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Now retired but busy still living..

Monday 30 May 2011


After eleven days in France, Chris -Mike- Peter and myself are all now back safe and sound in the UK. 
For  the other three it is now a matter of getting back into 'work' mode. I am the lucky one as I just have to get into'planning the next ride' mode. 

Waiting for me on my return was a large brown cardboard box delivered courtesy of the Royal mail. On opening the box there were more boxes inside all marked 'Brooks'. I will share with you what exactly this delivery contained later in the week. 

First thing that I will be doing over the next few days is to catch up with the recordings of the Giro d'Italia and the Tour of California that Anne made for me while I was in France - Then I will upload and sort the 300+ photos that I took in France - when all that has been done I will put together a review of our trip spread over a few postings.. and ...most important....... I will also be catching up with all you guys out there in the blogosphere to see what you have all been up to while I have been pedaling around the French countryside...............

Friday 27 May 2011

In the queue.

In the queue for the ferry back to the UK. I will post some more detailed reports of the trip over the next couple of weeks.

The Beach area .

The Beach area at St Malo. We cycled along the Beach area in order to catch the ferry back to the UK.

Bikes locked up

The bikes were locked up for the day today while we spent are last day looking around St Malo.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Looking for the route

Mike and Peter looking for the route to the camp site on our approach to St Malo. We eventualy found the correct route and we are now settled in camp. We will be staying two nights here. Tomorrow Peter and I plan to cycle out round the coast to Cancale. Mike and Chris plan to chill out around the St Malo area.

Lunch stop

This was our lunch stop to day at the village of St Suliac. We climbed a 225ft hill for a superb view over the village and the boats in the bay and then we swept down into the village at top speed to this little bar for lunch. Another very hot day with just a light wind to keep us cool on the bikes.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Route planning.

Tomorrow we hit the road again . Our general plan is to get ourselves up towards St Malo in order to be well placed for our return to the UK on Friday evening. The photo is of Mike and Peter planning the route.


Our camping site pitch at Dinan. Th pitch is quite secluded because all pitches are divided by small hedges. Each pitch also has its own water tap something that we never get back in the UK.


We spent today looking around the old streets and sights of Dinan. Drinking coffee the way only the French can make it and eating my favourite French tarts. Dinan is an old town set up on a hill. The views from the ramparts are superb.The weather is still holding good with clear blue skys anne a cool wind.

Worth the visit

Well worth the visit to France is the chance to sample some of the lovely fruit tarts, I have just eaten this one and it was fantastic. I am now on my way back to the shop for another one.

Monday 23 May 2011

On The Road Again

On The road again- this time we are heading for Dinan. The weather is blazing hot. Getting through lots of energy drink and water. Its too hot to stop anywhere unless it is in the shade. We might stop at Dinan for a couple of days as it is an ancient town with lots to see.

Breaking camp.

Breaking camp at the site near Mont St Michel. We have been here for two days so its time to move on.

Sunday 22 May 2011

Today we are at..

Today we are at Mont St Michel. As you can see the weather is good- dry and sunny. We are at a camp site just two miles from the Mont and it is a dedicated cycle path all the way. Last night it was a high tide and we walked up to the flood barrier to see it come in. The Mont was all lit up and it did look splendid. Tonight we will be planning where we are off to next. We are not covering many miles as there is just too much to see and we dont want to miss anything.

Bikes locked up.

Bikes locked up but where are we today?

Saturday 21 May 2011

Loaded Tourer

My Revolution Touring bike fully loaded here in France. The bike seems to handle well with the two sets of panniers. I was a little cautious about fitting the front panniers as i thought that they may upset the stability of the steering at speed downhill. This does not seem to be the case. My top speed so far on this trip has been 35mph and the bike felt as steady as a rock.

Farm Pitch

One of the farm pitches we have camped at here in France. So far the weather has been bright and hot. No rain to speak of as yet.

At Cherbourg

Mike and Chris just outside the port at Cherbourg. It took us ages to find the cycle route out of the town. Plenty of map reading required as can be seen in the first picture.

Arrived in France

Arrived in France at midday on Tuesday. Have had problems uploading Blog posts. Will try and post again soon .

