2023 - Our Rides in Words, Photos, Maps and Videos

A quick ride out today with Mrs DG to test the new Kinekt suspension Seat post.
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Got the bike out to change the seat post, but found I had a puncture in the rear tyre, so had to sort that out before changing the seat post.

Full report soon after testing it few a few days.

Edit;
Forgot to mention that when we were on a cycle track alongside a farmer’s field, we heard the gate being closed behind us.

Then followed a strange noise, which turned out to be some idiot on a full throttle e-moped hooning it up through the stubble on the farmer’s field.

No licence plates, no helmet, just noise. He was going pretty fast and I think what really annoyed me, was his total disrespect for other people’s property, in addition to breaking a number of UK laws.

DG…
 
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Just keep clicking that shutter! I can’t imagine being able to ride in that scenery whenever I felt like it.
I wish I could ride there every weekend, Dave. Spending five hours on the road per round trip isn’t bad when you consider how spendy it can be to rent let alone own a home in either resort town. Hotel room rates are more reasonable off season in the nearby town of Cochrane which is less than an hour drive to Canmore.

It’s been a while since I was out on a powered ride so it might be a good time for a changeup and e-ride this trail in K-Country before the first snow fall up there. Will do my best to keep that shutter clicking.

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There were 542 riders signed up for the ride yesterday for the Land Trust of Virginia annual benefit. Just up the road, on the opposite side of town at the horse show grounds the annual 5 day Middleburg Classic with over 300 perfectly groomed horses, perfectly groomed riders, and tens of thousands of dollars in prize money for the over fences classes had been in full swing since Wednesday. Three of the local foxhunts had Saturday meets planned. Further up the road and across the mountain was the start of the week long Art At The Mill art exibit and sales to benefit the county's hustorical society. Across the Potomac River in Maryland the Drive Electric event was happening with over 200 Electric cars registered to show to the public, including a parade down main street, vendors, and crowds expected in the thousands.

And then Ophelia rolled into town. Tropical storm Ophelia. Bringing wave after wave of torrential rains, high winds, and chilling cold. Not the type of weather anyone would want to to be out in. The horse show canceled all their classes for the day. All three hunts canceled their meets as well. The day long electric car event closed down after only two hours since very few car owners and/or spectators wanted to be out in the foul weather. They had a whole boatload of raffle prizes they still had to give away, but said they'd figure out what to do about that later. The art show was inside so they were still on.

And the bike ride? Well, you can count on cyclists to be among those insane enough to not only ride in the worst weather imaginable, but actually enjoy the challenge. Over 120 of the registered cyclists showed up, grinning, laughing, and having the best time despite Ophelia showing us her worst. At 9:30 sharp a multicolored flood of rain gear clad riders set off in the downpour of rain, heading out on the now drenched gravel roads, dodging puddles of water the size of small ponds as they made their way through a countryside of scenic beauty shrouded in rain and fog.

Ophelia, unable to deter the cyclists despite her best efforts in producing a downpour of biblical proportions for the first 10 miles or so, sullenly took her bands of torrential rains elsewhere for the next 3 hours, giving a blessed respite to everyone on a bike, and to the stalwart gravel roads which had been doing their utmost to absorb all the water before ponding it or turning into mud.

I had been among those crazy enough to defy the weather, biking from my farm to the ride site, a mere 6.5 miles, in a misty drizzle. At that time Ophelia was winding herself up for the onslaught an hour later, holding onto her rain until all the cyclists were ready to ride. It certainly was a wild experience not being able to see because of rain on the glasses, and tree limbs coming down onto the roads from the winds.

My game plan had been to bike to the ride, enjoy the excitement of the start, ride the first 3 miles with everyone, then as they all turned left on course, I would ride straight ahead the 3.5 miles directly home. I almost changed my mind to continue riding the course but the conditions were abysmal at best, and the rain had seeped into every article of clothing I had on. Even if it claimed to be waterproof...it wasn't. The wind driven rain on my face felt like needles on my skin, and no matter how deeply I tucked my head, the rain on my glasses completely obscured the world at large. Home was too close and it promised warmth and dryness.

I kept to my plan and arrived home in record time, looking like I'd been standing under a waterfall. But grinning from ear to ear.

