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Now retired but busy still living..

Tuesday 21 December 2010


With the weather we have been getting over the past couple of weeks I have not been getting much cycling done. The skinny 23mm tyres on my road bikes just do not mix with the amount of snow we have had. Even the 32mm tyres on the touring bike don't cut it in this sort of weather. If we are going to continue to get this type of weather in the years ahead maybe I should consider adding a Pugsley to my bike stable.

 SEASONS GREETINGS to all my friends out there in the blogosphere. I wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR.  

I will not be making any more postings until the New Year as I wish to spend as much time as possible with my family. I will be back again in 2011. Your comments will still be uploaded.

Saturday 18 December 2010


About this time of year a lot of bloggers are talking about various events that will take place next year.
A lot of the walking/backpacking blogs are giving  coverage to the TGO Challenge. This is an annual self supported walking event across the Highlands of Scotland west coast to east coast. The event started in 1980 and is held in the month of May. This is the premier walking event in the UK.
I have walked across Scotland many times over the past 40+ years as well as walking north to south and south to north, but have never taken part in the challenge.

If you scan the cycling blogs you would see the Etape du Tour mentioned a lot. This is probably seen as the top European Cyclo Sportive . A one day event it enables the amateur cyclist to ride a stage of the Tour De France with closed roads - support and food stops.
As with the TGO challenge this is another event that I have never taken part in.

There are lots of one day sportive events in the UK - in fact during 'the season' you would have a choice of events every weekend. Some of these I have taken part in but there are lots and lots that I haven't.
During the coming year I will be riding quite a few of these either as a solo entrant or as part of a small group - but each one ridden will be part of my overall training plan.

My real love though are the multi-day sportives - rides like the 'Tour of Wessex'. This is a really popular three day event that takes place through a scenic but tough landscape- 329 miles of Wessex and Exmoor.

Land's End to John o'Groats tends to be completed as a do anytime touring ride with an average completion time of 14/15 days with lots of varied routes. Average distance is 930 miles. There is a history and tradition of attempting it at greater speed though. It has been completed in less than 2 days and 2 nights.
I was part of a small team that rode it in 2008 covering about 100 miles a day. It took us 10 days.

The Race Across AMerica (RAAM) is a multi day endurance ride that has become a major event. Now we have the Race Across Europe - simply known as RACE. This epic ride crosses 8 countries starting in Amsterdam in the Netherlands and finishing in Tarifa in Spain. I would like to do this ride but unfortunately the inaugural RACE is due to start on the 7th September 2011 and that is 7 days into my Rock to the UK event - still there will always be another year..!

Rock To The UK is an endurance ride that will start at The Rock of Gibraltar- cross Spain and France and bring us back to the English South Coast.
The route chosen will give us a total distance of 1500 miles to be completed over 15 riding days. It is generally accepted that 100 miles on a bike is roughly equivalant to the 26 miles covered by a runner doing a marathon. So what we will in effect be doing is a marathon a day for 15 days.
As well as crossing the Pyrenees our route will take us over a number of mountain ranges in Spain so it is not going to be a particularly flat ride. More importantly as well as being a tough ride it will be FUN.

At the moment we are getting together a small team to do the ride and it looks as if we will be looking for another one or two riders.Would you like to ride from the Rock to the UK ? Are you able to set aside three weeks from 1st to 21st September 2011 ?
If the answer is yes send your contact number to pedalspinner@tiscali.co.uk and I will give you a call in the New Year to discuss details with you.

Tuesday 14 December 2010


I've seen a lot in the media recently about 'MAMILs'.  This is an acronym for'Middle Aged Men In Lycra'. Apparently the middle aged man these days is not bothering to buy a sports car as an outward sign of a mid-life crisis. No what mid-life crisis men are doing now is buying high end road bikes- putting on lycra and zipping along our highways and byways.

Market research and other studies have been carried out that show one of the main reasons people cycle is to keep fit and burn off the fat (41%). These reports also claim that those aged 45 - 54 enjoy cycling the most - the younger riders tend to view commuting as the number one reason to ride a bike.(The accepted age for MAMILs is 35 - 54)

Now  the thing with middle aged men is that for them to really enjoy their hobby and sport they feel that they have to spend lots of money on it. Hence the top end bikes - top of the range everything...! Shoes - socks - mitts - helmet- and the lycra.

I suppose that all these extra people riding bikes can only be a good thing  - the more cyclists about on the roads  can only help but change attitudes to cyclists in general as well as making the roads safer. According to the latest reports 42% of the population now see cycling as a 'cool' activity to be involved in so you would think that being a 'MAMIL' would also be seen as cool. However the term tends to be used more as a form of that good old British trait of laughing at ourselves.

If you mention to someone that your a keen cyclist one of the first things that you seem to get asked is 'do you wear lycra'? Now I would agree that wearing lycra is not going to be very flattering if you are a middle-aged man with a paunch. 
However, because cycling is such a good way of keeping fit and maintaining a good trim well shaped body it follows that you won't see many lycra clad paunches around. Most of the MAMILS that I see look in pretty good shape.

Now as far as I am concerned I have been a lycra wearer for years. Because I am one of those riders who likes to 'go fast' on whatever bike I am riding be that a tourer -sportive - trainer etc -  I've found it to be the most comfortable thing to wear on a bike.
I have tried other things such as 'proper' touring shorts and loose fit jerseys but these styles of cycling kit don't cut it for me - they tend to flap around in the wind and just feel uncomfortable.

Whether I fit into the MAMIL grouping is debatable - the age group the report quoted of 35 - 54 means that I am too old . In about five weeks time I will be 63 years young so I don't really think that I fit comfortably into the group although I do seem to fit quite comfortably into my lycra.
This means that I will have to come up with my own acronym. I have had my thinking helmet on and I have come up with.......GOGIL.... Yes I must be a GOGIL.

