Thursday, 30 October 2014

Putting your SAFETY first!

A few hints, tips & links to put your & your bike’s safety first!

We always think I won't get hit by a car, I won't crash, they won't steal my bike... It can happen to any of us! The things I mention are not a guarantee, but in the unlikely event of a crash or theft they might come in handy.

1. ICE-Card (In case of Emergency Card)

Always make sure that you have your personal details with you. It is best to include the following information:
- Your name
- Surname
- DoB
- Emergency Contact & their telephone number 
- Allergies

There are companies now specialising in making durable wristbands with this information on them, one of these companies are local to us and called OnelifeID.

If you register with British Cycling as a member, one of the benefits include insurance for unlikely events like getting hit by a car. It is worth looking into this especially if you are commuting. It also includes certain discounts with some of the retailers or bike theft insurance (3rd party & deals on bike insurance)

I got my bikes marked by Bike registered a few years ago, they mark your bike with a unique number and special paint that can't be removed from your frame and then they keep your details on record. If your bike was to be stolen and retrieved by the police the police would be able to identify the owner by tracking your bike back to you, they will re-unite you with your bike then. This is also a good deterrent for thieves as they will know that they won't be able to sell your bike second hand if it had the bike register markings on it.

Immobilise offers the same service as Bike Register, but on any type of product, so you can upload all of your valuable items and get it traced back to you if they were to be stolen, all you need is the serial number for each. So it is a bit of admin, but rather do it now before it is too late.

4. How to lock your bike

One of the two only good things about Evans is that they taught me how to lock my bike properly in 4 easy steps.

You need:

-          A good U-lock/D-lock and a cable

Step 1: Find an immovable object

Step 2:  Put the U through the rear wheel making sure it goes through the rear triangle of the frame around the immovable object

Step 3: Hook your cable through your front wheel & fork (if you have a mountain bike) & loop the cable through the other hook on the cable

Step 4: Put the cable hook through the U & lock the U-lock securely

You can get more creative with this practice as I often add my saddle & helmet into the mix as well.

5. Helmet always wear a helmet!

I always ask myself the question, what will you do if you do get hit by a car & you didn’t wear your helmet? Will I be able to deal with the consequences or not? I often find myself quickly running back into the house to get my helmet.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Peaslake MTBO 2014

I originally had other plans for yesterday, but it got cancelled so Pokkeltjie & I decided to go for a fun ride on Sunday instead. Simon then suggested this event, Peaslake MTBO that I sent out in my recent newsletter & we decided to support this local race instead and entered as a team.

Simon sent out links with tips for us to read/study before Sunday, we soon realised that our fun ride might be a little bit more serious than what we had in mind originally.
For those of you who know us, the team dynamics were more than interesting, 1 gadget map reading loving male, 1 female who rides on memory & another female who are happy to follow most of the time. :) We are all good friends and knew that this event might put a test to our friendship. I prayed that I would be 'not' myself just for a day & just follow the lead. :-)

On Saturday we had a quick catch-up meeting to talk strategy & to just get an idea of how orienteering works.

Shucks my head wanted to explode with all the route options, there were too many decisions to make.

On Sunday Simon continued to quiz us in the car. One of the questions was, if it is mid-day and the sun is on your right which side is North? I continued driving and left Liezl to answer the question. Needless to say we all knew who the weakest link in the team was before we even started ME! I can't even tell left from right, how would I be able to work that one out.
Albert joined us as a last minute add-on. He is fitter than most of us so we decided it would be best to make one female and one male team.

Simon kindly made us all some DIY perspex map holders by drilling holes into plastic photo holders which we then mounted on our bikes.

Pokkeltjie plotting points
At registration we received our maps with all 21 check points marked. We sat down and transferred some check points over to another bigger picture map of our own. This was exciting, I recognized most of the points were near areas we knew and have ridden before.

Unfortunately we didn't keep a closer look on the time and had only 15 minutes left to plan our route, decide which check points are not worth going to etc. There were 21 check points & we had 3 hours to get to all of them.

Team work, Si plotting points & Albert working out their route
Simon & Albert offered us their sequence of points and due to the lack of time we decided to go with that. Unfortunately we missed the first turn off and had trouble finding our first CP. Eventually we saw others with maps flapping around their necks and got our first CP.

I was confident that the next check point could've not been far away, it was almost in a straight line from there. But this one was the elusive one. We wasted so much time cycling up and down in the same road not finding it. So close, but yet so far. We then decided to give up hope to find that one. We have ridden for an hour already and only had one CP. We went over to the summit of Pitch Hill where we quickly got the next point. The next point was located on single track, now I know a few single tracks on Pitch Hill and didn't want to go down the wrong one as then we would need to climb back up. Thankfully Pokkeltjie was able to tell which way was North so we bagged this one quick-quick. We then hit it over to the bottom of BKB to grab some points on Holmbury Hill.

Here we bagged one of the big ones very quickly BEFORE getting horribly lost in our search for number 10. We were desperate to find 10 as without 10 we won't be able to find 11 & 8. After many junctions Liezl suggested going up a steep rocky climb. In my head I hoped that it would be worth going up there. It was! Not too far away we saw the tiny grass triangle with the bunting on marking CP10. We blitzed down the wide fire road to pick up 11 before going left in search of 8. I knew 8 was potentially going to be near one of the other memorable trees that I get teased about. Thankfully I saw some people to our right and we found 8. We took a single track section we know and did with Richard from All Biked Up back to Peaslake and got back with 8 minutes to spare.

The winners of this event have done it plenty of times before and we can tell that there are some really fit people out there that are able to combine their fitness & map reading skills very well. The Men’s Winner cleared the course in 2:10! #Machine!

I am glad we were able to support an event hosted by the community of our local weekend playground. In all honesty I think I prefer a way marked route, but it was good to do something outside my comfort zone & I am walking away knowing that I can learn the following from this event.

TC’s Tips & lessons learnt:
1. Buy the same map for each team member so both are on the same page
2. Keep an eye on the time before you start
3. Plan your OWN route
4. Teach yourself the difference between left & right, then NORTH, SOUTH, EAST & WEST :-)
5. Then LEARN how to read a map correctly

Links Simon sent that might be useful if you ever wanted to an event like this:
Some good tips in the "Techniques" section of this pdf:

Simon’s Strategy Advice:
1. Accept that we have zero chance of visiting ALL checkpoints, so weigh up which are the "least bang for buck" and cull them early

2. Long uphills come at a price, so plan our route to minimise them and do them on road where possible
3. Decide on your plan A CP grouping - "definites"
4. Decide on your plan B CP grouping - "ambitious maybes" if you still have the time after done with A

5. Start with plan A and then re-assess along the way if B going to happen or perhaps a scaled down version of it
6. Key knowledge is familiarity with the fastest and easiest routes between checkpoints, which will often be at the tops of hills. Obvious, but worth thinking about.
7. Make sure the stronger person at least even if they are apparently slower with being unwell :)) has a good map and holder. This will allow them to plan the route while they wait for their partner(s) to catch up at the top of hills after clipping the checkpoint card.

All done & ready to go home!