Friday, 21 December 2012

.........at Christmas

Well here we are almost at Christmas......just a few more days to go. 
Over these past few days we seem to have had the rains return. 
Looking back on the year it seems that we have been blighted with heavy rain since about Easter. It certainly played it's part in holding me back on achieving some of the cycling objectives that I had set myself at the start of the year... 

I think that I was pretty lucky reaching my mileage target when I did....since then my cycling has been restricted quite a bit by some pretty awful weather. 
To be honest...the mileage target is about all I did achieve in cycling terms over the year..that and the ride from Edinburgh back to the South Coast that I completed in June with JD. 
There were a couple of short cycle camping trips thrown in the mix as well but nothing that I could really feel proud of...or feel that I had actually achieved something by doing.

Looking at the weather forecast for the upcoming Christmas break it doesn't look as if I will be adding too many more miles to my overall mileage. 
I am just glad that I decided not to push on once I achieved the 10,000 miles and try for 12,000 miles.....I can't deny that the thought did cross my mind...
Given the time that I had in hand, it was certainly within the realms of possibility for me, but with the deteriorating weather and with the benefit of hindsight that I now have I can see that I made the right decision. 

One thing that I will say is that I won't be attempting it again next year.....
However I am happy that I managed to do it once! 
It is now two years since my cancer treatment and I am really pleased to see that my total mileage since then now tops out at just over 20,000 miles. 
If nothing else it proves that being given a diagnosis of cancer needn't mean a death sentence and I hope that my cycling in some small way can give others facing cancer treatment some positive hope..... 

Without the commitment of a year long mileage target to attempt next year means that I can spend more time on cycle camping/touring...sportives...and multi day stage events such as the 10 countries in 10 days ride which I am planning to do next June..... 
I really love cycling and everything to do with it and I look forward to sharing my cycling adventures with you all again next year..... in the meantime I would like to wish you all :-



              A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND 

                          A HAPPY NEW YEAR


The Purpletraveller Blog will be back again in 2013

Friday, 14 December 2012

Loving the Turbo......

Early one morning a few days ago I looked out of one of the windows high up in the turrets of Purple Towers to be greeted with a view of ice everywhere..... 

It had been a very cold night and as I watched Anne walk down the main steps of the Towers on her way to work, it was obvious that it was pretty dangerous to walk along the road let alone trying to cycle along it....Watching one of my neighbours  slipping and sliding everywhere as he attempted to reverse his car out of his drive confirmed the thought in my mind, that my cycle riding that day was going to be on the turbo rather than in the great outdoors.. 

Now a lot of people seem to  dislike riding a turbo session judging by all the comments on twitter and letters in the cycling press.... For my part however I have no such dislike.... Some of my view probably comes from not wishing to end up like this again. 

Now although that particular accident wasn't caused by ice, the end result can so easily be the same... 
Since that crash I have been very conscious of a couple of things which might help to explain why I have no dislike of training indoors on a turbo or static bike during some of the worst of the winter weather... 

Hitting the tarmac because of a tumble from the bike can hurt.....!
If you are in your twenties and you fall it might well hurt but you will probably recover reasonably quickly....in your sixties that same fall can take a lot longer to recover from, not only that, but the chances are that you are  more likely to end up with broken bones as well. 

So if I am more likely to suffer a break and also take longer to recover it therefore makes reasonable sense to be just a bit cautious if there are signs of ice about.... 
After all, at my age every day counts and I don't want to spend weeks off the bike for the sake of going out on an icy day just to get that extra ride in... 

It's not just riders of my age though....
Up until a couple of years ago I used to follow the blog of another rider based here in the UK. 
I think he was in his mid thirties....anyway one winter he had an accident when he hit some black ice when out riding on a club ride...he went down very hard and sustained some pretty serious injuries...his recovery took months and the trauma of the whole event was such that it put him off cycling altogether and he eventually shut down his blog after announcing that he was giving up the sport.....

One of the things that a lot of riders say is that they get bored really quickly whilst riding indoors on a turbo or the like... But I can't say that I suffer with this boredom problem.... 
I find when I am forced by the bad weather to ride indoors I can pedal away quite happily while my mind seems to change out of gear to neutral  and just replays past adventures from my mental memory store.... a constant loop of all the previous miles that I have cycled....

Easy for me of course at 65, with years of past adventures of cycling to log into...with a real library of thousands of miles cycling for me to replay it is almost like a state of  meditation... a zen zone......  
Not so easy for someone a lot younger who probably doesn't have the same bank of previous experiences from which they can  tap into.... 
Maybe their turbo ride is more likely to be hampered with feelings of frustration, because they can't get out on the bike and build on their cycling adventures to add to their own memory bank, whereas my turbo ride is not so likely to be overshadowed with those same feelings of frustration.... 

Mind you, this little theory doesn't explain of course all those older riders who have no love for the turbo...Oh well.. back to the drawing board on that one.....

One other real benefit of riding indoors on the turbo of course is the ability to stick much closer to the various personal HR training zones that you might be using in your training plan.
No other riders to egg you on up that hill and push you out of that zone which your plan tells you that you should be sticking to.
No sprints for the road sign when you know that it will push you out of the zone.... 
Training within personal HR zones take a bit of discipline and I find that it is easier to exercise that discipline when using the turbo.....

As with most things, using the turbo or static training bike is all about having the right state of mind.... if you allow your mind to keep telling you that you are going to hate it....that you will get bored....etc........then that is exactly what will happen. 
I just accept that the alternative could well end up worse.....
Learn to take control of your thinking and you could well find that before long you will be 'loving the turbo'.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Another view of the 10 in 10 Finale Ride....

Following on from the recent short video that I posted of the ride up from Lake Como to the church of the Madonna del Ghisallo here is another one...
This is the second half of the BBC film 'Ride of my Life - The story of the Bicycle' which was about Rob Penn and his search around the world for the very best components with which to build his dream bike... 
The film in it's entirety can be found on You Tube so if you have not seen it before it is certainly worth watching the complete film. 

