Sunday, 23 December 2012

Last Ride of 2012 ... probably

The weather was quite mild and dry today so after a 5 mile walk with Nicky in the morning, followed by lunch, my son Pat and I headed off north on road bikes. Pat (pictured) is back from Vietnam over Xmas and was on his old steel Ricci bike. We did one of my usual routes to Wingrave and Stewkley, then back via Wing (with stop at shop for drink and snack) and Mentmore. It was quite overcast and windy on the final return leg. It was a round trip of 24 miles.

So this year has seen no epic long distance rides, and in fact the longest day trip was only 78 miles. However, I've probably cycled around 3,500 miles and it has helped me keep fit, and saved a bit of petrol. I don't get obsessive about cycling but regard it as part of a health and fitness regime, that includes good diet (low fat, alcohol & caffeine), good work life balance, and exercise including walking, jogging, gym and swimming. As a result my weight and cholesterol are down, and I'm feeling pretty good.

Next year Nicky and I have our May Land's End trip planned, and I'm thinking of doing a couple of audax/charity rides again in March. I quite fancy doing a 200 km audax/sportive - but only if it is nearby and convenient.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Foil Insoles

On the basis that your feet get cold partly from the pedal clips I've now put a layer of ordinary aluminium foil between my insoles and the shoes. You can buy specially made insoles lined with aluminium, but the Shimano ones are pretty good, and there's not room for two pairs. I've yet to try them out as the weather's been bad, and I've got a cold. I'll let you know the result, but thought it could be a useful low cost tip.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Aylesbury Circuit and GPS

After a cold misty morning the sun broke through about 11 am, so after an early lunch I set off on a new ride I'd planned. The temperature was cold, about 5 or 6C, but warmer than it has been, with no wind, so quite pleasant for cycling. I took an anticlockwise route around, but avoiding Aylesbury, from Tring to Wingrave, Whitchurch, Waddesdon, Stone, and Weston Turville, a total of 34 miles over 2.5 hrs. Unfortunately my feet got quite cold in the last half hour, so it looks as if a single pair of socks isn't enough for my new shoes. The soles of my feet were the coldest, so maybe adding lambswool inner soles might help, although possibly an extra pair of socks and overshoes would do the trick.
I've also been contemplating getting a GPS for a bike, such as a Garmin, but can't justify spending at least £300 one one, when my bike didn't cost much more than this. Also as I'm long sighted I'm unable to focus on my handlebars without reading glasses! Normally I just stop at a junction, get out a map or phone and put on my glasses. I'm normally happy to have a short break anyway.
I've been playing around with an iPhone app I've had for a while called The Complete National Cycle Network - by Sustrans. It allows you to download maps for free to your phone, so if you don't have a signal you can still use offline maps. Of course the iPhone GPS doesn't need a phone signal so you can pinpoint where you are. I tried downloading 1:150,000 and 1:50,000 scale maps, but found that the 1:150K maps were adequate and clearer. The 1:50K maps don't seem to give you many advantages, apart from a few street names, rivers, more detailed woodland and houses. There are no footpaths on them, so you can't use them for hiking, like you can the OS ones. Also the 1:150K maps take up less space, and you should be able to fit the whole country on an iPhone - so they should be good enough for next year's trip to Lands End. Here are some examples with the 1:150K on the left. You can also plot routes, track your existing route etc.

Just discovered if you zoom in further to an urban area you do get a map with all street names marked. So it's probably worth doing this for major towns.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Sock Technology

Having bought some decent winter shoes I've been giving some thought to the best sort of socks to wear, and the number of pairs. My original sock philosophy with my ventilated "summer" shoes was to wear two pairs of cheap woolen or synthetic themal socks, which meant that my feet were packed into tight shoes and as a result ended up numb, even with overshoes on (although the overshoes helped with the cold). I put this down to poor blood circulation, but having read a few articles another factor might be the lack of air within the sock itself and between socks, feet and shoes. So wearing too many thick socks may just result in squeezing the air out or the socks and space around them. The thermal properties of wool, particularly from the merino sheep breed, are partly due to the amount of air trapped in the material, and silk then wool socks are considered a good combination.
I bought a £10 pair of Endura Baabaa Merino Winter socks, pictured, earlier this week and have found that wearing them with a thin silk sock underneath and my new shoes on top works well, with the shoes not too tight. I've only had 2 x 16 mile commutes this week to test them on though with temps just above freezing. Interestingly I found that wearing the Endura socks on their own and leaving plenty wriggle room for ones toes, worked the best, and having shoes tighter around the ankes to trap air in. So less may be more! Flexing toes regularly whilst cycling felt good and warm, compared with the numb feeling of cold lumps of meat I used to get using my old technique. Adding overshoes in really cold weather no doubt will provide extra warmth and rain protection.
There's quite a good article on keeping feet warm and types of socks on Page 50 of the Feb 1977 Backpacker - which is probably still relevant today Backpacker Page 50

