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Now retired but busy still living..

Friday 28 January 2011

.......MY DREAM AND IT'S GREAT.........!!

I thought that I would share a few more photographs of my regular cycle circuit in the Purbecks with you.The weather is not so good in these shots as it was in the last ones I posted but it's just the way the weather has been this week.

 It's been another good week on the bike. My core fitness training has been going pretty well and I am managing to put in some reasonable mileage considering the time of year and uncertainty regarding the weather.I am trying to get some decent rides under my belt because I have to go back to  Hospital again shortly for various procedures and after those I have been instructed that I will not be able to do any exercise at all for between two and six weeks. Ouch ! That is going to be really tough.
 All my riding has been solo and I have not seen any of the usual crew. The problem with the winter months is that people seem to go down with colds and flu and chest infections. The last thing you really want to do with a chest infection is to go out cycling in freezing conditions. So far I have been lucky and managed to avoid the coughs and sneezes that seem to be doing the rounds.
As for JD I have heard nothing. He did  email me a couple of weeks ago to ask about which lighting system I would recommend for his commuting bike- but since then silence. I must chase him up at some time. Before Christmas he was keen to get out training so I must find out what has happened to him.
Before I retired from what is called work I thought how great it would be to have all the hours we are given to do whatever I wanted. The worry is always whether you will be able to find enough to do to fill up those extra hours that retirement gives you. Well the truth is there are still not enough hours in the day for all I want to do.
Riding the bikes - photography - walking etc etc and what do I find ? Not enough hours to fit it all in. I really don't know how I ever managed during all those working years. How did I find the time to do anything? Well the truth of course is that I didn't. I mean I didn't go out on the bike for a five or six hour ride unless I had a free day off . Long walks were the same. Trouble was when I had a day off there were always lot's of chores and other things that needed doing. Now every day is a day off. So the reality is that you just fill up all the extra time you now have with more and more activities. Before you know it you have more activities going on than you have the time for. I'm not complaining - it's just an observation..!
'Living the dream' I think it's called - living your life doing all the things that you want to - all the things that give you a buzz. Well if that's what it means I'm living my dream and it's GREAT...!!

Tuesday 25 January 2011


The trouble nowadays is that we all have too much choice. It doesn't matter what it is that you wish to buy - from food to high tec electronics you could be forgiven for being totally baffled by all the options you have. Back when I was a kid there wasn't so much choice and what there was would be around in the shops for a long time. Today - anything you decide on is almost superseded before you have got it home.

Recently I decided to buy a new saddle style bag for the Tifosi. The one I have with my Felt Z1 is made by the same manufacturer as the saddle - FIZIK. It is instantly detachable by way of a small button and I fancied something similar for my training bike.

Enter the SCICON  range of bags. These are detachable by way of a twist lock which is attached to the saddle rails first (no tools required).The other positive for me is that they are Italian and as most of the components on the Tifosi are also Italian I thought it would blend in well. It even has a small Italian flag on the rear - what could be better! I ordered the small size. Now this is seriously SMALL as can be seen in the photo above. Spare tube - small tyre levers - small puncture kit is about  all it will hold...!

 I decided that the bag was too small for general use but decided to keep it on the off chance that I ever used the Tifosi on a supported event. So I then ordered the medium size. When my order arrived (these were all internet purchases) it was obvious that I had been sent the large size in error. This size could hold everything the small size did but also a pump plus bottled air - tools - race cape - energy bars - gels- etc. It even has a zip out extension to make it even larger. It was bigger than what I wanted but I decided to keep it on the off chance that I might use the Tifosi on an extra long unsupported ride where the space would prove useful.
I then ordered the medium size again.
 When this bag arrived it was the correct size and suited my needs perfectly. All the usual things can be crammed into it. Spare tube- puncture kit - pump -tyre levers - multi tool and even my miniature bottle of Purple Extreme that I posted about recently. The three bags can be seen side by side in the photo above. Now to be perfectly honest I only really needed the medium size- but having seen the choice of sizes that they come in I wanted to cover all bases. It was easier to have all three than it would of been trying to make a decision about which 'one' to have. If Scicon had only made one size I would have bought that one - would have been happy with it and would also have accepted any compromise on size. And that is my point - with all the choice we have nowadays we are not happy to accept compromise. We don't 'make do' with things any more. It has to be right - it has to be exactly suited to the purpose - if it's not then we buy something that is.
Now I am as bad as the next person regarding this as I have shown here- but I have to admit that it is something that I don't like. In lots of ways I would like less choice..!  This would make making a decision about what item to buy far easier and in turn less stressful. If I go to a supermarket do I really need 38 different types of coffee to choose from..?
The more there is to choose from (in what ever we do) the more complicated life seems to become and what I want above all else is an uncomplicated life................!!