Sunday 15 May 2011


As well as riding each day this week and partaking in the luxury of coffee and tea shops I have also been preparing for the trip to France. I will be using my Revolution touring bike for the trip so a full lube and a clean and polish was required. I say clean and polish - but the truth is I never let any of my bikes get to a point where they actually need a clean - I wipe the bikes down each time they have been used so I cleaned the Revolution just to out do the others on the 'who's got the shiniest  bike competition'..!! Talking of the 'others' - the others on this trip are Peter Calcut and Mike & Chris McEnnerney, all three are fellow members of the Backpackers Club. Unfortunately JD is unable to be with us on this trip as he has had to save all of his available holiday days for the UK2ROCK2UK trip that we are doing at the end of August and throughout September.
During this week the spare room has been used as my 'trip packing centre' with all the items laid out and ticked off on my list. The tent that I have decided to use on this trip is my Hilleberg Nallo 3GT. I have split the tent between the two rear panniers rather that load it on top of the rack as I did last year. Poles,Pegs & Footprint in one pannier and the tent & flysheet in the other. The reason I have done this is because as I now have the front panniers I am able to spread more of the load evenly across the bike. Also, if I didn't  load it this way I would have almost empty panniers due to the extra space that I now have.  The Nallo is in fact a three man tent with a huge porch area, as this is a touring trip rather than an endurance trip the extra useable space in the tent is an indulgent luxury - I do know that Mike and Chris will also be using their Nallo and Peter will be using his Hilleberg Akto one man tent.
Anyway, everything has now been packed into the panniers and for those of you are interested in weights and things the following might be of some interest.
The front panniers have a packed gross weight of 6lb each.......
The rear panniers have a packed gross weight of 12lb each.......
The Revolution Touring Bike in it's current setup weighs 29lbs......
I must admit that I forgot to weigh the panniers before loading them up but obviously this gross figure is the important one.
Some of this weight is made up of a few items of food as an emergency back up...two dehydrated meal packs...coffee sachets and three servings of an instant porridge. I am also carrying a small pot of energy drink mix and a dozen energy bars.
When I do the UK2ROCK2UK later this year I don't see myself carrying any more weight than I am on this trip, even though that trip will last for about 5 weeks and this one is only for 11 days. The reason for that is because I will be taking my Hilleberg Akto Tent on that trip and it weighs half the weight of the Nallo at about 3lb.
Following the comment that Steve A left on my last post I thought that I would include something for all you Cycling Fashionistas out there....The helmet that I will be using on this trip is another Spanish Catlike Helmet..this time it is their Kompact Pro model in Blue, White & Carbon - just to match my cycling jersey's for this trip you understand...!

I will be sending some short posts( with a small photograph ) every day or two from France so that you know where we are just in case you want to follow our progress....but don't expect big miles each day on this trip. This is a touring trip not an endurance ride so I don't expect to be doing much more than about 50 miles in a day.
Cycling....Camping.....and finding new places and things to photograph is what we are going for and yes we will be stopping at more than one or two of the French version of the Tea/Coffee shop....the Cafe'.

If you wish to leave any comments whilst we are in France please feel free to do so but they may not be posted until my return. Also my mileage counter will not be updated until I get back.
When I return I will be doing some in depth posts about the trip with photographs as well as various equipment reports etc....

So...! All ready to go.  Tomorrow (Monday) just a few personal things to sort before I finally set off early on Tuesday morning... The ferry leaves Poole at 0830hrs and we should arrive in France at Cherbourg at midday.

Friday 13 May 2011


Following the Annual Dorset Bike Ride Event that I posted about last time I thought that I would contact Mike and see if he fancied coming for a ride with JD and myself on Tuesday. We were planning a 60 mile ride on our Lulworth loop. 
Unfortunately Mike works for himself as a Photographer and he needed to work that day, so it was just JD and myself on the ride.Since then I have found out that Mike probably wouldn't  have been able to do the ride anyway as his knees were still playing him up following the Dorset Ride. He even told me that he was only able to walk upstairs backwards....!  So this week Mike has been resting up in order for him to recover, ready for our French Touring trip starting next Tuesday.
 I have managed to ride at least 50 miles each day this week, but I must admit that each circuit has been a bit of a coffee & tea shop ride. The Lulworth Cove Coffee shop and the Moreton Tea Rooms have figured strongly during this weeks training..!!  There is nothing better than a tea shop ride....it is almost a tradition on club rides. The Moreton Tearooms are very typically English and the building is a converted old school house. I know of at least four locally based cycling clubs that regularly stop off there.
 Coffee and flapjacks are one of my favourites....Dorset applecake is another. With the nice sunny weather we have been having, it is really nice sitting in the teashop gardens enjoying a chat a coffee and a piece of cake.....  It doesn't seem to slow our cycling performance either, in fact this past week JD has been putting in some good averages and he has also improved his climbing speeds. He told me that he still finds that he is grinding uphill.....just quicker.
This weekend I will finish packing everything ready for France and I plan on making another post before I leave.
I Hope you all enjoy your weekend and manage to get out for at least one ride.

