Tuesday, 27 November 2012

More about the 10 in 10 Ride.....


Following on from my last post I've been searching out videos showing some of the signature climb of the Giro de Lombardia out of Ballagio on the shores of Lake Como up to the chapel of the Madonna del Ghisallo.

This little film shortens the climb to just six minutes but gives some idea of what we will have in store for us after riding Ten Countries in Ten Days..... The introduction and text is in Italian...so if you don't understand Italian I apologize....but it will give you a little of the flavour of what we will be doing...
Obviously we will not be riding the length of each of the countries, but the route that we are plotting will enable us to  ride on a continuous route linking into the ten countries as we go.....

At this stage it is difficult to be certain of the mileage, but we are anticipating a daily average in the region of 85 miles. As with other rides that I have done in the past, some days might take us over this and other days could be a little less....The weather and road conditions as well as how each member of our little team feels each day will all help to determine our actual daily miles covered...

The planning for this ride is coming along nicely and I have one other confirmed rider, with another trying to beg the time from his job at the moment...a couple of others have also expressed an interest in doing it...
We will be using the ride to raise money for the charity Cyclists Fighting Cancer and I will be setting up a charity page where you can support us, but more details on this later.....

I still have a couple of other rides to tell you about that I intend doing during 2013, but details of those will be revealed  at a later date..... One longish ride just isn't enough..!!!


Friday, 23 November 2012

A Pilgrimage... My 10 in 10 Ride..

Some months ago I was chatting to a rider who I met on one of my regular daily rides..... 
We had often seen each other out on the road and had acknowledged each other with the customary wave or flick of the hand as we rode past each other going in opposite directions...
However on this particular day we had both stopped at the same coffee shop at the same time so like most riders we got talking....

He asked me about my rides and I told him about some of the long distance trips such as Cherbourg to Santander......Gibraltar to the UK.......LEJOG... and Edinburgh to Portsmouth that I had completed.....
He told me that he would love to do some long distance rides and explained to me that most of his riding was local but he had the dream to do more and he asked me lots of questions regarding riding longer distances.....Both Road and Touring....

He then asked me if I had done 'The Pilgrimage'. 
What he was referring to was a visit to the Chapel of the Madonna del Ghisallo known as the Patron Saint of Cyclists.....
Although I was aware of the Madonna I have never visited the Chapel situated in the Northern Italian hamlet of Magriglio set 554 metres above Lake Como....
The chapel is not just a religious site but is also a place of pilgrimage for cyclists from around the world....

The little chapel is filled with cycling artifacts spanning the 100+ years history of the sport and as someone else told me, a visit to the Chapel of the Madonna validates you as a true cyclist..... 
My new found friend told me that one day he would make the pilgrimage himself but with a very young family it would be a good few years before he would be able to become a 'pilgim'. 

The conversation we had that day got me thinking.....and the more I thought about it the higher up on my bucket list 'the Pilgrimage' moved... 
Anyway 2013 is going to be the year that I make the pilgrimage...

I have decided that it is going to be the destination for one of my big rides next year...so here is the rough plan... 
TEN COUNTRIES IN TEN DAYS (10in10) is what we intend to do....

We will ride from the first country which is of course ENGLAND and then continue riding through FRANCE- BELGIUM- HOLLAND- GERMANY- LUXEMBOURG- SWITZERLAND-LICHTENSTEIN- AUSTRIA- ITALY. 
This will be a supported road ride with one vehicle (Motor Home) carrying our equipment, driven as always by Dave (the broom) Vaughan. 

Road bikes will be the order of the day and we will be camping each night....The highlight of the trip of course will be riding the signature ride of the Giro de Lombardia from Ballagio on the shores of Lake Como up to the hamlet of Magriglio and one of the Spiritual homes of the bicycle...the Chapel of the Madonna del Ghisallo. 
By all accounts it is a pretty stiff climb but worth all the pain.........

The exact route is still being planned...mid June will be the date we set off... I am getting together a small team to do the ride with me and I will introduce them to you in a future post with more details of the ride.....
In the meantime you can checkout the Chapel HERE.....