Thursday 20 January 2011






SHhhhhhh...!!. Keep it quiet but yesterday was my birthday. That's it 19th January - and on the 16th it was Anne's birthday - both born Capricorn if you follow that kind of thing. Actually Anne and I don't really celebrate our birthdays - after all you only actually have one birthday and that's the day you were born everything from then on should be described as an anniversary - and we don't celebrate those either. Pretty grouchy eh ?
Any way I think I'm rambling a bit here so lets get back to what I wanted to put in this post...........

I woke up to a beautiful day. Yes it was cold but the sun was shining nice and bright. So - what to do on your birthday. Not a problem if your a keen cyclist- go for a ride of course..!

Since the new year I have been putting in the miles trying to build up my core fitness but yesterday was the first day that I would describe as an almost perfect cycling day.
I cycled down to the Studland ferry taking it across the entrance to Poole harbour. It really is the gateway to the Purbeck Hills. Once across I cycled up through Studland heath and then through Studland village over Dean hill and down  to Swange. (I have not attempted the' hill of death' since the turn of the year - I will save that till my fitness levels improve).

From Swanage I carried on cycling up through Langton Matravers. Then I continued uphill all the way to the top of the ridge - the payoff is fantastic views over the valley with views of Corfe Castle in the far distance.
I did a huge loop which eventually took me back to Swanage where I stopped for a lunch break before heading back to the ferry and home.

The Tifosi was running a treat - the chain sounded wonderful as it slipped through the rear derailleur and  jockey wheels - a very light tinkling sound - must have been the Purple Extreme that I was talking about in my last posting.
As I was cycling along you could hear the birds singing and smell the freshness all around- it was one of those days when everything seemed right with the world - well my world anyway.

By the time I had got back to the Purpletraveller Control Centre (my garage) I had covered 56 miles. I know that is not a huge mileage, but the day was too good to put my head down, get into the drops and go for it. No, it was a day to savour. A truly  great day and a really good birthday present...!!

Normally I don't bother to stop and take any pictures when I am enjoying the cycling so much, but I did manage to take a few and I thought that I would share them with you.

Oh ... although I am a grumpy grouch Anne and I did go out for a really fabulous Greek meal last night. A great end to a rather special day.

Sunday 16 January 2011


When my daughter asked me in November what I wanted for Christmas I said that I 'needed' a bottle of Purple Extreme chain lubricant. I don't know why but she just burst out laughing - she thought that anyone who wanted a bottle of oil as a Christmas present had some major psychological problems. Whilst she continued to laugh and amuse herself about this I went on to explain that it would be far better to get me something that I wanted and needed - something that I would use throughout the year, rather than some expensive but useless gift that would end up being put in a drawer and forgotten about.
I then said that every time that I lubricated my chain I would think of her...!  This had the effect of causing even more mirth - in fact to tell the truth she now had problems actually trying to stop laughing.

Anyway, she did get me a bottle of PE for Christmas amongst other gifts. In fact she had managed to satisfy both of us - she had given me what I had asked for but had also given me other things that satisfied her desire to give me something more 'substantial'.

Mind you- as I opened my bottle of PE at Christmas it did start her off laughing again and she also reaffirmed her thinking that I was 'totally mad'- a feeling that she has had for years. Apparently this feeling is confirmed every time I set off on another long bike  or backpacking trip.

With the bottle of PE was another much smaller bottle- a free sample size that was given away when she purchased the 120ml size bottle.
This little bottle is something that is going to be really very useful - it is also something I have wanted for some time. A bottle of oil that is small enough to pop into the smallest of 'Roadie' saddle bags. A bottle that is refillable and screws up with a nice tight leak proof seal.

Dare I say it - but this little sample bottle of oil was amongst my favourite Christmas gifts. I was a bit like the child that receives an expensive gift, but is happier and gets more fun from playing with the box it came in.
Needless to say my daughter is still laughing........!!

I have used various chain lubricants over the years PE is my favourite.
Reasons:- lasts a long time / runs clean and doesn't attract dirt / smooth running / doesn't harden / doesn't wash off in rain mud or snow / penetrates quickly to all parts of the chain / I like the smell and its PURPLE.....!!

