Sunday, 3 February 2019

Looking back at Rendlesham.....

With the current spell of bad weather I have to admit that I have not been out on the bike since my last post on the blog..... Not just the weather I have also been putting up with a pretty bad cold that seems to have migrated to my chest.

Experience has shown me that there is no point in going out for a ride when I have a bad cold
 ...there are no gains to be made...I don't enjoy it and I seem to come back feeling worse than when I set out...It also seems to delay my recovery.....
Because of this I thought that for this weeks post I would look back on a walk that Anne and I did last summer when we were staying in Suffolk.

I had read that there was a trail in Rendlesham Forest just a few miles from where we we were staying that was centered around the area of the Rendlesham Incident. 

In late December 1980 there was an apparent UFO 👽 sighting over a couple of nights around the Woodbridge RAF base which is in the middle of the Forest...
At the time the base was being used by the USAF and it was American servicemen and the base commander who made the first sightings.
It was even reported that a UFO had actually landed in a clearing in the forest.....

Now although I don't actually believe in so called UFO sightings I thought that the Rendlesham UFO trail would make for a good walk in the forest and give it some interest....

We both had a really enjoyable day.... We collected maps and information from the forest visitor centre. This gave us the route that followed the timeline of the incident itself.

A few years ago the Forestry Commission had arranged for a replica of the UFO to be placed in the clearing where the USAF men had reported seeing it land....... 



Coming towards the end of the walk this 'UFO' was the highlight of the walk.... It was difficult to find at first sat in a forest clearing but it gave the walk a bit of a treasure hunt feeling....
Perhaps Anne and I are easily pleased but the whole day was voted a real success by both of us. We had a very enjoyable picnic in the forest and we also saw plenty of wildlife as well.....



A few weeks ago I heard on the radio that it had recently been announced that the whole incident was a prank played on the USAF by the SAS.       Now I have no idea if that is true or not but in no way does it diminish what was a great day out. For those of you interested in knowing more about the Rendlesham Forest UFO 👽 Incident just google it.... 👽 

Sunday, 27 January 2019

New Helmet plus the E-Bike Evangelists....

My new Louis Garneau Helmet.

Rear of the new helmet.
I have had my Catlike helmet for a number of years now and it has stood up to the wear and tear of regular riding pretty well....However last year it had finally started to fail me with a clip on the strap giving up and a problem with the retention system as well.....
I managed to repair both items and it was safe to wear but Anne wasn't convinced and insisted that I get a new one....
Apparently we are advised to replace our cycling helmets every few years anyway as the effects of UV light can weaken the structure of the helmet......
Anyway just before Christmas we were in Plymouth and we popped into Evans Cycles to see what they had in stock....

Apart from all the usual run of the mill models what I did see was a Louis Garneau helmet that was being sold off as a sale item.
Apparently Evans are no longer doing business with the supplier of these helmets so were clearing their stock....

Now I did know something about these helmets as I had read a review on Bike Radar about them back in 2013 when they first came out.
At that time the price was £159.99 and Evans were now selling them for £50 so there was quite a saving to be had.
They only had two of them left in stock and luckily one of those was in my size... A purchase was made.......



The helmet is described as an aero design and is reasonably light and very airy..... I have managed to ride with it for about 200 miles and have found it to be very comfortable and due to the shaping around the ears it doesn't interfere with my Oakleys which is a good point as I was a little concerned that they might not be compatible.
If I get the same sort of life out of the LG as I did with my Catlike then I will be well pleased..... Obviously I hope that the protection element of the helmet is never put to the test........

Now over the past few years e-bikes have become very popular.... For people that might have a health problem I can understand that they are the perfect solution allowing people to continue riding when otherwise they might have  had to give up bikes altogether.

Indeed for people like myself with a heart condition they are ideal.... Mind you I am not about to buy an e-bike yet as I intend to ride an ordinary bike for as long as I possibly can.

I have noticed as I travel around that a lot of people with E-bikes don't really need them.... They are perfectly able to ride an ordinary bike but because they have bought one of these things they seem to be intent in getting everyone else to buy one too....
The number of times I have met people on a campsite with one of these bikes and when they see me with my bike they seem to want to convince me that I should get one too... "try it" they say "it's so different to riding a bike like yours" We'll of course it is...it has a motor in it.

I ask them if they have a health condition that necessitates them having a powered assistance bike and mostly the answer is no... I ask why they have bought it then and they tell me "because it makes it easier"

For me this misses the whole point of the purity and simplicity of cycling...doing it under your own power.....

