Thursday, 28 November 2013

Around the world in 142 GPX files

The RTW route is planned - 142 GPX (satnav) files are loaded onto the garmin and beckoning to me: Go East Young Man!  It feels like I have spent every spare minute since my visit to Stanfords Map Shop back in September poring over the pile of maps I came out with.  It's been a sobering and sometimes scary exercise.  I'm probably most anxious about China.

I've Google Streetviewed my way across the deserts, plains and mountains of the globe and found advice and tips from a host of fascinating cycle touring blogs and sites like - there's no shortage of info out there!

I've purchased bike bits and tools, clothes and kit, serviced the bike, got air ticket advice, done a bike box test, set up the RoadPeace charity page, sorted the business cards, made warmshowers friends around the globe, opened a youtube account...

Still to do: build a new back wheel, get visas, get jabs, get new phone, insurance, learn Chinese, pack my panniers, weigh them, unpack jettison and repack until weight halved...

Frankly it will be a relief to get going on April 5th.  Planning a noon departure from BikeFix in Lambs Conduit Street.  Anyone fancy joining me on the ride to Harwich for dinner in the Samuel Pepys?  My ferry to Holland at 23:15; last train back to London at 22:28.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

We have a logo!

One of the delights of cycle touring, especially on a funny bike, is that most places I stop there seem to be local people interested in what I'm doing and where I'm going.  And when they find out, some of them want to follow my adventures, which is fine, that's why I do the blog and the twitter.  Writing down the blog and twitter addresses several times a day however can get time-consuming and somewhat laborious, so it became obvious during the Baltic Cruise ride of August 2013 that I need a business card to hand out with these details printed on it.  And of course a business card needs a logo, so here it is:
I love it, hope you do too!
Hearty thanks to my fellow Kingston Wheeler, LEL rider and graphic artist extraordinaire Dominic Trevett for this logo, you can see more of his artwork on his site here:

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

LHL 2013

London-Helsinki-London went almost according to plan in August 2013.

The plan was 5,000km round the Baltic and Gulf of Bothnia in three weeks @ 250k/day:

View Larger Map

This is how it turned out - just under 4,000km, missing out the Gulf of Bothnia:

View Larger Map

All was going to schedule until I got to Poland and beyond where road surfaces and navigation both became more challenging.

There were some lovely bits too:

However, by the time I got to Helsinki I was over a day behind schedule and it was clear I could not continue north around the Gulf of Bothnia and complete as planned.  So I headed west across to Naantali for the ferry to Sweden where roads were almost universally superb:
Things were taken at a gentler pace across Sweden and Denmark with a day off the bike completely for fishing on a Swedish lake with a German friend and a long afternoon/evening visiting the wonderfully bike-friendly city that is Copenhagen.

More photos here

Baltic Cruise Tweets here

It was all a good test of my own abilities, the new bike and various bits of kit.  Am I confident now for the world tour next year?  I think so...!

Vital Statistics
3,918km ridden
201 hours riding
304 hours sleeping/eating/shopping/tweeting/fishing etc.
Average ride speed: 19.5km/h
Average ride speed including stops: 7.8km/h (just over walking speed!)

Friday, 9 August 2013


So LEL2013 is now completed, a little over 1,500km in 5 days from home to Edinburgh and back.
Sunday 28th July, home to Pocklington (Yorkshire), 379km
Left home at 05:00, rode to The Mall where the Prologue started at 6am.  Royal Parks had forgotten to close the road as agreed, but TfL Road Events Supremo Gary McGowan flagged down a passing police car and the road was closed to motors five minutes later.
The Queen must have overslept so there was no wave-off from the royal balcony by the time we needed to get rolling at 06:15... to the official start in Loughton, Essex.  A quick breakfast and I was on the road at 08:15.  Fine weather and a strong tailwind plus strong legs on the first day combined to produce a fast ride across the plains of Herts, Cambs & Lincs, over the Humber Bridge and into Yorkshire just before closing time for a pint with the hearty locals at the Red Lion in Market Weighton.  Controlled at 23:44 at Lyndhurst School, followed by hot dinner, quick shower and camp bed in the gym.  No trouble sleeping despite cacophonous symphony of farting and snoring from several hundred weary randonneurs.

Monday 29th July, Pocklington to Moffat (Dumfries & Galloway), 371km
We made it into Scotland by around tea-time, and were with beer in Moffat before dark.  A delightfully scenic route across the Pennines via Alston where we stopped in the splendid Moody-Baker tea rooms and I ate all the cakes.
Tuesday 30th July, Moffat to Brampton (Cumbria), 227km
An early start saw us in Edinburgh for breakfast, then we turned south - time to go home.  At the Traquair control I was alarmed to discover a splitting rim on my rear wheel.  Luckily there was whisky.
Suitably fortified, I was given a lift into Peebles by one of the volunteer controllers where the nice man in the bike shop said he could build me a new wheel for the next day if I was in a hurry.  I explained just how much of a hurry I was actually in, then went for lunch in the pub.  My wheel was ready to collect just as I was finishing my lasagne and pint of heavy.  I'd obviously needed a new wheel, and lunch, so no time wasted, but that did set me back three hours so I only made 227km today back to Brampton - really did not fancy going over Yad Moss atop the Pennines in the dark, leave that for the morrow.

Wednesday 31st July, Brampton to Market Rasen (Lincs), 301km
A grey day today in the Yorkshire drizzle.  Crossed back over the Humber in the company of Stuart "Bikefix" Denison and Dominic "Wheeler" Trevett.

