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Now retired but busy still living..

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.

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...