Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Training ride with a difference

I've done a few rides since I last posted anything on the blog but I thought yesterday's ride deserved a mention.

This has been the longest ride to date but I had a break about half way round due to another cyclist being involved in an accident. I had gone past him a few miles back, he then went past me on a steep uphill so I was surprised to see him lying in the middle of the road a little further along. A kid had pulled out (on his bike!) from a side road right in front of the cyclist who then went over his handlebars and hit the deck. I phoned for an ambulance, made sure he was ok and took down various contact details for him. In the end he said he had needed 8 stitches and had concussion so it could have been much worse.

I rode the second half of the ride very carefully, watching out for rogue cars and cyclists! It also struck me that I have nearly dealt with as many accidents in my own time as I have whilst at work!

This is the result of a head on collison when you try and overtake on a bend. Taken in Fleet Marston last Autumn.

Let's have a nice quiet 3 months of training now please!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Keeping you interested

I have come to realise that reading about me going for bike rides and buying tyres probably doesn't make for the most gripping reading so I have decided to keep you logged on by adding a few interesting photos of what I get up to at work!

Here is your starter for 10...

This it what happens if you go away and leave your heating off in the winter. The bathroom had a foot of water in it, both ceilings collapsed and everything as you can see, is ruined. Make sure all your pipes are lagged and if the loft is also lagged, don't insulate under the water tank, this will allow some heat from the house to keep this area a bit warmer.

This is a photo from last November when we all grew moustaches for Movember, a fundraising exercise to raise awareness for prostate cancer. Needless to say, all facial hair was removed on December 1st!


My wish list from Wiggle arrived today. I had ordered a few bits that I though I would need for training rides and the BIG ONE itself.

1 x Hi viz waterproof jacket for the Scottish summer
1 x Set rear brake pads in case I wear mine out on those Cornish hills
2 x Tyres, my current ones are nearly worn out. Vittoria Rubino Pro, not one puncture in 1200 miles
1 x Gel padded cycling shorts as mine are a bit worn out!
1 x Handlebar tape (matches saddle which is a bit sad I'm afraid)
1 x Sports towel
2 x Water bottles and cages
1 x Inner tube

So far I have used the shorts which are great and the bottles too do their job! Hopefully won't need the waterproof!

Summer is here!

The weather yesterday was amazing so I thought I'd get a good ride in before work. I managed a 46 miler up through the lanes towards Milton Keynes and back through Thornborough and Padbury. 2 hours 40 mins and a 17.5mph average speed.

It wasn't until I got changed at work that realised the sun had been quite strong and had left me with some interesting tan lines! I have never got had sunburn in April before!

Maybe I should add sun cream to my list for September!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Start adding weight...

On today's ride, I wanted to test out carrying a bit of extra weight with me. The ride was a 2 part affair. A quick 10 miles over a couple of hills, past Chequers and down to a pub for lunch with Char and Trendy then an undulating 35 miles back through Marlow, Lane End, Radnage and Chinnor. Biggest climb was a 13.7% gradient up into Radnage, good training for Cornwall but not very enjoyable!

I have pinched a rear rack off my mum's bike which has been sat in the garage gathering dust since I last serviced it for her! Sorry Mum.

My little nephew Theo was very helpful in assisting me fit it to my bike. He has several suggestions that made the whole process go a lot smoother, I hope the chain oil came out of his jeans Jen!

Today, I loaded the rack bag up with a camera, phone, bike tools and a hefty D lock. The first few miles felt hard work just we put that down to the run I did yesterday in Wendover Woods. After lunch, it felt easier and I didn't notice the extra weight too much even when pedaling out of the saddle up the hills. I think the massive club sandwich (and half of Char's massive prawn sandwich) I had for lunch might have helped!

Friday, 1 April 2011

My Wheels

I built my bike a couple of years ago after selling my old Cannondale road bike. It was a good bike but was a bit big for me and holds bad memories for me as the last time I rode it, I was almost run over and the bike was.

I had stopped on the way home from work to fix a puncture when some rude boy in his Rover (my Grandpa had a Rover!) lost control on a bend and ran the bike over. I had by this point dived into the safety of a bush but the mental scars were there so the bike had to go.

I chose to build a single speed simply because it was simpler to do (no gears, shifter and derailleurs to complicate the job) and it would hopefully get me mega fit!

