Sunday, 28 October 2012

Wet and Windy Welcome back to Wirral

I'm not sure how many times this has been said, but the weather in Scotland last week was fantastic! The sun shone every day, and the wind and rain stayed away from the West coast so that we could enjoy the stunning scenery.

There were some great roads around the area too, which led me to think about the possibility of a possible Palefish CC cycling holiday there next year.

Anyway, enough about my holiday and on to this weeks club ride!

The weather forecast for today was not good! Wet and Windy which ever forecast site I looked at! I remembered to reset my alarm clock back an hour, and even with an extra hour in bed, I wasn't too keen on getting up and out into the rainy morning gloom. I rode up to the Twelfth Man expecting to see a couple of other there, and was surprised to find the car park bereft of other Lycra clad madmen. I wasn't alone for long, Dave B joined me and after we waited until 7.15, with no other riders appearing we set off towards Birkenhead to hopefully meet up with Ken. 

When we arrived at the mouth of the Tunnel, we were pleased to see 3 Palefish CC members, Mark, Richard and Derek, sheltering under the toll booth canopy. We considered doing a Tunnel run, but decided against it, and also to rearrange the route to keep away from the North Wirral coast and take a more direct route to the Mills. After receiving a text from Ken to say he wouldn't be joining us we set off in the now torrential rain. We took the usual route through the lanes, at a more sedate pace that usual due to the conditions, which suited me as I hadn't been in the saddle for 10 days, and had maybe overindulged a little whilst on holiday!
We arrived at Eureka in good spirits, if a little damp, and were surprised to be the first there, even though it was nearly 9. By this time usually there is no where to sit and a big queue waiting to be served.
Richard shot off before the rest of us, as he had a date at a football ground to keep. The rest of us headed back towards Heswall via the lanes. Mark and Derek headed back towards Birkenhead, and Dave and I continued on to complete a loop of Wirral via West Kirby, and Moreton, with the wind behind us for a bit, but no let up in the rain.

It was good to be back out on the bike, and even strangely enjoyable being out in winter conditions again. As we always say, no bad weather, just bad clothing!!

Damp Palefishers!

Monday, 15 October 2012

The First outing in the new Palefish CC Kit

It has been a hectic week this week. Well it seemed that way by the end of Sunday, which is why I am writing this on a Monday night for a change!

After a couple of weeks off the bike due to other stuff and the typical October cold, It was back to business as usual, even though I still have the remnants of the cold, sniff sniff!
Tuesday nights route was devised by Graham, who also led the ride, which was nice as I could sit back and let someone else take the front. The only issue is that I think I may have created a Strava monster! It was a pretty quick first section out to New Brighton and then a steady pace back through Claughton over the hill and back up Beryl* and down again before a loop round Irby and back to the 12th Man.
(*Beryl road climb)

Thursdays ride was the first really wet one of the season. It rained from start to finish of the 23 mile loop. I was surprised to see 6 people waiting for me and Tim at the 12th Man and even more surprised to see a new rider wanting to join us in our foolhardy session in the rain! Although the pace was slightly slower than usual, we still managed a good average and a few climbs. The only casualty of the rain was Laz who took a corner a bit too fast and lost traction with his tyres but gained it with his thigh! I am happy to report that he got straight up and carried on. I also have to mention that I am very impressed with my Sportful hot pack no rain jacket, which kept me bone dry from the downpour. I would highly recommend this jacket, well worth the money.

The big event of the week, and one of the proudest of my life, after kids, wife etc etc, was getting the message from Ken at Onimpex that our new Bio-Racer Club kit was in the country!

To say that I was excited is an understatement, I was like a kid at Christmas. Friday morning I arranged to meet Ken and collect the kit, I couldn't wait for the great British postal system! As always it was great to see Ken and we had a great chat about all things cycling and how Palefish CC was growing fast.
It was really strange to actually see the kit in the flesh.
The Palefish brand has been in my head for years, and to finally have it in physical form, in this blog, the club and now the kit, it feels fantastic.
I would like to take this opportunity to once again say thanks to everyone who has helped get Palefish to where it is now, Mrs Palefish, Ken who got me started road cycling, Paul and Tim and all the riders in the club, Laura from Lime 26, Shaun and Ade the Wirral Mamils, Ken at Onimpex and all the cycle shops that support us, and I now look forward to the next chapter.

