Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category

Balaton Biking

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

For the final instalment of our holiday we headed north again to the shores of Lake Balaton. At 77km long it is the largest lake in central Europe and the closest thing Hungary has to a sea. We were staying in Keszthely at the western end of the lake. Having checked in to our accommodation, we went for a leisurely walk along the waterfront. Between the outdoor fitness equipment and the playground full of wet-play equipment, we whiled away a good few hours before heading in to the centre of town in search of food.

The next day we made use of the facilities provided by our ‘wellness hotel’. This included free bike hire and we spent the morning cycling along the long-distance path that heads around the lake. This was obviously a popular past-time as there was a steady stream of cyclists, including many carrying their camping gear. When we stopped for lunch I was approached by a man to ask why we were there! It was a reasonable question: he was English and was the only English person we’d met since leaving Budapest. Keszthely was full of tourists though – just mainly German-speaking including, we suspect, many of them Austrians from just over the border.

Back at the hotel we checked out one of the three pools at the hotel. Whilst this may sound very grand, the combined volume of the three pools was probably half that of the learner pool at our local leisure centre! They were perfect for cooling off in though as the temperatures were once again on the rise. Having worked our way through table tennis, table football, pool and darts we walked in to town again and wandered the grounds of the magnificent Festetics Palace. I managed to persuade the family not to have pizza or pasta for dinner again: instead we went to a Mexican restaurant!

The next day was our last in Hungary and we started to wend our way back towards Budapest, taking the scenic route along the north side of the lake. We stopped at the Tihany peninsula which was a real tourist honey pot. We had intended to go for a walk but spent most of our time there in the Lavender House Visitor Centre. We’d really only intended to go in to use the toilets but the entry fee was such that we stayed to watch the film and then wandered around the exhibits. We did make it up to the Abbey briefly before continuing on our way to the airport.

And so concluded our holiday, only slightly marred by a long drive home when we discovered, rather too late, that the M3 was closed for overnight works. We’d thoroughly enjoyed our time in Hungary despite the heat and would certainly consider a return visit although there are so many other countries still to explore…

Back to the Brecons

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

Pen y FanFor the first week of the Easter holidays we returned to the same cottage that we stayed at two years ago for the JK (having decided not to go up to the JK in Yorkshire this year). It was an action packed week with walking, running, cycling, swimming, canoeing and climbing, with a fair amount of dodging showers thrown in for good measure!

Here’s a quick run down of the week:
Friday: Arrived early evening having spent rather too much of a beautifully sunny day sat on the M4!
Saturday: Managed a quick walk down to the canal before the rain arrived. Headed to Brecon to stock up on supplies.
Sunday:pen-y-fan-2016-2.jpg Made the most of all the rain by going to visit the waterfalls above the Talybont Reservoir. Made it back from our walk just as the hail descended. I managed to time my run in the evening for the return of the sunshine.
Monday: We returned to the scene of the JK relays (Pwll Du) for the Rogue Runs ‘Gilwern Grunt’ race. The children were marshalling with their grandparents which meant both Christine and I could run. The hail ceased just in time for the start. Running through the mine workings was fun although my progress on the ascents/descents was pretty poor. Christine bagged a prize for third lady. We headed to Big Pit afterwards although sadly they weren’t running underground tours that day.
Tuesday: Gerry and Sue took the children climbing at Llangorse and Christine and I headed out on our bikes. We took the Taff Trail up to the top of Talybont Forest and then had a quick walk up Craif y Fan Ddu before heading for the tea shop. It began to snow heavily whilst we were sat there which wasn’t so much of a problem as the freezing cold rain it became as dropped altitude on our way back to the cottage.
Wednesday:pen-y-fan-2016-7.jpg The weather finally took a turn for the better and we spent a fun few hours paddling along the canal from Brecon (trying to catch the electric hire boats!).
Thursday: With a clear day forecast we finally took to the hills, climbing Pen y Fan and Cribyn via the Corn Du ridge. The snow on the way up certainly added to the excitement for the children. Most memorable for the adults was the orderly queue to take your photo at the summit of Pen y Fan!
Friday: Time to pack our bags and make our way back to Southampton via a night in Monmouth.

On your bike

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

On Saturday, after a bit of indecision, we finally decided that we’d go to the orienteering at Dibden Inclosure and not the Hants Cross-Country at Farley Mount (or, indeed, both). It was a lovely day but the orienteering was decidedly average. Dibden is not the most exciting of areas with only the occasional squiggle of contours to break up the otherwise featureless forest and marshy, heather strewn, open. After the first few controls, I even found myself checking that I had actually picked up the blue course map rather than the orange!

