Saturday, 6 September 2014

How to invade Europe in 18 easy steps......

Hello my friends.....as many of you know.....the typist and I are setting off this coming week to cycle from our home in Ashtead across Europe to Amsterdam in the Netherlands....we shall pass through England, France, Belgium and approach Amsterdam along the Dutch coast...its about 350 miles in all and we have three days to do it in....we shall be cycling with a team of 54 riders and support staff....we leave on Wednesday and so today we have been doing some checking and prepping of our bike and cycling gear this weekend....

....Peter Tosh and I have got our trusty steed out in the back garden....Peter Tosh is an experienced bike mechanic....the bike is made of carbon fibre and weighs about 10kg with all its bits on it....(for my American readers, this is only 22 pounds)...
....Peter Tosh first has to test that the saddle height has been correctly set....he is hanging on with his very strong baboon feet....I am holding the bike steady so there are no accidents...you know our history with accidents round here...
....we are expecting to have plenty of daylight but we will be in the saddle for hours and its important that we have lights...sometimes you need these when its shady under the trees...we are testing the front light here...we also have a reflector...both are mounted on the handlebars....

....more important is the backlight....we tested that one very thoroughly and we are also taking another one which will attach to the back of the typist's helmet....do you think the red is bright enough?
....Peter Tosh is strong enough to use the track pump to make sure the tyres are correctly inflated....not too hard so the ride is too bumpy and we risk punctures and not too soft so that its too hard to ride....we like a medium tyre...maybe 90 psi or so....we have spare inner tubes and spare tyres to take....punctures are sadly common....
.....needs a bit more Peter....
...
....of course you cannot carry that track pump on the ride so Peter Tosh makes sure that the mini-pump is fitted to the frame...we went out once without it and had to wait 30 minutes for a friendly cyclist to come along so we could borrow one....
.....tightening the screws that hold in the bottle cages....its very important to keep properly hydrated on long rides...we shall carry two bottles of water at all times.....i just fit in the space but I think Peter Tosh is a bit big for his....
....eating is just as important and we shall be carrying a selection of energy bars, carbohydrate gels and some recovery drinks for the end of the rides each day....we like SiS for this....we are also promised that the support team will be serving tea and cakes every 2 hours!....
....the weather forecast is good but we will need a selection of shirts, shorts and socks for the journey....we have selected these two jerseys.....
.....but pride of place for the first day and the arrival in Amsterdam will be our Rianna's Fund jersey...we are riding to raise money for them...we hope to raise enough to build a school for 400 children in Uganda....we have tested the shirt already and it fits nicely and is comfy....
...well...it fits the typist rather better than it fits Peter Tosh....
....that goes for the shorts too....padded bib shorts for comfort.....are they dry Peter?
....and Peter Tosh insists that we thoroughly inspect the helmet...this is the most important part of our equipment..typist is a little prone to falling off his bikes....this one is made partly from Kevlar....
...sunglasses...check....
...mini-lock, padded gloves, waterproof cap and multi-tool for repairs.....
....carbon fibre shoes which are light and comfy...and some spare cleats..these are the bits which clip into the peddles....this keeps us secure and allows for firm pedalling....the cleats get worn out walking on hard surfaces if we have to get off the bike and so need to be replaced occasionally .....

...we are extremely proud to be riding for Riannas Fund...and we would like to say A MASSIVE THANKS..to all our friends who have kindly supported our efforts....the fundraising has gone beyond our wildest expectations...you can see the total HERE....we think we will easily be able to build that school.....

...we are setting off on Thursday morning before most of you will be awake....I hope to be able to tweet some reports along the way........and when we return Colonel Rocky will be at Border Terrier HQ for his annual inspection...hurrah!



































Tuesday, 2 September 2014

He's back….


Hello my friends…it is I, Clapton reporting from Border Terrier HQ….as you know, we took a long break over the summer and I won't bore you with the details other than to say that we had the best holiday ever in Chicago and Nashville….but I allowed the family time away from the cameras…..

…although we must say hello to Daisy, the world's friendliest shop-keeper dog from Chicago...

….the rest of the holiday was mostly taken up with music...

…and food
…but being away from home meant that a certain someone had to be left behind…..

….on our return to the UK we received this picture from Cidermill Farm…oh dear…..it seems Miss Lola staged a protest about being bathed to get her ready to see us again …..will she ever be allowed back?…what would Marley say…?!

….she was not best pleased about being left for 2 weeks…..

….she committed "nappus interruptus" on the typist to let it be known that she was expecting a very significant increase in attention paid to her….

….we managed to buy her off for a few minutes with a chew….

….and a walk on the heath…..

…but I'm not going to pretend that her mood didn't continue through the weekend….

….she had her "walk whine" primed and ready to go…...

…but..oh dear…we walked her in the rain….

…her displeasure was palpable….

….so I rushed an emergency plan into operation…we went for a walk on Ashtead Common….but..oh crikey…the train gates were shut on the way there…HURRY UP!

…phew…she's walking…and its dry….

….best not get in her way…..terrier moving at high speed….

…a banquet of blackberries for you Miss Lola?...

no?...oh..oh…OK then….drinks instead?….

…er….that's not quite what we had in mind….

….maybe I will just keep out of the way and enjoy the sunshine….

…wait for us Miss Lola…what can you smell?…..

