Category: driving

building an ark!

I think building an ark would be a wise precaution based on the weather we have had in the past few days. The weather made it more difficult to decide where to have our family day out, the forecast was rain so it was going to need to be indoors, in the end we decided on Trago Mill just outside Newton Abbott in Devon. To anybody that does not know Trago Mills they are a very large store, that sales everything from, food, engine oil, cloths, carpets, furniture, plants, paint, musical instruments the list goes on in one very large store, plus there are many smaller shops on the site and they have there own leisure park set in 100 acres of land.

I have done the drive down that way several times to one of the companies site just outside Plymouth and it takes me about two and half hours, so leaving at 9am I had expected to arrive about 11-ish, it soon became apparent that the caravanner’s of the UK were going to put an end to that idea. With rain falling from the start and progressively getting worse as we headed west, our lovely winding “A” road do not lend themselves to overtaking caravans, so we joined the que behind each caravan till the opportunity to pass presented itself. I had hoped thing would improve from Honiton where we picked up the A30 dual carriageway, but the rain got heavier and the traffic got slower.

By now I was fighting a battle in the car to keep the windscreen clear from fogging up, the only way was to run with the air conditioning on but I was getting to cold, so we opted for switching it on and off to keep the screen clear and the occupants just of frozen. Around 2hrs 40 minutes later we pull into one of Trago Mills large car parks and is by now absolutely *issing down.

The first purchase in the store was an umbrella, not having one with us and knowing the kids will want to go around the leisure park it was a wise investment. We spent a couple of hours (and a few pounds) browsing the aisles. I am pretty sure it has shrunk in size since our last trip (they had a major fire there about 12 months ago and there is a lot of building working taking place at the rear of the store) as we soon found ourself out in the rain again and looking at the food outlets. After feeding time and kids being kids it was of to the leisure park. The rain did not seem to detract them from them wanting to wander around the park. To be perfectly honest many of the rides were closed due to the weather, the daughter wanted to go on the mega slide (a 15ft vertical drop down) but this was closed as it was under repair so the kids opted for the smaller slide (both indoors). Finally we opted for a ride on the train around the park, at least the carriage has a roof even if it did leak.

If we thought is was *issing down when we arrived it was definitely lashing it down now, the sky had that dark foreboding storm colour to it. Once again the battle of the steamy windows started not helped by the fact that we were all wet but this time I decided on raising the temperature in the car so now we would be slowly cooked on the way home. Once the heat was in the car I turned the temperature down and manage to keep the screen clear. The drive home was easier than the drive down despite a diversion due to a road closure (accident). The rain rather than relenting got worse as we got closer to home, standing water was now a major issue.

Not far from home the daughter got a phone call asking her why she was not at work, turns out the manager had asked her if she wanted overtime for Thursday night and forgot to ask her about Wednesday night but put her down for both nights, so now we had to race home, change out of our now drying cloths, drop the daughter of at work and then go shopping.

I eventually got to sit down at about 8:30 last night, I slept well last night!!

Not sure what we are doing today, I want to get my bike finished and lubed up from the weekend and maybe a test ride to see if I am up for the ride tomorrow. My back is feeling a lot better but there is still a twinge every now and again to remind me.

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purbecks 2 me 1 :(

It was Swanage Carnival this weekend and all week the plans has been to drop wife and son off in Swanage and then go for a ride round the Purbecks. Wifey and son were happy with this plan especially as the Red Arrows were displaying over Swanage bay at 11:30am. Well throw in the iffy weather (the Red Arrows should of flown at Cowes, Isle of Wight last not but the display was cancelled due to bad weather) and the fact that the Red Arrows were grounded earlier in the week with technical problems, the whole day has been a bit suspect all week and I really wanted to ride the Purbecks to put a couple of ghosts to bed.

Fortunately the Red Arrow were given the all clear to fly earlier in the week and the weather dawned nice and sunny in Bournemouth. So we loaded my bike and kit on the car and head for Corfe Castle. As we drove to Corfe Castle the dark clouds came in and it start to drizzle that horrible fine rain. The wife and son were catching a train from the excellent Swanage Railway to Swanage. I would start my ride from Corfe Castle and then pick them up in Swanage later. By the time we got to Corfe Castle the rain had stopped although it was still cloudy.

