8th Woodbridge Surfers Christmas Ride

Friday 28th December 2012 saw the eighth Woodbridge Surfers Christmas Ride.

Unfortunately a few old faces couldn't make it this year; Steve R had moved 2,500 miles away, Clark had undergone major surgery, Ian H had a serious facial hair infection and Eleanor had ruled it too dangerous for Maysty to ride with us.

The good news was that we had a few virgins with us.  Quite appropriate given the season.  Dave T, Duncan, Giant Paul and Paul B all joined us on the Christmas ride for the first time.

Melanie and her Mystery Machine took five riders, eight bikes and the tandem to Sizewell.  JoJo,  Duncan's wife, and her Juvenile Juggernaut (Duncan will be 12 years old this coming Friday) carried the remaining five riders.  The plan was to ride back to Woodbridge off road.  The weather was miserable and even the traditional Sloe Gin did little to raise our spirits.  Thankfully the cafe was closed, so we headed off.  The ground was waterlogged and we were soon soaked, but the byways, tracks and footpaths made for great riding,  although one dog-walker took umbrage to our riding on the footpath (well done Steve W for winding him up even more).

Thorpeness and Aldeburgh passed quickly before we headed inland to Snape.  We enjoyed the trails through Tunstall Forest and were deserving of a drink, so we dropped into the The Froize Inn, Chillesford, for a pint, some crisps and two massive portions of roast potatoes.

We headed off, away from home, with a slight beer-buzz, but were all soon beaten by the climb out of a bomb hole near Butley.  (I still can't believe none of us managed it.)  Alok was unlucky enough to be piloted by Dave H at the time.  Neither Dave nor Alok give up easily, but had to when they both hit the sand.  Dave then tried solo, came to a holt, attempted to track stand before a final effort,  lost his balance and tumbled off down the slope.  Fantastic effort.

We skirted Rendlesham Forest, then Hollesley, Alderton and Shottisham before heading back to Sutton Hoo on the road.  We rode down the steps to Paul B's road, then the river wall to Dock Land before heading across town, via the Theatre Street steps, to the Cherry Tree.  Exhausted.  Just thirty miles, but it felt like fifty miles or more.

Well done Alok - seven pilots in one ride must be (another) club record?  Well done also to Dave T and Giant Paul for their first efforts "up front".  Special thanks to Melanie an JoJo.  Roll on 2013.  How about a trip to The Flying Nun Trail, Port Hills, Christchurch.  Steve R, can you arrange bacon sandwiches en route?

Calamity Cup 2012

Following the previous cup having been won 3 times in all by AM last year, this year a consensus view was that the criteria should be a bit wider than just celebrating broken bones. A late entry by virtual non-swimmer SG with his attempted launch into the Deben was a valiant last minute effort, and all year new boys PB ('Giant Paul') and PB (self-styled 'Biggo') have tried hard to keep us amused. However, the cup had already been decided upon when SG went off-piste, and a new trophy designed over a lengthy pub lunch. The new criteria for winning is for providing the most memorable moment of the year, and this years very worthy winner was DH, pictured with his 'sponsored by Peronni' award.

Holland not quite so Extreme

Holland not quite so Extreme
With a sedately departure from Woodbridge at 8pm we headed off to Gateway to the Continent to join the ship. Boarding was quick as we were soon testing the Dutch nectar before trying to eat half an animal. After a guided tour of the ship, with the Captain pointing at everything saying “this is bigger than on your ship, Jane” we devoured a few more beers and did our best to not bit judgmental about Mr Franks past. Early start and we headed for the beach, but the most extreme part was not looking likely with the temperature  having trouble getting above 0 and the freezing mist removed any chance of any clothes coming off. Jane’s monthly sea swim would have to wait. Nice beach but let’s go and ski, same temperature but more clothes.
One hour later Ian had planks on his feet for the very first time. Could the Dr apply reasoning, logic and science to overcome his late start to skiing, well yes it appears he can. As we all played with jumps that were much too scary and just going as fast as we can, Ian was being shown how to apply his weight gently and control his speed, both of which he was un-expectantly quite good at. Although putting a restaurant at the bottom his slope did not seem so smart, as his occasional run-away looked like it may test the glass for impact. Along with sampling the Dutch culinary delights,  most of the day was spent here and 6 ½ hours later, we completely missed cheese buying and headed towards the next adventure, which we had not realised would also turn into a ground breaking experiment. The Karting Challenge on a whopping 1.3km long track which was all inside. With contact allowed and a challenging circuit it was always going to be exhilarating and more importantly amusing. But in the name of science, being responsible adults and most importantly being  WB surfers, it had been unofficially decided that alcohol and it’s affect on track times should be tested. So religiously and without a control subject, a measured amount of refreshment was enjoyed between each session and it’s affect duly logged by the stewards. The results, well they didn’t care but it did feel faster. With aching muscles we headed back to ship to finish off the steer  that we started on the way out.

