Tuesday, 21 December 2010


With the weather we have been getting over the past couple of weeks I have not been getting much cycling done. The skinny 23mm tyres on my road bikes just do not mix with the amount of snow we have had. Even the 32mm tyres on the touring bike don't cut it in this sort of weather. If we are going to continue to get this type of weather in the years ahead maybe I should consider adding a Pugsley to my bike stable.

 SEASONS GREETINGS to all my friends out there in the blogosphere. I wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR.  

I will not be making any more postings until the New Year as I wish to spend as much time as possible with my family. I will be back again in 2011. Your comments will still be uploaded.

Saturday, 18 December 2010


About this time of year a lot of bloggers are talking about various events that will take place next year.
A lot of the walking/backpacking blogs are giving  coverage to the TGO Challenge. This is an annual self supported walking event across the Highlands of Scotland west coast to east coast. The event started in 1980 and is held in the month of May. This is the premier walking event in the UK.
I have walked across Scotland many times over the past 40+ years as well as walking north to south and south to north, but have never taken part in the challenge.

If you scan the cycling blogs you would see the Etape du Tour mentioned a lot. This is probably seen as the top European Cyclo Sportive . A one day event it enables the amateur cyclist to ride a stage of the Tour De France with closed roads - support and food stops.
As with the TGO challenge this is another event that I have never taken part in.

There are lots of one day sportive events in the UK - in fact during 'the season' you would have a choice of events every weekend. Some of these I have taken part in but there are lots and lots that I haven't.
During the coming year I will be riding quite a few of these either as a solo entrant or as part of a small group - but each one ridden will be part of my overall training plan.

My real love though are the multi-day sportives - rides like the 'Tour of Wessex'. This is a really popular three day event that takes place through a scenic but tough landscape- 329 miles of Wessex and Exmoor.

Land's End to John o'Groats tends to be completed as a do anytime touring ride with an average completion time of 14/15 days with lots of varied routes. Average distance is 930 miles. There is a history and tradition of attempting it at greater speed though. It has been completed in less than 2 days and 2 nights.
I was part of a small team that rode it in 2008 covering about 100 miles a day. It took us 10 days.

The Race Across AMerica (RAAM) is a multi day endurance ride that has become a major event. Now we have the Race Across Europe - simply known as RACE. This epic ride crosses 8 countries starting in Amsterdam in the Netherlands and finishing in Tarifa in Spain. I would like to do this ride but unfortunately the inaugural RACE is due to start on the 7th September 2011 and that is 7 days into my Rock to the UK event - still there will always be another year..!

Rock To The UK is an endurance ride that will start at The Rock of Gibraltar- cross Spain and France and bring us back to the English South Coast.
The route chosen will give us a total distance of 1500 miles to be completed over 15 riding days. It is generally accepted that 100 miles on a bike is roughly equivalant to the 26 miles covered by a runner doing a marathon. So what we will in effect be doing is a marathon a day for 15 days.
As well as crossing the Pyrenees our route will take us over a number of mountain ranges in Spain so it is not going to be a particularly flat ride. More importantly as well as being a tough ride it will be FUN.

At the moment we are getting together a small team to do the ride and it looks as if we will be looking for another one or two riders.Would you like to ride from the Rock to the UK ? Are you able to set aside three weeks from 1st to 21st September 2011 ?
If the answer is yes send your contact number to pedalspinner@tiscali.co.uk and I will give you a call in the New Year to discuss details with you.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


I've seen a lot in the media recently about 'MAMILs'.  This is an acronym for'Middle Aged Men In Lycra'. Apparently the middle aged man these days is not bothering to buy a sports car as an outward sign of a mid-life crisis. No what mid-life crisis men are doing now is buying high end road bikes- putting on lycra and zipping along our highways and byways.

