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Now retired but busy still living..

Sunday 29 January 2012


Following my ride with Scott the rest of my week was spent dodging the rain on many of my training rides
I have still managed to add some good quality miles to the tally and as I approach the end of this first month I am pretty well pleased with my overall  total.....better than last year at this point and hopefully I won't have last years medical layoff to hinder my progress. 

My EuroVelo Route 6 still remains an ongoing planning project  and I have still not come across another rider to do the larger route with me. As I said in an earlier post...most people would like to do it, but because of the spectre of work getting in the way, they can't give it the time required. 

However as usual at this time of year the phone has been busy here at 'Purple Towers' with various cycling friends wanting to discuss shorter distance trips......... 
Peter Calcutt visited the  Towers to discuss a spring cycling tour in France. 
For the last couple of years I have completed a short Spring tour in France.....each year to a slightly different area. 
This year a Tour of Brittany seems to be on the cards. The rough plan is to head to St Malo on the ferry and then cycle down to Nantes - follow the rough line of the Nante/Brest canal to Brest and then follow the Northern coast line back to the start. 
Nothing is set in stone yet but the plans are coming together. 

After Peter's visit, JD was on the phone...."I'm thinking of riding Edinburgh to Portsmouth in May for a charity, you'll come with me won't you" he said. Now JD and myself and others have put together a  charity challenge ride each year since 2008. I even managed to complete one with JD a couple of weeks before my cancer radiotherapy treatment in 2010 and it seems JD now has another plan...
Well that's it really..he had the idea but he wanted me to put together THE PLAN. 

I told him all the reasons why I had no interest in riding to Portsmouth from Edinburgh...things like rubbish UK roads....aggressive UK drivers....wanting to take life easy....logistics in getting to Scotland with the bikes etc etc. 
I made a water tight  case for not doing it with him and I really put my foot down and stood my ground.  
The upshot of all this is that I spent yesterday evening planning the route and it looks like I will be riding with JD on yet another ride for a good cause. How do I get myself involved..........................? I did say no!!!!


Tuesday 24 January 2012


Back in October I posted a picture of my Son-in-Law Scott and the road bike that he had purchased on e-bay. 
Since then he has not done much in the way of riding it- but has told me about some of the road riding plans that he has. These included  an early season Sportive and later in the year a mini Triathlon. In actual fact he has only ridden the bike on one 16 mile ride with a friend of his who is by all account some kind of super sportsman. 

I thought that it was about time that he started getting some miles in on his bike so that he could get an idea of where he is bike fitness wise and to allow him to see the amount of work he needs to put in to achieve his cycling goals. (Scott is quite fit in a general sports way.)

Scott isn't completely a bike ride virgin as my daughter and he do manage to put in some mountain bike riding together but he is new to the road riding discipline.
I suggested that we rode together around my short training loop....from my home to the Bramble Bush ferry out to Corfe via Studland and then up Kingston hill down to Swanage and back to the ferry again. This is a good ride of 30 miles that would give him some idea of the type of terrain that is included in most sportives. 

During the season I often ride this route on a Sunday morning before breakfast the main attraction being that it takes you through some wonderful Purbeck scenery. The ride is a reasonable test of hill climbing ability and overall endurance levels. 
Yesterday morning we set off.......
The first five miles to the ferry went well. 
I had been given strict instructions by my wife Anne not to go 'too fast and show off 'as she puts it....no soul crushing allowed on this ride.... so I kept my speed down to an average of about 16 mph...a speed which Scott seemed quite happy with. 
When we arrived at the ferry you could tell that there was a bit of a wind  by the roughness of the water in Poole Bay....wind speed was about 15/20 mph. 

After the short ferry crossing we cruised along at a steady 'touring' speed up through Studland and on to the 'Hill of Death' (HOD). 
This hill is known as the HOD because most new riders feel like death on their first attempt.... Scott rode it well...managing to hold my wheel all the way to the top and shortly after I stopped to allow him to get his breath back not wanting to wear him out too soon. 

A few minutes later and we were off again on the next five mile section to Corfe....a few minor climbs- but most of this section is a lumpy downhill. We then headed through Corfe village and then headed off towards Kingston....the road takes a minor climb before dropping down again before you hit the 16% of Kingston hill which is used in the local club hill climb series. 

I had advised Scott to pace himself up this hill but he saw the opportunity to pass me on the approach and took it (a mistake he probably regretted  by the end of the ride) I let him go and paced myself at a steady cadence for the 16%. 
There are a few mild hairpins on this hill and Scott disappeared around the first one....a few cars passed me and after the bend I could see that I was already starting to gain on him. Around the next bend I could see Scott still managing to continue in an upward direction and I was even closer. 

