Monthly Archives: April 2013

Ready to roll

Final day of work done and dusted for 3 months, I walked out of the office with a big grin on my face after lots of well wishes from colleagues. Think I just about got everything done and handed-over (thanks Dan). Big thank you to everyone at work who have been so supportive in the run up to this, with offers of help, fund-raising and sponsorship, and ‘carb loading’.

My parents drove up today, and we were joined by Lu’s parents for a glass of fizzy stuff prior to me knuckling down to the packing. Also being joined by my brother, his wife and my nephew tomorrow. It’ll be great to see everyone for the off.

I laid everything that I want to take out on my kitchen floor, minus a few items I’ve since remembered post consulting my lists, to try and finalise what’s going in which panniers. There was quite a lot of stuff…Tour packingSomehow it all managed to fit, with a bit of room to spare for the items I’ve since remembered…

IMG_0308So I had beer to celebrate, well just half, courtesy of Chris B’s brewing talents. Dad had the other half and we both agreed it was especially fine Chris – worthy of an appearance in the Fat Cat I reckon.

IMG_0310So everything done and packed, with just a few things to do such as load routes onto my Garmin, find my passport (just in case I need to change lands masses due to adverse weather conditions), and probably repack everything a few times before I set off in the morning.

I’m aiming for a 10.30 start, whereupon I’ll wend my way through Norwich, past work, then on to Lowestoft, before turning left and heading North up the coast of Norfolk. Weather forecast looks good with plenty of sunshine, although a little on the cold side, and an Easterly breeze which should swing around to come from the South West a bit later in the week.

First stop is Happisburgh, which although gradually falling into the sea still has a good camp-site and pub. Looking forward to my first night under canvas! From Happisburgh I’ll continue around past Cromer and Sheringham to Sandringham, then on to just North of Skegness, before crossing the Humber into Yorshire and beyond.

Here’s to a great adventure, raising lots of money for the Big C, and honouring Lu’s memory; she always said I should do something like this so here we go 🙂

Further updates from the road, assuming technology does not fail me.

Puncture repair cake


Had a going away party on Saturday hosted by Chris and Jen (thanks guys). The cake, courtesy of Liz, is all edible and totally amazing. Still got a bit left but it’s going fast. Was great to see a lot of my wonderful friends before leaving – if you couldn’t make it will see you when I get back!

In other news, had to cook a lot of sausages due to defrosting the freezer!


Last day at work before I leave tomorrow and lots to do, both in terms of work and final prep. Will try and fit a blog in later , by which time I should be ready to go, touch wood.


Only a quick update this evening as I’m immersed in preparations for setting off in a week’s time. Had a great boost to fundraising today when friends at work held a raffle, as well as cooked up culinary delights to raise money for my tour, all proceeds going to the Big C.

A fantastic effort with £550 raised in total, which included £250 from our ‘Fat Club’. This takes my total to over £2000 when you include gift aid. People’s generosity was really motivating, so big thank you to everyone that cooked, donated something for the raffle, or bought something.

Couple of pictures below.


ImageThe day definitely helped on the carb loading front, perhaps a little too much!

10 days and counting

With 10 days to go until I start my tour this weekend mostly consisted of training, planning, shopping, mild panic, and eating. I still managed to fit in a few beers though – got to maintain a balanced diet after all.

After a hectic week at work it was really nice to go out Friday evening. A group of us went to the appropriately named Bicycle Shop, a restaurant on St Benedict’s Street (Norwich) that also has a funky bar downstairs; the Bicycle Bar. Several ales were duly consumed whilst commiserating over the English house buying process – you can go all the way through the process, paying for searches, solicitors etc, but before you exchange it means nothing and the seller can just pull out, potentially losing you a lot of money. Happened to a couple of friends and doesn’t seem at all right, I believe the Scottish system is probably a lot fairer. Anyway I’d recommend the Bicycle Shop, and St Benedict’s Street in general for going out; The X Bells serves excellent cocktails!

Also met up with Tom who’s planning on taking his show to the Edinburgh festival this year, and has set up a Kickstarter project to raise funding – well worth a look at their Faileontology trailer. I know the guys would welcome any support so feel free to share the link!


