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Monday, November 23, 2009

"I am just going outside and may be some time"

As Christmas rapidly approaches, so does my 50th Birthday (Dec 5th) and beyond that '2010'.
'2010' might be 'Next Year' but the formidable Cheshire Cat is only four months away (March)
The MS 150 is in five and so is the Natchez trace (April).
After that there will be other sportives.
I have also decided to do the 'Hotter than Hell' again (August).
After last years 'Cooler than Hell' I am obliged to go back really - to see what all the fuss is about.
I must say we could do with a bit of Hotter than hell here, I would even compromise on a glimpse of the sun, rather than an assorted varieties of grey.
Although I have started light training I realise that I will soon have to abandon the warmth of the Gym and the camaraderie of spinning classes and venture out onto the open road.
I keep threatening to take the bike out but find myself intimidated by driving rain which has recently also contained sleet.......yuk.
In the summer cycling is so easy, it takes me 5 minutes to get ready.
At this time of year its a logistical nightmare. I have to think about gloves, hats, extra layering and keeping dry. By the time I am ready I have eaten into a good chunk of daylight time and look like a cross between The michelin man and the Pillsbury doughboy
Breakfast has also changed from light yogurt and granola, to porridge ensuring that I receive some internal warmth before I venture outside. Like Captain Oates. on his fateful antarctic expedition, however in my case I cant wait to get back !!!!!!
I now have the heating is now on all day and in about three weeks it will be the shortest daylight day of the year.
Anyway a bit about the Natchez Trace
The Natchez Trace is a four hundred forty-four mile National Park, so to speak. It's a highway administered by the National Park Service stretching approximately from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez Mississippi. For thirty-two miles it nibbles a little on Alabama. The highway has only two lanes and no shoulders. However, no commercial traffic is permitted - no trucks, and traffic most times and places is light. In the areas around Tupelo and Jackson, Mississippi, the traffic was notable, but not all that intimidating. Paralleling the highway are nicely manicured grassy areas extending in places several hundred feet to stands of coniferous and deciduous trees. Additionally, many points of interest pop up along the way with placards explaining various aspects of the area's history. It's surely not one long grind to get over with as quickly as possible. Savor it as you ride.
History - what was The Natchez Trace? The answer dates back to the late 1700s and early 1800s. Enterprising men in places upstream, like Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, would load rafts with merchandise and float them down stream. They followed rivers such as the Ohio to the Mississippi. Continuing downstream on Ole Miss, the rafters would find a port where their merchandise was needed. They'd off load the cargo, sell the raft's timbers for home building, buy a horse and ride back north so they could repeat the scenario. Natchez was a popular end point for many of them. The roadway on which they began their journey back north was none other than The Natchez Trace.
Initially, The Trace, as many early roadways were called, was a path beaten down by Native Americans, followed by French and Spanish settlers. However, traveling via The Trace was not without its trials. Unfriendly Indians, bands of thieves, floods, thigh-deep mud, disease bearing insects and few amenities were all possibilities if not probabilities along this "super highway." Then, with the introduction of steamboats, circa 1812, transportation methods changed, and The Trace fell into disuse.
The United States government saw merit in preserving this history and in the late thirties began construction of the highway, as we now know it. It's still not complete. There is a twenty-six-mile discontinuity in the area around Jackson, Mississippi. (Download map from the website.) Let's hope that it's completed by the time you try it out.
When riding The Trace, you'll be pleased that there are no billboards. You will see segments of the original Natchez Trace, an original house, Indian mounds, the grave site of thirteen unknown Confederate soldiers, a cypress swamp, meandering streams, waterfalls, modest rivers like the Duck, huge rivers like the Tennessee and the Tenn - Tombigbee Waterway, farm land, French Camp (where sorghum is made in the Fall), miles of trees, wild flowers and flowering shrubs, the delightful fragrance of honeysuckle and (on Saturday and Sunday afternoons) the heavenly bodies sun bathing on the beaches of enormous Ross Barnett Reservoir.
If what I've described gets your juices flowing a little, you may want to check out their website. Use your search engine to locate "Natchez Trace Parkway" where you can download maps and find extensive information. Alternatively, e-mail, phone or write to the National Park Service for a packet of material that they will send at no cost providing information on public transportation, The Trace's campgrounds (no charge, but no hot water or showers), restaurants and bicycle shops not far off the highway, a very useful map of The Trace telling where all the interesting points are along the way, sites of drinking water availability and lots more.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Change in fortune

For some time now I have been struggling.
Struggling to cycle, struggling to blog....sometimes just struggling to get up in the morning.
If I were a cycle you could say that I had lost a few spokes and my chain had snapped.
One of my excuses for not doing my blog was because I had lost the battery charger for my Camera and was unable to take any pictures. How lame !!!!
One of my excuses for not cycling was that I had lost focus.

Last week my new battery charger arrived and as I plugged it in I heard a 'ping' on my computer indicating that I had some incoming E mail.

On looking it was an E mail from my brother Paddy in Houston.
It was confirmation that he had entered me in for next years MS150 Houston to Austin ride in April. It will be my 4th.
He had also booked my flight and told me that we might be doing the Natchez trace immediately after the MS 150.
For those of you who think that I might be talking about a Gastro tour around the finest Mexican restaurants in Texas - you are mistaken.
The Natchez Trace is a an unforgettable road that stretches 444-miles from the Mississippi River in Natchez through the Shoals area in Alabama across Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau and on to Nashville.
I now have more focus than a zoom lens and a camera to record all of my training.
My bucketful of excuses has run out.........................Off to spinning classes.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Soft Touch

Never mind the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the recession or MPs own expenses there are far more serious issues.
MPs believe pavement cyclists should be targeted!!!!!

MPs were told only a small number of cyclists were irresponsible
The government should do more to target "irresponsible behaviour" by cyclists - particularly when they break traffic laws, a committee of MPs has said.

There was some confusion about road laws, including the fact that it is illegal to cycle on pavements, the Public Accounts Committee said.

It was responding to a National Audit Office report on road safety.

The Department for Transport said it could devise new rules but had to be satisfied police could enforce them.

In its response to the committee, the department said enforcing cycling offences "was typically not high on the agenda of most police forces due to competing demands on their time".

It also pointed out anti-social cyclists represent only a small number of total cyclists.

