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Now retired and enjoying every minute.....

Monday, 12 April 2021

Busy Still Living......

 I am now on my second round of chemotherapy. 

I had a gap of four weeks between the two rounds of treatment in order for me to have some specialist dental work to be completed. This was important because one of the drugs that I require to strengthen my bones can be highly dangerous and cause serious problems to my jawbone. When you see the fuss some people are causing regarding the perceived risks attached to the Covid vaccine they should take a look at the risk factors in regard to the drugs cancer patients need to take..... 

Once I got used to the chemo I felt that I needed to set myself something to aim for. Before the chemo when I was first diagnosed with the three cancers I honestly didn't know if I would still be around by Easter but as my body started to react to the treatment I set myself the target of getting back on my basic turbo setup by Easter...  

Towards the latter part of the four week gap between the two rounds of treatment I seemed to be moving quite well with slightly less pain. The consultant told me that they would restart the treatment the day before Good Friday. I knew that once the treatment restarted I would start to suffer with severe exhaustion again. I made the decision therefore to attempt a short ride on the Wednesday of that week..... Well....I managed a short ride although it was not without some pain and difficulty. The feeling of having got back on a bike again after six months was unbelievable and it did me no end of good psychologically. Since then I have managed a second ride of twenty minutes although it did wipe me out for the rest of the day.... My plan is that when I have a good day I will add some more saddle time and slowly build up my strength again..... My next big target is to manage to add some more miles to the 57 that I put on my new bike back in last October.

Below is a photo of my old basic turbo setup situated in my awning annexe. To the right is my new Focus Paralane2 bike waiting for those additional miles and on the left under the cover is my beloved Felt which is now on the for sale list...  

By the way... The title 'Busy Still Living' is a tag line used by Boom Radio the radio station for those of us from the Baby Boomer Generation...   It kind of reflects the way things are for me just now....

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Thursday, 18 February 2021

Update..........

 I thought that it was about time I updated you on what's happened to cause me to stop blogging here at the Original Purpletraveller.....

Well I have gone from someone who wouldn't take a tablet for a headache to someone who now has to take a string of medication from here each day...


I have told you about my heart condition which has been managed successfully for the past six years.... Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.  With careful control of my heart rate I was still able to ride my bike with no ill effects. I had been advised recently by my cardiac consultant to switch to an e-bike....not to improve my speed or go up hills faster but to make it even easier to exercise my heart rate control and make it safer for me to continue riding.. I managed to do 57 miles on the new bike  and posted an image and technical details of the bike here on the blog.


Following those couple of rides on the new bike I noted that I had started to get back ache. I put it down to the possibility of not setting the bike fit quite right but all the geometry measurements were spot on. I couldn't ride the bike for a few weeks as the weather was so bad but during this time the ache in my lower back seemed to have moved into my rear rib cage.. Then it moved into my back again.... I started to feel really exhausted...I spent a lot of time sleeping.... And when it got to the point where I couldn't walk without assistance it was obvious I needed to go to the hospital.... 

I have had three stays in hospital once before Christmas and twice since.... The upshot is that I have now been diagnosed as having ....Blood Cancer ....Bone Cancer and Thyroid Cancer....   After having had prostate cancer ten years ago I think that I could be forgiven for thinking that my brush with cancer was now all in the past.... Having had one cancer is unlucky now having a further three all at the same time is utterly careless I would say..... 

The cancers cannot be cured so they are called terminal..... 

I am undergoing treatment at the moment which consists of chemotherapy. Other treatments will be brought in later such as treatment to try and strengthen my bones.. The bone cancer eats away at the bones and weakens them so that they can collapse.... I've already had a rib in my back collapse which just added to the pain I am already dealing with......

So it's all about trying to live as long as I can by using various treatments to lengthen my life.....  When I came out of hospital I could only walk with the use of a walking frame..... I graduated to walking sticks and can now manage short distances unsupported so that is some progress.....  I do intend at some point to get back on that bike and add some miles to its running total. When that will be is in the laps of the gods plus my determination.......