Market research and other studies have been carried out that show one of the main reasons people cycle is to keep fit and burn off the fat (41%). These reports also claim that those aged 45 - 54 enjoy cycling the most - the younger riders tend to view commuting as the number one reason to ride a bike.(The accepted age for MAMILs is 35 - 54)

Now  the thing with middle aged men is that for them to really enjoy their hobby and sport they feel that they have to spend lots of money on it. Hence the top end bikes - top of the range everything...! Shoes - socks - mitts - helmet- and the lycra.

I suppose that all these extra people riding bikes can only be a good thing  - the more cyclists about on the roads  can only help but change attitudes to cyclists in general as well as making the roads safer. According to the latest reports 42% of the population now see cycling as a 'cool' activity to be involved in so you would think that being a 'MAMIL' would also be seen as cool. However the term tends to be used more as a form of that good old British trait of laughing at ourselves.

If you mention to someone that your a keen cyclist one of the first things that you seem to get asked is 'do you wear lycra'? Now I would agree that wearing lycra is not going to be very flattering if you are a middle-aged man with a paunch. 
However, because cycling is such a good way of keeping fit and maintaining a good trim well shaped body it follows that you won't see many lycra clad paunches around. Most of the MAMILS that I see look in pretty good shape.

Now as far as I am concerned I have been a lycra wearer for years. Because I am one of those riders who likes to 'go fast' on whatever bike I am riding be that a tourer -sportive - trainer etc -  I've found it to be the most comfortable thing to wear on a bike.
I have tried other things such as 'proper' touring shorts and loose fit jerseys but these styles of cycling kit don't cut it for me - they tend to flap around in the wind and just feel uncomfortable.

Whether I fit into the MAMIL grouping is debatable - the age group the report quoted of 35 - 54 means that I am too old . In about five weeks time I will be 63 years young so I don't really think that I fit comfortably into the group although I do seem to fit quite comfortably into my lycra.
This means that I will have to come up with my own acronym. I have had my thinking helmet on and I have come up with.......GOGIL.... Yes I must be a GOGIL.

GRUMPY OLD GIT IN  LYCRA...............!!!

Yes I am a grumpy old git in the stretchy stuff.

Friday, 10 December 2010

SHE'S BACK.....!

Yes - She's back!

The 'Studland Ferry is now back and operational after her refit. The ferry's name is Bramble Bush Bay and she was towed to Southampton for the refit at the beginning of November.
Due to the bad weather that we have experienced over the past couple of weeks the whole task took about ten days longer than expected. The paint seemed to take ages to dry because the temperature was so low and the snow wasn't a lot of help either. Anyway it's all done now and she went back into operation on Tuesday at about 1300hrs.

This is the fourth ferry to operate this service since the Bournemouth -Swanage Motor Road & Ferry Company was formed back in July 1923, although  it is the first to actually have a name.
The ferry is 242 feet long and has a nominal capacity of 48 cars although it can take up to 52.
Propulsion is Diesel - Hydraulic.
The first ferry was steam driven and only carried 15 cars so things have moved on a bit over the past 87 years.

The ferry crossing remains as popular as ever over the 400 yard mouth to Poole Harbour saving vehicles a 25 mile round trip and giving cyclists the quickest route over to the roads and trails of the Purbeck Hills.

Now that she is back the 'Hell Riders' of  Team 219 will be back out training in one of the best cycling areas along the South coast.

Monday, 6 December 2010


I have not had much chance to get out on the bike over the last week due to the bad weather.
It is really unusual to have snow and ice so early on in the winter and quite rare for us to have any snow down here in this little pocket of the far south anyway. However this is the second time this year that we have had snow so maybe it is something we are going to have to get used to. Anyway most of my bike riding has been indoors on the trainer.

As I am pedalling along indoors my mind wanders thinking about lots of other things (helps with the boredom) and one of the things I started to think about was how varied cycling is.
I mean cycling can be a sport at various levels and disciplines - Racing- Time trials - Track- BMX - Downhill etc etc.. It is also a means of transport in it's own right. You can commute to work on a bike and keep fit at the same time. Not only are you keeping fit but you are also saving money on the cost of fuel or public transport not to mention helping to free up space on the roads.

