Monthly Archives: March 2013

Pedalling and Packing

I was pretty determined to get out this weekend despite the snow, freezing temperatures, and Easterly winds gusting up to 40 mph making it feel colder. Still, at least it was sunny for the majority of the ride, and I had a good run out to North Walsham even if I had to lean into the wind at times. It was a little precarious on some of the open stretches lacking in hedgerows. I’ve come to love a good solid hedge when it’s windy, there need to be more of them for many reasons; wind break, commuting channel/habitat for wildlife, stops soil erosion, reduces noise pollution from traffic etc.

Record of ride here.

Aside from the odd commuter wending their way back from the shops, in a buffeted fashion, I didn’t see any other cyclists out today. All the ‘Mamils’ must have decided discretion was the better part of valour and stayed in, can’t say I blame them. Did see many pigs on my way through the countryside, happily wallowing in the mud and turning my thoughts to bacon (only felt slightly guilty). Good to see the pig farming trade must still be going well in Norfolk though.

On the way back my knee flared up again which is irritating, and something I’m going to have to keep an eye on with only just over a month to go before I set off. I’m applying Ibuprofen gel, Emu oil, and might try some Glucosamine supplements to sort it. It’s not an uncommon problem for cyclists and should be fixable. I’ll work on a physio routine for it too, but if anyone has any tips for frontal knee pain let me know.

I think I’ve acquired everything I need for the tour now after picking up a new stove (Whisperlite), and charging device (PowerMonkey eXtreme); Cotswold’s have done fairly well out of me in the last few months but at least I get a discount, and they’re generally pretty knowledgeable and helpful.  I was in a quandary over the PowerMonkey however after reading several reviews, and cogitating for a bit, I think it was the right  way to go. I can recharge it from the mains or via the solar panels that come with it, which I can set up on my back rack when I’m cycling along, and it’ll definitely charge all my devices including iPad.

Powermonkey

The alternative was a dynamo which I’m still not sure wasn’t the better idea, however this won’t charge things when I’m not on the move (day off), and I won’t always be at a campsite where I can plug stuff in. The PowerMonkey also doesn’t need full sunshine which is a blessing given British weather.

Also bought a dry bag to put my tent and sleeping bag in; I’ll attach this via bungee cords to my back rack. Having laid out the majority of my kit on the kitchen floor earlier I’m not entirely sure how it’s all going to fit on my bike – see below.

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I’ll need to add more food, a few more clothes, a foraging guide book and puri-tabs (in case I run out of water, although I’ll still boil it) and perhaps a bottle of something medicinal to the above. Next weekend I’ll have a practice run with everything on the bike – might venture down to Cambridge again depending on knee status. It’ll be interesting to see if I can still move under a full load, and how much I need to rationalise my kit list.

A few other random musings to wrap up:

    • Wondering if I should give ‘Fregansim‘ a go on the tour, which will basically involve checking out supermarket skips for any recently past it’s sell by date food. It is after all stupid how much food is wasted and would save on cash. Will have to look into the legality of it. Be great if I could take a fishing rod but there isn’t really room.
    • Like the idea of sub-quests, such as stopping to complete any pirate crazy golf courses I pass, or seeking out local speciality food stuffs in different counties. Extra challenges could mean raising extra money for charity, and add another dimension/fun to the tour. I have a number of objectives I want to complete but feel free to suggest further quests and I’ll duly consider them; realise this is a but risky knowing some of my friends.
    • Next week I’ll be planning out my route and stops more. Whilst this will remain flexible and dates will likely shift about it should make it easier to meet up with people en-route, whether it be for a pint, meal, or to join me for a leg or two.

A few photos on me on my bike, courtesy of my brother from last weekend:

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There and back again

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It has to be said that when I woke up this morning, to the dulcet tones of my one and a half year old nephew (Seb) as he announced he was definitely ready to get up, my legs and particularly knees were a little sore. Undeterred I staggered to the shower and then downstairs for breakfast, where I was ably assisted by aforesaid nephew who seems to have developed a liking for throwing things on the floor. He helped, sort of, and bacon plus eggs were duly consumed in preparation for the return leg to Norwich, something I was a little concerned about given the forecast for heavy rain. Many thanks to Will, Louisa and Seb for putting me up for the night.

Here’s a record of my route back, with stats – faster average speed than yesterday (probably down to less of a headwind), and slightly longer distance:

Great Cambourne to Norwich 17/03

Setting off at 09.30, a slightly later start than yesterday, I cycled from Great Cambourne to Cambridge, a picturesque route through some expensive looking villages, passing quite a few ‘mamils’ on equally expensive looking road bikes out for a Sunday ride, going in the other direction; nods and greetings were duly exchanged as we crossed paths – cycling appears to be quite civilised in that regard.

After running the gauntlet slightly through Cambridge, but avoiding any incidents, I moved North through Swaffham Bulbeck, then up to Mildenhall, and eventually Watton avoiding the A11 today; my Garmin decided it wasn’t going to re-jig my route and throw me on a busy road.

My route took me through farmland and forest, a lot more forest than yesterday which was a peaceful and relaxing. At times it felt like a Lord of the Rings set and I was expecting Elves or Hobbits to appear. I’d have preferred Hobbits as that could have meant second breakfast, something which would have been greatly appreciated given it felt a lot colder today, but alas they were obviously hiding, thinking I was some kind of dark rider.