Thursday 13 January 2011





As I have said before on this blog - if you stand on the edge looking into oblivion it helps you focus your thinking. A serious illness tends to have that effect on you.
During my illness last year I had plenty of time to look at my life and think about what I was doing and also what I wanted to spend my time doing, if and when I recovered.
I find that long distance walks and long distance cycling can also help to clarify your thinking about things like this as well.
I did a lot of thinking.... and since then as I have started to get back in to walking and cycling again I have been able to make some decisions about what I want to spend the rest of my life doing.
Obviously walking and cycling are right up the top of my list.

Over the past few years I have held the role of  Dorset Group Liaison member with the Backpackers Club.
I first joined the club in the mid seventies but allowed my membership to lapse as pressures of family life grew.
Some years ago I rejoined the club and I have met some lifelong friends in my time of membership.

One of the decisions that I have made is to do more walking backpacking and cycling and also to step down from the liaison member role. I feel that by stepping down it will free up some of my time to do extra things. Quite often in the past I have wanted to do a long walk or ride and my commitment to a certain group date has got in the way of my plans. Also holding any club position (no matter how lowly) can be a bit of a thankless task some times as it is impossible to please everyone. I will also not miss the late night phone calls from members asking for extra details about an event only to find that they then don't turn up anyway.

I will still attend club events, but they will be the ones that fit into my overall yearly plan.

Over the time I have been the Dorset Liaison member I have met some great people and enjoyed some fun times, but now I have made this decision I feel even more that it is the right thing for me to do.

I will arrange the next Dorset Group Spring Event and will step down from the role at that time.

Above you will see a few photographs taken at some of the group events - happy times-. and I look forward to more times just like these but not as a liaison member.

Oh!......     What is the photo of the wheel for ?.......?

That is a picture of  one of the Italian wheels on my Sportive bike.
The reason I have included that in the posting when it has absolutely nothing to do with what this posting is about is for the benefit of LIMOM at the FLAT TIRE BLOG.( See blog list in side bar)
Limom is based in Hawaii and he is currently going through some tough Roadie decision making. (Decisions again - see there is a connection after all). He seems to be suffering with a bad case of  Roadie Italian Fever....!!  Check it out.

I wouldn't want him to suffer even more with withdrawal symptoms......

Saturday 8 January 2011


Every time the subject of road damage and potholes caused by the snow and ice comes up on the news what do they talk about?  Is it the VERY REAL danger that they pose to the cyclist?  No of course not!  No, what they tell us is that these damaged road surfaces pose a threat to your CAR!!!  Yes it seems that the authorities and media are more concerned about the damage that your poor old car might sustain than the potential danger they pose for the cyclist. 
But then I should not be surprised by this - over the years we cyclists have got used to the indifference and in some cases downright aggressive behaviour towards us by both other road users and the 'powers that be'.

What is not good news is that a lot of these potholes in the roads will be with us for quite sometime. This is because of the other thing that we keep hearing about in the media - 'The Cutbacks'.
Every time you open a paper or turn on the television, it's cutbacks cutbacks and even more cutbacks. Local councils are having to make cuts in their expenditure and road maintenance is just one area of things that will be hit. Some commentators are telling us that the state of our road network is so bad that the cuts are making it almost impossible to repair these roads properly.
Indeed from what I have seen the repairs that are being made are being done on a very 'patch up and make do' form of road maintenance. The problem with just patching the pothole is that it might improve the hole sufficiently for cars, but often leaves a bump or a dip that can make a very uncomfortable ride for the cyclist. 

Bournemouth Council have told me that they have a number of road improvement projects under way which are designed to make the local roads a better place for ALL road users.
The year long programme of work is set to tackle the sort of problems that I have highlighted here. They call it 'Road Rescue' and over the past year over 2,000 potholes were 'repaired'  across Bournemouth and they also tell me that a contingency fund has been set aside to tackle additional potholes and other damage created over this winter.
Only time will tell if the fund will be enough- but as I see it we are not talking about resurfacing (which is needed in a lot of cases) no we are talking filling and patching- which as I have already pointed out is not really good enough for ALL road users - that is unless you exclude cyclists - which again as I have already pointed out, we cyclists are used to...!
Anyway after one week of 2011 the two things that I am already fed up with are CUTBACKS & POTHOLES.

