2024 - Our Rides in Words, Photos, Maps and Videos

She's in dry dock, barnacle removal, bit of grease and will be good for another five years voyaging.

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The Puławy Trip Summary

On a lighter note!

There was a competition by the name of "The Bicycle Capital of Poland" in 2023. Cyclists could voluntarily download an app and track miles. Puławy got the 2nd place for cities of 50-65 thousand of population, which tells a lot about that gorgeous historical city with the modern industrial present. Many people ride bikes not only for the commute but also for recreation there, and man, they do ride quality bikes!

On Day 1 of my stay in Puławy, I wanted to return to the hotel by a forest "rail trail" -- a bike path taking the place of a commuter railroad of 1965 (that has never been eventually built!) As I got lost, I was asking cyclists met en route for directions. By the plant's Gate #2, I met an elderly couple: the man was riding a new Giant gravel bike while the wife had a new Trek XC bicycle. They offered riding together with them, which I gladly accepted. (I was riding in a suit, helmet, and a reflective vest -- the latter necessary to ride into the chemical plant) :) The man soon asked for the reason of the bottom bracket area creaking. Eventually, we all rode down the place the couple lived! The man brought a long torque wrench with a proper hex bit (!!!) and tried to tighten the cranks -- it immediately turned out the reason of the creaking must be inside the motor. Just fancy how friendly and expert cycling people can be found in Puławy!

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Alone on the rail trail, Day 2.

My working day was usually starting at 4 a.m. Wearing casual clothes, a helmet and the hi-vis vest, I was riding up to the only big petrol station of the city, where I could have a breakfast. Then I was going back to the hotel, taking a shower, changing to the suit and appropriate outer clothing and was riding to meet my client at the plant. As the training was starting at 7 a.m (very early), I had to get an entry pass from the Watch Commander, then to ride into the plant, where my e-bike was stored in lab by my assist person. Commuting on a bike is as common in Puławy as nobody was making faces or smirks at my sight! It was perfectly normal to get by bike to the work in Puławy, only the rider had to wear a reflective vest (no excuses about that! No vest? No bike inside the plant!) Many cyclists wear hi-vis vests in the city too, and trust me, it is vital to wear it there, especially at night! Yet only sporty people were wearing a helmet.

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My usual breakfast: A warm baguette, a pączek, and a big cup of Mocha.

My trainees could see me riding when they were getting to or from the work with their cars. A phone call at 6:35: 'Yes, Mr Mikulski, I could see you were already at the gate! I could see you riding!' Or, 'I could see you stopping and asking a cyclist for directions!'

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On a bike path near to the plant.

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Now, I learned the gospel truth about the Polish staple food, "Pierogi ruskie" (Ruthenian Dumplings). As the word "ruskie" sounds like 'Russkie' (and we are not fond of Russia now), many restaurants have renamed the meal to "Ukrainian Dumplings". The Ukrainian people laugh at us and say: 'It has never been our food! It was you, the Polish to invent it in Ruthenia, now Western Ukraine' :) When you get to the East of Poland, you find Pierogi Ruskie served with sour cream -- something we do not do in Central Poland!

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My typical day (Day 2), a 13 km ride.

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In a bigger map.

The training was successful Now, I need to adjust to my daily routine where I live! :)
Only got two words there.
Park and Technolgiczzkkkyyk
 
A Good News

@jason.flood no worries. The SL 1.1 motor is healthy! It was the drive-side crank that has worn out! The motor spindles are in a good shape. Only the crank has to be replaced!

It is around 60 quids for a new crank, and it will be sent from a Specialized owned store in Bielsko-Biała (some 400 km away) to my Warsaw store soon. (It might take a few days). Meanwhile, I have asked the seller of the Overhaul Kit how to proceed with the return.
 
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A Good News

@jason.flood no worries. The SL 1.1 motor is healthy! It was the drive-side crank that has worn out! The motor spindles are in a good shape. Only the crank has to be replaced!