The section that shows the area we will be cycling ten countries to ride in, can be found in this clip between minutes 08.30 -12.25.... The clip shows Rob riding the road along the shore of Lake Como and then the climb up to the little church, it also shows the church interior.
I first saw this film on television a few years ago and when I saw it I decided that one day I would ride from home to do the ride around the lake and then complete the climb to visit the church. 
As I mentioned in a previous post it was only when a rider that I met whilst out on a training ride mentioned it, that I felt that I had been given that extra push to move it up my bucket list....

Friday, 7 December 2012

The Team So Far.....

Quite a few people have told me how they would like to do the 10 in 10 ride.....however at this moment the team consists of just three confirmed riders and one support driver.... 

Now I will be the first to admit that on paper we seem a pretty motley crew...a real recipe for disaster....
We have a 42 year old newbie rider who only took up road cycling in August of this year.......
A two stone overweight 58 year old with only one kidney and a 65 year old cancer survivor...
Then as if to add a cherry on top our support driver will be 5 weeks shy of 70 years of age when we do the ride..... 

Now if someone told you that this little group was intending cycling ten countries in ten days you would be forgiven for thinking that they had absolutely no chance of getting half way through the ride let alone completing it.........
But look a little closer and we might just surprise you...

Regular visitors to this blog will be well aware that despite my 65 years and medical history I am perfectly capable of covering long distances against the clock on a bicycle and like to regularly set myself cycling challenges..I love riding hills and I love riding long distances.

John Donoghue (JD) might be overweight at the moment but he will manage to lose that weight...He describes himself as a plodder..not fast and not swift but he does get there. 
He has never failed to complete any of the cycling challenges that we have set ourselves over the past five years and I have only known him get off on a hill once in all that time. 
That was towards the end of a very hilly 100 mile ride when another 25% beauty just proved to be one too many.....

Dave (the broom) Vaughan is a bit of a legend....70 years old he might well be but he has a wealth of experience in supporting multi day distance cycling events. He has been support driver on a number of our previous rides and he is always my first choice...
Being an ex cyclist himself he understands the needs of the riders...he deals with everything from support to logistics...none better!!

So that brings me to the youngest rider... 
Jon Joynes..42 years of age...a manager of a Mothercare store and only took up road riding in August.. 


The feature about Jon in Cycling Weekly
 He was featured in Cycling weekly in September. It highlighted what was termed as the 'Wiggo Effect' after the TDF and the Olympics and the effect those events had on getting people to take up cycling. 
Jon was one of those people inspired to take up the sport. 
He set himself the task of riding 2012 miles in his first year of cycling and also aiming to raise £2012 for the 'Save the Children' charity at the same time...
Jon outside his store in Yeovil Somerset
Up until a few weeks ago we had never met before....contact was made via Twitter... 
Jon had read about me reaching my 10,000 miles target for the year...
I had tweeted that I would need to look for a new challenge and Jon suggested 'ten countries in ten days'. 
As it was his idea it seemed only right that he did the ride too so I suggested it to him...... 

Jon was making progress on his 2012 miles challenge well ahead of his original schedule and the more he thought about it the more he realized that given some training he could probably complete the 10 in 10....  
Anyway the good news is that he decided that he would join us on the ride....... 

So that is the current 10 in 10 team....whether anyone else will join us only time will tell... but readers of this blog will be the first to know.....

Monday, 3 December 2012

Changing Bikes.......

The Aladdin's Cave that is Scott's Garage 
 With all the filthy weather that we have had recently my mileage has really taken a tumble...
Up until I reached 10,000 miles I was managing up to 320 miles in a week....since then the weather has deteriorated and that coupled with the lack of pressure to achieve a target means that I am now doing no more than about 160 miles each week. 

Mind you...all the extra non cycling time that I find that I now have means that I am able to spend more time on other things such as the planning of future trips...bike maintenance....and most importantly spending a bit more time with Anne.... 

Following the visit to the recent Bournemouth Bike and Tri show my son-in-law Scott had told me that he wouldn't be changing his bike for a while.....    
Scott's Carrera TDF
 Regular readers will remember that about a year ago he made his first move into road riding after being a keen mountain bike rider for some years....
He managed to buy a Carrera TDF for a very good price and I predicted at the time that he would probably upgrade within a year....
Well after our visit to the bike show he kept on emailing me with details of bikes that he had seen on Ebay....all this after saying that he would be sticking with the TDF for a while longer....

Anyway he eventually put a bid on a Felt Z100....I won't tell you what he got it for but it was a real giveaway price...For some reason nobody else felt inclined to place a bit on it so Scott ended up acquiring it  for very little money at all....

The bike is very nice...Condition is really good and the bike appears to have been looked after very well indeed...It's not a huge jump up from the TDF but Scott has wanted a Z series Felt for some time and this one gets him on the ladder........
The Felt Z100 -( It would have been a good buy at twice the price)
 So the next thing was what to do with the TDF....
Scott really wanted to move it on quickly as he needed the space in his garage. 
I have to tell you that his garage is a bit like a bikers Aladdin's cave with bikes and frames all over the place....how he manages to find anything is a bit of a mystery to me......

It so happened that Peter Calcutt who often accompanies me on cycle touring trips has been thinking about getting a cheap road bike for some time....
I knew that Peter needed a bit of a push and this would probably be the incentive he needed...
I got on the phone and told Peter that the time was over for thinking about getting a road bike...
It was make up your mind time!! 
I told him about the TDF and within 24hrs Peter made the decision to have it.... 

On Sunday morning Peter and I went over to Scott's to checkout the Felt and to pick up the TDF.... We entered the Aladdin's cave that is Scott's garage and eventually the bikes were retrieved from the inner depths and the lads were able to play with their new acquisitions...... 
Scott with his Felt and Peter with the TDF
Hopefully Peter will get on with the TDF and it will have the same effect on him as it has had on Scott......
The problem that I now have is to get Peter into some decent looking lycra kit rather than the baggy shorts and assorted baggy tops that he likes to wear on his tourer.....
I'll turn him into a roadie yet..!!!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

More about the 10 in 10 Ride.....


Following on from my last post I've been searching out videos showing some of the signature climb of the Giro de Lombardia out of Ballagio on the shores of Lake Como up to the chapel of the Madonna del Ghisallo.

