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Friday, 10 August 2012

Explore your local riding and bake some brownies

Hey, I'm riding

It is good to be getting out on the bike again. Partly because it feels great, being outside and partly because if I didn't, I would have no right to be writing posts on cycling.

It's just in time as I had forgotten that me and my wife are entered into a "hilly sportive" on Sunday week, and when it says "hilly" in the Cotswolds, you know you're going to earn that cider by the end.  So we've been getting out on the bikes and that means working out new routes suitable for our current state of "fitness". I have said to friends a number of times, "I can fake 60 miles, it's not so far....." Now I'm going to find out!

Mapping rides

I find using an on-line mapping resource an excellent idea, as it lets you gauge the distance and "degree of difficulty"  before setting out. And in addition, it means that the "route less travelled" can be incorporated into your ride. A car can be good for researching routes, but I find that I generally use the main routes in the "polluting box" and when cycling for fun and fitness, the side road is king! So I use "Bike Route Toaster" It has a silly name, but is intuitive to use and you can store your routes online and download them should you be lucky enough to have a suitable GPS gadget. I have one, but generally only use it when I am in danger of getting lost.

Getting lost

Getting lost. My wife would think that I would be risking that on most rides. Indeed she often reminds me of the second time we went to Chamonix (it was about my 30th visit) when I could not find the Omelette Restaurant (recommended BTW) and she said, "it's in the next road, I though we were going the scenic route......" as I blundered around.

Anyway, contrary to her belief, I can often navigate quite well. I often use the sun to remind me which way I need to travel to get home. I do take my mobile with me when cycling, just in case. In our area its easy to get lost. Not quite sure if she could navigate me home from me phoning, and describing the scenery, but I suppose its always worth a go!

Explore my local routes

One of the nice things about the cycle route website is that you might find a local route shared by another cyclist and so discover roads and trails you would never have considered.

This very Thursday, I travelled around Yate and was only on road for 2 of the 12 miles (obviously, a short ride) I went down cycle routes, RUPPs and hard surfaced bridleways, seeing some lovely houses, some great views, the Virgin Train to the Midlands and more excitingly, a wooded area, crossed by trails.

Door step MTBing is a luxury, I've had for many years. It's interesting that now I am in the middle of the countryside and in horse country, access to the that countryside is so restricted. However, careful study of the maps and by cycling around the roads, it is starting to come together. Hopefully at some point in the near future, I will be able to report a mountain bike route - mainly legal with any luck!

Recipe of the week - quick brownies

Like there is never an excuse for ugly shoes (I am told) there is never an excuse to buy brownies, when you can make them in no time and earn err, brownie points from your friends. I have long looked for a "base" brownie recipe to which I can add ingredients as I like.

This Brownie Recipe is it. A few pointers. Please use the best cocoa powder you can get. I like Green and Blacks, but anything "not budget" will work a treat. Do use golden caster sugar, it add flavour. It will take all of the time to cook and a bit. Get it out of the oven and let cool in the tin on a wire rack. Get it out when there is a little "wobble" left in the middle or else it may get a little dry.

Added ingredients. I add chopped walnuts and or chopped glacĂ© cherries and/or chocolate bits (chopped up from nice chocolate - not supermarket special!) For luxury, cherries and dark chocolate take a bit of beating

A final word. If, like me, you need to lose a few kilos, but love baking, make sure you give this away to work colleagues, friends, neighbours and bask in your selflessness......grrrr!

GlacĂ© cherries - factoid

(BTW - did you know glace cherries don't last for ever? My brownies were nut only this week, as when I tried a sample cherry, it tasted stale. Buy fresh and buy ones which are not that nasty fake red colour. Waitrose do them!)


  1. Judith, ex AC BUG member10 August 2012 at 16:15

    Good luck to you both with the sportive. I've just spent a very enjoyable week cycling in the Cotswolds and didn't find the hills too challenging (apart from one or two.) The biggest attraction for me was never being far from a tea room but I guess tea room stops won't be an option for you!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. I think its a nicely organised sportive with some designated cake stops! We're feeling more optimistic now we've been off for a hard weekend MTB ride

      Thanks for the comment

  2. Howdy Mike
    Just tried the recipe with glace cherries. Have you tried it with chillies?
    I now have some photos of my front & rear suspension, drop barred off road rig. (I just know you're gonna love it).
    I can also tell how I brought the irritatingly unconnected road and off road Shimano kit together. Any ideas how I can publish them?
    See you

  3. Hi Nick

    If Fraser gave you this link - ask him for my e mail and we can discuss further


    Mike on a bike

  4. Excellent blog and user name!

    Best wishes from ericonabike...

  5. Thanks Eric - I admit plagiarism.....but it was too good to miss!