Happy New Year 2018!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to do a huge “My 2017 – a review” post, complete with Powerpoint presentation and Strava stats (my stats are rather half-hearted for 2017, but that’s not why I’m not doing it. Honest.)

I think there’s just time for a squinty-eyed short-sighted peer at the year ahead. I really need to be more organised in order to find time for running, swimming, cycling, my allotment, the house, my family (apologies to my family for putting them last in that list!) Having decided to stay on in my what-was-meant-to-be-temporary job, my life needs to become more regulated (boo!) in order to find time for the stuff I want to do (hooray!). As this job is quite stressful and unrewarding, it’s actually essential that I manage to find time for any stress-relieving activities that I can.

This might mean forcing myself out for a run after work, even if I don’t feel like it. I’ve hit the “it’s too dark to run” nail squarely on the head by buying an “Ironman” style chest torch which should illuminate most of the village as I run by. I have entered the tough “Slaughterford 9” race at the end of the month which will act as quite an incentive to get out and train! My son bought me a lovely insulated cup that is meant to fit into the bottle holder of my bike, which hopefully will persuade me to get out for even short rides (in a “Coffeeneuring stylee) . I haven’t been swimming for weeks and weeks, and the worry that I might have forgotten how is enough to have me checking the timetables for a suitable session (just as soon as my “sniffing my way into 2018” cold clears up).

A few weeks ago I asked my Facebook friends how on earth they fitted everything in. I was especially asking a lovely lady, who is a mum of 3, a full time dentist and runs Ultras (not simultaneously). Responses from everyone were basically along the lines of “just get out and do it!”, but also, and perhaps more surprisingly, “don’t beat yourself up if you don’t manage it”. This made me feel much better for the last few weeks of the year, and means that the thought I’m taking into 2018 is “Be kind”. I always try to be kind to the people around me, but maybe I need to focus a little more on being kind to myself. Let’s see how it goes!

I wonder what thought other people are taking forward into 2018?

 

Giving Up. Coffeeneuring 2017

So I made it to the middle of the last week before admitting to myself I wasn’t going to complete this year’s challenge. I’ve left it to the final day before admitting it to everyone else.

My first mistake was in miscounting the number of weekends we had. I presumed it was 7 weekends for 7 Coffeeneuring trips. Then I missed one weekend because I was just too tired. In a panic I realised I could still manage it if I got out once in the week, and twice in the last weekend.

I had an early shift on Wednesday so had planned to pop out on my bike when I got home and before it went dark ( I’m just too scared to cycle on our unlit country lanes after dark). Then good news – I got a job interview! Bad news – it was Wednesday morning so I had to rearrange my shift and lose my chance to fit in a sneaky Coffeeneuring trip.

With no more opportunity to get out this week I knew that was it. Sad, but I’m not Superwoman and can’t do everything. Well done to everyone who has completed the challenge this year. As for me, hey – there’s always next year 🙂

Coffeeneuring #4 2017. A picture is worth a thousand words

Nice picture, hiding the reality of a low effort / lower enthusiasm ride.

It was cold, it was windy, I didn’t want to go, but I made it out for a minimal “Coffeeneuring without walls ” trip. Pretty view from the lay-by but my phone was too full for anymore photos. Ride number 4 done, 2.8 miles, sachet of mocha that was pretty bad but at least I could warm my hands on my mug before pedalling home again in the gloom.

Coffeeneuring #3. All by myself

After being accompanied by Mr B&T on my previous 2 coffeeneuring rides this year, I was abandoned this week. (29th October 2017). Humming “all by myself” I showered after my morning run, dug out my happy shopper bike and headed off back to Corsham.

My favourite bakery, which makes the best vegetarian sausage rolls, also sells hot drinks *and* is open on Sunday. An easy decision to make, I thought!

Although I can confirm that that veggie sausage rolls are as good as ever, I am also sad to verify that sitting in an empty shopping centre is not much fun. Also, although £1 for a freshly made drink is indeed a bargain, the mocha I bought was so strong it practically gave me a headache just smelling it.