This little film shortens the climb to just six minutes but gives some idea of what we will have in store for us after riding Ten Countries in Ten Days..... The introduction and text is in Italian...so if you don't understand Italian I apologize....but it will give you a little of the flavour of what we will be doing...
Obviously we will not be riding the length of each of the countries, but the route that we are plotting will enable us to  ride on a continuous route linking into the ten countries as we go.....

At this stage it is difficult to be certain of the mileage, but we are anticipating a daily average in the region of 85 miles. As with other rides that I have done in the past, some days might take us over this and other days could be a little less....The weather and road conditions as well as how each member of our little team feels each day will all help to determine our actual daily miles covered...

The planning for this ride is coming along nicely and I have one other confirmed rider, with another trying to beg the time from his job at the moment...a couple of others have also expressed an interest in doing it...
We will be using the ride to raise money for the charity Cyclists Fighting Cancer and I will be setting up a charity page where you can support us, but more details on this later.....

I still have a couple of other rides to tell you about that I intend doing during 2013, but details of those will be revealed  at a later date..... One longish ride just isn't enough..!!!


Friday, 23 November 2012

A Pilgrimage... My 10 in 10 Ride..

Some months ago I was chatting to a rider who I met on one of my regular daily rides..... 
We had often seen each other out on the road and had acknowledged each other with the customary wave or flick of the hand as we rode past each other going in opposite directions...
However on this particular day we had both stopped at the same coffee shop at the same time so like most riders we got talking....

He asked me about my rides and I told him about some of the long distance trips such as Cherbourg to Santander......Gibraltar to the UK.......LEJOG... and Edinburgh to Portsmouth that I had completed.....
He told me that he would love to do some long distance rides and explained to me that most of his riding was local but he had the dream to do more and he asked me lots of questions regarding riding longer distances.....Both Road and Touring....

He then asked me if I had done 'The Pilgrimage'. 
What he was referring to was a visit to the Chapel of the Madonna del Ghisallo known as the Patron Saint of Cyclists.....
Although I was aware of the Madonna I have never visited the Chapel situated in the Northern Italian hamlet of Magriglio set 554 metres above Lake Como....
The chapel is not just a religious site but is also a place of pilgrimage for cyclists from around the world....

The little chapel is filled with cycling artifacts spanning the 100+ years history of the sport and as someone else told me, a visit to the Chapel of the Madonna validates you as a true cyclist..... 
My new found friend told me that one day he would make the pilgrimage himself but with a very young family it would be a good few years before he would be able to become a 'pilgim'. 

The conversation we had that day got me thinking.....and the more I thought about it the higher up on my bucket list 'the Pilgrimage' moved... 
Anyway 2013 is going to be the year that I make the pilgrimage...

I have decided that it is going to be the destination for one of my big rides next year...so here is the rough plan... 
TEN COUNTRIES IN TEN DAYS (10in10) is what we intend to do....

We will ride from the first country which is of course ENGLAND and then continue riding through FRANCE- BELGIUM- HOLLAND- GERMANY- LUXEMBOURG- SWITZERLAND-LICHTENSTEIN- AUSTRIA- ITALY. 
This will be a supported road ride with one vehicle (Motor Home) carrying our equipment, driven as always by Dave (the broom) Vaughan. 

Road bikes will be the order of the day and we will be camping each night....The highlight of the trip of course will be riding the signature ride of the Giro de Lombardia from Ballagio on the shores of Lake Como up to the hamlet of Magriglio and one of the Spiritual homes of the bicycle...the Chapel of the Madonna del Ghisallo. 
By all accounts it is a pretty stiff climb but worth all the pain.........

The exact route is still being planned...mid June will be the date we set off... I am getting together a small team to do the ride with me and I will introduce them to you in a future post with more details of the ride.....
In the meantime you can checkout the Chapel HERE.....

Monday, 19 November 2012

Bournemouth Cycle & Tri Expo 2012

The Cannondale Stand
 At the weekend my son-in-law Scott suggested that we visit the Bournemouth Cycle and Tri Expo 2012 which was taking place at the Bournemouth International Centre. 
This was being staged by Primera who are the main cycle store in the town. They stock a wide variety of bikes covering Road, Mountain and Leisure although the emphasis at the show was to be more towards the triathletes among us.....
Now regular readers to this blog will be well aware that I am no triathlete but my son-in-law has developed an interest in it, even entering his first mini event a couple of months ago...
For my part I am always too ready to drool over some bikes so we headed off to have a look.
The Specialized Stand
There were plenty of  stands displaying lots of very nice bikes including Cannondale, Specialized, Focus and Pinarello......However I have to say that I saw nothing that made me want to dip my hand in my pocket, take out my wallet and buy a new bike.... 
This must be proof that I am more than satisfied with my own high end Felt road bike.....
A number of local clubs also had stands to help recruit more members including Zoom Tri Club based in Bournmouth.
Looking to build a new bike..? Plenty of frames..
I always find these type of shows are great for keeping you up to date with what is happening in the biking world....
It's always nice to be able to see the latest products and innovations from a lot of the biggest brands in the industry as well as having the opportunity to obtain some good products at clearance prices..
Sprint Roller Racing provided by South Coast Sprints
 One stand that did grab our attention was the sprint roller racing challenge provided by South Coast Sprints...
My youngest grandson who came with us wanted his dad to have a go...Scott was heard to reply "No, I'm not going to do it because I don't want to be beaten in public by a pensioner"  obviously referring to me...
My answer to my son-in-law  "Get used to it!"
The Focus Stand

Pinarello Dogma

Lot's of business being done with those smaller must have items
 I saw lot's of business being done with those smaller must have items....lights...pumps....etc. 
Scott even opened his wallet and found that he had the urge to part company with some cash......
However I managed to spend a couple of hours at this show surviving with my wallet unopened and intact..!.. 
Almost unheard of for me!!
Argon and Fulcrum wheels

Argon 18 with Fulcrum wheels and Shimano 105 groupset
 The Argon stand caught my attention not just because of the bikes, but also because of the Fulcrum wheels that were displayed with them. 
I am a great fan of Fulcrum wheels...
I have a set of Fulcrum Racing Zeros on my Felt Bike and I think that they are a really great wheelset....Not only do they perform well but they look fantastic on the bike too.... 
It was nice to see the latest incarnation of the Zeros although I must say that I think that mine with the red spokes win in the looks department......
Just a 'Token' wheelset...
 Before we left we were given a 'goody bag' with lots of bits and pieces and all in all I enjoyed the time we spent looking around...
As I said Scott is pretty keen on triathalon and although I might be able to beat him at the moment riding a bike, he would wipe the floor with me when it comes to the swimming and the running....
It will be interesting to see how he progresses with triathalon next year....
We are planning on entering a couple of events together during 2013 but I must point out that those events will be strictly bike only..!!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Gear Review - Berghaus Selway Softshell Jacket.