Monday, 19 November 2012

Bournemouth Cycle & Tri Expo 2012

The Cannondale Stand
 At the weekend my son-in-law Scott suggested that we visit the Bournemouth Cycle and Tri Expo 2012 which was taking place at the Bournemouth International Centre. 
This was being staged by Primera who are the main cycle store in the town. They stock a wide variety of bikes covering Road, Mountain and Leisure although the emphasis at the show was to be more towards the triathletes among us.....
Now regular readers to this blog will be well aware that I am no triathlete but my son-in-law has developed an interest in it, even entering his first mini event a couple of months ago...
For my part I am always too ready to drool over some bikes so we headed off to have a look.
The Specialized Stand
There were plenty of  stands displaying lots of very nice bikes including Cannondale, Specialized, Focus and Pinarello......However I have to say that I saw nothing that made me want to dip my hand in my pocket, take out my wallet and buy a new bike.... 
This must be proof that I am more than satisfied with my own high end Felt road bike.....
A number of local clubs also had stands to help recruit more members including Zoom Tri Club based in Bournmouth.
Looking to build a new bike..? Plenty of frames..
I always find these type of shows are great for keeping you up to date with what is happening in the biking world....
It's always nice to be able to see the latest products and innovations from a lot of the biggest brands in the industry as well as having the opportunity to obtain some good products at clearance prices..
Sprint Roller Racing provided by South Coast Sprints
 One stand that did grab our attention was the sprint roller racing challenge provided by South Coast Sprints...
My youngest grandson who came with us wanted his dad to have a go...Scott was heard to reply "No, I'm not going to do it because I don't want to be beaten in public by a pensioner"  obviously referring to me...
My answer to my son-in-law  "Get used to it!"
The Focus Stand

Pinarello Dogma

Lot's of business being done with those smaller must have items
 I saw lot's of business being done with those smaller must have items....lights...pumps....etc. 
Scott even opened his wallet and found that he had the urge to part company with some cash......
However I managed to spend a couple of hours at this show surviving with my wallet unopened and intact..!.. 
Almost unheard of for me!!
Argon and Fulcrum wheels

Argon 18 with Fulcrum wheels and Shimano 105 groupset
 The Argon stand caught my attention not just because of the bikes, but also because of the Fulcrum wheels that were displayed with them. 
I am a great fan of Fulcrum wheels...
I have a set of Fulcrum Racing Zeros on my Felt Bike and I think that they are a really great wheelset....Not only do they perform well but they look fantastic on the bike too.... 
It was nice to see the latest incarnation of the Zeros although I must say that I think that mine with the red spokes win in the looks department......
Just a 'Token' wheelset...
 Before we left we were given a 'goody bag' with lots of bits and pieces and all in all I enjoyed the time we spent looking around...
As I said Scott is pretty keen on triathalon and although I might be able to beat him at the moment riding a bike, he would wipe the floor with me when it comes to the swimming and the running....
It will be interesting to see how he progresses with triathalon next year....
We are planning on entering a couple of events together during 2013 but I must point out that those events will be strictly bike only..!!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Gear Review - Berghaus Selway Softshell Jacket.

I was recently contacted and asked if I would be interested in testing and reviewing an item of outdoors clothing...the item in question was a softshell jacket from Berghaus called the Selway. It is described as a 'highly breathable - wind resistant jacket for the active user'.... Well I think that I fit the active user category and as I had some various outdoor activities planned where a jacket of this type would be useful it was an opportunity too good to miss......
I took delivery of the jacket just over a couple of weeks ago and during that time I have been wearing it for lots of different activities including trips into town...visits to the pub...a boat trip across Poole harbour....walking along the Jurassic coast....and a camping and cycling trip.. all in all a pretty varied mix of activities and conditions for a thorough test...

Now prior to receiving this softshell jacket my only experience of this type of garment was a softshell cycling jacket designed for use in winter conditions only, which I purchased a couple of years ago.  The material is quite thick, it is also a hi-viz flouro yellow not the sort of thing you would want to wear walking around town. 

This Berghaus Selway is very different....for a start the material doesn't appear to be thick enough to give you much protection at all (weight on my scales was 440grms approx)- but don't be fooled - The Selway is constructed from an own brand material called 'AF Softshell'. 
The label describes this as having the following attributes:  *Breathable *Wind Resistant with a *Durable Water Repellent Finish(DWR) and also with *Lofted Fibres which Trap Air and Retain Body Heat.....

The jacket is designed and cut to what is called 'Berghaus Active Fit'- they describe this as being 'not body conscious' and 'not baggy just a streamlined cut for every kind of activity'... Well my first reaction on reading all this, was that it all seemed too much to ask from one garment that on first sight, appeared to be made from a material too thin to be able to deliver on the promise ......So how did it actually perform during testing.......?
The colour of the jacket I received was a nice bright electro blue and grey...I have also seen the jacket in red and grey and black and grey. 
For me, this colour was perfect as it would be bright enough to wear on the bike or whilst walking, but not too out of place for a trip to town or the pub.....

