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6 Months Later

Finally went back into the office today and it was with some trepidation I wento down to the garage to look at my bike I use to get into town.

First positive was that it was still there!

The cobwebs over enerything were quite impressive and I had to chase a few spiders away.

However after pumping up the tyres (they hadn’t even gone quite flat!), everything worked perfectly. Well, ingorring the strange clunk and broken mudguard that were there in March.

Puglia Back Roads Cycling

After two weeks on holiday, my cycling legs were starting to get edgy.

Fortunately the owner of the villa we were staying at had a mountain bike he was happy for me to ride.

I took a fairly random route through back roads:

This route turned out to be excellent, with barely any cars, nice scenarry, smooth asphalt and even some strada bianchi thrown in.

AJoG – Day 2 – Hereford to Preston – 238km

I tried to make an early start knowing this wold be a long day. The hotel had no breakfast facilities, so I had tea and biscuits in my room and assumed I’d get something out on the road.

The ride started out with a nice cycle path through Hereford, including a picturesque river crossing.

Hereford cycle path

Hereford cycle path

River Wye

River Wye

River Wye

The A4110 heading North was scenic, but hilly and my legs were struggling after the previous days 200k, especially with a light headwind. A country lane detour off the A road gave a good excuse for a stop and photo opportunity.

Eventually I joined the A49 heading towards Church Stretton (where I knew there was a Subway). I had previously planned to stop at a small tea room beyond Church Stretton, but a quick investigation the previous night told me that the tea room was closed on Sundays (perhaps a poor business model!). The A49 was busy, but smooth and I made good time, only to discover that the subway in Church Stretton had not yet opened! Fortunately, there was an attached Costa, so I could at least have a toastie.


Then, back onto the A49 to Shrewsbury. Again, busy, but fast. On the way into Shrewsbury, I ducked into a Halfords to re-stock on inner tubes. Then, onto back roads and a cycle path which included a very picturesque river crossing where there were doing a Dragon Boat race.

The roads out of Shrewsbury slowly got quieter and quieter until I was cycling through deserted countryside in the sunshine.

Good rocks

Good rocks




Distant mountains

Distant mountains

The only downside was that the country lanes were of vary variable quality, often covered in dired mud and stones. I was feeling tired and the miles were ticking by very slowly. I knew there was a pub up ahead somewhere, but I couldn’t see it on my map. It was at this point, having got some good speed up well surfaced road into Tallarn Green, that I saw the route detour off down a gravel track. A quick check on the cycle computer told me that the track re-joined the “main” road about a km ahead, so I stayed on the real road. Before I got to where the track re-joined, I came round a corner and spotted a nice looking pub with a beer garden ( as I cycled past. After a seconds dithering, I decided that this would be as good a place as any to stop, there was even another bike resting against the fence.

Having ordered and enjoying sitting in the shade with the river running past, I noticed more and more cyclists turning up, until the beer garden was full of bikes. A Lynskey pretty much the same as mine had even been parked next to it!

Pub garden

Pub garden



Lynskey brother

Lynskey brother

I asked some of them where they’d come from, assuming it was a club ride out from a local city. However, it turned out they were doing Land End to John o Groats! They were doing it over 10 days (my LEJoG would have been 8) and had a van driving their luggage between locations, so they were impressed by my solo effort.

I was enjoying my sit down, but I was only just over half way and the afternoon was getting on, so reluctantly, I departed and set out into the afternoon heat.

Red brickwork

The roads were still quiet, with good views onto Welsh hills. While stopped to take a picture of some of these, a group of LEJoG cyclists passed me. I assumed I would not see them again, because of my grinding pace and the fact they were doing a shorter distance with no luggage, but after 20 or so km, while skirting Chester I saw them up ahead and managed to catch them up before they avoided a blast down the A54.

The road through Helsby and Frodsham was busy and rough, the highlight being I saw the LEJoG group being services with tea. The offered me a cup, but I was feeling good at this point and reckoned I’d keep putting in the miles. However, immediately after that I stopped to take a picture of “industry” across the Mersey.

The route into Runcorn and the Mersey crossing was a strange mix of winding cycle paths alongside dual carriageways, residential roads and roadworks. All slow, but not difficult.

Fortunately, as I had researched, the Silver Jubilee bridge was open to cyclists and pedestrians. There was a “cyclists dismount” sign, which I paid attention to long enough to take a few pictures, then ignored because everyone else was.

The ride from Runcorn to St Hellens was un-memorable and very urban. I stopped for a phone call, when suddenly a masked scrambler bike rider emerged from a side road and rode across the pavement towards me. I feared for some sort of Londonesque moped mugging, but they veered off into the traffic a long way off. Maybe he could smell me…

I passed a Subway in all this and thought about having a snack, but it was “only” 50km or so to Preston.

I had been looking forward to the cycle path along side the A570 and indeed it was a nice path (though into the wind). However, I was distracted by my GPS / satnav shutting down and refusing to re-start! How was I going to navigate the next 6 days? I tried taking out the SD card, which had previously caused problems, but to no avail. In the end, I save / re-set the activity, which seemed to do the trick. I had been planning to record the entire ride as a single activity, with “laps” for each day. This seemed to give it a wobbly, as can be seen from the fact the activity actually seemed to end at my lunch stop:, not when the GPS shut down.