I was recently contacted and asked if I would be interested in testing and reviewing an item of outdoors clothing...the item in question was a softshell jacket from Berghaus called the Selway. It is described as a 'highly breathable - wind resistant jacket for the active user'.... Well I think that I fit the active user category and as I had some various outdoor activities planned where a jacket of this type would be useful it was an opportunity too good to miss......
I took delivery of the jacket just over a couple of weeks ago and during that time I have been wearing it for lots of different activities including trips into town...visits to the pub...a boat trip across Poole harbour....walking along the Jurassic coast....and a camping and cycling trip.. all in all a pretty varied mix of activities and conditions for a thorough test...

Now prior to receiving this softshell jacket my only experience of this type of garment was a softshell cycling jacket designed for use in winter conditions only, which I purchased a couple of years ago.  The material is quite thick, it is also a hi-viz flouro yellow not the sort of thing you would want to wear walking around town. 

This Berghaus Selway is very different....for a start the material doesn't appear to be thick enough to give you much protection at all (weight on my scales was 440grms approx)- but don't be fooled - The Selway is constructed from an own brand material called 'AF Softshell'. 
The label describes this as having the following attributes:  *Breathable *Wind Resistant with a *Durable Water Repellent Finish(DWR) and also with *Lofted Fibres which Trap Air and Retain Body Heat.....

The jacket is designed and cut to what is called 'Berghaus Active Fit'- they describe this as being 'not body conscious' and 'not baggy just a streamlined cut for every kind of activity'... Well my first reaction on reading all this, was that it all seemed too much to ask from one garment that on first sight, appeared to be made from a material too thin to be able to deliver on the promise ......So how did it actually perform during testing.......?
The colour of the jacket I received was a nice bright electro blue and grey...I have also seen the jacket in red and grey and black and grey. 
For me, this colour was perfect as it would be bright enough to wear on the bike or whilst walking, but not too out of place for a trip to town or the pub.....

The material is nice and stretchy which means that in use it did not flap around in the wind and also wasn't restrictive to wear....The quality of construction of the garment is pretty high too as can be seen from the stitching and the material itself....
The zip garages are actually of a size that fit the zip pullers as can be seen in the image of the full length front zip above and the image of a zip on one of the two front pockets shown below.
Behind the full length zip is a full length baffle to help keep out the wind and this proved to be quite efficient. The jacket also has a reasonable drop tail which makes it very suitable for multiple use.

The two hem draw cords really do work with just one hand....I know it might appear a minor point, but in real outdoor use, being able to tighten up the hem with the drawcord with just the one hand is a very important plus point.....there is nothing worse than having to use both hands for this simple operation.....
 The sleeves can be something where a lot of jackets fall short - literally!!.... Having arms that are cut just that little bit too short can be very annoying.....every time you stretch your arms you can get a cold bare wrist.....Not with this jacket though. 
The arms are cut to a sensible length and when you stretch out your arms (such as when crossing a stile,climbing over rocks or riding a bike) you will not experience that cold wrist feeling and the rest of the garment isn't pulled up either due to the 'Active Fit' mentioned earlier. 
 There are two mesh pockets accessible by way of zips on the front side of the jacket...I found these useful for not only putting things in, which of course is their primary use, but they were also useful as a way of venting the jacket in order to regulate my temperature and comfort when on the move such as riding my bike or hacking it along the coast path... 
The pockets also neatly formed additional pockets inside the jacket that were perfect for carrying a good old OS map as shown in the above photo... 

The Selway never failed to keep me warm during any of the various activities I used it for...
On a recent short cycle tour the temperature fell below zero and I used the Selway with just a long sleeved cycling jersey underneath. 
Not only did it keep me warm but I also didn't overheat when putting in a big effort over a couple of major hills on my fully loaded touring bike.....

I found the same whilst walking - it kept me warm and I didn't overheat....this jacket really does seem to breath well.....
When camping it proved to be a great all rounder and I found myself choosing to use it in preference to other garments that I have used in the past.
The one word that I would choose to describe this Berghaus jacket is 'Versatile'. 
It really is a garment that can be used for a wide variety of outdoor activities as I have proved. 

It isn't a purpose designed cycling jacket, but because of its nice fit it lends itself perfectly for a spot of cycle touring....then when you get to camp it is ideal to wear around the campsite and then later on it's ideal for a visit to the pub or a spot of sightseeing.... if you fancy a walk along the cliffs or hills it will deal with that as well.... 

I found that during real world outdoor activities this jacket is breathable...is wind resistant....and did manage to keep me warm when it was cold down to around zero, even on a bike with the extra wind chill factor that creates... Oh yes...The Durable Water Repellent finish(DWR) works well too, as I was able to test on a recent camping trip when I was caught out in a heavy shower...

I have looked hard for something that I don't like about this jacket and people that know me well will agree that I do enjoy finding faults....!!
However, the only thing that I can find so far (and I am stretching a point here) is the position of the pockets. 
If I was only intending to use this jacket for walking with a rucksack,  then I would suggest that the  rucksack straps will actually fall right across the pocket zips making entry to those pockets very difficult.....

However...and this is the main point....the jacket is suitable for a number of activities....if those pockets were moved then they would not be as useful for venting the garment such as when on a bike......
To be honest, for me the jacket is almost perfect as it is for the wide range of activities that I get involved in. 
I have been very impressed with this Berghaus Selway jacket... If you are looking for a softshell jacket of this type...this one is well worth consideration...

I will update this review when I have had more use of the jacket,  but I have a feeling that it is likely to become one of my favourite fall back items of outdoors clothing....