From my starting point up a small side road the riding is uphill from the first turn of the pedal and apart from one almost level section it is up hill for the next 2 miles. This is where the Purbecks scored it first goal, I was determine to clean Brenscombe hill and I tried and pushed myself but it ended in failure. In hind sight I think it was the lack of any warm up riding that was the main problem, starting the ride straight off up hill is not a good idea.

Unfortunately having pushed myself hard early on made the next few hills hard work, I cleared them but they were harder than they should of been. As with all things that go up, they have to come down again and I was soon taking the bone shaking ride down the other side of Brenscombe hill. At the bottom is the slow slog up the road toward the turning off for the path up Ballard Down. Now in my mind I had though that had I cleaned Brenscombe hill I should at least make it half up the track to the Obelisk on Ballard Down. Unfortunately less than 100mtrs does not get anywhere near half way. In fact I was gasping and stopping for a rest just pushing my bike to the Obelisk, Purbeck scores its second point.

Having rested for a few minutes at the Obelisk I set of on the next little stretch of hill up to the top of Ballard Down, thankfully I cleared this bit which seemed to restore some faith in my riding. Much of the ride from here to Studland is down hill and I made the most of it, at least to Old Harry Rocks anyway. The section from here to Studland was very busy with people coming up to Ballard Down to watch the Red Arrows. Ballard Down looks out across Swanage Bay and the town its self, I had considered stopping and watching the display but as I had an hour to wait for the display to start I decided to crack on with the ride. Last year we watched the Red Arrows from the other side of the Bay on Durlston Head which is a similarly sized hill and had an amazing view of the display from up high.

Soon I was riding across Godlingston Heath, there is one hill here I did not expect to get up, it is not a large hill but it is covered in loose gravel, sand and rocks and I had expected to be completely shot after the previous hills, well at least I was not too disappointed when I had to push the bike up the hill. From here I was heading for Franks Tank (which has now been renamed Thomas the Tank). There is a nice little section of mixed single track that runs along side the golf course which eventually drops you out onto Newton Heath. From here it is Forestry paths and a small section of road back into Corfe Castle. From the main road in Corfe Castle is a steep little hill back to the car and to my surprise I cleared it.

So that’s it, I am claiming the single point for clearing the second section of hill on Ballard Down, making it half way up Brenscombe Hill and the final little hill back to the car, all three were little morale victories and as it is my blog I am awarding myself a point!!

Well that is almost it, there one little matter I want to mention, it concerns a certain Land Rover Freelander driver, I will set the scene. I am riding toward the B3351 from the Banks Arm pub (no I did not pop in for a pint), the road is a narrow affair and at the point where this story happens bears to the right. Walking toward me on my side of the road is a pedestrian, so I move out towards the middle of the road to avoid running into him, that is until a Land Rover Freelander come whizzing round the corner, he gives no concern to me cycling around the pedestrian and force me to take evasive action nearly running the pedestrian over. As you can guess the driver never stopped and there was no indication that he had seen anything, he just carried on his way, the guy must have been blind………………….

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a fast ride and a whinge

Got up this morning and looked out the window to be met with a dirty grey black cloud, went to the bathroom (other side of the house) to be met with sunshine. Decided to have a cup of tea and then recheck the weather. 20 minutes later it is grey and overcast to I finish getting ready and of on my Sunday morning ride past Throop Mill. I think not having the mid week ride saved some energy in my legs as I seemed to be flying (I was riding the Whyte). Had some fun with a Squirrel woods at Hurn, he decided to let me chase him down the forest track accept it was down hill and I nearly ran him over, fortunately he turned right and went up a tree and I carried on down the slope.

My next run in with nature was nearly head on with a horse and rider, I was concentrating on getting through some sand before turning off down a track through some bushes and the horse and rider came bounding out of said track. Fortunately I stopped but the horse came to an abrupt halt nearly throwing his rider, he was not expecting to see a cyclist, could job I did not have to apply the brakes hard as the screech from my brakes would of really scared the s**t out of the horse. Pleasantry exchanged I carried on heading for home. When I got in I checked the time and it was 10:02am, I started to put my bike helmet, gloves and Camelbak on at 7:00am, so by the time I got out of the house it would of been a couple of minutes past 7, so I make that 3 hours for a 27 mile ride, certainly my fastest time I have ridden the Throop Loop in.

