Last time I raced the Haute Vienne MTB departmental championships at St Leger La Montagne in 2008 I punctured on the last lap with 3kms to go. I was in the lead at the time and threw the win away by not being careful. This time it was different.
Here’s how it went – I haven’t raced recently, so I wasn’t gridded. That’s OK, I was just looking for a good ride. I got away OK, the pace was tough, I was middle of the field. On to the first climb, the rider in front of me snaps his chain. Meanwhile Pierre Chenaud (ASSJ) comes backwards with a puncture. This is a tough circuit for bike and body. Just riding round the practice lap had been hard enough, racing it was brutal.
I make a special effort to be kind to my bike, and ride smooth. Not running the chain across the cassette, staying loose over rocks and roots. At the end of the first lap I’m sitting in 2nd place, I have a couple of riders close behind me, and 1st place is nowhere to be seen.
I really want to get rid of the two behind me, so I work a little harder to snap the elastic. I get a gap. I start to catch a glimpse of the leading rider Pierre Barateau (Ambazac Sprinter Club). I’m gaining on him. I catch him on a short steep climb. He’s off his bike. I ask him if he has a problem. “Cramp!”, he tells me. Like I said, it’s a brutal circuit.
So, now I’m in the lead, with a lap to go, and no one close behind. All I have to do is keep it sensible. I ride hard, but with care. My chain is dry and complaining on some of the steeper climbs. I change to a lower gear and spin. The last climb, it’s very steep. Taking no chances I get off and run.
A quick look back. No one in sight. I take it easy down the last desent, and I’m home, winner of the Haute Vienne Departmental Championships for 2013 (over 50 vets)!
I’m pleased! This wasn’t expected. But let’s just put this into perspective. The recent creation of a new category for over 60 vets meant that some riders have changed category. The 40+, 50+, and 60+ vets all set off together, the same start. The 40+ had to do 4 laps, the 50+ and the 60+ had to do 3 laps. Now, combine the 50+, and the 60+ vets! There was just one rider who was faster than me. A whopping 8 minutes faster over the three laps!!! 1:39:27 vs 1:47:43 The true champion, the 66 year old Jean-Claude Sansonnet (Cyclo Racing Club Limousin). Chapeau Jean-Claude!
Not forgetting – Many thank’s to everyone at Saint-Léger-la-Montagne VTT Rando Club for putting on a great race. A superbly tough course!
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It’s been just over a year since we adopted our little Princess Maya! AKA – ‘The Little Cowbag Princess’, or Mable, or Mabes!, and she’s come a long way. She’s a real character who’s eager to please…herself!!! She’s a thief of sausages, and a murderer of chickens! But we loves her!!!
When we first got her she was great with other dogs, and still is, but terrible with people. She’d do this fear aggression thing where she’d bark at people with her hackles up looking really aggressive, but always staying just out of reach. It’s not easy finding volunteer strangers so Carla would set off on a walk with Mabes, I’d dress in disguise, and ambush them! We spent ages trying all sorts of things. We’d take her out for a long walk so that she wasn’t so fresh, then take her where there’d be lots of people. We give her treats for stying calm when someone came nearby. Slowly she’s made progress, and she’s got to the point now where for the most part strangers are OK.
She’s has a number of doggie friends….
Here’s Lulu! She came to stay for a week. They had a great time. Synchronised behaviours with a couple of days. Good and bad. It was such fun having Lulu staying we toyed with the idea of two dogs!!!
Here’s Anetta! He pops around every once in a while. He’s a Berger Suisse also, but he has long fur.
Here’s Gotham! When these two get togther they go completely crazy. It’s not safe to be in the garden with these two! Gotham came to stay for a weekend recently. What a white knuckle ride that was! We were all exhausted by Sunday night. But we’d had a lot of fun.
We took Mabes to her first MTB race yesterday. She was great. Lots of strangers coming up to her, and she was kewl. Plus for the first time, we saw her engage in play with someone she’d only just met. We were so pleased with her. We wanted a dog that we could take anywhere, and she’s getting there.
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“How did the first Jazz Club meeting go?!”, I hear you ask!
Well, it went very well, better than I hoped! There were eleven musos who played at some point during the evening. Two drummers, two bassists, four guitarists, sax, harmonica, flute, keyboards and three singers. Some of them played more than one thing.
A couple of the songs fell on their face and sounded awful, but for the most part, considering most of us had never met, let alone played together, it was good. It wasn’t meant to be some kind of polished performance, it was meant to be for musicians to get together and have some fun, and that’s what they did. So when the end of Moondance went pear-shaped it didn’t matter, it was good, because every muso involved was grinning from ear to ear!
I was so pleased that it went well. I’d put quite a lot of work in, and in a way, I was glad to get the first one over and done. The enthusiasm was such that it’s now going to be a regular thing, on the last Thursday of each month. So without further ado, here’s the poster -> -> ->
So, that’s, Jazz and Blues at the Giac’s Bar in Saint Junien (87 – Haute Vienne) on 28th March.