GRUMPY OLD GIT IN  LYCRA...............!!!

Yes I am a grumpy old git in the stretchy stuff.

Friday 10 December 2010

SHE'S BACK.....!

Yes - She's back!

The 'Studland Ferry is now back and operational after her refit. The ferry's name is Bramble Bush Bay and she was towed to Southampton for the refit at the beginning of November.
Due to the bad weather that we have experienced over the past couple of weeks the whole task took about ten days longer than expected. The paint seemed to take ages to dry because the temperature was so low and the snow wasn't a lot of help either. Anyway it's all done now and she went back into operation on Tuesday at about 1300hrs.

This is the fourth ferry to operate this service since the Bournemouth -Swanage Motor Road & Ferry Company was formed back in July 1923, although  it is the first to actually have a name.
The ferry is 242 feet long and has a nominal capacity of 48 cars although it can take up to 52.
Propulsion is Diesel - Hydraulic.
The first ferry was steam driven and only carried 15 cars so things have moved on a bit over the past 87 years.

The ferry crossing remains as popular as ever over the 400 yard mouth to Poole Harbour saving vehicles a 25 mile round trip and giving cyclists the quickest route over to the roads and trails of the Purbeck Hills.

Now that she is back the 'Hell Riders' of  Team 219 will be back out training in one of the best cycling areas along the South coast.

Monday 6 December 2010


I have not had much chance to get out on the bike over the last week due to the bad weather.
It is really unusual to have snow and ice so early on in the winter and quite rare for us to have any snow down here in this little pocket of the far south anyway. However this is the second time this year that we have had snow so maybe it is something we are going to have to get used to. Anyway most of my bike riding has been indoors on the trainer.

As I am pedalling along indoors my mind wanders thinking about lots of other things (helps with the boredom) and one of the things I started to think about was how varied cycling is.
I mean cycling can be a sport at various levels and disciplines - Racing- Time trials - Track- BMX - Downhill etc etc.. It is also a means of transport in it's own right. You can commute to work on a bike and keep fit at the same time. Not only are you keeping fit but you are also saving money on the cost of fuel or public transport not to mention helping to free up space on the roads.

Cycling can also be a hobby and a leisure activity in whatever way you want to do it- when you start to think about it the bike is an absolutely brilliant invention- almost all things to all people.

One area of cycling that seems to be making a bit of a resurgence in these cash strapped times is cycle camping or cyclepacking as we (backpackers club members) would call it.

It was cycle camping that got me as a kid into both serious sport cycling and into backpacking in the hills and mountains of Britain. It was probably my first real sense of freedom and adventure. Freedom to travel under my own steam wherever I wanted to go and the adventure of camping out each night. To this day it is one of the areas of cycling that I love the most and the planning of a cycle camping trip is almost as much fun as the trip itself.

All you need is a bike with a good set of 'granny' gears with which to winch yourself up the hills. With your fully laden bike loaded with all the equipment you need such as tents - sleeping bag - cooking kit etc you will be glad that you have a bike with a set of gears that look like dinner plates- but those dinner plate rear sprockets make the whole experience a doddle - well almost.

Most of the lessons that you learn in backpacking can be applied to cyclepacking including the ultralight form of lightweight camping. Most of my ultralight equipment can be used when I go cyclepacking and that combined with a good set of gears on my touring bike really does make the whole activity that much easier. I have no problem at all in cycling up a 20% hill on my touring bike fully laden with all the kit.

If you have never tried it then you really should give cyclepacking a trial. It can be a super way to have a low cost holiday and there are so many reasons why it is worth the effort.
You can travel further than you can if you walk- meaning that you can get to a lot more far flung places from home in a shorter time. It's green- which does seem to be important for a lot of people right now. It helps to keep you fit. It is so much fun just cycling along with all the smells and sounds of the countryside- so much better than being cooped up in a metal box. It is a great combination of cycling and camping and the two activities seem to blend together so well.

Yes I firmly believe that cycle camping is going to make a big comeback so give it a go and be part of the boom next year.

Earlier this year I was part of a small group that cycle camped through the Normandy area of  France - we all had a brilliant time and it is our intention to have a return trip to France this coming year. We plan on a slightly different area and there are so many reasons that I could give you why France is such a good destination for a cycle-camping trip but I will give you just one right now and it is shown in the photo at the top.

You really do get some fantastic cakes and pastries there.
 Good enough reason for you...?

Wednesday 1 December 2010


Back in June when I purchased the 'Tifosi' winter training bike I said that I would need some Retro styled cycling kit to go with the retro styled paint job. It was at that time that I found Shutt Velo Rapide.

ShuttVR is a British company founded  in 2009 by two avid cyclists Alex Raistrick and Simon Warren and based in Yorkshire. The company produces cycling kit manufactured from supersoft 'merino perform' fabric. The styles get away from the modern logo festooned gaudy look and instead are based on a far more traditional style.

Before I obtained my first Shutt jersey I must admit I was a bit cautious about the purchase. Unlike a lot of people I have never really got on with Merino wool (as far as my walking and backpacking kit is concerned). Perhaps I should have persevered more because I really love the Shutt products.
Since that first jersey I bought I have purchased a further six items. The kit is well designed and of high quality and for a sportwool product they don't cost a fortune. The other thing that is important is that they are designed to fit the normal everyday shaped rider- in other words you don't have to be built like a racing ferret for this gear to fit you. Most of the jerseys do have a racing fit but it is comfortable without being too tight.

Two British Pro cycling teams  now race in Shutt clothing  and the company have also created ShuttVR CC a BC/CTT registered team .Customers have the option of becoming a team member something which I did after acquiring my first jersey.

Now I will only mention products on my blog that I have purchased and tried myself and I make no financial gain by bringing Shutt to your attention- but after having used the clothing for some time now I believe the products to be first class and have no hesitation in recommending them.

