Sunday, 16 June 2019

Cycle for Uganda '19

Old Friends
This week saw me and my buddy Chris (and others) complete the 2019 Cycle for Uganda charity cycle ride. We had wanted to ride this event for years, but each year we found another something to ride or take our time. This year we pencilled the date in our diaries and nailed it. (This being the 6th year it has ran).
The Start
The start line (Clevedon Christadelphian Hall) was a great place to start. Surprisingly, I knew a few of the cyclists (including Ben and Hannah Adams and Dave and Rachel Cross - folk who I had met about 9 years ago on a certain LEJOG adventure). Chris knew even more folk than me. Some dude was cycling an exact replica of my old Cannondale Synapse too - same frame size and everything (I just hope his brakes worked).
Cycle for Uganda 2019
After a brief briefing we were off. A bunch of about 20-30 cyclists cycling. For the whole way to the half-way point we cycled as a posse, or a peloton I guess you could say. This was really hard work - lots of stop/starting and frequent brakes. It was nice to chat with new folk and catch up with those that we knew. The urge to 'crack on' was always there though and the wet miserable weather would make us cold with all the faffing.
Isaac Adams looked like he had had a mud bath. Fortunate for him, he later travelled in a bike chariot as opposed to the tag-a-long pictured above. Much of the route was road, quite often country lane and much was also cycle path including the 'Strawberry Line'. No hills to shout about, it was only about 1,000m of climbing. When we got to the half-way point at Burnham-on-Sea we were greeted by my parents which was super nice.
Doo, Pa, Ma and Chris
My folks were not my only family there. My ma's cousin (that is my 2nd cousin) Adrian was there too. Adrian was doing a cracking job of driving the support vehicle. I didn't manage to get a photo of him, however, he took the photo above.
Some (but not all) of the return journey took us along paths we had previously cycled. Chris wanted to stop a take a photo of the above boats (so I thought I would too). These boats reminded us of a awesome adventure Chris and I had undertaken before when we cycled around the Isle of Wight and crashed out on his ma's speed boat. Aces.
The afternoon started to clear up and proved more cheerful on the return. Chris and I decided to crack on at this point and cycled as a pair leaving the group behind. Apparently, the chap in the photo above was my brothers ex-wife's mothers brother. Wow, this all gets so complicated. The reason we were all cycling this event together was because we were either Christadelphians or had links to that community and wanted to raise monies to support an orphanage project in Uganda. This project gives grants to those who are caring for orphans, and due to the popular demand, this year will raise funds to install more water tanks and guttering. I'll leave a link to the Cycle for Uganda website at the bottom of this blog so if anyone is willing and able to sponsor/donate that would be great. The site take no commission fees, so, support please, please!
A light house for Barbara
A while ago, Chris and I cycled a rather splendid 200k audax event around the Dorset Coast. During this event, a rather splendid lady called Barbara (aka 'old bat on a bike') took a rather splendid photo of us two, looking almost as splendid as the photo at the top of this blog post. Anyways, I mention Barbara because she has recently completed a cycle tour aptly named the 'light house tour' where she cycled to and snapped pictures of the light houses in the South West. I have no idea if she snapped the light house above, so, hey Barb's, this one is for you! Barbara is currently cycling around Ireland snapping pictures of light houses located there. This time last year, I too was cycling around Ireland (and did snap a light house too). You can follow Barbara's adventures here: OldBatonaBike.

Pleased to report that Chris and I completed our tough cycling event and finished a good hour and half (or more) before the others. This gave us ample time to drink much tea, coffee, etc, eat a little and generally catch up. We then returned to the start/finish and congratulated the other cyclists. We did the decent thing and joined them all for a splendid 'nosh up' and fraternising and story telling. We hope it's not 6 years until we cycle this event again.