In life, to be famous you either have to win, crash or do something amusing – sorry no winners

2012 - The Chinese year of the New Bike?

So, another week, another new bike.  Perhaps it's linked to the name Paul - Paul Brant having had at least three new bikes this year - but the long awaited new bike for Paul Baldwin surfaced on Thursday 1st November 2012.

Rumours of the retirement of the 27 year old Specialized Rockhopper had been circulating since the end of summer.   Bike specification has changed dramatically and now air fork, disc brakes and decent tyres adorn a gleaming white Giant XTC.

The new bike also helps clear up a naming convention problem.  Paul Brant joined the group first, so is know as Paul B.  We can't have two Paul B's, so I suggest from this day forward Paul Baldwin be known as Giant Paul.

The Hale boys ride Whinlater

Hoping to ride this week ....... if I can get my brakes to work again.  They decided that several days of total immersion in cumbrian mountain streams and mud was not conducive to effective braking of any kind.  Unfortunately if all came to a head (so to speak) half way down the Altura Trail (North Loop) at Whinlater.  Left Caroline in the cafe  whilst Hales x 3 paid our money and bravely set off on the 10km 1000 ft climb........and then is started snowing.  The climb was mostly single track had rock, shale, streams and stone and some of it on the edge of the mountian slope and some long slogs.  I took the opportunbity to admire the view and steady my legs whilst a few young bucks in baggies, lycra and  body armour breezed past me...I was in my baggy (ronhills).  But an amazing view from the top, looking way down at Derwent water and Bassenthawaite Lake (the only real Lake...bit of useless trivia for the pub quiz) and Keswick and mountaon tops dusted with snow.
On our way driving through the lakes a few days previous we had stopped at a few favourite bike shop/cafe haunts, and stumbled into the great 26" or 29" debate, there really is a polarisation of views, the purists swearing by the 26inch....with the shops pushing the 29" wheels (sorry 29ers)...rolls over everything, great on the trail, hairy on the tight twists of woodland. On our arrival at Whinlatter being one bike short we thought we'd better hire a third.  By this point I could sound vaguely knowledgeable and bowled up to the bike hut and said.."any 29ers"...oh yes they said, we have some demos..2013 models, hmm I thought, YES said Charlie, and we ended up slumming it on a Cube 2013  ams 120 pro  - full suspension AND 29 inch WHEELS. Yes me on nearly £2k worth of bike (would get our £30 back)...I didn't actually get much of a look in, infact hardly saw it at all as it was a good 500m in front of me most of the time, especially going up hill, and seemed to fly over the 'rollovers'(?). When I did get on it I couldn't believe the difference, just took every thing, including the climbs in its stride.  But that might be the full suspension.
Anyway it dawned on me why most people have disc brakes, going down a mountain side with spongy wet brakes, trying to scrub as much speed as possible while squeezing as hard as I could.  Charlie and Edward found it  amusing!  The brochure describes it as single track twists, turns, exhilarating descents with berms, jumps and some technical black sections...was all a blur to me.
Caroline deserves the endurance award for killing three hours with her mother in law whilst we managed to drag out a 1.5hr ride to 3 hrs!  Arriving back in the dusk....cafe shut.  Apparently you can do all three trails in 3 hrs.....don't think so.  So I now know that disc brakes are good, full suspension is brilliant, doing 29 is cool and adrenaline is brown.
Recommend the Whinlatter trail if you get the chance, plus I had no idea that there are so many bridleways over the lakeland mountains..old pack horse trails and excellent for MTBs
.http://www.youtube.com/v/MuZAMOh2am8&autoplay=1 for the last part of the decent or check out the cyclewise website