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Shoe Trials

I went on a 24 mile bike ride this morning to Stewkley and back, and it rained apart from at the start and was quite cold, so a good test for my new shoes. I put the Altura overshoe / waterproof covers shown on, mainly to protect my ankles, then when the rain became heavier put my lightweight overtrousers on, so there was no way I'd get wet. My feet remained warm and dry throughout. The overshoes are much easier to get on and off than the warmer neoprene ones, as they have velcro at the back. There were straps under the sole but I removed them as they covered my clips. I think for maximum warmth you need 2 pairs of warm socks, and not have your shoes done up so tight it restricts circulation.
Week's mileage 64.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Winter Shoes

I was struggling to put on my tatty neoprene overshoes yesterday, over my old SPD shoes with chilly mesh sides, when I thought wouldn't it be good if you could get thermal waterproof winter shoes. Well of course you can, at a price. I don't know why I haven't considered this option before.
So I spent some time online at work deciding which to go for, then rang the local bike shop, who happened to have some Shimano MW80s in my size in a sale for £110 (reduced from £150). I bought them but was told they don't come with clips. Fortunately I managed to find a spare pair at home (the shop sells them for £17!).
I tried them out this morning in drizzle with 1 pair of ordinary wool blend socks and tights. My feet were a comfortable temp and seemed dry, until I took them off and I noticed some dampness around the ankle where the neoprene "gaitor" is. I'm not sure why they didn't use Goretex like in the shoe itself. On my return home it was raining steadily so I put on the thin hiking overtrousers I usually wear, plus 2 pairs of socks, and I'm pleased to report my feet were very warm and dry throughout my ride. Trevor you should get some! I've also got some other easy fitting overshoes I could add in really wet weather.
Besides the problem with the damp ankle, they are a bit heavy - but look as if they'll last. The Northwave GTX Celsius is Goretex thoughout and lighter so could be a good alternative. I'm pleased with these though. I'm planning a longer ride at the weekend to see if my feet stay warm.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Bradley in Black

The Guardian today had a picture of Bradley Wiggins today "back on the road" dressed completely in black, albeit with a yellow helmet (like pic below). You'd think he'd wear something a bit more visible, particularly as he's bound to cycle fast.
I've cycled to work 3 times this week and always wear a high-vis jacket and flashing lights if it's dim or misty. I normally amble along too, in no rush to get to work. Cycling after dark can be pretty scary, and I often take a longer route that avoids dangerous roads and junctions, or has more streetlights.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Ashridge Splash

I haven't been doing much cycling lately apart from commuting, but have done quite a bit of walking (Sussex coast last week). Nicky and I were planning a ride to Newbury and back a couple of weeks ago, but the forecast was for rain - which in the end never arrived! Then 2 Lejog friends were meant to go on a ride today, but one had an ankle injury. Anyway it was really wet this morning and didn't stop till about 2pm. I decided to venture out on my road bike with clip on mudguards and I wrapped up well. I cycled up over Ashridge and had to cycle through massive puddles that took up the whole width of the road. Fortunately I didn't get splashed by any cars, but I should have worn my neoprene overshoes. After an hour my feet were like ice, despite 2 pairs of wool socks - the temp being around 5C. I did wear my scullcap under my helmet so had nice warm ears though.
The sign in the picture seems to be permanently lit to warn you to slow down to avoid deer. From Ivinghoe Beacon I cycled through Ivinghoe Aston to Mentmore then back via Long Marston. A round trip of 23 miles. I only saw 2 other cyclists on the road - normally there are peletons of them!
I've pretty well given up on my diet, although am eating healthily and haven't put back on the half stone I've lost. Maybe I'll try to loose a bit more in the spring.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Sunny Sunday ride in the Chilterns

We awoke to clear blue sky and set off on hybrids for a morning's ride. Cycled on some narrow hilly lanes from Tring to Great Missenden then back up past Chequers to Butler's Cross and on to Weston Turville, where we stopped at the Chandos Arms for some soup. Then headed back home via Tring Reservoirs. I managed to break a pair of sun glasses when stuffing them in a back pocket along a shady bit. Nicky got splashed by a car at a coffee stop. But apart from that it was a good ride. Mileage 27.5. Total this week 60 miles.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Pub lunch bike ride

