Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Changes.......

Used Auto-Trail Apache 700 SE High Line Motorhome U2140 5/80
I wrote on this blog sometime last year about the changes that would be taking place here at Purple Towers over the next eighteen months or so. 
I also said that I would tell you more as our plans unfolded......
It is still our intention to relocate to Devon as our main base and things are underway to achieve that .....

Anne comes from Devon and still has family there, so it's not like moving to an area that we are not familiar with....
Devon is an adjacent county to Dorset and it would not be a major issue to get back often to visit my Daughter and her family as well as friends and cycling/walking buddies....

As well as our main relocation plans....... over the past couple of years we have also been looking at Motorhomes  (RV's if you are in the USA) with a view to go 'Fulltiming' in Europe for some sort of extended 'Grand Tour'. 
I would of course have a couple of my bikes on board as I would need to get my regular cycling fix.....

Before setting out on the Fulltiming Grand Tour I also hope to loadup the MH with some of my closest friends and some bikes and visit some of the iconic cycling climbs in the Pyrenees...the Alps and other areas in Europe.....

In an ideal world I would just do the trip on my touring bike....unfortunately all my friends are still working so time available is a major consideration for them.... 
Mind you it's also a major consideration for me, as there are so many cycling routes that I still want to ride...... 
I would never be able to get to all of them on my tourer, before my allotted time on this earth expired...

The MH in the picture above is an Auto-Trail Apache 700 SE  and that seems to be what we have settled on.....it has both a front and rear lounge area and all the mod cons that an ageing cyclist like me needs after a hard days ride.....

I will of course continue to be involved in the backpacking and tent camping scene, as well as my cycling...... more info as things develop further.


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

First Bike and Camp of the Year

The forecasts were right....the weather last weekend turned out to be just right for our first 'Bike and Camp' weekend of the year....


All set for the weekend
 Peter Calcutt and I had arranged to meet at the Church Farm Camp site at Sixpenny Handley on Friday afternoon.
As it was to be a road bike weekend we decided to use the cars to get there rather than load up  the touring bikes.... There will be plenty of time to use those later in the year when we cycle to Holyhead and back....
Red Sky at night....Campers Delight
 We had a lovely red sky in the evening, so all looked good for some nice sunny weather for our day rides on the Saturday and Sunday....
We had  planned some fairly straightforward cycling loops covering some of the routes that we used at last years Ten in Ten training camp week...... 
Lots of  Spring Flowers
 We found that some of the roads had deteriorated very badly with lots of deep potholes and lots of dirt, gravel and mud all left behind following all the flooding over the winter....
One of the country lanes we wanted to ride was still flooded...bad enough for me to refuse to take my bike through it..... If the truth be told I just didn't fancy having to clean up the bike after the days ride.....
One thing that did brighten up each of the daily rides, was all the Spring flowers dotted along the sides of the roads......
Getting the bikes ready for Sunday's ride..
For most of our chosen route on the Sunday there was a sportive taking  place, the UK Cycling Events Wiltshire Wildcat sportive.......
We seemed to be travelling the same route as the sportive riders but in the opposite direction....
Initially we started saying hello and giving a wave to riders as they passed us by on the other side of the road, but after the first couple of hundred riders had gone by in groups of any thing from 2 to 20 we gave up . 
From then on, we only acknowledged those riders that said hello to us first..... we weren't being rude, it's just that there were too many riders to keep saying hello to.... they only had to do it once....we were doing it every few minutes.........
The moon showing itself above a group  of tress on a distant hill....
It really was a cracking weekend.....
We decided to camp over until the Monday in order to make the most of the weekend and on the Sunday night it was great to stand outside of the tents and reflect on how lucky we had been with the weather....
As we watched the darkness extinguishing the last remains of Sunday's daylight, the moon appeared  over a group  of trees on a distant hillside....what a great end to our first bike and camp of the year....

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Just a little time out......

With the weather looking like this for most of January I decided to take a bit of a break from everything....so...no cycling....no blog...no twitter.
A bit of a hibernation really..... but don't worry...I'm now back and with some much nicer weather now being enjoyed I have started to get back into the swing of things........

Looking out on January's weather
I have started getting out on my bike again, with a number of circuits now having been done of my favourite training ride taking in the Studland ferry and going on to Corfe Castle and Swanage.... The shot below shows Tiffany the training bike back on the ferry again......

