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Now retired but busy still living..

Tuesday 30 June 2009

From Broom Wagon to Saddle.

Some weeks before we set off for France Dave Vaughan our broom wagon and team support driver acquired an old MBK bike that he was going to renovate. During our time away on the ACCR Dave told us various tales about the cycling he did when he was younger. Apparently he was quite something on a bike in days of yore.(I think in those days bikes had a big wheel in front with a very small one behind). Dave went on to tell us that our bikes have the gear change lever in the wrong place-apparently the only place for the gear change levers is on the down tube as fitted on his MBK. As well as pointing out to us where we were going wrong with our cycling technique he also explained to us that when he got the MBK on the road he would show us all how to ride a bike properly. Well today I received a text from Dave informing me that the MBK is now on the road. He has been out for a 'bike proving' run as he described it. I informed him that I would give him a 5 week headstart (my accident recovery period) and then we could tackle the 'hill of death' on the team's training circuit. This will now give me an even greater incentive to recover as soon as possible and perhaps I will then be able to learn how to ride a bike properly as taught by a master.............................!!!!!!!!!

Monday 29 June 2009

Bike upgrade.

Prior to setting off on the ACCR and to celebrate my escape (early retirement) I decided to upgrade my sportive bike. I have always fancied having something mildly exotic - some guys buy themselves a fancy sports car- I am happy to settle for a superbike. After doing all the usual research that one does when considering a major purchase I decided that I would stick with the FELT brand and go for the top of the Z series range. I placed my order four days before heading out to France. Whilst in France I had a call from my Felt dealer informing me that the bike had arrived. It is still in the box and awaiting to be built up but it needs me in some level of fitness to visit the shop for measurements etc. The bike has the Z1 frame as used by half of the guys in the Slipstream Garmin Chipotle team and it features full Shimano Dura Ace components. The wheels it is supplied with are Mavic Ksyrium Equipe's which are very good and well thought of wheels. However I am going to run the bike with the Fulcrum Racing Zero wheelset that I purchased a couple of months ago. The Zero's- as well as costing three times more than the Mavic's- are lighter which is great for hills and acceleration and they also look great with their red anodised oversized spokes. I handed over almost as much for this bike as I did for the new car I purchased in April but it is a bit like taking delivery of a brand new Ferrari on the same day you receive a driving ban!! Due to the accident I am looking at another 5weeks at the earliest before I can even sit on the saddle.
My current sportive bike is now for sale. If anyone reading this is interested in a super Felt Z80
Sportive bike that has only covered 730 dry miles having never been out in the rain or damp conditions at half the price of the current Z80 and with a higher specification please contact me for more details. The bike is finished in a high gloss blue finish and part of it can be seen in the picture sporting the Fulcrum Racing Zero's. The other picture shows what my new bike will look like which is finished in gloss grey and clear carbon.

Saturday 27 June 2009

Lid replacement

As I mentioned in yesterday's posting I have already bought my replacement helmet. I decided to purchase a Giro Ionos. It is probably one of the most expensive helmets I could have chosen but after my recent attempt at low level flying and crash landing I feel that my skull is worth it. The helmet is good enough for a number of the teams in the pro peleton including Astana and Slipstream Garmin Chipotle(so it is good enough for me). Those of you that follow the pro peleton will have noticed that my new helmet is in the colours of Slipstream Garmin which is the team that I support-mainly because of their strict anti drug policy. The cleanest team on the tour! Within the team we have UK cyclists David Millar and Bradley Wiggins as well as the Irish climber Dan Martin. The other big name in the team is the American Christian Vande Velde.Watch out for these guys in this years Tour de France I have high hopes for them. I reckon that they are a hot tip to win the team time trial. As I watch the team ride this years tour I will do so in the knowledge that their skulls are being protected by the same make and model of helmet that I have chosen.