Nicky and I cycled north to Stewkley then back to Wing where we found a good place for lunch, The Cock Inn. They do Sunday roasts for £7.99 - I had beef and was offered sausage and stuffing with it, but settled on Yorkshire Pud. I plan to call again when some Lejog friends meet up in Nov. We then had a 10 mile trip back up Mentmore hill and with a blustery headwind. 25 mile round trip making my weeks total 75 miles

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Fitness Campaign Update

I've lost about half a stone now basically by eating and drinking a bit less and exercising a bit more, and it feels good! My BMI is still around 27 though so I've still got a way to go before reaching a 'not overweight' 25. It would be easier if I hadn't shrunk from 5'6" to 5'5" over the last 10 years! I'm also not sure that BMI is a realistic measure, as it doesn't take into account your muscle weight.
In terms of diet I've been loosely following the ideas of the F2 high fibre and Gi Plan diet, which seem healthy in that you fill up on fruit and fibre and keep fat intake down. I did consider the Dukan diet but decided it was crazy and unnatural. The only real modification to diet though, apart from eating a bit less, is that I have added a grapefruit drink or half grapefruit for breakfast and I suppose we eat a bit less meat and more salads. I already was eating plenty fruit, veg and fibre.
My exercise consists of cycling to/from work usually 3 times a week with one swim, one or two gym sessions and sometimes a 3 mile run. Then at weekends I usually go for a short or long bike ride or a walk with my wife. I've also been working on my allotment which can be quite energetic.
I tried calorie counting for a few days using - but probably won't do this regularly. It does however give you an idea of how much food and exercise you need to do to reach a target weight in a number of weeks.
I'm not sure if I'll manage to get much below 11.5 stone, but at least I plan to keep a trim waistline whilst building up my upper body and leg muscles. Hopefully I can get down to 11 stone.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Wallingford Again

Woke up to a clear blue sky and sunny day. Packed panniers with picnic and swimming kit and Nicky and I set off for Wallingford at about 9:45. We had a coffee and snack, then arrived at sunny Wallingford at around 12. We both had a brief swim in the cold Thames, had our picnic and sunbathed for a couple of hours. We made a slight detour on our return on some minor roads and nice villages such as Brightwell Baldwin and Sydenham, with pretty churches and pubs (Sydenham church pictured). We had a stop at the Chinnor Garden Centre just before 4pm closing for an unbelievably cheap 2 teas and cakes for £5.48. Got home around 5:30, a mileage of 62 miles, making my week's mileage 157.
So the day trip has shown that 60 mile a day should be ok for planned Lands End trip. We've decided to do the trip at May half term, and just cycle one way. That way we'll still have time for 2 week somewhere hot and exotic in the summer!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Fitness Campaign

It's been dry and sunny all week, so I've cycled to work every day and went on an hours ride late this afternoon. So my week's total is so far 95 miles. I also had a swim, gym session and a couple of hours on the allotment. My wife and I are trying to loose a bit of weight and are on a bit of a fitness campaign. We're trying a high fibre low fat diet (F2 or Gi) and have lost 3 or 4 pounds in 2 weeks. Trouble is we've got 2 scales and there's a difference of half a stone between the 2, so we're not sure when we'll reach our targets.
Today's ride was over Ashridge at about 5:30 pm, past Ivinghoe Beacon (pictured), and Tring reservoirs.
Tomorrow we plan a longer ride to Wallingford, Oxfordshire .

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Lake Balaton

Our second week in Hungary was in a rented house in Szigliget on the north western shore of Lake Balaton. Although we'd a hire car we decided to hire bikes too for around £20 each for 5 days. The bikes weren't up to much - heavy with mountain bike tyres, 21 gears and no suspension, but we only wanted them for short trips to the local beaches, towns and sights. Cycling is very popular here with whole families cycling, and good cycle paths away from or parallel to the roads. In fact there's a 200 km bike route that goes around the entire edge of the lake, most of which is on purpose built asphalt bike tracks. If I had my road bike and it was cooler I'd be tempted. It's pretty hot and sunny this week - 35C at midday, so we plan to cycle mostly in the mornings and evenings. However today (Tuesday) we cycled west to Keszthely which took most of the day, including stops at a palace, museum, restaurant and beach, and was a round trip of about 35 km, almost all on cycle paths. I managed to cycle over a 2 foot grey green snake, but it seemed to survive! Most of the other cyclists were day trippers on hybrid or mountain bikes, but there were a few road bikes and quite a few heavily laden bikes with front and rear panniers on camping trips presumably.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Hungary Cycling Tour Review