As a consequence of Friday evening’s activity Saturday was a little slower starting than anticipated, however I duly loaded up my bike, which seems to be getting heavier with each outing, and headed out into the glorious sunshine. Still a little cold but fine once you get going, and there were plenty of warming hills to struggle up; please refer to a previous post concerning Norfolk really not being that flat, not when you have a fully loaded touring bike anyway.

A 72 mile training ride through the countryside down into Suffolk ensued, for once without a headwind to speak of, passing through Caistor St Edmunds and the old Roman town there, then on to Saxlingham, Halesworth, and through several more picturesque and decidedly sleepy English villages before reaching Beccles.

I’m not sure what it is about moderately sized Suffolk towns but they seem to make my GPS device (Garmin Edge) go a little senile. As with Bungay it proceeded to send me around in a few circles, attempt to cross a fairly large river where there wasn’t a handy bridge, and send me down a one way street the wrong way. I eventually did make it out of Beccles, but was quite thankful to cross over back into Norfolk where electronic devices seem less prone to randomness.

Nelson's County

Saturday evening consisted of eating pasta, a lot of pasta, and watching the Bourne Legacy which was quite entertaining, however I think they might be stretching out the Bourne thing a little too much now; rarely do sequels impress me more than the first film, with a few notable exceptions – Expendables 2 rocked 😉

Also managed to buy some of the last things I need, aside from food, including the all important Chamois cream and a new outfit – bib and cycling jersey from Northwave which I’m sure will look very ‘fetching’, if you’re into lycra that is. Must update my kit-list page.

Sunday was again good weather so I headed North to Blickling Hall, on a 45 miles route which I’ve done several times now. It takes me up to Reepham, on to Blickling Hall, then back to Norwich via Coltishall and Wroxham, all for the most part on pleasant country roads; aside from the potholes, ruts, debris from tractors, horses, cows etc, and the ‘interesting’ smells associated with pig farms. Can’t complain though, bacon has to come from somewhere and is a vital part of my balanced diet.

Few pictures below, quite a few of churches as Norfolk has a lot of them. I believe all the landowners used to build churches for their tenants. It must have been some kind of competitive status symbol, and obviously to demonstrate ones devotion. They dot the landscape coming in various shapes, sizes, and degrees of embellishment – hence competitiveness. They’re almost as common as pubs, although sadly the latter are prone to closure these days, which is sad considering the fine quality of real ale being produced in the county.

Just after Blickling I had to mend a puncture, which thankfully I haven’t had to do in a while, and hopefully won’t have to do again for a bit. I’m down to one spare inner tube now so best get some more before setting off, although I will try and repair inner tubes where practical. Ended up with very grotty hands for the rest of the ride which reminded me I need to clean my bike before setting off on 01 May.


Met quite a few really nice people whilst out cycling this weekend, mostly other cyclists, but also people who were in general interested in what I was up to and how far I’d cycled. Really encouraging to have a good chat when you stop for a break.

Last full week of work next week and lots to do, both on the work front and final planning activities before setting off the week after. Best make a list, I have lots of lists, thankfully most of them have lots of ticks on them, hence only mild panic at present.

On a parting note I’m now almost completely addicted to Haribo Tangfastics. Sadly I can’t claim they’re really part of my ‘balanced’ diet, but they really do help when your legs are close to giving up as I’m sure some of those who ran the Virgin London Marathon today would agree – congrats to everyone who took part and great to see it go ahead successfully after the sad events in Boston last weekend.

P.S. Thanks to Norman and Sheila for the Roast Chicken dinner this evening, and the flapjack, and the rejuvenating pint!


On your doorstep

Nice cycle home this evening around the outskirts of Norwich. Must have done this route dozens of times, and have always thought I ought to cycle up the short track to a church that sits atop a small hill not far from work, Keswick Church I think. It’s so easy to ignore what’s on your own doorstep sometimes as you don’t just don’t have time to pause; there’s always something else that’s got to get done.

Caught it just as the sun was going down – few pics below, some slightly doctored.