Friday 26 June 2009

One week ago

It is now one week ago today since my accident. Most of this past week I have spent sleeping which I am led to believe is a result of the cocktail of drugs that I am taking each day. The broken collarbone and ribs are painful but the painkillers do seem to be keeping it all under control. Most of the 'road rash' that I picked up whilst sliding along the road is now turning to scab and it is only my left arm that continues to be an open wound. this wound keeps weeping badly and requires regular changes of the dressing. I was very lucky. I know this because the Doctors told me that if I had not been wearing my helmet and it had been my bare skull that had absorbed the impact it would probably have killed me. I know a lot of people don't wear a helmet because thay say that if hit by a car or lorry it is not going to protect you. I agree that a helmet won't protect you against a car impact but if following that impact your head meets the road/curb/pavement it will offer some protection for your head and in so doing restrict the range of injuries that you end up suffering with. Make no mistake I was lucky-look at the pictures of my helmet-that could have been my skull As it was even with the helmet on I was knocked out stone cold. Whatever reasons people give for not wearing a helmet THEY ARE WRONG. I am glad that I was wearing mine. I have already bought it's replacement.
Over the following weeks of my recovery I will be posting additional pictures etc of our ACCR and also reveal some of the secrets that the other team members would prefer me not to disclose.

Saturday 20 June 2009

ACCR DAY 14 /15

Sorry for the delay in posting to the Blog but our first day back in the UK ended suddenly when i came off my bike whilst doing about 25mph. I dont remember the accident but it appears that i hit a rut in the road losing control and being thrown about 20ft. I am now in Exeter hospital with 5 broken ribs and a broken collar bone. I should be going home tomorrow. It looks like it will be at least 6wks before i can get back on a bike. Plenty of road rash on my left side where i slid along the road. The accident happened near Budleigh Salterton shortly after crossing the Exe on the Starcross ferry. The othe members of the team came into see of earlier but they are now returning to the Bournemouth area. My long suffering Anne is now on her way and will take me home when the Doctors give the Ok. Not the end of the ride that we expected but every ride is an adventure. In a few days time i will write up a review of the ride complete with unseen photographs.

Thursday 18 June 2009


Bikes all loaded into the broom wagon and now in queue for the ferry which can be seen in the background. Due to depart for UK at about 1500hrs local time.


Now arrived at Santander. Bikes lined up ready for loading into the broom wagon.


Today was a longer day than we had expected. We thought that it might be about 50 miles but it turned out to be 75mls.The day was also hot very hot. The road surface was also variable.The first 37mls was flat or thereabouts. After that it became more and more hilly as we approached the foothills of the Pyrenees. The final climb was very long and very very tough but the payoff was fantastic- a 40 plus mph descent sweeping down the winding road off the hill side and into Spain. A total buzz- a real high- one of the longest descents I have ever done. We were joined on this descent by one of the local club cyclists. Our speed was matching his all the way into Spain where he waved and set off in a different direction. The whole experience makes me want to bring my race bike out here and spend a week just doing the mountain passes. Total cycling magic ! !. ! The picture shows Jason in contact on the phone to Dave as he was trying to talk us around the Biarritz ring road which was a nightmare. Having reached Spain we thought that we would give ourselves a reward- a night in a hotel and that is where we are about half way to Santander. Tomorrow we are going to The ferry and our 24hrs return sailing back to the good old UK. I will post again tomorrow.

Tuesday 16 June 2009


A big day for us today. It started badly with us taking the wrong road and doing 10miles and still being only a couple of miles from where we started. We found ourselves on a very busy dual carriageway with lots of heavy lorries thundering past. We got on to the right road eventually but not until we had wasted an hour. In the end todays riding was the best of the trip so far. First we were travelling through the wine region and then that was followed by mile upon mile of forestry and some of the most remote and straightest roads i have ever cycled on. We ended up doing 100mls at an average speed of 16mph. John ended up doing 108mls due to him taking a wrong turn and he managed an average of 14.3mph. We are staying at a site near the village of Matzos some 50miles from the Spanish border. Tomorrow we travel down to Biarritz and through into Spain. The weather today was good for cycling -warm with clouds and a slight breeze.

