Weekending 23 Sept 2012

Time flies at the moment with a lot of it directed to The Toy Mk2. The logistics of finding storage for it then arranging insurance which is based on the secure storage location meant things were cut quite fine on the run up to collection of The Toy Mk2.

Couldn’t fault Kingsmill Leisure on the handover who showed us where everything was and how it operated. Only thing I can’t seem to find is a jack for the fitting of the spare wheel. Printed out the Fiat Ducato manual as it doesn’t come with the van and at 260 odd pages I can see why. Talking of the handover, there is a lot to take in and a lot of it goes straight out of the window come your first trial run. The van did come with  a RollerTeam document bag full of all the manuals for the kit.

Things NOT to do with a new motorhome with an automatic gearbox are jumping on the brake thinking it is the clutch, this was before I’d even left the carpark. The trip home proved to be eventful with a Fiat 500 merging with motorway traffic at 50mph. This leaving me with nowhere to go but the middle lane.
It’s built on a van chassis and handles like a heavily laden one. I’d be lost without the rear view camera and it did prove to be a deal breaker on some of the other motorhomes I’ve been looking at.
I’ve had 2 shake down trips now to sort things out. One of the first problems was the wheel base and roundabouts, don’t cut it to short or the rear wheels will ride up on the curb.

Riding has taken a back seat at the moment but I did make it to the Tour of Britain Knowsley safari Park finish.


The point of the photo is the kid on the purple fleece guys shoulders with the Wiggo sideburns on. Good day but Cav got beat.

Made it into the Eureka cafe video. Link to come. Need to loose weight by the looks of things.

It’s been an eventful week or so, in terms of what I’m planning for the future it’s small change.

Weekending 9 Sept 2012

Monday:  First day back at work. Called in on Sunday to book a half day Holiday to take Paul to Manchester  airport at some ungodly hour.
Back early enough to hang that awkward piece of wallpaper over a wall light that meant isolating the light circuit.
Started ringing around caravan storage sites without much luck, ring such and such after 5pm or the phone rang out.  Storage sites at Bromborough and Arrow Park were full. Speke Boulevard right next to work which would have been ideal on many counts said ring Wednesday.

A call in on the way to work soon showed why. Why rent out space to a 7 metre motorhome for £299 when you can put 2 cars at £50 a week on the same space and still pick up and drop them off at the airport 2 minutes away.

Had built my hopes up on this one. Cycle into work on the last day, pick the van up and throw my bike in the back and we would be away. Hopes dashed on this one. Val phoned the “Ring after 5” Thingwall guy, left a message but he didn’t get back.
Alcohol Units Zero
Tuesday: Full day at work but a lot more of the same. Numbers ringing out, a webpage and email address that looks 15 years old. Started looking at CASSOA sites, even considering access time restrictions. Starting to get a bit concerned, I’m picking it up on Saturday and haven’t got secure parking yet.
Alcohol Units Zero
Wednesday:  Work, liked the look of  Holmstom Hall site by Oulton Park but maybe a bit far. It’s been a two pronged attack for the last 2 days now and I finally get a reply. Appointment set for 3 on Thursday.
Now to sort out the Insurance. The card I got from a stand on Saturday rang out and I got transferred to a callcentre.
From here things got a bit convoluted as I got passed from pillar to post.
One came good as I hesitated another offer came up, I’d have gone with the first one. Unlimited mileage, full European cover, breakdown cover with recovery etc.
Things are looking up.
Alcohol units Zero
Great Vuelta ride from Bertie
Thursday: Half day at work and I had to pull my finger out to get it all done before I finished.
All those calls we put out a couple of days ago deemed to call back after things were sorted.
Picked my spot at the storage, pretty it is not but it’s secure.
Headed to Graham Weigh in Deeside to have a look at some bikes. Never seen so much team kit, they have more jerseys than Chicago Dave. Talked to Walshy in the workshop, he’s not been on his bike for a while too.
Called in at M&S at Cheshire Oaks, really nice shop but the view isn’t the best.