Back on the ferry.........
I have even managed to do a bit of bike tinkering and fitted the rear rack mudguard extension on the mountain bike as the two images below show......
Mudguard extension now fitted to rack....

another angle of the mudguard extension.
The forecast weather wise for the weekend is looking good, so there is a chance I will manage to get some nights out in the tent with some bike riding during the day....
It feels good that things are returning to normal......

Monday, 10 February 2014

No more Sportives.......

......more Sportives than ever.
Just an opinion........

One of the spin-offs of a recreation or sport becoming more mainstream, is that there are more and more people and organizations set up to meet the demand and make money out of it's increasing popularity. 

Of course there is nothing wrong with that....after all everyone needs to make a living... However the more popular something becomes it can't help but attract a closer look from all interested parties...

Ten years ago there were a few sportives being run in this area each year and in general, compared to nowadays, they tended to be smaller with a field of up to say, a couple of hundred riders .....
.....now hardly a weekend goes by without some form of organised sportive or massed ride taking place. 

Not only are they taking place more often, but they have more and more riders taking part with really huge numbers of riders hitting the road......

All good for the organisers...commercial or charity... also good for all involved in the bicycle industry with more bikes and accessories and kit being sold.....

However I feel that if we are not careful, it's this very increase in the popularity of Sportives which could end up being it's undoing. 

Take the New Forest area which is about ten miles down the road from me....
I love riding my bike along the forest roads and get a lot of enjoyment from sharing the experience with friends....
....but the roads are often narrow and difficult at the best of times, with a lot of visitors to the area deciding to spend their holidays there and adding to the already busy roads.....

When the sportives were smaller and not taking place so often people could live with the odd bit of inconvenience on the roads...  

Now there are so many riders taking part and as I said it is almost every weekend during the summer months, that I think eventually restrictions could well be introduced.... restrictions on how many sportives can be run in any area as well as a limit on the maximum number of participants.

I for one would not want to live in the New Forest area these days with the number of sportives that now take place. 

The roads are everyone's to share....the trouble is that nowadays these mass events seem to actually takeover the roads rather than sharing them and I  don't think that in the long term it does much to help cycling's PR...

As I said at the beginning...just an opinion....

For my part I've decided that I won't be riding any more sportives....
The last few I rode were not that enjoyable for me.... I found the huge numbers of riders involved actually detracted from the experience.....

I like to pace myself over the distance...
Unfortunately so many other riders don't, shooting off like rockets at the start only to slow to a snails pace further into the event... 

I then catch them up and have to try and negotiate passing all these pro-wannabees as they are strung out all across the first major ascent.... not the most enjoyable way to ride in my book, especially after paying the hugely inflated entrance fees that these events seem to demand these days...

Each to their own of course...but for me I will continue to concentrate on my own supported and un-supported long distance rides and also the Audax rides which I feel share the road a lot better (due to the smaller numbers riding them) . 

By the way, the cost of entering an Audax event in the UK is a fraction of the entrance fee for a sportive.....

For those that love them, Sportives obviously fill a need and can be a lot of fun for the riders. 
However I think that organisers should give a bit more thought about the effects the high number of events and riders have on the already damaged public perception of cyclists and a bit less about all the money that can be made......

  

Monday, 27 January 2014

Still Dodging the Rain....

Yes...I'm still dodging the rain...

I've never really enjoyed cycling in the rain even though over the years I seem to have spent an awful amount of time doing just that....
A summer shower can be quite enjoyable   but a winter downpour that just goes on and on does seem to spoil my enjoyment of the ride somewhat.....
Unfortunately over the past month, winter downpours seems to have almost become the everyday norm...

Most of my 'training' so far this year in preparation for this year's bigger rides seems to have been on my static bike, although I do try and get out on those very few and far between drier moments, not that there have been many of those.....

Last year I was pretty impressed with the results that I got from using the static bike as the centre of my training plans...it certainly didn't fail me during my ride over the Alps or on the ascent of the Ghisallo.
That having been said I would dearly love some nice dry cold and crisp winter days so that I can get out on the training bike more often....

One development over the past few weeks concerns my blog post where I highlighted the rides that I was planning for this year....
A friend of mine from the backpackers club read about my plans and got in contact to tell me that he would be interested in joining me for part of both the South Downs Way (easy) Double and the Bournemouth-Holyhead-Bournemouth ride...

Anyway a few emails later and it looks as if the dates for these rides have been set....
We should be setting off on the South Downs Way Double on Friday 27th June and the first two weeks of September should see us riding the Holyhead (Lon Las Cymru) ride.....