I chose a frame from On One, a small firm up in Doncaster who specialize in steel single speed delights and then got the other parts from various other sources. Alpina carbon fork, Miche chainset and hubs, Mavic rims... the list goes on. Anyhow, the result was a beautifully light and comfortable bike that is unique. Single speed bikes are quite rare in the Chilterns for some reason!

So now comes the sad job of weighing it down with a luggage rack and an extra bottle cage. I will also be adding some comfier bar tape before long. The blue track grips match the tyres nicely but they don't damp out much vibration!


Up until this point, my rides have ben short enough for me to simply remember the route. This trip meant however that I was going to need an extra bag just for maps or I add a super spangly GPS to my birthday wish list!
Again, after much deliberation and forum hunting, I finally went for a Garmin Etrex Vista HCx. There are other, more cycling specific untis on the market but I want mine solely for navigation and not speed (I have a normal cycle computer for that).
My birthday wish was granted early (thanks parents!) and I took ownership of my new gadget courtesy of I also bought a mount which I had to modify to fit on the bike stem. Garmin do a handlebar mount but a) it's pants and b) I wanted to mount it centrally and more securely.

I first had to file the back down so it would fit nicely against the curve of the stem and then drill 2 extra holes before cable tying the mount securely in place!

I have taken it out on a couple of test rides and it is solid as a rock and at a nice viewing angle (luckily) There is also just enough space to squeeze the computer in next to it.

This GPS allows me to load my routes onto it so I can then follow the trail. The world of GPS mapping is extremely complex but I think I have mastered enough of it to get me to where I want to go...

Just head North surely?

The first problem that I had to solve was how I am going to get myself from Land's End up to John O'Groats avoiding the really busy stretches of road and the really massive hills but not adding lots of extra miles which taking more minor roads invariably means.

After further forum chats and blog checks, I have planned a route that ticks 2 of my 3 wishes (sadly there isn't a flat route up through the country!) I used to plan all of my routes. Although you would think there are only a certain number of possible routes (as I did in the hope of borrowing someone else's) when you get down to planning things, it becomes a very personal choice. By looking at different roads on Google Streetview you can work out which roads should be avoided and which look more welcoming. There might also be 2 roads to the same point but the gradients may be quite different, again, helping decide which way I wanted to go (not the steep way!)

Anyway, after lots of fettling, here are my 10 days of pain for all to see:

Day 1 (31st Aug)
Day 2 (1st Sep)
Day 3 (2nd Sep)
Day 4 (3rd Sep)
Day 5 (4th Sep)
Day 6 (5th Sep)
Day 7 (6th Sep)
Day 8 (7th Sep)
Day 9 (8th Sep)
Day 10 (9th Sep)

If anyone would like to join me for any of the trip, I would love the company! I already have one willing uncle who will hopefully be joining me on days 4 and/or 5 (there, its down in black and white, no backing out now!)


In early 2011, my little sister Jenny was diagnosed with breast cancer. After an uncertain and difficult few weeks, she had an operation that we all hope has removed all traces of the cancer. The chemotherapy that she is now undergoing will hopefully mean that it has gone for good.
All through this process, Jen has received a lot of help, advice and support from Maggie's Centre in Cheltenham ( and after I announced that I wanted to do something to help (other than big brother hugs!) she has asked me to try and raise as much as I can for this facility so that it can continue to help people who have been affected by cancer.

I have always enjoyed cycling but have never attempted high mileages so I'm not too sure why I decided to take on cycling the length of the country! I have since read the blogs of many other lejoggers (an abbreviation used for those who have cycled the route, or indeed jogglers depending on which direction!) and it really appealed to me (I probably should have looked into it before I said to Jen I would do it in hindsight!).  I enjoy a challenge and I'm sure it will be an enjoyable experience in itself (!). To spice things up a little, I will be completing the ride on my trusty steel single speed Pompino bike. To those of you who cycle, I hope you can appreciate that single speed means only 1 gear (hence the title of the blog) so there will be no changing down gears when I get to the hills and no moving up into top gear for the descents. It is a question of compromise, choosing a gear that I can get up the hills with whilst not spinning my legs into a blur on the flat.

I have decided to start this blog as a record of my preparation and completion of this ride. I have already spent some time looking at routes, where to stay, what to take with me and if I have made possibly the most rash decision of my life so far!