Sunday 26 March 2017

Oooh we Doo like this and that and the other!

Ooh I do like a day with Mummy, Daddy and Lunar
'Ooh we Doo' like a week off work. This week began with a 6.5k run around my village. After my run, I set about packing my belongings up ready for a bike adventure the following day with Jamie.

Half the battle with bike packing is indeed packing the bike stuff ready. To help prepare for future trips and maybe see what worked and what didn't, I took pics of my bike bags and their belongings. They were as follows...
In the handlebar bag:
  • Down sleeping bag (made by the Mrs. I thought it maybe too thin for the pending adventure but hey, it needed testing).
  • Gelert 3/4 sleep mat.
  • Foil (foam) blanket.
  • Silk sleeping bag liner.
In the Wildcat (front) bag: 
  • Wet wipes.
  • Plastic bags.
  • Bum creme.
  • Wash kit (mirror, tooth brush, te-pe, deodorant, vaseline, shower gel).
  • Lighter.
  • Pills
  • Zero tabs.
  • Camera.
  • Phone.
  • Batter charger and cables.
  • Pen knife.
  • Hip flask.
  • Money pouch.
  • (Maybe add note book and pen)?
  • Arm warmers.
  • Gloves.
In the Frame bag:
  • Tubes x2.
  • Tool kit (multi-tool, levers, gas, gas tool, pump) (maybe add patches and boot).
  • Kitchen (myti mug, stove, gas, foldable cup, peg, spork, knife).
  • Cord and carriba thing.
  • Tent pegs.
  • Head torch.
  • Waterproof shorts.
  • Food (porridge, t-bags, hot drink mix, sweets).
And finally, in the rear bag:
  • Bivvy bag.
  • Tarp.
  • Down jacket.
  • Clothes bag (cycling shorts, socks x 2, long johns, boxer shorts, thermal base layer, silk base layer, woolly hat).
  • Pillow bag.
Tuesday rocked up before I could say 'wild camping loons' and I rolled up to Jamie's ready for our 'We Doo like a day off work' cycle tour the same day. It was a nice morning and all looked promising. Was kinda strange cycling parts of my old commute as I headed to Jamie's abode. 

Had been mate's with Jamie for a while but this was the first time I had actually been inside his domicile. What a lovely abode too. Amongst the niceties within his home, he has a rather splendid bright orange Smeg fridge/freezer. Enough to envy our buddy Chris. Anyways, I digress... on with the story telling.

Well, after a cuppa tea, we left Jamie's and headed for Clent, the start of our tour. It was about 15k to Clent and our route took us mostly via road, however, we cycled an off-road track up and across the Wasely (?) Hills. I was expecting our official start in Clent to be a big climb up a cobbled path but we actually started just after this climb. Bonus!
Ooh we Doo like a day off work (140.6k)
We had climbed a wee bit already so we weren't that bothered the cobbled section I was expecting  was missed (and knew we would have to cycle it later). The route seemed quite different to how I had remembered it (as I had cycled the tour before) but sure enough there was a mix of on and off-road sections. Once we reached swindon we figured it was a good time to stop for breakfast (it was around lunch time). I had a pork sarnie and Jamie devoured bacon and eggs (I think) at a local cafe. Once out the cafe, we got talking to a chap who was very interested in our bike and set up's.

In true Doo style, we got lost during our next section. Somehow we had ended up cycling through Kinver and this was not supposed to happen until our return from Wolverhampton. We back tracked and obviously ended up in Kinver again. Kinver was so pretty, we felt obliged to stop at a pub for lunch. Sausage and mash and peas and gravy was my fuel and tasty it was too!

Fuelled up and off we set again and soon were back on the route proper. The navigation problem was not the only menace issue however - it started to rain. Not too bad was the rain, however, it was wet all the same. No bother, we cycled and were generally having a good old time all the way to Wolverhampton which was our furthest out point. Wolverhampton Velodrome had closed it's gates which I felt was a bit mean - we were not able to cycle a victory lap. Instead, we went inside the sports complex and ate some chocolate washed down with a hot drink.

On leaving the Velodrome, I experienced further menace. My (Lin's) Garmin had died. I lifted the plastic cover off and could see water had gotten into it. I lifted the socket covers and worse still, could see that water had gotten into there too. Grr! No Garmin, no data, no directions. Good job I had Jamie with me!

The rain (which was not forecast) came and went as we cycled our return leg. The rain never dampened my spirits because Jamie was such good company and we cycled and chatted the wet miles away. Before long, we were back in Kinver (for the third time!) and so decided to stop at the nice pub (for the second time)! 

