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 -

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

Tom's Strava 

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

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.


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.

Tour de France - Heading South West

So once we decided on leaving the French Divide route we headed South West. We aimed to avoid big hills, big cities and busy roads.

Tom aimed to eat every type of cake he could find along the way.

Now we weren't quite so tight for time, we took to stopping for a mid morning coffee too.

We'd had a bit of a mechanical with the eccentric bottom bracket slipping in the Morvan, but now, just before we entered the Dordogne region, one of our spokes went ping.

We happened upon a bike shop quickly who found a replacement spoke.

Their mechanic wasn't there to fit it. Thankfully we had our own.

Tom being irrigated.

Nice views along the way.

Did I mention the heat?

There aren't many of these painted adverts on buildings left now.

On the 19th I get a message from the French Divide guys to ask if we were coming to their party at Mendionde on the 20th. I check the distance and we are around 100 kilometres away and sort of on our way to the coast, so we head there to see some of the other people who have ridden part, or all of the course.

Here's Tom and Céline.

We had a great evening hearing about the other riders exploits.

Then next morning, we continued our journey towards the sea.

One of the few rain showers we encountered on the whole trip.

In the afternoon we arrived at St Jean de Luz on the Atlantic coast and the usual hot sunshine had returned.