It was a well organised tour and a good mix of cycling and sight seeing. The hotels and food were good quality and value, the £700 trip cost included all costs except lunch and drinks (visits to pools etc included). The fact that the tour organisers let some of our belongings get stolen was a bit of a blunder, and it seems they weren't insured for this. The scenery by the lakes and rivers with quiet bike tracks was nice, but the flat fields of maize and sunflowers that we cycled through on straight roads were a bit monotonous. What motorised traffic we encountered was used to bikes. Our daily distance was only 30-50 km (3 or 4 hrs cycling) so if you were wanting something more challenging and can't cycle slowly, this is not the cycling holiday for you!
The People:
Tony the manager of Velo Touring (Budapest) is quite an amusing chap who tends to speak non-stop in a mixture of Hungarian, German and English to anyone he meets - only stopping to eat (which he does a lot!) He's a good driver although does spend quite a bit of time on his mobile.
Victor our guide is a nice chap who speaks good English and has a good knowledge of local history. He's also a good driver.
The cyclists just consisted of my wife and I and the German. He was quite a slow cyclist, who had his saddle low and tended to use low gears. So we had to stop every 15 mins for him to catch up, which was ok by us.
The Bikes:
The Merida Classic 200 bikes were ideal for the trip. Although I wasn't sure front suspension was a good idea at the start, there were enough bumps to make them a necessity. The 700 x 35 Kenda tyres with road grips were good. Wearing my "cargo shorts" rather than padded Lycra was good - cooler and handy pockets. I was a bit surprised the bikes weren't fitted with bottle cages, but they fitted one on mine. Nicky's was a ladies bike and didn't have the fittings for a cage, but at least we had the little panniers. Having a big bike trailer meant they could carry several spare bikes and transport us along the busy road sections to/from nice bike roads.

Hungary Day 5

The first ride was 10 km or so on a new bike track alongside a road and we encountered a hill! Nicky described the area as "like Norfolk except flatter". We went in to a huge water park which was absolutely packed, and pretty horrid, although we did manage to find a decent pool and spot to sunbathe for a while. We were told to leave our panniers on the bikes whilst we used the park, but it seem 2 of them (mine and Reiner's) were stolen when our organisers went into a supermarket, and left the locked bikes on the trailer. My bag had my £70 Endura Photon jacket in it and Reiner had his small camera. So we spent the next hour and a half reporting the loss in the local police station for our insurance claims. It was all quite annoying, particularly as it would only have taken 1 minute for us to stow the bags in the minibus.
We continued on bikes another 10 km or so in 32C sun - but at least my bike was a bit lighter! We stopped at Kaba at a small quiet pool and had a late lunch (hot dog & beer) then continued on the final 12 km of our ride at around 6 pm, by which time it was pleasantly cool.
Our last stop was at a pottery, where we saw a demonstration by the potter, and his display of pots. He had a photo of his great great grandfather taken in around 1850 also a potter (must have been just after photography was invented).

Hungary Day 4

We set off on bikes from Hotel Balmaz then joined a farm track, or "splotterway" as Tony the tour organiser called it (he mixes up English and German). We rode for around 22 km across the Puszta to Hortobagy, where we visited the visitor centre then had a horse drawn cart tour of a farm area. The tour was impressive with a show of stunts by herdsmen dressed in their deep blue coats. We then had a good lunch in a restaurant, and set off again on the normal roads for 20 km or so to Nadudvar. The temp was quite hot by then - maybe 28C. Ended the day with a swim in some thermal & normal swimming pools. We then drove to our hotel - a remote hunting lodge where we were the only guests. No wifi though.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Hungary Day 3

We started the day with a boat trip on Lake Tizsa and a walk on an island. We saw various birds including a kingfisher and some night herons. At about 12 we started today's bike ride along the edge of the lake. It was a quiet smooth surfaced road at the top of the 'dam' lined with poplars either side. Weather sunny and around 25C with gentle breeze. Stopped at a restaurant by the river and had catfish soup with sour cream. We then headed inland into the Puszta grassland area to a hotel near Hortobagy, with a selection of thermal pools. We rode around 25 km before lunch and 10-15 km after. Not a huge distance but a nice day with lots of variety.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Hungary Day 2

