It’s been quite a busy week overall. Monday was spent finishing off captioning and sending the pictures to the office from the weekend’s Champions Night and National Cyclo-Cross. I also had to put the finishing touches to the blog before sending it on to go up on the website. That done, I emailed Roger Hammond to see whether he was still able to do a ride feature with me on Tuesday. I’d only had a brief moment to ask him on Sunday after his title win and I said I’d tie things up by email to confirm arrangements.

Monday evening I popped up to Steve Gibson’s place to collect our new Peak RC kit. Looks good. Simon Owens, Tony Grassby and Dave Timbers had all dropped by too for a team try on. We hadn’t seen Tony for quite a while as he was just back after being over in Sydney for the last few months on a work placement with Rolls Royce.

Got an email on Tuesday morning from Roger to say give him a ring about the ride. Got through to him about 10:30. It all worked out fine and I arranged to see him that afternoon. It was good of him to put it in his schedule as he was preparing things to fly out to Mallorca early on Wednesday morning for weeks training before the official High Road camp the week after. I arrived at Roger’s place in Birmingham at around 13:30 under leaden skies and the threat of rain looking ever likely.

We pondered over the OS maps to look at a route and we set out at about two o’clock. There were a few spots of rain in the air throughout the ride but fortunately the weather was kind. We even had the briefest glimpse of some sunshine. All being well you will see the ride in Cycling Weekly within the next fortnight or so. Set off back from Roger’s place at just after 18:00 and arrived home around 20:30.

Wednesday morning I made a few phone calls to catch up on a few work related things before going out for a spin on the bike. Did about two and a half hours, 41 miles on my Cressbrook run. The weather was bright and cold over the city but as I got out in to the Peak District the weather deteriorated and there was a bit of icy rain about. Had to watch the roads too as there were a few icy patches about after an overnight frost. On the run back in to Sheffield along the A57 I saw Steve Gibson out for a pedal coming the other way. He was taking the opportunity to stretch the legs before going down to Cheltenham on business.

Spent Wednesday afternoon making a start on writing out the taped interview I’d done with Roger on Tuesday.

Thursday. A miserable day weather wise here in Sheffield. Started out cold and overcast with rain coming in by mid morning. Continued with my Hammond piece and got all the article template set up and typed in all the interview I’d written from the tape. I find it easier that way to write the interviews out first before typing them up. Later in the day I made a start on looking out some pictures for Ed Pickering who had made a picture request the other week for a book he is putting together.

Friday. Weather even worse than Thursday and rained all day! Spent a majority of the morning and early afternoon sorting pictures for the book illustration request. Put them to a CD/DVD and got it in the post. Also did a bit more work to sorting out my Tour de France accommodation. I’d done a bit over the Christmas period. It’s never easy and a time consuming task checking various hotel websites to get somewhere close to the start and finish towns of the Tour.

Accor hotels, Campanile chain hotels and are all favourites to help me along the way. France Bed & Breakfast have also been good to me over the years in finding accommodation. Anyway, I’ve now sorted accommodation all the way to the Alps. I don’t think I’ll stay to the end of the Tour this year and will probably leave for home after the Alpe d’Huez stage. I’ve got to sort out things for Beijing and the Olympics which gets underway soon after the Tour finishes. Will have to see how things work out.

Saturday I got out on the bike. There had been a frost overnight, so I set out a bit later to allow things to defrost a bit. Still, there were quite a few icy patches to watch out for. I know I say it was icy but the air temperature didn’t seem too bad. I’ve experienced colder. Knowing I only had a certain amount of time I did my three hour Matlock run (53mls). Quite enjoyed the ride. Spotted two pairs of Goosander on the Cromford Mill pond. It’s not the biggest expanse of water but offers some sheltered water for ducks and geese that maybe on their travels at this time of year. There are always plenty of resident Black Headed Gulls, Canada Geese and one or two Tufted Duck about.

Popped in to my local fresh fish shop on the ride home to pick up a Tuna steak for lunch. I wanted something substantial to eat as needed to last the rest of the day with being at Revolution 19 later.

Set out for Manchester and the velodrome at 16:20. It means I get to the velodrome about 17:30ish. It allows me to have a relaxed approach to the evening and I can get to catch up with a few people before the action starts. Got a few Bike of the Week’s photographed and a few technical details sorted.

I quite enjoyed the evening though it was particularly hot in the velodrome all night. Even the riders were saying it was hotter than normal. It was a full house and I believe they were turning people away from the doors. The hospitality area was full too and there were plenty of people coming down from the stands in to the track centre to get autographs from the stars. All in all it created a good atmosphere.

Jason Kenny set the evening alight with a super quick 200m time of 10.178 seconds beating the World Record holder Theo Bos in to second spot. Some of the new Halfords Bikehut team sported their new colours on the night. Jo Rowsell, Emma Trott and Katie Colclough for the women’s team and Rob Hayles for the men. Enjoyed the tandem sprint challenges. Seeing track stands on tandems was quite something.

Got home at midnight. Made some toast and a couple of hot drinks to unwind with. Found I fell asleep on the settee and woke up at about 01:20. Went to bed and struggled to drop off again. Finally I did drop off only then to be disturbed a couple of hours later by some lads shouting and kicking a wheelie bin about outside. Found it was my wheelie bin in the morning. Fortunately they hadn’t taken it too far.

I was up before eight feeling a little tired but got myself sorted and out on the bike to meet the lads for nine up the road. As soon as I set out up Ecclesall Road I knew I was in for a hard day on the bike. The legs didn’t want to know from the start. They felt a little chewed due I think to a combination of the previous days ride on a change of bike(though I don’t normally have a problem with the bikes I was switching to and from as the set up is pretty similar), standing up all night and a lack of sleep.

Anyway, met the lads, Steve, Simon and Tony and set out on the Retford and Gainsborough run we do at this time of year. It’s about 70 miles but we put a timed block of 25 miles in doing through and off with a minute on the front before drifting to the back. My legs were still feeling sore and I did my first turn and realised I’d have to sit on. I was even struggling along the flats, the legs weren’t having it. I lasted about 20 minutes before I had to ease off and lose contact. Just hung on long enough to see a flock of ten or so Grey Partridge take flight from the field next to us, rise over the hedge and nearly fly in to the front of our formation. Steve on the front said he had to duck as they winged their way across the road to an adjoining field.

We regrouped at Ranskill which is the far point of the measured effort. I still had a 19mph average for the 40 miles or so to that point. Found I still had to take shelter for the rest of the day as the legs never came round. One of those days and have to admit to not feeling that bad on a bike for quite a while.

Once back in Sheffield, Steve and Simon went up Riverlin to add a few extra miles whilst Tony and I took the quickest route home with us both feeling a bit worse for wear. I got home with 71 miles on the clock with an average of 17.8mph. Not too bad considering. We were also lucky with the weather as drizzle always threatened. However, it stayed dry and I think if we had gone in to the Peak it would have been a different story.

Spent the afternoon and evening sorting my Revolution pictures and getting them sent to the office.


Andy Jones is Cycling Weekly’s resident photographer, and has covered pretty much every major cycle race there is, from downhill mountain biking to the Tour de France. You can see many of Andy’s photos in our online Gallery section.

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