Emma and Duncan seemed to thoroughly enjoy the yellow course though. Plenty of mud to squelch through and Duncan walked the whole way round without any bribery or complaining. At Christine’s suggestion, we’d put the children’s bikes in. Nine months on, Duncan’s balance bike actually fits him. He particularly enjoyed the off-road riding although struggled a little with balancing whilst traversing slopes! Emma has never spent more than a few minutes at a time on the stabiliser free bike that she got for her birthday (other than when hooked up to the back of my bike) but that was all set to change. She started just scooting without her feet on the pedals. Then she would cycle with me holding on to the saddle and it was soon apparent that I was doing a lot less holding than on previous occasions. Once we hit the open, Emma just needed to help getting started and then she was off… Hopefully it is just the start of many fun filled years of cycling.

Birthday bike ride

Monday, May 2nd, 2011
hillier-chariot.jpg

For my birthday we cycled over to Hillier Gardens through Ampfield Woods and had lunch there. Christine had the hard job of pulling the cycle chariot containing Duncan which she prefers to having Emma on the seat on the back. I think she was just glad that we don’t live somewhere with real hills! Having the chariot inside Hilliers meant we could cover more ground than when Emma is walking so we actually got to see some of the gardens (in particular the colourful display of rhodies) in addition to the usual tour round the magic carpet and the tree house. At the latter Duncan was showing off, climbing up the 8ft scramble net single-handed. It certainly tired him out – he slept all the way home.

Longleat Tiger

Friday, January 28th, 2011
Emma the cycling tiger

I had last week booked off work and, as we were at Longleat on the Sunday, we thought we’d look at the option of staying on at the adjacent Center Parcs. Mid-week term-time the prices are pretty reasonable. Sadly though, it’s Monday to Friday and, having decided we couldn’t face packing the car for a week on the Sunday morning, we actually ended up driving back to Southampton for Sunday night! That wouldn’t have been too much of a problem if we hadn’t spent much of the journey back up north again sat in a traffic jam approaching Salisbury. It was, however, pretty wet on Monday anyway. Thankfully things cleared up for the rest of the week and we were treated to blue skies for the next couple of days.

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Four wheels better than two

Sunday, September 26th, 2010
cycle-shopping.jpg

Ever since we borrowed the Broderick’s cycle chariot back at Easter we’ve been umming and ahhing about getting one ourselves. The big question was, given that prices range from around £60 to £800, how much would we actually use it? Finally caved in last week and bought a Phillips Cleveland on eBay last week for £90 (about half price). It has the benefit of having a hard base but no fancy suspension or add-ons to turn it in to a running buggy or such-like. We picked it up yesterday and took it for a quick spin around the cycleways of Valley Park. The attachment to the bike isn’t as robust as the axle hitch on the Chariot as it just clamps on to the frame. It’s a fine line between attaching it far enough forward that the frame is thick enough and having it not catch on my heel.

More of an issue was the sibling rivalry going on in the back. At one point Duncan was banging Emma over the head with a spade (of the bucket and spade variety I hasten to add! Today Emma insisted that I took her to the supermarket in the trailer (and that Duncan didn’t come.) In the end it was just as well that Duncan wasn’t there as we got a bit carried away with the shopping. Thankfully there aren’t too many hills on the way home!

All things considered, I think it was a good move. The trailer makes less difference to cycling than having a seat on the back and I’m sure Duncan will appreciate it for his ride to nursery when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Most importantly, it means one of us can take both the kids out (providing they learn to get on a bit better!).

Chariots of Rain

Monday, March 22nd, 2010
Cycle chariot

Neil and Alice are off on the other side of the world for the next week or two and have kindly lent us their cycle chariot. Emma was certainly keen to give it a go as she was sat in the seat with the cover over whilst I finished assembling it! Unfortunately Saturday wasn’t really the best day for venturing out on a bicycle as it was drizzling from dawn ’til dusk. By mid-afternoon we had to get out of the house to maintain sanity and a bike ride round the local playgrounds seemed as good an idea as any. As you can see from the photo, Duncan was slightly less keen about the whole idea but then he did go off to sleep shortly after we set off! I certainly found it an easier ride towing two rather than having Emma in the rear seat although there’s not much in the way of hills around us to really provide a test. Given its size, it remains to be seen whether we take it away with us on holiday and, given the price (now about £800 for this model), even more so whether we decide to buy one for ourselves.

Cranky competition

Sunday, December 20th, 2009
Someone actually finishing the Military Challenge MTBO

For some reason I decided to enter the ‘Military Challenge’ Mountain Bike Orienteering event yesterday. This was despite not even owning a mountain bike (I borrowed one from the cycle club at work). What I hadn’t bargained on at the time I entered was that there would be lots of snow on the ground! Things started to go wrong even before the start. I had not brought my normal cycle jacket (well, it’s Christine’s actually) as the zip broke but what I had forgotten was that my cycle gloves were in the rear pocket. Luckily I did at least have another pair of gloves with me.

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