England

Sky Sports sponsors the London Freewheel

It has been announced that Sky Sports are the title sponsors of the London Freewheel in 2008. This is a devastating blow. Last year the sponsors were Hovis and we got free sandwiches. I'm not exactly going to get a free satellite dish out of it, am I?

The freewheel is a good event, is free, and takes place in the second half of september. It's worth making the effort for if you can get into London.

Further reading: Press release about a summer of cycling and an Evening Standard article where Boris exalts Londoners to dust off their bikes. Also, here is a summary of the freewheel. Finally, the BikeforAll site on the freewheel sponsorship.

Long Road to London

Yesterday I thought I'd take my new bike out for a spin - then I thought about going on a long bike ride. Path to LondonThen I decided to attempt to cycle into central London from home, and finally I decided to do this on the old bike as I didn't want to do anything too ambitious on the new bike until I've broken it in a bit more.

So it was, that I set out on a ride from home (on the Surrey/Hampshire border) to Central London.

I planned a route with the aid of the Surrey Cycling Maps and the Transport for London cycling maps. Both sets of maps are free. Unfortunately there was something about them which made going from one set of maps to the other tricky for me - I'd love it if the maps were downloadable as jpg so I could use them in OziExplorer - or better still, if the data were handed over to google to allow cycle routes to be planned as easily as road routes!

I worked out a rough route on the paper maps, then used the mapmyride website to store the route electronically. This was then downloaded to my Garmin GPS 60. This is not an expensive device, but it is good enough for my purposes.

Essentially, I can download a route to it, and it will tell me which way to head in order to reach the next waypoint. It doesn't know about roads, buildings, cliffs and the like - and so the directions are only as good as the route that it has been fed.

Thus it was that I set off.

I had a later start than I hoped for - and was slower than hoped for as I stopped to go to the supermarket for some sustenance (I had forgotten breakfast too!). Getting to Woking took longer than usual, but I was soon in new territory, going past Woking and was at my first major landmark. The psychological barrier of the M25.

Crossing the M25

It was really great getting to this point under my own steam - for me it is the boundary of London (it isn't really, but nothing else is that obvious).

I cycled on, through Addlestone, and onward.

Hampton Court provided my next stop. It's a lovely place to go through, open grassland (and a road, admittedly) - with deer.

The deer were quite used to the cars, and so were not too phased by someone on a bicycle. They were quite bold (for deer) - though never totally unwary.

Deer at Hampton Court

I crossed the River Thames several times. Having crossed near Hampton Court, I went south of the river again at Teddington Lock. Nice place.

I had chosen to go through Richmond Park as well. This is a lovely place to go through - the paths are smooth, traffic-free and there are herds of deer. The deer are different to Hampton Court - and again, they are relatively used to people. This was a much larger group, and they formed a protective ring around their youngsters.

As I watched and waited, they all moved across the road - that was good to see, it had echoes of 'mass migration' about it, but in miniature!

From Richmond, I carried on into central London, thanks to the cycle maps I had very few busy roads to travel. I arrived at Buckingham Palace, and being a Sunday the mall was closed to cars, so I had a lovely cycle down toward wesminster. There was traffic over Westminster Bridge, and then I was at Waterloo, some 69km after I set out.

I made it to London!

It was my longest cycle by far so far. I may have cycled further 'back in the day' - but then, I never kept track of this sort of thing when younger (I did get lost many times though - though the only time I had to be rescued was when I went for a walk, and I went so far the soles of my shoes caved in!)

My normal commute is about 18km each way, so this represented nearly a fourfold increase on my longest ride (or doubling of my daily ride). I did arrive at Waterloo wondering if I shouldn't just cycle back home - but felt like this was asking for trouble... however, I think I could have done it. Maybe another day.

My high spot at the end of the ride was cycling down the mall - that was my 'finish'. Getting to Waterloo was anti-climactic. I'd just done a big ride, and I wanted a finish line - dammit, I wanted a medal for finishing! If I'd have known that Waterloo would've felt like 'the way home after finishing' instead of 'finishing', I'd have done a lap of honour on the Mall!

Anyhow, that was my big ride - about 43 miles. Not bad, I could have gone further, but I was being careful, I didn't know how I'd react the next day. As it is, I've a bit of soreness in my thighs, and that's about it. I did a few stretches on the train to try and prevent leg muscles cramping up.

