Thursday, 9 May 2019

A Week of Electrical Activity......




Yes that's what it has been ....a week of electrical activity and not all of it was welcome...

Let me start with the good activity....
Today JD and I had planned to meet up for a cycle ride but the forecast weather wise was not good...indeed as I looked out of the window just after waking up it started to rain.
A quick call to JD and we had come up with another plan...I would go over to his house and try out his E-bike.
JD has been on at me for months to give the bike a quick spin and today seemed like a good opportunity as long as we could dodge the rain......

Now JD's E-bike is not your everyday model it is a top of the range bike and it is built like a tank...The bike is so tank like that JD calls it Rommel...
You can see what it looks like in the images above. It must weigh at least double what my own touring bike does and that like most tourers could not be described as light weight.

My experience on the bike today proves that it is a fun machine....before I knew it with hardly any effort on the pedals I was up to 16.5mph and that was into a head wind and that for me is it's shortcoming.....it is too easy to ride.

I didn't need to put much effort into riding it...I didn't feel that I was exercising at all and for me that spoilt the ride...
To my mind cycling is all about the simplicity of physical effort and I felt that the simple pleasure of exercise was being stolen by the bike....

Don't get me wrong...there is a place for the E-bike for certain people with physical or medical problems that still want to get out and ride but in my cycling world it's best use would be as a pacing machine to help me train faster on hills....

The ride on JD's Rommel was the fun part of this weeks 'electrical activity'.
The not so fun part occurred on Monday evening...

Anne and I had enjoyed a very nice day with a stroll in the woods doing a spot of bird watching and not a lot else.... I was planning to ride the Felt on the Tuesday so was giving it a check over when I noticed that my heart rate had increased dramatically....
It didn't seem to be dropping back down so I put on my heart monitor and it was recording a rate of 154bpm.

This last happened in 2014 and ended up with me in a hospital operating theatre......
We waited for an hour and a half and with no reduction in bpm I ended up at A&E....

The same as last time there was no Triage for me as I was taken straight through to 'majors' as it was deemed a life threatening situation... Luckily for me as I was being attended to the rate started to fall on it's own....
Anyway they decided to keep me in overnight and the following morning I saw a cardiologist who was familiar with my condition diagnosed last year which is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.

The fast heart rate is a form of atrial fibrillation which is a bit like an electrical short circuit in my heart...
After an examination and ECG it was decided that I could go home....

I asked him if I could still ride my bike to which he replied "yes no problem at all".
I then asked him should I be considering an electric bike...
he said  "a bit early for that yet, an ordinary bike will be better for you so long as you don't push things to the extreme".

One thing that I can say is that riding JD's E-bike was the more fun form of electrical activity of the two.. ..

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Ready to Ride.......

Here we have a view of my Felt Z1 all prepared and ready to ride.....
The photo was taken from inside my new Clairval EuroVent Twin Air Awning looking out of the main window on our current pitch view.....

The day after we arrived on site I took the Tifosi over to my daughter's house to store it until the autumn and to bring the Felt out of it's winter hibernation.
I then went down to Samways & Son the bike shop in Wimborne to have a new cassette fitted.

Great service as the part was fitted there and then while I waited....
As I was looking around the shop I noticed a bike that I know very well...
Indeed I have cycled alongside this bike for hundreds of miles including from Gibraltar to the UK...
It was my cycling buddy John Donoghue's touring bike that was in the shop for a major service including new chain...cassette... cables...mudguards and more....

One thing that I noticed that I really liked was some new Fizik bar tape that John had had fitted to his tourer...
As I know that the bar tape on my own tourer needs replacing plus the fact that Samways had this tape at a special price I just had to buy some too...
It was great to get out on the Felt again...it really is a lovely bike to ride and I know that I will have some great rides on it throughout this coming summer......
As I write this a new set of tyres for the Felt are winging their way to me for fitting early next week and that should be the final touch for my summer rides........



Thursday, 25 April 2019

Ready to move on.....