Now its is time for a whinge (two in fact), there is a new phenomenon creeping into British driving, it is the act of approaching a road junction, be it a normal tee junction, roundabout, traffic light and then stopping anything up-to 2 meters from the junction white line, why? I was told by my driving instructor to make sure I judge the junction right and park with your front wheel just touching the white line. Some these people that park back from the while line are leaving enough space for a Smart car to pull in front of them, I can see absolutely no benefit for doing this what so ever, I just cannot understand it.

My second whinge is about road junctions again, but this time involves car indicator and the position of your car at the junction. If you come up to a Tee junction and you indicate right, is it to much to expect that you move to the right hand side of road and and then when clear to do so actually turn right, of course it is not possible to do that, that is why when you indicate to turn right, you position yourself in the middle of your side of the junction thus blocking access to those that want to turn left or go straight on (in the case of a cross road) and then when you move off you turn left!! Have I missed something, has a new Highway code come out that say I will do what I want to do at road junction and sod everybody else?? The driving awareness of some driver is absolutely abysmal.

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right royal run around

Work should be banned it is bad for your health. I had to drop a laptop of to our Hampshire branch today so it could be taken to our Devon branch and work out why a tape drive would not eject a backup tape. Nothing to taxing there so I decided to drive up after the rush hour this morning. I spent the first hour or so writing a report (the curse of modern working practices) at home. So at 9:30am I left home and returned 10 minutes later after realising I had left my tool box at home. On my second drive down the road I received a phone call about 200mtr further than I had got about 20 minutes earlier. Apparently the driver from Devon was not going to our Hampshire branch he was going to our Dorset branch, the opposite direction I was heading.

I eventually arrived at our Hampshire branch 2.5 hours after leaving home, not bad for a 60 minute drive…………

Turns out the tape drive is knackered, got the tape out but when you try to get it to record data, it tells the software it is working ok while putting on a Christmas light display on the front of the tape drive for anybody that is watching and when you check the tape there is nothing on it. So I spent the afternoon ordering a new tape drive. It is not the first time it has failed, it is just not reliable, funny thing was it was in my report I was writing earlier to be replaced in the future.

Tuesday I spent an hour writing some basic instructions for a non computer person on how to use a laptop (the one going to Devon, it got there). So why did I spend 30 minutes this evening on the phone talking him through how to use a laptop!! might have been better if I had taught him how to read.

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me get up and go got up and went!!

What ever it is that gives you your “get up and go” has left the building in my case. This morning the only thing that got me out of bed was the fact that I had to take my bike to the LBS for the frame swap. The drive to take the wife to work was slower than normal at that time of day as everybody was out early anticipating the delays on the A338. It did not make a lot of difference though as there was an accident actually in the single carriage way section on the A338 this morning which closed it north bound and once again brought the entire area to a standstill.

Having dropped the wife off at work I had to double back on myself and drop the bike at the LBS. Then I had to turn round and double back on myself again to make my way to the companies (I work for) local branch, spent a couple of hours there before doubling back on myself again to go home as I was spending the rest of the day working from home.

While I was at the LBS I never got to speak to the manager at the shop but there were a lot of Canondale boxes in the shop that looked as though they had been recently delivered, hopefully one of those was my new frame. With the new frame and the new forks I am having fitted at the same time and hopefully the gears sorted out, it will be like getting a new bike, can’t wait to try it at the weekend.

Tomorrow, I am (supposed to be) up early to go to head office, 05:15am is a struggle for me at the best of times, I think tomorrow will be no exceptions. To some extent I am glad that I don’t cycle to work as I would seriously struggle like Clive at “The Massive MTBer” does. I remember when I was younger and car free, I hated riding to work, I would have to ride to work on those cold wet mornings with the wind in my face and then ride home again with the wind in my face. The reason I don’t ride to work now is head office is 140 miles away. I don’t go there everyday but I do travel to many of our other sites and they are equally as far to travel and on a bike I think it would about a week (by the time I have plotted an off road route so I avoid those main roads), mind you would be an epic ride…………..

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