Thursday 1st August, Market Rasen to home, 311km
The final day, the party's all over too soon Strong headwinds across the flatlands of Lincs and Cambs but got into a useful group with a couple of Yanks and made stonking progress, only interrupted by frequent visits to local hostelries in premature celebration of our achievement.  Final brevet card stamp at 22:53

Really nice medal!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Marmotte Week 2013

I rode the four events which make up the Trophee des Oisans, the best known of which is the Marmotte, which in 174km takes in four hefty climbs: Glandon, Telegraph, Galibier and Alpe d'Huez. 
 Naturally I was riding my bike too fast to stop and take photos on these rides, but we did get some days off for good behaviour in between the four sportif events and I got my camera out - the summer flowers across the alpine meadows were simply stunning!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

I am a Wessex Super Randonneur!

Earlier this year I published a list of my planned rides for the season.  I've now done a good number of them and just completed my 2013 Super Randonneur series (4 rides of 200, 300, 400 and 600kms).  It was without doubt the toughest series I have ever done, all being in Wessex which turns out to be rather hilly.

The Dorset Coast 200 and Hard Boiled 300 were done on the same weekend in reverse order; the 300 starting from Poole at 2am on 6 April from Poole where the mercury had fallen to -5C.  Our water bottles froze solid over the first stage up towards Salisbury Plain.  After that the sun came out and things warmed up to marginally above zero for most of the day.  Fellow rider Marcus wrote a good account of these rides.

The Porkers "pig of a ride" 400 was held on 5/6 May.  Lots more climbing and lots of lovely Wessex lanes.  Delightful controls.  See Chillmoister's photos here

The grande finale was the Brimstone 600, with 7,700m of climbing, over the weekend of 8/9 June.  Fine weather again, and more fine views from all of the highest roads in Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset, Wiltshire and Devon.  The toughest climb of the ride, a brutal wall up onto the Mendips, came at 390km into the ride at around 2am on Sunday... followed swiftly by the welcome stop chez Drew at his Randonneur Heaven of the Mendips where full English breakfasts awaited and riders snuggled up close on warm floors for a spot of shut-eye till around 5am.    Read Billy's marvellous ride report here (why does he prefer to sleep in a bus shelter just before getting to Drew's house?)  Strava 1  Strava 2

The biggest rides of the year are yet to come: London-Edinburgh-London in July and a Baltic Tour in August.

Wessex Super Randonneurs - we are a small select bunch!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Bach's first overseas trip

Bacchetta and I went to Holland! What a fantastic country to ride a bike in. We will be getting familiar with the route to Harwich, as my Baltic and world tours both go that way.

This was our first proper ride, and all went smoothly. City riding can often be a little stressful, and especially riding in foreign cities. Hook of Holland to Den Haag however was among the least stressful riding I have ever done. Properly segregated and well engineered cycle routes and signposts everywhere, and when interactions with motor traffic do inevitably occur, drivers (most of whom probably also ride bikes) all seem to be so relaxed and happy to stick to the 30kp/h limits, cheerfully giving way to the thousands of men, women and children going about their daily business with not an inch of lycra or cycle helmet to be seen.

Cycling in NL is not sport, it's just the most sensible, convenient and convivial way to get around for many people's typical utility journeys. Utter joy, I will be back soon. Here are a few photos:


Friday, 1 March 2013

A brief and occasional off-topic rant

My attention has just drawn to this discussion paper on the Urban Design London website

I have an issue with the first introductory paragraph:
Certain aspects of policy are very clear: we want a big increase in the proportion of journeys in London made by bicycle; we want to make cycling on London’s streets safer and more comfortable; we want cycling to appeal to a broader section of society; we want to get cycling provision right from the start for any new developments and improve facilities within existing streets; and we want to achieve these changes while making streets and public places into better places for people generally.
This all sounds wonderful, but the author forgot to add: And we want to achieve all this without restricting in any way the speed or volume or access to all areas of motor traffic, which in fact we also want to prioritise under our smoothing traffic agenda, by which of course we mean real traffic, ie motor traffic.

No administration in London will succeed in its pursuit of the laudable objectives quoted above without curbing motor traffic volumes and speeds. Until that reality is faced, the debate about segregated V: integrated cycle routes is sterile and boring and pointless. Boris is in cloud-cuckoo land as long as he thinks he can go on giving priority to all road users.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Route & GWR updates

Couple of minor updates on the blog today:

  • Route altered to go via Ukraine instead of Belarus, and Perth instead of Darwin.  Now exceeds 30,000km.  And start brought forward by two weeks to 5th April 2014.
  • GWR page updated following recent rule changes and yet another new record - Thomas Gro├čerichter has beaten Mike Hall by a couple of days, though he had a support crew. Shame GWR cannot distinguish between supported and unsupported rides.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Ride plan for 2013

hoping to ride most of these this year... and get in shape for next year!

date ride kms
19-Jan-13 Willy Warmer 200
20-Jan-13 harphilly100 100
09-Mar-13 chilterns 200
30-Mar-13 Ddutch 200
06-Apr-13 hard boiled 300
07-Apr-13 dorset coast 200
27-Apr-13 oasts & coasts 300
05-May-13 porkers 400
11-May-13 severn across 400
18-May-13 brian chapman 600
01-Jun-13 YLY 600
08-Jun-13 brimstone 600
09-Jun-13 ditch devil 200
30-Jun-13 vaujany 173
06-Jul-13 marmotte 174
27-Jul-13 LEL 1400
04-Aug-13 ride london 160
10-Aug-13 Baltic Tour 5000
05-Oct-13 anfractuous 200
06-Oct-13 falling leaves 110
02-Nov-13 upper thames 200