Wednesday, 30 May 2012

DARTMOOR PERAMBULATION (part two)

WILDCAMP AT HUNTINGDON WARREN
As I am still away busy cycling from Edinburgh to Portsmouth with JD and Dave (the broom wagon) Vaughan I thought that I would post some more photographs from my recent Dartmoor Perambulation. 


As with so many of these types of trips, it is only now....looking back on the trip in it's entirety, that I realize how much I actually enjoyed it. 
At the time I did find some of it hard, but then again that was only to be expected after such a long lay-off from backpacking. 
The real joy of it all was the close camaraderie that is only to be found when a group of friends are doing something together that they all enjoy............
 TENTS NEATLY PITCHED AT THE HUNTINGDON WARREN WILD CAMP

A VIEW FROM MY PITCH AT HUNTINGDON WARREN

BREAKING CAMP......

TAKING A BREAK......

AT EASTERN WHITE BARROW

CAMP SITE BEHIND THE 'PLUME OF FEATHERS' PUBLIC HOUSE AT PRINCETOWN

LOOKING BACK AT 'NORTH HESSARY TOR' FROM 'GREAT MIS TOR'

ANDREW TAKING IN THE VIEW AT 'GREAT MIS TOR'

YET ANOTHER REST BREAK

ANDREW GIVING JILL A PIGGY-BACK AT SANDY FORD

RIVER TAVY AT SANDY FORD

GETTING SORTED BEFORE THE NEXT SECTION OF THE ROUTE

VIEW FROM MY TENT AT OUR LAST WILD CAMP- 

IN THE MIST AT 'YES TOR' ON OUR LAST DAY

Sunday, 27 May 2012

AWAY CYCLING - EDINBURGH TO PORTSMOUTH

EDINBURGH TO PORTSMOUTH
Another pre-scheduled post I'm afraid. 


If all has gone to plan JD and I will have started our Edinburgh to Portsmouth ride yesterday having travelled up to Scotland in the broom wagon the day before. 
We are lucky enough to have been able to talk Dave (The broom wagon) Vaughan to support us again on this our latest little spree for a charity...........
This time, it is to support the Royal College of Surgeons Research Appeal. 


As is usual when we do these 'charity rides' we have planned the route ourselves and we also meet all the costs of the trip in order to ensure that all the money raised goes straight to the charity. 


As well as cycling the route each day, we will also be stopping off at various hospitals along the way to hopefully meet up with representatives of the Royal College of Surgeons and draw attention to the appeal. 
Our route will take us from Edinburgh to:- Jedburgh...Newcastle...Northallerton....Doncaster...Nottingham... Coventry....Wallingford.... arriving in Portsmouth about a week later. 


If we were just riding the route direct we would probably complete this in about 4/5 days. 
However, because of the charity commitments which we have scheduled each day we have had to allow slightly more time. 


I am hoping that the weather is good to us, as we will be camping and there is nothing worse than at the end of each days cycling (particularly in the rain)  when you are tired and worn out, having to put up the tents in the pouring rain as well. 


One of the positives of course is the fact that we have Dave transporting our kit each day and acting in a backup and support role throughout the trip. 
This means that we can leave our heavier fully loaded touring bikes at home and ride on bikes a bit lighter. JD is using his Specialized Secteur Comp and I am using my ever faithful 'Tiffany' the Tifosi....


As usual I will be taking pictures throughout the ride and when I return home will post photos and a review.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

DARTMOOR PERAMBULATION (part one)

'BASE CAMP' AT EAST OKEMENT  FARM
I got back from the BPC Dorset Group's Dartmoor Perambulation late Sunday afternoon. 
This was the first multi day backpack over rough country that I had done since my accident and cancer diagnosis. 
I must admit that I was apprehensive before the trip and I did struggle a bit over the roughest sections of the route, although looking back on the trip as a whole I feel that I did reasonably well. 


Up to about four years ago I was completing a multi day backpack every three to four weeks so it was probably expecting a lot to sail through this after such a long break. 
By the time we finished each days section I must admit that I was ready to stop walking and put up the tent and crawl inside.....crawl being the correct word..! 
STONE CIRCLE BETWEEN HOUND & LITTLE HOUND TOR'S
 We arrived at East Okement farm on the Monday afternoon...camped there overnight and left the vehicles there while we did the perambulation. 


