Hampshire Hilly Hundred 2020

Well that was interesting: a socially distanced sportive in the COVID era. Rider packs handed through the car window, riders sent off in groups of 6, no peletons and almost no drafting: essentially a 100 mile time trial. Still great though if unrelenting. Downside was that with no drafting, my time suffered. Well – through that and the cows!


3-5 min wait for these laden ladies to cross the road

Legs suffered too – lack of longer rides this year at speed showed in some almost quad  cramping at 60 m, cycled through it by spinning up the steepest art of the steepest hill.

The main change since 2018 was in the road conditions. They could almost have advertised this as a 50:50 gravel ride. Gravel everywhere on most of the smaller roads. Pretty sketchy in a number of places and I’m surprised there were few accidents. Some of this must have been caused by the recent storms in the area, but in many places the gravel looked more established than that. This sportive tends to attract a more experienced cyclist but even so. I nearly got caught out on a couple of occasions. Next year they need better signage for the worst spots, and even better if they could sweep key sections, like we used to do for Zappi’s Gran Fondo.

HHH timeline: 2012, 2013, 2016, 2018

Year  Dist.  Time     Elev.   Pos. Garmin                                 Strava
2012  99.91  5:59:26  5,695   128  160.79km, 5:54:55, 1,736m, 27.2kph  https://www.strava.com/activities/8450222
2013  101.7  5:58:25  6,159   126  162.06km, 5:58:25, 1,877m, 27.1kph  https://www.strava.com/activities/53791435 
2016  100.9  5:51:30  5,715    56  162.38km, 5:46:17, 1,742m, 28.1kph  https://www.strava.com/activities/569521387
2018  102.9  5:44:47  6,106    56  165.72km, 5:42:36, 1,861m, 29.0kph  https://www.strava.com/activities/1584321353 
2020                               163.95km, 5:52:39  1,975m, 27.9kph  https://www.strava.com/activities/3921645919
- timings are official sportive timings. Still waiting on my 2020 result.



#hhh, #sportive

2017 highlights

Some great rides, Welsh hills and Isle of Wight stand out.


2017 – a good year bookended by crapness.

5298 miles. Fewer than last year but given illness early in the year and at the end (I was hoping to do 2-300 during the Christmas break), not too bad. Did not achieve any real goals this year apart from keeping cycling. Not a single century. But that will do for now. No biggies next year either due hopefully to a big trip to Aus. in the summer.


Suprisingly over 1000 of these miles were on Zwift: in the garage on the Turbo! Clearly it works for me during the colder months and wet weather.


What happened to Zappi’s CC?

Since I often still wear Zappi/Zappi’s CC  kit when out on the bike, a number of other cyclists have asked me what happened to Zappi’s. I give them a brief answer, but think enough time has now passed to give my view.

These are my opinions and views alone, you may disagree or have a different memory of events, and you can comment, write your own version, or contact me directly. Of course, many others were involved and they can speak for themselves, I will not be naming names here.

Also, none of this relates to any of the racing teams and the successful youth racing setup that continues to thrive under Tony, David, Martin, Jake and others.

Zappi’s CC closed to new members towards the end of 2016. A few members of the club had already moved to Cowley Road Condors, and others had already quit to form a new club: Oxford Cycling Club. However, there were still 80-100 ‘active’ cycling adult members at the time of closure, with many more non-cycling: though the paying membership had shrunk by 60-70 over the final year.

We the ‘ride leaders’ (though I’d not actually led a ride for some time myself I was still very involved e.g. with the Gran Fondo, the website, membership etc) shifted as one to ‘outside the Sheldonian’ (actually the Bodleian), without a name – well maybe Xappi’s. Thankfully the vast majority of active riders moved immediately with us, and we were able to continue riding and start building a new ‘lite’ club. That new club became VC Jericho, and continues to thrive as a very loose / light-touch club (groups of riders that like riding together, essentially: no committee, just a couple of appointed posts and the ride leaders) run with the spirit of the original club.

Those who like more structure/organisation in a club have several choices in Oxford today – I myself although a ‘founder member’ of VCJ, joined OCC, not for ‘structure’ but basically because most of the people I cycled with often, at my speeds, moved there. I am currently a member of both clubs and have good friends in both.

But how did this all come about?