When you are next in the market for some quality cycling kit go and have a look at what Shutt has to offer- you will find them at :- www.shuttvr.com .
I have a link on my link list direct to ShuttVR.

Saturday 27 November 2010


With the weather taking a turn for the worst over the past couple of days I thought that it was time that the Felt was put into hibernation for the winter.

I must admit that since the Tifosi arrived I have tended to use that for most of my general riding and training and the use of the Felt has been reserved for those special days when the weather looks really good- nice and sunny and dry. Now that the winter is upon us the Tifosi with it's mudguards (fenders) is the most practical bike to use and anyway that was the reason behind my purchase of it.
In actual fact I have now covered more miles on the Tifosi even though I have had the Felt for a year longer.

 With all the health issues I have had over that period  I have not been able to ride the events that I had originally planned- hopefully the Felt will be put to better use over the coming season. Anyway the wheels have now been removed and zipped away in wheel bags and placed with the frame in a nice cosy bike bag. All is safely stowed away out of harms way and will see the light of day at the first warming signs of some spring sunshine. Hopefully at that time the training rides on the Tifosi will have started to pay dividends and I will have the fitness levels back to do the Felt justice.

Tuesday 23 November 2010


The other day I went out on my daily training ride at the usual time in the morning. The weather looked overcast and the wind seemed pretty strong but I had put my winter kit on so I wasn't going to be put off.
It wasn't long before the heavens opened and the winds seemed to get even stronger but I was spinning the pedals nicely so I carried on with my ride.
Head down looking out for potholes and wondering how deep each one was another thought entered my head.
 Why do I do this? I mean- I don't even enjoy riding in the rain much, as I have said in previous posts.
What makes someone go out in the pouring rain with the wind trying it's best to blow the unsuspecting rider off their bike?
I will be 63years young next birthday in January and I am recovering from cancer and some pretty awful treatment to get rid of it and yet something pushes me to get out and ride. Why?

This started me thinking back to when I was a lad of about 12 years of age. Come the school holidays I would talk friends into coming on long multi-day cycle touring trips. Looking back on it now I am quite amazed at some of the distances we used to cover- sometimes as much as 110 miles each day which is quite a distance for a young lad.
Nowadays I can't see many parents in the UK letting their 12 year old son go off on their bike for a couple of weeks. Most of them are not even happy with their offspring riding their bikes to school. However the point I am making here is that even then something was pushing me to get out and cover some distance.

It was the same when I got into 'backpacking' at about 16 years of age. It wasn't enough to cover a reasonable walking distance - I always felt that I wanted to walk further. The main thing was to cover a set distance say coast to coast and to do it in one long trip without any breaks in the journey.
It was that thinking that pushed me a few years ago to walk the length of South America. The trip seemed a challenge so I did it- setting out on my own because on that occasion I couldn't find anyone to give up work and do it with me.
When I cycled Lands End to John O'Groats a couple of years ago the challenge was to do it in 10 days and in one go. If something had caused us to fail it would not have been good enough for me to pick the route up at a later date. No! I would have had to start from the beginning again.
It's been the same with Long Distance Walking Routes - National Trails. I've always had to do them in one go-a rest day is ok but it needs to be a continuous unbroken trip.Why?

Why is it that for some people a camping trip would be a living hell while for others it is almost an obsession?  Questions and more Questions.

Getting back to the cycling- I have always been an endurance type of rider. A roadie who likes lots of distance and plenty of hills. Team 219 has a little motto 'no distance to far no hill to high'. I suppose the bottom line is it's about a challenge and once the parameters are set I have to stick to them.

I think all the questions I have posed in this 'ramble of a post' can be answered by something that I read on Groovers blog earlier today.
She was asking why some people are cyclists and others can only be party animals for whom cycling would be one of the worst things that they could do. Groover asked if it was possible that it is something that we are born with-something genetic. I think it probably is..!

Thursday 18 November 2010


Over the past couple of months I've been testing out bars. No not those type of bars! (that remains an ongoing project) No the type of bars I've been testing out are energy bars.

Now those of you who have ridden with me will know that for sportive's and other similar events I favour ZipVit products.  I use ZipVit project ZV1 & ZV2 energy drinks - project ZV8 energy plus bars - project ZV7 and ZV7C energy gels and  my favourite (I think I am addicted) the project ZV9 protein plus recovery bars in the yoghurt coated banana & blueberry flavour.

What I have been looking for is something for the long distance endurance rides such as next years 'Rock to the UK' trip. I was looking for something that had a wide range of flavours and was more like an ordinary type of cereal and fruit bar so that the guys wouldn't get bored with the taste day in and day out.
Now I am pretty sure that I have found exactly what I was looking for in 'Mule Bars'.

My plan was to test all the flavours out and then list them in some sort of order with my favourite at number one moving through them all to number eight. I was looking at flavour - consistency  etc.
The problem is that I like them all and the levels of carbs they pack in each bar is certainly on a par with all the other brands that I have tried out and believe me I have tried out a lot.
So what I will do is just list the flavours and the main ingredients of each flavour.

MANGO TANGO (fair- trade organic mango and cashew nuts)
HUNZA NUT (fair -trade organic apricot and walnut)
STRUDEL (organic apple, raison & cinnamon)
CHOCOLATE FIG FIESTA (chocolate, fig and crushed almond)
LIQUORICE ALLSPORTS (organic liquorice, coconut & fennel seed)
PINACOLADA (pineapple, coconut & goji berry)
SUMMER PUDDING (raspberry, cranberry & blackcurrant)

The summer pudding flavour was brought on the market this year and the wrapping is in 'Tour of Britain' red white & blue colours..
The ingredients used are all natural with no nasty additives which probably explains why these bars don't have that artificial taste that so many energy bars seem to have.
These bars do taste seriously good and would be great to have in the pack on a backpacking trip as well as a number of other activities.