Just wait until the stack flares.
Home, blog.
Alcohol Units Zero.
No comic in the Coop, will have to look further afield.
Friday: Looks like a ride out to the Eureka , No Eureka ride on Sunday as we’ll be out in the van for the first time. Need to get some miles in.
Headed out to the Eureka after a haircut. Rule Number one don’t get your haircut while Jeremy Kyle is on. The staff tend to get distracted by the guy who has cheated on his girl six times.
That done it was time to head out via Port Sunlight it always looks good in the sun.  Called in at the camping shop in Bromborouh and then on to Cheshire Oaks Cycles where I picked up a Bontrager Bottle cage in Placid Blue.
It’s close but not a 100% match to the Madone.
I’ve also had another lesson in the law of diminishing cycling returns.
Bontrager bottle cage 33 gramms @ £9.99 Zefal Carbon cage 28 gramms @£30 and it doesn’t hold a bottle as the bottom tang is cracked/springy.

Eureka for a BLT.  260 riders doing the Anniversary ride on Sunday.
Also on Sunday is the Etape Cymru, be a shame not to take in those closed roads if your in the area.

Had to go out for a new bracket for the Garmin nuvi as I lost  the original. Just goes to show how fast things move. It’s virtually an obsolete technology. Smartphones have it built in and Google maps is a powerful rival to Tom Tom, Garmin all for free. As Google own all their mapping data there is no need to license it from the likes of Navtec.

Dropped a kilo and still alcohol free. Pick up the new toy in the morning so it’s an early start on what has been a hectic week.

Saturday: Dropped another kilo so it’s under 100 at 99.9Kg .  Totally cutting out alcohol has been the main reason. Diet has been similar to the BHF above, with cereal and fruit first thing in the morning.  Cycling has been limited to the Friday ride. I’m expecting the exercise gains to kick in in due course.
Side effects have been very light sleep.

Off out now to pick the new toy up.

Weekending 2 September 2012

Monday:  Post Wild Wales proved to be a total washout with typical Bank Holiday weather just like the good old days. I had planned a trip to the Mathew Street Festival but it was called of at the last minute due to high winds.

Rather than stay in a trip up to Preston to look at motorhomes  took shape. It was pretty treacherous to start with but as the day wore on things started to brighten up. Saw a few motorhomes that caught the eye  with one of the criteria being a large garage at the rear to take a bike. The other being a seatbelt for every passenger.

Shouldn’t be too hard a request you may say but the motorhome industry has been turning a blind eye to this problem for years. The two grandchildren would take up 2 three point seatbelts by law and after that anybody else is free to do pretty much what they like. I had looked at a Tribute 725 that ticked a few boxes but no 5th or 6th seatbelts. It proved to be a deal breaker given what it was going to cost. A trip back down to Cheadle  proved to be a waste of time as the dealer was closed.

Tuesday: Work but only for 2 days.
Wednesday: Work last day.
Thursday:  Trip to The Light to see Bourne Legacy. Nice cinema, reasonable prices during the day, haven’t been at night. Drinks license too, it’s nearly as dear to drink coke as it is beer.
Friday: Rode out to the Eureka for a BLT and a tea when Stuart turned up from his Anglesey camping trip with his Hewitt tourer on the back of his car.
He had a bit of a bad time recently so we resolved to ride out to the Knowsley Tour of Britain finish probably taking the ferry across the Mersey.
Saturday:  Took a trip to the UK motorhome and caravan Autumn Fair at Newark showground, Notts. Didn’t quite know what to expect but spent a couple of hours climbing in and out of motorhomes.  Had the worlds worst burger, £6 for a burger and 2 teas.
By this time we had settled on our new toy:


Just as well we made an on the spot decision as families were comeing to have a look at the motorhome as I was trying to sign up for it. Learn’t later that 2 had come back only to find it sold.

Given that the drive down to the show took us up to Leeds I tried to take a more direct route home that ended up taking 2 hours longer. Going over the Cat and Fiddle the average speed cameras didn’t seem to be bothering the bikers screaming past.
Arrived home late for a new start.
Sunday: Late start with a trip out to the Eureka for a BLT. Had been wet in the morning but dried out for what proved to be a fine day.

This marks a new chapter in my life, touring Europe, regaining the form that I have lost and just plain getting my act together.

Wild Wales Challenge 2012

I have to hand it to the Merseyside CTC they continue to selflessly organise an excellent event that they don’t get to ride.
In the middle of Wild Wales no less.
Probably the toughest ride since the Etape in 2009 I haven’t done myself any favours by putting on 20kg and it shows.