We drove to Kunhegyes and visited a Protestant church, then started our bike ride for an hour or two through fields of sunflowers and maize, stopping at a village for coffee. Lunch was at a beach resort on Lake Tisza. The restaurant was nice enough with a shady verandah, but the beach itself was tacky with slide, noisy banana boat rides etc. Had a quick paddle and ice cream then headed off along a single track road with plenty bikes but few cars on the top of a dam on the eastern shore of the lake. Lake Tisza was created to avoid flooding and is bounded on all side by dams, the area being flat. It has lots of trees, islands and wildlife within it, and is popular for camping, fishing and cycling. Most cyclists use hybrid or mountain bikes, and I've only seen 1 road bike so far. Village folk use basic single speed bikes, and I suspect for many this is their only means of transport.
We cycled about 28 km along the dam in mostly sunny warm weather 25C, although we did have a bit of rain at one point. Total days mileage 46 km.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Hungary Day 1

My wife and I had booked a 5 day guided cycling holiday of the Puszla plains and Lake Tisza and spa towns in eastern Hungary. More info here:
We met our guide and his Dad the driver at 8:45 then drove for about 2 hrs to our starting point, on a small road/path along the top of a river flood levee to the west of R. Tisza. Our bikes are Merida Classic 200s - hybrids with front suspension suitable for bumpy minor roads. The weather today was quite cool and cloudy with some sun. 24C max, compared with 38C max a few weeks ago!
We cycled for about an hour before lunch in a village of goulash, potatoes and beer. After lunch we cycled another 2 or 3 hours and crossed the river by ferry. It was a bit uncertain if the ferry would be running as the river depth is only 0.5m. Total distance 50 km. We're staying 2 nights in Berekfurdo in a nice hotel with its own thermal pool. The countryside is flat arable land with deciduous woodland, and villages where bicycles and horse drawn carts are popular transport. There's hardly any road traffic it's amazing. Here's some photos.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

USA Coast to Coast

Whilst waiting for our flight to Budapest this morning I got chatting to a young chap who had a "USA 2012 Tri 4 Life" t shirt on, as did about a dozen or so others. It turns out they're cycling across USA in 21 days as a relay team. He was saying they were mainly from 1 extended family (3 generations) and in the Merseyside Triathlon club. They plan to cycle 150 to 250 miles a day. I'm not sure I'd fancy it as the east must be flat and a bit monotonous, whilst the Rockys very steep. I'd quite fancy doing the west coast from LA to Seattle though.
Further info here:

More on Hungary tomorrow. We've met our Hungarian guide, his Dad is driving the minibus and the rest of the team are my wife, a German called Reiner and me. (4 others dropped out it seems).

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Rainy Ride

I went for a ride on my road bike this morning, planning to cycle to a cafe in Stewkley and back, but when I got there it was closed down. So I decided to cycle a further 7 miles to Winslow where there are 2 cafes but when I got there both were closed! I eventually found a garage with a coffee machine. On my way back there was a huge storm, but my Endura Photon jacket stored in my saddlebag (pictured) did the trick. I can't understand why more leisure road cyclists don't use bigger saddlebags to store such essentials. Many just get wet, which can't be much fun.
I got stuck behind 5 steamrollers as I was returning home to Tring, but sped past them on the straight. Total mileage 38. Weekly total only 54. I was suffering from an upset stomach earlier in the week, caused by a dodgy pint I think, so didn't cycle till yesterday.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Cycling Safety

Bradley Wiggins comments on cycle safety following the latest cycling fatality have prompted some discussions. I agree with him that helmets should be compulsory on roads (well maybe just A roads), lights used when dark, mobiles and iPods etc banned when cycling. I also think that cyclists should be encouraged to wear high vis or brightly coloured clothing and have loud bells or horns (if only to warn pedestrians). However the main issue is with drivers driving too fast and not being aware of cyclists. These days most drivers seem to drive over the speed limits and only slow down for speed cameras. Why are we in such a rush? I accept that some are late for meetings and work and frustrated by jams etc, but I think many just like driving fast, fuelled by too much caffeine and loud music. Somehow we need to encourage a more laid back approach, but I'm not sure how. Segregating bike traffic is a good way forward too, as long as the surfaces are as good as or better than roads, and you are not forced to give way to roads at junctions. Often cyclists seem to be relegated to share bumpy footpaths with pedestrians, then to cross dual carriageways at roundabouts etc.

