Veganeuring #5

After last week’s soggy ride, I was hopeful for a drier day despite combining Coffeeneuring with swimming again. I headed back to Chippenham, made it into the session with 40 minutes to swim and splashed for 1400 metres which I was very pleased with!

Turning towards town I remembered the steps I encountered last time and set off in a different direction to avoid them. This put me onto the Wiltshire Cycleway for a short distance which meant I cycled through the park (where parkrun is held every Saturday), past a slightly strange statue, and ended up in town right by the bike parking having avoided a busy section of road. Photo of The Twister sculpture

I headed to Caffè Nero, one of my favourite of the coffee chains, because this cafe is less crowded than most others, they always have friendly staff, they have a good range of drinks & food AND they let dogs in. We don’t have a dog, but I love seeing other people’s pets sat in the cafe.

I ordered my now usual soya mocha, and whilst they were sadly already sold out of their tomato, pesto & vegan cheese toasty they had plenty of their (accidentally vegan) mince pies.

Couldn’t wait to start on my mince pie! Sadly no dogs in today

I headed for home, back up the busy road, and whilst waiting at the traffic lights to go under the train line through a viaduct designed by Brunel, I suddenly spotted this sign on the pavement:- Image of road sign

10 points if you know what this sign means without having to Google it

Pretty sure of my Highway Code, I turned onto the pavement, safely away from the traffic, and rejoined the road after the junction. I spotted this sign again at another roundabout further up the road, and again managed to safely avoid a busy junction. I was very pleased with myself, but the glares I got from the pedestrians I met on the footpath were of the “if looks could kill” variety. I’m certain they all went home complaining about cyclists on pavements, as I’m pretty sure most people don’t know what the sign means (unless they’re a cyclist!)

Anyway, to recap. Another successful Coffeeneuring trip, to Caffè Nero in Chippenham

10 miles cycled in total

1 soya mocha and 1 mince pie eaten

3 new sneaky (and safe!) shortcuts discovered

6 glares-from-pedestrians received (that I spotted – could have been more!)

Veganeuring #4

In a break between the heavy showers today I thought I’d dash to Corsham, my closest town, for a swim and then a coffee for this week’s Coffeeneuring trip. The swimming pool there is part of a very recently rebuilt centre that now includes the library, a police station, sports centre, climbing wall and of course, a cafe. Sounded perfect.

I waited for the very heavy rain to pause, then dashed out quickly before I saw sense and changed my mind. I hadn’t appreciated that the heavy showers might have stopped, but the water hadn’t had time to drain off the roads yet, and so less than half a mile from home saw me freewheeling through the middle of an enormous puddle, feet as high as they could get off the pedals, and yet I still got wet up to my ankles. The thought of having to put wet socks and trainers back on after swimming nearly had me turning back for home, but the promise of this year’s Coffeeneuring patch kept me going. There were 4 big puddles in total on this lane that I had to cycle through, but once you’re wet, you’re wet, right?

Reaching The Springfield Centre, I was amused that mine would be the only bike outside in the enormous rack (can’t think why), so I chose what I thought was the best spot, in the corner shielded by the roof and two walls. Photo of solitary bike parked

Optimal parking spot for my “Billy No Mates” bike

My swim was good, but as feared it was truly horrible redressing in cold damp socks. I reckoned I’d earned a good mocha. And maybe even a cake. Or lunch. Or … Oh. So turns out the vegan options were somewhat limited in this tiny cafe, with certaintly no vegan sandwiches in the fridge and nothing to show there was anything else available for lunch. Lady appears behind the counter. Conversation goes thus:-

Me “Hi. I’d like a mocha please. Do you have any non-dairy milk?”

Lady Behind Counter “We’ve got soya milk.

Me “Brilliant. Can I have a soya mocha please?”

LBC (firmly) “Well – the chocolate powder’s not dairy free”.

Me (innocently) “Really?”

LBC grabs the catering size tin and squints furiously at the ingredients, desperate to prove her point. After a long pause she says hopefully “cocoa butter???”

Trying not to laugh I politely say “Oh no – that’s from the cocoa, that’s not dairy”.

With a triumphant replacing of the tin firmly at the back of the counter, LBC delivers her knockout blow

“Well we’ve run out of it, anyway.”

So that’s how I ended up drinking a Butterscotch Soya latte, smelling of chlorine, with damp feet. I didn’t dare ask about vegan cake, so chose some ready salted crisps. This may be my least impressive photo from this year’s Coffeeneuring campaign.

