On 23 August 2013 In Cycling News

"Bionic" Brian Tilley is recovering in hospital following a nasty bike accident on the Tuesday evening "BRAT Bash" this week.  There were no cars involved, and no other bikes came down either.  The probable trigger was a "touch of wheels" at speed, resulting in Brian falling onto the road, fracturing his left shoulder, several ribs and his pelvis.  He also suffered a punctured lung.  Although he has little memory of the accident, he specifically wanted to thank all of the BRATs who helped get him to hospital and on the road (as it were) to recovery, including Mark Hirsch ("he was magnificent"), Washy (who broke the news to Clare), Cocky, Chris and Speedy Dave.  Brian is also pleased to report that his bike appears to be relatively undamaged - although he now has matching scrape marks on both brake levers (the first sustained following his accident and broken hip a year ago).

The BRAT Bash is a regular training session during the lighter months consisting of a group ride over a fast standardised 26 mile loop from Wythall through Hockley Heath to Rowington and back through Knowle.  Despite this accident and its challenging nature, the BRAT Bash has one of the best group ride safety records - this is only the second major accident in 10 years.  Please refer to the updated BRAT Club group riding etiquette (attachment). Get well soon, Bionic - you will be back, stronger than ever.

On 08 August 2013 In Cycling News

Once every 4 years, several hundred cyclists gather in front of Buckingham Palace at 6am and set off on the adventure of a lifetime.  In just 5 days, they cover over 1,400 kms (900 miles) of glorious British countryside, from the fens of Cambridgeshire, the Yorkshire moors, over the Pennines, the desolate borderlands, to Edinburgh and back, through the wind, rain and night, supported by many willing volunteers.  Debbie and I did it this year over 4 1/2 days, ably supported by Hannah, along with 1,000 other cyclists from 33 different countries.  It was an amazing adventure, with weather and terrain conditions ranging from sunny, flat and following winds, to freezing cold mountains in thundering downpours, to exhaustingly hot (38 degrees C) with debilitating headwinds.  The roads were generally quiet, country lanes and the scenery was incredible, indescribable, incomparable and quintessentially British!  There was an endless supply of food and volunteer support at each of the 13 control checkpoints, and a not quite endless supply of toilets, showers and blow up mattresses - although sleep wasn't easy among several hundred other snoring people...

On 24 June 2013 In Cycling News

What better reason to get out of bed early on a Sunday morning, than to enjoy some time in the saddle in pursuit of cake. Last Sunday's C ride (expertly led by Andy Stowe) included a super stop at Dynamic Rides in Hockley Heath for some welcome refreshments of coffee, cake and other sweet treats. The riders definately earnt their crumbs after peddling hard for 40 miles in the glorious summer sunshine.

Cake: The ying to the yang of a healthy BRAT lifestyle! 

On 23 June 2013 In Cycling News

4.30am.  Sheerness on Sea.  Sunrise of the summer solstice.  211 miles of cycling. Sunset.  Burnham on Sea. 10pm.  Curry.  Sleep.  

At the invitation of Chrissie Wellington (who was with us in spirit but not in actuality), Brian Tilley, Debbie and I, supported by Hannah Davies in our support van, joined Olly and 17 other cyclists to make the annual (organised by Olly) trek across England "chasing the sun" on the longest day of the year.  We started shoreside, just next to the Abbey Hotel (where we stayed on Friday night), on the Isle of Sheppey at the mouth of the Thames esturary, in a glorious dry sunrise (photo).  Looking west in the first morning light, there was a wonderful rainbow highlighted by glowering clouds - ominous in its beauty - foretelling the day to come.  The rain started within 100 yards of setting off and continued intermittently, varying from light drizzle to heavy downpour, for the rest of the day.  The group of cyclists were of varying ability, ranging from Tim at the front, experienced, speedy but sometimes navigationally challenged (take it from one who knows), to Sunny (perfectly named), who had only begun cycling 2 months before.  Groups formed, broke up, re-formed, strung out, joked, laughed and settled down into a dogged rhythm into a nagging headwind, ranging from a zephyr to 30 knots of roaring gale.  Our group eventually whittled down to 3 - Brian, Debbie and me and we made good time, even with 5 punctures - the last 2 of which were within 2 miles of the finish in pitch black night, driving rain and gale force winds!  We averaged 15.5 mph over the 211 miles and over 3,000 metres of vertical climbing in total.

The countryside was the real star - beautiful and varied, quintissentially English rolling hills, green (and dripping) vistas, forests, wooded lanes, sleepy villages of half timbered, thatched cottages, impressive Tudor mansions, castles, the peaceful Vale of Pewsey, the rather more challenging Mendips with cheeky climbs of up to 20%, ending in the magnificent Cheddar Gorge, and the flat lands of the Somerset coast.  There were remarkably few cars!  We ate food aplenty, with a Costa coffee breakfast stop in Bromley, an unexpected but very welcome bacon butty stop in Richmond Park (thank you support volunteers, led by Emma in the "official" support van), a wonderful lunch stop at the bakery on the outskirts of Bramley (great pasties and sausage rolls), an early evening replenishment of supplies from Hannah in Devises and a superb curry in Burnham on Sea at 11.30pm - thanks to the very kind manager who took pity on us bedraggled and gaunt cyclists to call the cook back in and supply us with delicious samosas, popadoms, naan breads, mixed grills, prawn and chicken jalfreize curries - delicious!  And then a welcome sleep at the quaint Royal Clarence Hotel right on the foreshore - which was just about blown away by the fierce gales which lashed in from the west all night and the following morning.

The group gathered for lashings of complementary full English breakfast on Sunday morning in the Royal Clarence before saying our farewells and heading back to Brum.  New friends made.  Job done.

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