Ride through the garden of England.

A wonderful morning out cycling with new friends.  A few hills and the Beautiful Garden of Kent with orchards of pear and apple, ready for harvesting we rode out to Ash where we stopped for lunch.  The ride also took in some of the best of Thanet’s  beaches and sunshine.

No matter where I cycle all road’s seem to lead to Sandwich – not really somewhere I know,  just somewhere and somehow, I always seem to end up, we stopped at Pegwell Bay before the climb up from the Viking Ship and a few hills around the coast from Ramsgate and Broadstairs to clock up a few kilometres, before heading home.

It was great riding out with new friends, to have a bit of motivation, a push to go further, and a bit of competition on a few of the Strava segments.  Shelly who is lives around the corner,  is a bit of a geek, a fellow Strava user too, which helps to improve speeds along a few of the Strava segments.   Today we both picked up a few digital trophies.

I’m rather proud Tivoli Sprint section, only because I’m at the top of the leader-board, well until I get beaten  (Scroll down to the women’s leader-board and take a look!) My friends had better watch out, because I plan to beat you on some of the hills too!

I’ve done the Iconic London to Brighton Bike Ride

Made it to the start line!
A long slow train ride to Victoria, it was the first time in a while I had two hours with nothing but my thoughts. The enormity of what I was doing had sunk in and, I doubted, was I going to make it.   

I cycled the short ride along the Cromwell Road to Earls Court, navigating the busses and cabs around the Brompton Orbital, Thinking “I’m a serious Cyclist now”. 

Overnight night, Doris my Bike was chained up to the railings in the rain. The first time she has been left in the cold all night, and I worried a bit about her safety.   Just one of the eleven bikes at Earls Court Youth Hostel, others had had the same idea, to stay overnight just a few miles from the start line.   Some very fit boys, twenty years my junior were  bragging that they were doing ‘Brighton and Back, in one day”, cringed at the thought.  

Kept telling myself it’s not a race. I had all day to get to Brighton and I can enjoy riding  at my own pace.  No pressure others will be slower than me, or at least I hoped so.  There’s nothing wrong with walking up any of the hills or stopping as many times as I need.   It’s a day out and should be a pleasurable experience!  

5:30 AM.  Checked out the window on the weather, Doris was safe, and the boys in shorts and helmets were already unlocking their bikes and loading water bottles, they were on a six o’clock start time. Doris was looking a bit lonely, and I had time for a shower and to get packed.  Rain had stopped, it was a little overcast and perfect cycling conditions,  waterproof jacket in my bag, pulled on my shorts and jersey, filled the water bottle and filled my pockets with snacks.  I was early, I was excited as I set off over Battersea Bridge, to find Clapham common and the start line.  Already crowds were gathering, it was chilly, so kept out of the wind at the mobile coffee van, avoided the bacon rolls thinking it would slow me down, and anyway my pockets were stuffed with snacks for the ride. Peanut flapjacks, jelly babies in every pocket.

We were off, through the streets out of London, and before I knew it were were passing the first official stop, In good flow, so decided to carry on, just slowing to take a few sips from the water bottle.  Actually I carried on to Fanny’s Farm, about 20 miles in before I stopped, got off the saddle and waited in turn for the smelly portaloo.  The BBQ sausages smelt better, but I didn’t want to wait in the line again, so ate some nuts from my pocket and carried on.

There were a few hold ups on the narrow lanes and much moaning from the crowd, that was until the ambulance tried to get through.  Everyone, without exception moved to the side, bikes stacked and tangled in the hedge, and cyclists pushed up against each other to make way, no instruction was needed, we just all worked together.   It puts a bit of a dampener on things when you see accidents, and sadly there were a few. 

The event management was second to none with first aid points, water refills, and bike mechanics at hand, even food and feeding stations every five miles or so.  A few idiots were weaving about and overtaking on the left, but it was no worse than the London traffic you did need your spatial awareness due to the crowds.   I pushed on and started for the first time to really enjoy the ride through the sussex villages.  Ardingly, well I thought that was close to Brighton, but still had twenty odd miles to go, and was starting to feel it.  I stopped to eat jelly babies from my pockets, at Turners Hill, and then felt sick, think I had too many!

Looking up and seeing that hill, (in the picture) by now, and thinking, What on earth, made me sign up to do this? I have to get over that!  Then pacifying myself with what thoughts of, what goes up has to go down.   The Ditchling Beacon, the end was near,  from the top it’s only 7 miles into Brighton, the thought of the downhill cruise, kept me slogging on up hill.