Monday, 12 November 2012

Dorset Backpackers late Autumn meet......

Good Weather for a Mini Cycle Tour
The weather on Friday was ideal for setting off on a weekend of cycle touring as the picture above taken from the end of my road shows. 
The plan was to set off north to Alderholt near Fordingbridge and meet up with other members of the Backpackers Club for the Dorset Groups late Autumn meet...Some members would be walking and others would be cycling to the first nights camp which was based in the grounds of a garden centre... 
The Cycling Weather Continues....
 I mentioned on this blog a couple of weeks ago that I had been looking for an ideal route for escaping the Bournemouth area when travelling north from my home...
I had worked out what seemed to be a good route but as a last minute thought I checked on my Garmin to see the route to Alderholt that it would select....
Well it came up with almost the identical route that I had taken so long in searching out... 
Pity I hadn't just left it to the Garmin in the first place as it would have saved me a lot of time... 
As I followed the Garmin's instructions and headed north the good cycling weather continued...
Autumn Colours
The route was reasonably traffic free....
I chose a nice steady cadence which gave me a solid average speed of 15.2 mph which after the type of riding that I have spent most of the year doing was a really enjoyable change of pace...
There is something really nice about cycling along on a fully loaded touring bike...it's a good solid feel to the ride and I had plenty of time to take in all the Autumn colours. 
The route took me over lightly rolling roads between open fields as well as hedge lined country lanes.....
Leaves on the Tent.....Autumn Camping
I was first to arrive at the campsite and had put up my tent and changed out of my cycling kit before Graham Faithfull arrived.....
Graham had walked to the site from Fordingbridge having caught a bus from Bournemouth. 
The last time we camped at this site Graham had walked from Bournemouth, but on this occasion lack of time had meant him resorting to a spot of public transport....Graham and I chatted for about half an hour catching up on club news. 

Before long Mike and Chris arrived on their bikes with their fully colour coordinated  panniers and bar bags. 
Not long afterwards John,Brian and Jill walked in and then a little later Peter arrived on his touring bike and fully covered in the brightest hi-viz jacket and helmet cover any of us had ever seen....It was so bright that my camera was unable to record the brightness of it all... 
After cooking a meal we then headed off a mile down the road to the pub where we spent the evening... At the pub we also met up with long standing club members Lynette and Tony.......
Mikes New Kask Helmet...
During the night as the weather forecast had promised we had some heavy rain -  but again as promised, by morning the rain had stopped and there was a promise of another good day... 
Most of us headed to the Sticky Bun Cafe which is on the Garden Centre site and launched in to a full English breakfast. 
While we were having breakfast Howard, another club member arrived. Howard was unable to camp over with us due to a recent operation but he had decided to drive over and have breakfast with us all and catch up with everyone..... 
After an hour the walkers had to set off to the Saturday nights camp stop which was at Holt a few miles outside of Wimborne....The cyclists  on the other hand had plenty of time for more talking and more coffee......
Chris modelling her new Kask helmet..

Plenty of time for chatting.....

Still chatting- It's taken an hour to drop that tent.....

Colour Coordinated Couple Mike and Chris. They need to swap jackets to perfect the  look !!
 Due to all the talking it took the cyclists ages to break camp....So much to catch up on. It wasn't until way past lunch time before everyone was ready to head off to the next stop....
The walkers needed about five hours to walk there but for the cyclists about and hour should do it, so there was absolutely no pressure at all to push on...
At last!....Talking done and now heading off
 Peter and I were the last to leave and as thought the short hop only took us an hour.....
The Saturday night camp had been arranged in the grounds of a B&B in Holt. As we rode up the road towards the venue we passed the walkers....
So after all that talking and leaving about four hours after them  we still arrived just ahead of them....
Oh the beauty of the Velo machine..!! 

It had been arranged that Kimberly who runs the B&B would provide us with an evening meal and also breakfast on the Sunday morning.....John had arranged the beer and a great Saturday evening was had by all....good conversation and good friends...... What more could one ask for....? 
Sunday morning - Frost on the tents

After a cold night - Frost on the tents
 It was a cold night as could be seen by the frost covered tents on the Sunday morning but as everyone was an experienced backpacker with all the right equipment a cosy night had been enjoyed by all....
We had a nice breakfast provided again by Kimberly, more chatting and then all too soon it was time for everyone to go their separate ways......
My Loaded Tourer - Also colour coordinated just not as bright as Mike and Chris- My choice a tasteful silver grey and black.
Tents were dropped and everything was packed into panniers and backpacks....I loaded my bike and like the day before, Peter and I were the last to leave.....
All too soon the weekend trip was over...

Not a great distance covered....The emphasis was more about meeting up with old friends....having a couple of nights away in our tents and using our touring bikes or our walking boots. 
It's quite surprising how, if you don't use your tent for a while, you can forget the quickest way to erect it.......
The next Dorset group event is fixed for mid January.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Reasons to go Cycle Touring...


Arriving through my letterbox this week was one of the many cycling magazines that I subscribe to...
One of the sub headlines on the front cover listing some of the features in this month's issue was something that caught my eye.... '20 reasons to go cycle touring this weekend!' 

What a bit of luck I thought because that's just what I'd planned to do anyway...a weekend out on the tourer mixed with a couple of nights in my tent....
Now I must admit that I don't need twenty reasons to go cycle touring in fact I don't even need ten...one is enough for me and that's  because it's fun!! 

I think that I was about twelve years old when I set off on my first cycle touring trip and in those early days I used to spend the nights at Youth Hostels..of course that was back in the days when Youth Hostels were not run like mini hotels as they seem to be nowadays...
However by the time I was fourteen I started doing what I like to think of as proper touring, that is with tent...sleeping bag and cooking equipment....fifty years later I am still doing it.  

Now I'm not going to list all of the 20 reasons that were in the magazine article, but I think that it is worth mentioning a few that would be on my list for those of you who might have never tried it
before....

Freedom and Independence....
As a youngster I think that those two were pretty important. It was an escape for a short while away from the control of my parents.. For adults it is a chance to be free of work and the regime of modern living, a chance to get away from it all....

A chance to Explore.... 
Finding and exploring new places and revisiting old places....