Leicester Marathon 2012

Sunday 14th October.
After what seemed like a long build up, race day was here.  A PB in the Ipswich Half had put me in optimistic mood and I'd more or less stuck to the plan; even going for a run on the Newquay weekend!  Since then things had gone a bit off track with the old manflu, but I'd spent the last week drinking beetroot juice so that's got to compensate surely. 
Nothing for it now but to give it a go. Prep over, talk over, sponsors anticipating, relatives out on the course ... so why am I still in the queue for the loo with 5 mins to go? A quick dash to the start, no warm up, no stretch (hmm), squeezing through a gap in the barriers, and we're off. A pelaton of 3000 flow down into the city and then head north en masse over the Belgrave Road flyover. As always, it feels good to take control of the roads.
As a rookie I wasn't sure what pace to adopt and had decided on an 8 min / mile pace; based on Ipswich, (misplaced) optimism and it being easier to do the maths.
After 6 miles 80% of the field turned off to do the Half and we headed out into the Leicestershire countryside, lovely route, cool, sunny and a light breeze. Slightly ahead of the 8 min pace and a bit of chat, feeling good.
At halfway, still on pace but the chat has stopped. At ~18 miles still feel OK but a level crossing's lights go on to a general groan from the small group of runners and we have to stop. The marshall notes our numbers, but we're soon off again. I don't know if that was significant but the legs are feeling heavy now. At mile 19/20 we rejoin the half marathon route and head into Watermead country park alongside the village where I grew up.
But then I got hit with a series of sharp cramps in my calves having to stop briefly each time to stretch out before setting off again; at what felt like a snail's pace!
A short sharp climb into Birstall to where my Dad is waiting.  I'm desperate to look OK, and nearly get away with it, only to cramp up again just before disappearing from view. Then at mile 23 I pull up sharply with a full on hamstring cramp. The expletives which follow are not fully appreciated by the pushchair supporters nearby ... and I'm starting to think I'm not going to make it.
Lots of encouragement from a nearby marshall and a suggestion to wriggle my toes gets me moving and I commit to not stopping again, and grind out the last 3 miles snaking through the city centre and then up the long drag last mile towards the finish. Strangely the slope seems to help stretch out the muscles and I pick up the pace a bit. The last 200 is on the flat and with the sound of someone behind me I find a 'sprint' finish from somewhere, crossing the line with 3:40 on the watch.
It was a huge relief to get to the finish in the end and I felt quite emotional. It wasn't the race I had had in mind but at least feel that I've had the full (rookie) marathon experience, and overall pleased with the time. Would I do it again? Yesterday, it was a definate no. Today, it's a probable no.
Thanks for all the support (sorry the report's such a marathon)

Dusk til Dawn 2012

Dusk til Dawn 8pm Saturday 6th - 8am Sunday 7th October

Weather forecast was for a dry night.  Fantastic.  The past two years were shockingly wet.  I had previously ridden as part of a team of three, then a team of two, but this year I entered as a solo rider.

At 8pm the race started.  I resisted the temptation to go out too fast and was soon in the trees and in mud.  Add a few tree roots and this made the conditions very tricky.  Two fast guys past me and both hit the floor soon after.

The conditions changed as the lap progressed and I was now enjoying the course.  One section with an impressive run of whoops through the trees.  Just one bomb hole, at the 6 mile marker, which was pretty straightforward.  Two great roller coaster sections close to The Beast.  But from the 8 mile marker we were back in mud.  One section was like riding through a marsh.  Classical music piped into the forest at 10 miles - bizarre - then back to the start/finish at 10.5 miles.

I rode two laps then stopped for food, then headed straight out again for lap three.  The temperature had dropped considerably and I finished the lap with cold hands.  I headed to my car and the warmth of my sleeping bag.  I slept for around three hours, then more food and off again for lap four.  Fog had rolled in and there was a sharp frost on the ground for the open heathland sections of the course.  Lap five was uneventful and I stopped again for more food and to wait for the sun to rise for my final lap.  I set of just after 7am and had a great last lap.  The tricky sections were simple in the daylight and I rolled over the finish line at 08:11 hrs.