Oh, and please follow this link if you'd like to donate a little: cycleforuganda fund raising.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

June BAM

A frightfully wet and somewhat windy couple of days in June saw me complete my 6th consecutive bivvy-a-month (BAM). If my maths is correct, that means I have completed 50% of my BAM challenge for 2019. Woo hoo, only 6 months to go!
Rob dog and Ron (the phantom) joined me on this adventure. Due to the seriously wet weather, we took precautions and carried a lot of stuff to our secret camp. Poor Ron was saddled up like an ass - am surprised his bike wheels didn't buckle or pop a spoke. First road then a section off off-road took us to our camp spot.
The picture (map) above shows our where our hidden camp was. Three words describe exactly where we were. These 3 words are oldest, crowbar and glassware. Just for the record, tiger banging drums is a favourite place of ours to chill out...
It didn't take so long for Ron's mahoosive tarp to be set up. This was just so huge, it provided cover for our bikes, our sleeping quarters and offered a spot to cook in too. I reckon we could fit eight folks under here with a push.
Ron was sporting his phantom-like kinky boots for this adventure. Such shoes are affectionately known as yeti's. I guess it takes all sorts.
I think I was the first to settle and sleep on this starless, moonless night and was first up the following morning too. As usual we had a cooked supper before bed with plenty of fluid refreshment. Oh, how I laughed when Rob dog burnt a half-moon into his tarp (used as flooring) by putting down his frying pan. (That'll teach him for laughing at my inflatable pillow bursting on a previous trip).
When morning came, I awoke Ron by pouncing on him. Oh, how I laughed as he appeared so frightened. (That'll teach him for laughing at my inflatable pillow bursting on a previous trip and shaking and waking me late at night to hear his story telling and quiz questions). Peace was restored once I boiled some water and made us all a cup of tea. A shout-out and thanks to Jo Hardy for my new lovely emergency t-bag stash tin. Get in!
Rob cooked breakfast in the morning which was rather splendid. We would have had a greater feast, however, much sausage was stuck to Ron's yeti's (he must have trod on stuff as he exited/entered the tarp earlier). My runny eggs spilt over Ron's knife - accidentally, honest!
We all left the camp happy and smiling. We were soaking wet and it was a trifle menace de-camping with wet gear. Rob dog nearly lost control as he cycled through the ford (how disappointing) - he would not have been much wetter to be fair. It wasn't long before we were back home, drying gear and story telling once more.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

ParkRun #25 (June PAM) / Kask menace resolved

The very first day of this month saw me complete my PAM (ParkRun-a-Month) challenge for June. I ran my 25th ParkRun and finished 48/416. My finish time was 22:37 which was my fastest time this year (PB remains 21:39). It was good to see Phil B running today too. I have other friends who run this course but they are always hidden in the hoards (or maybe they just tell me they run?).
My new Kask (Mojito X) helmet has been worn on a fair few rides to date, so figured now was an appropriate time to provide my latest review. Well, it fitted on to my head perfectly and was nice and light. It cradled the skull perfectly and the turn dial 'thing' on the back ensured a perfect snug fit. The buckles on the straps have been a real pain in the bum though. Well, more correctly, a pain to the ear lobe. The straps offer little in terms of adjustment and these buckles have annoyed me so much rubbing against my ear lobes. (My old Giro Skyline had pretty awesome strap adjustment).
Kask helmet showing the offending buckles
I googled this strap menace phenomena and saw a lot of cyclists were complaining about the self same thing and despite this, pretty much all reviews of this helmet have scored 5/5. Solutions were also suggested - such as cutting off the buckles. As drastic as that sounded, I did just that and now my helmet fits and feels just awesome. A perfect fit, no movement, and no rub. Aces!