I will keep you posted as to my progress but I obviously won't be blogging as often as in the past.......


Friday, 4 December 2020

Apologies...

 I would like to apologize to those of you who left comments following my last post.

I normally  like to answer all comments but the truth of the matter is that after I posted that last entry I fell quite seriously ill. ( No it's not Covid) I have not been able to get myself into the right state of mind to even check the blog until now. I am currently in hospital but not sure yet how long I will be here but I just wanted everyone to know that I really do appreciate all comments made and haven't ignored you.

For the time being the blog is on hold but at sometime I will be back posting again...

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Meet Freya .........


This is my new bike. ...  As with all my vehicles...caravans....etc I follow the tradition of giving them names. This bike I have named Freya (the Focus)  .....Although I have had the bike for ten days,  due to poor weather conditions namely rain, today was the first decent  day that we have had good enough to ride the bike. I didn't want to have the first ride in the pouring rain......

The bike is a Focus Paralane2 ( that's squared) not two. It has a full carbon frame with BBB aluminium compact bars. 

I was unsure whether to go for the 105 groupset or the Ultegra until I saw a video on GCN comparing ten year old Dura Ace (which is what I have on my Felt) with the latest 105. The upshot was that due to the trickle down of technology from the top groupsets to the lower components they found that apart from the weight of the Dura Ace being lighter the quality of the latest 105 was equal in all areas..

As I have been perfectly happy with the Dura Ace on the Felt and also happy with the older 105 on the Tifosi it made the decision for me to go with the 105 and save a bit of cash by doing so...

So I have 105 throughout apart from the chain set which is FSA.

The brakes are hydraulic with 160 discs back and front and flat mounted.

The gears are 50/34 front and 11/34 rear so it offers a good spread of ratios.

The saddle is a Prologo Kappa3 which I found to be pretty comfortable during my ride today. It seems to be similar to the Fizik Aliante which is what I have on the Felt.

The wheels are DT Swiss with a height of 32mm and shod with Continental Grand Prix 5000 at a width of 28mm. The bike has thru axles with a 148x12 at the rear and 110x12 at the front. The thru axles are what is called R.A.T. which is rapid axle technology. This is similar to a quick release but with a quarter turn bayonet at one end and a lever at the other end. 

On the electric side of things I went for the Fazua system and the bike has a Fazua Evation, 60nm, 250W/400w max motor .

Back in 2008/9 I was 5'10in in height and my current bikes are all size 56. Over the past 10/11 years I appear to have lost one inch in height so with this bike I have gone for a size 54. During my ride today I was very pleased with the fit of the bike and found it very comfortable to ride.... The bike fit and all the adjustments I made to the bike prior to today's first ride has obviously paid off......

Most of today's ride was made with the motor off while I made full use of the wide gear ratios..... I did try out the motor on a couple of hills but it would appear that for most of my riding the motor will be off with the occasional use of the eco mode on the stiffer hills. 

The motor has four settings... Off... Eco called Breeze.. Medium called River... Turbo called Rocket. Why they choose such silly names I really don't know why......

As I get more used to the bike no doubt I will make more use of the various settings but for now I want to just get used to riding the bike without the motor as it rides so well as a normal bike .....

As time goes on I will keep you updated how everything works out with Freya.  ..




Saturday, 26 September 2020

Three becomes Four but will become Two.......

No....It's not a new social distancing rule sent out by our mop headed leader Boris...nor is it the title of an episode of the 1960s series 'The Prisoner'. What it does concern is the situation regarding my bikes.....

 I have had all of my bikes for over ten years and have never felt the need to replace any of them which must say something about my bike choice in the first place.
 
Over that period I have made some upgrades to both the Tifosi and the Revolution Touring bike but the bikes have served me well as they still do.
 The Felt has never needed any upgrades as it was full Dura-Ace when I bought it and apart from replacing chain and cassette during servicing it is as it was supplied to me. 
One interesting fact is that I have never ridden the Felt in the rain and she still looks just like a brand new bike...