Ah well, ride number 3 completed!

Coffeeneuring 2017 #2

Another weekend, another Coffeeneuring trip! Seeing as I’m currently (temporarily) working Monday – Friday, 9 – 5 (cue Dolly Parton), weekends are my only chance to got out on my bike.

Saturday was spent split between sleeping, and clearing out the shed (not sleeping IN the shed I should point out), so Sunday had to be the day for my ride. Oh and my run, and also my trip to the recycling centre with most of the old contents of said shed. Oh the excitement of my weekends!

My run was short but hilly (i.e. slow, but necessary training for this year’s off-road league races). It was also beautifully autumnal in the woods, and blowy in the village.

After a shower and a quick change, I set off on my bike to meet up with Mr B&T for this week’s Coffeeneuring date. I cycled over to Corsham again, because I though I might see if I could make it 7 trips to Corsham this year. This is not because it’s our closest source of cafes (it is), but to make us seek out other eating places. We went to our favourite place last week meaning we now have to be more adventurous.

The observant amongst you will have noticed the use of the plural “we”. This is not the Royal “we”,  but it is acknowledging the fact that my husband was really quite envious of my lovely coffeeneuring patch when it arrived last year.

My coffeeneuring patch. Very proud of this
Despite completing cycle rides of ridiculous lengths (sitting next to me looking at Strava, he has just announced that he has cycled nearly 9,000 km this year), he seems determined to accompany me on my Coffeeneuring rides this year and so claim a patch of his own.

So, whilst he called in at Corsham after a 60 mile ride, I cycled 3.6 miles from home. I did have to go round and round Corsham to find anywhere open, but just as I stopped outside a promising place, he turned up. Great timing! We ended up in Mother & Wild having a really good lunch. Mushroom arancini, cauliflower soup (which basically tasted like cauliflower cheese soup, which was as good as it sounds) and a mushroom pizza.  All shared between us, with the obligatory drinks of course.

Pic of empty plates
Empty plates say it all

Photo of cycle helmet & coffee
The obligatory “helmet & coffee” shot
It was hard to leave and climb back on our bikes to pedal (slowly!) home, but we just about managed it. Still digesting now – Mother & Wild – we’ll be back!

 

Coffeeneuring 2017 – the First trip

I wrote about Coffeeneuring for the first time last year, and managed to complete the challenge by the skin of my teeth (and with a little subtle rule-bending). I was therefore excited to see this weekend meant it was the start of this year’s challenge.

In case you’ve forgotten, Coffeeneuring is a challenge to visit 7 different “coffee shops” (or cafes) over 7 weeks, travelling by bike each time with a minimum of a 2 mile round trip. You should have a coffee (or tea, or any other drink you fancy), and take a photo as proof. Read more about it here.

The Coffeeneuring 2017 challenge kicked off on Friday 13th October, and with unaccustomed cycling enthusiasm I dragged my husband out on Sunday 15th for my first trip of the year. Living in a small village, our closest small town with cafes is 3 miles away, so it wasn’t difficult to ensure we cycled the minimum 2 miles.

Sneaky cycle parking photo
Sneaky cycle parking
Photo of coffee and husband. Yum!
Yum!

A 2.9 mile hop on our “shopping bikes” took us to Grounded, in Corsham. We enjoyed drinks, shared a raspberry bakewell tart, did a spot of shopping then took a shortcut home and made it back in 2.5 miles.

On board " You can't buy happiness, but you can buy Coffee"
Loving the motto of this place

A lovely ride with my obviously lovely husband, to a really lovely cafe. Recommended!

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all! Hopefully everyone is happy and healthy, and raring to go in 2017. Now don’t worry, I’m not going to do a long “Review of 2016” (I think the moment for that has passed), but I am going to have a quick backward glance over my shouder, and then blow my own trumpet just briefly.