On a slightly brighter note - I have been managing to get out for some reasonable cycling miles this past week as you should be able to see on my 'mileage counter'. I did think about riding around the block to take it up to a nice round figure, but I decided that it would be taking things a step (revolution) too far, after all it is what it is..!  Most of the week has been spent trying to dodge the heavy rain that we have been getting. Still, it's a reasonable enough start to the year's cycling.  Fitness wise I feel that I am a lot further ahead than I was at the same time last year.




Although I have not ridden with him so far this year - John Donoghue who will be riding the 'Rock to the UK' with me in September, has told me that he has decided to cycle on his commute to work each day (18 miles return trip). He is hoping that it will start to build up his core fitness again. Hopefully we will manage a joint ride again soon. Keep on riding John..!

Wednesday 5 January 2011


In order to get the New Year off to a good start I felt that a walk was required. After all- the cycling had started well and as I type this my cycling mileage is on target.

It seems to have been a long time since I managed to get out for a decent walk.
The great thing about living where I do is that we have such a wealth of wonderful coastline that we can walk along.
Some years ago I walked the entire coast from Minehead in North Devon back home to Bournemouth. This was a distance of about 620 miles and took me five weeks. I backpacked the route camping out wild most nights. The route is a National Trail known as the South West Coast path and for anyone with some time on their hands I can certainly recommend it.
In my opinion the best sections are from Minehead to about Padstow and then from Exmouth back to Poole. The reason I say this is probably because I chose to do it during a nice hot summer and the coastal towns and villages on the Cornwall section were heaving with people.

 Anyway I digress - New Year and a walk along a short section of the Dorset coast between Swanage and Chapmans Pool and then back along the Priests way.
The entire walk is about 17 miles in length and can be very muddy and slippery in sections at this time of year so you need to be careful negotiating your way along the cliff edge. One of the nice things about walking this route during the winter is that you don't come across many other walkers even over a bank holiday.

The top photo shows a part of Seacombe Cliff close to the now disused Seacombe quarry.
The lower photo is a view of Chapman's Pool taken from the coast path near the Tumulus  at Emmetts Hill.

The Dorset Group of the Backpacker's Club has often walked this route whilst camping at Tom's Field campsite.

Saturday 1 January 2011


No cycling - that's what it says and that is precisely what I have ( or haven't ) been doing over the lead up to Christmas and over the holiday period itself.
Due to the bad weather (snow) that was in the photographs on my last posting there was no way that I could ride any of my bikes. What I need is a bike designed for use in the snow- something like a Surly Pugsley. However despite me requesting that Father Christmas deliver one as he was passing by on his annual duties a Pugsley didn't materialise- perhaps next Christmas eh ?

Looking back on 2010 I seemed to have done a lot of 'no cycling'. Checking out my stats the total mileage rode last year was a poor 3026 miles. Most of this was due to the Consultant telling me not to ride for so much of the year and during the period of my radiotherapy and other treatments making it imposible to even think about getting on any of my bikes. Still my bike mileage was a lot higher than the distance I managed to cover in my car - that was only 1087 miles. Now in my book that represents a bit of an achievement. Covering almost three times the distance on my bikes than the distance driven in my car is the right kind of 'green' balance that I like to have and also as I managed it with a bit of a cancer fight on my hands - but then I do enjoy a bit of a challenge.

Looking ahead - my plans mean that I will achieve about half of this years total mileage in just 15 days of riding the 'Rock to the UK' in September (approx 1500miles) then if you add in a couple of short touring trips (approx 800 miles) plus 3 or 4 sportives (approx 350 miles) and we are already looking at 2650 miles in total. By the time I include all my weekly training mileage and social rides and fun rides I should end the year with a much better cycling total than I have just finished this past year with..

It's my intention to get back into my proper training programme starting 4th January with the first goal of burning off the 5lbs of extra fat that I have put on over the festive period. Once that is achieved I will be working hard at improving my hill climbing and endurance/distance capabilities as well as working on my descending techniques.

This coming year I plan on doing a number of backpacking trips again - it seems ages since I managed to do any proper walking and camping so that is certainly on my year planner as a 'must do' activity.

I find following other peoples blogs gives me such an incentive to get out there and 'do' things as well as a great source of information and entertainment. I have also found your comments on this blog to be a great inspiration to me- particularly when I was going through some very dark times health wise.To all of you out there in the blogosphere I would like to say a big THANK YOU !!   HAVE A TRULY GREAT 2011 !!

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...