I really can't wait to cycle all the way back to the UK from Gibraltar as I chew my way through box after box of this stuff...!

Monday 15 November 2010


I got up today and thought that it was about time I left the bikes at home and went for a walk -I need to keep all the muscles moving even though I am still finding it harder to walk any distance compared to cycling. I know it must sound odd but it seems to be a result of the radiotherapy and I am assured that it will wear off over time.
It's not often that I walk along this section of the coast even though I live just a few hundred yards from where  I stood when I took this photograph. As I have mentioned before the beach area is far to busy during the summer months and this beach is often heaving with holiday makers.Now at this time of year the beach and promenade area is almost empty and a walk along this coastline can be quite pleasurable. I managed a distance of just over twelve miles in total today- and it feels like it. If I had cycled 40-50 miles instead,  my legs would not be aching as much as they are - different muscle groups I suppose.

Friday 12 November 2010


With all the bad stormy weather we have had over the past week I have been using the good old indoor trainer. I find the whole thing quite a Zen experience. I just plug myself in to my MP3 player and pedal away and I cover a virtual distance of 15 to 30 miles a day. I do this over various intensity programmes that simulate hills and steep inclines and unlike a lot of people I find the whole thing quite enjoyable. I suppose it helps being used to regular daily meditation and being able to get my mind in the right place.

Now as I have said before I am quite happy being caught out in the rain but I have never been happy having to force myself out on the bike when it's pouring with rain - hence the indoor training sessions.
Now just to prove that I do ride in the rain the above photographs were all taken during my Lands End to John o'Groats ride in September 2008. You can see how happy the guys are in the last picture..!
During the ride it rained almost every day over the entire 939 miles.For 10 days we got on the bikes in the morning knowing that we were going to be soaked to the skin all day.

 I suppose I now feel that I have earned the right to get on the trainer indoors when the rain is pouring down.

Sunday 7 November 2010

Acts of Cycling Stupidity.

I subscribe to ''Cycling Weekly magazine known in cycling circles affectionately as 'The Comic'.
At the back of the comic Michael Hutchinson writes under the name of Dr Hutch. 
Now the Doctor has a regular little piece that is titled -Acts of Cycling Stupidity- little tales that show how really stupid some of our fellow cyclists can be at times. All in all it's a good read.

Well I heard something today about one of my fellow Team 219 riders that brought a smile to my face. No I tell a lie - I laughed out loud ! It certainly falls under the above title.

Those of you who subject yourselves to the constant drip feed of pain by reading this blog on a regular basis- will be familiar with JD (John Donoghue). JD is the team clown and he always has a little story or joke that will have everyone in fits of laughter. 
When we rode Lands end to John o' Groats JD had a real problem with punctures this was resolved when he invested in a set of Schwalbe Marathon Plus 'puncture resistant' tyres. That bike was eventually sold with the marathons still fitted. JD was now heavily into Schawlbe Marathons fitting the Kevlar (lighter) version on the new touring bike but he always said that he would get another set of the full Marathon Plus tyres because he rated them as the real business for his touring bike.A couple of months ago he bought a new set for his tourer. When he purchased his first pair on the LEJOG he wouldn't stop telling us about how the guy in the bike shop had stuck a drawing pin into the tyres to demonstrate how the rubber belt in the tyre will push a pin or thorn etc back out avoiding a puncture. Now don't get me wrong these tyres ARE good. A number of guys we go touring with use the tyres and indeed I have a pair of the 'kevlar' marathons on my Revolution Touring machine.

The other day JD was talking bikes with Rick one of the Managers at his place of work. Eager to demonstrate how puncture proof his tyres were JD plucked a pin out of the office notice board and thrust it straight into the centre of his front tyre. "There you are Rick" he said "that's what you call a puncture proof tyre- get a set of these and you will never get a puncture again- ever"!
Then JD pulled the pin out of the tyre and everyone in the office could hear a loud hissing sound. What he hadn't realised when he grabbed that pin out of the board on the wall was that it was a full inch in length.

Rick says "Yes JD we all know about your puncture proof tyres- thanks for the demonstration".

Hopefully JD will now stop going on about how puncture proof his tyres are..................

Thursday 4 November 2010


When Chris and Mike McEnnerney (backpackers club members) joined me and some ex workmates of mine for a Bikepacking tour to Normandy this year they were using a couple of Giant trekking style bikes. These machines served them well -built as they are for crossing continents over the rough stuff . After careful reflection though both Chris and Mike felt that maybe these bikes were a bit over engineered for the type of riding that they do. Truth is that it is not very likely that they will be crossing continents and if they do it is more probable that they would do it on the smooth black stuff.
Then there was the problem of having to grind those Giants up every hill while the rest of us managed the terrain with a bit more ease-we were on traditional style touring bikes. JD and I were in fact riding quite extensively modified Revolution Country Travellers that seemed to just fly up every hill that we pointed them at. The Giants weigh almost half as much again when compared to the tourers and being dropped on every hill  gets to anyone in the end.

Well the upshot of all this is that Chris and Mike have just taken delivery of two Ridgeback Panarama touring bikes. They picked them up from their LBS yesterday. Mike was so excited that this morning he sent me the above picture - almost like being a new proud parent...!
The only thing missing from the bikes are the BROOKS saddles but Mike assures me he will transfer his over by the weekend.

So now they are both properly sorted for next years tour to Britanny. 


This is the scene down at the Sandbanks side of the Studland ferry. NO FERRY. Every two years the chain ferry is taken up to Southampton for a full service and refit. The ferry will be out of operation for between 4 to 6 weeks.The slipway will also have some improvements carried out during this time as well.