We were real wet. Soaked to the skin. Ah ha! No bother, I had learned from the 'Bear Bones 200' that if you're soaked through to the skin, you find a pub with radiators and dry out. Dry out we did, in this pub with radiators! We felt great once we tucked into cowboy burgers too! By the time we left, our clothing was mostly dry and quite warm.
The last leg was a little bit wet. Thoughts of abandoning never crossed our minds (honest...). The sunshine had turned to moonlight, in fact, light pollution provided a red tinge to the evening sky. We cycled and chatted and eventually made our way back to the Clent Hills. We didn't find that cobbled section hilly part that we were expecting at the start ... not for a short spell anyway. Once in Clent, we figured we needed to find a suitable spot to camp in. Before we camped, it was necessary we had enough water for our porridge in the morning. A quick stop at a random curry house provided the water and a hike-a-bike up a steep bridleway soon turned into a suitable camp spot. We camped (could you believe) next to the hilly cobbled section we expected to climb at the start! Perfect. 
So pleased Jamie had brought his tarp. My tarp was tiny in comparison and we just wanted to fend off the rain and camp out as soon as possible. My little tarp provided a suitable ground sheet. Despite all the stuff I brought with me, I didn't bother getting changed into dry clothes. Basically, I put on my down jacket and crawled into my sleeping bag and bivvy in my damp clothes. It was too wet to faff about. I think I should have moved my hip flask into the bag where I kept my sleeping gear because I was tucked up in my bag and then remembered my hip flask was still in a bag attached to the bike. D'oh! Jamie, oh wise one, had his hip flask on him, so we drank his damson vodka and were both content. Despite the wind, rain and Jamie's snoring, the night wasn't too bad and I slept okay (on and off all night). I got up around 6 a.m. and Jamie shortly after.
It must have been about 3C in the night and I was snug enough and warm enough in my down bag that SJ had made. My legs were cold at times (would have been just fine if I bothered to wear my long johns). My damp clothes were dry by the time I had gotten up. Everything outside was wet though. It was raining and this rain continued until the conclusion of our adventure. Before we took the tarp down and packed up, we had out breakfasts washed down with tea. Ah, this was the life. We Doo like a day off work (but Jamie had to work later today)!
Morning campers!
After breakfast (and a sup from my hip flask), we packed up and cycled in the miserable rain. The rain beat so hard at times that my face stung. We cycled together until we reached Northfield and then went our separate ways. Today was real miserable and I was soaked to the skin. But was it worth it - yes it was! I had a great adventure and hope Jamie did too.
Tandem adventure with Roger
My next adventure was Friday. This was also a cycle adventure for two. Ooh we Doo like a tandem adventure! Roger and I cycled his tandem in a lovely loop. We cycled some of the same roads that Jamie and I had cycled. I remembered speaking to Jamie about Roger and now I was speaking to Roger about Jamie. Round and round we go, let's hope I don't lose my mojo! Another great ride. Nice tail wind on the way out but a hostile head wind on the return with a tough ascent to boot. 

Would you like to pilot a tandem? Do you live near Birmingham? If you've answered yes to either of these questions then please comment on my blog or drop me line. Roger is real keen to cycle with other folk and regardless of age or experience he'd be happy for you to pilot his tandem. No experience is necessary and any distance journey is fine. Roger is blind and isn't as young as he was, so anyone able to cycle with him would really be appreciated. As time goes by, his number of cycling partners is decreasing.
My 15th Parkrun
Ooh we Doo like to Parkrun. Saturday saw me complete my 15th Parkrun to date. I ran around Arrow Valley once more and ran my fastest time this year - 22:13. Still not a PB but was quite pleased with that all the same.
Ooh we Doo like spending time with the kids and Mrs. Finished my physical training for the week by taking my family to Bidford. We hung around and swung like monkeys. Great fun!

Monday 20 March 2017


Parkrun (fastest time this year)
Whoa! What an eventful week last week turned out to be. In fact, it aged me by a whole year!

Started the training week with an indoor spin using the Bkool app. Cycled about 30k. Was nice to stretch the legs after so long. The Bkool app was not working great though and was very jumpy and crashed before my session had actually finished. Not long after the cycle, I stuck on my running shoes and ran xc style over the fields of Studley which was nice and worked just fine!

