Friday 27 December 2019
My 'unofficial' results were that I finished in 226th place out of a field of 451. My time was 30:05. A slow run - hey, I was wearing an elf hat, had just eaten a fried breakfast and it was icy too!
On reflection, as stated above, this was a rubbish year of running. My last ParkRun, in effect, didn't count. The previous run saw Phil B cross the line before me. My only ever AV handicap ParkRun saw me finish last. Hmm.
Well, I've since ordered some funky barcode tags like those in the picture above. I'm prepared to forget about the Phil B incident. I'm determined to complete another handicap run and not finish last. Will I aim to complete (another) ParkRun-A-Month (PAM) in 2020, hmm, let me think on that...
Saturday 14 December 2019
Woo hoo! I completed my Bivvy-A-Month (BAM) challenge on Friday 13th December 2019. Aces! On Friday 13th what could possibly go wrong? Ha! (I'm not in the least superstitious). Dr Peppers....
|Can now wear this roundel with pride
It always feels great to complete a challenge and I’m so pleased that I completed this one. It nearly didn’t happen as virtually all my wild camping buddies (we dub ourselves the ‘wild campers’) became 'wild bailers' at the last minute for one reason or another. Only my bro ‘Rob Dog’ ventured out with me on this classy finale.
Ok, so I’ve completed a whole year of wild camping (camping at least once monthly) and raved about it lots and blogged about it too. However, just in case anyone else is considering giving this a go, here are the rules:
1. Sleep out at least one night during every calendar month (using a tent, tarp, bothy, bivvy bag, wigwam, cave, shopping trolley, etc). You can start any month you like, just as long as you tot up 12 consecutive months.
2. No paid-for accommodation ie campsites or hostels.
3. A bike must be involved – it’s bikepacking, the clue is in the name.
4. Your own garden doesn’t count, although next doors does – if you must.
5. A multi-night trip that takes in both the last calendar night of one month and the first night of the next month will count as two months.
Hmm, let me review each of the rules above in turn:
1. Oh man, I only ever slept out using a tarp. I could have used a tent?! Ha, some likened my hooped bivvy to a tent but pah, what would they know? I like the idea of a bothy or a wigwam. On one occasion, I slept in a church porch but hey, was still inside a bivvy bag.
3. Yup, but I don’t like this rule. Walking requires effort too and many a wild camp spot can be found by wandering. Wild camping does not keep a bike clean!
4. Next door? Know you tell me!
5. Ah, does that mean I could have reduced my wild camps by 50% and still completed my challenge?
Anyways, back to this December camp. It was a cold, breezy night with rain in the mix too. Rob Dog and I decided we would go and camp in the 'Woods of Doom’ which incidentally is the place where we both had our first ever wild camps (I think). The woods on this occasion had been hacked big time by the Forestry Commission and provided less shelter and protection as a result and we were clearly more visible. Oh well.
The near full moon made it relatively easy for us to find a suitable camp spot. We did move on from our first pitch though as fox poo was evident. At the second spot we faffed for ages trying to rig up a tarp due to the wet weather. After an age, the tarp was up and Rob Dog set about cooking whilst I set up my bivvy.
|SJ considering a camp
Tea was delicious – bacon, egg and spicy cheese baps followed by pork and apple sausage. This delight was washed down with a shot (or 2) of whiskey. I had been in the pub just prior to this trip with SJ and thought I nearly convinced her to camp to. Hmm, maybe another beer and she would have?!
After eating, I soon nestled down. Rob Dog faffed a bit and set up his bivvy. Next thing I knew, it was the middle of the night and I needed to wee – too much cider. Slept relatively ok, however, the wind was whirring at times and on occasions the hoots of owls could be heard.
When morning proper came (at 5:58 a.m, Rob Dog reporting it was time to get up) it felt chilly. I layered up and soon warmed up once Rob Dog had cooked a breakfast almost identical to our tea last night. I brewed some Jasmine Green tea to accompany breakfast. It is quite awesome having a cooked breakfast in the great outdoors.
Breakfast devoured. Camp cleared. Off to work for me!
Woo Hoo! BAM challenge complete!
Saturday 30 November 2019
Sunday 17 November 2019
It was dark when we all left. It would be - it was 10 o'clock at night. The weather was probably best described as drizzly - raining at times and not at others. The roads were flooded here and there but no real problem as I took due care. The first section reminded me of cycling PBP, as there were plenty of red tail-lights to be seen. Heading out through Bath, I passed through Devizes and cycled past 'The Crammer' to stop at the 'Moonrakers' pub. All the while I had been cycling under a waning gibbous moon.
Leaving Moonrakers I sped on to the next control which was only 30k away. This section felt super zoomy. I saw lots of interesting wildlife which included at least 2 owls and a mouse. A motorist pulled alongside me at one point and gave me a 'fair play' once he realised I was planning to cycle all night. I'm sure I passed signs for Stonehenge and coincidentally, I'm sure the control was at Solstice Park. I opted for a MaccyD at the control which is my usual audax staple diet.
|Moonrakers and Sunseekers, 310k
Top event! Nice one Will (organiser). Pleased to report that there was plenty of (Will's) hills and plenty of thrills. Bonus too - no spills!
