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Now retired and enjoying every minute.....

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...........


Monday, 17 August 2020

Out on the moor.....

 Since my last post we have been quite busy compared to the quiet of lockdown...

 My daughter and her family were on holiday in Cornwall for a week and took the opportunity to visit us twice during their stay.... They experienced some of the steepest and narrowest lanes that Devon had to offer as they followed their car sat-nav from where they were staying to our site here in Devon.... My daughter is a very competent driver but she hated the hour long journey across to us and went back a different way ignoring the sat-nav this time. Their return journey was both quicker and stress free proving that there are times when it is better to ignore your sat -nav and use a map......

Although the weather wasn't perfect for their visits it was really good to see them again as apart from a flying visit to Bournemouth for a hospital appointment when I popped over to their house for a coffee ☕ and to pick up my Felt Bike we hadn't seen them since Christmas due to the pandemic...

This last week my mate Peter visited us..... He was originally going to cycle from Bournemouth to our site here near Yelverton but in the end he chose to let the train take the strain as it became obvious that he would have had insufficient time for the return trip and have a few nights here with us... 

 He has cycled to visit us on a number of occasions over the past five years during our travels visiting us in Suffolk... Lincolnshire.... Wiltshire and Somerset to name just a few places.... Last year he visited us when we were staying at the Cuckoo's Corner campsite near Hereford.....

It was great to see him again but as on this trip he didn't have his bike with him we had planned some walks out on the moor.... Peter and I have completed a lot of walking and backpacking trips over the past couple of decades including the Pennine Way. 

Our last backpacking trip together was actually here on Dartmoor when we did the so called Dartmoor Perambulation with other members of the Backpackers Club. During that trip we had a varied mix of weather which is quite normal for the Dartmoor area which I have said in previous posts seems to have it's own weather bubble...

This time the forecast for the week was for very hot weather and getting hotter as the week went on..... As it turned out that forecast was pretty accurate indeed the day we had chosen for our first walk 'Out on the Moor' turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year.... The walk was to include a visit to a remote waterfall and some standing stones, again in a remote area of the moor.... As it turned out we made it to the waterfall but due to the excessive heat making it very tough going we decided to cut the walk short and miss out the standing stones. The walk was taking us longer than we had expected and in the end our walking experience kicked in and making the decision to cut it short proved the right and sensible thing to do.....

I've posted an image below of Peter setting up his tent next to our caravan and some images from our walk 'Out on the moor'.











Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Fiona's first rides in Devon......



I mentioned in a previous post that I had now collected my Felt Bike (Fiona) from my daughter's in Dorset....

I had never ridden Fiona in Devon before because normally when we spend time in Devon it's usually over the winter season and I have Tiffany the Tifosi as my winter season ride. One of the main reasons of course is because Tiffany has mudguards (fenders) fitted and with slightly wider tyres etc is more suited to riding in the winter weather.

The pandemic changed a lot of our plans as it has done for a lot of people so it seemed a sensible idea that when I had to go back to Dorset for a medical appointment I picked up the Felt and brought it back down here to our pitch in Devon.
So currently I have two bikes down here.... The Tifosi I have fitted to the turbo so even when the weather is wet I can still manage to maintain my cycling fitness.

At the moment I am riding every other day either on the Tifosi  on the Turbo or on the Felt on the road....

Riding in Devon is totally different from riding in Dorset...... The lanes are narrower and the hills are generally steeper.... Also the weather around Dartmoor seems to have its own climate bubble... In one ride you can have Bright Sunshine.... Mist.. Wind and Rain all on a two hour ride.

The other day when I was riding along a hedge lined lane that was marked as being only seven feet wide I met a van followed by a lorry coming the other way.
 I had to dismount and literally bury myself into the hedge in order to allow them to pass. (The alternative would have been to have turned around and cycle two miles back down the lane). 
It was tight enough when the van slowly slipped past me but when the lorry went past there was literally only two inches to spare and that was with me forcing my back into the hedge as far as I could..... Luckily the hedge didn't have any brambles in it or it would have ripped some very expensive cycling kit to shreds......
 As I said a bit different from my rides in Dorset...

On another occasion I was cycling up a 13% hill on another narrow lane only to be met by a tractor coming down the hill. He filled the lane as did the van and lorry mentioned above. The tractor had some equipment on the back that seemed to consist of lots of spikes and blades.... This time I did turn around and cycle back down the hill...... 
Riding in Devon is certainly not straightforward and is very different from most other places that I have ridden in... 

When I cycled LEJOG some years ago it was agreed by all the team that the Devon section was the hardest of the whole trip.


At the top of this post are some classic 'bike lean' images taken on some of my recent rides on Fiona the Felt....











Sunday, 12 July 2020

A step closer to what is normal........

Over this past week our campsite has taken a step closer to what we think of as normality...  The sign that was put out at the entrance to the site at the start of the lockdown announcing that the touring section of the site was closed has now been removed....

 The site is now open to all and for most of the past week every pitch has been taken..... 
We have had people visit us from Liverpool...London... West Sussex and even someone from just six miles down the road who wanted a slight change of scenery after being stuck indoors for the past three months....

The very first caravan to arrive was an Eriba Troll similar to our Eva that was our touring home for the past five years.......

The site here as I have said before is only a small site. ..  it is more like a CS in lots of ways as the touring section can only accommodate about seven units.... The longer term/seasonal section holds about fourteen units..... I am saying 'about' as when people come and go the numbers can vary.   

The site never feels busy even when all pitches are filled .... Some of the pitches are more secluded than others with some being enclosed by mature hedges and others being more open...... Our pitch is surrounded by hedges and being a corner pitch is very secluded and private....
 We don't have such a good view over the Tamar Valley as some of the more open pitches but for a seasonal pitch I would place privacy over the view every time.     

At the same time that the site opened again another large box arrived at the site for us..... 
 It was a box from Kampa Dometic.... It contained an all season annexe for our awning.... Something else for me to put to the all season test....

As with all things in camping it's always a good thing if everything you have has multiple uses.... The annexe is a useful extra space that can be used when we have visitors in bad weather..... It can also be used to accommodate my bikes....

(I recently had to drive up to Bournemouth for a hospital appointment and while I was there I was able to pick up my best bike the Felt and so currently I have two bikes here..)

It can also be used as an additional sleeping area as an inner bedroom tent was also supplied with the annexe ....
This has the potential of being a really multi use bit of kit for us and I will be putting it to the test very closely over the coming months.....
What I can say is that the annexe was an easy fit to the awning and is made from the same heavy duty all season fabric....
It has just one air pole that takes just 20 pushes of the pump to inflate it to the 9psi that is recommended for both awning and annexe.... The spacing on the pegging points is similar to the awning and it has a two part metal pole that is used to create a very stable ridge along the length of the structure.... 

As with the awning I will let you know how it all performs in the various weather conditions that can be expected over a multi season pitching......

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 Frey...