Others 'feel unsafe'

The committee's report was a response to a wide ranging NAO report on road safety published in May which suggested Britain was still behind other countries in tackling road safety for child pedestrians.

It said pedestrians and cyclists were particularly vulnerable - largely because they had little physical protection from crashes. In 2007 more than 30,000 pedestrians and 16,000 cyclists were injured, while 646 and 136 respectively were killed on Britain's roads.

MPs pointed out that there was a "perception that anti-social behaviour of some cyclists increases their risks and makes other road users feel unsafe".

The committee urges the government to "devise education, training and publicity measures to target such anti-social behaviour, particularly when it breaks traffic laws".

While deaths and injuries of cyclists had fallen overall since the mid 1990s, they had risen by 11% since 2004, the committee said.

During the committee's hearings two MPs raised concerns about "anti-social behaviour" of some cyclists and the fact there was some confusion among the public and the police about legal requirements on them.

'Not trivial'

Committee member and Tory MP David Curry said some were "irresponsible and arrogant road users" and said many people believed they took no notice of red lights and believed traffic cones were "not for them".

"The only time I have been knocked down in my life was by a cyclist going like a bat out of hell outside the House of Commons," he said.

"We seem to regard cyclists as living in some sort of superior moral category when they actually do not have any."

Labour member Geraldine Smith added that sometimes irresponsible cycling was "dismissed as something trivial" but it was a common complaint at meetings in her constituency.

She said one constituent had been seriously injured and there appeared to be "very little" the police could do, adding: "A police superintendent was at this forum with me and he said that it was legal to cycle on pavements."

Richard Devereux, the top civil servant at the Department for Transport, pointed out that, according to the Highway Code, it was illegal to cycle on pavements. But he said it was wrong to assume that all cyclists were dangerous.

"There are, without doubt, some elements of the cycling community who are in that position and there are equally, I imagine, rather more people who are far more dangerous drivers as well," he said.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tail spin

I have even gone to two spinning classes this week !!!!!!!
Think I might be fighting back at SAD

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Slow moving depression

Being an Island the UK has a number of different weather systems that influence that our climate. We have the cold Arctic systems from the North, weak Continental systems from the east and in the Summer we have warm south and south westerly systems from the Azores and the Mediterranean.
At this time of year things get more reliable, often reliably bleak.
We tend to get a succession of westerly systems from the Atlantic.
They usually come in the form of low pressure systems called 'depressions' - how apt.
They are usually served up with ample helpings of wind, bucket fulls of rain, cool temperatures and various degrees of cloud cover.
Not beautiful cumulus clouds highlighted by Technicolour skies - but monochrome.
Blanketing us with all the various shades of grey.
This seems to be reflective of my current mood.
I would like to blame it on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but sadly it runs deeper than that.
Since I got back from America in September I have experienced some personal problems.
These have completely dampened my enthusiasm, not only for cycling but for everything.
The wheels of my bike have become stationary and my cycling clothes have seemingly shrunk as I have piled on the pounds with comfort eating, and more wine than is either necessary or appropriate.
I have tried to commit the Mules to some events next year to give me a focal point, but there own weather systems provide a year round facility and for them 2009 has not yet finished.
At the same time my blog has suffered too.
My weekly tales have been replaced by Videos and articles cut and pasted from cyberspace. Literary apathy prevails.
To compound things further I have lost the charger to my Camera so I cant even post any pictures.
Oh woe is me.

This morning I was reading my favorite cycling blogs one of which is
'Change your life ride a bike'
The answer was there in front of me.
Change your life Philip and ride your F**king bike!!!!!!
So today I did 22.82 miles, a short but challenging route with a few tough hills thrown in.
Hardly something to crow about, but I loved it.
The last time I rode I was wearing sunblock, today I was wearing multiple layers of clothes including long fingered gloves.
During my short trip I came across numerous cyclists.
They were all strangers to me but the customary acknowledgement seemed more pronounced.
Each nod, wave or greeting seemed to be more enthusiastic.
It was as if they all knew of my recent inactivity and welcomed me back into the fold.
Although I have lost some of the fitness I built up in the Summer, it was not as much as I thought it might be, and now I may have stopped the rot.
The thing about these depressions is that they eventually push through and somewhere over the Atlantic there may just be some fine weather.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Theres a flower in my Pedal

As my cycle inactivity continues I find myself reading about cycling and looking at cycling clips on U Tube.
I have promised myself that wheels will turn sometime soon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

La bicicleta

Watching this I found myself scrambling for my beree and neckless of garlic cloves


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Out in the cold

This weekend the American Mules are completing the Valero 2009 Alamo ride to the river in San Antonio. In fact as I turn on the central heating and put on a woolly jumper, they will be turning their pedals on the second day with temperatures warm enough to still invigorate the sweat glands. Go Mules!!!!!!!!
Back on the other side of the Atlantic my life appears to be mirroring the onset of winter.
The trees recently abundant with rich foliage are now shedding there leaves and becoming thread bare. Their canopy recently a cyclists shelter from sudden cloudburst no longer offers that sort of support.
In the last three weeks I have not done any mileage and my cycle shoes lay redundant, providing their services as an occasional door stop.
'Addy' my race bike is hanging up in my spare bedroom and 'Scott' is keeping the garden utensils company in the shed.
I spent today with my daughters in Scarborough and noticed that even the four legged attractions appeared to be redundant, with no riders offering any useful employment.
One in particular stood on his own away from the rest, sad and forlorn.
When I approached him he stood motionless and written on his name band, on the top of his bridle was the word 'Hope' in bright red letters.
For that moment I did not no whether to Cry or laugh, instead I smiled.
It was a smile of resignation
Next summer there will be hoards of people clamoring up for a ride.
Next summer my wheels will be turning too.
I will be stronger, and better.
In the meantime I have started spinning at my local gym. I know its not the same as being 'Out there' but its a new beginning. I am sure in a few weeks 'Scott' will get his winter tyres on and I will be blazing an altogether new trail.
I have asked the Mules to give me a focal point for next year. A riding extravaganza, a real test.
I suggested the 'Triple by Pass' in Colorado which is being earnestly considered. The Rockies are a real attraction. However the Mules want to consider everything and anything. Ideally a two or three day mini tour in USA.
If anyone out there has any suggestions please let me know.