Monday 15 June 2009


The day started with heavy rain which continued throughout the day. We checked the forecast for tomorrow and it is looking better so we decided to take a tourist day. Time was spent looking around the town taking photos and doing what most other visitors to the area were doing. Look at the photo and you can see John taking pictures in the pouring rain under his newly acquired umbrella. We have now left ourselves just two days for the final push to the border. This is not made any easier as the guy at the bike shop who repaired Johns wheel told him that the wheel really needs a total rebuild or a replacement. We will just have to keep our fingers crossed that it keeps on rolling. We shall soon be at the mountains- we hope.

Sunday 14 June 2009


After the heat of yesterday we had a thunderstorm during the night which cleared the air a bit. I never heard the storm as i slept right through it. The day was cooler and slightly overcast and finished with rain just as we arrived at tonights camp site about 2mls from the village of St Emilion. We allowed ourselves a shorter day cycling just 57mls. During the first 39mls Jason and I dropped John on the hills which to be fair were long and tortuous. We stopped at a hotel bar for a coffee where Dave joined us and todays picture shows Dave talking John in and giving him instructions from the map whilst Jason enjoys the rest. John joined us at the car and had a coffee also but as we had gained 45mins on John we set off again and then waited for him at Libourne. When John arrived at the site i noticed that his back wheel was wobbling badly and upon checking we saw that he has broken another spoke. He must have hit a rough section of road hard and not had time to take the weight off of his saddle. Tomorrow our day will start with a trip to a bike shop for another repair.

Saturday 13 June 2009


Short posting tonight as we are all exhausted. Today it hit the high nineties. Jason and i managed 75mls and John did 65mls. John was offered a lift to the next meeting place with Dave by an English couple as they thought that he looked so tired They even invited him into their house and gave him a cold drink. We passed through Cognac today and are now camped at a place about 20mls south of there. Its called Barbezieux St Hilaire. Today was about as close to self inflicted torture as you can get and i would like to remind everyone that Jason and I are not members of the brotherhood but are putting ourselves through this for their charity. I must say that at the moment i am surprised that more brothers have not supported us! After all we could have done this for a more inclusive charity but we are not we are doing this for your charity. So if you are one of the fraternity sitting on your wallet give it an airing and donate to YOUR charity. I know times are hard but then so is this- bloody hard!!

Friday 12 June 2009


Today was a hot day 35c hot! As well as the smell of wild flowers was the added aroma of molten tar and a similar noise to cycling in the wet except it was wet tar instead of the rain that we have come to expect on this trip.We had a shorter day on the road today in order to give us some camp time. This allowed us to complete little tasks such as clothes washing etc. We are staying at a really nice camp site at a little village called La Garette not far from Niort. It really is a pretty little place and it is one of those places that you feel really lucky to have stumbled across. Washing and other chores done we thought that we would check out the local restaurants ( see photo). We obviously made a good choice as it was the best meal out so far. It is still 31c as i write this at 22.19 so we could be in for a very warm night- too warm for the sleeping bag !

Thursday 11 June 2009


After yesterdays bad weather we woke today to a bright sunny morning and a barometric reading of 1019m.bars. It looked like we were on for 2 good days cycling. Todays photo shows Dave John and Jason at one of todays quick feed stops. Shortly after this shot was taken we lost John for about 3hrs. Dave made contact with him at the 71mls mark and swept him up with the broom wagon as he felt that John had done enough and was starting to show signs of fatigue. Tonight we are camping just outside of Chantonnay which is north east of La Rochelle. The roads are a lot less busy than the UK and the drivers give us plenty of room which just does not happen back home. Lorry drivers often give a beep of the horn to warn us to prepare for a strong draft just before they pass us. The scenery is often simply stunning and as we cycle along we can smell the various wild flowers and other plants. Today has been cycling at its very best. We hope that tomorrow will be more of the same.

Wednesday 10 June 2009


After 20 or more years it died! The Saunders Galaxy tent that i loaned John for the trip gave up the ghost during last nights torrential rain. John woke up floating on his thermarest thinking he was on a boating trip along the Loire. There we all were waiting for Inter sport to open so John could buy a new tent. This is the second tent we have had to replace on this trip. It has to be said that the weather is atrocious. Its more like March than June. This is proving to be a real set back for the team. We decided today to stay put for 24hrs as we cannot face getting soaked to the skin on the bikes for yet another day. We realise we are losing valuable time but that is the way it has to be. Everyone we speak to is telling us that the weather is due to improve from tomorrow onwards. We are now banking on that!