Sad times, but still counting as Veganeuring

Coming back out, I discovered that even with my carefully selected parking spot, I still had to ride home on this:-

How??!

The ride home was uneventful, as the puddles had mostly drained away, but was completed with damp feet, trainers, hair and backside.

Autumn, eh?

Stats:-

Springfield Centre cafe

5.1 miles ridden

1km swum

1 butterscotch soya latte (tasted nicer than it sounds, but sadly served in disposable cup)

1 packet ready salted crisps

1 irritated cafe employee

2 unexpectedly damp parts of me (feet and backside!)

Veganeuring #3

Apparently today is World Vegan Day – it was news to me, but obviously it made it a highly appropriate day for some veganeuring. I really wasn’t feeling it today, I had a day off but could happily have just gone back to bed. I eventually persuaded myself I’d feel much better if I headed outside to do something, whatever it was! I didn’t feel like heading to a cafe so I made a drink, grabbed a flapjack, stuck my bike helmet on and headed out the door before I could change my mind. “Coffeeneuring without walls” is totally a thing, and was made for trips like this. It was probably intended for slightly more adventurous rides, but hey – we all do what we can.

I stuck to quiet lanes after my recent fright at a roundabout, and yesterday’s incident with a 4×4 whilst out running, and found myself cycling along a lane I used to regularly cycle on. It was the long way home from preschool, and in those days I had my chunky 4 year old son on the back who had demanded the “pretty way home” whilst I wanted the quick route home for lunch. Chunky four year old is now a long, thin nearly 6′ tall 17 year old! The bike was the same one I used to ride though – still going strong!

I stopped in a field just off the road, parked the bike up and had a wander about whilst drinking my mocha and munching my flapjack. The sun came out, the birds were singing, and I felt peaceful and calm.

Just a bike in a field, and not much else. Perfect
Spot the coffee!

Rather than heading into the village and the busier road home, I turned back the way I’d come. I couldn’t resist cycling right around a triangular junction (because I could) and I even took a slight detour in order to incorporate a hill into my route back. On meeting a car on a very narrow lane I was instantly anxious, but then amazed when the driver pulled into a passing place and patiently waited for me to come past. I waved and shouted my thanks, to which the driver pleasantly replied “No problem!”

My faith in human nature has been somewhat restored.

Stats

4.5 miles cycled

1 homemade vegan mocha with Dark chocolate almond milk

1 homemade vegan flapjack with added fruit

1 cycle down memory lane

1 better mood returned

1 faith in human nature restored

Veganeuring #2

2nd Coffeeneuring trip of the season on a sunny, but cold and blustery day. I decided if I didn’t go today, I’d never fit all my rides in in time.

Additional theme for this year’s rides seems to be “rides with tales”. Today’s was “Road Closed -I don’t think so!”

I rode past the sign, with fingers crossed, and although the road was fenced off just before the sneaky shortcut I needed to take, fortunately there was a special way through. Phew!

Can you spot the sneaky way through?
And from this direction?

Today’s ride was a 7.8 miles round trip on my shopping bike to a Costa coffee. Not an exciting option, being part of the largest coffee chain in the UK, but good coffee and a choice of vegan options. Stuck to my “Veganeuring” theme and had a really tasty vegan mince pie (never too early!) and a soya mocha.

Yum

I could also have had a vegan Christmas cake slice, a cookie or a wrap, but I’ll save those for another time! Good bike parking on the other side of the retail park’s car park, so it is out of sight once you’re inside the cafe but it does have a roof in case it rains.

The sturdy steed, with cafe in the background

Maybe next time I’ll have a straightforward ride with no stories or drama??!

Coffeeneuring 2018 #1 Again.

Autumn arrives, and with it – Coffeeneuring! Two years ago I managed to complete the Coffeeneuring challenge and achieved my badge. Last year I miscounted my weeks and sadly failed. This year? Well – it’s another year, another start and I’m keen to be successful again. I’m so keen I actually got my dates wrong and went Coffeeneuring last weekend before the official 7 weeks had even started. I chalked it up as a warm-up ride, and set off for my real first Coffeeneuring trip today.

In case you’re wondering, Coffeeneuring was devised as a way to encourage people out on their bikes for pleasure, particularly after the long “randonneuring” rides over the summer. The full rules, regulations, and guidelines are given here. Actually that makes it sound very official, and it’s not really. Very roughly rides must be at least 2 miles, you should visit a coffee shop (or similar), drink coffee (or similar), and repeat 6 times over what’s roughly a 7 week period. What you must not repeat is the cafe, have no more than 2 trips per week, no more than 1 per day, and your ride mustn’t be part of an organised ride. Oh, and organising your rides with a “theme” is encouraged as well.