For a lot of the local riders this ferry is seen as the gateway to the Purbecks.  In just a few minutes on the ferry Roadies can be riding great country roads and spinning the pedals up all the hills that the Purbecks have to offer and Mountain bikers have access to some first class trails and hills.

The ferry saves 26 miles of not so bike friendly roads and instantly gets you to the heart of this picturesque area which is also a magnet for walkers situated as it is at the end of the South West coast path.

I will miss the ferry over the next few weeks.

Monday 1 November 2010


Today I had a meeting with my Oncologist to find out if all the radiotherapy and drug treatment has had the desired effect.
Well it was good news...Although they can't tell me that I am 'cured' it all appears to have had the effect everyone wanted. I will now have six monthly tests to check that the cancer has not returned.- these checks will continue for between three to five years and then annually for another five years-ten years in all. The important thing is that I now have the official go ahead to resume my life.

With the good news I just had to go out for a ride on the training bike- plenty of time to think about next years plans....so...I can now tell you about some of the things that I will be doing.

A touring bike trip to France for ten days towards the end of May.I plan to go with some Backpackers club members plus whoever else I can talk into coming with us.

Five or six sportives including Duncton- Jurassic Beast- Bournemouth and the New Forest.The exact details I will confirm as I register for each event.

And then that brings me to the big one of the year.....scheduled for next September.....
That's the name for the ride JD and I are planning at the moment. It will be a ride of 160kms a day from GIBRALTAR to the UK. The route that I am working on takes us over a number of mountain ranges including the PYRENEES and should give us a total ride of 2500kms. Add in two or three rest days plus the time to travel out to Gibraltar in the first place and you are looking at a three week trip. We are pretty certain that we have recruited Dave(broom wagon)Vaughan as our support driver, after all, the trip would not be the same without him. As I said when we rode LEJOG and the ACCR 'everyone needs a Dave'.
As for the team...well there will be JD and myself plus one or two others, the final line up will be announced as soon as we have it all confirmed.

I have decided to do this ride in order to raise funds for a cancer charity.After my news today it is the very least that I can do in order to put something back in the pot that my cancer treatment came out of so to speak.

Now I had better start making some plans to catch up on all the Backpacking that I have missed out on during my illness- I will tell you about those plans in a later posting.

Friday 29 October 2010


The past two days have been spent walking across sections of Dartmoor. No need for a map or GPS as I had Anne with me and as I mentioned in a previous post she knows the moors very well.

The weather could not be described as ideal- wet- windy and misty- but then that is typical of the weather on the moors more often than not. I have really enjoyed this trip to Devon as it is the first time that Anne and I have been able to get away together since I finished the Radiotherapy and it has been another tick in the box on my recovery checklist.
We finished our trip with an ice cream in the rain at Burrator Reservoir before driving back home late this afternoon. All in all a nice little trip.

Wednesday 27 October 2010


Yesterday the weather was rubbish for walking. I have never really enjoyed walking in the rain much and yesterday it was 'Devon grade A'rain.- that means very very heavy. I did do some walking but it was certainly too wet to take any photographs- just not enough light.
Now before anyone accuses me of being a 'fair weather' walker I would like to point out that I do walk in the rain including very heavy rain it is just that I am happy to admit that I do not get the same level of enjoyment out of it as I do when the weather is like it was today.

Yes, today was a nice day for a walk.I set off along the Devon lanes with the sun shining and the birds singing and all seemed right with the world. I walked past a number of farms and saw many tractors- now at their place of work and not parked 'on the drive'. I visited a couple of churches in order to take some photographs of which Winkleigh village church was the most interesting.
On the return journey I followed the footpaths rather than the lanes and the sun was still shining when I got back to the village of Bow where we have been staying for a couple of nights.
I think that I managed about ten miles today which is the furthest that I have walked for a good few months. I know that it's not backpacking yet but I do think that I am slowly getting my fitness back - what with the cycling and now a bit of walking I do seem to be making some headway with it all.

Tomorrow we are heading for Annes old stomping ground on the moors above Tavistock for a few days. Anne used to spend hours on the moors taking her dogs for a walk and knows the area better than most so she is a good person to have with you for a walk on Dartmoor - saves having to bother about navigation...!

Monday 25 October 2010


You know when your in Devon.....because people park their tractors on the front drive. That's what Anne told me when we were driving down here yesterday and it's true...!

Anne was born and bred in Devon- just within the Dartmoor National Park near Tavistock and we have been down here lots of times but it is something that I have not noticed before. Last night I had a good look round some of the local roads and I must have seen at least five tractors parked in the front drive of houses where back at Bournemouth you would expect to see the 'company BMW or Mercedes'.

We are having a few days down here in Devon doing a bit of walking and taking a few photographs. Now that my cycling training seems to be getting back on track I feel that I can take five or six days away from it without any detrimental effect.

Today I spent some time looking around Exeter. It must be nearly ten years since I last spent any time in the City. Like many large towns and cities it seems to have sold out to the commercialism of the retail world. Shops- shops and more shops. Don't get me wrong, there are some nice points of history in and around Exeter but you have to look hard to find them. Some nice old buildings- Cathedral- A city wall dating back to the Romans and a very pleasant area down along the Old Quay- it's just that the visitor comes away feeling that so much more could have been made of it all.

Wednesday 20 October 2010


 I have now increased the distance I am riding on my training rides up to 52 miles and I have been managing this 3 days a week. However all of my riding is on my own- all the guys that I would normally ride with for one reason or another are currently out of the cycling loop.

