More Training – Ponies, Tanks, and Mysical Sandwiches!

18 04 2010

Camping in the New Forest

There is plenty of scope along this whole tour to follow smaller, bicycle friendly roads. Along the whole route we had numerous close encounters of the wildlife kind, as well as a tank spotting opportunity, an 8 mile seafront meander, and a mystical lunch!

Follow the first day on Mapmyrun –

http://www.mapmyrun.com/route/gb/mark/839127135918037709

Day 1: Mark – Hazlebury Byran

68.6km / 42.6 miles

Time – Approx 7 hrs with a 1 hr break.

Terrain – mostly flat with some rolling elements. Lots of odd irrigation channels that flank long sections of road. Today we went through mystical Glastonbury where we stopped to buy a mystical OS map and some mystical sandwiches.

Warning!  – it looks like there is a clear short cut through Sherborn Castle but we were barred from travelling this route by a very rude toff. This is one place we’ll never be visiting!

Accommodation – A lack of campsite opportunities meant we opted for a little organic BnB (Orchard Farmhouse)… dinner at the local pub was …. functional.

Day 2: Hazlebury Bryan – Burnbake campsite

46.5km / 28.9 miles

Time – Approx 4 hrs 30 mins with a 45 min break

Terrain – mostly flat with some rolling elements. This bit took us past Bovington Camp, the home of the Royal Armoured Regiment, basically a big tank training ground …. Which was … loud.  There is even a little viewing platform at one point from which you could tank spot!? (spot the tank advancing up Liz’s rear!)

Spot the tank advancing up liz's rear!

A short day meant we could squeeze in a 3.5 hr walk to the coast for dinner!

Accommodation – A well recommended campsite that turned out to be rowdy and unclean. Disappointing in the extreme!

Day 3: Burnbake campsite – Ocknell campsite

56.5km / 35.1 miles

Time – Approx 7 hrs with a 2 hrs break

Terrain – mostly flat with some rolling elements (and lots of ponies). This section took us along the 8 mile Pool-Bournemouth seafront (with its artificial reef and artificial just about everything else) and into the New Forest.

Accommodation – Ocknell campsite right in the New Forest – beautiful!

Day 4: Ocknell campsite – Winchester train station

24.3miles / 39km

Time – Approx 3 hrs 45mins with a 30 min break

Terrain – more rolling elements

Happy happy on the seafront!

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Training – Pump, Pump it UP!

5 04 2010

….come on baby PUMP it up! … And then sit down for a nice coffee and sponge finger. hmmmm

It’s the first weekend of the Easter holidays and we have some serious training to do! We have some buds in Brighton so let’s crack on down to them, stay one night, then pack in the miles for the next 3 days! HOO-RAH!

Weekend #1

Good Friday 2010

The Forecast –  Sun, Rain, Sun.

The Plan – Ride, Rest, Ride

The Reality – Stay in bed, get really soaked, get on a train!

Lessons learnt – don’t expect Catherine to get out of bed early on the first day of the holidays AND don’t (liz) forge ahead in hammering rain – it will pass and sodden cycling in wind chill = 😦

Miles achieved – Dorking – Gatwick airport 21.7 km or 13.5 miles (approx 2hrs)

Easter Saturday 2010

The Forecast – Sun, Rain (heavy)

The Plan – Early cycle, stay at buds for the pm and another night (it’s nice and warm with them… hmmmm)

The Reality – Early start, hilly cycle from Brighton out to Hurstpierpoint and back, lunch with buds in Brighton, stroll along the front… not a jot or whiff of rain all afternoon! (sigh)

Lessons learnt – It’s really super hanging out with buds, so don’t fret it. Don’t believe the weather forecast (?!)

Miles achieved – 19 miles or 30km (approx 2hrs)

Easter Sunday 2010

The Forecast – Sleet (?!), Sun

The Plan – Ignore the forecast and cycle like the clappers towards London (we have to be back home at 2.30pm to make Easter meal with Liz’s folks)

The Reality – clappers engaged, Wind and Sun.

