Lake District Withdrawal

I was here - bikeless, alas, but with some good friends and good beer - at the weekend. Man I would kill to be back there now! Make the most of what's left of the Summer, gang!


Brooke Thompson Engraved Lighters

When I was a teenager my dad bought me a polished brass Zippo from an American army base he visited in Germany. I'm pretty sure I still have it, but it's buried amongst the stuff I've got boxed up in my dad's attic. I'm gonna go through that stuff real soon, and if I don't find that lighter, I'm gonna buy one of these sweet engraved versions, hand engraved by Brooke Thompson, and just launched at Wood & Faulk... if I can decide which design to go for.


Tenspeed Hero: January Prints Jersey

I'm a sucker for a bit of celeste. By luck or by design, both of my two bikes plus Miss PR's bike have ended being various hues of pistachio and peppermint, and when I got the idea to design a custom team jersey last year there was really only one logical option for the colour palette.

Tenspeed Hero are making some of the most stylish technical cycle kit on the market, and their Bianchi-blue inspired new January Prints Jersey is no exception. Even better, it comes in male and female specific cuts (and the design has gone down well with the SO) so we're seriously thinking about getting one each and hiring a tandem for the ultimate partner look.

These jerseys are limited edition, so be quick...


Pastoral Review goes Dutch

Just spent a lovely week practicing my moving bicycle iPhone photo skills in Den Haag, Holland with Mrs PR. Man, those guys have got all the cycle paths!


Dunwich Dynamo 2014 [XXII]

The Dunwich Dynamo has been on my radar as a possible bucket-list addition for a while. One that would be easy to decide to take part in fairly spontaneously, and equally easy to drop out of last minute. I was sort of half thinking that it would be doable this year - I cycled consistently through the winter, commuted plenty, and knew I would be getting plenty of kms in my legs on my Yorkshire Grand Départ trip - but it wasn't until George mentioned he was thinking of it too, that the prospect, sort of, crystallised. We procrastinated booking return coach tickets long enough for them to sell out, and it wasn't until G's dad offered to come pick us up from the beach, 200km away from the start point of this informal point-to-point audax, that we both finally committed. I then made a point of telling as many people as I could, out loud, so that I couldn't back out without shame.

By way of explanation, the Dunwich Dynamo, or Dun Run, is an annual, unsupported, free-to-enter bike ride that starts in London Fields, Hackney and ends on the beach at Dunwich, a once-prosperous medieval port town which has since been largely washed into the sea, leaving a pub and a couple of houses. There is no time limit and no official start time, though people tend to set off between 8-9pm meaning you ride it overnight. 

In fact our little group assembled about 9 and set off shortly after. The initial roll through Saturday evening Hackney was entertaining and thankfully easy to navigate by following the string of blinking rear lights, a tactic that would serve us well throughout. The route takes you through Essex, via Epping Forest, and by about 10.30 we were onto quiet country lanes. Rolling into a little village just before pub closing time we found the main street mobbed with cyclists, and decided it would be rude not to stop for a cheeky half and a Clif bar.

By this time it was dark, with thick fog and cloud cover preventing the nearly-full moon from helping us out any. We pushed on in a blur of blinking lights, dimly-lit villages and the odd roadside puncture repair, constantly stretching out our party, before regrouping at the next pee/banana stop. The pattern repeated until Tom dropped his chain and it wrapped itself impossibly around the crank arm. Not knowing exactly where we were in relation to the rest of our group I stopped with him at the side of the road, found the split link and set it right. It could have been worse but it cost us about 10 minutes on the rest of the guys and we would only catch up with them an hour or so later.

Tom and I found Peggy and Jack noshing pasta outside the only official food stop; a village hall just short of the halfway point. Jayesh was inside too, but George and Hassan had missed the detour and continued on the route. Tom made the call and we caught up with them half an hour later, hanging out at an enterprisingly-open greasy spoon in a Sudbury industrial estate. Of course we couldn't set off before quite a bit more peeing, bottle refills, Clif bars, bananas, Jelly Babies & arm warmers on/off, but eventually we did, putting our heads down and following the blinky lights again. 