Now it could well be at some point in the future my cardiologist forces me on to one but until that day I will continue to cycle under my own power.
I will carry on resisting the enthusiastic utterings from the E-bike evangelists.....


Saturday, 19 January 2019

Gatorskin Problem.......

For the past ten years or so I have been using Continental Gatorskin tyres on my training bike the Tifosi.....
I have found that they have a long life and that the puncture protection has been first class......
They are not the most exciting tyres to ride on as they don't give too much feedback but as the tyres are used mainly during the winter that is not much of a problem......
During my winter training rides one of the most important features that I look for in a tyre is their ability to reduce the chance of me getting a puncture and in that area the Gatorskins have proved to be superb....
Let's face it the last thing you want while out on a ride in not the best of conditions is to be stood at the side of the road repairing a puncture.

Anyway I was a bit surprised to find following a recent ride that the Kevlar mesh tyre wall protection was coming away in several places around the front tyre.....Checkout the image at the top of this post...

Looking on the internet this is something that other riders have experienced as well although this is the first time it has happened to any of my tyres.....
Although the tread area of the tyre was still very good I bought a new tyre to replace it..... I always like to ride with good tyres and I also took the opportunity to replace the inner tube as well....

I would be interested to hear from other Gatorskin users of their experiences regarding the tyres...






Saturday, 12 January 2019

Awning...Pub....Cattlegrids and Ride...,,

A bit late I know... but a Happy New Year to you all......

I failed to mention in my last post that this winter we are managing without an awning....
Before we left the  C&CC Tavistock site our Kampa inflatable awning finally gave up and died....
The 'Dead' awning...

 This awning had lasted for two seven month summer touring seasons but had finally given in to UV damage.... It had worn very thin in one or two areas but what finally finished it off was a period of some strong winds which had caused the awning to rip away from the beading where it attached to the caravan.......

This is the second awning that we have lost since we started touring around...the first was a full season poled awning which lasted for two summers and three winters before it was killed off by the 'Beast from the East'..... 

The Kampa awning was made from a thinner and lighter material but was an inflatable model that proved better for touring as it was easier to erect and take down.....

We do intend to replace the awning in April at the start of the UK touring season.... We plan on buying an inflatable version of the first awning we had which was made from a vinyl type of material that didn't degrade from UV exposure to the same extent as the Kampa awning.....
Hopefully this will give us the best of both worlds and with a bit of luck a little longer lifespan...

Managing without an awning in a small unit like our Eriba means that we have lost half of our usual living area....... We normally use the awning for all of our cooking as well as relaxing in and when the weather is bad I ride my bike on the turbo in there....
It has proved a bit challenging at times but we have managed to come up with alternatives and seem to be managing with the reduced living area quite well.....

It's not for everyone and you have to get on pretty well to be able to manage in a small camping trailer/caravan but it is possible if you are open to coming up with alternative ideas to deal with the lack of space.......

The lack of space of course is only in the caravan.....step outside and you have all the space you could wish for...... As it was dry and quite mild on Christmas day we cooked a full Christmas turkey dinner outside in the heart of the Devon countryside...... Hardcore BBQing as my daughter described it when I told her about it.....

Boxing day was spent with a walk down to the 'Who'd Have Thought It' pub at Milton Combe.
'Down'.. to the pub is the right way to describe it as the Combe is accessed down a 20% hill.....


The Who'd Have Thought It Pub....
 The pub was really quiet on Boxing Day.... Log fires in each area of the pub..... Great food and good beer..... It really made for a lovely traditional way to spend the day.......
Interior of the pub on Boxing day...Nice and Quiet.
 Following our lunch and a couple more pints of good local brew we headed back to the site.....
I had forgotten all about the 20% hill we had to walk up until we hit the lower slopes of the hill... After a nice lunch and a few pints it was a bit of a shock to the system.....
Back at the site we were able to sleep off our athletic endeavours.....

 Up until about a week before Christmas we had suffered weeks of wet weather but following the shortest day the weather seemed to change and since then we have enjoyed far more settled weather.......

The image below shows the strength of water on the river Tavy as it flows under the bridge.
The volume of water flowing off the moor and into the river was huge as can be seen by the height of the water under the arches of the bridge...it really was very high.....
River Tavy..... plenty of water flowing off Dartmoor.
 With the more settled weather I have managed to get out on my bike quite a lot..... Riding around Dartmoor you have to exercise a fair bit of care as there are a fair number of cattle grids all around..... 
Going over the grids really shakes the bike up... (going over some of them in a car can be bad enough) 
Hitting one of these grids at the wrong angle when on the bike can cause you to lose traction and end up having a nasty fall....