A few more bends later and I negotiated the final bend only to find that all the cars that had passed me had stopped.   Stopped on a 16% hill ! 
No sign of Scott. 
I stopped behind the cars but as there was no movement from them I decided to try and get started again and pass them. 

Just as I came up behind the car at the front I could see the problem. 
It was a learner driver....trying to get restarted on the hill....just as I went to pass him the learner managed to jerk and jump away on his hill start and I followed behind. 
I passed the pub that marks the end of the climb and there was Scott standing at the side of the road. 
When I told him about the learner trying to get re started on the hill Scott told me that it was probably his fault. He said that he had slowed so much on the hill that he had started to wobble around and had caused the poor learner to stall. 

We carried on towards Swanage....mainly downhill and a lovely run with a tail wind. On arrival at the seafront we took a short break and I gave Scott an energy bar which he seemed to need. Scott told me that he felt pretty well done in.....(shouldn't have tried to fly up the 16% Scott). We still had the 5 miles approx back to the ferry and another 5 miles back home from there........

For the rest of the ride Scott struggled.....The first part of the section back to the ferry is uphill again and Scott told me that he crawled it at about 7 mph. We continued the ride with me going on ahead and waiting at junctions etc. When we finally arrived home Scott admitted to me that on the last hill about half a mile from my house he had to get off the bike and walk up.....Sounds like a touch of 'the bonk' to me.....
He told me that I might not have crushed his soul but that his body felt  pretty well crushed.

Overall Scott did pretty well and he has the ability to get up hills... but if anything, our ride together has shown him that he needs to work on base fitness and endurance levels. I have suggested that he aim for an Autumn sportive and work his training towards that as a goal..... 

I will keep you updated on how he does.

Friday 20 January 2012


 Following the great weekend I had at the BPC Dorset Group static camping weekend...... I have packed the touring bike away again and this week I have been back out on the Tifosi Audax bike. 

I am managing to put in some good quality mileage and am hopeful that this year I will take a major step up in my fitness levels and my cycling ability. 
I am working on my power and hill climbing abilities and really getting a good buzz from my riding right now. 

It must all be having some effect...... as I was riding back from the BPC weekend on my fully loaded touring bike I came up behind a young guy (early twenties) fully decked out in his local club colours just as we hit a very steep hill. 

The twenty something club rider stood up to attack the hill and I sailed past him still seated on my tourer, panniers and all....... as I powered past him you could almost feel his disbelief.....I just hope that I don't come up against him in a local club event this year as I think I might be a marked man.
Thursday saw another birthday come and go...

I think that as we get older we tend to celebrate our birthdays less and less....certainly not as much as the youngsters anyway. 
When you think about it though, the older we get the more we have to celebrate...I mean each year becomes an achievement in itself. 

I reached 64 this year and I can't believe it. I don't feel like I thought I would at 64.... I feel fit and I am doing a lot of the things that I used to do fifty years ago.....I ride my bike....go camping....indeed in a lot of ways retirement allows you to live your youth all over again. 

For my 14th birthday I got a new bike....it was a BSA in a beautiful two tone blue....it was the first brand new bike I had ever owned and I can remember that I spent that year talking friends into coming on cycle touring trips with me. 

I travelled miles on that bike and a  passion was started that year that has never really stopped. As I start my 65th year I see that I am still doing those same things......nothing has really changed at all...just the number  from 14 to 64.

Sunday 15 January 2012


This weekend I went to the Backpackers Club (Dorset Group) Winter static weekend. 

Four of us arrived by bike but I was the only one who didn't join the planned walk on the Saturday morning as I wanted to put in the miles on the bike. 
I also wanted to have a go up the Zig Zag hill near Shaftesbury. This hill is reputed to have more bends over a mile than any other in the UK. 

It does in fact have eight hairpin bends over it's length and the sign at the bottom shows a lowly gradient of just 10% although my Garmin did register 12%-13% on a couple of the hairpins. 
It's not so much the gradient that can catch you out it is the length of the whole thing, as even after you negotiate the hairpins the route just keeps on climbing. 

Anyway I had never climbed it, only ever going down it and I must say that I found going up on a bike much easier than going down. The bends are very narrow and you certainly have to keep your eyes open for motor vehicles. 
With my riding to and from the event and my ride on the Saturday plus my rides earlier in the week I was able to add another 320 miles to my 2012 total so far.
 As you can see from the photos it was a cold weekend. 
Following the mild weather that we had earlier in the week, the temperature just plummeted over the Friday night and we all woke up to a very heavy frost on the Saturday morning. 
On the Sunday morning we awoke to another cold day but due to a stiff breeze there was no condensation in the tents and no frost, so we were able to pack everything away nice and dry.