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Despite only being 100 yards or so from a busy main road the church had a lovely peaceful atmosphere, with the birds singing as the sun went down. I’m not really religious, maybe agnostic, but sometimes you just find somewhere that has a good atmosphere, this was such a place. I’m sure I’ll encounter lots of other places like this on my trek around Britain, it’ll be nice to take a break and chill out for a while when I do.

In other news dentist says my teeth are good to go for another 4,500 miles, no fillings required. Also took delivery of Avon Skin So Soft moisturiser which apparently is a fantastic midge/mosquito repellent – will come in handy on the West coast of Scotland!

Finally my story was published in two local newspapers this week, the Eastern Daily Press and Evening News – link here. Great to get some publicity which has helped on the sponsorship front, now over £1,000. Thanks to everyone for their support!

All roads lead to Bungay

Quite a frantic weekend but managed to get some cycle training in, with a trip down to Bungay and back via several intriguing country roads that didn’t necessarily go where the map said they did, or rather where my Garmin thought they did. In fact I didn’t really end up going the planned route at all on the way back, but it still worked.

Route here.

Bungay was confusing. I went around a few roundabouts several times, and took a few wrong turns, plus got caught in a one way loop exacerbated by road closures due to a running event. It didn’t seem to matter which way I went, even after I was miles from Bungay on the way home my sat nav kept trying to direct me back there; think there must be something insidious residing in the town, or maybe underneath it, perhaps Lovecraftian in nature, that screws with your navigation devices. Knew I shouldn’t have ventured into Suffolk 😉

Still, Bungay was pretty:

IMG_0187    IMG_0185

There used to be a roundabout just outside the town that was home to chickens, just roaming free on their island oasis. Sadly they seem to have all disappeared now but would like to know what became of them. I hope it wasn’t a health and safety issue, and hopefully they didn’t all end up as take-away dinners.

My bike was fully loaded today, including tent on the back rack, and felt heavy especially when cycling into a strong headwind. You really have to adjust your cycling style with a heavier bike, it doesn’t stop as quickly, in fact the brakes take a lot longer to work when travelling downhill at any speed as I did a few times today (Norfolk really isn’t that flat despite rumours to the contrary). The bike also doesn’t corner quite as well and I had to give myself more time to change direction, which resulted in a few close calls with hedges and curbs.


I recorded a video during a downhill stretch that got a little ‘exciting’ due to the one-handed nature of my descent, and lack of efficient breaking. Had quite an ‘interesting’ encounter with a speed bump at the bottom of the hill. If I can work out how to compress the video a bit I’ll stick it up. It ends quite abruptly due to aforesaid speed bump.

Spring definitely sprang today with temperatures soaring to around 17 degrees C, lovely to see lots of daffodils out along the roadside, although not sure what this chap was doing loitering next to them.


Also managed to squeeze in a quick pint at the pub in Woods End, which has re-opened under new management and is pretty swanky now, will have to go there for a meal at some point.

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Made it back to Norwich after a circa 50 miles round trip. Will be doing longer on a day-to-day basis once I start the tour, but today was more about testing the bike fully loaded, and making sure my knee held up. Thankfully both worked.

Other news from the weekend; lost at poker but nothing new there (can’t seem to play anymore), back fence fixed, again, but hopefully will stay upright for another few years now. Feisty Kendo session which resulted in a few bruises after some excellent fencing (not the same as the garden fence I had to fix), curry and a few pints in the Fat Cat was a good recovery session. Also had an interview and photos taken by the local newspaper, so should be in the Norwich Evening News tomorrow, and perhaps the EDP later in the week, which will help with publicity and sponsorship.

All in all great weekend. Think I’ll go an chill with my guitar for a bit now before another hectic work week starts. Roll on 01 May!

Success at the Physio

Yesterday I visited the Physio to get the verdict on my knee. Was really good to talk to someone who could diagnose what the problem is, and give confident, helpful advice on solutions. Whole visit was really motivational after being quite concerned that this was going to throw a real spanner in the works.