 JD is up to his eyes with a bungalow refit in his spare time and won't be able to start training again until mid to late November.
 Jason has had various health issues and is unable to get out on his bike and is unsure when his health will allow him to start again.
 Gareth has not been out riding with us since he got married and now his wife is expecting a baby in December so he doesn't know when he will be out on the bike again- when the baby arrives his free time will be less than it is now.
 Rick is someone else with a young family whose time is restricted and it is nearly two years since he came out on a ride.
And then we have Neil who was planning on doing LEJOG next year. I was told earlier this week that it appears that he has now lost that dream and won't be doing the ride after all. He was originally going to do the LEJOG in 2008 when we all did it but he put it off and now seems to have lost the will to do it altogether. A great pity- I always feel that if you want to attempt a challenge you should just make the plans and do it. If you waste time thinking about it you will always be able to find lots of reasons why you can't do it yet.
Life is too short and it might even be shorter that you think- my illness this year has really focused my thinking on this although that has always been the way I have looked on life. Think of something and just do it and do it as soon as possible...!! If you are reading this Neil make those plans again and do the ride- you will not regret it.

 Anyway- to get back to the theme of this post- it has been a bit lonely on my rides recently and even the ferry has had fewer riders on board. This morning I was the only person on board without motorised transport as can be seen in the photograph above- almost eerie.

When I got to my lunch stop at Wool I had a pleasant surprise. The bench that I use at the entrance to the village has had a refit-the wooden slats that were starting to go rotten have been replaced with new ones making my lunch stop even more comfortable. Life gets better and better........

Wednesday 13 October 2010


One of my enjoyments in cycling is going uphill -I enjoy the challenge. Better than the climb is the descent.The thrill of going downhill at speed makes all the effort of the uphill struggle worthwhile. After my accident in 2009 I lost some of my confidence on descents although since getting back on the bike recently I seem to be regaining it again .
If you have never been downhill on a bike at speed you must watch 'The Descent of the Col d'Iseran' it is awesome. The descent is frightening-thrilling and dangerous. This you tube film covers the entire 15 minute descent and I suggest you follow the ride all the way to the bottom- it is certainly worthwhile.

The Col d'Iseran is the highest paved mountain pass in the Alps in the department of Savoie in France. It is part of the French Graian Alps near the border with Italy. It stands at an elevation of 2770 meters and the road has a maximum gradient of 12% and it was first used on the Tour de France in 1938. Since then it has featured in the Tour in 1939 / 1949 / 1959 / 1963 / 1992 / 2007  Depending on your fitness it takes 2-3 hours to pedal to the top but just 15 minutes to descend .

Friday 8 October 2010


Since my last posting when I managed a 23 mile ride to Swanage and back I have moved along a bit. First I managed a 30 mile loop including the good old 'hill of death'. I didn't manage it at my normal pace but I did manage to grind my way to the top. Today I achieved a 40 mile circuit in the Purbecks including hills. I am pretty pleased with this as it was only FIVE weeks ago that I finished the treatment and I only got back on a bike THREE weeks ago.The ride today was completed at an average speed of just a whisker under 15mph over the 40 mile route. Now don't get me wrong this was NOT easy. I found the ride far more difficult than I would normally have found it before this cancer thing but at least I did it. In the future if I suggest going for a ride to someone and they say something along the lines of  'I need a bit of practice first as I am a bit off the pace' I will just laugh . I can tell them what 'off the pace' feels like and if I can achieve today's ride after what I have been through then they must be using it as an excuse to avoid making the effort!!

One of the good things about a cycle ride in the countryside is that you see things that you might miss if you were in a car. Not only that - but you can just stop and take a closer look - no need to worry about parking.
Today I saw the above small memorial in the hills near Creech and got off the bike to investigate further.
Apparently in 1940 it was felt that the Germans would invade England as they were close to the French coast. Winston Churchill had the idea of forming a special force that would hide themselves around the country and if an invasion took place this force would be activated.This was NOT like 'Dads Army' this force was highly secret. The force was called The GHQ Home Forces and was divided into seperate Auxillary Units. The memorial I stopped at was in memory of a local unit nicknamed The Creech Barrow Seven.
All members of this special force were highly trained in Gueirilla warfare - sabotage and demolition. They would certainly have caused the Nazis a lot of trouble if they had landed. Nationally there were 2600 men in the force all sworn to secrecy under the official secrets act.
The Creech Barrow Seven had their operational and observation post located in nearby Kilwood Coppice close to where the memorial stone is situated. The stone was erected on the 10th April 2010.

Thursday 30 September 2010



It's now been four weeks since I finished my cancer treatment. During these weeks I have been slowly starting to get back on my bike. I began by doing ten minutes on my indoor trainer increasing the time and resistance level day by day. Last week I got back on my Tifosi training bike. Again I started very slowly managing to get as far as the Studland Ferry and back. Today I crossed over to Studland and rode on to Swanage and then after a rest I rode back home. This is the second time in a week I have managed to achieve this. It goes without saying that I only attempted this after medical advice. Mind you after completing the ride I then need to go to bed and rest for the afternoon as it uses all my energy. The ride is only about twenty three miles there and back but it represents a major step forward on my journey back to a full recovery.

Sunday 26 September 2010


This morning half of us decided to go for a 'Hungry Camper' breakfast served up on the site. After breakfast most of the backpackers set off by foot and car to head off in all directions. Four of us stayed on taking photographs around the village and then later we discussed plans for future trips and weekend meets. We finally set for home at about 1530hrs.The pictures show various views around Sixpenny Handley and the village of Farnham.

Saturday 25 September 2010


Today the weather turned out much better than the forecast. John Yale had one he had prepared earlier - route that is - and he led one group on a walk to explore some open access land. The other half of us did a walk to the village of Farnham where we took pictures around the church and surrounding area. On the return route we stopped and had a grass blowing competition- it was the best laugh I have had for a long time. Just think Last of the Summer Wine and you will get the picture! By the time we got back to the campsite I was totally exhausted but a nice big chunk of cake courtesy of Sandie went a long way towards aiding my recovery. In all a really good day and it was great to be out with friends again.