Mule echelon

Drafting the Mules

Saturday, October 3, 2009

La Bici

Sometimes in Life you loose what you love, and sometimes its taken away from you

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Progressive thinking

Cyclists benefit from £14m 'hubs'

Thousands of new bicycle parking spaces will be created at stations
Plans for £14m of investment to improve facilities for cyclists who use railway stations have been announced.
Ten stations in England will get "cycle hubs" which will provide storage facilities, repair services and bicycle hire schemes.
The hubs are planned for three London stations as well as Grimsby, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Scunthorpe, Sheffield and York stations.
Funding is also available for 10,000 bike parking spaces across the country.
'Green travel'
The government-led project is expected to take two years to complete. Network Rail, Cycling England and several rail operators are also involved.
Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis said: "More and more people are turning to cycling as a healthy, green and convenient way to travel.
"I want to encourage this choice.
"The aim of the programme is to boost the significant number of people cycling to catch their train. This will tackle congestion, promote rail travel and help people develop healthier lifestyles and protect the environment."
Of the £14m investment £5m will go towards the cycle hubs.
Another £3m will go to creating more than 4,500 additional cycle spaces at stations including Nottingham, Stevenage, Cambridge, Exeter, Scarborough, Sunderland, Barrow-in-Furness, Crewe and Middlesbrough.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Four seasons in one day

This week has not been good for me..............
My pedals have not turned and my cycle of life has has hit a few puddles and potholes
Hopefully normal service will be resumed soon.

At least my video has a bicycle in it

'The Times' are changing

I find it really encouraging that nearly all of the more serious newspapers are regulary proving artricles about cycling.
This is the latest one from The Times

Cycling should be dull, not an extreme sport
We must overthrow the cult of the car and the Lycra-clad vanguard of aggressive men, if more of us are to take to our bikes
Janice Turner

I cycled to the Treasury on Tuesday to interview the Chancellor. All along Horse Guards the railings were plastered in police notices: bicycles chained to them would be removed, detonated possibly, since the fear is bike bombs, which crop up in conflicts from Vietnam through to Ireland and Iraq. In the end, my foldable was carried inside by a kind civil servant, trying not to get oil on his suit.
Cyclists are not welcome visitors to any public offices: Parliament, Portcullis House, Downing Street. You’d think someone would set up a token rack beyond where ministers might be vaporised by bombs. But whatever the political posturing inside, outside it’s still two wheels bad. And one wonders if things will change if/when George Osborne, who every morning can be spied freewheeling through Hyde Park, finally dismounts at the Treasury.
The pedalling Tories — George, Dave and Boris — are often mocked by Labour as poseurs, snapping on green credentials like cycle clips. But they merely reflect their class and generation. In the past two years, with Tube strikes and terror threats, the number of London cyclists has doubled: clustered at every intersection is a mob of professional, affluent, under-40, Georgie-boys.
Indeed, to cycle in Britain today you must embody Tory philosophy: be a rugged fearless individual, wholly responsible for your destiny, battling against the collectivism of bendy buses and the red tape of illogical one-way systems. Norman Tebbit, after all, instructed the jobless to get on their bikes, not the train.

The trouble is, to judge by that microcosm of our blue future, the London mayoralty, Tory policy is not to make cycling safer but to encourage more people to be brave. Transport for London bangs on about Boris’s 12 new “cycle superhighways”, which will sweep into the centre from disparate suburbs. Will these routes have barriers so the two-wheeled are finally safe from being squished beneath Land Cruisers? Er, no. For the main part, we will still be playing dodgems with buses and now motorcycles — yes, cheers Boris, for adding veering Vespas to our worries. The mayor’s cycle superhighways, it turns out, are just lines on a map.
And yet last Sunday, from St Paul’s to Buck House, cars were banned from London streets for the mayor’s Skyride. Around 65,000 people gloried in our city, rode beside our pink-cheeked children without, for once, picturing the wobble that would land them under a truck. Oh, if only it were like this every day, we all cried, as if ordinary citizens — oldsters on uprights, little girls on pink Barbie trikes, hipsters in unfeasibly high heels, tweed suits on rusty butcher’s bikes — just getting around safely on two wheels was a fantasy.
Because elsewhere cyclists are just that: a random cross-section of humanity. Not a Lycra-clad male vanguard pumped with aggression and self-righteousness. In Europe’s top three cycling nations — Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands — timorous old people cycle, women as often as men, children bike off unaccompanied to school. Cycling is not a moral manifesto or a carbon offset. It does not require DayGlo or £500 alloy wheels or attitude. Cycling is, as it should be, banal. Because it is safe.
Yes, you might say, those countries have always cycled, just like their women have never shaved their armpits: it’s their way, not ours. Actually, a fascinating report, Making Cycling Irresistible, by the American academics John Puchera and Ralph Buehler, reveals that in the early 1950s cycling in Britain and Denmark started tailing off as car ownership increased. Indeed, for some years, we were keener bikers than were the Danes. The difference was, in the mid-1970s, the governments of Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands resolved to stop the car’s dominance of the streets and championed the bike and pedestrian while the British allowed our townscapes to be ground beneath the wheels of the car. And yet these three continental countries own just as many cars per head as we do — the Germans more — it’s just that, unlike us, they aren’t glued into their driving seats.
Now only 1 per cent of our journeys are on bikes, in the Netherlands it is 27 per cent. And the reason is simple: a British cyclist is three times more likely than a Dutch one to die per miles travelled — even though only 3 per cent of Dutch cyclists wear a helmet. In Britain safety is seen as a matter for the individual, not government policy: yet it is highways, not helmets, that save lives.
And with quite extraordinary far-sightedness, these three countries built endless miles of barriered lanes along major roads but, more importantly, in many residential streets cars were slowed to a crawl and compelled to give way to bikes. And to enforce this, the law assumed, unless otherwise proved, that in an accident between a vehicle and a cyclist, the driver was at fault. Last week when that very principle was suggested here by Cycling England, there was a predictable furore about a (snore) Lycra louts’ charter.
But maybe it would make the idiot motorists who pelt down my 20mph street obey the law. Maybe it would have encouraged the left-turning HGV lorries who in London this year killed six female cyclists (women being vulnerable because we tend to ride defensively, hugging the kerb) to check their mirrors. Two fitness instructors, a film producer, a Goldsmiths’ graduate, a City director and an architect: those women were not loutish at all.
The answer to so many intractable modern problems — obesity, urban congestion, global warming — is cycling. What now feels like an extreme sport should be the default mode of transport. But it has dawned on me only recently that the big fat flaw at the heart of democracy is that politicians will never invest in the long term if voters’ initial inconvenience and expense are not rewarded with results before an election. And it will take years and billions to chip away at the cult of the car, to erect multistorey bicycle parks in every mainline station, to build genuinely super highways for bikes through our towns and reverse years of destructive urban planning.
Only when the fear is gone will big jessies stop riding on pavements, maniacs stop charging red lights, the streets be reclaimed from cars, and cycling from angry men with tiny bums. Do the Tories have the cojones to do it? Or is that just padding I see in their cycle shorts?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