Tuesday 10 May 2011




I know....almost another week without a post on this blog...but I have a problem!!
Since I retired I just don't seem to have enough time to do everything that I want to. Cycling...Camping...Walking...Photography...Meeting up with Friends and.Family..Blogging....Etc.. etc...
I don't know why it is but I seemed to have more spare time when I was working. Well actually that's not true,  I do know why it is, it's because I am doing a lot more things and more often.
This past week I have been out on the bike almost every day but I didn't ride on Friday and Saturday because on the Sunday I was riding the Annual Dorset Bike Ride with JD and Mike.
This was the 21st year of the ride, although it was the first time that I had ridden it. I usually ride the Duncton Sportive but this year it clashed with the start of my French Touring trip so I decided to ride the 'Dorset' instead.
The day started with putting  the Tifosi on the back of my little Peugeot 107 which I might add is the perfect car for an eco minded cyclist. Very cheap to run and very low emissions.
All loaded up I set off to JDs house arriving there at 0730 hours. From there it was just 3 miles on the bike to the Queen Elizabeth School at Wimborne which was HQ for the ride.
Unlike the Sportives I usually ride which are in the main Road Bikes only...the 'Dorset' is open to all riders and all types of bikes. We saw Mountain bikes - Hybrid bikes - Touring Bikes - Audax bikes - Cyclo-cross bikes- Retro bikes - Tandems - and of course Road bikes.
The two guys in the photo above had genuine old British bikes and they were decked out in the full retro clothing to match the bikes...all great stuff and as the ride is a charity ride in support of the British Heart Foundation it just adds to the fun of the day.
I had originally planned on riding the FELT Z1 but because of the torrential rain and storms we had on the Saturday  and overnight I thought that it would be a bit foolish to ride my beloved dry weather bike for the ride. A bike with fenders is what I needed hence the decision to take the Tifosi.
This proved to be the right choice.
 Now as I understand it there were two thousand riders registered to ride this event and as we all assembled for the mass start it certainly felt like two thousand. This was a problem in my view. Two thousand riders all at different fitness levels and riding every type of bike imaginable and just one mass start.
At 0900hrs the riders all poured out on to the main road- probably to the total dismay of other road users. After only 800yards the route turned off the main road and on to a narrow country lane which within a short distance had turned into a muddy gravel track. After the previous nights torrential rain this was a potential puncture alley and a large number of the road bike riders either dismounted or found an alternative starting route. This included JD- Mike and I.
Looking back on the ride I am surprised that the organizers  didn't stagger the start. After all there were three different distances being ridden - 25 miles - 50 miles and 66 miles. (The three of us were doing the 66).
On the entry form for the event it stated that the 'Route 66' was for experienced riders only, so it does seem a bit silly to send everyone off together. It was such a bad start that I gave up on the idea of doing a good time for the ride within the first ten minutes. I also think that it was dangerous....there were obviously lots of riders who were not familiar with riding wheel to wheel and I am relieved that there were not any accidents. More by luck than judgement I feel.
Funneling two thousand riders down a narrow gravel track just didn't seem very sensible and how glad was I that I chose to ride a bike with fenders. To see the state of some of the bikes and riders after riding down the gravel tracks and country lanes I would have been just a little upset if I had been riding my Z1. I know...........  .....I can clean the bike after the event but the point is I paid big money for it and it is my best bike. I bought it to ride fast roads not gravel tracks..!
Having given up on the idea of setting a good time I rode the first forty odd miles with JD & Mike.
Now Mike  had never ridden more than about fifty miles in a day so this was going to be a first for him and although JD is a good endurance type of rider, he describes himself as a 'chugger' and he would be the first to admit he is not the fastest of riders.
I don't know if it is just me or if others are the same, but I actually find it difficult to ride at a slower pace than my 'normal' speed. I find this particularly difficult on hills so what I usually do when riding with slower riders is to shoot off up hills and wait at the top or at the next junction for them.
Having said all this I think that I managed to ride quite well  maintaining a similar pace with  Mike & JD for those first forty miles. Then Mike started to get a bit of pain in his knees....nothing ultra serious but enough to slow him down a bit. At this time JD was about quarter of a mile ahead so I shot off to catch up with him. From then on Mike and JD rode on together and I set off in an attempt to claw back a bit of my average speed which was only about 13.5 miles an hour at this time.
 From that point on I wasn't passed by anyone and all my hill training seemed to have paid off because I sailed  up all the ascents passing numerous riders along the way.
I must admit it does give me a lot of pleasure to pass riders less than half my age and even more so following all my health issues of the past two years. 
Knowing that I was riding strongly I thought that I would wait at the last feed station to make sure that Mike & JD were OK and my plan was that I would ride hard for the last eleven miles. Team Chugger arrived after only ten minutes and both of them seemed alright. After 'free' drinks and energy bars we all set off again but it wasn't long before I got into turbo boost mode and shot off.
From that point on I rode hard. This was the part of the ride that I enjoyed the most. There is nothing I enjoy more than riding hard and passing everyone- it gives me a real buzz....I just love it. Pure enjoyment....it is what I ride for.
If truth be told that last eleven miles were ridden at the pace that I would have liked to have ridden over the entire distance and if it had not been for the chaotic start, that is what I would have done. 
I have trained at that level so I know that I am good for that effort over that distance.