It is around 60 quids for a new crank, and it will be sent from a Specialized owned store in Bielsko-Biała (some 400 km away) to my Warsaw store soon. (It might take a few days). Meanwhile, I have asked the seller of the Overhaul Kit how to proceed with the return.
Ha, saved from that expense! Though is it worth you hanging on to the bearings kit for future problems? Likewise here - With the help of a mechanic friend the drivetrain clicking noise turned out to be just the master link being stiff or something! It wasn't loud, could feel it through the pedals and hear a faint audible 'click'. I realised after testing the bike properly that the click occurred exactly after three full pedal revolutions, every single time like clockwork. I then realised that's the exact length of the chain. So I suspected it must be chain related. We swapped out the master link to test it and hey presto the annoying click was gone! That had been bothering me since before Christmas. Thankfully it's just a link not an expensive motor overhaul.
 
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A frosty morning greeted me today so I decided to wait until midday before setting off into a very chilly 25mph NE wind, the first 15 miles was directly into the wind out to Falkirk and I was glad to get there. I then turned west and took the back road down to Bonnybridge and the difference in temp was very noticeable and with the tailwind pushing me on I was flying along for almost 5 miles, then I had to turn north for a couple of miles but at least it was downhill. At Bonnybridge I headed north to Denny where I turned west again and tackled the big climb up through Stoneywood and Fankerton.

I actually made a wrong turn here, the start of the road looked almost identical to the road to Stoneywood until I turned the corner and saw a big hill I have never climbed before and knew it was the wrong road! I wasn't sure about the road so turned back and took my usual road and I was sure glad I had the wind at my back going up that big climb! I was now on the road to the Carron Valley Reservoir and had the wind at my back for almost 12 miles, that sure was fun! :D I actually had a few snow flurries along here but it didn't come to anything thankfully!

The Campsie Hills had a bit of snow on them!

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I just love the road past the reservoir but it gets a bit rough soon after here but at least the roads were mainly dry!

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I continued alongside the reservoir and stopped for some more photos.

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I was now back on the smooth part of the road here and its a downhill with a 25mph wind at my back, what a blast!

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The hills to the north were free of snow!

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Just before this photo is my favourite part of this road, a very fast twisty downhill where I hit 42mph!

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I was nearing the road up over the Campsies and stopped for a snack and a few photos before heading up the climb!

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This is part way up the climb where you can see the remains of the snow in the fields!

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Just after this photo is the summit and I was really looking forward to the descent now!

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The first part of the descent heads SW so I had the wind right at my back, I'm pretty sure if I had really gone for it I could have passed 50mph but I erred on the side of caution as the road was a little damp here...I still managed 47mph though! 😂 The road then turns SE heading down into Lennoxtown so my speed was much reduced on this part of the descent, still around 30mph though! At lennoxtown I continued south towards Kirkintilloch and then turned NE directly into the wind again all the way to Kilsyth. I stopped at the canal for a final snack and a little break before the next big climb up to Croy.

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Yet more climbing at Croy up to Cumbernauld where I joined the main road for a bit before turning east for Lenziemill and then due south towards Riggend and up the final big climb to Wattston with only 4 miles to go. I took the back road to home from here and arrived home a little tired but very content with another awesome ride, it really was a blast despite the bitter cold! I picked the perfect route for the conditions today, it was a day for climbing to keep warm👍

@DaveMatthews Thank you for your kind words mate, my bike is a bit like me, old but mostly reliable...😂

@Stefan Mikes I'm glad it was just your crank and not a motor problem after all, I would have been really concerned about a motor failing after only 14000km, quite a relief for you I'm sure👍
 

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Likewise here - With the help of a mechanic friend the drivetrain clicking noise turned out to be just the master link being stiff or something! It wasn't loud, could feel it through the pedals and hear a faint audible 'click'. I realised after testing the bike properly that the click occurred exactly after three full pedal revolutions, every single time like clockwork. I then realised that's the exact length of the chain. So I suspected it must be chain related. We swapped out the master link to test it and hey presto the annoying click was gone! That had been bothering me since before Christmas. Thankfully it's just a link not an expensive motor overhaul.
I had a similar situation with one of my e-bikes before as well. In that case, it was a connecting pin installed wrongly. Fortunately, I could identify the issue very soon!
On the other hand, I had a strange soft click on my Vado (then 5.0) for months, and that turned out to be the internal carbon belt failing...