Sunday, 26 May 2019

May BAM / Skool / BMX

Doo and Rob dog
This week saw me complete my 5th consecutive month of wild camping. Yes indeed, May's BAM (Bivvy-A-Month) completed! My Bro 'Rob dog' joined me for this adventure.
All good wild camping adventures should include a feast before sleep. Every good boy deserves burgers. Burgers go so well with beer.
Rob dog cooked our supper which was so delicious. We chatted for a while afterwards staring at the stars that littered the night sky. There was a lot of of movement in the sky this night. Not sure if any was extra-terrestrial. A nice sleep followed not long after.
Warm night and even hotter morning. Temperatures were great and the sun was shining real bright on wakening. My new (replaced) Alpkit Cloud Base sleeping mat has been ace.
Over a cup of jasmine green tea, we both agreed this was a pretty awesome wild camping spot. We were suitably hidden, yet quite open too. Our secret location was somewhere near Aston Cantlow and Shelfield. Coded coordinates were compiler, opinion, wriggled. 
Rob dog was keen to start cooking sausages for breakfast. He was using his new gas burner. Worked a treat.
I used my Trangia stove and pan to add fried eggs to our breakfast. Delicious. This was the first time I had cooked fried eggs on a wild camping trip. Aces.
I know my bivvy is hard to spot being camouflaged and all. However, believe it or not, there are 2 bicycles in the photo above. Can you spot Rob dogs bike?
Like all our trips, we packed up good and proper and left without leaving a trace. We collected a bunch of memories. Oh, and we've been able to share our stories. Who's for a wild camp in June?

Lunar, Doo, Mama Kin
During the week I also saw my daughter Lunar perform in her School play. She was as 'bonkers as a bag of conkers'. My mother came and watched too. It was great to get a picture of the 3 of us outside the school as we are 3 generations that have attended this self same school. 

Since my last blog post, my Raleigh Super Burner has been re-stored too. (Nice one Lin). I'm still yet to burn some rubber but looking forward to burn and pop a wheelie!

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Mad Goose / Menace Mechanical / Oxduro 18 (in 2019)

Cycling the Oxduro18 (in 2019)
 Crazy, mad and nuts cycling over the past week. Lots to shout and blog about. Oh the joys!
First crazy event was the 2nd 2019 Stage of the Mad Goose Chase courtesy of purity brewery. SJ (can you believe it?) and I cycled from our home along country lanes to reach the brewery on a perfect summer like evening. This was SJ's first ride in ages on her 'new' bike. I think she was a little cautious  initially. Once at the tap house we had a celebratory pint. Session IPA was my drink of choice. We chatted amongst ourselves and then with other cycling folk and had a nice evening. My burger was amazing. As if things couldn't getter better they did - the chap serving the burgers gave me an extra burger free and said I could have 2 pints 'on him, free'. I love Purity brewery. SJ's cycling improved big time on the way home and she raced me up the hills. How nuts!

Second adventure was with Roger and his tandem. This was largely a day of mis-hap. First bit of menace struck as I cycled my own bike on route to Rogers. Yup, the pixie pest visited and flattened my tyre. Once tube was replaced, I started off again heading for Roger's and then the heaves opened and a deer ran out in front of me (luckily for us both, he wasn't hit).

Things didn't improve much once Roger and I were cycling his tandem. About 5 minutes into our ride we had cycled down a bridleway when I started to hear a concerning noise. Looking behind me I saw what initially looked like a rear mech being dragged behind. On closer inspection it was a disc brake calliper. We decided to get this fixed, so aborted our initial plans and headed for Northfield Cycles. Bike shop soon replaced the missing bolts and secured same with some wax solution to keep in place.

Misfortune appeared once more as Roger and I took a right (which should have been a left) and we ended up 'off the beaten track'. It rained a little more too. No worries, we eventually ended up at Priory Cafe and had the largest breakfast imaginable. All is well that ends well. Sure enough, the remainder of this adventure was all good and I cycled back to Rogers and then home with no further mis-hap mechanical menace.

