Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Horseshoe Pass Part 2 (18th Nov 2012)

Two weeks ago (on 4th Nov) you may recall I wrote about a ride myself and Ian Sutton did over the Horseshoe Pass (link at: http://chestercyclist.blogspot.de/2012/11/chilly-ride-over-horseshoe-pass-4th-nov.html).

Anyhow, a lot of Chester Road Club riders seemed to like the look of the route, and so a repeat run was planned for the 18th November. The main difference between the two rides was that on this occasion, 18 riders turned up !! The second difference was that the weather was much better - still cold, but blue sky all the way, and quite pleasant at the top of the Horseshoe Pass. The final difference was that we did the ride quite a bit more quickly (I think the average speed on 4th Nov was around 14.5 mph or so, whilst on the 18th Nov it was over 15.5 mph).

All in all a good day out. Photos at start of the ride and at the top of the Horseshoe Pass are below.

There is a link to the gpx file at: Horseshoe Pass route from Chester 18 Nov 2012

What I liked about the route was: (1) It was a fairly flat ride out to Llangollen, (2) the long descent (Sunspot descent) for about 4 miles on the way back to Chester is awesome, (3) the Horseshoe Pass climb is a good work out, (4) the Ponderosa cafe is a good food stop

This ride also took me to over 3000 miles of cycling for the year :)

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Chilly Ride Over The Horseshoe Pass, 4th Nov 2012

Myself and Ian Sutton (from the Chester Road Club) went for a fairly gentle ride out into the countryside, at least it was fairly gentle until we got to Llangollen, and then we had to go over the Horseshoe Pass.

We set off at 9 am, looking like two Michelin men - due to the number of layers, overshoes, gloves, hats we were wearing, since it was close to zero Centigrade.

It was fairly flat til we got to Ruabon, when it started to get undulating. We took it easy over the Horseshoe Pass and stopped at the Ponderosa Cafe for a quick coffee and cake. It is the first time I've ever been there and not seen another cyclist - however, considering there was frost on the grass, and freezing fog at the top of the Horseshoe Pass it wasn't a big surprise.

Once off the Horseshoe Pass it only took two or three miles to get back into relatively warm, blue skies. We had to do a bit of cyclocross to get through a road closed due to roadworks, but the ride back to the Chester was quite nice, mainly as it was mostly downhill.

Not an excessively fast ride at 14.5 mph, but a good workout given I haven't been on the bike for 3 weeks. Strava summary of ride below (4th Nov ride):

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Samsung Chromebook

I just bought a new Samsung Chromebook, from Amazon, for £229. So far I am liking it a lot. What is particularly impressive of course is the boot up time (around 5 seconds or so). The first time was a bit longer as it was upgrading the operating system.

You can look for apps in the Chrome Web Store (and even organise them so you can see Apps which will work offline).

I have been editing my blog using the Chromebook, and adding photos etc is very straightforward.

Battery life also looks good, in excess of 6 hours.

Only downside so far is that Spotify doesn't work, since there isn't a browser version at present - although there are rumours there will be in the not too distant future, so that may be a short term issue.

All in all it's worth a look - not having to worry about OS updates or antivirus etc is very good.

Also, when you buy one these Chromebooks you get 100 Gb of storage on Google Drive for free for two years.

Some photos of the machine shown below:

Visit to China

For approximately two weeks, from the middle to the end of October (2012) I was in China. Initially I spent 5 days in Shanghai, at an excellent hotel close to Shanghai's domestic airport (Hongqiao). I was speaking at an Industrial Lubricants Technology Forum, believe it or not, which attracted upwards of 300 people.

As part of this event, there was a Ferrari F1 car in the hotel lobby, which is something you don't often see.

The hotel room where we were giving our talks was also quite impressive - see below:

We had some time to go out and have a look around Shanghai. Below is a photo of some of the Shanghai skyscrapers taken from a part of Shanghai known as "The Bund". 

We went into a bar in "The Bund", and somewhat surprisingly there was a sculpture of bicycles going up vertically in the hallway !

We visited some good restaurants whilst in Shanghai, including Jesse's and a chain called Southern Beauty. 

At the end of the week we visited a customer south of Shanghai, near to Ningbo, which meant going across a 30 mile bridge across the sea, which was quite impressive. 

I then flew up to Beijing for the weekend, and we visited one of Beijing's oldest roast duck restaurants (unfortunately I can't remember the name) but Beijing (or Peking) duck is fantastic - I particularly like the way they cook the skin. 

On the Sunday morning I went around the Forbidden City, which is an amazing, enormous, historic place. Unluckily I lost my camera here - so no more photos. I think it fell out of my jacket pocket. (However the camera was about 5 years old, and I had backed up all the photos, so it wasn't the end of the world - when I got home I bought a Panasonic Lumix TZ25 to replace it, which looks very nice.)

On the Sunday afternoon, I went to Baoding (about a 3 hour drive from Beijing) which believe it or not is famous for Donkey Burger, which was not the best thing I ate whilst in China. 

On the Tuesday morning I flew to Chongqing, which is a city of approx 30 million people, in which the cars all run on gas (CNG to be precise). We also went to a restaurant which was famous for spicy hotpot. Basically, a large bowl of water, filled with various chilli's and other hot spices, was brought to the boil, and then different types of raw meat, vegetables, fish were cooked in the sauce, and then eaten. It was so spicy, it numbed the tongue - I could tell it was spicy when I woke up in the middle of the night and needed to drink two bottles of water.

Finally, I went to a place in the far south of China, called Zhuhai (in fact it is very close to Hong Kong) where  I stayed for a couple of days before finally flying back to Europe - in fact the trip back was quite stressful as the flight from Zhuhai to Beijing arrived late and I nearly missed my connection to Frankfurt - I got on the plane about 10 minutes before it was due to take off which was a bit too close for comfort.

Anyhow, I would certainly recommend a trip to China - an interesting country, with lots of good food, and cheap, very good hotels. Plus in most cities, there are usually quite a lot of interesting historic places to visit.