With all that in mind, I decided this year I would try to find vegan treats at every cafe stop. On my premature Coffeeneuring trip, an enquiry about vegan cakes was met with a very short “No!”, so I was interested to see how I’d get on elsewhere. Oh – and I’ve named my challenge “Veganeuring “, just to be annoying.

So today, my day off in the week, was the perfect time to start. I had a number of other things I needed to do in town so I decided to go for it and combine everything into one big event. It made for an eventful trip.

Heading into town I stopped to help a lost looking man with a map – a proper paper OS map. I showed him where he was, pointed him in the right direction and set off again, feeling very virtuous. Moments later this veritable Good Samaritan was nearly knocked off her bike at a mini roundabout. Apparently a bright turquoise reflective cycling jacket in broad daylight makes you invisible. Without wanting to dull my halo at all, I should confess that hand gestures were exchanged at this point, but none of them vulgar. That incident made my heart rate spike I can tell you!

I eventually made it to the Leisure centre for a short swim, and then on down into town to a cafe called “Grounded” for my official Coffeeneuring stop. This is a really lovely cafe, with seating both inside and out. It overlooks the river, and has very handy railings outside that I locked my bike to.

The Coffeeneuring Money Shot

I had a very nice almond milk mocha, but sadly they had no vegan cakes. Remembering they serve a Vegan breakfast I was surprisingly restrained and only ordered toast with vegan margarine and jam. I had to laugh -as the waiter brought my order over, he loudly declared “Vegan toast!” I could almost hear the thoughts of the people around me “what’s in normal toast that isn’t vegan??!!”

Then I walked my bike up through town to meet my parents. The bike parking on the town bridge was full, which was pleasing but annoying, so I found a good place further up the high street. As I was locking my bike up, I noticed the man I’d helped with his map again. He thanked me once again, confirmed he’d found the wood he was looking for, and asked my opinion on the local coffee shops. I was so pleased to see he was having a successful day out!

Stopping to retrieve a baby’s dropped sock I also met a lady I’ve been seeing around Chippenham for 20 years, but never spoken to. We used to get the same train every morning to work, but being British had never actually talked to each other. We were finally having a lovely chat, stood on the pedestrianised area outside The Angel Hotel, when I was nearly run over by a Range Rover screeching to a halt inches away from me. I was beginning to think I had a target painted on me!

After a cup of tea and lovely catch up with my parents I mounted my bike once again, and made it safely home.

The Stats

9.4 miles cycled

800m swam

1 almond milk mocha

2 slices of “vegan toast” and jam

1 pot of Earl Grey tea

1 map read

1 tourist helped

1 friend made

Tai Chi

“Try everything once except incest and folk dancing” – Sir Thomas Beecham.

Well I’m glad to report this post does not involve incest, nor folk dancing (although I have already tried that – primary school in the 1970s was very different to today), but it is about trying something new.

Following on from trying pacing at parkrun last month, when the opportunity arose to attend a Tai Chi session at work I jumped at the chance. The coincidence that it was one of my running friends, Valerie, who was taking the session made it a lot less daunting but I still had a look on You Tube to see what I could expect. Apparently it involved a very muscular man in a tight white vest, standing ankle deep in water. I showed the video to my husband who asked if work were also going to provide the waterfall that the man was standing in front of, but as the location for the session was going to be on the second floor I answered that this was unlikely, unless there was a major plumbing incident.

I arrived at 8:15 am promptly, and was relieved to see my friend Valerie hadn’t morphed into a muscular man in a vest. There were only 4 of us, plus Valerie, in an open plan space at the top of the office, surrounded by unused chairs and desks, so it could have felt a little awkward. Maybe surprisingly it didn’t, after we got started it just felt very relaxing and calming. The cracking and popping of joints I’m sure helped break the ice, and loosened us all up before a day sat at our desks.

I really enjoyed it, and felt almost too relaxed for work afterwards – but sadly that soon wore off. I was very pleased to see the sessions will run again next week, and have already signed up. Thank you Valerie!

What’s better than parkrun?

What could be better than parkrun? Actually, what could be better than attending your friend’s 100th parkrun? No, no, what could be better than attending your friend’s 100th parkrun, in the sunshine?

I’ll tell you. What’s better is persuading your daughter to come along and marshal at parkrun whilst you run, before dropping her at the station to go back to university.

Well done us, and well done Lucy (another Lucy!) on your parkrun milestone!

parkrun pacing – try anything once!