Key Details: Date: 2008-06-29 Distance: 69.8 km. Speed: 19.24 / 47.33 km/hr (avg/max) Duration: 03:37 (ride time, stopping for the M25, level crossings, deer and supermarkets not included)

Odd workings of Justice

In case you hadn't realised, there is a cloud over England's test matches in NZ with "allegations of sexual assault and/or rape". Except that no formal complaint has been made, therefore, sensibly, the people at the receiving end have declined to be interviewed.

Understand this, I'm not blinded by being someone who watches the game whilst living in England. If the players have done this, then they deserve to have the full force of the law come into play - however, we must remember that they are also possible targets for warrantless claims. At this stage, none of us can know the truth, nor should we comment upon where the truth may lie.

Why am I posting? Well, I do find it odd to see statements like:

"We are desperate to clear the players' names but we're in a very strange situation - with no allegations, no complaint being made - as to exactly how the name of the players can be cleared."

The names have not been published, not has a formal complaint been made. Surely the names remain clear - or has 'innocent until proven guilty' gone out of fashion in New Zealand too?

If a formal complaint or formal charge is made then there will be a name to clear - but until that point...

Six Nations 2008

So, Everyone gets something... Wales get the Grand Slam, the championship and Bragging Rights (as do Wasps, as Wales did it with Warren and Shaun)

England get second place, and the Millennium Trophy for beating Ireland today (I was there). We also got to see Danny Cipriani's first game, and he was good - as Wasps knew he would... be.

France get the Giuseppe Garibaldi trophy for beating Italy (can all Italy games have a trophy at stake, please? That seems like an easy option to get a trophy in the short term... unless you're Scottish)

Ireland get the Centenary Quaich trophy for beating Scotland.

Scotland get the Calcutta Cup for beating England (in a game that caused me to fall asleep - but well done to Scotland)

Italy get a wooden spoon.

Nobody gets whitewash.

Everyone has something... and Italy can use their trophy for making nice meals. Bonus.

London Freewheel 2008

Good news. The London Freewheel 2008 is now taking registrations. The event will be on the 21st September.

I adored this event in 2007, and have been waiting with anticipation for 2008 to be confirmed.

As last year, now I have the slow torture of the wait all over again!

I hope that this year I'll be able to persuade the other half to come along....

London Freewheel 2008?

Last year, I took part in the London Freewheel. It was a great event, and I'm hoping it'll be repeated in 2008. Periodically I do a search to see if it is to be repeated, and to put the date in my diary.

No luck yet. I'd appreciate a 'heads up' if anyone hears details.

(Edit: Scary, as of 13th Jan, this site is the number one link in google UK when searching for 'London Freewheel 2008' - Murk)

(Edit: As of 14th Feb, I've been told that a provisional time for this is the 3rd week in september, I'd guess the 21st - Murk)

(Edit: As of 5th March, Freewheel registration 2008 is open. It will be the 21st. - Murk)

England miss the double...

Congratulations to South Africa (no Kiwi-style whinging, please England supporters!). They prevented England from making history by retaining the World Cup. England just didn't get through on the night. The game was one of forcing errors (it'd be interesting to analyse which players, and which premiership teams, gave away more penalties.

One controversial moment was the try that wasn't. It wouldn't on its own have changed the result, but it might have provided a lift to encourage further scores).

It was a tough call to make, did the foot graze the line or not? My impression was that the call was good, unfortunately. A difficult decision to make, but the correct decision.

It was beyond wildest imaginings that England would make the final, especially given where we had come from, with big losses in the autumn of 2006 - and with the 36-0 loss to South Africa, we certainly gave them a run for their money last night. England did fantastically well to get into the finals, and the wins against Australia and France were classics.

No, overall, we can be very pleased with England's performance.

A big downside is that the RWC has really eaten into the premiership, with many games already being played. Surely in a world cup year, something has to give way to avoid fixture congestion? Putting the anglo-welsh competition on hold for a year, and maybe even (shock) the six nations would be sensible?

Yesterday in the premiership, Quins beat Wasps by one point. Dave Walder missed the last-gasp drop-kick. There were some unusual decisions during the game, that I didn't quite understand, and would love to see some video of. The ref was probably right (he was a lot closer than I) - but from where I was sitting, he looked like he was having a bit of a shocker. Penalty Try to Quins? Really?!