As with 2018, my year starts with an image of the Humber bridge (cover). I will admit to being very fond of that sight and given the right conditions, it’s hard to believe it spans the mud bath known as the River Humber.
It was a very different start to 2019. Last January I had a financial injection from my previous job to enable me to take some early trips, whereas 2019 was going to be financed by my pension, so it would be a balancing act between things I need and things I wanted to do. This means planning and above all, restraint.
The Cafe rides from Canvas Cafe have been well supported and moving into the New Year has seen many old friends from previous cycle clubs rock up and join in.
I also took the opportunity to get a CPET test, which was very positive and gave me the confidence to try hard this year. Anyone wanting to get this test done can still use my 10% discount code “collis60” when booking on-line.
This time of year gives my son and I the opportunity to dismantle the yurts on-site, clean and prepare for the coming season. We were blessed with good weather this year, which made it easier. They are available to book at Country Bumpkin Yurts.
Whilst back up in Hull, I was lucky to be there when they finished the temporary installation of the “Knife Angel” in Queens Gardens.
Created to support the “Save a Life, Surrender Your Knife” knife amnesties, using the knives that have already been surrendered.
The first bike trip of the year and believe it or not, in the UK. I met up with my friend Gordon in the Yorkshire Dales, staying at the Bike Centre at Fremington. Details of the few days up in the dales are on my blog.
I spent much of the month locally, carrying out volunteer work with Sustrans on NCN6 and with Northants County Council, cutting back and maintaining the Brampton Valley Way (NCN6).
The month started with a trip to Silverstone for a motorsport fix, catching some classic Jaguars, Lotus, Porsche and Caterhams. I have not been to the races for years.
Then a family trip to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. Always a favourite of mine, my mums and my youngest son, and now it appears there is another generation that loves the place too.
Had a great catchup ride with the lads that I went to France with last May. We rode out to Melton Mowbray, stopping at the Alpine Cafe for lunch, just to bring back Alps memories.
I finished the month off with a trip to the north, up to Northumberland, Scotland t,hen back to the north Pennines, trip notes are here.
On the way down from Scotland to England I stopped off to see two locations I had wanted to visit for some time, the Kelpies and the Falkirk wheel. Well worth the visit.
I had planned to ride back from Scotland, but due to several factors it didn’t happen, so I felt at a bit of a loose end. I therefore threw the bags on the bike and set off to Suffolk and Norfolk. I had done a day recon trip to Suffolk back in December last year and it looked like a great place to take the bike. The full trip notes are here.
I also had a day when I had to drop the car in Leicester for repair, so took the opportunity to have a trip to Bradgate Park, then a bit of an explore. It turned out to be one of the biggest surprise rides I have done. There are so many good bike routes in and around the city.
Last year in Correze I met a couple from Wales, Andy and Bev. This July I noticed on Strava that they were only 80Km away on holiday, so we arranged to meet up in March, near Peterborough. We had a great day exploring the area, covering a couple of tracks I had used coming back from Norfolk.
I also had a great day out locally exploring off road sections to the south east. It must have been the hottest day of the year in the UK, as I had to stop to replenish liquids, not something I often have to do.
This year I had decided to limit my overseas travel to a three week excursion in to France in August. I chose to visit Sam and James at Correze Cycling again, then move on to a new location to me, Vercor Cycling, south of Grenoble, the trip notes are here. Both locations were perfect for a cycling base, and both offered something completely different. The only bad weather was during the three days between when I stayed in the Cévennes, but still very dramatic.
The trip ended with the longest single day of motoring I have ever done. Up until this point the longest was Karlsruhe to Hull (1040km) on a Yamaha XS850 motorbike back in 1983. However, I managed to top that on my return from St Jean en Royens to Market Harborough (1199km). I won’t be attempting to break that record any time soon.
I came back from France buzzing and had a trip to the Chilterns mountain biking planned for the end of September. So, out came my trusty 10 year old MTB for some practice.
I also had a visit from Gordon and Neil, down from the Lakes for a couple of days. This gave me chance to show them some of the delights we have to offer including good cafe stops :-).
Later in the month I headed north to meet Colin and Julie from the States, who were over in the UK, firstly for a music event and secondly for the UCI World Championships in Yorkshire. It was shortly before this that the weather broke big-time. I stayed for the Time Trial events, but left before the weather really turned. We had a couple of great rides while I was there, one with a local cycle group, Moonglu, who were very accommodating.
The bad weather continued when I got back and forced the cancellation of the mountain bike weekend, very chalky in the Chilterns and can be really dangerous.
The wet weather became relentless in October, nearly every ride involving underwater sections to be negotiated. This time of the year always brings a number of flat tyres in the group, what with farmers trimming hedges, riders reluctant to change to big heavy tyres and wet roads softening the tyre, letting those thorns in.
The weather continued wet, but just got colder and thoughts of next year and trips to the sun are really starting to linger. We got chance to introduce my grandson to the smells and sounds of Santa Pod for the firework festival.
The up-side is there is some amazing colour about and the floods have left some views you wouldn’t normally see, such as the reflected viaduct at Harringworth.
A pre-Christmas trip to Hull to visit family, then Leeds to visit friends prompted an off-the-cuff get together with Gordon from Cumbria, which enabled us a short spin in the Yorkshire Dales. We were so lucky with the weather and it has planted a seed for next spring. If you are ever in the are try to stop for a snack at Seasons Cakes in Ingleton. Great food and lovely staff.
I also managed to get a trip down to Mason bikes in Lansing, on the south coast. What a hideous trip down in the dark and rain, then round the M25. A journey of 200km took 4 hours and 20 minutes, surely the age of the car is coming to an end!
It was well worth the trip though, having ridden a 56cm Bokeh on 38mm wide 700c gravel tyres in the Dales earlier this month, I knew the bike felt very responsive, but the frame felt too big. This trip gave me the opportunity to try a 54cm frame running on 650b wheels and 48mm wide tyres. What a machine, I think this could reduce your bike collection to just “n” instead of the recognised “n+1”, just add wheels and tyres to suit the type of ride.
It was also a chance to see the sea again before the end of the year, but it is a very industrial part of the south coast, so would not be my first choice. 🙂
I got in to a conversation with a friend I ride with regularly, Simon, about doing the #Festive500, 500km between Christmas eve and New Years eve. I said I would ride some of it with him as it’s easier with company. As it rolled out I finished up too deep in to back out, so completed it with him on New Years Eve with a 76km ride. In the summer this would be easy, but at this time of the years it’s tough on the toes.
Only one overseas trip this year, but a very enjoyable one. However, I am finding that the freedom to travel whenever I want has enabled me to enjoy the UK a bit more, because if you do have bad weather you have not wasted some of your annual leave and you can try again. I think this is a theme that will continue, the UK has so much to offer.
The number of cols are down this year, but the overall climbing is not far off last year, but the distance and time on the bike is still climbing.
Col de la Croix de Baptiste 1279m
Col de Chanusclade 1279m
Col de la Vazéze 1295m
Col de Fortunier 1280m
Col de Montirargues 1139m
Col d’Entremont 1210m
Col d’Herbouilly 1380m
Col de Bacchus 978m
Col de Carri 1215m
Thanks to everyone who has taken time to read my blog this year and feedback the lovely comments. I have a few ideas up my sleeve for 2020 and hope to make it a big one.