So, six laps and 63 miles in twelve hours.  I was 79th of the 122 solo riders.  The solo winner completed 14 laps.  The winners of the male team of 4 completed 18 laps, lapping at 40-45 minutes.  Superhuman effort.

Next year?  Absolutely. If the conditions are good, then seven or perhaps eights laps the target.  Come and join me.


There have been a lot of posts recently about sporting achievements, so I thought it might be time to record a different achievement - something to do with going back to our roots. So, here it is, a record of our getting served at 2:37 in the clubhouse:
Nice to also see that Andy wrote on it who was to blame...

The Tour Ride

Saturday 8th September and I rode the Tour Ride, the official sportive of the Tour of Britain.  Pretty much the full first stage, with just a few changes of route.

I was lucky enough to get into the first group of 50 riders to leave Christchurch Park at 8am, just 6 people ahead of me.  Great conditions as first Woodbridge, then Snape, Aldburgh and Thorpness passed.  Foolishly I latched onto the back of a big group of fast riders.  I reached the first stop at Southwold at 20mph average.

I rode by myself for sometime before hooking up with two men wearing Woodbridge to Watergate Bay shirts.  We approached Great Yarmouth and 20 plus police motorbikes guided us through the midday traffic, across red lights, blocking junctions in our favour.  Fantastic.

I stopped for the third and final time at 90 miles.  My average speed had tumbled and everything felt uncomfortable.  I pushed on, and on, and on by myself.  I couldn't find anyone to latch onto.  Painful.  At 111 miles, Swanton Morley if I remember correctly, and a short, sharp hill was enough to stop some riders ahead of me.  I just managed to clear it in the big ring.  Only just.  I rode the last hour at 15 mph.

I crossed the line with an elapsed time of 8:06 ish (can't remember for sure, it was a bit if a blur), riding time 7:38 for 128.63 miles.    

Steve Whittaker's Friday 5s

Having only done the Kirton 5 before I thought it might be interesting to have a go at some of the other Friday 5 mile Series this year, taking place over the last three weeks. Brief report with 3 down: 
All three very different so far in both conditions and terrain, and interesting to try courses which are totally unfamiliar. Quite a few Shufflers out and a couple of guys from work to compare notes with.
First off Ipswich - All the chat at the start was about "the hill", worryingly. Quite warm and a bit breezy. Start and finish at St Joseph's, headed off due south down a steep hill, under the A14 and up the other side through Belstead village, then across sandy fields blowing up dust clouds into your eyes and lungs. Loop back and last mile or so up "the hill". Kept a bit in the tank, so managed to keep going on this last stretch, though there were quite a few walking, and back up to the college. Nice setting, would do it again.
Next up Kirton - perfect conditions, quite cool, kept layers on until the last minute. Usual tactics of hurtling off to the gate at the end of the field and then being passed for the next 2 miles. Good pace though, and a 5 mile PB for me.
This week was Stowmarket (held at Hawley Park) - On the face of it a nice setting in rolling parkland and woodland. In reality, gale force winds, a twisty narrow course and very very slippy in the mud. Two laps, first of which adopting a cartoon-like banana skin running technique trying to stay upright (much to the amusement of the younger suppler runners nearby). One guy blasted past me twice at pace only to end up on his a**e, the third time he kept going though. There was shelter amongst the trees, but the finish was up a stoney steep slope with a 28 mph head wind. All hopes of a PB dashed, but highly entertaining.   Approx times for the three: just over 35, 33 and 36 mins respectively.

Final instalment on the Friday 5 races (for anyone thinking of next year  ;-)   ):
Bury – picturesque setting for the start in Tatton Park south of Bury, though got a bit cold waiting to start in the drizzle. A fairly muddy lap of the park before heading out on the country lanes and the sun came out. About 1 mile of long uphill drag before turning back and trying to make up some lost places on the steeper descent. Seemed to take a long time to get to the park and struggled to get a rhythm with some old guy stomping and gasping in my ear for most of the way back. Into the trees and a boggy sprint to the line. 99th, 33:45 but my best age category placing of the 5. Excellent tea and chips.
Great Bentley - was this Friday and another longish drive again good to share with some Shufflers.  This was billed as the must do race to get your PB, flat and all on roads. More of a mental test with long straight sections with lots of time to dwell on how far ahead those who had passed you (and had considered hanging onto) had got. Found this the hardest. Missed a PB by 10 secs. 96th 33:15. Glorious huge slab of fruit cake to refuel.
All in all, great to have completed the full set (all different), sadly I still get a buzz from pinning on a number.
No series placings published yet but by my calculations I ended up with 8th place for my age category, so chuffed with that.
Strangely my entry to Ipswich as a Woodbridge Surfer got translated to be a Woodbridge Shuffler, so felt compelled to join.