Some argue that the wearing of cycle helmets should be down to the individual and being forced to wear one is an infringment of human rights. The same arguements were said about wearing seat belts I remember. However consider the costs of a severe head injury in terms of air ambulance, intensive care and recovery in terms of National Health costs for the public and trauma for the victim's family. The wearing of high-vis clothing and loud horns is a bit different as they can protect the cyclist by avoiding accidents, which will reduce harm and costs to both parties. I can't ever see high-vis/bright clothing as being compulsory though - and wouldn't want to, but it does annoy me when I see road cyclists kitted in plain black on a gloomy day.

Thursday, 26 July 2012


I took the day off today to go for a ride with our eldest son, who is home from his job in Vietnam. We set off soon after 9.00 before it got hot, with him trying out his reconditioned Ricci. He and the bike performed well averaging around 16 mph (compared to my usual 12-14 mph dawdle). We stopped for coffee and cake at Chinnor Garden Centre, then headed on to Wallingford arriving at around 11.30. Nicky met us at the Boat House pub where we had fish n chips washed down with some decent beer. By then the temp was about 30C, so we went for a swim in the Thames and sunbathed for a bit before Nicky drove us home. An excellent 30 mile ride and day out.

Monday, 23 July 2012

The Nickey Line

Nicky and I had a family lunch to attend yesterday near Kimpton east of Harpenden, Herts, which was a 25 mile ride cross country. The weather was excellent for cycling - wall to wall sunshine, about 25C with a breeze. We set off at around 10am, cycled over the Chilterns to Potten End, stopped for our flask of coffee at Redbourn, then cycled on the aptly named  Nickey Line - and off-road bike track on an abandonned railway line between Redbourn and Harpenden. Although the surface was a bit stoney and muddy at least it was flat. We got there about 12.30 and had a long buffet lunch and a couple of  beers outside with about 15 others, then headed back about 4.30pm. The return journey was a bit tougher partly as we were going into the wind. So it was a 50 mile ride with quite a few hills in excellent weather. Nicky did well and it was probably the longest she's cycled in 1 day (although she's done several almost as long.)

Total weekly mileage 98. (3 commutes)

Sunday, 15 July 2012


Nicky & I cycled a round trip of 41 miles today in a fine and sometimes sunny day. We stopped at Haddenham thinking we'd have a pub lunch, but the pubs we tried only had no food or roasts. So we made do with our flask of coffee and cereal bars, next to the duck pond.
Total mileage this week 82 miles.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Land's End Route Revisited

I realised the other day that next summer Nicky and I won't have to get to Penzance in 5 days, but could take 6 days and still have the day for a round trip to Land's End and 2 days off before heading home. This would mean we'd only have to cycle 45 to 50 miles a day over a 2 week period, and would see a bit more of the sights and have time for long lunches! We also decided to go back over Dartmoor! So I re-planned the route as follows:
  1. Sat - Tring to Newbury, 50 miles
  2. Sun - Newbury to Frome, 53 miles
  3. Mon - Frome to Wellington, 49 miles
  4. Tue - Wellington to Oakhampton, 45 miles
  5. Wed - Oakhampton to St Austell, 52 miles
  6. Thu - St Austell to Penzance, 42 miles
  7. Fri - Penzance, Land's End, Penzance, 20 miles
  8. Sat - Day off
  9. Sun - Day off
  10. Mon - Penzance to Lostwithiel, 50 miles
  11. Tue - Lostwithiel to Mortonhampstead, 52 miles
  12. Wed - M'hampstead to Ilminster, 47 miles
  13. Thu - Ilminster to Warminster, 45 miles
  14. Fri - Warminster to Newbury, 50 miles
  15. Sat - Newbury to Tring, 50 miles
Total mileage 605 (although it will probably be longer as we'll take some back roads).
Only 2 commutes by bike this week, so weekly mileage only 32 miles so far.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Paris Geneva Nice

One of the cyclists on my brother's ride last month has posted some photos on the following sites. It looks like they had good weather most of the time and lots of fun. I'm jealous I couldn't make it.
My brother Mike's the bearded grey haired chap, frequently seen posing amusingly by road signs ("Mens" is my favourite one in the 2nd set!). Eurostar managed to buckle his back wheel on the way over so he had to ride a hybrid on the first day till Discover Adventure replaced it for him.
This week I've only ridden 32 miles, 1 commute and a short ride yesterday.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