One of my cycling buddies.. Jason... knows how dangerous they can be. 
He had a nasty fall when out cycling on a club run around the New Forest area.... That fall kept him off the bike for a number of months.... 
It only takes a moments lack of concentration especially if it is wet or even just damp......

A couple of days ago I cycled up to Princetown of Dartmoor Prison fame.....
Those of you who are familiar with Dartmoor will know what the roads are like if you want to cycle there..... They are either going up or going down and the gradients can be quite challenging....

I have done a lot of walking around Dartmoor over the years and Princetown has always been a place to top up on supplies etc....
The Plume of Feathers pub has a campsite behind it and I have enjoyed many a stop over there when on a Dartmoor walking expedition. 
I have also enjoyed many a good full English breakfast at the Fox Tor cafe before heading off again on the walk....

It is probably fair to say that Princetown is probably the walking/cycling centre of the moor and it is a real draw for the thousands of tourists who visit Dartmoor each year....

My route up to Princetown from Crapstone was (apart from a couple of short downhill sections) more or less uphill all the way....
My cardiac consultant told me to avoid going over 85% of my maximum heart rate but on this ride my HR monitor was beeping and flashing red for most of the ride up there.....

On the easier gradient sections it is possible to ease back slightly and eventually drop back into the green zone.... however there are sections of very steep gradient where I was in my lowest ratio and it proved impossible to ease back.....to do so would probably have ended up with me falling off as I couldn't really go much slower.....

The choice was stop and walk or say to hell with it and carry on..... call me stupid but I wanted to cycle there and not walk...I am not a quitter so it is a balance of risk so I carried on....

Anyway.....I made it and am pleased to have done it..... I am 71 in about a weeks time so I felt a little glow of self satisfaction having done it so early on in the cycling year....

One last point regarding the ride..... it took only a third of the time coming back as it took me cycling up there which gives you some idea of the uphill gradients encountered on the outward leg.........

A lot of the local club riders do this ride on a weekly basis but it has to be said that in the main they tend to be 'young bucks' without a diagnosis of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy ha...ha...
Tiffany the Tifosi outside the Fox Tor Cafe....

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

It's been a while........

Yes it has been a while since I have posted anything on this blog.... But I have had reasons which I will try and update you with as concisely as possible...

My last post was made when we were still at the Verwood site....
From there we moved to the CandCC site at Moreton...... 
While we were at Moreton I attended my annual MRI scan with a follow up appointment with my cardiac consultant due a few days before we were due to head off back down to Devon....

About two weeks before we were due to leave Moreton we were informed that the arrangements we had made for winter had fallen through due to over running building work where we had planned to stay.... 

This left us with a bit of a problem as we now had nowhere booked for our winter season.....
Obviously there are sites open all year round but I didn't want to be moving on every few weeks over the winter as there is nothing worse than packing up and setting up when the weather is bad like it is as I write this post. Even worse is travelling in snow and ice which is always a possibility.....

This really had created a bit of a headache for us over our winter plans......the first time since we had started touring throughout the year.....
In the end we decided that we would book in at Tavistock for 28 days while we looked for an alternative winter pitch....

The next thing that happened was at my appointment with the cardiac consultant I was informed that I have been diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiocmyopathy (HCM).
This is a genetic condition that can be passed on in families and is often the cause of sudden death in younger sports people and others who have shown no previous heart conditions...

I was told that I needed to inform my 'bloodline' relatives of the condition and advise them to get tested to see if they also have the gene mutation themselves.....
This could have an impact on both my grandsons if it is eventually shown that they have the condition as they are both very keen on sport....

For my part I have been told that I must keep my heartrate within strict zones and must not allow my heartrate to exceed 85% of max HR at any time. 
I have also been told that I must not attempt another cycling ride like the 10in10 and no more riding over the Alps...... This is a great pity as I had planned a trip for 2020 to do just that... I will now have to come up with something much easier...

I have also had to update my cycling heartrate monitor to one that has flashing coloured lights and beeps and buzzes all the time in order that I am made aware exactly of my HR at all times....
This is going to have a huge impact on my passion of cycling as I will have to stop all forms of competitive riding from now on and that includes riding against my own times......

As if the above wasn't enough.... I was just a few miles down the road after we had left Moreton on route to Devon when I glanced in one of my rear mirrors only to see that the pop top had 'popped up' at the front...
I pulled over into a layby to investigate and found that both of the clips that hold the roof down had snapped causing the front of the roof to rise up and the whole roof was jammed solid in this position.