After munching on a few cereal bars en-route my first real stop was in Watton after around 60 miles pedalling, although some of that was at quite slow speeds given hills, the dropping temperature, and wind gusting at times. I was still pleasantly surprised not to have had to stop sooner. From Watton to Norwich was a ‘casual’ 20 miles through more countryside, before getting home.

All in all a great weekends training, on a pretty much fully loaded bike (minus tent and sleeping bag). Roll on May and kicking off on my Round the Coast tour.

A couple of photo’s:

Travelling lobster – he’ll be accompanying me and trying to steal the limelight in photo’s no doubt.

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Back at home, bike intact, even if I’m not.

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Norwich to Great Cambourne

It was cold, pretty wet, and the 20 mph head/cross wind was challenging reducing me to a crawl at times, but made it to my brother and sister-in-law’s near Cambridge in 7 hours, covering 78 miles.

Route details here:

16/03 – Norwich to Great Cambourne by jam_har at Garmin Connect – Details.

The route travelled had a disturbing lack of cafes or shops purveying pies/sausage rolls, which was a little disappointing, will have to plan better next time. The last 20 miles or so was mainly fuelled by haribos and a snickers bar.

Garmin Edge kept me going in the right direction, although it did send me off on a alternative route from the one I’d programmed in at one point, which was a little disturbing; I hadn’t had any intention of going through Elveden and had been trying to avoid the A11 – too much traffic and big lorries on a narrow road!

Legs held up okay but will be interesting to see how they feel tomorrow morning for the return leg. Time for a big feed now to re-energise.

Winter sunshine

There’s something about cycling, or just generally being outside on a cold but bright winter’s day that raises spirits, even when you have a hectic day’s work ahead of you. Took a quick photo on the way through the cemetery this morning which came out alright; was hoping to capture the sun coming through the drops of water on the trees but might be too small to see this in the below.

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This evening I’m trying to create a post for my blog using my iPad and iPhone only, bit of road test for when I’m on the road as it were. Copied in a link to my ride home, recorded on the Garmin which I’m slowly getting the hang of, although still can’t get livetrack to work quite right.

13/03 Home Run by jam_har at Garmin Connect – Details.

New top speed of over 27 miles an hour, with panniers, was slightly concerned about hitting a pothole but made it okay, despite a few wobbles due to swerving to avoid aforesaid hazards.

In other news I appear to be addicted to mini eggs, the chocolate variety that is. Think I’ll go and forage for some right now.

Livetrack

Having only recently purchased my Garmin 810 device, I thought I’d try out one it’s features today – Livetrack. This allows me to post a URL to social networking sites, or email it to friends, who can then track my live progress. It works by me connecting the Garmin to my iPhone via bluetooth for the duration of the ride. All seemed to work okay however it appears the session finishes as soon as I stop it on the Garmin, so I can’t then look at it via the link I put on Facebook.

To be honest being somewhat technically inept at times I was just impressed that I managed to connect the devices and get it working. Maybe not inept, probably just want things to work straight away, which is why I got an iPhone and not an Android.

In another display of startling technical ability I’ve found out I should be able to share the ride by embedding this link from the Garmin site, well hopefully this will work anyway.

My ride

We’ll see what happens when I press publish in a minute. If it all works according to plan it’ll be great to post up details of my routes when I start off on my coastal Odyssey.

The Garmin Edge 810 really is quite a funky device, which it should be for the price, relaying all the statistics you’d expect as well as incorporating a heart rate monitor should I so desire; might be handy given past history in that department.

What the Edge also needs to incorporate at this time of year is some kind of force shield to protect the rider from wind chill. It was thoroughly freezing this evening with my nose and ears losing all feeling, not to mention my fingers going numb even with gloves on. Roll on springtime. Still expect it’s what you’d call forging, cycling in the summer will seem a breeze in comparison, I’m sure…

Learnings

Today I learnt some stuff.

The first thing I learnt is that getting up early on a Saturday isn’t so bad when you have fun stuff to do, even if the weather is rubbish. So by 08.30 I was making my way through the rain to the guys at Pedal Revolution, to get a bike service and pick up some tips on how to fix things on the road.

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As well as the bike getting the once over, with various cables tightened, wheels straightened, gears aligned etc, I also learned how to adjust spokes and potentially replace them (although I really hope none break), change chain links, adjust brakes properly, and various other tips which will no doubt come very handy when something breaks somewhere remote. The Pedal Revolution workshop guys were really friendly and helpful, definitely recommend them and will be going back. Amazing what a packet of biscuits can do to open doors!

Also picked up a few extra tools to add to the kit list, but going to have to be careful not to get too many bits and pieces, there simply isn’t room.

I decided to get a bit of training in after that, however the weather proved to be somewhat inclement. It’s been raining/snowing now for the last 24 hours and the roads are completely waterlogged around Norfolk, so I retreated home pretty soaked after not too long. Deciding indoor activities were the way to go after the snow really started to set in, I went to Kendo and de-stressed with some fun fencing.

Hopefully the weather might allow for a longer ride tomorrow however it’s not looking too good at present. Might have to settle for the Rugby instead, ah well, not so bad 🙂