It had been a 14.2 mile in the worst conditions I've ever experience on a bike*, but it had been an adventure!

Long story short - stripping out of the soaked clothes into dry ones so that hubby and I could attend the art exhibit, come home with a gorgeous landscape painting for our art collection, and stop by the bike venue to enjoy the catered ride lunch inside the site's spacious hall and chat with several of the riders that had finished already, was just the perfect way to finish out the afternoon. The rains returned with a vengeance an hour or so later, waiting just long enough for the 70 mile riders to finish before the winds and the rains became Armageddon once again.

I took a video of the waterfall of rain coming off the big tent roof as many of the riders huddled underneath waiting for the start. Just have to drop it on YouTube in order to upload it.

*I rode a 2 day 100 mile Endurance ride in a nor'easter in New Jersey one year. Ice, sleet freezing rains, horrific winds so fierce they rocked my horse trailer at night, and water proof clothing that was (once again) not really waterproof. The rains were so torrential that it produced ponds of water across the trail with depth measured in feet. Not inches. At times my horse was wading through water so high it touched his stomach, and I had to lift my feet onto his withers to keep my shoes from being submerged. My horse did fine for the entire 100 miles. He had no problem with the weather at all. I was the one who suffered from poor clothing choices, freezing cold, and a slight scratch across the cornea of one eye the first day of 50 miles from a low hanging branch across the trail I failed to see in time. The second 50 mile day I was operating with only half my vision through the remainder of the ride, packing up and heading home - a 6 hour drive home at night, in the icy rain via back roads because the main interstate home had iced up, locking traffic in a 3 hour standstill. THAT was an adventure. Worth mentioning I came in 2nd overall in the ride, which would have been a big thing except there were only 3 of us in the 2 day 100 division. Still, it remains a memorable telling even after almost 2 decades.
 
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How to follow @Prairie Dog 's incredible posts? what a spectacular place to ride a bike, your photos were just jaw droppingly gorgeous PD! 👌

Anyway I got up for the toilet in the early hours and the rain was hammering down so i thought my chances of a ride today were slim at best, I had my alarm set for 6.45am but decided to turn it off and just have a lie in! I somehow woke at 6.15am and had a look out my window and the rain wasn't falling but the roads were soaking wet, so I had a look at the forecast and it was looking promising in the morning with strong winds and heavy rain due later and the winds are here to stay most of the week...so I decided to chance it!

After Thursdays tough ride it wasn't going to be a long one so I went for a 50 miler which would get me home long before the worst of the weather, I had Torphicen as my planned destination! On Thursday it was 6C when I set off around 7am and today it was 13C so I had to go back indoors and remove a layer...😂 The wind was a direct southerly today and around 15-20mph, much better than my last ride! I headed NE so I had the breeze behind me for a while! I stopped at Hillend Loch for a couple of photos and was surprised to see the water so calm but then I realised it was due to being sheltered from the wind!


This is looking west!
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This is looking east!

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A few miles later I was passing the Black Loch and the water was a bit more choppy here!

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I continued on the quiet back roads towards Avonbridge but turned north before the village to head for Shieldhill, you can see how wet it was here and the road in the background in the first picture is the one I was about to take and its a cracker!

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The road starts with a nice downhill and is followed by a beast of a climb, I passed this stream before the climb and the water was in spate today!

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I climbed the steep part but it wasn't finished just yet, it almost looks like a little climb in the photo...

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I reached the road to Shieldhill and the low lying mist was shrouding the Firth of Forth, a lone horse was enjoying the view also!;)

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The back road down into Falkirk was a little tempting but I didn't fancy it today as its pretty rough in parts and very wet!

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So I chose the smoother main road which was deserted today anyway, I virtually freewheeled down this at 42.4mph with the southerly breeze pushing me! I wasn't going to pedal down it today due to the wet conditions especially with the curve part way down!

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I then took the road through Hallglen and passed through many villages on my way down to the Avon Gorge, I was glad this descent was into the breeze to slow me down as its a steep descent and the road was a bit slippery! The road immediately ramps up from the valley but its pretty sheltered so the climb wasn't much of a problem! I was close to my turning point at Torphicen now, once again its a big descent followed by a pretty sharp climb! This is at the top of the climb looking north!