I couldn't pull the roof back down at the front as it was totally jammed solid....
Result was that most of the journey to Tavistock was made at 35 miles an hour as I didn't want to cause any damage to the roof structure itself..... 
The journey took a good hour and a half longer than normal as on top of my slow speed I had to keep pulling over to allow traffic that was behind me to pass. 
Luckily there was no wind that day as that could have also added to the speed of the air hitting the roof and causing damage even at the slow speed of 35 miles an hour.
It really was the worst towing journey that I have ever had and it didn't do much for my heart rate either..... 

I was so glad to finally arrive at the Tavistock site where eventually I was able to access the correct tools to undo the rear clips and release the roof.....

Automotive Leisure sent me replacement front clips which arrived the very next day but the price was £135...Ouch!!!!
Interestingly I had to cut the hook part of the new clips down by a few mm in order to get them to fit.....this had apparently been done with the old ones at the factory before delivery of the van. Wihout cutting them down they wouldn't be able to be hooked under the fittings on the van. You can see what I am talking about in the second image below...
They told me to hold on to the broken clips so it can be investigated as to why they both snapped as this is something that just shouldn't happen. They will be chcking this out when the van goes in for it's next service in April.....

After spending four weeks at the Tavistock site (which just isn't the same since the previous managers Craig and Caroline moved to Canterbury) we have now moved to our new winter pitch at a site at Crapstone which is only about 4 miles from Tavistock.
Actually that's what the past couple of months have been...Crapstone without the 'stone'.

Anyway.....hopefully things will get a bit more back on track now and  I should get back to posting on the blog more frequently....


One of the broken clips...

New clip on the left...one of the broken clips on the right. 

Where we are now.....says a bit about the last couple of months :-)





Monday, 24 September 2018

Bling...Bling......Riding On Gold.......

I mentioned in my last post the fact that my winter bike....Tiffany the Tifosi was back from the workshop after having had a new cassette and chain fitted.....

A few years back when I swapped out the original saddle and bar tape for a matching set of Brooks leather saddle and tape in that gorgeous warm honey colour I also added a gold coloured chain......
When I replaced the chain this time I naturally made certain that only a gold chain was fitted.... 

I think that the gold chain matches the Brooks honey colour really well and also gives the bike a bit of bling....
The other thing that I find the Brooks colours and gold chain seem to go with are the Autumn colours...
As it is always Autumn when I start to ride this bike again there seems to be a bit of balance to the whole thing which I find almost comforting....

Enjoy your Autumn bike rides.......
Tiffany the Tifosi

The New Gold Chain

Another View of the Autumn Bling...

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Time to Swap Bikes.....

We have now been back at the Verwood C&CC site for two weeks.....

Since arriving here my time has been spent catching up with family....getting my car serviced.... getting me serviced by way of my regular scans at the hospital.... watching the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain on TV and getting out riding my bike.......

It has been a good year for me as far as cycling goes..... I really enjoy getting out around the country cycling in all different areas.... It was good when a cycling buddy of mine Peter Calcutt met up with me a couple of times when Anne and I were in Suffolk.....

Throughout the summer I tried to improve my cycling abilities in various disciplines so that when we got to the area of the Surrey hills I would be able to produce some reasonable times over mixed terrain....

A couple of snapshots of my bike computer figures are shown below....
The first one is of a 20mile circuit from the campsite we were staying at over quite a lumpy course........18.4mph avg speed..... wind speed approx 12 - 15mph.


Fiona the Felt on her last ride of 2018
The second set of figures was over what I thought would be a 100mile route. I actually completed 94.18miles.
I had miscalculated the route a little but when I finished I really didn't feel the need to do the extra 5+ miles... 
Years ago I would have gone back out and topped those miles up but at my age now I feel that it doesn't really matter to me so much.....
16.32 avg speed with a similar wind speed as above....Time taken was 5hrs 46mins.

Watching the pros at the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain makes my efforts look a bit feeble but as Anne is always quick to point out to me I am now over seventy years of age and I am not a pro.......
The average speed that the pros manage to achieve is just mind blowing I would love to be able to get close to their efforts but sadly that will never happen no matter how hard I try......

The third photo above is of my summer bike the Felt on the last ride that I will use it on this year......
My winter bike...the Tifosi.... has just come back from my favourite bike shop after having a full service and a change of chain and cassette so it is time to swap bikes and pack the Felt away for the winter.....

The Tifosi although being my winter bike is also the bike that I used to cycle the Ten Countries in Ten Days ride finishing with an ascent of the Ghisallo from the shores of Lake Como back in 2013..... I have a real soft spot for the bike.
It is my go to bike for most occasions and if I could only keep one of my three bikes it is the one that I would choose even though it cost a fraction of the Felts price tag........