is taking place several hundred miles and several million quid south of here. don’t get me wrong, we are most grateful to kate and wills for the day off, but since they were never likely to join us for a bike ride, it seemed only fair that we reciprocate and leave them alone to their nuptials.

the theory goes thus: we will be the only two individuals not glued to either television or radio, and able to pedal unfettered along the highways and byways of the principality. we are, however, not without feelings, not immune to the sense of occasion that allowed for a day off in the first place. so we began the morning with a celebratory cappuccino.
strictly speaking, i’m the only one to benefit, for the mighty dave is a pensioner (he must have told you at least once?), and every day is a day off. those benefits were happily accepted, at least until the lunchtime ferry traffic defeated the point of holidaying on the island of manana and raced past with rumbling exhausts.
our allegiance to the crown was further demonstrated by the affixation of union jacks to both seatposts, that the sheep and cattle lining the lower slopes of the glen road would not mistake this for just any old bike ride. but first to the essentials. of the little i heard on radio four this morning, all eyes were metaphorically on the dress, so it seems only fair to abate the concern prior to pedalling into the wide blue yonder.
i had chosen a nice little black number with short sleeves and red arm warmers, matched with semi-shiny shorts of the bib variety. these were accessorised with some natty richard sachs socks and a renner sport cap. on an occasion such as this, nothing less than tan leather shoes seemed seemly. the mighty dave was clad in the red white and blue of a rapha tour of britain jersey.
our major concern was perhaps being caught up in a street party somewhere near ballygrant village, but our fears came to naught (along with the notion of any street party), and a most enjoyable 70km were covered with nary a hitch, and blissfully royal wedding free. a celebratory lunch of cheese and tomato chutney roll, tray bake and a complimentary digestive biscuit was accompanied by yet another soya cappuccino. the mighty dave elected to dine at home, where a traditional arbroath smokey awaited.
my royal wedding bike ride was not yet over. there were far more windy kilometres (a 45kph breeze) to be undertaken off round by kilchoman distillery, islay’s atlantic coast and a veritable slog along the belgian road past ballinaby.
you really do have to feel sorry for those hard at work during the day, when surely the carbon, steel or aluminium called vainly from the bikeshed; those who missed out on glorious blue skies and the sound of a chain clicking through the jockey wheels.

did you enjoy your day miss atkinson?

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Dear Brian – 

My alarm crudely buzzes buried beneath my pillow, its harsh tone ringing in my ear at the ungodly hour of 4am. You see its the 28th of April – it is the day that Wills & Kate are to be married, and im about to undertake a day of (dare I say it….) ‘epic’ editing….
I roll myself out of bed, bleary eyed, and begin the morning ritual of cross checking my equipment bag whilst simultaneously co-ordinating a very modest hair and make-up effort. All aided by an extra large cup of Colombia’s finest beans in liquid form.
I grab my bag and down jacket, and begin to walk to the train station – destination Westminster. As the sun slowly rises and dawn breaks, Im sadly too tired to appreciate how lovely this dear city can look at this time in the morning. 
A solitary cyclist rides past on the bridge. I am momentarily overcome with enormous jealousy. I knew that as a national bank holiday, many of our two wheeled fraternity will be taking to the lanes of Surrey, Hertfordshire and Kent to spend a day at the pleasure of the royal family, dancing along the pedals, whilst the only thing that will be dancing for me today will be my eyes across the screen!
I hop aboard the first Upminster bound train, and not surprisingly found it was awash with blue, red and white. Young, old and everyone in-between sit and stand excitedly in the carriage. Flags clasped in closed fists, flags worn across the backs of many and too many novelty hats than I could count lucidly (hey it was 5:20am!).
Arriving at my destination (a small satellite office set up opposite the Abbey) I again made a beeline for the caffeine supply, and took my place at my editing desk. The time was 6am…. this was going to be one long day indeed!

 With over 40 photographers shooting that day, the enormity of the task soon dawned on the editing team – this was going to be one super heavy day indeed. 

As we waited for the first images of the day to hit, I tortured myself by looking at photos I had taken the night before of my beautiful new Condor Acciaio (Bianchista says – expect a ride report this week after a thorough test in the Yorkshire Dales). I imagined rolling out to eat up some tarmac on the beautiful steel addition to my stable with friends in the Surrey hills, but my thoughts were soon interrupted as the opening images began to file into the server.

Breakfast comes and goes – marked by a quick journey from my seat to the croissant tray and back – all the time work filing in. Images of the day begin to tell the story, and with so many of the businesses best photographers posted in many weird and wonderful positions (including some balcony and rooftop hero’s) we soon amass a plethora of fabulous pictures, and thus the eventful day was beginning to take shape.
Lunchtime came and went so fast, my hand never leaving the mouse, photoshop actions firing off left, right and centre. My screen filled up with a constant stream of pictures; guests, fans, the procession and finally the cars. The cars! it was revealed Miss Middleton (the moniker she would soon be exchanging for rather a more grander title) looked elegant in a beautiful laced McQueen number. The ladies in the office (myself included) became excitable I don’t mind admitting. Everyone loves a fairytale wedding and this was certainly shaping up that way.