The material is nice and stretchy which means that in use it did not flap around in the wind and also wasn't restrictive to wear....The quality of construction of the garment is pretty high too as can be seen from the stitching and the material itself....
The zip garages are actually of a size that fit the zip pullers as can be seen in the image of the full length front zip above and the image of a zip on one of the two front pockets shown below.
Behind the full length zip is a full length baffle to help keep out the wind and this proved to be quite efficient. The jacket also has a reasonable drop tail which makes it very suitable for multiple use.

The two hem draw cords really do work with just one hand....I know it might appear a minor point, but in real outdoor use, being able to tighten up the hem with the drawcord with just the one hand is a very important plus point.....there is nothing worse than having to use both hands for this simple operation.....
 The sleeves can be something where a lot of jackets fall short - literally!!.... Having arms that are cut just that little bit too short can be very annoying.....every time you stretch your arms you can get a cold bare wrist.....Not with this jacket though. 
The arms are cut to a sensible length and when you stretch out your arms (such as when crossing a stile,climbing over rocks or riding a bike) you will not experience that cold wrist feeling and the rest of the garment isn't pulled up either due to the 'Active Fit' mentioned earlier. 
 There are two mesh pockets accessible by way of zips on the front side of the jacket...I found these useful for not only putting things in, which of course is their primary use, but they were also useful as a way of venting the jacket in order to regulate my temperature and comfort when on the move such as riding my bike or hacking it along the coast path... 
The pockets also neatly formed additional pockets inside the jacket that were perfect for carrying a good old OS map as shown in the above photo... 

The Selway never failed to keep me warm during any of the various activities I used it for...
On a recent short cycle tour the temperature fell below zero and I used the Selway with just a long sleeved cycling jersey underneath. 
Not only did it keep me warm but I also didn't overheat when putting in a big effort over a couple of major hills on my fully loaded touring bike.....

I found the same whilst walking - it kept me warm and I didn't overheat....this jacket really does seem to breath well.....
When camping it proved to be a great all rounder and I found myself choosing to use it in preference to other garments that I have used in the past.
The one word that I would choose to describe this Berghaus jacket is 'Versatile'. 
It really is a garment that can be used for a wide variety of outdoor activities as I have proved. 

It isn't a purpose designed cycling jacket, but because of its nice fit it lends itself perfectly for a spot of cycle touring....then when you get to camp it is ideal to wear around the campsite and then later on it's ideal for a visit to the pub or a spot of sightseeing.... if you fancy a walk along the cliffs or hills it will deal with that as well.... 

I found that during real world outdoor activities this jacket is breathable...is wind resistant....and did manage to keep me warm when it was cold down to around zero, even on a bike with the extra wind chill factor that creates... Oh yes...The Durable Water Repellent finish(DWR) works well too, as I was able to test on a recent camping trip when I was caught out in a heavy shower...

I have looked hard for something that I don't like about this jacket and people that know me well will agree that I do enjoy finding faults....!!
However, the only thing that I can find so far (and I am stretching a point here) is the position of the pockets. 
If I was only intending to use this jacket for walking with a rucksack,  then I would suggest that the  rucksack straps will actually fall right across the pocket zips making entry to those pockets very difficult.....

However...and this is the main point....the jacket is suitable for a number of activities....if those pockets were moved then they would not be as useful for venting the garment such as when on a bike......
To be honest, for me the jacket is almost perfect as it is for the wide range of activities that I get involved in. 
I have been very impressed with this Berghaus Selway jacket... If you are looking for a softshell jacket of this type...this one is well worth consideration...

I will update this review when I have had more use of the jacket,  but I have a feeling that it is likely to become one of my favourite fall back items of outdoors clothing....

Monday, 12 November 2012

Dorset Backpackers late Autumn meet......