@Stefan Mikes I'm glad it was just your crank and not a motor problem after all, I would have been really concerned about a motor failing after only 14000km, quite a relief for you I'm sure👍
It looks the SL motors are sturdier than we think :)
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A frosty morning greeted me today so I decided to wait until midday before setting off into a very chilly 25mph NE wind, the first 15 miles was directly into the wind out to Falkirk and I was glad to get there. I then turned west and took the back road down to Bonnybridge and the difference in temp was very noticeable and with the tailwind pushing me on I was flying along for almost 5 miles, then I had to turn north for a couple of miles but at least it was downhill. At Bonnybridge I headed north to Denny where I turned west again and tackled the big climb up through Stoneywood and Fankerton.
@RabH I regret I cannot be riding as much as you do this part of the year. Currently, I am fortunate to be blessed with a lot of engineering related work during these months, and can be at least creative in what I'm doing for living!

On Friday (that felt like Monday for me!), I could take my Vado 6.0 to make some grocery shopping in the late afternoon. I was consistently riding the heavy e-bike at 15% assistance (it is like the lowest possible Giant assistance of 50% for the Syncdrive Pro motor) to get at least some workout. What was funny for me, I was descending off a flyover at 24 km/h one way but at 44 km/h on the return ride! I wonder what the speed of the wind was! :D
 
Well, our winter time on beautiful Whidbey Island was a bust as far as riding my La Free 😟. Between the weather, my knee flare up, and our short turn around time (due to my PM's hip replacement on the east coast at the end of October delaying travel for a few extra weeks), I only rode ONCE 😱. Thank goodness for Rab, Stefan, Chargeride, Prairie Dog and others for providing vicarious enjoyment 😁!

Hopefully, after we get settled in our Piedmont Triad place in the next week or so, and after I get a couple of new steroid knee injections, there will be better riding luck with "Alan", my Espin Flow, for the spring season🤞🙏🤞🙏🤞!
 
My 'broke three ribs' friend who still thinks he's 25 has just rang me , he came clear off the gulley trail at Gisburn forest trail and ended up suspended by his helmet from a tree 10 ft off the ground.
His full face helmet was stuck between two branches and his own weight was jamming it in , he had to feel around for other branches to lift himself up to get free, then climb down.
I know exactly where it happened, theres a steep drop to the left and I always imagine going over it.

Well he did.

The bike went all the way to the bottom, with his new thousand quid battery, all survived, no damage.

Are you coming next Sunday?
Nope, not for all the tea in China.
 
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It was a frosty start to the day so I headed to a local park for a walk first and headed back home. I set off for the Forth bridges around 10.30am with the frost all gone now and the temp around 5C. The bitterly cold NE wind from Friday had switched to the SE and was around 15-20mph, nowhere near as cold as Friday thankfully. I had 27 miles into the headwind to contend with at first and my legs were still feeling Friday's tough ride, the weather was lovely though so I was enjoying the sunshine. I picked this route because I knew it would be less hilly than my last 2 tough rides!

First photo of the day was at the Black Loch at Limerigg, no calm water today but you can see how nice the weather was.

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I continued on to Avonbridge and took the road up through Standburn, it's such a brilliant cycling road and although I was battling the headwind I was loving it. :D I passed through Standburn and enjoyed the descent all the way to Linlithgow, it was just awesome. At Linlithgow I continued east on the main road towards Newton where I got my first view of the bridges and the Ochill Hills.

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Every now and then the sun disappeared behind some clouds and the temp difference was very noticeable, thankfully the clouds were sparse! I arrived at the bridge and grabbed the obligatory photo of the iconic rail bridge. Conditions were very different to my last 2 rides over the bridge...

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The new bridge was looking busy as always.

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Another view of the rail bridge before heading across, there were quite a few cyclists taking advantage of the nice weather but with a crosswind from the right it was a bit chilly!

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At the far side of the bridge now.

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Another view of the new bridge before heading for Inverkeithing.

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I arrived in Inverkeithing and had my lunch in the town before turning west for home with the wind finally at my back, I was sure glad of that as were my tired legs...;) I arrived in Rosyth a short time later and stopped for these photos at the business park.

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I was now on the main A985 for a few miles but luckily the traffic wasn't too bad, I was looking forward to using the cycle path a couple of miles down the road though but found it was closed as they are actually fixing it and making it into a double path by the look of it. It should be great when its done. 👍I was glad to turn off the main road eventually and head down into Torryburn on the coast road where I enjoyed some lovely descents and soon arrived in Culross. The village was very busy for the time of year, obviously due to the nice weather.

This is the view across the Firth of Forth from Culross with the Pentland Hills way in the distance I believe.