Peter and I were a bit slow on the Tuesday morning in breaking camp....
John Yale who had arranged the trip was working on a backpackers start time of between 0900/0930hrs....
Peter and I are pre-programmed for a (cycle touring) 1000hrs start. 
When we realised everyone else was ready for the off, we told them to go on ahead and we would catch them up. 


Well, we never managed to catch them up that first day and when we got to the first nights wild camp they told us that they had arrived about half an hour before us. Unlike cycling, when backpacking you have little chance of catching up.......we made sure that we broke camp earlier for the rest of the trip
PART OF WATERN TOR
 Weather wise we were pretty lucky...we had no real rain to speak of.....not in Dartmoor terms.
 It did rain apparently overnight on our last night but I certainly didn't hear it.....and we also had a little bit of drizzle during one of the days. 


The going underfoot on Dartmoor tends to be wet what ever the weather and this trip was no different. It's a bit like walking on a wet sponge....for a lot of the time you get a lovely squelchy sound every time you put your foot down. 


About half of us were wearing boots and gaiters- the other half had chosen to wear ultra lightweight Inov-8 trainer style footwear and they spent most of the week with wet feet and socks.(This is intended apparently) 
They tell me that this is the best footwear to walk in these days. 


I am not convinced..not on Dartmoor. On a National trail with a track or similar for most of the route I would be and am happy to wear ultralight footwear, but in my opinion Dartmoor is better walked in boots. 
The thought of walking with wet feet just does not appeal to me although I know many will disagree.
FIRST NIGHTS WILD CAMP- HEWLAKE
 One thing that did come as a major shock was when we arrived at the stepping stones at Week Ford. 
Four years ago I would have hopped from boulder to boulder without giving it a thought. 
On this trip I arrived at the stones, looked at them...looked at the river and just froze.... 
I found that I had lost my nerve and confidence....what a wimp!! 
I don't know why and have never had a problem in over fifty years of backpacking...but there I was...... frozen!!  
Brian had to help me across. 


Four years of no real backpacking has obviously taken it's toll in some unusual ways.... It was the same sort of feeling that I had regarding descending on the bike after my accident.....I overcame that so let's hope I can overcome this.
JILL HELPING JOHN YET AGAIN - HOW DOES HE DO IT?
 I have shown just a few of the 124 images I took on the trip and I will post some more of the photographs in next Wednesday's post. 
Most of the images I took were in monochrome and I will post some of those pictures on my Aura of Past Shadows photo blog over the coming weeks.........
THE GROUP AT THE LONGSTONE -
(The power of standing stones....see how it makes everyone lean  in the same direction that it leans..!!)

AT STONE CIRCLE NEAR SOUSSONS DOWN

SECOND  NIGHTS WILD CAMP AT BELLEVER

ANOTHER VIEW AT BELLEVER

PETER COLLECTING WATER AT THE BELLEVER WILD CAMP

Sunday, 20 May 2012

EXPLORE THE DORSET COAST...

EXPLORE THE DORSET COAST
As I don't plan on getting back from my 'Dartmoor Perambulation' until much later today this is another pre-scheduled post. 


The above picture was taken on one of my many rides along the Dorset coast. 
The title on the visitor information board above suggests  'Explore the Dorset Coast' and I can certainly recommend it. 


Dorset has often been described as amongst the most 'English' of England's Counties. It was a part of the Kingdom of Wessex before the emergence of the English state in the ninth century. 
The County town of Dorset is Dorchester which was founded by the Romans about AD70 and the town still retains some elements of it's Roman past.
Although about three quarters of Dorset remains in agricultural use, farming is no longer the single greatest employer in the county owing to the advance of modern technology.


A survey taken in 2006 counted about 710,000 inhabitants. About a third of these resided in the major towns of Bournemouth and Poole.
Dorset is bordered by Devon to the west...Somerset to the north west....Wiltshire to the north east and Hampshire to the east. Along the southern edge of the county runs the wonderful Jurassic Coast....a World Heritage site.