The electronic tag sign in for the second year had about 600 of us on the road in a little over 15 minutes. This had the unforeseen consequence of the biggest queue at a control point I have ever seen with about an hour wait.

It defined the British and queues, orderly with no one pushing in except Zel of The Sunlight. Who I would class as marginal ;>)

2.5 miles in after tagging on to a club doing 9.5mph across the lake shore we were confronted by the climb of the Hirnant.

I’ve been shying away from hills since the Etape  and I’m about to get my come-upance.  That along with the lowest gearing I could muster, it wasn’t enough.

One theme that does shine through is that the more time on the bike the morethe

weight falls off. Expect a big increase in ride miles.

The Hirnant Pass probably defines the dictionary definition of a glacial valley.
Next up a fast descent to Lake Vyrnwy where I should have stopped to take a picture of the dam as it looked spectacular with water spilling over the weir.

One of the features of the ride was it was almost entirely up and down, the only flat section being the ride along the lake.

Some of the views today were stunning.

Possibly the longest queue at a feedstation EVER

Stopped on this climb to recover and take a picture it was earily quiet and far in

the valley below you could see the sheep running around the purple heather.

Another missed photo opportunity were the 3 Model T Fords along the route.
Someone had a support vehicle following them around the ride, all well and good but where’s the challenge? The annoying part was having the same car come past you on narrow climbs 4 or 5 times with me being a soft sod and stopping to let it pass.

There was a stop at Machynlleth for food and drink with riders emptying the shelves of the Co-op of water. The shop manager coming out with a plastic bag to put the empty or not so empty bottles in.

Out of Machynlleth I ended up riding with a chap from Chester Tri  who sticking in big efforts on 39X27.  What doesn’t come through on a post like this is the number of people you interact with. You tend to end up riding with a section of riders of a similar ability. If you are suffering they are suffering.

Dinas Mawddwy stop had no queues and the card reader had packed up so it was a manual checkin with the main event a few miles down the road.

This climb is relentless the easy bits can be 18% with the Sunlight telling me it’s 29% at the top which is where the armco starts.

Nothing worse than looking in the sock draw and finding 1 Assos sock, talking of which had a chap fall off in front of me on the Bylch who was wearing one fluro pink one and fluro yellow/green one and they were long to boot more like legwarmers.

Highest road pass in Wales

Ancient capital capital of Wales no less, you learn something every day. Thinking back there was a chap on a recumbent trike , mountain bikes were more suitable at times or at least the gearing.

Wolverhampton wanders no Wheelers won the team prize with 39 riders turning up.

Great video from Alan of the ride, great site too.


Weekending 12 Aug 2012

Been a while since i last posted and an awful lot has happened.

Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour the France was one of them.

This post is going to be in reverse order with the latest first and working back as far as I can.

Sunday: A first for me a commute to work. Been thinking about it for a while spurned on by the fact that the guys at work who have purchased bikes on the Cycle to work scheme are getting in more miles than moi.

It’s a 7-7 12 hour shift so a 15 mile ride before and after it, making it a long day.
A 5:35 AM start after perusing the Mersey Tunnel bylaws the previous evening had me wondering how long before I’ll be doing it in the dark. The mornings are now drawing in fast.

Made good time down to Birkenhead where the clubs and pubs must have finally chucked out their last clients. Half of which were on the floor as they presumably had trouble standing.  Heading into the tunnel at time of morning gives you a chance to look at the MerseyTravel SuperLambBanana decked out in TeamGB kit with a pair of sunglasses on it.

It’s near a 30mph ride Down into the tunnel so you should be at the same speed as any traffic, the hackney cab passing me at about 60 stands out like a sore thumb. After the midpoint things get a lot slower, this is when the Garmin 800  decides it has lost satelite  contact. Tunnel miles don’t show up on your ride.

Once out of the tunnel things change in about a mile. Up til now I’ve been a leisure cyclist, not too many worries, always stop for lights, pick the nice routes generally enjoy the ride. A trip down The Strand and past Liverpool One changed all that.