After my local parkrun recently invested in some lovely pacing tabards, they requested volunteers to wear them for the first time. Ever keen to try new things, I said I’d give it a go and put my name down as the 32 minute pacer.

Thinking I probably ought to practice running to a certain time, I popped out for on local 3 mile route and ran it in 32 minutes and 1 second (this did include a stop to retie my lace). Not bad I thought!

Full of confidence I rocked up on Saturday 1st September.

How smart do we look? And just in case you don’t recognise me, here we are again:-

So did I manage to get even closer to my target 32 minutes and win the box of chocolates? Not quite, my official time was 31:30. Obviously I needed to stop and tie my shoelace again!

I wasn’t lost …

… I just didn’t know where I was. Well, I knew roughly where I was but I couldn’t see how to get back home. Right – excuses out of the way, I’d like to describe my run this week (yes there’s only been one. So far).

I grumbled home from work, in a foul mood and telling myself I’d feel better after a run. In my running gear I decided I’d go out of the front door, turn left at the end and do my usual loop. I ran down the drive, turned right, and realised I was already going the wrong way. Ah well, never mind, I’ll run down to the green, then up between the houses to the village hall, turn left and go round that way, I thought. Brilliant. I made it to the footpath by the village hall, and was struck an inexplicable desire to see where the footpath that went straight over went to.

It went across many fields and through gateways (with me peering through each one to see if I could spot the local cows before I ran into it). It ended up near the local long barrow which was approached through armpit high grass.

Ah – there’s the stile

What an adventure! Now I just had to turn around and heard back the way I came. Um- just needed to find the path. Then I just needed to remember how I got into that field. Then I realised that where I thought I could squeeze through onto a footpath I actually couldn’t, and ended up squeezing over and through a very rickety gate.

Ah – there’s the path!

Safely back to the village hall and I simply had to get out of one field, across the cricket pitch and home. Easy peasy, except I couldn’t get out of the field. Up and down along the electric fence I finally gave in and clambered over. I managed not to snag my Lycra, but just at the point of no return I realised the barbed wire had caught my trainer lace. I managed to wrestle it free just as I crashed over the top, then had to slink past the village kids at cricket practice.

Still, I’d made it back home safely. I wasn’t too badly nettle-stung (only both legs from ankle to knee), and I felt like I’d had a real adventure.

Roll on the next run!

Celebrating 10 years of running – by starting again

I suddenly realised today that it s round about  10 years since I started running. Not continuously, obviously, have you read my last post?!)

Back in 2008 myself and my family travelled to Alberta, in Canada. We were visiting our very good friends who had emigrated there the year before. We also managed to fit in some skiing (we were in driving dstance of the Rocky mountains – we couldn’t not!)

As with every other time I’ve been skiing, for a few weeks beforehand I made a desperate attempt to gain even a little fitness before I had to encase my feet in the plastic prison of ski boots again. This usually involved very short runs which were swiftly abandoned when my face turned puce and I could no longer breathe.

Our holiday was amazing  It was so good to catch up with our friends again, and the wide, open beautifully groomed pistes were a joy to ski on.

When we returned home and recovered from our jetlag, my husband and myself bth comented on how fit we felt. It was obviously all of the high altitude training we’d been doing. Buoyed up by the rush of oxygen to the head, I decided to pop out for a little trot around the block.

I was amazed. It didn’t feel quite as had as I remembered, I didn’t feel like I was dying, and I actually quite enjoyed it. I started popping out several times a week, making sure I was avoiding neighbours and the bin men as much as possible. I should point out that at this point I was running in a T-shirt and jeans, so as not to look like I was actually running. I had a cheap pair of trainers bought from a high street sports shop, and a pedometer. All the gear!

It was only when a neighbour commented that she’d seen me “dressed so I didn’t look like I was going running” that I realised my cover was blown, comfort would win out over shame, and I bought my first lycra.

Sore knees nearly brought me to a halt, but online advice took me to my local running shop to get some “proper” trainers. I felt like a total fraud, compounded by the fact that I nearly fell off the treadmill (I’d never been on one before) and the assistant had to stand with her arm behind my back to stop me doing it again. Red faced, I left the shop with a large bag of the most expensive shoes I’d ever bought, and life was never the same again.

10 years on, I have lost count of the number of races I’ve run , except for the marathons – there was definitely 3 of those. I’ve been awarded a County award (I might have mentioned that once or twice), and I’ve had weeks when I simply haven’t made it out of the door with running shoes on. I’ve been bought a road bike, and learnt to swim proper front crawl (face in the water and everything!).

I am a runner!