Friday 24 September 2010


I arrived at the Sixpenny Handley site about 1230hrs. During the afternoon I was joined by a further 4 tents and a tarp. Late afternoon a few of us went to the post office not for stamps or an envelope but for tea and coffee and a large slice of Dorset apple cake. Tonight some cooked at the tent but I joined 3 other happy Backpackers for fish and chips on the site. There is a cold N E wind but it wont flatten my spirits as I am so glad to be out in my tent again. There have been times over the past few months when I felt that I might not be able to do this again. Today is a great day!

Wednesday 22 September 2010


My journey back to some kind of normal life is still on track. Since my last posting on this blog I have started to regain some of my energy- indeed I have even managed to get out on my 'Tifosi' training bike for a couple of short rides managing to get down to the Studland ferry and back.

This weekend I will be going to Sixpenny Handley (by car) for a static camping weekend with other members of the Backpackers club. The last time I spent the night in a tent was when I joined JD on his charity cycle ride around Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. After eight weeks of radiotherapy I am really starting to suffer with 'outdoors person' withdrawal symptoms.
I am really looking forward to the weekend as it represents yet another milestone in my attempt to get back to normal- Well normal for me!!

I don't think I will manage to walk a great distance as I find walking more tiring than cycling but I do intend to do some work on a photographic project in and around the village and I know that I can manage the distance from the campsite to the pub.

I plan to arrive at the site about midday on Friday. I know a couple of members will be walking in to the site (I wish I could) from their homes and hopefully we will have others arriving by car the same as me.

I will make some short postings from the site during the weekend.

Tuesday 31 August 2010


Well as promised I am on my way back. For about the last two months ever since taking part in John D's charity ride it has been as if my life has been on hold. I can now start to look forward again.

Earlier today I had my last session of Radiotherapy. I now have to wait about 8 weeks before I see the Oncologist. At that meeting I will find out if the Radiotherapy and the drugs (which I will be on for another 6 weeks) have had the desired effect. If it's good news then I will have checks every 6 months and then hopefully get an all clear in about two years. It will take a few weeks apparently before I start to feel any recovery from all the treatments- but I am getting there. I decided to stop the postings on this blog because I realised that each day was going to be the same as the day before- a bit like 'Groundhog Day' and not a lot to write about. These pictures show what I saw every day for about the past 8 weeks. The staff at the Dorset Cancer Unit were really good and I will miss seeing them and the other patients every day- but the treatment really did knock me for six. Now I will start on the road called recovery.

Wednesday 21 July 2010








Monday 12 July 2010


As I mentioned in my last posting I was really dissapointed not being able to go to Howard's cyclepacking weekend. It was the first time that the bloody cancer I have has stopped me doing something that I wanted to do. It almost feels like a failure.
Not wishing me to feel too left out of things the Guys sent me some pictures as the weekend unfolded.
It certainly looks as if there was a good turnout for the event judging by the first picture.
The next shot is of Howard drinking a nice cool pint. The message attached to this photo was as follows:
"This is your pint! We want paying for it. You can transfer it into Howard's account. Cheers." I won't make any further comment on that!!
The last picture is of the group on a lunch stop. Chris and Peter are demonstrating where I would have been sitting if I had managed to attend the weekend meet.
Howard is sitting there with a gash in his leg caused by him not looking where he was going-(nothing changes). That will teach him to drink my pint.....!!

Thursday 8 July 2010


I felt pretty tired at the end of the four day charity ride I completed with JD last Sunday- but not anywhere close to the fatigue I am currently experiencing.

Following the ride- Monday saw the start of the next stage in my treatment programme.
This consists of me visiting the Dorset Cancer Unit based at Poole Hospital every day Monday to Friday (I get two rest days at the weekend). At the Cancer Unit I get to stretch out on my back beneath the large rotating arm of a linear accelerator while this very clever machine does its best to kill off what could kill me.

Amongst the many and various side effects that a patient might suffer I seem to be affected by a feeling of fatigue. I have felt less tired after cycling 70+miles than I am feeling at the moment after 10 to 15mins a day of Radiotherapy.

Another spin off in having to attend the unit each day is the disruption to my plans for cycling and backpacking etc. For the past few years Howard K a fellow member of the Backpackers Club has arranged a Cyclepacking weekend at this time of year. In 2008 I was unable to attend because my Father died and then in 2009 I was unable to attend due to the cycling accident I had-broken collarbone and ribs saw to that. Now this year due to my daily treatment I am unable to attend again. My original plan had been to cycle to the start over two days and return over two days at the end of the weekend- with the daily appointments that plan is not possible. This evening Mike McEnnerney and Peter Calcutt popped over to see me and check out if there was a way of getting me and bike to the meet in the back of Mike's Land Rover but unfortunately the bike would not fit. Thanks for trying guys...! Oh well I can only hope that I will manage to attend next year. Sorry Howard.

Now what can I do over this weekend? I know- I will be forced to watch the Tour De France as the Pro Peloton reaches the mountains- not much hardship after all.

Sunday 4 July 2010


Well we have done it. John and I finished our ride at Ringwood at about 1715 hours today. We arrived to a suprise reception with a huge support - a lot to take in when you have been stuck to a bike saddle for four days. All very welcome though and it certainly made the gruelling effort very worthwhile. I even got to meet Dawn who apparently is the number one fan of the Purpletraveller Blog . Nice to meet you Dawn! ! For anyone who thinks riding 100 miles a day is easy just take a look at the state of Johns saddle at the end of the ride. I promise you it was pristine before we started. John tells me his posterior is in an even worse state- just doesnt bear thinking about does it? Its not a picture any sane person wants to be stuck with! As on previous days we have had support in the form of a brother cyclist joining us for a couple of stages of our route. For everyone who rode with us for sections of our route a huge thankyou - your support and help really did contribute to the total success of the ride. As always it was a great adventure riding with John and I really enjoyed being part of a superb ride for such a worthwhile cause. Before i sign off from this posting i must mention the vehicle escort we had from Fordingbridge all the way to Ringwood. Hazard lights flashing the car led up all the way carving a safe path for us. It was just like being in the Tour de France talking of which i will now settle down and catch up on the recordings of the first two days of that great sporting event. As a nation we might not be able to play football but we have eight guys in the Tour who can certainly ride bikes.