Tomorrow we leave our Moreton site and head just 25/30 miles to Verwood on the edge of the New Forest.
I can't believe that 25 days have gone so quickly. Mind you since we have been here we have been busy with hospital appointments.... visits here on the site from friends and family as well as picking up our new awning and our visit to the social event at Automotive Leisure.

After we get to Verwood a visit to the bike shop is needed as I want a new cassette on my Fulcrum Racing Zero wheels as I plan on storing my winter bike the Tifosi and bringing my summer bike the Felt out of it's winter hibernation....

Last year I had a new chain fitted on the Felt but didn't bother on changing the cassette which didn't appear to have much wear but that proved to be a bit of an error as the gear change wasn't perfect afterwards...nothing serious but I noticed it and decided that it was more worn than it had initially appeared.....

This will be my first visit to this particular bike shop following the closure of the shop that I have used for more than ten years....the owner of the shop decided to retire so I can't complain as he had earned a good rest and they were good enough to give me the details of this new shop (to me)which is another well established family owned concern...

After the Easter break the weather has changed with winds and wet weather forecast...
With that in mind we took down our new awning on Tuesday as there is nothing worse than packing away a wet awning...
We then put up our new Isabella Shadow Canopy to try it out...

We set it up with a 'v' shape in the middle as heavy rain was forecast that night and the 'v' set up would avoid the rain pooling....the next morning the forecast delivered and the rain didn't pool on the canopy roof just flowing down off the front as planned....

We have now taken down the canopy which takes less than 5mins to put up or take down and are ready to move on........




Sunday, 21 April 2019

Contrasts......

We'll you didn't need to have some sort of second sight to have predicted that the campsite here would be jam packed for the Easter break...

Most Easter campers arrived on Thursday with a few more turning up on Good Friday...

With the campsite busy our plan was to go out walking on the Saturday and Sunday to areas where there would be very few people and just a few miles from where we were camped...
What we wanted was a real contrast to the temporary small town that had built up around Eva the Eriba....

A few miles up the road we found it...


All pitched neat and tidy but a small town just the same.

Not another person to be seen.....

Lovely bluebell woods..... Still nobody else around

Thursday, 18 April 2019

A Friendly Visitor...

Last weekend we had a visitor who came and camped for a couple of nights next to Eva the Eriba...
It was my friend Peter Calcutt....

Over the years Peter and I have had lots of adventures together.... Some of our many backpacking trips include the Pennine Way and various routes in Wales and many more wild area routes too many to mention...

Then there are the many cycling trips we have had together including a couple of enjoyable touring trips in France....

When Peter was here over the weekend we managed to fit in a nice cycle ride up on to the Purbeck Ridge near Corfe...the views from the ridge always make the uphill sections worth the extra effort required.

While he was here we spent the evenings reminiscing about our past adventures including the night we spent in a haunted bothy...

Since Anne and I have been travelling in Eva Peter has visited us in Devon... Dorset... Somerset...Suffolk and even while we were pitched on a site in Lincolnshire.

The tent that Peter used for his weekend camp with us which can be seen in the photo is a Hilleberg Akto which has been one of the best backpacking tents available over many years....

There are some tents that are lighter and others that might offer a bit more space but the Akto is a very reliable shelter that has been popular with backpackers for year round use since it was first introduced in 1995..

For many years it was the gold standard for solo all season expedition quality tents...
I still own an Akto and will probably use it on the cycle trip that I am planning in Europe next year...

If you look at the background in the photo of Peter with his bike and tent you will see a mainly empty camping field.....
One thing that you can be sure of is that it will not be empty this Easter weekend....
The campsite will be crammed full..

Indeed .....caravans ..motorhomes..campervans and tents have been arriving all day and tomorrow even more will arrive.

It could well be camping hell......
I will let you know how we get on.



Thursday, 11 April 2019

AL Social Event...

Last Saturday Automotive Leisure had their annual social event....

We have been to this event every year since we have had our Eriba.
It is always good to meet up with other owners and exchange ideas and knowledge about these quirky caravans....
It is also good to see the latest models and layouts although I have to say that we thought long and hard about which layout to go for before we bought our caravan and have not found one yet that would improve on our choice.