Cycling can also be a hobby and a leisure activity in whatever way you want to do it- when you start to think about it the bike is an absolutely brilliant invention- almost all things to all people.

One area of cycling that seems to be making a bit of a resurgence in these cash strapped times is cycle camping or cyclepacking as we (backpackers club members) would call it.

It was cycle camping that got me as a kid into both serious sport cycling and into backpacking in the hills and mountains of Britain. It was probably my first real sense of freedom and adventure. Freedom to travel under my own steam wherever I wanted to go and the adventure of camping out each night. To this day it is one of the areas of cycling that I love the most and the planning of a cycle camping trip is almost as much fun as the trip itself.

All you need is a bike with a good set of 'granny' gears with which to winch yourself up the hills. With your fully laden bike loaded with all the equipment you need such as tents - sleeping bag - cooking kit etc you will be glad that you have a bike with a set of gears that look like dinner plates- but those dinner plate rear sprockets make the whole experience a doddle - well almost.

Most of the lessons that you learn in backpacking can be applied to cyclepacking including the ultralight form of lightweight camping. Most of my ultralight equipment can be used when I go cyclepacking and that combined with a good set of gears on my touring bike really does make the whole activity that much easier. I have no problem at all in cycling up a 20% hill on my touring bike fully laden with all the kit.

If you have never tried it then you really should give cyclepacking a trial. It can be a super way to have a low cost holiday and there are so many reasons why it is worth the effort.
You can travel further than you can if you walk- meaning that you can get to a lot more far flung places from home in a shorter time. It's green- which does seem to be important for a lot of people right now. It helps to keep you fit. It is so much fun just cycling along with all the smells and sounds of the countryside- so much better than being cooped up in a metal box. It is a great combination of cycling and camping and the two activities seem to blend together so well.

Yes I firmly believe that cycle camping is going to make a big comeback so give it a go and be part of the boom next year.

Earlier this year I was part of a small group that cycle camped through the Normandy area of  France - we all had a brilliant time and it is our intention to have a return trip to France this coming year. We plan on a slightly different area and there are so many reasons that I could give you why France is such a good destination for a cycle-camping trip but I will give you just one right now and it is shown in the photo at the top.

You really do get some fantastic cakes and pastries there.
 Good enough reason for you...?

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Back in June when I purchased the 'Tifosi' winter training bike I said that I would need some Retro styled cycling kit to go with the retro styled paint job. It was at that time that I found Shutt Velo Rapide.

ShuttVR is a British company founded  in 2009 by two avid cyclists Alex Raistrick and Simon Warren and based in Yorkshire. The company produces cycling kit manufactured from supersoft 'merino perform' fabric. The styles get away from the modern logo festooned gaudy look and instead are based on a far more traditional style.

Before I obtained my first Shutt jersey I must admit I was a bit cautious about the purchase. Unlike a lot of people I have never really got on with Merino wool (as far as my walking and backpacking kit is concerned). Perhaps I should have persevered more because I really love the Shutt products.
Since that first jersey I bought I have purchased a further six items. The kit is well designed and of high quality and for a sportwool product they don't cost a fortune. The other thing that is important is that they are designed to fit the normal everyday shaped rider- in other words you don't have to be built like a racing ferret for this gear to fit you. Most of the jerseys do have a racing fit but it is comfortable without being too tight.

Two British Pro cycling teams  now race in Shutt clothing  and the company have also created ShuttVR CC a BC/CTT registered team .Customers have the option of becoming a team member something which I did after acquiring my first jersey.

Now I will only mention products on my blog that I have purchased and tried myself and I make no financial gain by bringing Shutt to your attention- but after having used the clothing for some time now I believe the products to be first class and have no hesitation in recommending them.

When you are next in the market for some quality cycling kit go and have a look at what Shutt has to offer- you will find them at :- www.shuttvr.com .
I have a link on my link list direct to ShuttVR.