There is not much more to say about the day. A blow by blow recant of the wedding details is not needed. I worked and plugged away moving incredible pictures of an event so important, not just in its stature, but in the fact that if only for a day – the whole nation was reunited and forgot all the problems and hassles and politics. It was simply – just a joyous occasion.
We wound down at approximately 8:30pm – and began the laborious task of packing down the equipment ready to ship back to HQ that evening. Im sad I missed out on some good riding that day – but I cant be too sad as it was an extraordinary day in the office so to speak.

And thus my day ends as it began… with a tired stroll across Hammersmith Bridge to the refuge of my warm comfy bed, comforted in the knowledge that the chance to pedal will come as soon as I awake the next day. All sense of tranquility is soon restored, what a day!

Should you wish to read more about the adventures of Islay’s most sartorially-estute cyclist & blogger – I implore you to head on over and spend some time in the wonderful world of the Washing Machine Post 

5 Days In Mallorca

I have recently returned from having spent 4 days last week riding out in Mallorca under the very wonderful tutelage of Kieran from Rapha Europe. Whilst there I whetted my appetite for my first mountain and European riding experience, I also fell in love with what can only be described as epic and lush scenery. Mallorca is a popular choice indeed for the cyclist seeking stunning climbs, screaming descents and smooth tarmac. Every time we turned a corner we were greeted by a host of road riding enthusiasts and amateur racers seeking training miles. Whilst visiting I climbed Sa Calobra (a more in depth blog on this will be penned this week, watch this space), Cap Formentor a few times (twas situated very near to the hotel) and the Lluc. I based myself at the Hotel Sis Pins in Porte Pollenca, where the Rapha Cycle Club is situated. Its worth mentioning anyone interested in booking to stay here can get 10% off their rate when mentioning rapha. The cycle club was a great little hangout held group rides in the morning and race screenings in the afternoon, all washed down with copious amounts of latte machiato’s and sensational ensaïmada pastries. The food is great, I enjoyed paella, fabulous lamb at Tolo’s and a nice bream with the lovely london boys. The weather was really changeable especially on the descents, but I managed to get a few hours of lovely sunshine to warm my pasty shade. IMay I extend a very special thanks to Kieran for being such a fabulous guide and great riding partner, and also Alex, Jack & Lars for many a giggle over dinner…

Hotel Sis Pins sea-view
Such a fabulous view!
My bike was treated to pro level storage
 A busy afternoon at the cycle club
 Latte Machiato, superb!
 Allez Lars!
 I punctured and stopped in this layby, cant complain!
 Kieran taps out the pace
 Karen attacks on the group ride to Sa Calobra
 Cap Formentor
 The view from Cap Formentor
 Trying to keep up with Julian on the Cap
 A very stylish Alex riding easy
Phipsy & Julian pull away for some big-ring shenanigans
The cycle-club group ride peloton climbs
Hard not to love this place….
Lars makes some adjustments
Myself & Julian posing for a pic at Cap Formentor
Outrageous cake stop

Springtime

The first sings of springtime reveal themselves as days in the saddle become longer, the efforts easier and spirits are lifted out of the dark bitter mornings that encapsulated our winters training. As much as I loved my fingertips becoming numb and my kneecaps seizing up, the warm sun was a welcome change to the riding of late. After a long day in the saddle on Saturday id even go as far as to believe I can just make out the feint outline of the beginnings of the hallowed ‘Grand Tour Gloves Tan’. Roll on springtime, I want nothing more than to line up for the HOTN 2 ride with the sun beating down and short sleeves. Here’s hoping….

shadows
Surrey Lanes
Bianchista takes a pitstop
Jamie changes a tube
…the spoils

"…you are no normal person. You are a cyclist."

Rapha are holding an excellent competition to win one of their amazing ‘Deep Winter Training’ bundle. All you have to do is get out and ride your steed over the festive period, with a view to clocking up 500km (or 311 miles for those of that persuasion). The timeframe to nail these long winter miles is anytime between the 23rd to 31st December.  Whilst this may seem a mammoth ask, its worth bearing in mind Rapha’s uber endurance go-to man Graeme Raeburn managed to clock up double this distance in the festive week last year!
Rapha re looking for visual representation of your tales on the road, accepting things like garmin files, photographs, illustrations and any other visual treat you can think of to document your travels. The idea being you log your epic challenge in whatever way you fancy, and then either provide links in this comment page ,or either hit them up on their facebook or twitter account. Im going to give it a blast although il be stuck with only a mountain bike from 23-28th, so hitting 500km might be a little touch, but maybe if I can pop out a couple of centuries post 28th I could manage it! Im looking forward to seeing the results of this….

Autumnal Miles

I had the pleasure of heading out for a nice long ride into Surrey this past Wednesday. The temperatures plummeted, and it was truly oversocks and glove weather. I also had the pleasure of putting the new Rapha Ladies Softshell through its paces, watch out for a full in-depth review in the next week or so. I enjoyed the spoils of a Bakewell slice atop of Box Hill as my reward. Happy to finally chalk up some autumn cup points as it were…