Somewhere along the next stretch we stuck with a group playing rap from a boom box, which we quickly decided to push past, and somewhere in there George flatted, though I can't remember exactly when. 

The sun came up slowly and burned off some of the spooky fog that we'd ridden through all night, revealing regular bacon roll stops and the relentlessly quaint Suffolk countryside. We were keen to push on, but managed to stop for a couple of photo ops.

I'd felt ok throughout, but the last 30km or so was pretty tough. By this point we all really just wanted to be at the beach, which seemed a teasingly long way off. Tom and I stuck our heads down and formed a 2-man breakaway, smashing into Dunwich at 8.30am to be greeted by the wry smile of Paul, G's dad, and a cup of tea. A quick photo op on the beach and we piled into the team bus/broom wagon for a comatose ride back into London.

I'd like to extend my gratitude to everyone involved in the Dunwich Dynamo, in a general sense, but specifically to my fellow riders; George, Jayesh, Hassan, Tom, Peggy and Jack, each of whom brought something valuable to this amazing experience. Also my overwhelming thanks go to Paul and Clare for the ride home!

Total time: 11.5 hours, moving time 8 hours. Total distance 187km, but the 13k from my house to the start makes it a nice round 200 for me. The Strava activity.


Radavist Redback Kit Preorder

When John Watson rebranded his PiNP blog as The Radavist, he got graphic design faves Land to do the visual identity. Now he's only gone a stuck it on a lovely kit, which I suggest you do yourself a favour and pull the trigger on. Preorder is up until 25/7 so don't dilly-dally.


Tour de France 2014: Yorkshire Grand Départ Diary Pt. 3

By day five of our trip to Yorkshire we were spent. We'd ridden over 300k with 4,500m of climbing in 4 days; way more than we ever thought we'd manage. I was contemplating the ride down to the nearest point on the Tour route for Stage 2 - somewhere just South of Skipton - but just couldn't push myself out the door at 8 am. George and I both agreed that we would limit our Tour experience to the great day we'd had on Stage 1, and catch the action on a big screen, or at the pub.

We ended up doing a short loop up to an old quarry where we got off our bikes and walked, for what felt like the first time in months. It was a nice change of pace, and a worthwhile reccy for a future rock climbing trip we may or may not do.

After a couple of hours scrambling around some industrial archaeology, we headed to a pub just in time to grab a pint and catch the last 15k of the stage.

Monday was day six, and the final day of the trip. We packed early and debated the pros and cons of trying to get back to Leeds to catch our train, either by local train service or by riding. We hedged our bets; the train from Settle was already jammed with bicycles, but we could ride the 25k to Skipton and try to catch one of the more frequent trains from there, or failing that we could ride the full 70k or so to leeds. We had all day.

The ride as far as Skipton was not without it's challenges: a 27% uphill gradient and an unpredictable, cyclocross-style canal towpath section were the only ways to avoid certain death on one of the most dangerous A roads in the country. We were filthy and totally beat as we pulled into Skipton train station, but the gods of public transport smiled on us and we managed to squeeze on a train with just seconds to spare.

Pulling into Leeds we had a couple of hours to kill. We changed out of our grubby ride kit and into civilian clothes, and George navigated us to a breathtakingly stocked bar where we toasted the holiday in style.

This trip has been a learning curve. I've learned a little bit more about how to handle my bike, handle myself, handle tough rides, and how to ride with others. I've also become more fond of my 1982 Raleigh Rapide which asked for only as much as a spot of oil on the rear mech all week. Finally I'd like to extend my gratitude to Sally, G's mum for putting us up and putting up with us. What a star. And love to G for making this all happen, and for being the best ride buddy.

(Check out Part 1 & Part 2 of the trip write-up too!)