As well as Eribas and food and drink there was also music to lull us all into a spending state of mind....
Well it worked because I actually spent some more money (bearing in mind that I had purchased a new awning just 4 days earlier).

No I didn't buy a new caravan but I did buy an Isabella Shadow Touring Sun Canopy for those short stays when we don't want to put up our awning....
I am planning to use it when we leave this location and move on to the next campsite because three days after moving from here the caravan is booked in back at Automotive Leisure for it's annual service... 

I will post a picture of the canopy during that first use... In the meantime you will have to make do with some images taken at the social event.....
Stripped back Eriba showing the steel frame

r
A Red Rockabilly model.

Soft music to lull everyone into spending mode....

Monday, 8 April 2019

New Awning......

The day after we arrived at Moreton in Dorset one of the first things that we did was to drive over to Automotive Leisure to pick up our new awning.....
I had arranged a deal with Cameron the sales manager on an ex display Clairval EuroVent Twin Air awning...
Although it was ex display it had only been displayed indoors in the showroom so had never been subjected to any weather of any kind......

The first awning we purchased when we bought the caravan was a Clairval Twin the only difference was that it was a standard model with fibreglass poles..... That awning got destroyed in a storm in the spring of 2018 and we really liked it...
We liked the material it was made from which was a Vinyl / PVC type of material.... This was very hardwearing and was very easy to keep clean with just a wipe over with a damp cloth...

That first awning had lasted for two summers and three winters of continuous use....If if it hadn't been for an error of mine I am pretty sure that it would have lasted far longer...

This new awning is an inflatable version of that first awning......
We like air awnings even though we had a bad experience with the Kampa awning that lasted for only two summers.  

The destruction of our first awning was partially down to my error... It was supplied initially with rubber rings which were used to peg the awning down and worked like a damper in strong winds...
As they perished over time I replaced them with the rubber ladder style instead of the plain rubber rings that were supplied initially... This was because I couldn't get hold of any replacements..
This proved to be a huge mistake because the ladder style had almost no stretch in them at all this meant that there was virtually no damping effect whatsoever and the result of that was that all the strain was put on the seams which in the end caused the fabric to rip.....
I won't ever use the ladder style of pegging attachments again......

Anyway we went over to Automotive Leisure took down the awning and packed it into the bag then into the car and after paying for it came back to the site and errected it in the afternoon.

Cameron had allowed us to take it down so that we could understand how it all fitted together which proved to be a good idea due to the instructions being only supplied in French.....

One mistake that we did make due to erring on the cautious side was that we only inflated it to 5.00psi....
That night we had very heavy rain which meant that due to the awning being under inflated water pooled  on the  roof which eventually caused the awning to collapse.....

We have now corrected that and it is now inflated to 7.5psi which has made all the difference....

So what does our new awning look like? Below is an image taken after we had altered the pressure in the tubes.....


Wednesday, 3 April 2019

The Start of our Fifth Touring Season.....

On Monday April 1st ( April Fools Day ) we left the Dartmoor Caravan Park where we have spent the winter and headed back up into Dorset....

We had really enjoyed our stay in Devon and made new friends at the site.... The location of the site suited us better than the Tavistock C&CC site did as it was closer to where Anne's son lives which meant it was ideal for Anne to carry out 'Granny duties' with her year old Grandson....

It suited my cycling better as well as I was able to have a couple of miles warm up before hitting the first major hills....
Devon is full of hills but it was nice to have a couple of miles of almost flat roads on which to warm up on before having to put any big effort through the pedals... 

The site was a privately owned site and Peter the owner has spent a lot of money over the years in creating a gem of a site.. 
The improvement work is still going on too with new edging stones and gravel being laid on all the hardstandings.... See images below..
We loved the site and we have booked again for next winter...
Peter popped down to our pitch to see us off as did a number of other campers...