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I continued along the back road towards Kincardine Bridge, the road here is still in great condition after being resurfaced for the World Champs last year.

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I used the cycle path at the end of the road which brings you out at the Kincardine Bridge, here I had to use the main road as they are working on the bridge until 2025 so the cycle path is closed on the south side. There is still a path on the north side but its so narrow you have to stop to let cyclists and pedestrians pass so I stuck with the road. I passed over the bridge and stopped for some photos of the Ochill Hills which were looking stunning bathed in sunshine. The views are spoiled a little with the ongoing construction work...

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This is looking south with the oil refinery in the distance, the tide was out though so it didn't look as good as usual...

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It was now time to turn south for Falkirk so the lovely tailwind came to end for now, I had a cross/headwind for a few miles until I reached the Kelpies.

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As I was passing through Falkirk things were getting busy on the road, so I was glad to reach the quieter part of the town and headed for the climb up to Shieldhill at Reddingmuirhead. Its a big old climb but I had the wind right at my back again and shot up the climb into Shieldhill. I turned south for California (a blink and you will miss it village;)) and up yet another big climb. I stopped near the top for some photos.

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Still some snow on the mountains to the north.

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I continued up into the village and soon had another climb which is quickly followed by a cracking descent down into Avonbridge. Here I passed the road I had taken in the morning so I decided to continue south and take the road up over Heights, yet more climbing ensued. Up until now my bike had remained virtually spotless thanks to the dry roads, this soon changed as the road was in a right mess. It is sheltered from the sun for the most part so very seldom dries up properly and with a few farms around they had been spreading mud around...so glad I have excellent mudguards!

I reached the summit and grabbed some more photos.

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Now I had a lovely descent down into Blackridge where I turned west for home with the wind at my back for 9 very enjoyable miles, I really enjoyed the warmth from the sun all the way home from here.👍What a fantastic ride once again with the sun shining for a good percentage of my ride, it made a nice change and there were no howling winds. I will enjoy a couple of rest days now and maybe plan a ride for Thursday with a decent forecast in place for now!
 

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The wife and I did about 16.5 miles today. It’s still unusually warm here but tomorrow will be 25 degrees cooler. A picture from our ride. Often there just isn’t much to take a photo of. We rode by an abandoned house that I should have stopped and got a picture of but I didn’t think of it until it was too late.
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The Puławy Recon Ride
Monday, 26th February 2024

We had to dismantle my Vado SL so it could fit the boot/trunk of my cousin's Sebastian BMW 1 😁 We were very lucky not to be stuck in any traffic jam, and thanks to excellent new roads (the Southern Beltway of Warsaw and the S17 towards Lublin) we covered the 175 km distance to Puławy in no time! 😊

The small nice hotel offered overnight storage of my e-bike, and now I had a plenty of time to kill.

My reconnaissance ride led via bike paths all the way. It was 4.05 km one way (or a quarter on pedal power only).

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Azoty Puławy (Nitrogens), a huge chemical plant with Engineering and R&D. All are my clients.

Then I rode to a service station (to see whether they could serve good early morning breakfast), to another hotel to buy local craft beer, and to yet another place to meet a friend who needed some consolation.

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We met with Marek three times, always in Puławy. Here, in a local dive bar of cult following, and yes it is non-alcoholic beer 😊

25.77 km total for the day.

It is 6 am now and I'm in hurry to be at the client on time!
Non-alcoholic beer is worse than sex without a partner.
 
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It was a frosty start to the day so I headed to a local park for a walk first and headed back home. I set off for the Forth bridges around 10.30am with the frost all gone now and the temp around 5C. The bitterly cold NE wind from Friday had switched to the SE and was around 15-20mph, nowhere near as cold as Friday thankfully. I had 27 miles into the headwind to contend with at first and my legs were still feeling Friday's tough ride, the weather was lovely though so I was enjoying the sunshine. I picked this route because I knew it would be less hilly than my last 2 tough rides!

First photo of the day was at the Black Loch at Limerigg, no calm water today but you can see how nice the weather was.

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I continued on to Avonbridge and took the road up through Standburn, it's such a brilliant cycling road and although I was battling the headwind I was loving it. :D I passed through Standburn and enjoyed the descent all the way to Linlithgow, it was just awesome. At Linlithgow I continued east on the main road towards Newton where I got my first view of the bridges and the Ochill Hills.