Experience the slow pace of life on the road.... 
There really is a different pace of life when you are living on the road....
When I look back on some of my longer trips such as when I cycled back from Gibraltar, the rides seem to develop their own pace and shape....it's a bit like going back to basics where the only things that are important are food..warmth...and somewhere to sleep...nothing else seems to matter much....
Things that seem so important in our everyday lives can be viewed from a different perspective and don't seem to count for so much when you are out on the road cycle touring....

One of the reasons that was listed in the magazine was because every bike enthusiast should have at least one cycle touring trip on their palmares...it went on to say that  "it's an experience that seals a bond between the rider, the bike and the open road" and that "once you've been on a tour you're a proper bike rider and no one can take that away from you". 
Now I don't know whether that's true, but if it is, it means that I have been a proper bike rider for an awful lot of years...

What I will say, is that I am often surprised at the number of riders that have ridden sportives.... raced...done time trials etc but have never tried cycle touring... 
If you have never tried it, give it a go..I am sure that you will enjoy it and your first trip will open up a whole new and exciting chapter in your cycling experience.....

I have just checked over my touring bike....my panniers are all packed and I am ready to set off tomorrow and meet up with some friends.... When I get back I should have some photos of my mini cycle touring weekend to share with you...Whatever happens with the weather the one thing that I can be sure of, is that the weekend will be fun..!!



Friday, 2 November 2012

No Cycling....


When this week started it certainly looked as if it was going to be a case of 'No Cycling'. The weather was pretty horrendous with strong winds and very heavy torrential rain... 
Now that I have achieved the mileage that I was aiming for this year, there didn't seem to be the pressure on me to go out on the bike and get a real soaking..... What a relief!!  

Rather than go out in the appalling weather I chickened out and settled for some sessions on the turbo just to keep my legs spinning....
However over the last couple of days the weather has settled down nicely and I have been able to get out and do some really nice autumnal cycling.....
No huge daily mileages, in fact the biggest day that I have done this week was 55 miles. 

Not having to keep pushing on with a target mileage in mind has meant that I have been able to ride at a nice steady pace keeping in zones 1 and 2. 
Plenty of time to take in the scenery as I go and enjoy a totally different type of riding compared to what I have spent the year doing...
My plan now is to reduce my weekly average mileage from the 280/300 that I have been doing down to a figure of about 125/150 until the New Year when I will start building the mileage up a bit again, although I won't be aiming to do 10,000+ miles next year....

Talking about next year, as I have been cycling along at my new slower pace I have been thinking about plans for next year. 
I have always been the sort of person who, when one objective is reached, has to start planning and setting a new one......

One ride that I want to do is the Lon Las Cymru Touring ride that had been scheduled for September this year but had to be postponed due to the other riders involved in the trip having to pull out...
One thing that I have missed this year has been a nice extended touring trip...you know...bike, panniers, tent etc etc. 
I only managed to do a couple of short weekend touring rides and for me that was not enough..

The Lon Las Cymru will only satisfy a week of my needs but I do have a longer touring ride that I am thinking about as well...
I can't say too much at this stage as I have not had a chance to talk to my usual cycling buddy's about it, but the moment the plan is fixed you will be the first to know about it. 

Then, there is the BIG one! 
It's always good to have a big ride planned...either something that is big because of it's distance or something that is big because of it's concept... 

Well I do have a BIG one currently in the planning stages...It is starting to come together quite well and I hope to be able to reveal the plans to you all fairly shortly....
I am quite excited about it. 
What I can tell you is that it's not BIG because of the mileage...although that's not to be overlooked...no this one is BIG because of the concept...also it doesn't involve my tourer as it's more road bike orientated ...More I cannot tell you.......

Sunday, 28 October 2012

My 10,000 Mile Review

My steed for most of the mileage was the Tifosi
 I thought that some of you might be interested in some basic facts and figures relating to my 10,000 miles of cycling so far this year....

First of all I need to point out that I don't participate in Audax rides, although it is possible I might well tackle some of the shorter distances in the future...I also don't race anymore but I do ride a few Sportives now and again if they particularly take my fancy. 

My main interests in cycling are in coming up with my own rides and challenges and then just doing them either on my own or with a few friends.....Sometimes this might be as a supported ride and on other occasions it could be as a full blown touring trip with a bike fully loaded with panniers and camping equipment....I enjoy riding long distances but I like to do it to an itinerary of my own making and not one that has been created by a commercial organization or charity.... This has been my way of doing things ever since I was a youngster and it would apply to my hiking and backpacking as well as my cycling.......Independence is what I enjoy.

This years riding has not included any events organised by others...just my own ideas for a ride. Apart that is, the Edinburgh to Porstmouth ride which I did in June which was something thought up by my cycling buddy JD....

So, first of all the bike. 
Well most of the mileage this year has been completed on the Tifosi. (Just under 2,000 miles was done spread between the Felt and my Tourer.) 
The Tifosi as purchased was not a pricey bike coming in at about £800. I bought it because I had read a number of good reports on the bike in various magazines and I was looking for a 'winter bike' as I did not want to use my Felt through the winter months. 
From the moment I first rode the Tifosi  I liked it and as I put on the miles during my first year of owning the bike I decided to make some changes to turn what was a good bike into a really good bike......Yes, I know that I could have just bought another bike for more money, but that misses the point, which is it's fun to do upgrades and changes to suit your own taste and style.

The wheels were changed to Pro-Lite Bracciano and shod with 25mm Conti Gatorskin tyres (rigid not folding)
The Shimano Sora group was changed for Shimano 105 this included a triple chainset 50/39/30 and a 12-25 cassette (some pretty big hills in these parts)
The chain fitted was a Wipperman Connex Gold. 
The Brake pads were upgraded to SwissStop (green compound)
Saddle was changed to a honey coloured Brooks Swift and the bar tape was also changed to Brooks leather to match.....

The finished bike has proved to be a great bike to ride and I love it's looks...and not just me either, a number of riders that I have met and chatted to during the year have remarked at how smart the bike looks....part of that of course is down to it's nod to the retro which seems to be 'in' at the moment, but is something I have always liked long before it became fashionable...

Lets look at some of the figures so far for the year.....