As we approached Ditchling village, it started to rain. Fifty or so miles done, the light rain was refreshing at first, wet through from the outside in, and inside out,  wet hair under helmet, it wasn’t long before feeling tired and cold.  I started the steepest bit in the lowest gear and before long had to join, the second or third lane of slow walkers, getting road spray from the few that were still on the bikes, I was grimy, and so was Doris.  Even walking was tough going,  but was still able to hold a conversation, which was more than some could do as they panted up the hill, my training had paid off.  With a push Doris and I made it to the top, and even managed to overtake some of the slower walkers.  The hot coffee provided by the scouts was a welcome stop, and by that time, I couldn’t care that it was instant. 🙂

It seemed like every set of traffic lights on the Brighton approach road, from the University onwards, was against me.  At one I stripped out out the waterproofs,  passed the last of the jelly babies to the kids waving me on, much to amusement of the passengers in the stationary car alongside who wanted some too.

There is something magical about your first long bike ride, and passing the Brighton Pavilion was a very special point for me,  I realised then I had done it, before cruising comfortably into the waiting crowds, to the finishing line to collect my first bit of sporting bling.

Thank You to all my supporters, 
and those of you out on the streets cheering us on.

It’s Iconic 
The London to Brighton Bike Ride

for those who haven’t its not too late to 

Turks Pier

It reminds me of Istanbul, yet much closer to home and without the hassles of airports and suitcases.

Turks Pier, Kingston upon Thames, the river just as an important waterway, and an easy journey to Hampton Court Palace for the festival, its the start of a fun packed  few days.

We British girls know how to travel,  and can party in style. The tea may be a bit different from our last trip,  so just have to stick with something stronger, that reminds me did I put it in the basket!

Wraped up warm, with water proofs, don’t you just love British Weather.

Getting into Rubber

Tyres Valves and Patches

Doris, my much loved bike, got her first puncture, so I changed the tube at the side of the road, changing my mind about a possible long walk home after about 500 meters. I finally got home to receive an email from Prudential ride London Marketing team on how to fix a flat! Ironic or what!

Armed with a bowl of water, half inflated tube, patches, glue, chalk and a marker pen, I set about mending the slow leaky puncture. The spare tube, that was fitted at the roadside had a different type of valve, so I read up in the Internet and learn something!

There are two types of valves in common use for bicycle tires:

Schrader valves are the same as the valves used on automobile tires. They are common on less-expensive bicycles, particularly those with wide rims and tires. Schrader valves are also sometimes called “American” or “automotive” valves.
Schrader valves have a removable valve core, which may be unscrewed with a special wrench that is often found on better valve caps. They have a spring-loaded valve mechanism. There is a small pin in the center of the valve opening which must be pushed in to put air in (or to let air out.) Before the introduction of the Zéfal HP pump in the 1970’s, there was no portable pump that would do a decent job of inflating high-pressure tires with Schrader valves, which led to the popularity of:

Presta or “French” valves. These are smaller in diameter than Schraders. This makes them a bit lighter, and allows a smaller hole to be drilled in the rim (desirable for very narrow rims). Presta valves are used on most high-performance bicycles, and all tubulars. Presta-valve inner tubes come with valve stems of different lengths — longer ones, for deep-section æro rims.
Presta valves don’t use a spring, but they have a captive knurled nut to hold the core tight. Before you can pump up a Presta tube, you must loosen this knurled nut. It is also a good idea to tap the end of the pin, to break the seal loose, because they are sometimes sticky. After inflating the tube, you should re-tighten the valve nut to keep air from escaping.

I’m proud to say Doris still had air in the back wheel, I can fix a flat! It’s all for a good cause

Celebrity Endorsement and SEO

Search Engine Optimisation, or optimization, is the most important issue of any website. It’s best done through endorsement and recommendation. I found some of these examples when horizon scanning.

Mind: Steven Fry, joins Mind, the announcement got over a million likes, on Facebook, and when it was announce, it was big news on twitter. http://www.mind.org.uk/news/5260_stephen_fry_announced_as_new_president_of_mind

Brandon Trust: Here is another good example of good celebrity endorsement. http://www.brandontrust.org/our-stories/the-jo-brand-story.aspx

While I note the use of celebrity endorsement and the effects it has on charity publicity, it is the Facebook Endorsement, twitter and other social media are proving engagement from the website viewers, it’s that which produces the SEO and gets the name out there.

Google +1, should not be forgotten as this is going to be a new big thing, so please plus one this page