During that last eleven miles I felt that I was really on song. I just felt strong, continuing to almost float up the hills and fly along the level.
I arrived back at the event HQ collected  my medal and then I waited to watch all the riders I had passed arriving at the finish.
About fifteen minutes later JD & Mike arrived back...tired but happy.
For Mike it was a big first and I know that he was pleased he had managed to ride his biggest days mileage clocking 73 miles in total. (Including riding to and from the event).
All in all a good day was enjoyed by everyone- only marred in my opinion by the very poor start.
This week I will be back out on my normal training circuits and I will also be preparing the Tourer for the trip to France.  I will make a couple more blog posts before I leave.....
I promise that I will find the time from somewhere..!!

Tuesday 3 May 2011


With all the hype surrounding the Royal Wedding, there was no way that I was going to remain too close to a television.(I still remember what the wedding of Charles and Diana was like).
So last week I headed off to Devon. I did a spot of walking along some sections of the Two Moors Way and other parts of Dartmoor- visited a few people  and had a family celebration meal at a local restaurant. This was to celebrate Anne's Mother's eighty fifth birthday.

I have now been home a couple of days and thought that I should catch up a bit with the blog and other things.....mind you the hype is still going on.  Something about the wedding seems to be on the television every time that I dare to turn it on. I will be off to France two weeks today, so if I can avoid looking at a TV until then hopefully most of it should have died down a bit by the time I get back...!    I mean lets face it- how many ways (or times)  can a television commentator describe the hat that Victoria Beckham or some other so-called celebrity is wearing......I just find it all a bit mind numbing........
One of the little tasks that I had to do on my return from the beauties of Devon was a little wheel truing. After I returned from the Backpackers weekend meet a few weeks back I noticed that my rear wheel on the Revolution Tourer seemed to have a very slight kink in it. Now as I say, it was only slight and a lot of people probably wouldn't have bothered too much with it but perfection is my middle name and with the trip to France in just a couple of weeks I thought that I would get it spot on.

The wheels on this bike are Mavic A719 rims laced to Shimano Deore XT hubs. I have had these wheels for one year now (I upgraded all the components on the bike in April 2010) and since Mark at Bicycle World built them at that time I have not taken them back to be checked out, even though I have done over a thousand miles on them.

One other thing that I had noticed was a little bit of play on the cassette. With the wheel off I  removed the cassette and checked everything out- but all seemed OK. I replaced it and tightened up the lockring again and it now seems as solid as a rock. I can only assume that the lockring was not torqued down quite tight enough.
Yesterday I met up with Mike & Chris McEnnerney and Peter Calcutt. We met up at Mike & Chris's house to discuss plans for the up-coming trip to France.

The idea was that we would set out a route and general plan for the trip and make decisions on places that we wanted to visit.
Well we did a lot of talking....lots of talking.....most of it was talk about previous trips.....long distance walks.....camping.....backpacking and a little about our French trip.
After six hours we had  made a decision...!
We had decided where we would be camping on our first night.....well kind of!
In actual fact it should take us a lot less time to cycle to our first night stop than it took us to arrive at the decision.
We will obviously be doing a lot of talking when we are in France...........

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...