Monday, 31 January 2011

Blackpool Pleasure Ride

I thought I'd enter the Manchester to Blackpool Cycle Ride this year. It's about 60 miles long and takes place on July 10th. I challenged some colleagues to join me and so far twelve have said they will - far more than I suspected would. Several of them are really enthused and keep asking me for details and preparation tips, suggesting riding in fancy dress and getting sponsored. Two have even gone and bought bikes already and one them has started cycling to work! Looks like I sparked some latent cyclists into action - Absolute result!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Carry On (Cycle) Camping

I am looking forward to cycling in 2011. I have a few days in April when the wife and child are away, 4 days in the summer to do a coast to coast crossing with my brother (route yet to be decided) and a whole week or so in late summer for a longer solo trip - likely travelling the length of Wales although the west coast of Scotland or even the Outer Hebrides may be the final choice. I will also be trying for some local one nighters to knock off a few localish BCQ checkpoints I cannot get to and back from in one day. All in all quite exciting within the confines of my middle aged, married with a child, employed lifestyle. 

So today I have started preparing. Last year on the Pennine Cycleway trip I realised two items let me down a little - my tent was too bulky, past its best and heavier than I would like (isn't everything too heavy when you have to carry it?) and my sleeping bag was only just OK for summer use (it is a hosteling bag rather than a decent camping one and so really was never meant to be used under canvas). So damn the VAT rise, I've gone and done my bit for the economy and splurged on some new camping gear. 

I am now the proud owner of a Vango Force 10 Helium 200 tent and a Mountain Hard Wear Lamina 35 synthetic '2 season' sleeping bag. I wanted both to offer reasonable quality without costing a fortune, be small to pack yet roomy to use and of course be light to carry. No one variable totally achievable without impacting on one or more of the others. So after some research via t'inernet I had a rough shortlist but wanted to actually hold the products in my hand, try them out and compare before making my final decision so I went for an actual physical shopping experience rather than ordering online. 

Cotswold had a number of tents in stock, was happy to have them erected and crawled through by yours truly and one of the assistants was also a cycle tourer of 2 years worth of world travel so could add his useful experiences into the mix. After the help they gave me I decided to purchase from them even though I normally go for the least expensive outlet, however I got a 15% discount by virtue of being a CTC member so there wasn't actually much price difference in the end.

No more B&Bs for me now!*

*unless the weather if really awful or I don't feel well

Thursday, 6 January 2011

The Amazing Invisible Cyclist

It never ceases to amaze me how a yellow HiViz jacket and two bright front and two bright rear LEDs (one flashing, one solid in each direction) can render a cyclist just about invisible - able to move about through the general car driving population without raising the slightest suspicion of actually being there. Incredible really when you come to think about it!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Studs Are Good...But Not Perfect!

Still using the studded tyres as expecting some more cold icy weather soon. Fine if a bit noisy on the tarmac. Not so good on smooth, dusty concrete! Bike and me OK although might have some bruising later today.