Morzine Five

Morzine V – (Morzine Faster and higher IV)
   Woodbridge Surfers – Extreme Division (Team Hot Pizz)

A DP Production 2012 – Fueled by Vodka
Special Thanks to Team Citrus & Poached Eggs

As a last minute casualty to a virus, we all knew that IC would be sadly missed; the lack of his delicate precision riding and alarming pharmaceutical usage would not go un-noticed. But as someone once said “The show must go on and let’s spend his deposit in the bar.”
Special thanks to Steve Franks for holding the pre-production/fill the 5th seat /get CS drunk and in the car party.

This year DP allowed us a lay-in, another (as it turned out quite important) hour in bed, so 4am Melanie’s Mystery Machine gathered  up this year’s participants, of what turned out to be a very mixed but fantastically exciting 5th visit to the Alps. It was a dry journey and after 12 hours in the seat we rolled up to a dry Morzine, knowing rain was on the way. (Rain;  annoying in the UK, dangerous on hills). A swift beer, rather dubious table snacks and then on to the chalet, the accommodation choice was good, although it took a day to get hot water.

Monday morning was bright but threatening clouds, but we excitedly collected our rides, velcro’d on everything we had and like the kids on Christmas morning, we hurried to the lift. The conditions were not going to put us off, nor was the swift 100+ bikes per hour cable car being temporarily replaced by a double- lunchbox-on- a-wire 30 per hour, disappointment. An hour later we were there, we were on the mountain, unable to contain ourselves, some of us had to scent mark immediately, it then was ours and we were off.  Conditions were worse than we had expected and thick mud and polished wet roots filled the wooded areas, it was a real challenge! Confidence in the bikes grew as the faster out-of the woods sections started to dry, but the rain came and went keeping it interesting. A little mishap for everyone and even a little back flip for AM, proving there is still plenty bounce in all of us.  Back to the temporary clubhouse to remove mud from all creases, discuss the day over fine home cooked food and maybe beer or two. As forecasted the rain carried on heavily through the night, ensuring we were to have another day slipping in the mud.

                                      The sun came up to reveal a brighter but still very wet day as we fought amongst ourselves to decide which two would get in the kitchen,(The chalet lovely as it was, had a dungeon, which was damp and cold, (which someone seemed to enjoy), but the kitchen was tiny, ( you could have a free moving cook, but his bitch had to move around in culinary harmony) as it turned out DT was to dominate in this area in the morning,  he would go on to provide us with a double portion of protein each day – “Aller à travailler sur un œuf ou deux
When we hit the mountain we tried to stay away from the rooted treachery of the woods and as we spent more and more time on technical runs, there was definite increase in speed and despite the conditions, a bit of air was appearing on every jump. A red run which was fast becoming our favourite, with its tight one foot high but smooth berms, which although were still wet, could now  be taken at some speed. As my confidence grew towards the end of the day, I let it go a little more, starting to clear a few of the table tops and with being a bit ragged on the corners, I expected to see a little gap behind, but all were line astern as we dropped onto the fire track. The conditions and the more limited area, could easily have felt a restriction but as it turned out and more so as it started to dry, it seemed to focus and we went go quicker.                                                                                                                             The feeling of being able to go as quick as you like ended abruptly as we squeezed in just one more run. This now familiar run exited the woods on to a open gravel track and all that lay between us and another safely completed day, was now Steve’s jump, one, two, three bikes cleared it and where is DT? Back to the chalet to view the on-board footage, for him to soak his wounds and give himself a damn good talking to.