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Every now and then the sun disappeared behind some clouds and the temp difference was very noticeable, thankfully the clouds were sparse! I arrived at the bridge and grabbed the obligatory photo of the iconic rail bridge. Conditions were very different to my last 2 rides over the bridge...

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The new bridge was looking busy as always.

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Another view of the rail bridge before heading across, there were quite a few cyclists taking advantage of the nice weather but with a crosswind from the right it was a bit chilly!

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At the far side of the bridge now.

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Another view of the new bridge before heading for Inverkeithing.

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I arrived in Inverkeithing and had my lunch in the town before turning west for home with the wind finally at my back, I was sure glad of that as were my tired legs...;) I arrived in Rosyth a short time later and stopped for these photos at the business park.

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I was now on the main A985 for a few miles but luckily the traffic wasn't too bad, I was looking forward to using the cycle path a couple of miles down the road though but found it was closed as they are actually fixing it and making it into a double path by the look of it. It should be great when its done. 👍I was glad to turn off the main road eventually and head down into Torryburn on the coast road where I enjoyed some lovely descents and soon arrived in Culross. The village was very busy for the time of year, obviously due to the nice weather.

This is the view across the Firth of Forth from Culross with the Pentland Hills way in the distance I believe.

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I continued along the back road towards Kincardine Bridge, the road here is still in great condition after being resurfaced for the World Champs last year.

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I used the cycle path at the end of the road which brings you out at the Kincardine Bridge, here I had to use the main road as they are working on the bridge until 2025 so the cycle path is closed on the south side. There is still a path on the north side but its so narrow you have to stop to let cyclists and pedestrians pass so I stuck with the road. I passed over the bridge and stopped for some photos of the Ochill Hills which were looking stunning bathed in sunshine. The views are spoiled a little with the ongoing construction work...

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This is looking south with the oil refinery in the distance, the tide was out though so it didn't look as good as usual...

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It was now time to turn south for Falkirk so the lovely tailwind came to end for now, I had a cross/headwind for a few miles until I reached the Kelpies.

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As I was passing through Falkirk things were getting busy on the road, so I was glad to reach the quieter part of the town and headed for the climb up to Shieldhill at Reddingmuirhead. Its a big old climb but I had the wind right at my back again and shot up the climb into Shieldhill. I turned south for California (a blink and you will miss it village;)) and up yet another big climb. I stopped near the top for some photos.

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Still some snow on the mountains to the north.

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I continued up into the village and soon had another climb which is quickly followed by a cracking descent down into Avonbridge. Here I passed the road I had taken in the morning so I decided to continue south and take the road up over Heights, yet more climbing ensued. Up until now my bike had remained virtually spotless thanks to the dry roads, this soon changed as the road was in a right mess. It is sheltered from the sun for the most part so very seldom dries up properly and with a few farms around they had been spreading mud around...so glad I have excellent mudguards!

I reached the summit and grabbed some more photos.

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Now I had a lovely descent down into Blackridge where I turned west for home with the wind at my back for 9 very enjoyable miles, I really enjoyed the warmth from the sun all the way home from here.👍What a fantastic ride once again with the sun shining for a good percentage of my ride, it made a nice change and there were no howling winds. I will enjoy a couple of rest days now and maybe plan a ride for Thursday with a decent forecast in place for now!
I am curious, what do you wear for these long rides? Do you wear padding in the butt area for these rides? Any tips on attire for long rides?
 
Non-alcoholic beer is worse than sex without a partner.
Generally it is correct. It is true when you are talking about a mass produced Pilsner or Lager.
However, there happens to be non-alcoholic beer that is simply good. On of the rare birds of this type here is Miłosław Bezalkoholowe, which is an IPA brewed with American craft hops, and is just excellent, being the first choice of many cyclists on their rides in Poland.

I had a bottle of a mass produced non-alco beer to celebrate meeting a friend long not seen in a local dive bar simply because I do not drink and ride :)
 
I am curious, what do you wear for these long rides? Do you wear padding in the butt area for these rides? Any tips on attire for long rides?
I wear padded shorts for every ride, for the longer ones (more than 50 miles) I also use Assos chamois cream which is expensive here in the UK but does an excellent job! I wear leggings on top of my shorts, upper body I go with Merino wool base layers to match the riding temps! So in the winter its mostly 2 base layers, sometimes a wooly jumper also if its really cold and most importantly a windproof jacket!
 
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