If you ever decide that you would like to take the information board's advice and explore the Dorset  coast, then I would suggest that exploring the county by bike is the very best way. 
Dorset is one of the few select counties that does not have any motorway running through it and as such is perfectly suited to a touring holiday by bike. 


Just be prepared for a hilly ride..!!



Wednesday, 16 May 2012

AWAY BACKPACKING....

BACKPACKING AROUND DARTMOOR
 When this post is published on my blog (assuming the schedule settings work) I will be away on a Backpacking trip around Dartmoor in the south west area of the UK. 
I have spent many hours walking and backpacking in this area and it never fails to offer first class walking if you like the wilder landscape. 
I am hoping to get some good B&W images to add to my portfolio if the rain manages to hold off for long enough and I will also be able to enjoy the companionship of some of the other members of the backpackers club who I will be doing this route with. 
Hopefully I will have travelled down to Dartmoor with Peter Calcutt on the Monday where we will have met up with the others for the start of our walk.
OUR PERAMBULATION ROUTE
Back in the year 1240 King Henry 111 ordered by way of a writ which was dated 13th June that the lands of his brother Richard of Cornwall should be confirmed by a boundary perambulation. 
The lands in question were the Forest of Dartmoor and the Manor of Lydford which he had previously granted to Richard in 1239. 
It was decreed that the Sheriff of Devon and '12 Lawful Knights of the country' should undertake the mission. 
The walk that we are undertaking as the basis of our short backpacking trip is based on this ancient perambulation and is called the 'Ancient Boundary Walk of Dartmoor'. 
Hopefully our trip will be successful and we will all return as fully fledged 'BOUNDERS'.


[Photographs and a report on the trip will follow in a later post.]

Sunday, 13 May 2012

GREAT.... SCOTT......!

SCOTT SENSIBLY WALKING OFF THE FERRY
 Today my son-in-law Scott entered his first event. 
It was a local charity sportive raising money for the Lewis-Manning Hospice which is based in Poole and looks after people who are affected by cancer and other life threatening diseases. It is the twenty year anniversary of this really good cause and the event seemed to be a good one for Scott to start off with, as the mileage was a reasonable 42 miles. 


Those of you who are regular visitors to this blog will remember that Scott acquired his road bike towards the end of last year having previously ridden mostly mountain bikes. 
I managed to get him to accompany me on one of my training rides during January. 
That ride was his first real experience of riding any distance on a road bike and if the truth be told he did struggle a bit toward the end of the ride having burnt himself out a bit on some of the hills. 


Since then, Scott's training programme has been patchy bordering on non-existent. 
Like a lot of young guys he suffers with a lack of available time due to the pressures of a young family and a full time job. 
One or two short rides on the road and a similar number of sessions on a static bike indoors and that appears to have been his total training over the three and a half months since that ride we had together. 
NOTE THE BORROWED HELMET....
I had arranged that I would meet Scott towards the end of his ride as he came over from the Studland side of Poole harbour on the ferry. 
I had asked him to text me just as he was about to start the event as that would give me some idea when I could expect him to come across. 
I received the promised text as follows..  "Will start in 5 mins...Have fallen off already". 


Apparently he managed to have a 'cleat fall' while riding to the start. He only started using clipless pedals a couple of months ago and as I have told him before..."you will fall off at some point and it will be when you least expect it".  
Later on he had the good sense to walk off the ferry....unless you ride off with some power it can be a bit tricky getting up the ramp....


Indeed I saw a couple of riders fall because they started to walk off and then decided to mount the bike when only half way up the ramp. 
What usually happens is they clip one foot in... try to get going and clip the other foot in....lack of power and speed...start to fall and fail to get a foot out quick enough.   Ouch!! 
A bit dangerous with cars alighting from the ferry as well.  
Luckily the guys I saw taking a fall today didn't appear hurt....their pride was the only casualty I think.
CHECKING THE COMPUTER BEFORE THE LAST FEW MILES
Scott left home this morning with his bike and various bits and pieces but managed to forget his helmet. 
He told me that he had got himself a bit flustered trying to remember everything he needed but luckily managed to borrow a helmet with which to complete the ride..... 


