Monday, February 27, 2017

A Cobbled French February Weekend

It is the time of year again when we want to be doing longer days in the saddle. The forecast for here in Derbyshire at the weekend was heavy rain, interspersed with rain and wind.

I flick through my instagram and see pictures of friends riding in Australia, the USA and Mallorca, and no rain.

We needed a break from the rain.

So where can we get to, leaving here after school on Friday and returning in time for school on Monday morning with no rain and good cycling? The answer this weekend was the North of France, with the cycling being some of the Paris Roubaix pavé.

 Ann dropped us at Busigny which is near the start of the cobbles.

Soon enough we were upon the pavé.

Sunshine and blue skies. Tick.

We rode south.

We stopped for Tom's favourite.

Shortly after we rendezvoused with our friend Sophie, who we'd first met on the French Divide.

Below Tom and Sophie at the end of the Arenberg cobbled section.

The original plan was to ride to Roubaix, but one of Tom's hands was quite sore after 110 kms, so we called it a day at Orchies.  Strava here.

On Sunday it was my daughter's birthday, so no bikes, instead there would be pastries and the search for a birthday cake.

Our friend Céline who lives in Lille had kindly offered to show us round and find these things as well as show us the sights.

Here's Tom with breakfast.

Tom and Céline.

A rare picture of the Birthday girl with her Merveilleux Birthday cake.

Family, friends, bikes, cake and no rain, except on the drive back home. To be repeated.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

11,000 miles - February Talks.

Some details of the talks Tom and I are doing over the next couple of months.

In the last 6 years Tom has cycled 11,000 miles. We'll be talking about some of the highlights of his cycling so far. 24 hour mountain bike racing at Strathpuffer, a 2000 mile ride through France last summer, Oh and if I forget to mention it, ask him about the time he fell asleep on his bike.

The first on the 16th of February is at Craigdon Mountain Sports in Edinburgh, from 19:00 to 21:30. Hosted by  Markus Stitz from Bikepacking Scotland. Tickets for which can be purchased via this link here along with further details.

Next up on the 19th of February, we are talking from 19:00 -22:00 at the New Continental in Preston.
Tickets are available via this link here. Alpkit will also be there that evening to show of some of their bikes and gear.

Oh, and though March isn't in February if you can't make either of the above events we'll be at Shaff doing a shorter talk to accompany the showing of "Tom Seipp - A Mountain Journal Short" (as seen on Channel 4's Life on the Edge)

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Strathpuffer 2017

Tom has been looking forward to this year's Strathpuffer ever since we were successful in getting one of the sought after solo places for him. Aged 11, it would be the third time he has ridden this event.

The weather at Strathpuffer is normally a major feature in the event. In 2015 we had snow, in 2016 there was mud. The forecast for 2017 was benign though, which in some ways was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe this would be the 'puffer riders would remember as the "easy" one.

Tom again was riding an Alpkit Sonder Transmitter, whilst I was riding their carbon fat bike, the Vir Fortis.

Our plan was simple, to try and better the 13 laps that Tom had ridden in 2016.

The first three laps this year were ridden in 2:46:53 compared to 03:36:55 the year before, so we were off to an excellent start. On the fourth lap though I had a flat right in the middle of the super muddy bit. I decided to push the bike back to our camp where I could wash the tyre and wheel in the river before inserting a new tube which cost us a good 20 minutes.

Other than that mishap our lap times were 15-20 minutes faster than last year's.

Photo -courtesy of Gary Williamson
Once the sun went down, unsurprisingly it started getting cold. As the night progressed some bits of the course became covered in black ice.

We'd borrowed some Exposure Six Pack lights to supplement our Exposure Toros. However they were so bright on their low setting that we never used our own lights. Recommended.

On lap 11 somewhere around 10pm Tom's sleep monsters started to take hold. He'd hoped to ride without sleeping. It became clear that this was not going to happen. Just before 11pm we stopped for sleep. We had just under 4 hours sleep, or at least Tom did. Revived, we were back out there before 4am.

On the lap after our sleep, we both had a couple of near crashes, the cause, there was now loads of the course covered in black ice.

We rode a little slower than before on the icy sections to avoid mishap.

Still, with 22 hours on the clock we'd bettered last year's 13 laps. Time for a sit down, and some food and drink.

We weren't done though, we'd worked out there was still time for another couple of laps.

At 10:36 we finished our 16th lap. Strava stats -103.6 miles, 12,403' of climbing, and a moving time of 17:15:53. That was good enough to secure 33rd male solo out of 90 competitors.

Once again Tom got a trophy and prize for the youngest rider, and I, a bottle of beer for being his wingman.

We would like to thank the organisers and marshals at Strathpuffer. The race is definitely a must do, and a highlight of our year.

Thanks also to Alpkit for the bikes, and Exposure for the lights.

A big thanks to my wife who gave up her weekend to stand about in the cold and looked after Tom and I, and thanks to Dean who helped out with pit duties.

Finally a thanks to the other competitors and spectators for cheering Tom on.