End of Term Report

Having completed my last sportive of the year two weeks ago I find myself in a reflective mood.
So reflective that my bike has become curious by its lack of activity and is staring to believe that it might be time for a grease up,blanket and into the shed for winter........Surely Not ????????
I remember when I was at boarding school that the first two weeks of my Summer holidays were idyllic and care free.
After those initial two weeks I knew that there would be the immanent arrival of my annual school report in the post.
If the report was good, the rest of my holidays were good.
If it were bad they were not.
My school report would be the barometer for my Summer vacation.
Now I am older there are no School reports, however through my reflections I have decided to provide myself with one nevertheless to ensure that my adult education process is still developing.
We are never too old to learn or change.

Philips Annual Report
Philip has used his Garmin effectively to record all of his mileage, however this can only be used accurately when it is switched on and off at the appropriate times.
He may like to believe he cycled at 75 miles per hour but that was the Garmin recording the car speed.
Philip has used his blog to catalogue his experiences and illustrate his understanding of various issues with cycling. However I believe there should be more emphasis on various related topics rather than him. His grammar and punctuation appear to depend on wine consumption, alcohol should not be consumed during these periods.
He has now developed a new blog writing blog called The Lost Muse to assist with his writing. He is now serialising a book that he wrote called The Last Siren, I have read it and its a great bodice ripping Yarn.
Despite the great french traditions of Cycling Philip has struggled to embrace either the language or culture, his only contribution being bad words and the heavy consumption of Garlic
Philips riding style has become far more fluid, and at times he could be mistaken for a proper cyclist, there is still a long way to go in this area. He still uses his bigger gears too much and must learn to pedal faster.
He has recorded a number of interesting and artistic pictures which have been admired on his blog........well done
Philip has travelled far and wide on his bicycle and experienced new regions and cultures and terrains. This process can on assist in his development.
He has excelled in this area so much so that it is now difficult to distinguish between himself and the many cycling characters he tries to portray. I particularly like his recent depiction of Lance Armstrong 'Bonking', he seemed to capture the full essence of pain and those tears were so lifelike.
If Philip wants to move from being and average competent cyclist to compete in the veterans next year he will have to loose 30 lbs. He can be as fit as he likes but it wont matter.
Carrying the equivalent of a sack of potatoes on your back when cycling will always slow you down.

Philip has a great attitude to training , he has certainly put in the miles this year.
Although his ability is increasing so is his perceived ability which always appears to be slightly greater he should endeavour to recognise this. His stamina and enthusiasm are never in question. To progress he needs to train more effectively mixing up his routines and working on his core strength and speed. He needs to get out of his comfort zone and set himself much greater challenges.

After stamping my feet for ten minutes and weeping I realised that on the whole my report was true and if I wanted to move forward I would have to change.
The first question was did I want to? There was nothing wrong with what I had been doing.
That question did not really need asking.
Although I have not been on my bike this week (And may not for a while still)

I have gone to the Gym.
I have been spinning, running, rowing and been doing selected weights.
I have also decided that I have to be strict about what I eat.
I also need to set myself goals that are slightly out of my reach.
In that way that the change in style, speed, diet etc will HAVE TO become a requirement rather than a desire, or a wish.
With that in mind I have decided that my first goal next year will be to complete The Cheshire Cat (102 Miles) without getting off my bike at Mow Cop or any of the other F***ing killer ascents.
I also want to do other similar arduous sportives.
I want to do a 24 hr challenge, to see how many miles I can do in 24 Hours
Finally I want to do one super challenging event with The Mules
What really caught my imagination was The Triple By Pass in the Colorado Rockies.
It looks and incredible ride with 3,500 people on 10th July 2010.
I know that to complete the 120 miles, I would have to be really, really fit and light.

Its a great dream who knows the registration is not till January.
Anyway Mules and other prospective Mules Check out the Video below it might capture your imagination.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Edvald Boasson Hagen - The skys the Limit

