Monday, December 5, 2016

Snowdon by Tandem


It's that time of year when the hours of daylight after school are short, and now that Tom is at high school he has homework to do in the evenings too, so it's good to have a go at something big at the weekend.

Our plan as the picture above suggests was to ride up to the top of Snowdon. The forecast was good, but the weather when we arrived at Llanberis was not quite so good.

No worries, we would head up the hill with the hope of the weather improving. If you wait for ideal conditions this time of year, then nothing will get done.

We managed to ride a lot of the track, with only short bits of pushing.


As we get level with clogwyn du'r arddu we see the first bits of snow above us.

We also meet a number of people who say that it is very icy, and that they'd thought better of going to the top.

We kept on going though to see what it was like higher up.


Icy sums it up. We were about a mile from the summit in the above picture, and that would have to do. It was too sketchy without crampons, never mind with a tandem to push.

The ride back down was great, we didn't rush though, and took in the views.


We had a good ride, even though we didn't make it all the way to the top. It was good to be just out doing something on two wheels.



The next day we did a short ride from home on our mountain bikes. Though there was no snow and ice as above, it felt a good deal colder in a bitter northerly wind.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Kendal Mountain Festival - Best Adventure Sport Film!

We'd been invited to Kendal Mountain Festival as Dom Bush's film commissioned by Alpkit as part of their Mountain Journal series had been shortlisted in the film awards.

Tom's film was to be shown at a number of venues over the weekend. Tom had been specifically asked to attend two screenings, one at the Bike Night and the other at one of the Family Adventure sessions.

Pre bike night, we attended the Santa Cruz drinks and nibbles party. Tom took the opportunity to have a picture taken with Danny MacAskill.


After that bit of excitement we were seated next to Danny MacAskill's parents for the Bike Evening.

Tom's film was shown fairly early on in the evening, and we were told that Dom had earlier received the award for best "Adventure Sport" film for his and Tom's film.

 Here's Dom showing Tom the award.


Tom has a microphone in his hand as he was being interviewed by Ed and Aneela in front of a pretty big crowd. Afterwards, Danny's parents congratulated him on his performance. His parents and I agreed it was ace that our kids were doing something that they loved.

At the after party Tom got to meet another of our sports greats Martyn Ashton.


Note Tom is only holding my beer as I'm taking their picture!

Though having said that Tom later became involved in a drinking game with Danny and some of his pals. Apparently Danny owes him a shot when Tom is 18. :)



I think Tom had a pretty special weekend. A big thanks to all who made it happen.

Special thanks to Jen and Paul for putting us up, and driving us home before it all got too messy. ;)

Oh, and of course a link to the film.


Monday, October 17, 2016

A day out in the Lakes.

On Thursday I picked up a Sonder Transmitter mountain bike from Alpkit that I'm going to be riding at a 24 hour race in a couple of weeks. So we decided that a ride up some mountains on mountain bikes was in order on Saturday.

In the distance, our first objective for the day.



An out and back up Skiddaw. A steady walk up to the summit followed by a blast back down the hill.


Tom took the picture below of me.


 We then traversed Lonscale Fell and Blease Fell before descending to Threlkeld.

Some road then to a cafe near the foot of Sticks Pass.


A few more flattish miles, then the beginning of a lot of up.


There were precious few bits of riding as in the above shot.

Mostly it was pushing.


Tom takes in the view at Grisedale Tarn.


Then it goes up once again on the flanks of  Dollywaggon Pike. Much steeper than it looks. A right old slog.


 It had been hazy all day, but just for a few minutes after we had made the ridge, the sun came out.




A final summit photo for the day.


Obligatory sunset picture.


Down Sticks Pass, then back on the road to Keswick for fish and chips.

A proper day out.

Tom's Strava - https://www.strava.com/activities/747504038

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Ride with No Hills!



Gunther Desmedt sent us an invite via Facebook to do a ride through Zeeland which is located in the South of Holland. There were 13 landmarks to visit. You could take any route you liked, though  it was advertised as around 300 kilometres. We'd not really considered that 300 kms is a long way, only that being Holland there would be no hills.

Below, a map with the landmarks to visit, the star marking the start/finish.



Shortly before 8am we lined up outside the church in Woensdrecht ready for the start. It was good to catch up with people we'd met at other races including the Highland Trail 550, and the French Divide. We'd met Bert (on the left) at both of those events.


At 8am we set off, the group of 40+ riders immediately split into two groups, one North, and the other South bound. We headed South towards Antwerp.

For a while we rode with others but fairly quickly peoples opinion on the best route meant that we all went our own ways.

As the map above suggests, there is lots of water in this area. So planning how to get across rivers, and across the sea needs thought. Below waiting for the lift underneath the Scheldt river.