Two sets of tyres have been fitted...The first set lasted for 3800 miles. 
At about 1800 miles I switched the tyres from back to front/front to back...
The second set have only just been replaced..they too were switched back to front etc after 1850 miles of use. 
Punctures? ...well that is something I hate thinking about let alone dare stating it on the blog, but the whole distance has been covered with no punctures...not one. 
I must point out though, that after EVERY ride each tyre was examined very carefully and any shards of flint etc were carefully removed before they had a chance to work into the tyre too far. Also before EVERY ride the pressures were checked - I  used pressures of 100lbs at the front and 110lbs at the rear.

The wheels have been fine...No broken spokes and no work required on them, although I have had them checked twice just to ensure that all was OK....
Brake pads have been changed only once.

I  am only just on the third chain and I replaced the cassette at that time also... 
Again I would like to point out that I am meticulous in my care of the drivetrain. 
After EVERY ride I check the chain, cassette and chainring and also the derailleurs.. 
Some weeks I have cleaned and lubed the chain three times in my effort to keep everything running sweetly and ensuring that I get the maximum component life I possibly can. 
I would say that I have managed on average 3,600 miles out of the chains and double that from the cassette. Throughout, my lube of choice was 'Purple Extreme'.

So there we have it....the bike is running as nicely as ever and hopefully will continue to do so.....
The 10,000 miles equates to 670 hours in the saddle...Actually I've worked out that's just under 28 days.... Yes...the equal of cycling non-stop for 28 days. 

Put like that it does seem like an awful lot of pedal spinning........Next year a new challenge...!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Done it! 10,000 miles this year!

Looking East - Misty

Looking West - Misty
Well I've done it.....Reached my 10,000 mile target mileage for 2012..

This morning I knew that I had just 64 miles to do to achieve my goal...I was so pleased that it wasn't pouring down with rain as it seems to have done for so much of this year..However it was pretty misty as the two pictures above taken at the end of my road show....
Looking East or West it was the same, very misty with a sort of mizzle in the air... 

During most of the ride my mind was busy thinking about new challenges for next year.....I knew exactly which route to do today in order to capture the required mileage...it was a route that I've ridden many times this year.  
Four hours would be roughly how long the ride should take and I had started a bit earlier that I normally do, because once this was done a visit to the pub as a form of celebration was certainly on the cards.

It remained dull throughout the ride and then when I was just three miles from home the sky seemed to become a bit brighter...
No, the sun didn't break out but it certainly seemed a lot brighter than it had been when I had set out just over four hours earlier... and then after another mile I had done it!
No choirs bursting into song....no champagne reception....just the knowledge that I had done it.....done what I had set out to do at the beginning of the year....

Just two years ago I had only just finished treatment for cancer....since then I have cycled from Gibraltar back to the UK as well as various other long distance challenges..and now managed to complete 10,000 miles in 2012....No doping either!! 
I really am so happy to have done this....

I will not be pushing to reach 12,000 miles, but I will continue to get out most days on the bike but without the pressure to complete a set mileage. 
It will be interesting though to see where my mileage ends up.... 

And the future..? 
Well I do have various projects in the planning stages and with continued health and a bit of luck I hope to achieve those too...but more on those projects in another blog post...
Also in a later post I will give you some details on component wear ... punctures...and other points concerning this years mileage.....I'm glad it's done!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Wind Sand and Sea

Wind Sand and Sea
This past week the weather has been pretty variable for my rides..but as I mentioned in my last post it's been OK for my search for a minimum traffic northerly escape route out of the town. 

In the past, one of the routes I have chosen if I wanted to go north was to travel east....Yes I know it sounds stupid but the plan works....
What I have done is followed the promenade east for about seven miles almost to Hengisbury Head and then headed north from there...by taking this route you tend to avoid all the traffic that you would pick up in the Bournemouth area if you just headed north from my home at Alum Chine...

However there are a number of problems with this route...
One of those is that during the summer period you are not allowed to ride along the promenade between 10.00hrs & 18.00hrs. 
Of course I could always get up earlier and get the promenade part of the route completed before the magic hour of 10.00hrs...it is an option I suppose, but that would mean starting the ride tied to a timetable and as I would only use this route when setting off on a touring ride on which I am trying to escape from clocks and watches it is not ideal....

Another problem can be seen in the picture above....on many occasions the sand on the beach looks as if it is trying to take over the promenade....the wind blows it up off the beach and in places it can be six inches deep or more spread across the entire width. 
Now this would be no problem at all if I was riding a wide tyre mountain bike or better still a fat bike but on the narrow tyres that I ride on, hitting a ridge of this deep sand stops all forward motion in an instant. 

On top of that of course is the way that all that sand gets blown into the running gear on the bike. 
I used this route when doing a backpackers weekend last spring and when I got home I was staggered at how much sand had been blown into the chain, cassette and the chainset...
It took me ages to strip down and clean everything properly...

Now I know that on the right bike riding on sand and beach can be lots of fun- you only have to look at the blog http://coastkid.blogspot.co.uk/  to see that...but as I said my bikes are not built for it and I like to try and get maximum life out of my bike components any way......

The search for my minimum traffic northerly escape route will continue........

Friday, 19 October 2012

Looking Forward to the Ride....


I look forward to my rides....even after all the miles that I have ridden this year I don't get bored with getting on one of my bikes and going for a ride. 
It makes no difference whether it's a short 30 mile spin around the Purbeck hills or a more complete ride further afield taking in both the coast as well as some of the great routes we have further inland...

I am positive that if I had to drive around my favourite routes everyday instead of cycling them I would soon get fed up with the whole thing and yet that is effectively what so many people do each day as they drive to work. 
In my view one of the reasons for this is the way that when you are cycling you see everything from a different and more relaxed perspective.....Riding along you actually seem to become part of the  scenery that you are passing through and not just a person on a journey looking out at the scenery through a window......
There is also a real joy in searching out and discovering new areas and routes that you haven't tried before. 

This past week on a couple of my rides I have been trying to search out a new route north out of town.....If I just want to go for a ride I will normally just head west for the Studland ferry and then out to the Purbeck hills....
My route for that is the quickest way that I can escape from the town and traffic and out into the countryside...but whenever I wish to attend a Backpackers club weekend,  it normally seems to take place north of Bournemouth and that means about 8 miles of car saturated local roads to negotiate before I hit the country lanes.