Although close to 50 years old I am a relative novice to cycling, only taking it more seriously in the last few years. In many respects I feel that the same could be said about British cycling.
For years our achievements have been rare and have in some way provided a novelty factor for the garlic munchers across the English Channel.
Call me ignorant but winning the odd prologue does not count for me.
As I watched the cycling classics and grand tours I also used to play 'Spot the Brit'.
It was a difficult challenge, but I soon worked out that if you watched the support cars you might spot one. They were the domestiques, the ones fetching fresh water bottles.
Never expecting things to change my allegiances went to the US riders and my unashamed hero Lance Armstrong.
Then came along a certain David Brailsford who transformed British Track Cycling and gave us all household names to look up to.
Garden sheds were revisited and tyres were reinflated.
People suddenly took to the road and liked it and the best part was it was free.
Despite the recession cycle sales are now soaring.
That's obvious you might say........ people are buying bikes to go to work in to save fuel cost.
I fully accept that - but the actual biggest area of cycle sales are the top end performance bikes.
Every Weekend the roads are strewn with cycles taking part in events which are multiplying throughout the country. I used to have to travel half a day to enter an event, now there is always something local
With the Success of Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins at this years Tour de France, British cyclists are now having water bottles brought to them, and quite right too.........
The Sky is the Limit
Next year we have the new Sky Team to look forward to.
The new team, funded by broadcasters BSkyB, will be managed by Brailsford, the GB performance director who was responsible for delivering 34 medals at the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics.
Having the top British cyclists training together should improve chances of success on the road at future World Championships and Olympic Games.
Team Sky squad so far:
Kurt Arvesen - 34, from Norway; has won stages of the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia and will be a mentor for young riders; part of Saxo Bank squad that included 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre and Frank and Andy Schleck.
John Lee Augustyn - 23, from South Africa; Barloworld team-mate of Thomas and Froome during 2008 Tour de France; has potential to be a great climber.
Edvald Boasson Hagen - 22, from Norway; currently sits third in the UCI rankings, having won a stage in this year's Giro d'Italia.
Kjell Carlstrom - 32, from Finland; a specialist climber, he has ridden all three Grand Tours and is a stage winner in Paris-Nice.
Steve Cummings - 28, from Birkenhead; part of pursuit teams that won gold at 2005 World Championships and 2006 Commonwealth Games and silver at the 2004 Olympics.
Russell Downing - 31, from Rotherham; winner of 2009 Tour of Ireland; one of the most successful ever GB-based professionals.
Juan Antonio Flecha - 31, from Spain; has 10 years' professional experience, including a Tour de France stage win in 2003; known as a Classics specialist.
Chris Froome - 24, born in Nairobi, Kenya; became British-registered in 2008; has completed two Tours de France.
Simon Gerrans - 29, from Australia; has won stages of all three Grand Tours this year and the 2008 Tour Down Under.
Greg Henderson - 31, from New Zealand; world scratch race champion on the track in 2004; has recorded nine victories with Columbia in 2009, including the Tour of Spain.
Peter Kennaugh - 20, from Isle of Man; British Under-23 Champion who is dominating the Under-23 calendar in Italy; partnered fellow Manxman Mark Cavendish in madison at 2009 world track championships.
Thomas Lovkvist - 25, from Sweden; a five-year pro who wore the leader's jersey during this year's Giro d'Italia as part of Columbia HTC squad and could contend for overall tour wins.
Lars Petter Nordhaug - 25, from Norway; former mountain-biker who switched to the road and became Norwegian national champion; runner-up to Russell Downing in the 2009 Tour of Ireland.
Morris Possoni - 25, from Italy; wore the best young rider jersey during the 2008 Giro d'Italia as part of the Columbia squad.
Ian Stannard - 22, from Chelmsford; came third in 2008 Tour of Britain and rode 2009 Giro d'Italia.
Geraint Thomas - 23, from Cardiff; youngest rider in 2007 Tour de France; won gold in team pursuit at Beijing Olympics
I am sure that once their contracts have expired that Cavendish and Wiggins will also be joining this Team.
In the meantime there is a certain Viking who may keep us Anglo Saxons on our Toes
'Edvald Hagen'.
He is just about to win the Tour of Britain and has some real star quality.

Lance Armstrong says Britain's Team Sky cycling team can succeed in Tour de France and that
the formation of Team Sky is "a great step forward for cycling".
"A few years ago if you had said that the British Cycling Federation (now British Cycling) is going to dominate the Olympic Games people would have said 'no way' but Dave Brailsford and his entire team there has made amazing progress.
"Not only are they (Team Sky) going to be in the Tour de France, they are going to be a factor.
"It is good for cycling fans in Britain and cycling fans all over the world."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Talking Heads

Cycle killer: David Byrne on the joys of cycling 'The physical sensation is exhilarating,' says the cycling enthusiast and musician (The Guardian)
David Byrne has just published Bicycle Diaries, which documents his cycle journeys through cities
David Byrne discusses cycling with Rosie Swash (From the Guardian)

I cycled when I was at high school, then reconnected with bikes in New York in the late 70s. It was a good way of getting around the clubs and galleries of the Lower East Side and Soho. At that time almost no one else was riding, but I didn't care what people thought.

There's a certain amount of freedom involved in cycling: you're self-propelled and decide exactly where to go. If you see something that catches your eye to the left, you can veer off there, which isn't so easy in a car, and you can't cover as much ground walking.

The physical sensation of gliding with the wind in your face is exhilarating. That automatic activity of pedalling when you have to be awake but not think too much, allows you to let subconscious thoughts bubble up and things seem to just sort themselves out. And the adrenaline wakes you up if you weren't properly alert. If I'm commuting to work by bike, I'm fully awake by the time I get there, having dealt with a little bit of New York traffic en route.

I had an accident once when I had been out at an art opening and had too much to drink. I lost sight of my girlfriend and was turning around trying to see where she had got to, then slipped and broke two ribs, which I realised the next day and woke up in incredible pain. But that's nothing compared to some collisions bikers have, although it's definitely getting better. There are more secure bike lanes and drivers are beginning to have a better awareness of cyclists.

What usually takes me to other places is business, and when I get time off I'll always set a destination to visit. In Berlin recently, I decided to go to the Stasi headquarters, which was out of the centre and a bit of a ride. It was a great thing to see, but it's as much about the landscape along the way.

I've got lost plenty of times. We were touring on the border of Switzerland and France and I was going down various paths on my bike when I ended up in the other country. I had cut through some vacant lots, under an express way, through a fence, then suddenly spotted the border crossing. Luckily I had my passport on me.

It's difficult to have conversations biking, although quite a few of us on the tour have bikes and we try to ride together. Cycling can be lonely, but in a good way. It gives you a moment to breathe and think, and get away from what you're working on.

• David Byrne's chronicle of his adventures on two wheels, The Bicycle Diaries, is out now on Faber & Faber. The folding bike featured in the book is being auctioned to raise funds for the London Campaign for Cycling at

More of David Byrnes cycling contribution

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lancastrian Velo

Today Blackpool launched its on-street cycle hire scheme. For those not fully aquainted with Blackpool I have attached a short film parody.
Blackpool was once a premier seaside resort on the North west Coast of England but has lost its appeal over the years. It is similar to Coney Island in the USA,which followed the same decline.