I went along to my old spinning class yesterday and had a good workout. The weather's been a bit wet for cycling to work, and I'm sharing lifts with my son at the moment as he has a 3 week summer job.
Meanwhile in Hungary, where we're cycling next month, it's sunny and 35C. My brother Mike finished his Paris to Nice bike ride last week, but I haven't had chance to talk to him as he's still in France.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Winslow Circuit

Nicky and I cycled 37 miles on our hybrids today, having lunch at a café in Winslow N Bucks. The weather was quite pleasant for cycling, although quite windy with some drizzly showers I don't think were forecast. Nicky did well considering it was her work's do last night and she had several beers and a Jäger bomb! (I was driving). I tried out my cargo shorts which kept my thighs cool and didn't cause soreness, but I think padded shorts would be better on long trips. I might use them for commuting on hot days.
I did a short 13 mile ride yesterday on my road bike up Ashridge and nr Ivinghoe Beacon too, which along with 3 commutes makes my weekly total 98 miles.

Friday, 29 June 2012

TLET Route Planning

I've been giving a little thought today for our planned route for Tring-Land's End-Tring (TLET for short). We'll probably take a slightly different route back than there, and plan to stay with friends at Newbury and my brother and his wife in Penzance. I'm also trying to keep the daily mileages below 65 and avoid any major hills and dual carriageways - mainly for my wife's benefit, and bearing in mind we'll be carrying luggage. My first draft is as follows:
  1. Tring to Newbury - 50 miles
  2. Newbury to Shepton Mallet - 65 miles
  3. Shepton Mallet to Crediton - 65 miles
  4. Crediton to Liskeard  (north of Dartmoor) - 53 miles
  5. Liskeard to Penzance - 63 miles
  6. Penzance - Land's End - Penzance - 20 miles
We plan to have a day or two at Penzance before heading back home.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Land's End and Back - Summer 2013

My wife Nicky's just got charitable status for her special needs school, so I suggested last night we could do another charity ride sometime. She was wondering about LEJOG on a tandem, but we eventually decided that a tandem would be expensive, and might not get used much, and that it would be difficult to transport to/from the start/end. So we decided on a Land's End return trip from Tring taking in a few sights and friends over 2 weeks in Aug 2013. We'll be unsupported on our hybrids but staying in hotels or with friends along route. The distance will be around 650 miles. It should be fun.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Walking not cycling

I haven't been on a bike for over a week now - which is a bit unusual. We went away over the Jubilee bank holiday to Southwold and had planned to take our hybrids, but decided to just go walking instead - partly as the forecast wasn't that good and partly as it is a bit of an effort loading the bikes onto the roof rack and getting all the gear togther. In the end the weather was quite nice and we only had light rain on one of our walks. On this wet day my feet got wet walking through long wet grass in the first 5 mins, as my so called waterproof Peter Storm boots weren't! My wife's Brasher boots on the other hand kept her dry all day, so last week I invested in a pair of these myself (Brasher Suparlite II GTX pictured), and spent the weekend breaking them in. I'm pleased with them so far.
I'm hoping to get back on my bike this week if the rain stops!

Friday, 1 June 2012

New Shorts

I bought the cycling shorts pictured, for our summer hols and rides to the pub etc, where I don't need Lycra. They have a reinforced towelling cloth in the saddle area, and should be good enough for my hybrid.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Summer Rides Again...

At last hot sunny weather has arrived. I cycled 3 times to work this week and as I worked at home on Friday as usual I went for a quick ride over Ashridge (top pic). This morning I did a 38 mile round trip to Great Horwood (bottom pic), which is north of here and can be accessed entirely on minor B roads (or less). There was not much traffic - in fact almost as many bikes as cars. I set off early to avoid the heat and there was a pleasant breeze. Total mileage this week 98 miles.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Olympic Ride

Nicky and I, along with 3 others cycled from her school in Hemel Hempstead yesterday to the Olympic site at Stratford. This was a sponsored ride and we raised over £500 for teaching equipment for her special needs school. The weather was mild, dry and occasionally sunny. Nicky had planned a rural route that took us through pleasant countryside, villages and small towns such as Shenley and Cuffley. The London Revolution ride was cycling the other way for about 5 miles of our ride. We stopped for lunch at a picnic spot in the Lee Valley Park at Cheshunt, then cycled the remaining 10 or so miles along the canal towpath on the edge of Tottenham and Hackney to the edge of the Olympic site. The final leg was quite an interesting mix of pretty wetlands and willow trees, canal boats, massive power lines and factories and modern apartments backing onto the canal. It's quite a cosmopoltion area, and as it was Saturday there were quite a few othodox jews in their massive furry hats or fedoras, coats and tights. It was a 45 mile trip - and we loaded our bikes into the minibus for the return home. 