At the landmark checkpoints we took pictures, as proof of passage.


The weather was excellent for most of the day.  There was most definitely warmth in the October Sun.


Every now and then the clouds threatened, but the rain never fell on us on that day.


If you like flat rural riding, Holland has plenty of that.


Our route necessitated a ferry from Breskens to Vlissingen which gave us an hour to refuel for the rest of the ride. In the distance the rain was falling.


On our arrival at Vlissengen the sun was out again though.

After the ferry the concentration of the checkpoints increased. After the picture below we mostly gave up on the checkpoint photos though because of the dark.


Speaking of concentration, somewhere around 14 hours into the ride, mine must of wondered off somewhere. Around 30 minutes after visiting the checkpoint at Goes, Tom said "We've been here before". On checking the GPS I realise that he was right, and that we had ridden 7 miles in the wrong direction! Which of course means that we had to ride another 7 miles back in the correct direction.

I managed to navigate the rest of the route issue, and just after 4am we arrived back at Woensdrecht. Job done.

A landmark ride for both Tom and I, as it's the first time that we've both ridden more than 200 miles.

My Strava https://www.strava.com/activities/732500787

Tom's Strava https://www.strava.com/activities/732503479 




A big thanks to Gunther for putting the event on. His bikepacking website can be found at http://www.bikepacking.be/

Saturday, September 3, 2016

TdF Gear and a cautionary few words.

Firstly a big thanks to Alpkit who supplied the tandem, and its luggage.



We carried our kit in 2 13 litre Airlok Dual dry bags. Sleeping bags and mats in one, and spare clothing in the other. The one up front was held in a Kanga harness with the fibreglass struts removed. The straps of the rear bag were great for stashing a couple of baguettes underneath.

Our tent we carried in a 13 litre Koala seatpack, which also had room for a days food.

On the bars I had a stem cell within which I kept some chain oil and a water bottle.

The Stingray frame bags held tools spares and some food. I cable tied the frame bags to the frame.

My favourite bit of kit was the Love Mud Bheesty which replaces your stem cap to provide a handy adjustable handlebar mounting point for your bottle cage. A genius idea.

We were lucky with the weather, so had lots of unused clothes, though there is nothing I wouldn't have taken.

We had 3 water bottles. In retrospect a bit more water capacity would have been good.

Now for the cautionary bit.


I'd not really thought about this until the damage had been done. Just before we set off I swapped out the saddle on the tandem which wasn't particularly comfortable after a few hours, for a saddle that I'd completed a number of long rides on, though on a different bike.

This picture was taken on day two of our trip, and the Jackass above had already got a large blister on his derriere. The saddle that had up to then given years of trouble free miles, had when fitted to the tandem become an instrument of torture.

In Dover I bought some Compeed, and Tom had the traumatic job of apply it to my butt.

Whilst the compeed stopped the worst of the pain, and I can assure you a blister on ones bottom is painful when you are doing long days back to back. The saddle in spite of changing angle and fore an aft position, never became comfortable. I have as yet not thrown it in the bin, but that is where it will be heading soon.

So the moral of this, is do not decide to change something important on your bike just before you leave on a big trip unless you've trialled it well before.

I'll spare you the picture of the blister. :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Tour de France - Heading North.

So we'd ridden to France, diagonally across France, all that was left, was to ride North up the Atlantic coast to get a ferry home. A mere 1000 kilometres.

A mate had told me that there was a traffic free route called La Vélodyssée that went North along the Atlantic, so we set off following that.

Biarritz


In the trees, there was lots of riding in the trees.


In the evening, Tom loved playing on the beach.




The massive dunes near Arcachon.


Now what you can't see in any of the pictures above are people. Be assured though August on the Atlantic in France is heaving with holidaymakers. This was a bit of a shock after the quiet villages we'd visited earlier in our trip.

The signposts we followed.






Below is how sweaty my hands were in the late afternoon.


We took the ferry across the mouth of the Garonne river.




Below, Tom taking a mid morning shower in La Rochelle.


 Tom putting more air in the rear tyre to minimise rolling resistance.


Whilst mentioning tyres, the tread had all but gone on both by now.




After La Rochelle we abandoned the Vélodyssée route, and took a more direct line towards the ferry, as we had the promise of a lift home if we made Portsmouth on Monday.

This also meant that our days would have to have more riding. Essentially in the last 3 days we squeezed in 4 days riding. There was still plenty of time for pictures though.

We sat on the wheels of these guys for a while.


 A really pretty canal that we followed towards St Malo.


More cake.


 Tom laughing at my beard.


Turning the bike round after one of many wrong turns.


 Then 3,226 kilometres after leaving Bromsgrove, we arrived in St Malo.


....and then next day the ferry home.