This isn't so much a problem if I am just out on a ride,  but if I am on my touring bike loaded with panniers and kit for a camping trip, the vehicle jammed and often narrow roads around town don't make for a smooth and enjoyable ride, hence my search for alternative routes.

Cycling around the area has allowed me to connect with parts of the locality that I didn't even know existed. 
I have found buildings and places of real interest that if I had been in a car or even a bus I would never have found. 

I have still not found my perfect northerly escape route yet, but just riding my bike along routes not ridden before has made for a really enjoyable week of local exploration and I have still managed to ride my favourite Purbeck routes as well.....

Monday, 15 October 2012

First class stoppers...

Swissstop Green are first class stoppers
When I  bought the Tifosi I initially thought that the original brake pads fitted by the manufacturer were OK...that is until I tried them on a really fast descent. 
The brakes faded really badly and as I hurtled at speed towards a T-junction at the bottom of the hill I promised myself that if I eventually managed to stop and survive I would do something to improve the braking.  

I did manage to stop but only just and those brakes had done nothing at all to give me confidence in trusting  them again. 
Perhaps I had been spoiled by the great stopping ability that I get on the Felt with it's DuraAce set up but one thing that I knew for sure...the standard pads on the Tifosi had to go. 

Now of course it was always possible that the fault was with the Miche brakes themselves rather than the pads, but it seemed a sensible idea to start with the pads as they would be the cheapest way of making an improvement.. 
I spent a fair bit of time checking out the various pads that were available and the reviews that had been written about them. 
Two pads stood out from the rest because of the great reviews and their obvious popularity.. These were the Swissstop Green High Performance and the KoolStop Salmon and Black. 

The Swisstop were the more expensive of the two at about double the price of the KoolStop. 
They were appprox £48.00 for a full set for the bike (2x pairs) including the polished holders. Swisstop produce a number of different compounds for various applications including..... 
Black which is ideal for everyday use...
Yellow for carbon wheels..... 
and of course the Green High Performance which are the ones that I decided to purchase. 
These are described as a high performance all weather compound for aluminium wheels....the manufacturers describe them as having great braking power with smooth modulation. 

I must say that after fitting these to the bike the improvement to the braking was stunning...the braking power has improved no end with really smooth modulation and no fade on those steep and fast descents..just what I wanted. 

Since I purchased these I have done over 10,000 miles and have replaced the pads only once (although the second set will need replacing shortly)  ...the wear rate on these pads has proved to be pretty amazing. 
The second set were obviously purchased on their own without the pad holders as I now had those. Purchasing the pads without the holders works out at half the price (£24.00 2x pairs). 

I have been down that hill with the T-junction at the end on many occasions since that first plummet to the bottom with me having a death grip on the levers, but now I have every confidence in the stopping power of the brakes...

Based on my experience of these pads I can certainly recommend them and although the initial cost seems high, when you take into account the compound's superb wear rate and the peace of mind that they give I would say they are good value... 

As a point of interest - I purchased a set of the other pads- the KoolStop Salmon/Black- for my touring bike. 
These seem pretty good also and manage to pull up my fully loaded tourer very well - they are a vast improvement on the Tektro pads that were the original pads fitted. 

Comparing the two sets of pads I would say for the type of riding I do on the Tifosi I will continue to fit the Swisstop Green as I feel that they have the edge for fast riding.

Friday, 12 October 2012

There is not much more to say..



Well...there is not much more to say really...It's all been said!! 
This week twitter has been full of  the Lance Armstrong doping story...and the papers have been full of it too... We always knew that doping had cast a cloud over our sport but this week that cloud turned black....When you read the evidence that USADA has published the full extent of the cheating is quite astonishing.

How do I feel..?
As a cyclist....
I suppose I am not really surprised...this has been building up for some time, but I am staggered at LA's arrogance....I am staggered at the amount of money that he (and of course others) have made from cheating the sport,.the fans and the clean riders.....I am saddened by the whole affair..

As a cancer survivor....
I feel very badly let down...I believed in the LA myth...When I was fighting my own cancer the LA story gave me hope...it helped give me the strength to carry on with my own personal battle, after all if Lance could do it why not me. I am grateful for that, but still feel let down by the man.... 
I am also grateful for the LIVESTRONG Foundation and the good work it has done for cancer sufferers but I am concerned over the damage this black cloud will now do to that organization..

There was a time when I was proud to wear the Livestrong wrist band..I was glad of the association with LA.... 
Sadly that is no longer the case...... 

Monday, 8 October 2012

Early Hibernation

The Tifosi- The all year round bike.
Today I put the Felt into early hibernation.....
I don't normally pack it away for about another month, but with the bad weather we are currently having (and seem to have had all year) I have removed the wheels and zipped everything away in the bike and wheel bags that are reserved especially for it. 

I have mentioned on this blog before, how the Felt is my 'fine weather only' bike.  
This year I have only ridden about 1,000 miles on it mainly due to the wet weather that seems to have blighted most of the year. 
I have completed just under a further 1,000 miles on my touring bike and everything else has been ridden on the Tifosi.. 

The Tifosi really has proved to be a good all year round bike....
I use it for most of my training and social rides and this year it was also my bike of choice for the Edinburgh to Portsmouth ride that I rode with JD. 
Apart from the frame everything else on the bike has been changed to suit my own taste and preference and I get so much enjoyment from riding it.....

Although I describe it as an all year round bike I always feel that at this time of the year it really comes into it's own....even the honey coloured saddle and bar tape seems to blend in so well with the colour of the autumn leaves as I zip along the Dorset lanes......
Yes...Autumn is the Tifosi's time of year.

On the past couple of rides I have to admit to being just a little chilly on the bike so I have also sorted out some of my warmer cycling kit including winter style tights and long sleeved jerseys...
I have even dug out the skull cap that fits under my helmet to keep my head warm, although I must admit that it does need to be really very cold  before I can wear that for an entire ride. 

Now that I have packed the summer bike away and sorted the winter kit,  I wouldn't be surprised if we have a nice dry autumn spell in a week or two's time.!!