Anyway, back to the kit! Palefish HQ was a busy place on Friday night and Saturday as the lads came to collect their kit. To be honest, I got a real buzz from seeing their faces as they opened the packaging and smiled as they liked what they saw.

Sunday was a busy day for the club, Three of the lads headed off to Hebden Bridge for the Mills and Hills Sportive, a great opportunity to show off the new kit.

Mark, Mal and Rich
Closer to home  Dave B, Dave C and Jon were running the Liverpool Marathon. I'm not a very enthusiastic runner but I have massive respect for the lads in taking on the challenge of running a marathon. Well done.

For those not partaking in Hilly Yorkshire rides or pounding the Streets of Wirral and Liverpool, there was the Sunday club ride. It was the coldest start of the year so far, and I was a little worried that the new kit wasn't going to provide the best protection against the temperature, as most of us had chosen the lightweight Cool Max sub 100g jersey. I am pleased to say that with a good base layer, and the excellent Gillet I ordered, along with some arm and leg warmers, I was toasty! It was great to see 6 other lads all kitted out in the kit, something we have all been looking forward to.
It was great to see Phil from Cheshire Oaks Cycles, one of the shops that supports the club, for his first Palefish CC ride. We also picked up a new member along the way to Birkenhead. Giles had spotted us on Facebook, after a Strava interaction with another club rider. We met up with Ken and Neil in Birkenhead and then Dave on the way to Eastham where we were joined by Tim. Phil was impressed to see so many riders out early on a cold Sunday morning. It has been a while, but we managed to get lost on the way out of Eastham, I blame local knowledge overriding my Garmin instructions!! As I mentioned before it was quite chilly, Phil's Garmin showing 1degree, and unfortunately Dave L was feeling the cold quite badly. Luckily Steve had some mechanics latex gloves in his saddle pack, which were green, so not only did they keep Dave's hands warm, they matched his new Palefish CC jersey!
To add to the getting lost, and Dave's mild hypothermia, we also had our first puncture in a while. It always comes in threes!

We progressed event free for the rest of the ride to the Eureka Cafe, where we all rolled into the car park resplendent in our new kit. It was great to have an Identity at last at the Country's best Cycle Cafe.
We had a good reception to the kit and it was great to catch up with the aforementioned Wirral Mamils.

Dave L and his Latex glove, Owen Andy and Dave F With Graham Neil Chi and Paul in the Background
There were too many of us for one table so we had to spread ourselves out in the Cafe!

Phil and Tim
After our brew I decided to take a team photo outside the Cafe to mark the club kit's first outing.

Palefish CC at The Eureka Cafe

Spot the Mamil?
I wasn't surprised to find a certain Wirral Mamil posturing in the background as I got the lads lined up for the photo!

We headed straight up the Chester High road, as time was now against us for some of the group, and as we reached Heswall we started to split off in our different directions. Before the majority left I managed to convince the lads in new kit to pose for one more Photo.

I hate to say it but it was a bit too sunny to get a great photo, I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities in the future for Club kit photo's!
It was also a fateful decision to stop as things seem to happen in four's now! As we were preparing to set off, Chi missed his footing on his pedal and fell off onto Steve's back wheel, which didn't stay too round! It amazes me how easy it is to buckle a wheel, especially as we tend to put them through some tough conditions on British roads. After a bit of cogitating about what to do, Chi called for a lift and took Steve and his bike home. the rest of us headed home ourselves, via Birkenhead to drop Ken off at the Station. And that was the First Club Kit ride done!

I am away again next weekend, but Zel is doing a ride on Sunday and some of the lads are going on that, and I'm sure the rest will get together at some point too. 
The most exciting thing is that as I was dishing out the kit to the guys on Friday and Saturday, they were giving me new orders for more kit, and on Sunday those who missed the first order run were telling me they wanted to put an order in. I think that by Christmas we will have a lot more riders in Palefish colours in the lanes of Wirral, Cheshire and Wales!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Saturday Spinners - Llandegla loop

As Chris mentioned in his blog earlier, the club is now getting to a size that allows a both a Saturday and Sunday ride option if demand dictates.  There were a few of us that couldn't do the Sunday spin for one reason and another, so we all tagged on to Phil’s plans for a loop with his pal Steve up to Llandegla Mountain Bike Centre (thanks Phil!).  Since we are a big enough group to warrant two group rides in a weekend, I figured that a separate blog to document the alternative ride might be in order.