For a winter camping event just a couple of weeks past New Year it was really well attended with 20+ people camping overnight. 
The Church Farm site at Sixpenny Handley has been one of our favorites for a number of years as it has a licensed bar on site and a cooked meal is available in the evening as well as a great cooked breakfast to set you up for your walk or ride. 







Peter Calcutt turned up with a huge map holder fixed to the front of his bike...I really did wonder what it was when he arrived. 
I told him that I thought that it would make a pretty good air brake, but Peter assures me that at the speeds he travels it doesn't make much difference to his overall speed.

I have never been able to get on with looking at a map as I ride along.....I don't like taking my eyes off the road and I don't like anything obscuring my view of my front wheel. 
I much prefer to just key my destination into the Garmin and let it do the work. The only time I need to glance at it is when it bleeps at me to inform me that a right or left turn is coming up. One quick glance to establish what it's telling me and....job done! 

When I stop for a break is when I take a look at a paper map just to get a broader picture of how I am doing. Indeed that is the method I used for my entire Gibraltar to UK ride and it worked without a hitch. 

Still Peter seems to get some pleasure in doing cycling in an 'old school' way so I should not have been surprised at the front spoiler posing as a map holder.

The whole weekend proved to be a great success and everybody enjoyed the camping walking cycling and gossip....A great first event for our new coordinator Graham Faithfull........
I must admit I enjoyed it all the more now that I have stepped down from the coordinator role  ...thanks for taking the post over and well done Graham.

Wednesday 11 January 2012


The weather did a complete about turn following my last post. 
All the rain and the gale force winds decided to leave my part of the south coast and have headed north or somewhere else.......what we were left with has been really mild weather with some nice sunny days as well. 

I have been able to get out on the bike almost every day and start to put in some serious miles. Today I did my first 75 mile day of 2012 and in under five hours as well. 
It was a glorious day just look at the picture above. The weather was so good I decided to do one of my Spring training routes - well it was just like a Spring day after all. 
The route took me out to Bere Regis and back to the Purbecks in a large loop and included a lot of my favourite hills including Creech and Kingston. 

As I was cycling in to Swanage the thought entered my head that an ice cream might be nice, but as you can see in the photo the ice cream kiosk was closed. It might have been a spring like day but obviously no one had informed Mr Ice Cream and I wasn't going to search the town to find a shop that might sell me one, so I settled for an energy bar and a couple of swigs of energy drink before climbing back on the bike for the last twelve miles of the ride. 

According to the weather forecast the weather should stay dry until the start of next week, although the temperature is going to fall back to  normal for this time of year. 

This weekend is the Winter static meet for the Dorset Backpackers Group. 
It is the first event that Graham Faithful has arranged since taking over as Dorset Co-Ordinator following my decision to stand down after about eight years. 
I plan on cycling over to Church Farm at Sixpenny Handley on Friday on my touring bike. 

Although the others will be doing a ten mile walk on the Saturday it is my intention to do a circular ride as there is a good hill in the Shaftesbury area that I want to have a go at.  Of course one of the things that I am looking forward to is my first night in the tent for 2012 I am also looking forward to catching up with all the news and gossip. 
Hopefully I will be able to share some photos of the weekend with you early next week.

Friday 6 January 2012


Cycling clipart

Well we are now at the twelfth day of Christmas and six days into the New Year. 
Anne and I have been away over the holiday period but now we are back home and all the decorations and other signs of Christmas have been packed away. 
I thought that it was about time I started posting again........  

Looking back at my mileage counter for last year it finished short of what I had aimed for. I had hoped to finish the year with 10,000 miles under my wheels, but after having been forced to stop riding throughout the whole of February due to medical reasons, it was always going to be difficult to achieve. 
On the positive side I only missed my goal by 646 miles which is less than the average of 850 miles a month that I managed throughout the other eleven months.

Unfortunately 2012 has not started well........Storms with winds of 50 to 70 mph and  driving rain have seriously curtailed my attempts to attack my mileage early..... My first weeks mileage is going to be low but it can only get better.

I am not planning to make any changes to my bikes this year.....I have got them all just as I want them......each bike is perfect for the events and style of riding that I use them for- whether that's Sportives Audax or Touring.
My love for endurance rides with plenty of hills is as strong as ever and it's those kind of rides that I will be concentrating on again this year.

No firm plans have been made for my touring rides although Euro Velo Route 6 is still constantly on my mind. As soon as I make my mind up I will let you all know.

Now all I need to do is to catch up with all my favourite blogs and then I will feel that I am really back. 

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...