Saturday 3 July 2010

Day three .

Today started early at 0600hrs and out on the road at 0715. We did a huge loop taking in Borden - Alton - Farnham - Aldershot - Farnborough - Basingstoke and finishing at Andover, We even had other riders meet up with us and lead up to each of the centres which was a huge help not having to navigate- thanks guys it was great riding with you! I did manage a 14. Per cent hill fully loaded with panniers- i was the only rider who managed it- but then i really love hills. A ride is not a good ride if it doesnt have a mountain to climb! The section between Basingstoke and Andover coming at the end of the day was hard as by this time we were tired and the road was a bit lumpy. Also the road surface was difficult to roll on properly. Still we are here now- tired but feeling good for tomorrow which is our last day.

Friday 2 July 2010

Day two

We have now completed the second day of the ride. Everywhere we have been we have had loads of support. The picture shows our two faithful steeds leaning against the exit gantry of the ferry from Fishbourne to Portsmouth. The deck hand assured me that they only lose two or three bikes a week when the gantry is lowered. We are now at PETERSFIELD and tonight we are sleeping indoors at the Masonic hall. The biggest problems we have had have been the humidity and the country set in their 4x4 driving little Jessica home from school!

Thursday 1 July 2010

First day.

Here is a picture of John with just a few of the envelopes he is delivering over the next few days. Today he had loads of support from cyclists on the Isle of Wight. I have met up with him at a campsite near Wootton Bridge. Tomorrow we head back to the mainland to continue the ride.

Wednesday 30 June 2010


Over the next four days JD is embarking on a charity ride that he has devised. It consists of cycling to about forty locations throughout Hampshire delivering letter's requesting support for a childrens charity. The ride starts in Bournemouth and then goes on to locations that stretch from Shanklin/ Sandown / Newport etc on the Isle of Wight in the south of the county and Aldershot and Farnborough in the north - lot's of other places in between as well.

I have agreed to ride most of the route with him in order to give him support and I am meeting up with him on the Isle of Wight tomorrow. I hope to send the odd posting back to this blog as we make our way along the route.

After all the really good weather we have been having recently- tomorrow's forecast is telling me about rain! I don't get much pleasure cycling in the rain so I am keeping my fingers crossed that the forecast is wrong- let's face it they are 50% of the time.

Thursday 24 June 2010


On one of my recent full day rides with JD he had a couple of very hairy moments. Creech hill is one of our favorite 'cheeky little numbers' that features in a lot of our day rides with a 16% on one side and a 20%+ on the other. On this particular occasion we went up the 16% (see picture of JD at the top of the 16% side). We took a break at the top to take in the view and then headed on down the 20% descent. (Since my accident I am very cautious on my descents so JD usually goes down ahead of me.) JD was off like a cyclist with a rocket stuck up his saddle. He went down at breakneck speed. I caught him up where the road levelled out and about a mile along the road just as we were going to take a left turn he pulled over and stopped. I heard a noise that sounded like a broken spoke. We checked all the spokes both back and front on his bike and found nothing. We rode on about another mile and stopped again with the same spoke tinkling sound in our ears. Further investigation revealed that the two legged stand had worked loose and was swinging into the path of the revolving spokes (see picture). JD had been so lucky on that descent. He was touching 40mph with the stand swinging loose near the spokes of the rear wheel. If the stand had swung across just a small amount further it would have been dragged into the wheel and ripped out all of his spokes causing a total wheel collapse. At that speed it doesn't bear thinking about what would have happened to JD. I managed to break a collarbone and a number of ribs at 27mph last year so at JD's speed he would probably have launched himself into the next life. John admitted to me that he doesn't normally check his nuts/bolts and screws on the bike for tightness-well let that be a lesson ....!

Later that same day towards the end of the ride JD was descending the 'hill of death' at about 40mph. He was in a very bright hi viz gilet and had taken the centre of the road. About 2/3rds of the way down there is a road which joins from the right. Yes you have guessed it- some muppet with a driving licence decides to pull out right in front of JD. How this driver didn't see JD I will never know. You couldn't miss seeing him-you can see his hi viz for hundreds of yards. JD pulled hard on his brakes in a vain attempt to slow up - the driver tried to accelerate as fast as he could and somehow a collision was avoided. If JD had hit the car it would have been a major impact. Drivers really must THINK BIKE.

All in all a very lucky day for JD as he had managed to avoid being launched into the next life not once-but twice in one day..!

Wednesday 23 June 2010


The first ride on my new training bike (nicknamed 'Tiffany' the Tifosi) seemed to go well. I rode for 44 miles over hilly country and the bike proved pretty good in all areas. The Selle Italia saddle is very comfortable and will not need to be changed and my choice of Conti Gatorskin tyres at 25mm was a good one.
The bike is not as eager on the hills as my Felt Z1 but lets face it - it's a sixth of the price but on the downhills it was very stable and felt well planted.
One thing I did notice was a clicking sound that seemed in time with the chainwheel. When I checked this out the following day I traced it to the seatpost. Although I had tightened it up I had not torqued it to the proper setting-my torque wrench solved the problem.
The retro good looks of the bike have already attracted attention and got me in to conversation with other cyclists whilst waiting at the Studland ferry. One guy was very suprised when I told him what the bike had cost as he thought it would have been about a thousand pounds more - It just goes to prove that not all attractive ladies cost you loads of cash.......!!!

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...