I’ve been doing this run for 13 years and it’s bad enough in a car when the lights go against you on a bike it’s 100 times worse. There’s the rub I know the light sequence by heart all compounded by the fact that most lights won’t pick up a bicycle. The turnoff for Otterspool prom at the Quarter was the worst. I can see why the commuters ride on the pavement, you get to jump the lights.

In no time at all I’m at the Jerrico Lane lights. Fairly straight run in from here with the only decision being to take the Garston Bypass.  If it wasn’t for the fact there was next to no traffic I would have taken the hit and ridden through potholed Garston.  On a weekday things might be a lot different.  In the dark Garston Bypass could be deadly.

Last phase of the ride is Speke Boulevard  where I take to the cyclepath (pavement) at Peoples Ford to see what it’s like. It’s not bad but not great, another one of those places where the road is smoother but would you want to risk it in rush hour. I ride 23mm wide tyres might be entirely different on 38mm tyres.  Arrived at work at 6:30 so journey time was 55 minutes and I was buzzing. Showered, changed and I was good to go.

The ride home took a slightly different route avoiding the Festival Gardens as I’d witnessed some of the worst driving in a while on the Saturday drive home. A Jeep not content with undertaking manoeuvres was overtaking on rises and going into roundabouts, those overtaken were after him and it looked as if it could end in a nasty incident.

The lads at work were all over the Sabbath Silk Road, picking it up to see how much it weighed, even had to get the Sidi Ergo 3,s out the locker to show them how the cleats worked.  HOW MUCH ???????

Opted to take the cyclepath down Speke Boulevard on the way home narrowly missing a runner by the bank and getting call a “Queer” by the PeoplesFord junction as I was using the pavement. Rode through Garston rather take the bypass and took a left at the cricket club to take to the front at Otterspool Prom.

Although I’ve been slagging it off for a while I  took 8th on the Otterspool prom Strava segment by 8 seconds while being baulked by a dog and it’s owner. Wasn’t looking to set good time but if it’s there go for it as everybody else is.

Talking of Strava more and more are coming out against it for various reasons.
My main gripe is short segments as part of short rides, loads out there posting segments  on 15 mile rides(1 hour).  Once your out there for a genuine ride (a couple of hours or allday) why on earth would you be worried about a time.

You’ve posted a time in the past unknowingly on a unknown segment that hasn’t yet been created and all of a sudden you have lost your new KOM status to a group ride. Group rides should NOT  be on Strava.

More retrospectivly latter, I haven’t got to the train yet. A few pictures to add more on the Tour De  Frank or lack of. Lot to catch up on.

Week Ending 17 Jun 2012

This is my new toy a Sabbath Silk Road.  It weighs in at 8.8 Kg with the Fulcrum Racing wheels that it came with. It’s pictured above with the Speedy Li tubs.

My first outing will be the Chester and NorthWales  CTC Bob Clift Memorial ride which starts at TheWaverton Institute, Village Road  Waverton. 9A.M for the 100 mile ride.
Entries are available on the line, not online.

Last year most opted for the 50 mile route with only 17 taking the 100 mile route.  It was a torrid ride but I’ve come back for some more of the same by the looks of the weather.


Been an interesting couple of weeks, Vita wise Chris has deceided to split and form his own club. Steve Smith (Springy) won his first race for the Vita race team and Dave finished 2 seconds behind Dave Zel in the TLI Oulton Park Road Race last Tuesday.

I’m getting increasingly annoyed at pointless Strava segment updates. Yesterday  I lost a KOM Segment that someone had uploaded recently. My ride was on last years Liverpool Chester Liverpool. The segment Levers Causeway to Barnston Road 2 miles.

On a slightly different tack gearing is starting to become an issue for me again. An 11-28 cassette has too big a gap between gears at the top end 21-24-28 doesn’t seem to work in the real world. One minute your OK and the next gear has you going backwards so to speak.

This is on a totally different track.


Instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Electronic-Derailleur/


Good shot of Springy doing the business.

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Bob Clift Memorial Ride 2012

Some last minute fettling had me fitting a Crudracer  guard to the rear and then finding out minutes before I set off that I had left my Tool bottle in the shop.

Come the 9:00 start the heavens opened, made a bit of progress only to find out the chap I had caught up wasn’t on the ride.

Going up the switchback at Delamere Forest didn’t seem too bad, the rain was starting to ease off but I was still pretty damp.
Willington Corner had a scarecrow competition but the couldn’t match Great Budworth.