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Exmoor Ride

Nicky and I travelled to Lynmouth in Exmoor on the Friday night and my brother Mike (pictured) joined us on the Saturday for a bike ride. Mike's cycling from Paris to Nice with Discover Adventure next month and hasn't had much time for training. My original plan was to cycle along the north coast, but having driven up and down the 25% hills at Porlock and Lynmouth the night before we decided that the less steep, but still challenging, climb over to Simonsbath was preferable. We set off at 10.30 in a cloudless blue sky, that lasted all day. I'd had a full English at the hotel, whereas Mike had just had cereal before his 7am start from Penzance - so I had an advantage. We both got up to the moors ok though along the wooded valley and stopped at 11.30 for coffee at Simonsbath, then on to Exford and Dulverton for a pub lunch. There were quite a few steep hills that tested our legs and gears, and if I was on my own I would probably have got off and pushed once or twice. We got a bit lost at one point and ended up cycling on some pretty minor roads more like farm tracks, then found our way to North Morton and had coffee and a chocolate bar each. It was quite a long climb up to Simonsbath, for more tea and cake around 5pm before heading down the wooded valley to our hotel. A great day only 55 miles but with some testing climbs, that should be good training for Mike's Tour de France. Route  here 
Today Nicky and I did a walk in the morning before heading home. Nicky had done a 12 mile walk along the coast whilst we were cycling and took some stunning photos.

Monday, 7 May 2012

May Day Weekend

I did a 20 mile ride on Sat in the Chilterns in quite nice weather. Today I did a longer ride of about 50 miles past Watlington, mostly in the rain. I can't say the exact mileage as the battery in my mileometer sensor seems to be flat. It started raining as forecast after the first hour of my ride, but I had mudguards and waterproof jacket on so didn't mind. I could have done with my neoprene overshoes on but my wet feet didn't get too cold. Just a base layer and my packable waterproof kept me just the right temp, and my Nikwaxed polyester tights worked well. Happy to report dry bum and legs!
I sheltered from the rain at one point in a bus shelter near the M40 and a chap got talking to me who said he used to have the exact same road bike as mine. Also he used to live in Tring and teach at our sons' school. Bit of a coincidence!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Wet Bum

I went for a 15 mile ride after dinner last night on one of my usual circuits via Wingrave and Mentmore, as it was a nice evening. I hadn't allowed for the fact that the roads were full of massive puddles though from the recent rain (although it stopped raining at lunchtime). I hadn't put my clip on mudguards on so my cycling shorts were sodden and my jersey got splashes up the back. I can't understand how road cyclists on long trips where rain is inevitable, refuse to put on mudguards.
I've been riding to work twice a week lately, but not done much at weekends for one reason or another.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Planning a Sponsored Ride to the Olympic Site

My wife is planning a sponsored ride from her school in Hemel to the Olympic site for next month, so we drove the route yesterday to check directions etc. Then we went for a walk in the Lee Valley lakes area. The final leg of the journey is down cycle tracks along a canal from there to Stratford. The route on the road section is here:

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Shiny Gears

I had quite a few odd jobs this weekend so didn't find time for a bike ride. I did however clean and lubricate the gears on both bikes. I also went for a walk and dug our allotment today, so had plenty exercise.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Easter in the New Forest

We had a family wedding to attend near Lymington on the Easter Saturday so rented a cottage/studio near Boldre from Friday till Weds. Nicky and I took our hybrid bikes on the roof rack and did a 10 mile ride to the coast and back on the Friday, then a longer 25 mile ride on coastal roads, in towards Lyndhurst over heathland, then through some forest tracks. There are over 100 miles of gravel forest tracks that are ok for hybrids and mountain bikes. I was hoping to cycle a bit more, but Easter Monday was a wash out - so we donned our waterproofs and had walks in the woods and a brief walk on Bournemouth beach (with our son and girlfriend).

On the way back Nicky dropped me near Theale (S of Reading) and I cycled the 41 miles home, via Pangbourne and the Chilterns. I was glad I was on my hybrid as the hill N of Pangbourne was long and steep, requiring my lowest 0.9 ratio gear. I then had to negotiate parts of the Chilterns I was unfamiliar with, without a map or phone signal for much of the way. But this added to the adventure and I eventually made it to Christmas Common, over the M40 and down to Chinnor and familiar territory.