I can see the flag

An entry level runner on an entry level bike…


Something as mundane as a training run

I wouldn’t normally blog about something as mundane as a training run but last night’s was a bit *different*.

JB will no doubt comment that I shouldn’t make such a fuss and that I need to Get Over It, or something like, but rightly or wrongly, it’s made me smile all day.

“We’ll go up Newts in the field and then down Manley” JB said, “meet at WA at 4:45”. Nothing unusual in that at all, we’ve done this route in reverse and I was feeling quite smug as I dug out my trail trainers, having forgotten them the last time. It should perhaps be noted that I don’t balance well, and am not at all surefooted.

So, garmin set, we rendezvoused at WA (not Western Australia – it’s not that kinda run…). “Oh fuck” I said, “I’ve forgotten my torch”. JB said “no matter, I’ve got mine” and with that we were off.

We are still Run-walk-running and it’s fair to say that our ‘marathon fitness’ has fucked right-off, but we are up to 4 minutes run now, and have even, on occassion, run a whole mile without stopping.

Anyhoo – I digress. There was a boring bit where we trotted about half a mile to the field gateway and into the field.

We both agreed that the field was a turned ankle waiting to happen with only one torch and that anyone with half a brain would walk, so we did. Nothing to do with the slippy, wet, near 20% nature of Newts Hill at all. It’s granny gear on a bike, no need to change the approach for running.

With the single torch we had to walk carefully although somehow we were both wider than we realised judging by the number of times we bumped into one-another. Over the ditch: JB first, me stranded unable to see a single thing… Bird… Torch shone my way and over the ditch and up the field, which was only half way up trainers muddy. The exit to the field is through a gap in the hedge – before ya say anything – it’s a footpath, just not exactly well loved. We squeezed through, grabbing hawthorn bushes for balance and popped out onto the lane. Now some structured RWR, along the lane and… wait – the torch has gone again and I’m being dragged right. Now, I’m shocking at left and right but I know there isn’t a right turning there, it’s someone’s house.

So we went into the house, well the garden, well through the gate in their garden; and lo: there’s a bloody track, and who knew? It went UP. My super-grippy-trail-trainers performed a couple of cracking wheel spins, almost putting me on my face before we were 10 yards up, JB pointed out all the exciting things with her torch, we hadta have a little conversation about not always pointing the torch the way she was looking. We slogged up the hill, agreeing again that running was Dangerous, for about an hour… well probably about 15 minutes, it was very steep.

When we reached the field at the top, we decided that it was time for a photo, Not A Rest. Tivvy looked really quite pretty in the distance:

We climbed a bit further sticking to the tree-lined edge of the field – this makes sense, we laughed – out in the pitch black, in a field, in a storm – did I mention it was raining and blowing a gale? – under a line of trees. Still we made it through the field with no injuries and nothing at all fell on us.

JB said “I think we went this way, when I did the Russel”; “who the heck is Russel?” I asked. Turns out it’s a run from before my [running] time that doesn’t happen anymore – I could see why. Not being of Sound Sense of Direction, I followed JB into the next field and we began to mince our way through the cow shit and mud, which was by this time, close to being over the shoe deep.

“You never see cows in this field” said JB . Which we both laughed about, what with all the cow shit we were now covered in. We were making slow but steady progress, only occasionally bouncing off each other in the pitch dark. I love being out in the dark, but I had an uneasy feeling that something was Out There watching us. We rounded the corned of the field and the gate was in sight. JB shone her torch out into the field and Fuck Me!

A fucking bull was standing 10 feet away watching our every move. Along with his bitches – a whole bloody herd of them. Our every move got quicker, matching my heart rate! JB was muttering “nice cow, good cow” and they seemed to like it.

Then the mud got deep. Knee deep. And it wasn’t just mud. It threatened to take our shoes, we linked arms and lurched through it as fast as we dared, JB still muttering “nice cow, good cow” till we got to the gate, which was open! WFT? Now where? Wire, under the wire – that’ll protect us from the elephant sized Limousin bull giving us the eye. We relaxed a bit, and I suspect the bull and his ladies did too. I’m sure it’s given him something to take to the pub to tell his mates about… “you’ll never believe the pair of clowns in the field tonight…” etc.

The remaining run reverted to type, after we minced our way through the cabbage field we had found ourselves in, we went down a short bridleway – even managing to run a bit and were spat out on to the road, another little trot down the hill and we were at the safety of Manley bridge and our old friend the canal. We RWR all the way back to WA and the relative safety of our respective homes.

There was the usual and humiliating strip in the back garden and the BBROS (bare bum run of shame) through the house and into the shower.

My biggest mistake? Putting my trainers on the radiator to dry. I really shoulda washed them first. I’m sure the smell of warm cow shit will fade in time, and besides it’s given the cats something to be really interested in!

4.5 miles in an hour and 9 minutes. It felt like we’d been gone longer.


FAT seaside

There were two options for today; well, two viable options anyway.  My purchase on Thursday narrowed that to one option:

23760309_10156966774164129_1321264824_o.jpgMine’s the red one – he’s a Charge Cooker Maxi, and I already love him.

I’ve never had a red bike before, moreover, I’ve hankered after a FAT since I rode MrJBs around the Devon Dirt earlier this year.

Today’s options were: tandem ride with the tandem club and a lunch, or take the FATs to the beach, and get chips at the seaside – it had to be the FATs.