Hopefully we should have some other riders join us for all or at least part of these two rides but in the meantime it looks as if I will have to continue dodging that rain.....
Looking out of the window I have just noticed that it has started to rain yet again.....

Monday, 20 January 2014

Topeak MTX Beam Rack

Here is something that I have acquired in preparation for my 'South Downs Easy Double' ride which I am planning on doing later in the year...

Topeak MTX Beam Rack

This is a Topeak MTX Beam Rack which clamps to the seatpost.

It is not practical to use a standard style of cycle rack on the MTB such as I have fitted on my touring bike, due to the risk of the panniers catching on rocks and branches etc... so for off road bikepacking all the bags need to be carried higher but closer  to the centre line of the bike.

The pannier bags will be left at home and I will be using waterproof drybags similar to the ones I use when backpacking.....

Close up view of the MTX Clamp fitting

I was a little concerned at first that the clamp would not be strong enough to hold the rack rigidly enough when fitted to the bike.....I need not have worried about it, as once fitted to the seatpost properly the entire rack is absolutely rock solid...

The beam rack is able to carry up to 20lbs (9kg) of weight....and as my total summer backpacking kit weight tips the scales at just under 16lbs and I intend to spread this weight across the bike I think that this rack will be more than man enough for the job.

My intention is to carry my Tent...Sleeping Bag...Thermarest (inflatable mattress) & some items of clothing on this rack. 
As the tent is the heaviest single item at approx 3lbs I estimate that the total weight that I will actually be carrying on the rack will be well under 8lbs max.

Topeak sell a small mudguard unit that fits underneath the rack and that seems a pretty good idea in order to help keep me, my kit and the bike clean..... needless to say I have placed an order for that too..... 

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Looking in two directions at once.....

That's what I'm doing right now.... Looking in two directions at once.
I'm looking backwards over this past year at the same time as looking forward to 2014.....

For various reasons this past year has not been a good one...... Apart from the success of the 'Ten Countries in Ten Days' (10in10) ride I feel that I have achieved very little.. 
Plans made for various rides fell by the wayside due to reasons beyond my control.....my cycling mileage has fallen to half of what I achieved last year and even on this blog I have written fewer posts than any year since I started  the 'PurpleTraveller'.
My Mojo seems to have gone missing to some extent.......

I can put some of this down to the fact that I lost a number of people who had figured strongly in my life over many years..... The passing of these friends and most recently a family member seemed to hit me harder than I could have imagined and I found that my heart wasn't up to doing much at all.........
Even during the year that I was undergoing cancer treatment I seemed to achieve more than I have over this past year......

Over the years though I have found that setbacks seem to spur me on given a reasonable recovery period, so with that in mind lets look forward to 2014........

First up......
Now that I have the MTB one little challenge that I intend completing is the South Downs Double.. The South Downs Way was one of the first National Trails that I did years ago as a backpacking trip and since that first trip I have backpacked the route on three separate occasions.   
The route runs from Winchester in the west to Eastbourne in the east and is a wonderful offroad route 160kms in length.

A few riders attempt the 320kms return route in 24hrs........ but not me..! 
I plan on doing the return route the easy way by taking my time over the trip so that I can take photos and just enjoy the route more.... 

I will be carrying lightweight camping gear on the bike in MTB trekking style rather than using panniers etc as I do when road touring and I will probably give myself five or six days to complete the 320kms.......... so my ride could be called the South Downs EASY Double.....

Next up...
I will finally get around to doing the Lon Las Cymru route across Wales from Holyhead in the north to Chepstow in the south..... 
This will be completed as a traditional touring ride but there will be one big difference with the way I plan on doing it..........!!

My plan is to cycle from home here in Bournemouth to Chepstow and then to loosely  follow the English /Welsh border North before turning West to continue to the start at Holyhead......
After completing the Lon Las Cymru back to Chepstow I will then just carry on back to Bournemouth. 
In effect then just one huge loop of approx 1,000kms. 

As well as these two trips I also plan on a short cyclepacking trip with friends along the Tarka Trail in Devon as well as completing the West Country Coast to Coast route.....

For now I have been getting out along the coast on the MTB and I also plan on getting some riding in over Christmas and the New Year holidays and also spending time with the family.....

I wish you all Seasons Greetings and a really good New Year.......

Getting out along the coast....