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If someone had said to me, “you’ll move to France and start a Jazz Club”, I would have laughed in their face…….. But, I did, and I am! I’m starting a Jazz’n'Blues club! It’s something i’ve been thinking about for quite a while, and I finally got around to it. I contacted the Giac’s Bar in St Junien and asked if I could use their bar as a home! Next I put a call for musos on facebook, and voila! it’s happening! First meeting on 28th February. If it works it’ll then be the last Thursday each month.
Why am I doing it? Well, because I want to create a warm loving environment in which like minded musicians can meet, play, share, grow, and get hip! Nah, it because I thought it would be fun. There’s nothing else like it going on nearby. Seems to me there’s a lot of very experienced musos not playing, and something like this might get them out. I’m hoping I can learn from them too!
Here’s the skinny from the page I put up on limousinlife.com…..
We’ll aim to meet up on the last thursday of each month. Initially,
until we get things established, a list of songs for the session
will be posted by me well in advance. This gives those wishing to
take part a chance to brush up on them. We want people to feel comfortable,
so, no surprises – please don’t just turn up and ask to play something
that isn’t on the list. This may make people uncomfortable, and
while ‘outside the comfort zone’ is often where the magic happens
we don’t want to put people on the spot or embarras them.
Here’s the list for this month…
Moondance – Am – chords
Autumn Leaves – G – leadsheet
Blue Bossa – Eb – leadsheet
Carnival/Black Orpheus – C – leadsheet
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy – Bb – leadsheet
Tell Me All About it – Bm – chords
Blues with a Feeling – 12 bar in G
Juke – 12 bar in E
Funk Groove 1 – Am chords
Funk Groove 2 – Em chords
If you want to play you must contact me in advance so that I can
plan the session. My aim being to give a little continuity to the
We’ll start the evening around 8pm with a couple of numbers from
the ‘house band’. Then I’ll invite people to get up and play. Think
of it as more of a ‘sit in’ session rather than a ‘jam session’.
There will be a PA with at least two mics, Guitar and Bass amps,
keyboards, and drums. Guitarists and bassists – you’ll need to bring
your own instrument and lead.
The venue is the Giacs Bar – 15 Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau, 87200
Saint-Junien. It’s a super nice bar, and they have a great courtyard
that would be fantastic for summer night jazz!
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Paul, the masked rider, on a mission to help others!
Here’s a post from a friend of mine. Showing the kind of gutsy determination we all love! Go Paul! ……
“Sometimes, you have to drag yourself out the door, leaving behind a nice warm house and foregoing the 2nd cup of tea that you so badly want but deep down you know that you have to put the miles in, today was one of those days.
As I left the house it was pouting with rain with big brooding dark clouds in all directions, I was already thinking about the lovely hot cup of coffee I was going to enjoy on my return followed by a steaming hot shower.
After about 5 miles into my ride and to my amazement, the sun made a brief appearance, it was still raining but my mood was lifted and my cadence I creased as a result, another 5 miles in and the dark brooding clouds had all but disappeared and the morning almost became perfect for cycling.
I was on one of my normal 25 mile loops around the North Downs but decided to take a detour and go along some bridle paths and tracks that I have never ventured along, the winter sun lighting up some of the tree clad valleys was truly stunning and my ride went from being a reluctant one to exhilarating.
The tracks and bridleways were truly muddy as a result of the melting snow but this just added to the ride, I was feeling strong and could have gone on for many more miles.
Today’s ride brought home the stunning beauty of the Kentish Downs, those of us who live here are extremely lucky and I am so glad that I dragged my sorry arse out the door.”
Paul is cycling from Cape Wrath to Dover for Demelza Hospice Care for Children. Demelza Hospice Care for Children cares for life limited children and their families, offering respite breaks, end of life care and bereavement support.
You can help Paul by sponsoring him here – www.justgiving.com/Paul-Hamley.
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I’ve been getting 29er curious over the last few months, and I finally got to test one at the weekend. I happened to be in Intersport in St Junien looking for gloves when I spotted their Trek Superfly AL Elite 29er demo bike. It’s free to demo for 48hrs – you just need to leave a deposit cheque and sign a contract. I picked it up on Friday, and had all weekend to test it. My plan was to set it up and do some comparison tests on the Saturday then ride a VTT Rando on it on the Sunday.
I flipped the stem, moved the controls inboard a touch, set the saddle height, and was ready to go. I measured and compared with my 26er. The Trek came up a little shorter, but as the bars were wider (over 700mm!!!), I thought it would be OK. I noted that the bottom bracket and resulting saddle height were 1 cm higher from the ground.
First impression, a bit strange. Although only 1cm higher from the ground it seemed higher. A U-turn in the driveway felt cumbersome and vague. I wondered about the extra flex that bigger wheels might give, and whether this might be an advantage on rougher ground. I set of on a short testing loop. The bike had a sort of ‘quiet’ feel to it. Very comfortabe. I was going pretty quick, I could tell that from the gear I was in, but I didn’t feel like I was going quick, just floating along really.