Miles achieved – Brighton – Redhill 35.9 miles or 57.7 km (approx 4 ½ hrs)

Easter Monday 2010

The Forecast – Who cares!

The Plan – Cycle from Tooting to Richmond Park, round the park, then back to Toot-toot

The Reality – As above + significant guffawing at some of the lycra outfits on display…. We are bit lumpier than your average Richmond Park super speedy lycra slick cyclists. Liz suspects they drive their bikes, on their cars, to the park before testosteroning their way round it.

Miles achieved – A lumpy Richmond park loop: 22.5 miles or 36.3 km (approx 2 hours)

Lessons learnt – You can go faster with the wind behind you and when it is flat. Rocket science.

Is it time for a cupper yet?





On Your Bike Maintenance course

5 04 2010


I know a few things about fixing bikes.. I know how to change a tyre and brake pads. But to me bikes are a bit like maths, I learnt all I’ll ever functionally need to know in primary school,  I don’t need algebra to live my day to day! However with the big cycle looming Liz convinced me we’d better get a bit of long division under our belts.

Liz had heard of the Southwark Cyclists course at On Your Bike in London Bridge – we knew the shop, we’d heard it was good, so off we went. Every Tuesday evening, for 4 weeks, we pitched up ready to tinker.

There were 9 others on the course and 2 instructors (3 really but 2 on an evening by evening ratio). I know that some long distance cyclists are super bike whizzes and some neither know nor care how to change a tyre (there are plenty of bike shops in the big wide world!). Thus, for us, the aim wasn’t to become bike mechanics but to gain a bit more confidence and loose a bit of the fear.

Interestingly I loved it, Liz tolerated it. I think I’ve a bit more patience for tinkering than she has.  But between us we covered everything- It really was a super course and the instructors were lovely (as well as highly knowledgeable), however, the key things we (shakily) learnt were:

  1. We can’t fix everything ourselves because we can’t carry all the necessary tools. But the more you know the less likely it will be that you get diddled.
  2. Cleaning the wheel rim, chain, and cassette cogs on a weekly basis are the keys to long kit life.
  3. If a spoke breaks, open the breaks and ride (if possible) to the nearest bike shop (KNOW WHERE THEY ARE ALONG THE ROUTE). Carry a spare spoke to give to the bike mechanic.
  4. Check for chain stretch every so often (max every 3000KM’s) – if you think things are loose then take it into a shop and ask them to measure it for you. If it’s getting too loose change the chain and expect some slippage for the first week or so. If it is really bad then change the chain and rear gear cassette. If you change the chain before it has gone over the edge you can extend the life of the rear gear cassette.
  5. It is important that you have used the tools you are planning to take with you – a multi-set may not be the most useful thing.
  6. When you have oiled the chain wipe the excess oil off the outside so that dust etc doesn’t stick to it.
  7. Tyres have a direction arrow!

🙂 …





Hot, wet, and freezing! TRAINING begins….

20 03 2010

My new RED condor had its first outing today. A 35k circular route from Woldingham to Woldingham (No 1 on Goldeneye Sussex South Surrey cycling map). Super for training with plenty of undulations, lots of steep downs (get off the breaks Catherine!) and one thigh busting brut of a hill at the end.

BIG rain today. We were thoroughly sodden within mins of setting off – but felt all the more adventurous and brave for it.

Notes on the Condor: Bike works! I was in the lead the whole way. Well, until the ‘brut’, when Liz’s mega thighs whupt my little twigs, hurrah for generally much improved speed though. The seat, however, was mighty familiar and may need to be assessed….. ahem…..and the touring bike position is much more like a mountain bike; it is a bit of a stretch to the handlebars and forces quite a low, leaning, body posture, it is a far cry from my sittie-uppie hybrid. But I think this is so that the weight is more evenly distributed over the bike – rather than all being centred on ones rump.





NEW BIKE!!!!!

