Thursday 22 March 2018

The Beast from The East and Some Advice for the Desert (LGD - 51 Days)

The weather over the last few weeks has been quite lively to say the least. First up was the Beast from the East which brought us icy Siberian winds. If I understand events correctly ‘The Beast’ collided with Storm Emma which had arrived from the Atlantic. The results of the collision were lots of snow which then froze causing chaos on the roads and rails, power cuts and burst water mains. The Beast was then followed a couple of weeks later by the Mini-Beast from the East. (Who is responsible for these names?)

At the risk of sounding a bit harsh, I always get quite amused at the impact that this sort of weather has on our country. Some of the media reports almost make it seem as if the end of world is nigh! I guess that’s partly because when I lived in North Wales it was standard practice to carry a shovel in the boot of my car from November to March. And if snow actually fell then I would stick a sack of coal in the boot to add some weight. Life then went on as per usual. It always surprises me how just a few inches of the white stuff can create near-paralysis. Having said that, frozen untreated roads are definitely not recommended for riding on.

The recent weather has meant more turbo time than I would have liked. I have managed to get out on the roads quite a few times though including today with a nice 60-mile circuit up to Watton and then back home via Attleborough and Diss. A stiff breeze added to the enjoyment as it helped give my legs an extra workout. As with most rides there were a couple of surprises including a plane advertising a bed warehouse (pictured) and, much more enjoyable, a barn owl (not pictured)! Click here to see where I went.

After finishing this morning’s ride I had an important appointment with Uncle Mick and Cousins Tony and Sean at Madgetts Cycles in Diss. They’ve been cranking out copies of Passione Celesete and have really done me proud with a special celeste theme to the shopfront display. Passione Celeste has been selling really well which means that I have now raised over £1000 for the Green Light Trust which is fabulous. (Note to self: I must set up a date to hand over the first sack of loot to the Trust.) If you haven’t made a donation then please do so from the link at the top of this page. Green Light does fantastic work helping people who face health and learning challenges, by using the natural (outdoor) environment to address and overcome these challenges. I am hoping that the money I raise will help some more people, particularly those who have mental health conditions.

Anyway, my visit to Diss was a chance to see for the first time the frame I’ll be riding on my forthcoming USA tour. And a chance to discuss the fine details of the bike build with Mick, Tony and Sean. For those who know about these things here are a few technical details. The frame is a 55cm Infinito CV. It’s in the 2017 colour scheme which is really nice – black with an almost understated hint of celeste where it matters. The bike will be a custom build with Shimano Di2 electronic gearing and disc brakes. The finishing kit, saddle and handlebars are from Fi’z:k. Wheels are Mavic Ksyriums shod with Michelin 28mm Pro 4 Endurance tyres (which I always use). Long standing readers may have noticed that I won’t be using Campag kit which is my usual preference. This is purely because Shimanono is much more widely available in the US of A which, in the event of a serious mechanical …

Those readers who haven’t got a clue what I’ve just written about please rest assured. This is going to be THE bike. I am very, happy. No, I am not very happy; I am very happy and very, very excited. I am sure you are going to see a lot more of this new addition to the family.

The start date for the tour is fast approaching – almost too quickly. Paula, who will be our leader, sends out a weekly bulletin with lots of helpful information about equipment and clothing, training and preparation, route details and so forth. I have also learnt that I won’t be the only UK rider on the tour. Pete, who is from Troon in south Scotland, will also be there so the Celtic nations will be well represented. As I count down the days I can feel my excitement building.

I started today’s report with some utterances about the weather. So it seemed appropriate to end on a similar note. Paula’s last bulletin included a couple of information sheets. One was about riding in the desert with lots of advice, built on considerable experience, about staying hydrated and appropriate clothing. UK riders take note, arm coolers are strongly recommended. The other information sheet covered the issue of electrical storms, viz:

"If you find yourself in a thunderstorm in the middle of a riding day please leave your bicycle next to the road, so the CrossRoads staff can find you, then seek shelter immediately. Please familiarize yourself with the following.

Take cover.

If your hair stands on end, kneel with your head between your knees and cover your ears immediately!

Look for the following protection in isolated areas: (From Best to Worst)

Dried up gully or ditch (Best)
Low-lying area in a stand of bushes
Low-lying area in a stand of trees
Flat area in a stand of bushes
Flat area in a stand of trees (Worst)"

Passione Celeste readers!

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