At the entry to the first chemin, I did my usual, ‘pedal hard through the corner and control the speed with the back brake’. The bike turned beautifully. I lost almost no speed. It felt good. Still floating, and yet more floating as I crossed some rough rocky ground. Turning downhill I began to pick up some real speed. Still floating. At the bottom of the descent it’s always tricky trying to coax a bike around the off-camber turn, but the 29er was easy, she slid around easily.
Back at ‘chez nous’ I did a quick check on bolts to make sure nothing had come loose. Next I used a timed loop of around 10 mins, a good mix of sweeping trails and technical stuff. I did a lap on the 29er, then a lap on my Specialized Epic, then another on the 29er, then a final lap on the Epic. The results were inconclusive. The difference was not measurable. I was just about the same time to the second on both. There were places where I felt faster on one that the other, but I couldn’t say that one was faster than the other.
So to the VTT Rando at Ambazac (organized by the Ambazac Sprinter Club). My friend Pierre, a 29er convert, had told me that it’s when riding with others that you notice how good the 29er really is. The Ambazac rando is normally well attended, so plenty of riders, and a 35kms loop up in the hills should be a tough test.
I made sure I was there nice and early to get a place near the front. Just before the off I realised I’d left my number board in the car! Doh! A quick dash back to the car and back, and I’ve missed the start. I chase like mad through the back markers. The first big climb and we are down to walking pace. In fact most are walking. Over the top and away. Again I’m ploughing through the back markers like a madman. Down a fast technical descent, I’m being very creative with my line, I clip a rock hard, and pinch flat the rear wheel!!!! It takes me less than a couple of minutes to fit a new tube and get away, but that’s two minutes of riders going past.
I realise my ride isn’t going as planned and calm down a little. I make ground where I can, and just wait patiently where I can’t. At the first food stop I ride straight through. There’s less traffic now, and I can ride faster. Getting into the flow, I notice how well the 29er rolls. On slight descents I seem to roll up to riders ahead of me with ease. On climbs I seem to be going well, I notice how the 29er rolls nicely over roots and rocks.
With an hour and thirty minutes on the clock I know I can’t be far from home. I’m pushing on hard. Totally absorbed in the trail and the flow. As happens so often, I’ve said this before, the trail fairies cast a spell on me, and I’m just there in the moment. The spell is only broken with the realisation that I was under the spell!!! I forgot I was riding the 29er! I was just riding.
So there you have it, a weekend testing a 29er, and no answer, no conclusion, no significant test data. I really dunno! But this… I think that for marathon type racing where you are riding over ‘un seen’ terrain where efficiency, economy of effort, and maintaing momentum are paramount, the 29er might be best. But for closed circuit racing with tight turns, with lots of stops and starts where you are wrestling the bike then a 26er might be best.
In either case, to me, the 29er didn’t feel like I was going fast even when I was. It didn’t have that ‘seat of the pants’ knife edge razor sharp hadling feel that a 26er race bike has. Going fast, and sensation of going fast are different things.
Also, I note that the Trek has quite a shallow head angle of 68 degress. That is quite a lot slacker than I’m used to, and may have added to the Trek’s ‘quiet’ feel.
Finally, don’t get me wrong, I loved riding the Trek. It’s a really lovely bike, handles beautifully. I was sad to give it back. If long distance XC is your thing you’d love it too. It’s a tool for the job.
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If I should die, think only this of me;
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
Rupert Brooke. 1887 – 1915
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Why do people love to play guitar?
The guitar is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Some people love to listen to it, while others try their hand at playing one, whether it’s acoustic, classic or electric. You may wonder what the appeal of playing the guitar is though.
They love the sound
The first thing that attracts a person to an instrument is the sound. If listening to an instrument is akin to nails on a chalk board for you, then you won’t want to play it. However, if you love the sound when it is played well, it will make you more likely to give it a try yourself. Guitar has a very distinctive sound.
The process of playing each note is actually quite soothing, once the movements have become second nature. You don’t necessarily have to play a well known song. Some people use partycasino.com to relax, but sometimes it’s quite therapeutic to play guitar and see where it goes.
Because they want to get girls
I wouldn’t say these people are the most successful guitar players in the world. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend taking up guitar if your main aim is to impress the opposite sex. However, if you take it up for that reason, and happen to love it and carry on, at least you got one good thing out of it.
Guitar is portable
The guitar is one of the most portable instruments in the world. Certainly the most portable one which can produce multiple notes, and this makes it more appealing than a keyboard, because you can zip it up in its case and carry it on your back.
Easy to teach
The guitar is relatively easy to teach at its most basic level. You don’t have to read sheet music, instead learning the chords and feeling them out as you go. One of the best ways to teach someone, is by teaching them how to play certain songs.
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