13 03 2010

About 3 weeks ago I took the plunge and ordered a Condor touring bike! For a while now I’ve been mulling over whether to stick with my hybrid or go for broke and get a new ‘something else’. In the end I felt that my hybrid was not really up to the rigours of our trip and I was worrying about it being an aluminium frame. Though slightly heavier, steel frames are easier to fix on the road than aluminium ones. Basically if your aluminium frame goes you’re looking at having to get a whole new bike!

Condor bikes are a popular touring choice as they are renowned for having really super components, being built to fit and generally looking really snappy (well mine does anyway!). I caught the tail end of the January sales and managed to get a cut price frame. After a rigorous 2 hour fitting and much handle bar mass debating I put in the order. It feels a bit odd not having seen the bike before committing to it but … fingers crossed.

Today I picked her up! She is a RED bike! Shinny shinny red bike! – if you want a component break down here it is….. RED! 🙂 – will post better info bits later.

Condor RED bike!





Anti-malarial’s. Yes or No??

26 01 2010

Yesterday I had my first lot of injections. Hep A and B mix (Twinrix) and a tetanus, polio, diphtheria combo. ‘Let your arm flop’, the wry nurse instructed as she flicked out the syringe, ‘let the shoulder drop all the way’, pudgy fingers clamp tight the muscle, ‘you’ll wana master this for the Japanese encephalitis’, jab, ‘It hurts like hell’. Great, something to look forward to then! We have to get rabies as well *sigh*

Liz is much better at these things than me. Where she is stoic, I am a pain announcer. Share it around is my motto, what is the point of bravery and endurance if there is no one to coo about it? As someone in a book once said; ‘pain can never be known it can only be believed’, so believe! small prick my arse.

Anti-malarial’s. We are going away for 9 months, I’m not sure how I feel about putting drugs in my body daily for 9 months. And if I did decide to, which set of chemicals should we take? We are going through so many different regions all of which have variously flavoured mosquitoes with all sorts of different resistances. I think I know that malaria is bad.. but isn’t it curable with the right medicines? And I’m sure I read somewhere that the drugs suppress a fever, so if you did get malaria while taking anti-malarials (which is possible) then you wouldn’t know! It is quite hard to get clear information; the bloggers are opinionated but dubiously informed and the medical centres want to cover their backs and get you to buy their products. I have been to India, Bangladesh, Thailand and Laos before and have never taken anti –malarials. I did take some homeopathic stuff once and some ayurvedic medicine in Nepal. But if I’m honest I’m not sure if I really believe they work. I cover up and go deet mad but I’m sweet blooded and seem to attract any needle-faced sucker within a 100 mile radius. Just the other day I got 4 big red throbbing mosquito bites.. in England! .. in the middle of winter! I suspect this will be a rumbling debate.





Kit – to laptop or not to laptop!

7 01 2010

Wheel, we’ve started to scout out bikes, bags, saddles, med kits etc etc etc (more about all that later) but one of our biggest quandaries is what electrical kit to take. We have been looking at the little Flip’s that are light (every gram saved will be a blessing in the Himalayas!) and small (we are aiming for only two back panniers and a handle bar bag each…. possible??), but it can’t focus and only stores about an hours worth of footage. So now we are looking at hard storage digital cameras – we have seen some that are pretty mini ones that store quite a lot of good quality footage (maybe the Samsung C10 SD camcorder for example) – swell! …. Now all we have to do is slush our way through a PC soup of info to make the actual final choice!

The next big decision is to lap top it or not.  If we have a PC we can blog more easily (or prep for the blog while we are off web radar) and thus be able to save money and time whenever we reach an internet cafe, we can also use it to edit our VOICES footage. But on the other hand it is extra weight, and something extra to lose or get stolen and we could probably manage by using just the internet cafes. …. .. Maybe if we found something small enough that was still usable (e.g. – big enough hard drive etc) AND under 1kg if possible. It’s all too easy to be seduced into forgetting that all those little gram shavings really will add up when being trailed over 10,000 KM and up some stormingly massive hills.