A couple of weeks ago I rode the general route that today's event covered in order to come up with a time that  would give Scott some idea of a time to aim for. 
I managed 2hrs 28mins (excluding ferry time) over a 45 mile loop so Scott said he would be going for a time of 3hrs 30mins for the 42 miles that he would be doing. 
As it turned out he finished in a time of 3hrs 07mins. 


Considering that Scott had been using the 'No Training'  training plan  I think that he managed a pretty good time. 
He admitted to me that when he got to Kingston hill (a popular local hillclimb venue) he did only manage to get half way up before he had to dismount and walk the rest of the way to the top. When he came out with me back in January he managed to get up this hill, but he say's that today, the previous hills he had ridden had sapped him of the required energy. 
HEADING OFF AGAIN FOR THE LAST FEW MILES
Scott told me that the one thing that completing the ride today has shown him is the various things that he needs to work on, starting with a regular training pattern and to build on endurance. 
The great thing from my perspective is that none of today has put him off and if anything it has increased his enthusiasm for road riding.
A good event and you did... Great...Scott!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

BANK HOLIDAY RIDE

HELLO STRANGER...
This past weekend has been a bank holiday in the UK...and we had typical British bank holiday weather. That means of course Cold....Rain and Wind. Yes..we had it all! 
I had planned to go for a ride with both Peter Calcutt from the Backpackers club and JD one of the original Team 219 members. 
Unfortunately Peter had to pull out at the last minute due to a minor family crisis so it was just JD and I who met up at the Studland ferry for the short trip across to the Purbecks. 
This was just the third time that JD and I have managed to meet up for a ride this year...(almost like strangers) health and weather just getting in the way.
ROAD AHEAD CLOSED
We were not alone on the ferry.....lots of other riders had the same idea as it was a holiday weekend....and the ferry was almost jammed with riders of all disciplines. 
After alighting from the ferry, JD and I waited for all the holiday traffic to clear the ticket booths before we set off towards Corfe castle. 
It was bitterly cold and I was glad that I had decided to put on my leg warmers...winter socks and long sleeve merino wool  Shutt top (is this really the month of May??). 
When we got close to the castle we came across road closed signs that appeared to block our route ahead.  
A BETTER VIEW OF THE CASTLE THAN THE LAST ONE  I POSTED
Adopting the same plan that we used in France last year....that is, just carry on....as there is almost always a way through for a bike, we were not disappointed. 
Work was being carried out on a small bridge and the road was fenced off, but one of the workmen pointed us to a small footpath where we could wheel our bikes around the obstructions and within a few minutes we were back on our route. 
Passing a local campsite it was interesting to note that they had a sign outside announcing that they were closed due to all the pitches being water logged. A great pity considering the income that they must be losing over the holiday period......
WAITING NEAR THE TOP OF CREECH HILL
We saw lots of other riders as we made our way along what was effectively a closed road due to those bridge works near Corfe. 
Not having to worry about cars on a nice country road is a great experience and would be the number one attraction for me in riding a closed route sportive. 
As we rode along in the direction of Creech hill we joked that we would just ride to the bottom of the hill and turn around there as neither of us fancied the ride to the top. 
We cycled around the bend at the bottom of the hill and both stopped. 
As we took a few sips of our energy drinks our conversation went along these lines: 
JD. "You didn't mean it about not riding up the hill did you?" 
ME. "No"
JD. " I didn't either"
JD REACHES THE TOP OF CREECH
Next minute we were both spinning along up the hill. 
This hill does seem easier to ride on a cool day than it does in the heat of summer, but it is always a good workout. 
I got to the top and leaned my bike against a road sign and waited for JD...it was a short wait. 
A few gulps from my drinks bottle and JD joined me at the top.
After a short break...an energy bar and a few more gulps from the bottle we were heading down the hill touching 45mph before reaching the bend at the bottom. 