On Thursday, I finally left BSMHFT - an NHS Trust that I had worked for, for the past 18 years. There had been great times and not-so-great times. On the whole it was OK, but as I often say 'work really does get in the way of fun'. And now, I've left. No tears. Maybe a few fears...
My next adventure was on Friday. I cycled a 'Doo version' of 'Wiggle's Tempest' (standard) route. This was a great route covering just over 100k and it was all close to home. Bonus! One day, I might 'man up' and cycle the 'epic' route which adds another 50k or so and some big hills!
Saturday was Parkrun day. I ran the Arrow Valley route (was tempted to run Hanbury but that run was not happening - still not really sure why it's been cancelled). Amongst the usual faces there I spotted John Mitchell (or rather, he spotted me) which was cool. My run was completed in 23:21which was my fastest time this year. (21:39 is my PB and I'd still like to run a time of 20 something).
Parkrun (sprint finish)
Saturday afternoon was spent with my wife and kids. We went to Bourton-on-the-Water to see where the City Fairies live. We also tucked into a hearty picnic (refuelling after the run). Now that I don't work weekends, I guess I'll have more adventures with my family.
Home of the City Fairies 
Nom, nom, nom
Sunday was my birthday. My 42nd birthday in fact. For 42 years, God has blessed me and benefited me in so many ways. I am blessed with great family and friends, I have food on my table, clothes on my back, I live in relative safety, I have my own home, I have access to water, I have good health and all my senses (some might argue) work ok - and for all this, I am truly thankful. I also have the hope of a better life to come.
Birthday breakfast
As for birthday's, well, y'know, I had a wheely great day! Thank's for all the b'day wishes and goodness that followed that day. I really have some awesome friends and family.

Sunday 12 March 2017

Jobs a good 'un

Very little happened this week on the exercise front. Very little indeed! In fact, I only trained one day this week and that was on the Monday. Just a 15k indoor spin and a 5k cross-country run. Pah!
Despite training very little, SJ helped me keep my excitement about future planned trips. I have plans to cycle a 'Doo version' of the 'Tour of the Black Country' - an on/off road cycle adventure with a spot of wild camping thrown in for good measure. SJ made me a super light (down) sleeping bag ready for this and other pending adventures. Ain't she a good 'un?!

The reason behind me training so little was simply because I was swotting up, ready to be interviewed. I have since been interviewed and pleased to inform that I was offered the job I applied for. Very soon I will be the Team Manager of a Mental Health and Psychosocial Substance Misuse Team.

Next week will be tough and little time will be spent training. I have some horrible 'full day' shifts to look forward to as I spend my last week working for BSMHFT. Here's to adventures anew!

Sunday 5 March 2017

From Snow to Sunrise

Great start to the week. Early 10k (just short) run to wake me up. Ran up to the Slough and back on what appeared to be a bright shiny day. Had original plans to cycle the Sunrise Express audax route but the weather report looked grim. However, completed my run and checked the forecast which suggested there was going to be only light rain and periods of sunshine...

It didn't take long for me to convince myself to cycle the Sunrise adventure after all. I started this adventure from home and joined the official route at the closest point to my domicile, about 20k away. I joined the route about 20k away from the official start control too. Cycling to the first control in Evesham was nice especially as the tough hilly parts in the Lenches were now fast descents. Kinda looked strange seeing much of the same things in reverse order. I couldn't spot the hidden castle I saw on the Snowdrop but found the posh roundabout drive.
Stopped at a bar/café in Evesham and enjoyed a nice cup of tea and a short bread biscuit. I didn't have to stop as this was not really an audax event (was just cycling the route). Still, tea and biscuits go so well with cycling.

The next stage to Upton was somewhat slower in this direction but the scenery was better to look at. At one time, a huge flurry of hail came battering down. This hail hit so hard it really hurt my face. The hail was worth it though, just to see the pretty rainbow that followed. Clouds could be seen raining in the distance and this looked just awesome. God's creation is truly magnificent. Stopped at the same café in Upton as I did on the Snowdrop, but it was closed. Sat next to the river instead and tucked into my handmade sarnies with a bunch of begging ducks.

Next stage should have took me to Whitlenge Tea Rooms, however, I avoided the control and just continued the route. Surprisingly, before I reached Hartlebury, some of this Sunrise route copied the Snowdrop route (or vice versa) which meant that pig of a hill 'Pig Hill' had to be climbed. Grr! This whole stage seemed to take ages and was clearly the longest. This stage was made longer as I had to reach my start point - home. All in all, a good day cycling. Still think the Snowdrop wins.

Tuesday was spent indoors on the turbo trainer. Just a quick 30k using the Bkool app. I figured I might just as well use my free demo allowance. Worked ok, graphics just a tad jumpy. I cycled a live race and came last (though 2 cyclists did drop out before the finish). The whole stage had no music or sound - wonder if that's just a setting issue. Bkool takes into account wind and ascent/descent phenomena and gives you a virtual speed - I think that is pants because cadence/speed/heart rate are all otherwise accurate and you don't feel any different with this virtual speed. I wont buy a subscription to this app.

Next training day was Thursday. I cycled to Little Martin and back using my single-speed bike. I keep experimenting with different routes - this route back was too long. Am sure I will find a route I am happy with soon. Later in the day, went for a short run with SJ which was nice.

Friday was my last training day of the week. Gave the cycle a rest and instead ran the Studley Triangle. All in all, not too bad a week.

Happy New Year 2022

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