…I was quite surprised to find that we had been upgraded to a National Nature Reserve….there are 224 of these in the Uk and "A National Nature Reserve (NNR) is one of the finest sites in England for wildlife and/or geology. Almost all NNRs are accessible and provide great opportunities for people to experience nature"....

…I wonder if I can see my house from here….

…goodness me…I hope she isn't intending to swim in THAT!….

….one satisfied customer…I think anyway….

…in between tending to Miss Lola's many requirements typist and I have been out cycling as we prepare to ride across Europe to Amsterdam in aid of Rianna's Fund….but this is the only photographic evidence of this week's ride…vital replenishment of nutrients at the halfway point...
 ...you can read a bit more about our ride HERE…and we would like to say a massive thank you to all of the kind friends who have sponsored us…we found out last night that the team (there are 54 riders in total) will raise enough money to build a school for 400 children in Uganda….

…the children sent us a very nice message!...

….and this is our team kit…look out for us from 11 to 14 September if you live in Kent, France, Belgium or the Netherlands….Amsterdam here we come...
…Miss Lola is now more settled back at home and has reinstated the nightly Fox Watch….

…it's good to be home….
*jet lag ears*…Clapton, Border Terrier HQ….

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Gone cycling….

Hello my friends….we are taking a "digital break" for the next little while to recharge our batteries….so you won't be hearing from me for a while…..see you when we return later in the summer…i hope…

…..gone cycling….

…*waves*…


Monday, 7 July 2014

Eh Voila! C'est Ici..

Hello my friends....as you know, I have been quite excited for some time now that the world's biggest bike race...the TOUR DE FRANCE....has been scheduled to come to the UK....and this weekend it finally arrived.....we planned to see two stages....one in Yorkshire, which is in the North of England, and the one that finished in London....so we went off to see Grandma because she lives very close to where Stage 2 was to finish in the great city of Sheffield...

....when we got to Grandma's we found Cousin Lily waiting patiently for the cycling to start....oh dear...I think she is going to have a long wait....

....on Sunday morning we got the tram across the city to the Fan Zone which had been set up at the Don Valley Bowl...we only planned to stay there for the day with the big crowds to watch the cycling on the big screen and not to actually go to the course...we were saving that for London...but we could hear the excitement from the finish line which was only a very short distance away....

.....we got there nice and early....before the big crowds....in fact, before the day's stage even set off from Harrogate....
....i made sure we were in yellow....our Dogs Trust t-shirt did nicely....

....this looks like a good spot.....and the coverage is just starting....

.....but that was important to ensure we could bag a seat on one of the deck chairs the organisers of Le Tour de Yorkshire had thoughtfully provided....
....I made sure that typist was fully provided for of course....

.....there were some swanky bikes on display.....

...and some fancy cycling caps too.....

...we had an excellent view of the screen.....




....even some Frenchmen had come all the way from France to see the race.....

....we had some crepes for lunch....very French...mine was filled with bananas and Nutella (that's chocolate spread for my foreign visitors)....

....there was festive bunting everywhere in the colours of the famous jerseys of the Tour....

.....even some static bikes....I was asked if I would like to pedal off my pancake lunch!....how rude....

....I was almost on TV too!...that's Jill Douglas from ITV interviewing the family right in front of me...!!

....by the end of the afternoon the crowds had really grown and we spent most of the day sitting in the warm afternoon sun.....even though the skies in my photos look a bit gloomy, it wasn't....

.....I sat on my England flag and my Italian cycling cap on the grass to cheer on the British riders.......

....when I got home I had to tell Cousin Daisy all about it....

.....and today I went again!.....but today we were in London and I was planning to watch the racing live from the roadside....but look who I saw as soon as I arrived...its my pal @bridietheborder from the #BTPosse....what a coincidence....she was moving so fast that we did not realise it was her until after she had gone as we looked at the photo...!!

....the Fan Zone was very busy indeed....

....so I headed out towards Buckingham Palace to see if there were any free spots by the barriers...it would be a long wait though...perhaps 3 or 4 hours....
....reporting live from the Palace.....and YAY! we found a spot on Birdcage Walk about 500 meters from the finish line.....

.....here i am under the famous Flamme Rouge...the red banner which marks the 1km to go point.....


.....at one point I though that the race leader, Vincenzo Nibali, had arrived in the famous Yellow Jersey or Maillot Jaune of the Tour's leading rider....(he won the stage in Sheffield)....but I don't think this is him really...


....we did have the odd weather incident whilst we waited....but we did not get very wet and the atmosphere was very nice...we listened to some race commentary on the radio whilst we waited....

...and after an awful lot of waiting....the riders arrived....going super fast in their "trains" setting up the race for the really fast sprinters.....






....and some time after the leaders the rest of the peloton arrived.....

....followed by all the team cars with the spare bikes...I waved at this one in case Sir Dave Brailsford was inside....


....after the finish I walked round the corner to the finishing straight in The Mall....this is also where the Olympic cycling finished and where typist has finished 3 London Marathons.....it's also the road that the Queen lives on....


....we thought we might go to see the prizes awarded...but the crowds were vast....

....somewhere in the distance Marcel Kittel receives his prize for winning the stage....

....I asked the nice Trek team if they could give me a lift to the finish....
....it was crazy by the team bus park in Horse Guard's Parade...
...so typist and I walked back to the station to get back home....what a wonderful weekend...they think up to 3.5 million people turned out to see the racing....we are very proud to have been a part of it....