Getting them in the car was the first thing, wheels off, upside down and wedged in with blankie and kitbags.

JB has ridden her FAT on the beach before and had it all planned.  We set off to Darts Farm, a farm and whatnot shop where the only thing we could afford was to park – so that’s what we did.

We took the Sustrans route from Darts Farm to Exmouth, through Exton, Lympstone alongside the estuary and the train line, and yes – we *may* have waved to the odd train. On arrival in Exmouth there was no messing, and we headed straight for the beach.  Unusually, we’d done our homework and knew that low tide was 12:29pm, perfect.  These things don’t happen by accident you know.

It was a cold day and the winter sun was milky and pink and we might have spent more time than strictly necessary taking photos and trying to write our names in the sand so they showed up on Stravia.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the FAT or how it would behave on the soft sand and anticipated a dig in and a quick exit for me out the side door.  What I got was easy rolling, no digging in: this is what the FATs are made for! Absolutely awesome, it turned where pointed, rolled where pointed, smoothed out lumps and bumps and just rolled and rolled.  There are some rocky outcrops which it rolled up, sploshed into puddles and out again, there’s no way my hardtail would have coped as well, if at all.

We made it to Sandy Bay at the far end of the beach and decided to have our light, pre-chips snack.  After we take some pictures.  And after we ride over there.  Actually, we’ll just ride over there for our snack.  But first we’ll ride here and take some more pictures. And.. ooh look: ponies! Lets just ride over there…

Us, just riding over there…

And ooh look again – the sandbar’s uncovered, and that dog has run all the way to it: it must be rideable.

JB decided she’d go first and I’d film it.  Which is exactly how it happened, except, that dog? It musta had really long legs, cos that sea came right up to the bottom bracket of JB’s bike and proved how waterproof her shoes were.  Still, we got the film made 😉 I decided that I was quite happy with her starring in the movie alone, and, after a loop of the sandbar we did more meandering up the beach.Screen Shot 2017-11-18 at 18.40.34Here’s what Stravia thinks we did, and I think it’s fairly clear where the sandbar is!

Once back on the pavement we set off to the LBS Knobblies where JB’s friendly bike man had promised us a coffee if we showed up with my FAT for them to critique see: they were good as their word and couldn’t find much bad to say about my FAT, especially when I told them it was half price!

JB has been promising me battered chips since I first got my bike and today was to be the day.  Just up the road from Knobblies is Krispies – one Large Portion please?  Box in hand 😉 we made our way to the seafront again and the feast began.  We made a new friend – a friendly dog mixed us up with People Who Share Food.

23732307_10156966775749129_448501344_o.jpgA glance at our watches told us that we needed to be heading for home, plus, the sun had gone in and it was getting chilly.  So, straight home, no messing.

Yeah, right.

“Now”, said JB, “some folk who are Not Reliable to Make Safe Decisions told me that we can ride all the way back along the shoreline.  We probably shouldn’t do that”.  I asked “is that the shoreline that we decided against riding on when we were on our way to the beach?”.  “Why, yes!” said JB.  We decided that it wasn’t a Good Idea, and then did it anyway.

This part of the coast is unvisited really, by people.  It started off well, it was a bit unkempt, bigger rocks, seaweed, but thanks to FAT it was all completely rideable.  Well, except this bit:

23768775_10156966776149129_453399686_o.jpgWe slipped and slid across in our usual dignified manner!  We knew to be cautious though:

23759943_10156966775989129_1332657884_o.jpgAfter we crossed the shoreline, picking our way over The Place Where Pottery Goes To Die, and past the place I thought we were aiming for… Huh?  “Lets just see how far round here we can get” said JB.  Meh, in for a penny…

We eventually left the shortline at Lympstone and mooched back to the car…

“Where does that go?” I asked JB.  “Just the Goat Walk, at Topsham” she answered, breaking hard. About-turn.  Into glamorous Topsham (or Topsam as the locals call it).  The Goat Walk is a walk-way along the edge of the estuary and was full of folk out walking in their Weekend Clothes.  It’s safe to say that we weren’t what they were expecting to see.  You’re not allowed to ride on the Goat Walk, so we didn’t.  We pointed the FATs at the estuary shore and rode the length of the Goat Walk, popping out through deep sand at the end, much to the surprise of a smart looking family out for a Saturday afternoon stroll.  Quick photo of the FATs leaning against the ‘No Bikes’ sign and back the way we came.

And back to the car, right?  Ooooh look – cows!  “What’s he looking at” asked JB. “I think it’s the llama”, I told her.  The what?? We were back at Darts Farm, they have 2 cows and a llama.  It’s a funny kinda farm. They also have acres of Expensive Things, so we went and took a picture of some cabbage:


and a picture of my FAT by the electric car chargey-thing.  Charging the Charge. Geddit?

23668927_10214696254262688_1183940356825902767_oExperts now, we disassembled the bikes and wedged them in the car.  Quick coffee and flapjack and homeward bound.

A most excellent day.  The bike is just amazing – it would have been nightmarish on my hardtail, the FAT doesn’t turn it’s nose up at anything, but better than that, it makes it all so much quirky fun.  It’s a hellova piece of kit and I can’t wait to get out on it again… Am making lists of beaches and signing up for tide-timetables as I type.

I also have everything crossed for snow…