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Then it is yet another climb up through the village before I turned west and enjoyed a really nice descent down towards Westfield where I then turned south towards Bridgehouse! Another big climb from Bridgehouse heading towards Heights wind farm and the climb was straight into the now
strengthening southerly wind!

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Now I had another lovely descent down into Blackridge on a very narrow road, thankfully I didn't meet any cars or farm equipment!

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Normally when I reach Blackridge I turn west to head for home but I decided to continue south towards Harthill as my mileage was only around 35 miles at this point! There is another quiet back road before Harthill so I took that one and had it all to myself, its mostly uphill but nothing too steep and then a nice descent down to the main road from Harthill to Salsburgh! It was time for another climb with a crosswind at times in the exposed parts, especially at the top of the climb at just over 1000ft! Then its anotherbig descent down towards Kirk of Shotts where I decided to take the back road to Hareshaw as my mileage was around 40 miles now so I needed to add another 10 miles!

It was no chore taking this road as its one of my favourites, it heads due west so the wind wasn't any factor as its mostly tree lined!

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After this awesome road I would be turning north so I had the strong breeze right at my back almost all the way home, that was sure fun! :D I turned into my street feeling elated with another cracking ride but as I turned into my drive the bike felt a bit strange, I had a front wheel puncture! Oh well if you are going to get a puncture is there a better place? ;) The weird thing is I didn't find anything inside the tyre, I'm guessing it was probably a thorn that had dislodged itself somehow! Just before I stopped my gps I took this photo which showed over 4000ft of elevation gain but Ridewithgps is showing 3783ft...you can see how filthy my bike was after that ride!

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@Readytoride What a shame you got such awful weather for the charity ride, kudos to you for getting out in that and a big well done to everyone involved!👍
 

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Lol. Even on a somewhat dreary day, the scenery on your local rides along quiet backroads is to die for. Chances are you’ll still be on the road in late October while I’ll be pondering when to swap over to studded rubber in preparation for the first snowfall.
Yes very true, I get to ride all year round with only ocassional dangerous conditions and I'm always very thankful of that! I always look forward to your off road riding in the snow, its just spectacular! 👌
 
Yes very true, I get to ride all year round with only ocassional dangerous conditions and I'm always very thankful of that! I always look forward to your off road riding in the snow, its just spectacular! 👌
Still, those elevation gains of yours’s are incredible. Sure you aren’t knocking back one too many of these? ;)

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Back on home turf and it was business as usual. Admittedly it’s a bit of a letdown from Friday’s alpine ride but I can’t be too fastidious with respect to the local offerings. I’m just grateful that I have my health and any day that I can get out for a ride with the Missus adds value to my mental wellbeing. Today was overcast and a bit on the cool side with prevailing northerlies so it turned out to be kind of a vest and arm warmer day at least for some of us.

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The World Apple Day in Warka with Mazovian Gravel

I started racing early in the morning on Sunday. As I was sipping morning coffee in a BP station at 6:12 am, I checked the train timetable. It turned out the next train would be leaving Pruszków at 6:27. I must have been still asleep... When I left the station at 6:19, I suddenly realized the train would be off in just 8 minutes! The race has started. Riding my Vado SL in only 20% assistance, I reached the train station, ran down the stairs with the e-bike in my hand, was running through the tunnel (I have problems to just walk and am not running!), and then I carried the SL up steep stairs to get onto the train just 30 seconds prior to the departure! Fortunately, I had a prepaid ticket ready on my phone, so it was enough to validate it with a QR code :)

Around 100 people gathered in the Wilanów Beach (The total number of participants was 146; some joined on the road and other rode from other places). We split ourselves into Romantic, Dynamic, and Turbo groups (like ECO, SPORT, and TURBO, heheh :)) and then were split into "starting subgroups" of 15. (The Romantic group merged in some 2-3 kms). After we all crossed the Southern Bridge of Warsaw, the group turned towards the "hideous singletrack" I had the dubious pleasure to ride on last Thursday while I turned onto bike paths and asphalt and was pedalling at all my might at SL 30/100% assistance to reach the Karczew-Gassy Ferry first. And I managed to get across the Vistula as the single passenger!