I started the year injured and grumpy. I spent half the year still injured and grumpy. By the autumn I began entering off road races because I love them (and they’re easier on my foot), met up with lots of other Chippenham Harriers and rediscovered my love of running. I learnt how to swim front crawl, and now need to work on completing more than a length at a time. I got out more on my road bike, and completed the Coffeeneuring Challenge of 2016.

My coffeeneuring patch. Very proud of this

Brace yourself – here comes the trumpet blowing.

As at the end of 2016, after running in 4 races in the Wiltshire Athletic Association Off Road League I found myself currently 3rd in the ladies league (out of 90 runners), and first in my age group! This is glossing over the fact I actually came last in the tri-counties XC race – that was a hard slog! Just two more races in the league to go, so keep your fingers crossed for me. I’m dreaming of trophies (no idea if they actually give out trophies, but don’t shatter my dreams just yet). Oh, and Chippenham Harriers are leading both the Mens and Ladies Team competitions as well. Toot toot!

The last day of 2016 started with parkrun. A lovely atmosphere there, despite the drizzle and slippy mud. The new year started with volunteering at the same parkrun, not easy in torrential rain and with more runners than I’ve ever seen there (but not quite a record apparently!) My first lesson of 2017 was that the bar code scanners don’t work well in the cold and wet. My second was that some people don’t deserve a free run totally staffed by volunteers. I mean, we were all getting cold, wet and frustrated that the scanners weren’t working, but to throw your soggy paper bar code and finisher’s token at me shouting “Oh just take it then!” isn’t on really, is it?

Anyway, enough wandering down memory lane. Today I’ve run* my first parkrun of the year, last week I made it to my first ‘Efforts’ session of the year (probably my first since 2015), and I’m planning on going to my first swimming lesson of 2017 on Monday. Bring it on, 2017, I’m ready for you!

* staggered, slipped, wobbled

Coffeeneuring 2016. A round up and a question 

For the benefit of the poor soul who has to read through everyone’s blog posts and Facebook entries to check to see if we’ve completed the 2016 Coffeeneuring Challenge, I’ve put together a compilation of my rides.

Ride 1. 21st October 2016. The spontaneous one. Instantly inspired by a friend’s Instagram posting about something called “coffeeneuring”, the short ride to my closest coffee shop at Allington Farm Shop. 5 miles round trip.

Ride 2. 26th October 2016. The one with the veggie breakfast and the too-warm cycling gear. 18 mile round trip to Merkin’s Farm.

Ride 3. 30th October 2016. The one with my husband and the lovely lunch. 31 mile round trip to The Birdcage, Malmesbury.

Ride 4. 9th November 2016. The one with the peacock and the soggy saddle. 5.2 mile damp ride to Grounded, Corsham.

Ride 5. 16th November 2016. The one with the china crockery. Folly Row Cafe, Kington St Michael. 10.9 miles.

Ride 6. 18th November 2016. The one that felt like cheating (but wasn’t!) Costa Coffee, Chippenham. 7.6 miles.

Ride 7. 20th November 2016. The one with the flood and the flask, where an aborted ride was saved with a “coffeeneuring without walls” trip. 2.5 miles around my own village.

7 rides done in 7 weeks, in fact in 4 and a half weeks (due to my late start). A total mileage of 80.2 miles. This is waaaaay more than I would normally do on my bike, especially at this cold and wet time of year! It’s wonderful what a challenge will push you to do.

The more observant amongst you will notice that my last 3 rides all seem to be done within 7 days. If you’ve read the rules (you have read the rules, right? You’re not the sort of person who just ticks the box that says “I have read the terms and conditions” without actually reading them, are you?!) you’ll know that rule number 6 states “Two Rides Max Per Week”. Okay, I’m not trying to cheat, but this challenge did originate in the U.S. where a new week starts on a Sunday. Soooooo, technically today’s ride was in next week, whilst Wednesday’s and Friday’s rides were in last week.