See you in 2018!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Rapha Festive 500 2016

The Rapha #Festive500 has become a regular thing for Tom and I. He first completed it back when he was 7 years old. Each year we've tried to do something a little different. This year was very different as we did most of our riding in a foreign country.

Here's the film we made of our trip.

Minipips Rapha Festive 500 2016 from Rich Seipp on Vimeo.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Coast to Coast in a Day.

Back in 2012 Tom did his first Coast to Coast ride aged 7. Over 4 days we rode to Tynemouth from Bowness on Solway, and then back again via Hadrian's Cycleway.

This is us when we set off back in 2012.

We'd had a plan for awhile to repeat this trip, though this time in 2 days.

We arrived at Bowness on Solway a bit later than was ideal in spite of getting up at 5am.

No messing about we were soon heading East. At Carlisle we stopped for a quick bite to eat.

This finger post is as far as we managed last year before ice and snow forced us to turn back.

This time though the weather was being kind.

We stopped for lunch at a rather nice cafe. Tom does like a good hot chocolate sometimes instead of his usual Coca Cola.

Though the route follows the line of Hadrian's wall, there are only a few sections where the wall is obvious. Some more archeology below, a Lime Kiln.

There was next to no traffic on this section.

Below is Tom at the high point on the route. From here, it is mostly downhill to the sea.

Not long after this was taken light was fading, and we were grateful that we'd bought our Exposure lights.

We arrived at Tynemouth at 9pm.

Some chips to celebrate.

All we had to do then, was get to our hotel in Sunderland which should have been around 8 miles away.

I say should have been, as the tunnel under the Tyne that we'd planned on using was closed.

This meant, that to cross the river we rode back to the Millenium bridge.

The theoretical 8 miles by 11pm had turned into 24. A total of 124 miles for the day.

It took minutes to get to sleep.

Next morning we were up at 6am.

We were on the road by 7, and after a few miles, we stopped for some warm food.

Once over the river, two things became clear. One that we were going to be riding into a stiff headwind for the day, and secondly one of my knees was becoming very painful. My knee pain was such that we riding a bit slower than we should be, and we hadn't even got to the hilly bits yet.

Whilst I knew that we would eventually get back to the car, the prospect of another long day was not appealing.

At Corbridge, we elected to get the train back to Carlisle which would cut out 50 miles, and leave just 15 more to do.

My knee was grateful of our decision. My "new" bike set up obviously needs looking at.

We were back at the car just after 2pm, and home in time for supper with the girls.

Another great weekend riding bikes.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Snowdon by Tandem

It's that time of year when the hours of daylight after school are short, and now that Tom is at high school he has homework to do in the evenings too, so it's good to have a go at something big at the weekend.

Our plan as the picture above suggests was to ride up to the top of Snowdon. The forecast was good, but the weather when we arrived at Llanberis was not quite so good.

No worries, we would head up the hill with the hope of the weather improving. If you wait for ideal conditions this time of year, then nothing will get done.

We managed to ride a lot of the track, with only short bits of pushing.

As we get level with clogwyn du'r arddu we see the first bits of snow above us.

We also meet a number of people who say that it is very icy, and that they'd thought better of going to the top.

We kept on going though to see what it was like higher up.

Icy sums it up. We were about a mile from the summit in the above picture, and that would have to do. It was too sketchy without crampons, never mind with a tandem to push.

The ride back down was great, we didn't rush though, and took in the views.

We had a good ride, even though we didn't make it all the way to the top. It was good to be just out doing something on two wheels.

The next day we did a short ride from home on our mountain bikes. Though there was no snow and ice as above, it felt a good deal colder in a bitter northerly wind.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Kendal Mountain Festival - Best Adventure Sport Film!

We'd been invited to Kendal Mountain Festival as Dom Bush's film commissioned by Alpkit as part of their Mountain Journal series had been shortlisted in the film awards.

Tom's film was to be shown at a number of venues over the weekend. Tom had been specifically asked to attend two screenings, one at the Bike Night and the other at one of the Family Adventure sessions.

Pre bike night, we attended the Santa Cruz drinks and nibbles party. Tom took the opportunity to have a picture taken with Danny MacAskill.

After that bit of excitement we were seated next to Danny MacAskill's parents for the Bike Evening.

Tom's film was shown fairly early on in the evening, and we were told that Dom had earlier received the award for best "Adventure Sport" film for his and Tom's film.

 Here's Dom showing Tom the award.

Tom has a microphone in his hand as he was being interviewed by Ed and Aneela in front of a pretty big crowd. Afterwards, Danny's parents congratulated him on his performance. His parents and I agreed it was ace that our kids were doing something that they loved.

At the after party Tom got to meet another of our sports greats Martyn Ashton.

Note Tom is only holding my beer as I'm taking their picture!

Though having said that Tom later became involved in a drinking game with Danny and some of his pals. Apparently Danny owes him a shot when Tom is 18. :)

I think Tom had a pretty special weekend. A big thanks to all who made it happen.

Special thanks to Jen and Paul for putting us up, and driving us home before it all got too messy. ;)

Oh, and of course a link to the film.