Tuesday 9 June 2009


Some heavy discussion first thing this morning about the weather which had been torrential rain for most of the night - do we wait for better weather or push on- final decision was to push on and if the rain was too bad we would stop and look for a camp site. As it turned out Jason and i did half of todays ride in heavy rain. Totally soaked to the skin we arrived at Chateau Briant where Dave had booked us into the municipal site. The sun came out and it was hot enough to dry out most of our wet clothes while we checked our bikes over (see photo). John managed to complete 39 miles today which was good considering his recent injury. However in doing so he suffered a broken spoke but we managed to get it repaired in the town for only 2e. We ate a meal al fresco this evening before turning in for a well earned nights sleep. Oh and before i forget Dave had to buy a new tent yesterday because his was leaking badly.

Monday 8 June 2009


Very heavy rain today. We found a bike shop that was open and Jason had his wheel repaired and i also had mine re- balanced just to be on the safe side. We all spent some time in the town as we had decided that after yesterdays efforts we would have a rest day. Tomorrow we will need to push on again but we are all hoping for the weather to improve. ( And people say it always pains in England! The photo today shows the guy in the shop working on our wheels. Tonight we are having a meal in camp- cheese- wine - meats- bread etc . I just hope that this constant rain eases up .

Sunday 7 June 2009


A tough day. Jason and i battled against some of the strongest winds we have ever cycled in. Add to that torrential rain for a lot of the day plus some very long and enormous hills and we ended up totally wasted. When we arrived at Fougeres Jason found that he of had a broken spoke. We passed a bike shop on entering the town but it does not open till Tuesday. We are camped at the local municipal site and very nice it is.Great facilities quiet and only 4.50e. Tonight we all had a really good meal and Jason tried snails having never eaten then before. They were good though! As for tomorrow we have some various plans but no decision will be made till then. Jasons wheel is buckled so he cannot ride with that and the broken spoke. It maybe that we end up making tomorrow a rest day. I will keep you all informed. John has spent the day in the broom wagon with Dave and is still limping badly.

Saturday 6 June 2009


John woke up this morning with severe cramp. This would not clear and John was in agony so Dave had to take him to hospital. It was thought it could be a blood clot but after tests it was decided it was a torn muscle. All this and he has not been on his bike yet. He needs at least 24hrs rest so its the broom wagon for him for a day or two. Jason and i have completed day 2 as planned and the entire team are all back together and we are camped at Granville just north of Mont St Michel. It is now raining heavily as can be seen in the picture of our wet tents in camp. The site is right on the coast.

Friday 5 June 2009


Arrived in Cherbourg Ok- camped not far from ferry port. . Getting ready for the big push south tomorrow- our D DAY:.


Waiting to board the ferry.

Tuesday 2 June 2009

ACCR-Almost Ready.

The bike has been serviced and the brakes uprated. Tents- sleeping bag- general kit nearly all packed. I think John Dave and Jason are almost ready too. Tomorrow I have kept free for last minute jobs and things that I might have overlooked. On Thursday the 'Broom Wagon' will be loaded up with the bikes and the rest of the kit in order that we can get an early and trouble free start at Poole ferry port on Friday morning.
The worst thing now is the wait for the start of our ACCR adventure. I will now be glad when we are on our way. All the training is done and if it wasn't enough we will soon find out. I felt the same before we started our LEJOG last September. It doesn't seem possible but it is only about eight and a half months since the team completed that trip. Mixed emotions at the moment-on the one hand a feeling of excitement and anticipation and on the other, feelings of apprehension and nervousness wondering as always whether we have taken on more than we can deal with.
All we have to do is remember the teams motto 'No hill to high,no distance to far'.
Oh well whatever happens it will be an experience and that's what it's all about.....!

Six weeks off.

 The visit to see the Consultant went quite well really ...   My ' numbers' have started to creep up again so I am going to be given...