The ride from A570 to Preston started scenic, but got more and more urban. I had another mechanical problem on this stretch when my cleat came loose. I feared it was the pedal at first, but fortunately a quick tighten with an allen key sorted the problem. Strangely, while I was stopped on the verge, someone honked at me. Can’t quite see what the objection was, but people are weird.

After what seemed like an age, I reached the start of the cycle path into Preston that I’d been looking forward to. Unfortunately this optimism was misplaced as the path was really rough because of tree roots and actually had a fair number of hills! The ride through Preston to the hotel seemed to mainly involve dodging broken glass and navigating roadworks. It was with great relief that I rolled into the Ibis hotel at 7:30 hungry and tired.

The missed subway meant that I was happy to have a “Quadzilla” burger, followed by cheesecake and didn’t feel too full!!!

Day 3:

Aldershot to John o Groats – Into

With my 40th birthday coming up, I was looking to do some sort of cycling adventure. I’ve done a 600k Audax and I knew I didn’t want to do a longer continuous ride. A multi-day adventure would be something new, that I’d never really tried before. I’ve always thought about doing Lands End to John o Groats, but after much planning, I decided that getting down to Lands End was too much of a faff (and used up too much holiday), so I decided to start from home. I also like the idea of an adventure starting at my front door.

I was planning to use an extra day in the north of Scotland to take in and extra ride in very different surroundings, but we’ll come to that.

Birthday Ride

Took the day off work at the last minute to enjoy the sun and heat:

The first section up to Hindhead and back down to Headley Down was quick. I’m impressed how bad the surface up Beacon Hill has become, I wouldn’t like to descend it. However the road down the other side was nice and smooth.

I then had abit of routing failure as the sat nav wanted to take me off through a shut gate. After some faffing trying to find a path, I gave up and stuck to bigger roads until they joined up again.

Headley Down to the A325 was slow going, mainly because it was all sunken single track roads with poor surface and no visibility. It didn’t help that several times cars came round corners rather too quickly.

New surface on the Tweasledown road was a good way to finish.

Welsh Cycling – Evening Ride

With such beautiful weather all week, I decided to get in a late evening ride to see the sunset:

Definitely worth it!

The secret to improving my averages is to use more Welsh A roads. Even going uphill the pace is really good. This is in contrast to Welsh lanes / tiny mountain tracks.

Welsh Cycling – Mini Mountain Adventure

The largest boy has been getting more into his road cycling, so I though it would be a good opportunity to show him the “devil hills of Wales”:

The hills get near 20% gradient, so there was some walking involved, but a good effort.

The pictures really don’t do the gradients justice.

2016 Roundup

Starting with mileage against the last few years against 2016:

2014 2015 2016
Miles Count Miles Count Miles Count
Sirrus 153.81 9 152.69 4
Linskey 3357.64 160 3243.03 158 3793.61 161
Khatmandu 46.66 3 40.08 4
Khatmandu – ice 7.83 1 101.61 6 17.12 1
Raptobike 152.83 7 2.86 1 19.24 1
Other 18.4 2
TOTAL 3718.77 180 3540.27  173 3848.37 165

Working at home and taking the car in icy weather has hit the number of rides yet again last year, but the mileage has been boosted by my SR rides. Also, because of the SR, any riding I did was focused on being ready on the Lynskey (or large chunks used for actually doing the rides), so usage of the Raptobike suffered. Something I want to rectify in 2017.

Speaking of SR:


I’m really happy to have finally achieved not only a 600k, but also stringing together a 400, 300 & 200 in a single season. The 600 & 200 were marred by terrible weather, so it was good to get through them at all and I was really happy with my times for the 300 and 400.

Commuting speed was still decent:


Still not sure what the graph means apart from the fact that I go faster in the summer and that a combined average of more that 20mph is really hard.

The SR Series completion means that I can update my life in bikes diagram. This looks like my cycling stable has started to stabilize:

Bike life 2016.png


Cycling bliss


Cycling Belgium

I attended a friends stag party in the Belgium city of Leuven (about 10 miles from Brussels). Apart from the drinking, I managed to get in some cycling experience.

First, it was interesting to see what a nice town it was, in part because of the amount of cycling and the converse lack of cars. All across the weekend, I only ever saw a few cars at a time, but plenty of people cycling, often with their children. Bear in mind it was at least -4 degrees with ice and snow around.

Belgian cycle paths Leuven Giant cycle parking

Some nice pics of Belgian cycle paths, the bike infested town and nice big cycle parking provision in the centre of town.

As well as observing the cycle culture, I took a punt at looking for Challenge dealers and found one next door to the hostel. The excellent A bikes: As well as stocking Challenge recumbents, they also did a fine range of Rholoff bikes and child “solutions”. Despite clearly not having any intention of buying a bike then and there (and unlikely to return to Belgium just for the purpose), the owner let me have a go on a Fujin SL1.

My friends who had come to watch me fall over on the ice were surprised when I disappeared off round the block. Conclusion, very nice handling for something so laid back and it just felt like it wanted to move, would have been awesome to do a longer ride (not in the snow). Proximity to vehicles wan’t worrying, but I could have done with a mirror.