Good Weather for a Mini Cycle Tour
The weather on Friday was ideal for setting off on a weekend of cycle touring as the picture above taken from the end of my road shows. 
The plan was to set off north to Alderholt near Fordingbridge and meet up with other members of the Backpackers Club for the Dorset Groups late Autumn meet...Some members would be walking and others would be cycling to the first nights camp which was based in the grounds of a garden centre... 
The Cycling Weather Continues....
 I mentioned on this blog a couple of weeks ago that I had been looking for an ideal route for escaping the Bournemouth area when travelling north from my home...
I had worked out what seemed to be a good route but as a last minute thought I checked on my Garmin to see the route to Alderholt that it would select....
Well it came up with almost the identical route that I had taken so long in searching out... 
Pity I hadn't just left it to the Garmin in the first place as it would have saved me a lot of time... 
As I followed the Garmin's instructions and headed north the good cycling weather continued...
Autumn Colours
The route was reasonably traffic free....
I chose a nice steady cadence which gave me a solid average speed of 15.2 mph which after the type of riding that I have spent most of the year doing was a really enjoyable change of pace...
There is something really nice about cycling along on a fully loaded touring bike...it's a good solid feel to the ride and I had plenty of time to take in all the Autumn colours. 
The route took me over lightly rolling roads between open fields as well as hedge lined country lanes.....
Leaves on the Tent.....Autumn Camping
I was first to arrive at the campsite and had put up my tent and changed out of my cycling kit before Graham Faithfull arrived.....
Graham had walked to the site from Fordingbridge having caught a bus from Bournemouth. 
The last time we camped at this site Graham had walked from Bournemouth, but on this occasion lack of time had meant him resorting to a spot of public transport....Graham and I chatted for about half an hour catching up on club news. 

Before long Mike and Chris arrived on their bikes with their fully colour coordinated  panniers and bar bags. 
Not long afterwards John,Brian and Jill walked in and then a little later Peter arrived on his touring bike and fully covered in the brightest hi-viz jacket and helmet cover any of us had ever seen....It was so bright that my camera was unable to record the brightness of it all... 
After cooking a meal we then headed off a mile down the road to the pub where we spent the evening... At the pub we also met up with long standing club members Lynette and Tony.......
Mikes New Kask Helmet...
During the night as the weather forecast had promised we had some heavy rain -  but again as promised, by morning the rain had stopped and there was a promise of another good day... 
Most of us headed to the Sticky Bun Cafe which is on the Garden Centre site and launched in to a full English breakfast. 
While we were having breakfast Howard, another club member arrived. Howard was unable to camp over with us due to a recent operation but he had decided to drive over and have breakfast with us all and catch up with everyone..... 
After an hour the walkers had to set off to the Saturday nights camp stop which was at Holt a few miles outside of Wimborne....The cyclists  on the other hand had plenty of time for more talking and more coffee......
Chris modelling her new Kask helmet..

Plenty of time for chatting.....

Still chatting- It's taken an hour to drop that tent.....

Colour Coordinated Couple Mike and Chris. They need to swap jackets to perfect the  look !!
 Due to all the talking it took the cyclists ages to break camp....So much to catch up on. It wasn't until way past lunch time before everyone was ready to head off to the next stop....
The walkers needed about five hours to walk there but for the cyclists about and hour should do it, so there was absolutely no pressure at all to push on...
At last!....Talking done and now heading off
 Peter and I were the last to leave and as thought the short hop only took us an hour.....
The Saturday night camp had been arranged in the grounds of a B&B in Holt. As we rode up the road towards the venue we passed the walkers....
So after all that talking and leaving about four hours after them  we still arrived just ahead of them....
Oh the beauty of the Velo machine..!! 

It had been arranged that Kimberly who runs the B&B would provide us with an evening meal and also breakfast on the Sunday morning.....John had arranged the beer and a great Saturday evening was had by all....good conversation and good friends...... What more could one ask for....? 
Sunday morning - Frost on the tents

After a cold night - Frost on the tents
 It was a cold night as could be seen by the frost covered tents on the Sunday morning but as everyone was an experienced backpacker with all the right equipment a cosy night had been enjoyed by all....
We had a nice breakfast provided again by Kimberly, more chatting and then all too soon it was time for everyone to go their separate ways......
My Loaded Tourer - Also colour coordinated just not as bright as Mike and Chris- My choice a tasteful silver grey and black.
Tents were dropped and everything was packed into panniers and backpacks....I loaded my bike and like the day before, Peter and I were the last to leave.....
All too soon the weekend trip was over...

Not a great distance covered....The emphasis was more about meeting up with old friends....having a couple of nights away in our tents and using our touring bikes or our walking boots. 
It's quite surprising how, if you don't use your tent for a while, you can forget the quickest way to erect it.......
The next Dorset group event is fixed for mid January.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Reasons to go Cycle Touring...


Arriving through my letterbox this week was one of the many cycling magazines that I subscribe to...
One of the sub headlines on the front cover listing some of the features in this month's issue was something that caught my eye.... '20 reasons to go cycle touring this weekend!' 

What a bit of luck I thought because that's just what I'd planned to do anyway...a weekend out on the tourer mixed with a couple of nights in my tent....
Now I must admit that I don't need twenty reasons to go cycle touring in fact I don't even need ten...one is enough for me and that's  because it's fun!! 