Report from Guardian Newspaper
First Blackpool borrowed the idea of the Eiffel Tower - and now the city's taking inspiration from Paris' bike hire scheme. Just over a century ago, it happily borrowed the idea of the Eiffel Tower. Now, Blackpool has taken inspiration from a more recent Parisian innovation – mass on-street cycle hire.
In an attempt to change its reputation as a fading seaside resort for boisterous stag weekenders, and to boost local health, the Lancashire town is today launching the UK's most ambitious municipal cycle hire scheme to date.
Modelled on initiatives such as Paris's popular Vélib, where people can use a swipe card to take a bike from street-side depots, the Blackpool version is beginning with 60 brightly coloured cycles. But by next spring – before a much-heralded equivalent opens in London – this will be expanded to 500 bikes at 100 stands.
Funded by the local council, the town's NHS trust and Cycling England, the system will be run by Hourbike, a private company which operates a smaller version in Bristol. Blackpool is seen as particularly suitable given its flat terrain and low levels of car ownership. Renters will be able to use a network of bike lanes either along the coastline or inland.
The town has some of the lowest levels of adult exercise in the country, and the scheme is aimed at local people as well as its 10m visitors a year.
Unlike in Bristol there is no extra charge for one-way trips, to try to tempt people into trying commuting by bike.
The bikes will be available to visitors for a daily fee of £8, while residents or regular visitors can get a swipe card which lets them use the machines for a £1 hourly charge, with the first 30 minutes free.
"It's a very, very interesting scheme," said Philip Darnton, chairman of Cycling England. "The important thing for something like this is knowing who it is aimed at. It's going to be fascinating to see whether this gets local people riding as well as tourists."
The concept of publicly-available municipal hire cycles first emerged as 1974 in the French Atlantic coast town of La Rochelle, but its recent emergence dates back to mid-2005, when Lyon launched its Vélo'v system. This was adopted as Vélib two years later in Paris, which has now expanded to around 20,000 bikes at almost 1,500 street stations and has proved hugely popular, despite problems of vandalism and theft.
As well as Blackpool and Bristol, there are a handful of smaller schemes around the UK, for example one aimed mainly at tourists in the smaller Merseyside seaside resort of Southport.
The London scheme, due to launch next summer as a joint venture between Transport for London and the company Serco, will dwarf all other UK bike hire operations, with an initial plan for 6,000 bikes at 400 "docking stations".
There are currently no other such municipal schemes in the pipeline, Darnton said, although South West Trains has just launched an initiative where commuters into London can hire folding bikes to get from the station to their workplace. "This is the sort of thing I expect we'll be seeing more of in the future," he said.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tales from the Darkside

Last week I completed the Manchester 100 mile sportive. It was an interesting and educational experience. It was also rather painful.
Sometimes in life we 'bite off more than we can chew' This ride was a perfect example of this.
Although the initial taste was delicious it was soon followed by acute indigestion, and nausea. I bonked. After my previous weeks blistering pace in The Hotter N Hell (Texas) my confidence was high.
I was a Mule, my hooves were on fire, and my maine was once again ready to flow in the wind. I had some high equine standards to keep up.
I knew my American Mules would be neighing at my progress, especially as I was the sole mule representative in this UK 100 miler.
It was also the first time that our distinctive red and blue livery would be seen upon these shores.

Joanne our first female Mule also was taking part in the 100 km ride - all in all it was an auspicious moment in Mule history.

I set off at about 7 30 am wearing enough layers to be compared to an gigantic onion.
It was a chilly start.
There was also a strong south westerly headwind that was forecast to increase as the day progressed.
With this in mind I decided to push off hard knowing that I might get some assistance from nature on the run in.

After 30 mins I was pulling a long pace line at well over 20 mph.
The heat generated from my efforts left me wishing I had left my thermal long sleeved shirt in the car. I was poaching. like some over sized 'boil in the bag' recipe.
After 45 mins I was still pulling and twitching my elbow like mad.........No takers !!!!
After 60 mins I twitched my elbow, patted my bum and looked over my shoulder for support........still no takers.
After 90 mins I sarcastically shouted out 'Am I pulling all the way?'

My words like my efforts seemed to be lost on the multi coloured train behind me and I was well cooked. I had been in the red zone for far too long and it was time to slow down a little.
Just as I tempered my cadence an even faster pace line hurtled past on the outside.
It was an open invitation, too good a chance to miss.

Instinctively I jumped on the back leaving my own line floundering behind me.
Although I smiled at their demise, I also cursed myself as I watch the blur of the second drink station pass across my eyes.
My bottles were nearly empty.
In this new group I was definitely punching above my weight, clinging onto their back wheels as my I could hear my heartbeat racing to keep up with my ego.
After 55 miles there was a compulsory stop where you had to check in. By then I had averaged a not too shabby 23 mph.

I was on course to get in well under 5 Hours and smash my Personal best. The buzz was immense and My adrenalin was making me feel quite giddy.

Foolishly I just booked in and out believing that I could survive to the next drink station.
When I was in Texas I drank at least one bottle every hour and was totally disciplined about it. Now in England this had all 'gone to pot', deceived by the more temperate weather. I had also forgotten about my fluid loss during my poaching session

After 60 miles my legs had decided that they were no longer interested in my instructions.
Willfully they had decided that they wanted to go at their own pace, one considerably slower than what I was requesting.
After 78 miles I got to the final drink station. It was at the same time that my body had formed a firm alliance with my legs. Although I drank loads and it did wet my throat, I was still thirsty and this new and sudden volume of liquid made me want to throw up.
My legs now trembled like like a dog performing its morning ritual.

The last twenty miles were Hell. I looked for wheels to follow but the only one that I seemed to be able to stick with belonged to an 80 year old woman riding a mountain bike.
She had a small fluffy dog in a basket at the front that 'looked on' curiously.
On spying me the dog winced and shook his head in utter disdain, before hiding behind his elderly companion.
Maybe my frothing mouth was a giveaway.