A common comment regarding the end of Zappi’s CC I hear is that ‘I heard it was acrimonious’. Well, not true. It was upsetting, painful, vastly disappointing and very personally stressful. But there were no ‘arguments’ because when a club is run by one person who owns it outright (for profit), argument gets you nowhere. An example of that occurred on the very last evening, when a new ‘home’ for the club was proposed. Almost directly opposite the home of Cowley Road Condors. For many reasons that could not have worked but the mere proposal drove home even at that late hour, just how disconnected Flavio had become.

I still believe that had Flavio remained living near Oxford, the club would still exist because he was the club, and problems got solved to his face – until he formed the under 23 squad and followed his dream – it then became the members’ club, and it changed, something that Flavio himself did not admit, nor maybe understand or even want.

Others will have their own points of inflection. For me there were a couple of fore-warnings – firstly, Summer ’15 when no one was looking after membership. Club ride attendance was high, but only 30% or so were wearing any kind of kit (not that any was available to buy for about 18 months) and under 50% were actually paying members (from shows of hands). The website was also broken – not sending subscription emails, shop not working properly etc  – no-one knew who was a member and who not! None of this was good for Flavio business-wise or the club in general. Several of us spent considerable time trying to ‘right’ all this. Secondly, the new kit: for most of us this simply appeared from nowhere. While good quality it was not ‘club kit’ – very much ‘brand kit’ and not being cheap uptake was low, which contributed to the lack of club members wearing kit. These and other ‘little issues’ started to build up…

As a group of ‘ride guides’ we tried to come to a position of balance, where we would organise the club on behalf of the members, influence kit design etc, while contributing to the Zappi cause. We attempted to communicate and discuss this over 7 or so hours of either group call or face to face (this after another 7 or so hours of my own efforts). But this was not what was wanted nor welcomed. Essentially what was wanted (and still is) were paying brand ambassadors, and that is exactly what Flavio set up immediately in Friends of Zappi Racing Team, which is open for donations. The ‘my way or the highway’ approach ended in us hitting the highway, well, Broad Street anyway.

Several including Flavio have said, ‘why could it not just have continued as it was’. Well, it could have had anyone wanted to try. All the ride leaders at the time were involved with (or invited to) discussions, understood the positions, and all eventually left together, en mass.

Time to move on, preferably in smartly kitted, well disciplined groups of considerate peletons!


2016 highlights

A History of Ancient Britain…

A History of Ancient BritainA History of Ancient Britain by Neil Oliver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Surprised by this book.
Expecting another generic ancient history TV tie-in, but got a compelling narrative, well balanced and deep enough for me (plus Google) – looking at the latest research without getting too contentious. Very well written.
Fades a little as you reach Roman times I guess because Neil seems to relish earlier ages: ‘Copper/Bronze Age’ especially well covered here, though the whole ‘age’ thing is of course questioned. I do feel I understand the Ancient British much better now and actually want my DNA checked! I have a Norman name and a family with a matriarchal passing down of a Italian Romany past (deported to England in the 16/1700s), but likely mostly ‘ancient’ heritage. Neil himself found that (view spoiler)

View all my reviews


Archaeology of writing

So, many years ago I wrote a couple of short sketches for the fan fiction section of Channel 4 forums. They got turned off, but luckily some of the members had archived much of the content including these. a facebook post last year found them again! Lucky me. Here they are:

The Stone Caller – Time Team does Mythago Wood.

With Spangly Knobs On – Time Team does Discworld.

Enjoy, if you like TT and Science Fiction or Fantasy.

My first Crit ‘race’ and it was hard

My first Crit ‘race’ and it was hard.12472478_1008961372530263_6749380294002836507_n


2016 restarted

Ill for the first 6 weeks of the year, some not-nice family issues and some horrible post-viral fatigue. Back on the bike now, and a new job (working at home!) so things looking up.

New FleaBay self-build bike taking shape in the garage too.

This year looking after Zappi’s Cycling Club website, Zappi’s Gran Fondo, and helping out at the Enstone Crit series. Bring it on!

2015 highlights

Zappi’s Gran Fondo, Hill Climb, Crits, Isle Of Wight, New Zappi’s Website live. Great year really, just rubbish for any sort of blogging post Magnificat!