Tea and flapjack at the Ice cream farm. No dog begging for scraps this year.

Climbing out of Alderley Edge I got off at one stage to see if I did indeed have a compact chainset.  I’d have took a picture of the Wizard of Edge if it didn’t have cars parked in front of it.

Things start to go a bit pear shaped at Bollington as the Cafe Stop has move past Pott Shrigley, it means a fair bit of climbing with no sign of the cafe. The Routesheet comes out again. Out of desparation I ask a cyclist going the other way.

There is another event going on too as I pass a sign saying 5 miles to go . On the return I see 2 Rapha Condor Sharp riders decimating the Sportife riders.
The Coffee Tavern is further than I expected and not what I expected at all. It was packed. Our ticket entitled you to a pot of tea, sandwiches and a piece of cake. There was a bit of a delay but it was worth it. Can’t see how they made money out of us.
Top place, a bit quirky. Should be on everyones Cafe list.

If there is one thing I don’t like it’s retracing steps specially hilly ones. Heading back to Bollington there was a group of 8 who hadn’t found the Cafe yet. They were at least an hour behind and it would be a long day for them.

Thought I would have to walk on Redway looking at it but it was not to be and I made it in one go. Stopped at the top and took the picture  above which has Jodrell Bank in the back ground. The Tannoy from a Fete also set the tone for the afternoon.
Got passed by Bianchi guy but he was held up by the canal swing bridge in operation.

Some classic road names in this neck of the woods, how about Maggoty Lane with Maggoty wood. Next stop was the Canal Centre where I was last to sign in before it closed.
You start to get an appreciation of just how big Cheshire is or at least how little there is out there in the sticks. Phone signals are optional.

Last checkin is the Jessie Hughes Institute  at Eaton. Made it with 10 mins to spare. Got offered more cake but I was all caked up by this time. Made the finish just before 7pm, it had been a long day, 104 miles.

Saw plenty of wildlife on the ride bunnies, a duck with it’s ducklings crossing the road, squirrels and by the same token there was plenty of roadkill too.

On the final leg there was a chap in a faired recumbent tricycle coming the other way.  Looked a bit like one of the RedBull soapbox entries. You can’t miss it it’s canary yellow.

Had a good day in the end, knee twinges didn’t get  any worse and did ease off in the end, I need to make an effort to get my weight down again.

Weekending 27 May 2012

Time  flies and I’ve just about got back into a riding regime. The last 3 weeks have been marked out by doing loops out of the Wirral to the Ice Cream Farm and then returning through Runcorn, Widnes and Liverpool.  Each being about 80 miles.

The first week was about getting lost in the Multi-Modal-Gateway and finding out what all the lads were whingeing about, broken glass on cycle paths.  Also you can’t do the full length of Otterspool prom as there a culvert blocking access to part of it.

The second week was about finding Pickerings pasture and the steps. Won’t be doing it again as you’d wear a set of Keo cleats out going down the steps.

With some of the best weather this year it was out to the Eureka Cafe, early. It was about 18 Deg C  on the ride out at 8:30 in the morning. Breakfast then slap on the factor 50, which some wag described as “Anti wrinkle cream” before heading off. River Dee cyclepath , Chester racecourse, Saighton then the Ice Cream Farm before 11AM.

Above are the bling new Sidi Ergo 3’s. About as good as it gets as a cycling shoe, seems to get marked down a star on the eye watering recommended  retail price.
Mine came in at BELOW Internet prices never mind rrp.  See your local bike shop, if they can price match an internet price or as near as damnit they are using the same grey distributor.


A decent selection of road bikes in the ICF racks later mine was the only one as the leisure rider came out. I was parked in the Play Barn with the grandkids.
I’ts air conditioned by the way. 

Saw what I thought was a doppleganger of Phil, only to find out it was him doing some secret training. 


Will have to have a good look at this lookout tower by Beeston Castle one day, the hedge foreshortens the view but it’s still an amazing place to ride.



Beeston Castle, turn left at the junction and drop down to the Shady Oak pub at the next left.  Cross humped back bridge over canal and wonder where the shady oak tree is. Really nice location.