'Eleven' outside the Radcliffe Camera
Third adventure was mighty fine. This saw me complete the OxDURO event (see The Racing Collective) which is described as a self-supported no frills road-gravel ride considered to be a gentle gateway into the national XDURO trials. I cycled this 'Doo style' (un-officially) as am attending 2 birthday parties on the 8th June 2019 when the official event is being held. I also cycled the 2018 route as opposed to the 2019 route as this had not as yet been published. My bike of choice was 'Eleven', my x-trail bike which I had fitted with 37mm tyres. I cycled from Pear Tree services in Oxford to the Radcliffe Camera which was the official start.
OxDURO 18 (in 2019) 'Doo style'
The whole route (with my added distance to and from the services) was just short of 150k. In total there was 9 off-road sections, totalling about 50k. It felt like half my time was off-road. (The 'real' event is a race ran in XDURO format - that is 5 timed segments of gravel and road. The idea is that the non-timed segments provide time for socialising. The cyclist with the lowest aggregate time over the segments wins. Oh, and wins 'nothing' for those that are interested).
Despite being advertised as a 'no frills' ride it had frills and spills aplenty! So much different terrain and spectacular views was the frills. My spill came not long after cycling up Uffington Hill (and past the Uffington White Horse). I was cycling a chalk track (pictured above) and moved 'lanes' to let a passing mtb'er past when suddenly I went head over heels. How embarrassing, I had just passed a group of like 15 school kids and wham, bang, had gone down. Everyone was asking if I was OK and some said they had first aid kits. Even the mtb'er retrieved my water bottles and placed them back in the cage. When I stood up, I looked like a ghost - I was covered in chalk all over and my bike was too. My bike suffered a nasty scratch on the top tube and the brake lever was bent in. I had road rash (covered in chalk) but was otherwise OK. I sped off ASAP and tried to hide my embarrassment.
Chalky menace
So many ups and downs. Frills and spills. My average speed was 19.3km/h but I reached a maximum speed of 71.6 km/h. 
A scenic stop point
So many different surfaces - chalk, mud, gravel and road. I would tend to have a quick break every 30k just to have a stretch and a bite to eat.
A folly
At often points in the ride there was something nice to see. Nice views (though a bit misty today). Passed lots of lovely looking churches and many folly's like the one above.
Most tracks were great and relatively easy to follow. Am pleased to report that the whole route was cycleable with no hike-a-bike sections. I rate this ride a lot and prefer it to the CotsDURO. 
The odd track was not so great and proved harder to follow. The track pictured above was a menace - it was overgrown and littered with stingers. Thankfully this track was not too long and towards the end of the ride. 
The end of the official route finished at Isis Farmhouse. Not a farmhouse at all but a pub. Rewarded myself with a nice pint of cider for completing the ride. Aces. A further 8k or so took me back to my car.

Some say bad luck comes in 3's. I'm not superstitious and think this blog post demonstrates misfortune can come in clusters greater than 3. Also, 3 can be rather wonderful just like my adventures recounted here!

Saturday, 11 May 2019

May PAM and a new BMX, wham!

No major adventuring of late. No cycling, wild camping or major happenings to shout about. Hoping to adventure soon.

However, managed to complete my May PAM (ParkRun-a-Month) which pleased me a little. Not having run or cycled much of late and being rather taken with food and fluids, I did not expect a great time. Surprisingly and pleasingly, I completed my 24th ParkRun with a time of 22:49 which was just 10 seconds slower than my fastest time this year. I finished 56th out of 468 runners. I'm sure I saw my cousin-in-law (Jas) on the start line too. My PB remains 21:39 and I would love to beat this time.

My dear wife SJ was given new wheels for her rather funky bike. Better yet, she was given a Kask Mojito helmet too. Let's hope the future see's us cycling a few rides together.
SJ's horse and lid
I had recently purchased a new helmet - a Specialized Align, after my Giro Skyline had died. The Specialized lid was super comfy (and cheap at £30) but folk would laugh at me and say I looked like a Star Wars character. Lin and SJ took pity on me and helped 'fund raise' so I was able to get a new, really funky cycling helmet. My new lid is a Kask Mojito X. The Kask is super light and looks way better.
Specialized Align
Kask Mojito X
Not only did I get a new lid, I acquired a new bike! Oh yes indeed! My neighbours had slung out some old bicycles for trash, one of which was a Raleigh Super Burner BMX. My neighbours trash was my treasure! Only my treasure was stolen by Lin... Lin plans to refurbish my new/old BMX into a working machine which I hope my daughters will enjoy. Aces.
One man's trash is another man's treasure.
A Raleigh Super Burner BMX

Cycle for Uganda '19

Old Friends This week saw me and my buddy Chris (and others) complete the 2019 Cycle for Uganda charity cycle ride. We had wanted to ri...