I met Bartek the co-organizer on the left bank of the river. We were awaiting together (and talking) until we could see...

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The Romantic and Dynamic groups embarking the ferry! (People got lost on the singletrack and both groups merged).

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The ferry crossing the Vistula, The only two un-helmeted people on the boat are the ferryman and the helmsman :) Meanwhile, the Turbo group arrived, making the other side of the river full! (The ferryman was collecting the fare of PLN7 in coin at the entry, making the process of embarking rather slow).

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The D-Day had come! See the tall man in reflective yellow at the front right: It is my brother Jacek. He was very active, often riding in the front or assisting and encouraging weaker riders.

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Disembarking. Jacek is now clearly visible with his Trance E+, which he rode either at minimum assistance or unpowered. The guy in personalized black & white shirt is Michał, the leader of the Dynamic group. He once led a gravel group ride to Warka I had the pleasure to participate, so the trail was familiar to me!


Then, there was a fast mixed terrain ride I was trying to complete quickly. We reached Góra Kalwaria fast. My legs were already tired as I was riding at low assistance and fast all the way since the early morning. It was the single moment I found climbing Mt. Calvary hard! As the groups reached Mt. Calvary, most of the riders decided to take some rest.

And I realized I lost my new right-hand glove*! Irritated, I restarted the ride as one of the first participants. A crazy downhill on rough cobblestone, zooming sandy roads between apple orchards and we soon reached Czersk. I was to Czersk just a week ago! And I could climb the steep castle hill and dangerously descend before! So I took a short detour, and set a photo trap for the riders... :)

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I parked my Vado SL aside, ate a fresh apple (it was delicious!) and missed the Turbo Group that just passed me at very high speed! The noise was as if a train was running! :D Yet, I could take several photos of the Dynamic group before I restarted the ride and we immersed in long kilometres of gravel or grass roads inside the apple orchards... See the Czersk Castle at the left.

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The Vistula embankment near Potycz. The front rider is my cycling buddy Piotr. He went for a ride with wife and son! We all had to negotiate the embankment. The ascent was muddy with a sharp turn (someone crashed there), and the descent was very steep! (I had to walk my bike down the embankment). This picture of people riding grass shows the "Polish gravel cycling" (in a country of very little gravel roads) can be beautiful!


The fast ride at low assistance got me spent. I had to take a detour to Warka by highway as I was close to "bonking" or "hitting the wall". It allowed me to arrive in the Apple Day City at the same time as other riders.

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One of the attractions of the World Apple Day was a stand offering "magical apple & vegetable potions" :) As if it were not enough I had 71 kms in my legs, I had to mount that "blender bicycle" to blend me a portion of the magical potion! :D

Watch it on Instagram! Comments of my buddies:
'See the latest version of Thermomix, Marek!'
'Are these available as e-bike, so they would be good enough for Stefan?'
:D

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On a regular day, the Main Square of Warka (it is Rynek or The Market in Polish) is dominated by an equestrian statue of Hetman (Duke) Stefan Czarniecki who tanned the Swedish hide there in 1656. Not on the Apple Day as it looks pretty small surrounded by stands and crowds!

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A stand with food. The countryside women were very nice but the food portions were expensive and small. There were the most beautiful apples to be taken free in any quantity!

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Good buddies of mine. It was so nice to meet (already) old friends!

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Warka is a big lager producer. Funnily enough, the local restaurant (sponsored by the Warka Brewery!) had no Warka Lager! I do not drink and ride, so I took a bottle of alcohol-free Warka. Ironically, it was not made of apple! :D (But we got several free bottles of hopped apple juice at the fiesta!)

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My brother with female gravel cyclists :)


We had to go back, and that meant next 55 km of mixed terrain ride, including sandy forest roads..

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Jacek in the front of a well groomed apple orchard. The apple is a national treasure of Poland, with huge exports. Did you notice the lack of any fence? Yes but each tree is protected against small furry animals... (hare).