All in all we had a good ride even though the weather made it feel more like riding in February than May.
It was a pity that Peter couldn't join us, but hopefully there will be plenty more opportunities for the three of us to get out on our bikes and share the simple pleasure of a ride together.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

SPORTIVE EXPLOSION

MORE SPORTIVES AND CHARITY RIDES THAN EVER...
A few weeks ago Jeff at the 'FlatTire' blog mentioned that it had set him back $65 to enter the Haleiwa Metric Century Ride - he went on to say that although he liked the ride he was not sure if it's worth it. 


Over the past few years we have seen a huge increase in the number of these events being organised - a real Sportive explosion. 
Almost every weekend from early spring through to late autumn you will have a choice of various sportives or charity rides that you can sign up for and ride. 
The little booklet shown in the photo above lists over 200 sportives that you can choose from and that is just a few of the events that are actually being organised. 


Situated as I am on the beautiful Dorset Jurassic coast we have no end of these rides in this and the surrounding area....
Ride to the Pies.....New Forest Spring Sportive.....The Joker....Jurassic Beast....Bournemouth Sportive to name just a few. 
Over the past few years I have ridden in a number of these events but Jeff's comments on the cost of these type of rides got me thinking.....always a dangerous thing for me to do. 


The rides that I have mentioned above are ridden over routes that I can ride any day of the week..and do....so why would I want to pay anything up to £50 to ride on roads that I ride on for free? 
What do I actually get for my entry fee? 


Well I get to wear a pin on number...the use of a timing device....a feed stop or two and a broom wagon and the pleasure of riding in a large group.
I might even get a medal or a Tee shirt for completing the ride.
Let's look at each item...... 


I don't really need to wear a number....my Garmin seems to be a pretty accurate timer....I have no problem riding a hundred miles with my own energy bars and energy drink and a broom wagon is nice but a phone call could sort things if I ever have a major problem.
As for the medal or Tee shirt....well like the pin on number these are things that I don't really need. 


That brings me to the 'pleasure' of riding in a large group....my own experience on this is that it creates it's own problems. 
A lot of the riders  can be very inexperienced in group riding and seem completely unaware of the normal courtesy rules and behaviour that you might expect on a weekly club run. 


Having said all this, these sportives can be a fun experience and I always try to build one or two of these events into my cycling calendar even though I feel they are an expensive way of 'going for a ride'. 


As far as the charity events go.....
Well JD and I have always arranged at least one charity ride each year....however we prefer to organize our own charity rides such as our ROCK2UK ride last September and our upcoming EDINBURGH 2 PORTSMOUTH ride which we will be undertaking later this month. 


When I look back on my cycling over the years...the rides that come to mind as the most enjoyable, are those that I have set up and organised myself and ridden with friends........ 
and there was no entry fee required for those........ 

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

LOOKING BACK AT APRIL......

WET BIKES AND WET TENTS....THE STORY OF APRIL
Looking back on April it seems to have been all wet bikes and wet tents........ 
In spite of a drought being declared at the start of the month, nature had her revenge by deciding to give us far more than the average monthly rainfall that would normally be expected. 


I read this morning that it is possible that the total rainfall we have had during April this year exceeds all previous levels for April for over 100 years. 
This won't affect the hosepipe bans that some of the water companies have imposed throughout the country though...indeed some of the water companies have stated that the bans might need to remain in place right through until next year. 


All the rain and strong winds have certainly had a big effect on my monthly cycling mileage. Throughout the first three months of the year I managed to achieve an average of just over 1,000 miles each month. 
April.....well that was different! 
I only managed  700 miles for the entire month which is quite a drop. 
I am still well on course for my 10,000 miles target for the year but it is still a disappointing figure for me. 


Apart from the rain, wind and lower mileage, April was also a disappointment in other ways. 
As mentioned in a previous post the French touring trip that I had planned with JD and Peter was cancelled due to the medical ups and downs JD and I have had.  
Then, even the short touring trip to the Isle of Wight that we had arranged in its place had to be cancelled right at the last moment because of the weather. 


Having said all this, the rides and trips we have had were fun and I can't wait to see how the mini adventures we have planned for the month of May all pan out. 
You will be able to read about it all here of course..........

A step closer to what is normal........

Over this past week our campsite has taken a step closer to what we think of as normality...  The sign that was put out at the entrance to ...