Whats Your Poison?

Im officially declaring the humble ‘Cortado’ as my drink of choice for this coming summer during those long lazy cafe stops. Cortado (from the Spanish cortar) is an espresso “cut” with a small amount of warm milk to reduce the acidity. The ratio of milk to coffee is between 1:1 – 1:2, and the milk is added after the espresso.

In Cuba, it is known as a cortadito. It’s usually served in a special glass, often with a metal ring base and a metal wire handle. There are several variations, including cortado condensada (espresso with condensed milk) and leche y leche (with condensed milk and cream on top). These drinks look amazing with their intricate layering!

Venturing North

This past weekend I had the pleasure of linking with Paul of one of my favourite cycling blogs… “still searching“. As a York inhabitant, Paul promised a great route in and around the York/Harrogate area, and goodness did he deliver. The ride was a gentle 78km affair, peppered with silent country lanes looking beautiful dressed in burnt leaves, radiating in the chilly sunshine. I haven’t had a sunstancial ride in the UK since the start of august due to being on the road with work, so this route was extra special in that it felt somewhat of a homecoming for me. I tested myself a little on the climbs, each time having chris dish out some punishment on the primes. 

The cafe stops were incredible, Home Farm was an absolute treat, and not to forget arriving at the stunning bridge in Knaresborough ready for a caffeine hit.

Chris, Julia and Paul provided some great company, showing me what northern road cycling (and a little bit of cross thinking back to those bridleways) has to offer. It was the kind of ride that I had in mind when getting the Acciaio – those long leisurely days exploring in the saddle, with good banter amongst mates and long winding deserted (wind-free) roads!

  I would thoroughly recommend trying out the route on a nice clear day, the scenery was breathtaking. York is pretty accessible from Kings Cross via East Coast trains (remember to book a bike space on their website). Feel free to download the course data from the garmin information below, pop in some course points and head off into this lovely lush northern hinterland.

The Japanese ‘Crunky Popjoy’ sweets did not fare too well at the cafe stop
Sunshine & deserted lanes made for some great miles
 Paul & his awesome flouro booties
(L-R) Julia, Chris & Paul lead the way home as the sun sets


Cycling & coffee – never have there been better suited bedfellows. Its just something about a lovely silky brew during the hallowed cafe stop that tradition has not changed in all its years passed. For many a year, cyclists have rewarded and fuelled the hours of arduous training (or even those relaxed recovery rides) a coffee, be it espresso, machiato, americano etc etc, and often  accompanied by a sweet treat (rumour has it Dean Downing of Rapha Condor Sharp fame loves a caramel slice). To celebrate this relationship between rider and bean, Rocket Espresso have launched a very limited edition (only 200) Rapha marque of their famous ‘Giotto’ machine.

A plate on the front features the words of Fausto Coppi and the machine‚Äôs limited edition number, the quote translating to “We’ll give ourselves a kick up the backside today”….
The infamous rapha pink coloured pressure gauge adds a a splash of colour and style to the machine. Bellissimo! Perhaps even think about adding a Chris King tamper or a Rapha livery Keepcup to your caffeine arsenal….

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?


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 

The Significant Insignificant Ride

Today I enjoyed a great ride with my great friend and the interwebs most infamous cycling hooligan, Lamby.
I was under the impression we were to meet for a coffee and a few relaxed laps around Richmond Park. However, we spontaneously decided to head into Surrey, on the whim comprising of a mixture of extra shot lattes and undulating spring sunshine! 
Whilst a ride such as this may be insignificant for most cyclists among us, I can count on one hand the amount of rides over 25 miles I have ridden since December. Iv been sidelined quite bad battling with an incredibly annoying and incessant sciatic nerve issue, manisfesting itself and a numb, dead, achy and sometimes burning leg. Its something iv had to just get on with, but its seen my aerobic base built up by thousands of excellent summer km’s simply disappear to leave me struggling up the easiest of climbs and lacking my normal power on the flats. So today we decided to forgoe a hammerfest and enjoy a gorgeous social low intesity roll into Surrey.
The stats are nothing impressive I assure you, rather the opposite in fact to most, but to me they are a little bit of a landmark, as I rode most of the ride in relative comfort, with leg pain levels at about 20%, compared to their normal 80%. My spirits feel well and truly lifted, sometimes a good long ride with excellent company is the perfect tonic.
Things I learnt on todays ride:
*) Low intensity on a lovely sunny day is most enjoyable
*) On a weekday, be prepared for the lack of Bakewell slices atop Box Hill, and dont let it break you as I nearly did (offical bakewell nutter)
*) Banter is an essential excellent ride ingredient
*) The first ride of the year sans armwarmers is a beautiful thing
*) During my many rides last year to Surrey it has become apparent I have not once paid attention on how to get back to Blighty
*) Following on from this info, DO NOT under any circumstances let me navigate home from Box Hill. It will only end in tears!
*) Lambys climbing has improved tenfold. I blame the cervelo
*) It is possible to ride over 60 miles with only one sachet of High-5
*) Raphas women’s classic jersey is my uber fave jersey
*) Thanks to Lambluvva I am officially a garmin geek (and I love it)
*) That truly epic riding is a sense of post ride acheivement. Fill your boots.