I was so tired... At some moment, I spotted a new and beautiful train station of Chynów, the place I heard of the first time in my life! I sadly said to Jacek: 'I cannot continue... Taking the train back, and it will arrive in few minutes. Farewell!" Do you know what he did? He eventually pedalled for 176 km on that day! Kudos to him! Upon arrival to Warsaw, I still had 17 km to pedal myself...

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It was a hard day... I need to rest!

The News
I was admitted to the 2024 Mazovian Gravel 100 marathon! This time, I chose riding only the 100+ km distance as I am more realistic; perhaps I will ride the race on a traditional pedal bike? Who knows! :)
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*) Found the glove in my pannier, in Warka :D
 
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We had lovely weather today so did a very nice and relaxed ride around the Bedfordshire countryside.
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Had a couple of nice picnic stops along the way.
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On the way back, passed the Airship Hangers in Cardington, built in 1913.
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Finally, presently testing the Kinekt suspension Seat post and will prepare a report on this shortly.

DG…
 
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A trophy from the Warka ride :)

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"Hopped Apple", a beverage made of pure apple juice brewed with hops. It's delicious! Bottles of such drink were given free on the Apple Day, and you could take as much of apple as you could carry free! I'd love to take some apple with me myself but I have to avoid sugars... The single apple I ate at an orchard was enough for me on that day.

An anecdote:
In 2014, I set off with my car on a ride into the "apple mining area" (with Grójec, Tarczyn and Warka as main cities of the area), and entered one of the fenced orchards by foot (there was a gate). I was roaming between the trees as long as I could hear some noise; it were people picking apple behind two rows of trees. I approached a man looking as if he owned the place and politely asked if I could buy some apple. He described how to get to his house by car, and I can tell you the orchard was huge!

As I reached his home, the man asked me for the purpose of the apple and the quantity (I said 60 kilogrammes and that I wanted to make apple wine). He smiled and told me he would get me "apple from an old part of the orchard, no pesticides used", and the price was I think less than US$15!

Then, I went on a long process of pressing the juice from the apple, adding a sulphur compound, some phosphate and yeast, fermenting, filtering, bottling and letting the wine mature. (I actually added some spirits to the already 14% wine to make it 15% so it would not spoil!) :)

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The batch produced a big volume of apple wine I poured into sports drink plastic bottles, making it inconspicuous :) The wine became sensation between my numerous friends! As the bottles looked exactly as innocent sports beverage and were plastic, we had no issue to carry it through the security for numerous gigs in 2014 and 2015 :) The danger was the person given the bottle could empty it very quickly, and the wine was potent... Which led to many funny situations! :)

I regret but I could not find as friendly orchard owner next year (everybody turning me down and suggesting to visit the wholesale market). So I have never repeated the wine making adventure again!

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The apple growing area is bigger than that, extending well past Łowicz (top left). It is not the only fruit growing area of Poland but certainly the most known! (Needless to say, I have already explored most of the area with my e-bikes!) :)
 
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Ha I drank a bottle of fortified wine in a car trip to a supercross event in Birmingham.
I was talking normally all the way, we pulled up I couldnt stand up, my legs just gave way.
My mates pretty well carried me to my seat.
Its the weirdest drink ever 😂
 
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My rides, lately, have been short and uneventful weather, then health tempering my ambitions. Today’s grey weather with cold drizzle, you’d have to be crazy (Rab) to ride, but I had to work yesterday…so departed for the deserted backroads that circle my place. I did see early on Randy preparing to harvest his soybeans, further on a 6th sense stopped me and I watched four deer stroll in succession across the road. Another five miles passed uneventfully. Here’s where things got expensive…I saw my wood sculptor on the porch making wooden spoons for the farmer’s market on Saturday. We went in his old house/shop and discussed me purchasing his ‘Corn Maiden’ sculpture. I’ll repost a picture of it. The price was high, I agreed, and he still has to decide if he can part with it. Another mile later things got briefly crazy when I turned on to a main route fortunately empty. I soon saw headlights coming up behind, and that was okay, but what wasn’t was the old man wandering down the center of the road. Turns out he didn’t know exactly where he was. I pulled over and waved the car by and tried talking with him. I went to get my phone from my bike and just then deputy pulled up.
The sunflowers were from a different season a few weeks ago.
 

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