Since Phil likes his lie-ins we decided to meet up at the Glegg Arms are 9.00 am and as I set off, the weather looked promising with a nice sunny, but chilly, start.  After my 20 minute warm up getting from home to the Glegg, I met Tim who was already waiting and soon after Mal and then Phil and Steve and Paul (Ilkin).  Nipper was  a bit later as he had just finished a 10 hour night shift (good effort for coming straight out on a ride – but we all know that Firemen spend their night shifts asleep most of the time anyway :0).  As we waited it was good to chat to Dan Williams, a member of the former Vita Race team, who was off up to Wales himself with a couple of the other former Vita riders.

Once Nipper got his stuff sorted we were off down the Chester high road, past the Eureka and across the Cycle way into Deeside, over the Dee Bridge and up to Hawarden.  On the way, down to the A550 crossing we were joined by a lone rider, Vince who was out for a spin and asked if he could tag along. 

On the way up to Hawarden, Tim had a bit of a ‘chain off’ moment that allowed us all to catch our breath after the first of the day’s inclines.

So, on again, through the lanes to ‘Sun Spot’ and up the long drag of the climb to Llandegla Moors.  Tim and Paul lead the group up the climb and me and Mal just wound out a low gear.  When we reconvened toward the top, Tim mentioned that they had been informed by another rider they had come across, that the Llandegla road was shut for road works and that we should think of another route.  However, not being easily deterred, we thought that surely the road wouldn't be completely impassable and that we would surely squeeze through the cones.  However, we were to discover that the road is actually completely blocked and shouldn't be accessed at all – don’t try – we shouldn't have and we are very sorry - it won’t happen again!  Under no circumstances does the club endorse this type of irresponsible behaviour!

So, after guilty completion of the obstacle course round the various fences, we made our way up to the Llandegla Café where we all re-charged our batteries with beverages, cake and other sustenance.  We couldn't believe how warm it was and we all sat outside soaking up the rare autumn rays and enjoying a good laugh at Nipper’s lewd firemen’s humour!

24 degrees Celsius!

After a good break it was on again and right out of the café and through some delightful winding downhill lanes, (courtesy, I am told, of Mr Dave ’Dodgy’ Dee’s explorations) which delivered us out onto the Steps where we descended apace via the Lanes to Kinnerton and then back to Queensferry via the Dee path.  The wind was against us on the way home and we started to run out of time for the desired second stop at ‘The Mills’ and decided to push on home to resume the usual domestic routine.

So, another good ride done on what was a beautiful day.  It is great to be able to make the most of a good day like that and push into Wales for some more challenging terrain and enjoy the company of like minded individuals.  Great ride chaps – see you out in the week or on the next big ride.  Cheers.

Garmin data

Time for Tunnel Training again!

It was recently announced that the Ten Minutes of hell time trial would be on again in 2013. It is being held on 24th March and is a great opportunity to race against some of the Country's best TT'ers. Check out last years event here.

So, in the spirit of how the club really began, I arranged to take the Palefish CC Sunday spinners to the tunnel to stretch their legs and start the training for next years event.
We met at the Twelfth Man at 7, after only one ride in two weeks, and still feeling the effects of a cold, I wasn't sure that riding out into the dark cold morning was a good idea! Surprisingly there were 6 other adventurous souls who decided that going for a bike ride early on a Sunday morning is better than a lay in and a nice cooked breakfast! It was also good to see 2 new club members, Chi and Neil, join us for their first Sunday club ride.

We arrived at the Tunnel entrance, where Mark and Rich were waiting for us. After a quick safety briefing (we are getting serious now!) we all headed into the mouth of hell! As we rode in, we passed Ken exiting Hell. We didn't go too fast today, it was a sighting lap really, but we didn't hang around either! I don't think Mr Dowsett has anything to worry about, but I didn't feel to bad and I hope that I will be able to beat my time from last year.

After the Tunnel foray we rode to Eureka for a brew. We rode through the lanes, which as the sun rose and the mist lifted looked fantastic. We are lucky to live on such a picturesque peninsula.
When we arrived at Eureka, a bit later than last time so we kept out of Anne's bad books, and we met up with another 2 new Palefish CC riders, Steve and Derek.

There was less cake consumed, and more Toast this morning, a sign that the colder weather is here.