I think that I was about twelve years old when I set off on my first cycle touring trip and in those early days I used to spend the nights at Youth Hostels..of course that was back in the days when Youth Hostels were not run like mini hotels as they seem to be nowadays...
However by the time I was fourteen I started doing what I like to think of as proper touring, that is with tent...sleeping bag and cooking equipment....fifty years later I am still doing it.  

Now I'm not going to list all of the 20 reasons that were in the magazine article, but I think that it is worth mentioning a few that would be on my list for those of you who might have never tried it
before....

Freedom and Independence....
As a youngster I think that those two were pretty important. It was an escape for a short while away from the control of my parents.. For adults it is a chance to be free of work and the regime of modern living, a chance to get away from it all....

A chance to Explore.... 
Finding and exploring new places and revisiting old places....

Experience the slow pace of life on the road.... 
There really is a different pace of life when you are living on the road....
When I look back on some of my longer trips such as when I cycled back from Gibraltar, the rides seem to develop their own pace and shape....it's a bit like going back to basics where the only things that are important are food..warmth...and somewhere to sleep...nothing else seems to matter much....
Things that seem so important in our everyday lives can be viewed from a different perspective and don't seem to count for so much when you are out on the road cycle touring....

One of the reasons that was listed in the magazine was because every bike enthusiast should have at least one cycle touring trip on their palmares...it went on to say that  "it's an experience that seals a bond between the rider, the bike and the open road" and that "once you've been on a tour you're a proper bike rider and no one can take that away from you". 
Now I don't know whether that's true, but if it is, it means that I have been a proper bike rider for an awful lot of years...

What I will say, is that I am often surprised at the number of riders that have ridden sportives.... raced...done time trials etc but have never tried cycle touring... 
If you have never tried it, give it a go..I am sure that you will enjoy it and your first trip will open up a whole new and exciting chapter in your cycling experience.....

I have just checked over my touring bike....my panniers are all packed and I am ready to set off tomorrow and meet up with some friends.... When I get back I should have some photos of my mini cycle touring weekend to share with you...Whatever happens with the weather the one thing that I can be sure of, is that the weekend will be fun..!!



Friday, 2 November 2012

No Cycling....


When this week started it certainly looked as if it was going to be a case of 'No Cycling'. The weather was pretty horrendous with strong winds and very heavy torrential rain... 
Now that I have achieved the mileage that I was aiming for this year, there didn't seem to be the pressure on me to go out on the bike and get a real soaking..... What a relief!!  

Rather than go out in the appalling weather I chickened out and settled for some sessions on the turbo just to keep my legs spinning....
However over the last couple of days the weather has settled down nicely and I have been able to get out and do some really nice autumnal cycling.....
No huge daily mileages, in fact the biggest day that I have done this week was 55 miles. 

Not having to keep pushing on with a target mileage in mind has meant that I have been able to ride at a nice steady pace keeping in zones 1 and 2. 
Plenty of time to take in the scenery as I go and enjoy a totally different type of riding compared to what I have spent the year doing...
My plan now is to reduce my weekly average mileage from the 280/300 that I have been doing down to a figure of about 125/150 until the New Year when I will start building the mileage up a bit again, although I won't be aiming to do 10,000+ miles next year....

Talking about next year, as I have been cycling along at my new slower pace I have been thinking about plans for next year. 
I have always been the sort of person who, when one objective is reached, has to start planning and setting a new one......

One ride that I want to do is the Lon Las Cymru Touring ride that had been scheduled for September this year but had to be postponed due to the other riders involved in the trip having to pull out...
One thing that I have missed this year has been a nice extended touring trip...you know...bike, panniers, tent etc etc. 
I only managed to do a couple of short weekend touring rides and for me that was not enough..

The Lon Las Cymru will only satisfy a week of my needs but I do have a longer touring ride that I am thinking about as well...
I can't say too much at this stage as I have not had a chance to talk to my usual cycling buddy's about it, but the moment the plan is fixed you will be the first to know about it. 

Then, there is the BIG one! 
It's always good to have a big ride planned...either something that is big because of it's distance or something that is big because of it's concept... 

Well I do have a BIG one currently in the planning stages...It is starting to come together quite well and I hope to be able to reveal the plans to you all fairly shortly....
I am quite excited about it. 
What I can tell you is that it's not BIG because of the mileage...although that's not to be overlooked...no this one is BIG because of the concept...also it doesn't involve my tourer as it's more road bike orientated ...More I cannot tell you.......

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 ...