So... the bikes are still all good and continue to give good service... What's changed??
Well it's me! 

As many of you will be aware a couple of years ago I had a diagnosis of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and up until recently I have been asymptomatic. 

My cardiac consultant spelled out for me the dangers of continuing to ride hard and imposed a strict maximum heart rate limit that I must keep below when cycling. 

On the flats it doesn't pose a problem and I can manage my heart rate at well under the limit that she set. 
However the moment I hit the hills my heart rate obviously starts to increase and it becomes very difficult to keep out of the red zone ... 

Being based in Devon as we are now doesn't help matters as there are hills in every direction. Constantly worrying about my heart rate has to some extent taken the joy out of my passion for riding my bike and to ignore my heart rate could (not to put too fine a point on it)  kill me...

Recently although only minor I have started to display some symptoms of my condition. The condition is progressive so will not improve.

So that's the reality that I am faced with ....
Do I stop riding altogether and be safe or do I continue to ride and put my life in danger by doing so?

A few weeks ago I read an article about Sean Yates the ex TDF stage winner (amongst many other cycling successes). Apparently he has a similar heart condition as me and although it is not exactly the same he also is limited to a reduced heart rate. 

Faced with the same dilemma as myself Sean went down the route of e-Road bikes.
Currently he is an ambassador for Ribble e-Bikes and reading his story got me thinking....  

Would this be a route that I could go down, after all if it is good for an ex Tour de France stage winner and has allowed him to continue to follow his cycling passion then it surely must be good for me at my minor level of cycling successes.

I have written about e-Bikes a number of times on this blog mainly because I feel a lot of the people riding them seem to be fit and well enough to manage without the added assistance of an e-bike but I have always said that there is a place for them for people who have a physical or medical reason to have to ride one ...... Never did I ever think that I would find myself falling into that category..... Such is life ... 

After reading lots of reviews and magazine articles on the subject.... Looking at the various systems and motors available and the different bike manufacturers producing them the choice of system came down to two... 
The Fazua evation system and the Mahle ebikemotion system. 

The Mahle ebikemotion system uses a motor in the rear hub and this 
is what the Ribble bike ridden by Sean Yates is fitted wirh..... I however decided to go with the Fazua Evation system as used by Focus bikes amongst others such as Lapierre and Pinarello to name just two.

Anyway.... I decided to buy a Focus model from my local bike shop RockinBikes in Yelverton. Focus currently have a 20% discount on the model that I have ordered so that gave me a saving of almost a thousand pounds which made the price a bit more palatable..

So where does 'three becomes four but will become two' come in?
Well the new bike sits in between my Tifosi and Felt in a number of ways which I will go into in my next post so those two bikes I will be selling on at some point...
 I currently have three bikes the new bike makes four less the two that I will sell will leave me with two bikes.... my tourer and the new bike.

Currently the new bike is being built up at the bike shop (images below) .

In my next post I will introduce you properly to the new bike.....  explain my choice and tell you more about it........





Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Motorhomes and Campervans everywhere.....

 The days around and including the bank holiday saw Dartmoor inundated with Motorhomes and Campervans..... They were everywhere and it appeared that half of them had not booked a pitch on a site ahead of their visit and were therefore parking up for the night in any space that they could find...

Normally it's not a problem but this year because of the covid pandemic it seemed that everyone who owned a motorhome or campervan was determined to have a holiday come what may...... The situation became so bad that the Dartmoor National Park Authority was forced to put up lots and lots of notices reminding people of the local bylaws....

There were lots of caravans in the area as well but caravans tend to book their pitches in advance as it's not so easy to wild camp if you are using a caravan. Caravan owners tend to stay on a pitch for longer anyway as they generally tend to set up and stay whereas Motorhomers and Campervan owners like to move around more often. Our site had to turn away numerous campers because they hadn't booked and we were full...