The 12 of us left Eureka and headed back via the usual route of Puddington, Burton, Ness, Parkgate and Lower Heswall.
At this point 5 of the lads headed home and the rest of us carried on to West Kirby, Hoylake and Moreton. A quick loop through Upton saw us back at the 12th Man.

I found the ride quite a challenge at times today. It is very surprising how a small cold can knock your fitness so far backwards in such a short space of time. I think I will have to make sure I keep well this winter if I want to do better at the Tunnel Time Trial next year!
Hopefully I can get back to three rides a week, and if the weather holds up maybe get out into Wales again in the near future!
Yesterday a few of the lads rode out to Llandegla to the Mountain Bike Centre for a brew. It is good that the club is now big enough to sustain two rides at the weekend. As we intended at the start, there will always be a ride for someone every weekend.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Cycle Show 2012

I struggle to accept that a year has gone by since I was last at the NEC drooling over the latest bike porn!

This year I was accompanied by 7 other Palefish CC lads. I drove and took Ken, Iain and Phil, and Paul also drove Scott, Pauric and Tim. I would like to say that The lads in the other car were given a picnic for the journey by Tims Fiance!! 
We met up at the NEC, My group were there first as we didn't stop for a picnic on the way, and as reward for getting there early we managed to see Olympic Silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead being interviewed by Dave Harmon.

Right next to the Stage was the stand for the Tour De Force. Sarah from the Loch to Loch ride was there and it was good to catch up and talk about the possibilities of doing the famous Tour route, one day!
My next destination was the Onimpex Bio Racer stand. I thought I would take the opportunity to talk to Ken about our order, and also it was a good chance for the lads to see what they had bought! Ken was great and explained how the kit was made, and the differences in fabric and pads used ( very interesting ) 
It should only be a couple of weeks now and then the club will be kitted out!

Next to the Bio Racer stall was probably the biggest, and definitely one of the busiest stalls at the show, Pinarello.
After Bradley's successful Tour the marketing team had gone to town, and I thought it was a great concept.

After a bit of mooching I came across old friends, Craig and Mike from Onix. It was great to see them so busy that they didn't have time to chat at first. It seems that the next few months are going to be really exciting for Craig, so watch this space for updates. We also spoke about taking the club ride up to the new Onix showroom and doing a ride from there into the Ribble Valley. More details to follow.

Rob Hayles actual Onix RH Pro! 
 Throughout the day we seemed to gravitate back to the Onix stand and as we did all the lads had a chance to meet Craig and talk about his bikes.

A Mike tool time master class!
Next to Onix was the C3 products stand. I bumped into someone else I had met before here. C3 were the main prize sponsors for the 10 minutes of hell Tunnel Time Trial last year. It was great to catch up with Paul, and nice to know he still reads the blog!

We spent the rest of the day roaming the halls taking in all the new technology and Bling.
Here are some of my favourites.

Colnago Ferrari Bikes

Olympic Gold Medal winning Bike

Tour Of Britain King of the mountains Jersey, and Kristian House's  bike above
Albero Contador's winning Vuelta Bike

Paul Smith Designed Lotus Condor
Palefish CC Colours?
That would look nice above the fireplace.


 We  also spent quite a lot of time in the Campagnolo Box. My personal favourite bling is the Super Record carbon groupset. Very light and extremely stylish.
As the day drew to a close we took advantage of the reduction in numbers and managed to get close to the Campanolo EPS test bikes. Paul was first, then Phil. We are not quite sure how it happened, but Phil managed to slip the chain off the rings! after a little fettling the chain was back on and we carried on abusing the extremely well engineered highly tuned piece of tuned engineering!

 I think my favourite bike of the show was the Demon Manhattan. Typically I didn't get a good photo of it, but here are some from the website.

 I also liked the track bike, and the Copper plated finish.

So, that was the 2012 Cycle show. The Wiggo effect was definitely apparent, and the traders were commenting on the high level of interest from people new to cycling, long may it continue.

I haven't got any ride information to add this week. We didn't have a club ride on Tuesday, we decided to have a social at the 12th man instead, and have an opportunity to chat in comfort. It was well attended, and some great ideas about group riding safety were discussed. I couldn't make Thursdays ride as I was driving the length of the country, almost, and back to deliver my eldest Sons birthday present! And of course, we were at the NEC today!! Some of the lads went out yesterday, and on Tuesday I shall be back in the saddle too!!