Turn left at the “T” proceed through Huxley to Hoofield and the “50p” shop and you will see this on the bend. It’s a stack of horseshoes from an old Smithy.


Mixed in a few shots of “HMS Liverpool” shot a while ago. Tiny in comparison to what I thought it would be.  Some of the cruise ships dwarf the buildings.


Pilot boat berthing at Woodside. Not in order by the way.

Otterspool prom, empty as it was a bit late. Can get very busy with people out for a stroll, dogs off the lead and prams.  People and bikes with a plastic pint glass from the Brittania Pub are another. I kid you not.

By the time you’ve read it, it’s too late.

A bit belated, the scene of my last “OFF”. Ended up looking like Cav in the Giro fall. Needs more than a sign, you can see the gouge marks from pedals in the teak.

The ride turned out to be 84 miles, got a bit lost around Aigburth as riding on feel doesn’t always work out. Stoped at the Brittania Pub for a pint and a bottle refill. Here I had a conversation with a Canadian drummer on a motorcycle called “Rick”, about my age, didn’t want to believe I was up to 75 miles already.

Along the front to James Street Station which was closed due to track maintenance.

Bit of a problem now as I had missed the last “Ferry across the Mersey”.
The drivers of the bus service have the option of refusing cycles, so I’m at the mercy of the bus driver.  

Can’t praise the staff of MerseyTravel, St James St station enough, helpful with funny scouse quips you could only get on Merseyside. Not a one off but for the last 3 weeks. Sorted me out with the right bus to get back to Birkenhead when the only other option was a taxi through the tunnel.
More later. 

Raspberry Pi

My first post on my recent purchase of the £26 Raspberry Pi single board computer.  It’s designed to get kids into programming and older kids like me back into hardware. http://www.raspberrypi.org Ordered through Farnell, everything went smoothly. Informed of production delays and it arrived when they said it would. Top marks to Farnell. To get up and running you need: 1. A Raspberry Pi model B 2. A micro USB power supply (Blackberry type plug) 3. An SD card with Debian Linux on it. 4. A USB keyboard (£4.99 at Asda) 5. A USB mouse (£2-95 at Asda) 6. An HDMI cable (£1 at Poundland) 7. An Ethernet cable (came with the router) And that’s it, connect all the cable power up and your back to the days of the Command Line. Startx gets you into Midori web browser. Now to sort out a case, maybe a project for a Maker Night http://makernight.co.uk/2012/05/experiment-with-the-future-of-consumer-technology-at-fact/

Have a look at http://www.themagpi.com/ for great articles to get you up and running with the minimum of problems.

My first attempt at the Raspberry Punnet was mainly successful but some of the dimensions needed a tweek as my board revision doesn’t tie up with some of the openings. One other thing is I wouldn’t let a class of kids run amok with a Stanley knife. It needs to be razor sharp to cut the card.

The Lego case seems a far safer option.


Theme Backdated

I’ve decided to back date the Theme to Twenty Ten in the interim as the width of Coraline was a bit too restrictive in a world where everything seems to be widescreen.
Still on the lookout for a new Theme, must have pages and custom menus.

Updated various sections of the blog including The Dummies Guide which seemed to have lost some of the content.
The new wider width has mucked up the Vita image but now has the link for the 2013 Ten minutes of Hell Tunnel Time Trial.

Back to the old Coraline theme as the adverts have disappeared.

Strava Segments

Strava,  the great new cycling, running app.  As good at it is there are a few bugs in it. You can log all your rides to you’re hearts content. I’ve done a few and you can get to a point where you think why bother.
Part of the problem is that there are too many worthless segments out there.

It’s about time we started putting Time Trial courses up on Strava rather than 500m PB,s. Only stipulation is that you start from a standing start at the designated point.

There are a fair few out there that don’t want to step up to the mark and be tested in an organised event. Just tick the private button on Strava and ride the Course as if it was an event.

Locally the event to do is : Northend 7.1. It is a club eventand would normally be  ridden as a member or private trial.

In any event a Strava log of the same distance should be valid.

For those on the Wirral it’s one of the last TT courses on the Wirral, goes through Thornton Hough  and finishes just before Benty Heath Lane.

Post ride refreshments would normally be at the newly thatched, “The Thatch”
otherwise called the  Wheatsheaf.

Strava segment coming up.