This part of the ride was integrated with the 100 km participants and most of them were now overtaking me. There were pretty girls dressed in pink with crowns attached to their helmets and gents riding standard urban bikes, their troussers restrained by cycle clips.
They all gave me a wide berth as I meandered across the road like a lazy river.
Local authority Vans were and warning signs appeared by the roadside 'Heavy Plant Crossing'
Each time I came across a hill my thighs ignited with cramp, so excruciating that I was forced to abandon my bike in search of pavements or gates to facilitate some stretching exercises.
The remaining miles were covered slowly, very slowly.
Each mile I split into quarters and knocked off each one in my head.
When my Garmin finally read 100 miles there was no finishing line to be seen. I held back my tears.
My sense of humour had evaporated with most of my bodies fluids.
Every turn of the pedal felt like a mammoth task.
At 100.7 miles I went over the line in 5 hrs 58 mins. I was totally fu**ed.
The following week I did not want to ride, I did not want to see a bike again. In fact I did not even want to read about bikes or biking and hid all of my biking magazines.
Even my bike blog, like my bike was abandoned. I needed Rest and reassurance
This weekend I sought solace with my Best friend Colin down in the fens.
The Fens are flat.........really flat. Its like having an extra gear, a lazy cyclist heaven and sprinters paradise.
I took my bike to throw into a ditch along the route and my Camera to record the ceremony.
Saturday Morning requested forgiveness as it presented itself with a windless, cloudless day with warmth in the air.
It was too much
The lure was too strong I did 55 miles Saturday and thirty Sunday and loved ever minute of it and my keyboard is now humming again. I also managed to get some great pictures too!!!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

voyage avec mon vélo

One of my biggest passions apart from cycling is writing, poetry and the admiration of others scribbles with a pen or with keyboard. Sometime ago I set up another blog called the Lost Muse which features my work and the work of other artists that I admire. One thing that seems to be lacking is work about cycling. so with the aid of a bottle of red wine and my tongue firmly implanted in my check I have knocked up a poem about cycling. If anybody out there knows of any cycling poems I would love to hear of them.

Pedaling forth the spoken circles go
Amidst the rain, the wind and drifting snow
Cadence high, my derailleur set
Travels upon my bicyclette

Tyres on black top, bottles full
Pace lines, hill climbs, my turn to pull
Gears changed, New horizons found
Few dollars given for my weakened pound

Cycling now under the cloudless skies
RayBan's protecting my burning eyes
Bright southern sun and prairie dust
following wheels, with the ultimate trust

The event partaken, one hundred miles long
Wichita, North Texas, now long gone
Manchester this week back with the rain
Cycling in England is one F**cking pain.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Welcome home

I arrived back in England yesterday to be met with goose bumps.
Not at the excitement of coming home but at the dramatic fall in the temperature from the barmy Houston to the chilly north of England.
Not only has the temperature dropped but the barometer too with its close friend 'Gusty the Gale' keeping it company.
Tonight I so wanted to ride. To reassure Addy that riding another bike in the USA was not an adulterous act but a need to meet and end. To ride the Hotter N Hell. Sometimes bikes just dont believe you.
The combination of Jet lag, cold rain and gale force winds straining even the the biggest trees, killed off my enthusiasm. I elected instead for a hot mug of chocolate with just a bit of Brandy to ensure I did not catch a cold.
Sadly Addy remains disconsolate propped up against the radiator which has sadly been switched on keep my extremities functioning.
The long range forecast for Manchester's 100 mile ride is no better and with only 1500 riders it will seem a massive anti climax to Wichita Falls last week.
Thankfully I am allowed to wear my I pod when I ride this gauntlet of Natures hostilities.
This will enable me to have some of the warmth of Texas with me.
My daughters will be thrilled to pieces that Dad has discovered and been captivated by the youthful talent of Taylor Swift.
My tears, created by the wind in my face will fall on 'Addy' rather than a heavily glossed guitar. At least he will be smiling.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hotter N Hell Part 2 - Hydration

Every cyclist will know that after a long ride there are some essential things that you should do to promote the best sort of recovery.
These include warming down, stretching, resting but most importantly ensuring that you replace all of the fluids that you have lost from your body.
Being a great believer in the science of physiology I take my post ride very seriously and the Hotter N Hell was no exception.
My warming down consisted of a an Irish jig under a fire hydrant, a modern rendition of Riverdance.
This was warmly received by my fellow Mules and had locals wondering if there had been an escapee from the sanatorium.
My stretching consisted of reaching right down to the very bottom of the ice chest to make claim to the coldest beer. As well of flexing my wrists and loosening off my shoulders it also kicked off my hydration procedure.
This obligatory burden continued along with the rest sequence after 'The Mules' had set up camp on a grassy knoll close to the finish line.
The Mule banner was firmly placed into the ground and the Mules banter started. We set about promoting our team and the concept of Mule riding (Check out website). We also waited to see some of our Mule wannabes come in.
(L to R Me,Taylor Bartholomew, Paddy)
Taylor and fellow Mulee Kelly McKinzie set to do the 100 miles off behind us.
Sadly Taylor took a nasty tumble and had to SAG home but Kelly and the Mules were there to cheer her up on her return.
(L to R Marion, Adam, Dave, Christian)
Adam is the newest addition to the Mules however he chose to ride with his friend Marion at a slightly slower pace for this particular ride.
Dave was doing a great job promoting The Mules by chatting up other cyclists girlfriends.
Bad Mule!!!!!!!!
Meet some Mules
Simon Dave
As the afternoon wore on we were all very strict with our fluid replacement. It would even be true to say that due to the amount of fluid sloshing around inside us that it made us unsteady on our feet. Kenny and I being 'Pack Mules' and wishing to keep the fluids running maintained a regular Trek to the Beer tent.
Unfortunately they filled the glasses right up to the top so we had to drink a bit from every bodies before trotting back to the Mule encampment.
(L to R Me, Kenny)
We promised ourselves that when we got to the end of the ride that we would do a remake of 'Ice cold in Alex'
Unfortunately Cyclists are not always the best actors unless they are giving excuses for poor performances or why they cant ride.
After about 8 takes and close to a flat battery on my Camera we got a wrap.

I did not want to post it as it is so poor- but promises are promises i appologise in advance. Special thanks to the Arron and the other BHP extras who helped out on this production.
Original Ice Cold in Alex

MGM Mules Great Movies presents 'Ice Cold in Wichita Falls'
By 7pm most of the Mules had gone back into the stable however Dave, Kenny took our Mule Train into downtown Wichita Falls, we saw a great band and met some lovely people and got totally hydrated.
Hopefully The Mules maybe remembered fondly.
I head home on Tuesday and have another 100mile ride in Manchester on Sunday.
Whatever the weather I will be wearing my Mule shirt.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Hotter N Hell Part 1

At 0705 hrs a cannon fired across Scott Street, Witchita Falls to set the mules off on their very first organised centurion ride. 'The 2009 Hotter than Hell'

From 0600 hrs we had queued up with 14,000 other cyclists in what must be the biggest century ride in America, if not globally.
Prior to the start we were treated to Olympic gymnast Carly Patterson singing the American national anthem and a flyover from Sheppard Air Force Base with their T38 Trainer jets.