Have I convinced you? Have I successfully completed Coffeeneuring 2016?

If I have, that’s great because I’d love to officially complete the challenge and get my patch. If I didn’t, well I’m happy I finished the challenge unofficially and that it’s got me out on my bike for 80.2 miles that I probably wouldn’t have done without Coffeeneuring.

So thank you, Chasing Mailboxes – see you next year!

Bike and cafe. Nuff said.
Bike and cafe. Nuff said.

Coffeeneuring #7. A Flood and a Flask.

It is the final day of the Coffeeneuring Challenge (which is basically to take 7 cycle rides to 7 different cafes in 7 weeks*).  Squeezing in my final ride on the very last day was cutting things a little fine, but I’ll explain why in another post.

I decided to pedal over to Corsham again but this time go to the very lovely Methuen Arms. We’ve eaten here before (and fabtastic it was too) but I’d never popped in just for a drink. Husband decided he had a bit of a tickly throat after his big ride yesterday, so I wrapped up warm and set off alone.

Last night, Storm Angus came through over most of southern England, and the ground was really wet and full of fallen leaves. Nothing my “Happy Shpper” couldn’t handle, I thought!

Half a mile out of the village, I came across this:-

img_0384
Flood not puddle

On closer inspection, this was a very large puddle, or even a flood. Large, and very murky. I dithered for a short while, then decided to turn back. The only other road to Corsham is another small, twisty lane but much busier with cars. I don’t like cycling on that road at all as it doesn’t feel safe so my Meuthen Arms trip would have to be postponed. However, I still had to fit in my final Coffeeneuring trip.

Thinking on my feet (wheels) I headed back home, and quickly made up a flask. I then set out in the opposite direction and headed for my allotment. Another first – Coffeeneuring Without Walls! (Yes, this IS allowed in the rules!)  Not surprisingly, there were no other people at the allotments, and I quickly mixed up my packet hot chocolate.

img_0388
Allotment, not prison camp

Standing at the deserted, sodden allotments, drinking quite frankly horrible hot chocolate, whilst thinking of the lovely surroundings I’d missed out on, I had to admit to myself that if I wasn’t trying to complete this challenge I wouldn’t have bothered. Still – that’s what these challenges are for, pushing you to do things that you wouldn’t have done otherwise.

Anyway, 2.5 miles done around and about the village, and my 7th Coffeeneuring ride in the bag! I would recommend my allotment as a coffee stop on beautiful sunny days. There is plenty of bike parking (the hedge is huge!), the locals are friendly but I’ll need to rethink my choice of beverage.

A round up of my Coffeeneuring Challenge experience is coming up in the next post.

 

 

* For the full rules see here:- Chasing Mailboxes Blog

Coffeeneuring #6 Costa coffee, Chippenham 

Friday 18th November 2016.

On a morning that started with snow on our velux windows and roof, knowing I had to squeeze a ride in was not a delightful prospect. I had planned a short route to a Costa Coffee which felt like a cheat because it’s a cafe I visit every Monday morning between my swimming lesson and my Italian lesson. I have never been to it by bike though – so it still felt like a worthy challenge.

The cafe is on a small retail park just outside Chippenham and as I cycled around the car park I saw there was nowhere to lock my bike up by the cafe, but there was some cycle parking right over on the other side.

My bike at Bath Road Retail Park
My bike over here, cafe all the way over there!

It might have been a distance away, but it had the rare luxury of a roof. It was immaculate so although the park has been open for several years I think I was the first cyclist to use it!

Luxury bike parking with a roof!
Luxury bike parking with a roof!

I had a hot chocolate and sat in the window anxiously watching the dark skies before pedalling hard and fortunately beating the weather home.

Compulsory 'helmet and drink' shot
Compulsory ‘helmet and drink’ shot

7.6 miles on the trusty “Happy Shopper” bike, and just one more Coffeeneuring trip to fit in before the end of the weekend.