It's an interesting point that some of our favourite sites have been the smaller private ones...We will be making a point this year of seeking out more of these smaller and privately owned camp sites...
They are more economical to stay on amongst other things.....
For instance an EHU on a C&CC site will cost about £35pw...typically we pay about £10pw at the smaller private sites...

Having said that we are currently staying at a C&CC site at Moreton... We have stayed here a number of times before as it's good easy access for me to attend the hospital in both Bournemouth and Poole for my regular scans etc and access to the Purbeck hills is also good for my cycling.. 



April 1st 2015 was when we started this fulltiming adventure and we had no idea how we would get on or indeed how long we would be doing it for...
As we start this fifth summer touring season we can both say that we really love the way of life...It seems like the more we do it the more we are enjoying it.     


Sunday, 24 March 2019

Spring Clean....

After a week of gale force winds the weather finally settled down at the beginning of this past week.....  During the gales we had the pop top roof closed for eight days which was the longest period since we have been fulltiming that we have had the roof locked down....

Last Monday we awoke to a nice dry and sunny day with just a hint of a breeze so Anne and I decided that with not long left until we leave this site we should get some spring cleaning done...... 

 Anne worked on the inside of Eva while I did the exterior....
The dimple finish of our Eriba can make it a little more difficult to clean properly but I have found that Fenwick's Caravan Cleaner seems to work well in removing all the dirt that accumulates on the caravan roof and body over the winter...
Having said that, this year there didn't seem to be too much muck on the caravan....the fact that we have not been pitched near any over hanging tree branches has probably helped to stop it getting too dirty... Also all the rain and wind of the recent weeks has helped to wash off any dirt that had accumulated....





After I had cleaned the van with the caravan cleaner I used Fenwicks Bobby Dazzler to rinse off all the shampoo. The Bobby Dazzler leaves a lovely clean and shiny surface which helps the rain to just bead off the van's body and roof...

I receive no incentive from Fenwick's for the mention of their products it's just that I have found them to work really well with Eva's dimple finish.... 
The caravan gets a full clean twice a year like this...Spring and Autumn....

During the summer while we are touring around I use a waterless wash and wax cleaner which helps to remove traffic film...dead flies...tree sap etc. It's quick and easy to use when I don't want to be spending more time than I need to on cleaning.  However for a deep clean the Fenwicks seems to be the best product I've found......



Sunday, 10 March 2019

Return of winter and schoolboy errors....

We'll I was right not to trust the spring like weather that we enjoyed a couple of weeks ago....we have now been plunged straight back into winter weather.
Very strong gale force winds.... Lots of rain and now very cold again.....

Before the weather changed and we were still enjoying the spring like weather I was out on one of my regular Dartmoor cycling loops when I had a front wheel puncture.
After negotiating a 40mph downhill section into a river valley I crossed the bridge and then had a two mile up hill section of about 8% to pull me back out of the valley again.

Just as I got to the top of the climb I heard a sharp pop and the dreaded hissing sound of escaping air.....
The moment it happened my first thought was how lucky I was that it hadn't happened whilst I was zipping downhill at 40mph.... Front wheel punctures can be quite dangerous and difficult to control on fast descents.

My second bit of luck was that there was a bench just 100yds ahead of me...somewhere nice and comfortable to sit down and mend the puncture I thought.

 I removed the front wheel and took off the tyre and inner tube and then took out the spare inner tube that I keep under the saddle.
It was then that I realised that the spare tube would not be any good with the wheel.... The pro-lite wheels that the bike is currently fitted with have quite a deep rim and the tube had a short valve....this if fitted would barely be long enough to go through the deep section rim let alone have enough valve showing to attach my mini pump to in order to inflate the tyre again.

School boy error number one.... I can't believe that I have been carrying that inner tube around for at least a couple of years when it was in fact useless as a spare on this bike with those deep section rims.....

Oh well I thought I will just have to repair the puncture instead...
At first I couldn't find where it was...I finally spotted it on the inside of the tube.

(It had been caused because a bike shop mechanic when replacing a spoke had just made a hole in the rim tape to fit the spoke nipple and had not made good or replaced with new rim tape so the tube had been rubbing on the edge of the spoke hole.)