At the start the temperature was a very pleasant 64 f .
The locals and more seasoned Hotter tan hell competitors described this as being cool.
I thought the whole thing was 'cool' but that had nothing to do with the temperature.
I thought that the temperature was perfect.
I can just imagine waiting with my bike in England at six o'clock in the morning.
At the very least I would have required a mug of steaming coffee, coat, woolly hat and ear muffs even if it was the middle of the summer.
We set off in 'the scorchers' category about one block from the start line or about 2,000 people back.
The 'scorcher' status apparently meant that we expected to maintain an average of between 18 and 20 mph.
The first few miles were very tricky with thousands of riders jostling for positions and trying to find their own rhythm.
Despite that, the Mules soon established got going with a high tempo and developed an early pace line.
We scorched up the outside of the pack at about 25 mph.
With our distinctive blue and red shirts and tight disciplined formation we looked great and soon had a stream of riders hitching a lift onto our ever increasing 'mule train'.
(L to R - Kenny, Simon, Paddy and Me)
As the sun came up the temperature rose into the high 80's f warming our limbs and casting a stream of symmetric shadows onto the road, illustrating the precision our riding.
It was like the scene from a western, alongside the 'mule train' there was the good, the bad, and the dammed right ugly.
The good was exemplified my the camaraderie, support and warmth of other riders who we encountered.
The bad was the lack of consideration by a few riders. If it was not for the individual skills and dexterity of a large number of riders there would have been literally hundreds of accidents and casualties. I personally lost count of the near misses I witnessed where riders completed daft manoeuvres putting everyone around them at risk. On two occasions I had to break so hard that my rear wheel locked up. It was only through good fortune that I did not join the 'honorable Road Rash Society'
The Ugly was the the sight of other cyclist in pain or cut and battered by the side of the road

(L to R - Sean, Kenny, Dave)
(L to R - Sean, Kenny, Dave)
After 60 miles we were averaging 21.5 mph and looking to set a great time, however Paddy was starting to suffer. He was still suffering the after affects of a crash two weeks previously where ha had broken a couple of ribs he was in a lot of pain.
We started to stop at all of the rest stops to give him a break and to show our unity.
It was great to see the abundance of local volunteers handing out drink, food and wet towels with a smile and supporting encouragement.

The last forty miles were completed at an easier pace and we all crossed the line together at an average speed of 19.6 mph
The finishing line was punctuated by a strategically placed fire hose that cooled us down, I needed no invitation to joint the wet cycle kit contest.

The Mules did good !!!!! Well done guys.
The rest of the day and evening were highlighted with serious hydration treatment and actively publicising the virtues of the Mules. This will be covered in Hotter Than Hell part 2 tomorrow.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Travelling to Hotter an Hell

Today we headed north from San Antonio to Wichita Falls for tomorrows Hotter than Hell 100 mile endurance ride.
Somewhere between Dallas and Witchita Falls we stopped at a Gas station and some Fella came up to me and started singing

I could not help him but did tell him all about the bike ride. I am not sure that he was overly impressed. thankfully the rest of the trip was uneventful. On our arrival we set about preparing ourselves for an early start including some last minute production details on our remake of 'Ice Cold in Alex' which will start filming tomorrow.
For all riders taking part 'good luck and safe riding' - Look out for 'The Mules' we will be assembling by our flag and our shirts are quite distinctive.We will be starting with 'The Scorchers'

Tommorrows and Sundays blogs promise to have a full report with Photos, Videos and maybe a few laughs.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Remember the Alamo

Today we were meant to start our road trip to see the Alamo in San Antonio and then onto New Braunfels.To idly float down a river for two hours being chased by a case of beer.
Culture and Coors what a great combination.
Things started well, we set off from Houston before the Sun had crowned the Horizon.
The car was full of all things associated with a road trip, Beer, Cheesy Music and slightly worn tales of previous adventures.
As I focused my Camera on anything that whetted my imaginative taste buds, humour was practised elsewhere within the vehicle.
The thing about humour is that unless your really really good at it you will never really make money out of it.
In fact you have to be very good at it, just to get an honest response.
A real laugh.
I was once with a group of people in London when a uni cyclist dressed as a clown peddled past.
I said to him 'You appear to have lost a wheel'
He replied 'Humour is difficult'.
He was right of course, and humorous.
I on the other hand was not being funny just sarcastic, trying to use another person for cheap laughs.
What is funny for one person is not funny at all for another.
Why do we often seem to delight in the misfortune of others.
As our journey continued we were confronted by a number of misfortunes.
1. 80 miles into our journey, just as the sun was starting to make the mosquitoes take cover.
Our battery failed and the car would not start.
2. Over two hours later the car started, but the vehicle control consul could not be reactivated.
This meant no Sat Nav, No Radio and No controls for the Air Conditioning
3. twenty minutes later we struck some debris in the road which wrapped itself around the rear brake of our vehicle.
We appeared to be taking in some unscheduled stops at a number of Garage forecourts.
Although the staff were extremely helpful, sympathetic and considerate, we wanted to see Davy Crockett, not Dave the Mechanic.
Eventually we got back on the road and decided to swap the order of our activities.
We remarked about how calamities came grouped together as we launched our rubber rings.
Surely nothing could go wrong in the river, we had Paddy's watertight holder to keep everything dry and there were no real rapids.
By the time our river ride had finished tensions had been loosened.
Other things had also been loosened too.
4. My shirt in the rapids
5. The water tight ability of Paddy's holder which contained my Camera (Hence no pictures today)
To hear of these events some people might laugh like drains. We did not really find it funny.
We did laugh though......people do.
Not through humour though, the laugh of exasperation, frustration the laugh of pure desperation.
At the end of the day we got to do the beer and rubber ring river routine and The Alamo. We also managed to get a look around the River walk in San Antonio during the evening.
It was amazing.

Tomorrow we head North through Austin, Dallas and up to Witchita Falls to join our Mules for the Hotter N Hell. Tomorrow is another day!!!!!!!
The Wait is nearly over