The major problem that was experienced on Dartmoor was some campervan and tent campers camping wild and trashing the area.... They were leaving fire pits... general rubbish and even old camping equipment and tents.... I must admit I can't understand why anyone would want to trash an area of beauty that they have come to see and in doing so ruin it for other visitors to the area. 
The Park Authority banned all wild camping on Dartmoor (it's normally allowed) but were sensible enough to say that they would still allow proper backpackers to camp.  Backpackers carry everything in and everything out again leaving no sign of their passing and overnight stay.

On some of my backpacking trips over the years I have carried some of my rubbish for over a hundred miles before I was able to safely dispose of it properly..... 

Since the bank holiday I have been doing a number of little jobs around the caravan and Anne has been doing lots of gardening jobs..... This year Anne has grown our own beans...peas...peppers... tomatoes and more. That was one of the positive things that came out of the covid lockdown..

One of the jobs that I wanted to complete before any cold weather was to insulate the mains water pipe into the caravan.
 I carefully measured the length of the pipe.. in fact I did it twice to make sure I purchased the correct number. My careful measurements told me that I required sixteen one metre lengths of insulation....see below.

I started at the water tap end where I had recently fitted a splitter tap. I fitted the insulation tubes one by one along the 15+ metres of water pipe.....
When I eventually got to the caravan intake end I found that I was just under one metre short..... This proved one thing..... that I should go to plumbing school or somewhere similar🙂. I never was any good at anything that involved numbers...ha..ha

Anyway, after another trip to B&Q and the purchase of one more section of insulation pipe the job was finally completed..... 

I have a few more little jobs to do but luckily none of them involves measuring anything....

Monday, 24 August 2020

Walking instead of cycling......

 A short walk that Peter and I did the other week when he stayed with us was around the Burrator Reservoir....

Usually over our winters spent here I have used the circuit around the reservoir as a cycling time trial route... Each circuit is 4 miles in length so ten laps gives me a nice round 40 miles. Add to that the 3 miles warm up from the site to the reservoir and a slightly meandering 7 mile route back to the caravan site and that all adds up to a nice 50 mile morning ride with each lap racing against my own times...

This time though I was walking instead of cycling and I was really surprised at how much more I actually saw than when I have my head down on the bike.For instance I don't usually notice  things like the ruins of a Manor house.....a waterfall and some of the lovely views.....






Peter and I had a really enjoyable walk and it just goes to show that even when on a bike it might be a good idea to slow down sometimes and see a bit more of the area that you are cycling through..... 

It is easy to get caught up in training for the next sportive...time trial or hill climb and there is nothing wrong in that but it might just be an idea that once the event is over to go back and have a slower ride with time to stop and stare and take in a bit more of what the route has to offer.....

Changing the subject ..... I said in a previous post that I would keep you updated on the performance of the Kampa All Season Awning and Annexe.... Well last week we had a really un-seasonal storm...... Gale force winds in excess of 50 mph with torrential rain hit the site.

 My next door neighbour was up at 4am attempting to pack away a large gazebo which had been torn apart by the storm....... All his BBQ equipment was in it with bikes.... chairs etc. The structure ended up in the sites rubbish bins.

 Another caravanner on site was also up in the early hours  trying to dismantle his awning before it got ripped apart....  And our awning?? Well it survived the storm with hardly a murmur...... Just one peg had started to pop out but I was already aware that it was loose before the storm and had intended to replace it but had forgotten. The awning seemed to perform really well and had also proven to be pretty watertight as well. 

That was last week and tonight and tomorrow according to the forecast we are going to have it happen all over again.... Another storm is going to hit us and will be yet another test for the Kampa All Season awning. 

I will keep you updated on how it performs...........


Busy Still Living......

  I am now on my second round of chemotherapy.  I had a gap of four weeks between the two rounds of treatment in order for me to have some s...