Saturday 9 November 2019
Saturday 2 November 2019
Hard to believe that there were children with a bigger mouth than Lunar's!
Quite disturbing that the computer screens were asking whether they should let me die by stopping my food and water.
We all knew that our family was hot stuff. Here's the proof!
When Lunar was in control, we had much to worry about.
Pleased to report Lunar cooled down.
Am sure Lunar (and our family as a whole) would be happy to participate in further scientific research. Especially if it's as much fun as this was.
This week also saw me complete the Brum 200 permanent audax event. I had originally entered the calendar event but was unable to participate as it clashed with another event I was doing over the weekend. No bother, the organiser ‘Paolo’ allowed me to change my entry for the X-Rated Loop version later in the year. Was unable to complete the X-Rated Loop as my dear wife SJ, had gotten us tickets to holiday in Portugal. Louy Beasley was aware that I wanted to ride this event and invited me to ride it with her this week. I invited a whole bunch of mates and Toll signed up for the challenge!
This was my 139th completed audax to date but my very first ‘validate via GPX’. The event started in the dark on a wet morning. Toll rocked up to mine and then we met Louy at Tesco’s in Studley. From the start this felt like a fast paced ride. Louy was like a little rocket with Toll and I following. We were all using relatively new bikes too, this being the first 200 for my new machine. I think this was Tolls fist 200 this year.
Being a ‘validate via GPX’ ride, I didn’t pay too much attention to the route and didn’t know where the control points were. I knew I didn’t have to worry because I could just follow my GPX track and knew Louy had ridden this event before. I guess it’s kinda nice having the freedom to stop whenever and wherever we like. Well, our first stop didn’t occur until we had cycled some 90k! We stopped at Cannock Chase visitor centre and boy we were all soaked and wet through to the skin.
Didn’t take as long to get to our second stop in Ironbridge. The weather improved somewhat and the sun even showed his face for a spell. Ironbridge was a relative pretty place and it was nice to cycle over the bridge once we had fed our faces. I opted for an Ironbridge pasty which looked like a Cornish Pasty but didn’t quite have the same magic.
From Ironbridge our route became more lumpy. The more lumps we cycled the hotter we got. It felt refreshing to move some layers and continue cycling. Much of the scenery was quite splendid and it was great to see black, dark and evil clouds some distance away knowing they were not going to shower upon us imminently. We cycled through Bewdley (which made me think of dad) and stopped at a garage forecourt in Stourport.
Our (almost) final leg took us near home and very close to Callow Hill. Crazy to consider that out cycle had taken us through five counties – West Midlands, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire. By the time we had gotten close to Callow Hill it was now dark and our lights were shining bright. At this point we (Toll and I) said our goodbye’s to Louy as we all headed back to where we started.
|Brum 200 (214k)
Final leg had just one mean hill to climb and then much descent. Before too long we were back in the village of Studley. A few more K’s and we were home. Woo hoo, completed the Brum 200 at last. May well ride the 2020 version (different route) next year on the basis of this being pretty fab.
Following event, Louy messaged stating what a great ride she had. I very much liked cycling alongside Louy and Toll. Toll messaged to say he was ‘knackered!!! Just brought up my Ironbridge pasty, my alcohol levels must be getting low'. Ha!
Sunday 27 October 2019
October's ParkRun was more of a swim than a run. Yup, the weather was the pants. The course was flooded and everyone got very, very wet. Hey, who cares? - Only 2 runs left and my ParkRun-A-Month (PAM) challenge will be complete.
Usually, following a ParkRun, results are emailed to each participant detailing lots of information and facts. For whatever reason, I wasn't emailed following this event. Maybe the weather was to blame?! Anyways, I finished 62/285 and my time was 23:52.
|The puddle of doom
Friday 25 October 2019
|The wives - SJ and Deb
|The Loons - Ron and Doo
The actual cycling event was relatively easy. We (that's Ron and I) opted to cycle the 60 mile route option. Our wives went shopping. Cycling took us firstly along a bike path close to the sea. The menace winds and rain had driven much sand upon this bike path and cycling was slippery, hazardous and frightening. About 3k further on and we had left the 'beach' and were cycling nicer roads.
|Angry motorist not far from here
|Do we look fazed?
The evening program included some top nosh. David Millar was a guest speaker and spoke about his racing history. Drugs are bad... Action for Kids was a charity that was sponsored by this event and they collected more money than their target which was great. After such a full on day and night, it was nice to retire to our big comfy beds.
When (Sunday) morning came we had a further full English breakfast. Sadly, this is where the party ended - ha! Our bikes didn't look too healthy, they were covered in sand and grime, rusting here and there and creaking. As I took my bike apart, I reflected on what a great machine she'd been over the years and what a great event for her to finish on (as I plan to replace my road bike).
|(Last pic of my hat, which sadly went AWOL after the event)
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