Got a few things to try with regards to bike set up including altering cleat position, and putting an instep in my shoe to help correct knee position. Basically all stuff that will stop my knee pain from getting any worse and allow recovery. I’ll need to cut a hole in my lycra bib around the knee too as apparently compression in that area is a bad idea – it’ll just exacerbate the problem by misaligning my kneecap, which is still a bit dodgy after dislocating it climbing a few years back.  Really interesting that wearing lycra bottoms that cover my knee may well have caused the problem to occur, by putting pressure on my kneecap and throwing it slightly off centre, which over repeated revolutions whilst pedalling can make things go awry. One to avoid in future.

So a few costume alterations to do, regular hamstring stretching exercises, and more sessions with bags of frozen peas to help the healing process along. Big thank you to Tim Sheppard of the Global Clinic, thoroughly recommended!

In other news I’ve just about fitted everything onto my bike, including my tent thanks to taking delivery of a cargo net for my back rack, although needs balancing out a bit.

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So pretty much ready to go.

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I’ve been having a few days off cycling to let my knee recover a bit, before seeing the Physio tomorrow to see what the verdict is. Reckon it should be fine, touch wood. This hasn’t however curtailed planning and shopping activities.

I had a few practice runs in putting up my new tent – Hilleburg Akto. Really easy to erect, with one pole, and should keep me dry given it’s bound to be wet and stormy at certain times during the tour. Well I hope it’ll be stormy sometimes anyway, it’s great being in a tent with the rain pouring down, as long as you don’t get flooded. Actually who am I kidding, this is Britain we’re talking about, they’ll be a hose pipe ban announced next week and then it’ll rain solidly for three months. Think I’ll take my passport just in case I need to change route to the South of France.


There are a lot better pictures of this tent on the web, and I know I haven’t done the guy ropes properly. It’s quite spacious though, with room in the porch to put my panniers, and very light at 1.7 kg.

Will soon put up the plan for first week or two of the tour, just got to finalise a few more details. Although this really will be subject to change depending on how distracted I get en-route (pubs, crazy golf, festivals, castles etc).

Beside the seaside

Whilst traditionally it is appropriate to sing ‘oh I do like to be beside the seaside‘, when going to the seaside, it’s a little hard to build up enthusiasm when it’s only 2 or 3 degrees, with a brisk North Easterly making it feel like it -2. Still, I loaded up the bike with pretty much everything I’m going to take on my tour, bar my tent, and set out to Sea Palling on the Norfolk coast at about 8.30am.

Had to wheel my bike through a manual level crossing at one point, haven’t encountered one of these for a few years:


Nice ride out through the countryside with lots of other cyclists out on the road (greetings duly exchanged); must be the bank holiday, and despite the cold a hint of spring in the air, that motivated everyone to get out.

Record of route here.

Made it to Sea Palling in good time and enjoyed a second breakfast hobbit style at the local cafe. Great bacon roll and hot chocolate consumed with vigour.

Bacon Roll stop

The sun finally came out properly during this stop, but unfortunately didn’t do much to increase the temperature. I did however change my lenses from ‘happy’ yellow, to shades, a step in the right direction.

Few more pictures from Sea Palling…

People out for Easter Walk:                                   Slightly doctored photo but looks cool – high tide:
534103_10151574489333923_1183319535_n  Sea Palling - doctored

Ramp down to beach through dunes:

Travelling lobster close to ‘natural’ environment with Easter Egg:
3556_10151574488428923_1999026552_n  488200_10151574488303923_1339320497_n

The route back from Sea Palling took me along the coast before heading inland back towards Norwich, via several picturesque villages. Somehow my GPS decided it would be advantageous to send me along a dirt track at one point. The below definitely isn’t a road but I managed to navigate through the ruts and horse manure successfully, with no bike damage.

63567_10151574488528923_278265644_nWent through Horning and had a brief stop down by the broad.


There were several old looking Wherry type boats, or reproductions thereof out sailing today, but didn’t manage to get a photo of them.

All in all good day out cycling, covering about 56 miles. Slightly worried about knee injury – it seems to be getting better but is still a bit achy and stiff, so might see a physio next week. Raising my saddle has definitely helped though.