Anyway...now for schoolboy error number two....when I checked out my puncture repair kit I found that the patch glue was rock hard..totally useless.... I also wasn't carrying any self adhesive patches as an alternative so I was well and truly stumped....

The fact is that over the past ten years I have only ever had two punctures when out riding. One big blowout on my touring bike fully loaded. That was a rear wheel puncture which caused the rim to also damage the tyre.....and once on the Felt which again was a rear wheel...

Because I had never had a puncture when out riding the Tifosi I had neglected to check that tube and puncture kit were all ok.

As I have said schoolboy errors... caused by complacency I suppose. Just goes to show that even with 60+ years of riding under your wheels you can still make stupid errors..
I was pretty embarrassed having to phone Anne and having to ask her to come out and rescue me...

Moving on.....
Below are a couple of images taken from inside Eva the Eriba during the current return to wintry weather...
Also the last image is of a Rolls Royce Dart engine taken at a 1940s themed cafe at the nearby ex RAF Harrowbeer about a mile from our campsite.
The airfield was operational between 1941 to 1945 and was under the control of 10 Group Fighter Command... (Lots more information on the internet if you are interested)
The aerodrome was built from rubble from Plymouth after the blitz...

The cafe has a small museum attached to it and the 1940s theme even runs to the cups and saucers that your tea is poured into...interesting and quirky with 1940s music played in the background....we loved it!









Sunday, 24 February 2019

Who would have thought it......?

Yes...who would have thought it.... Here at the Dartmoor Caravan Park the good weather that we have been enjoying this past week has seen me actually sitting out sunbathing in February.

Tee shirt and shorts has been the camp uniform of choice and when out on my cycle rides I have been wearing my summer cycling kit...

Normally I wouldn't be wearing this sort of attire until at the earliest April....
Apparently this sort of weather is what we would expect to have during mid to late May...

Unfortunately the weather forecast has just informed me that this brilliant weather is due to change a bit on this coming Thursday until then I will continue to make the most of it with a couple of good rides planned for both tomorrow and Wednesday....

Below are some pictures taken around the site and out on my bike over the past few days....

I hope the weather has been good wherever you are.....



At Burrator Reservoir 

Sign at the entrance to our current site.

Near St John's church at Horrabridge

Our pitch earlier today..It really was as warm as it looks.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

A Hint of an Early Spring ?

Over the past couple of weeks we seem to have been enjoying a hint of an early spring......
Now I am not someone who is fooled by nature's habit of kidding us into believing that winter is on the way out and that spring has arrived early.... However I do think that when the weather is good you need to get the bike out and make the most of the good weather when it's here and that is just what I have been doing....

Not all of Dartmoor consists of wide open areas of wild  moorland there are lots of narrow country lanes  bordered on each side by hedges that take you from small village to small hamlet...
One of these hamlets is Sampford Spiney. I used to cycle there when we stayed at the Tavistock C&CC site so it seemed a good place to head for on a recent ride...

Near Sampford Spiney.



A great lunch stop


After riding up the very steep drag of a hill from Horrabridge up towards Sampford Spiney there is a very nice spot at a junction of lanes surrounded by trees where I pulled over for a brief rest....
As I stood there chewing on an energy bar an old gentleman  riding his ebike stopped and we fell into conversation. He told me that he had started cycling way back in 1945 which was three years before I was born... Over the years he had raced...toured and ridden for fitness... Apparently only three weeks ago he had a stent fitted due to an aortic aneurysm and was told that he should wait six weeks before riding his bike again but cabin fever had set in and he just had to get out and ride... This is something that I can fully understand.

He told me that over the past few years due to his health problems he had tried various types of ebike but each one had failed due to one reason or another but he had persevered with them because they had allowed him to continue to ride way beyond what would otherwise have been possible.....
As he zoomed off on his ebike I reflected on the way cycling allows you to meet some very interesting and colourful  people... I was so impressed by his determination to continue to ride despite his health problems way into his late eighties... Hats off to you sir......

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....