The weather fully turned on Wednesday, the temperature was up, the sky was blue, it was going to be a sick day, we were going to smash it up large, we were pumped.  Well actually everything hurt, but after ibuprofen, ibuprofen rub, paracetomol and two cans of coke, then we were pumped. A run that starts at the top of the mountain, drops down to Let Gets, it is red but black in places, plenty of jumps, very rutted in the braking  and with berms that are in excess of 15ft high was now dry and very, very fast. It felt like 20 mins and that your arms have swollen with lactic acid, but it is only 7 and the muscles that need it (hand grip & fore arm) are just not strong enough, you need to concentrate more than any other time, especially if DP has the video camera attached, no matter how quick you go, you know he will so close that you can almost feel him pulling pixels off your back. With the day going so well, it seemed that it was the right time to do my annual groin stunt (land badly, miss the seat and feed everything soft that I have through into the back wheel until it hits the frame) this year luckily nothing squeezed through the gap. The journey back to Morzine each day involved a couple of miles on the road, fast straights and switchbacks, tonight there was targets cars. Having caught them, it was not long before the first had enough of freewheeling bikes trying to get past and pulled off to lets us by, the second was a lot tougher, he held it together under the pressure and was saved by a slight incline. Rossi could have learnt something from the style and finesse shown on the tarmac.  It was a long full-on day, exhausted, 4 of your cheapest biggest beers was requested at Dixies. Followed by another culinary delight back at Alpine HQ with a bottle of 2 Euro wine, 2 games of Petanque, some king of beer, a DP vodka mix, Euro on the telly and in bed by 9.

Thursday, the last day was exceptional, not a cloud in sight and it was going to be hot. It was now only two days before the Portes du Soleil, an annual Downhill & MTB event, and the mountain started to fill with slower victims who needed hunting down riders.  After a few runs on the now familiar Let Gets tracks and perfecting dragging the back wheel to warn slower riders of their position in life, we made the move across to Mont Chery, the home of the World Cup (my that is steep) Black run. Our presence very quickly attracted the attention of some pit girls who we managed to keep at arm’s length by allowing them to photograph us in front of Mont Blanc. 

It was not completely dry and the black is now showing its age a little, but it is clenchingly steep for about 100 metres, as an experiment I released the brakes for a split second, it is safe to say I will never do that again, it was like free fall. One of us seemed to spend a lot of time in every gulley he could find, but now well into the forth full day there were not many body parts that were not tired and mistakes easily made.  We sedated ourselves with lunch, the gallette seemed to fit the bill as the waitress made the understandable mistake of describing the main ingredient as a cocaine like substance. It was wholemeal flour of course.
After lunch we headed back to Let Gets for the rest of the afternoon, it was bone dry outside the woods as the temperature had soared past 30 degrees.  We somehow found a little more speed and the last couple of hours were the fastest of the week. The last run of the day was the 6 mile trek into Morzine, it was mixed terrain with 2 miles or tarmac in the middle. The last half a mile before the road a straight 30mph+ grass track, we knew the best line from the days before, stay left out of the ruts and let it all go, then wish you hadn’t because of gravelly corner with a catch fence. Having caught two riders at the fastest point, one decided he would throw himself on the floor in front of us, a little stunned he got up and walked between us at speed, we did ask of his well being, but really we just muttering as we could not decide which one of us was going to run him over. Not stopping gained enough time to catch freshly re-wired lift for one more ride before Morzine 5 came to a close. A cool down on a gentle green before we reluctantly handed back the bikes and once again and secured “ 4 of your largest and cheapest beers” In the town  38 degrees confirmed that is was damn hot and when you filled all that your are wearing with sweat, your blisters have burst and you can hardly grip, the beer tastes extra special.

Woodbridge to Morzine. 10hrs 32 mins driving,  12hrs 30 mins journey total (each way)
659 and a half miles (each way)
Average, 63mph and 40mpg
7 Hours of video footage for AM  to sort
41 eggs consumed
No mechanical failures & no punctures
Pharmaceutical  costs  reduced by 87% (mainly due to no IC).
No fractures.
Oversized lunchtime Pizzas – avoided.
Alcohol consumption reduced by a fifth.
Possible new boy entry into the “Most skin removed in one incident Coutts award”
The annual AM (I think I will try out this ditch next to the track with one wheel only and get away with it again) snail lesson.
Morzine V, muddier and men down, but faster and higher still, already a classic.

 Coming Soon Morzine VI   (New Heights or High and Furious) applications in writing to DP (Organiser and nice bloke)