Friday, 30 December 2011


I have heard about a technique in sports psychology whereby the performer is encouraged to visualise a successful outcome to his task. It is felt that if you "see it happening" your body is more likely to "make it happen". High jumpers see themselves sailing over the bar. Golfers picture to ball rolling into the hole before they take a putt etc. Now I agree that this technique will not be of much use to me. I can certainly imagine riding down the main road in Fethiye on my bike but there are a few thousand other things I have to get right for that to happen.

However, after tea yesterday, with the help of Google Maps, I plopped the little yellow man down at the ferry terminal at the Hook of Holland and managed to literally "visualise" the first mile or so of Stage 3 of my journey. It looked like a nice road, very flat, and there seemed to be a wide cycle track next to the road, which would be nice. I could have spent a few hours and maybe completed the stage but let's just say I had other things to do. It was Thursday after all and there was beer to be drunk although the call isn't as loud or clear when you've had a drink or two every other day for the last week. We got through it though and very enjoyable it was, too.

I woke this morning and imagined what it would be like waking up in my tent. Would I turn over and go back to sleep (like I actually did this morning), or would I jump up, eager to get out on the road? For a start I would have to figure out what day it was and also where I was in the world. That could take a while. It is likely that I would have been in bed earlier than usual so I wouldn't be too tired. Also, I don't think the sleeping bag and mat will be as comfortable as my own bed so I suspect I would probably lie there for a short while and then get on with it. So you see, I have visualised it. I just have to do it now - 50 odd times.

The weather was cold and wet and miserable today but I managed a quick 11 miles at 14 mph despite the rain and hangover. I haven't done many miles this week for various reasons but I do feel a lot better today mentally and physically. Next week will be the halfway point in the training schedule and time to complete the equipment and kick on.    


Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Injury Scare Thwarted

When I was a lot younger and I overdid it in any form of exercise or training I would feel a bit stiff the next day. As I got older I found I was OK the next day but started feeling the effects the day after. I didn't know this "delayed-action" reaction went on even further as one gets older, but maybe at a certain age some people get what they call common sense and start to ease off. Not me. Nooooo. I never had much time for that common sense stuff.

The result of all this is that on Boxing Day my knees felt sore and every muscle in my legs felt stiff. This carried over to Tuesday as well and I was seriously worried about when I'd be in shape to go out on the bike again. It is obvious that I had overdone it last week with 40 odd miles on Tuesday followed by 50 odd miles on Thursday. There is also the matter of a decent drinking session on Friday and the usual Christmas Day socialising which may have delayed recovery. I also realised that I had not been taking my glucosamine tablets which are supposed to help arthritis in knees. The jury is still out by the way. I actually bought myself some glucosamine while Christmas shopping on Saturday and have been taking them since so that will not be an excuse for much longer.

I felt a bit better today and the weather was fine so I ventured out and did a short, easy 11 miles. I felt OK at the end but, as I put my bike away in the garage, I noticed the seat on the new touring bike was about 40 cm lower than the seat on my other road bike. I hadn't checked them together when I bought the new bike. I just put the seat to where it felt OK and got on with it. It never really troubled me but it must have had an effect on the long rides I did last week. I have adjusted the new seat now and will see how that goes.

I finally bought a tent on Boxing Day together with a mega cheap solid fuel stove. After my little break I will slowly start to build up the mileage again but equipment must be the focus over the next few weeks. Hopefully, when I have all the camping stuff I will be able to do a few trial runs involving nights away in a field but I will have to find a field near a guest house or hotel. Just in case, you understand. It's called common sense - I think.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Night!

Possibly a strange time to post but it must be placed on record that we have had a lovely Christmas Day with visits from a number of valued family members and a lot of laughter and fun enjoyed by all. Among other scandals was mentioned an amazing possibility with regard to a nautical escort throughout all or even part of my trip but there is a chance that  alcohol may have played a part in that and let's just say, we will see. It will be good if it works out though.

I must say our own family meal was excellent and we have since then sort of eased off and all been in various states of slumber watching "Happy Feet" and other such stuff too clever for me to understand.

I will have a snoozette now myself and hopefully will be awake to see the start of the test match between the 2nd and 4th in the ICC test rankings at 11 pm. I have supported England cricket through thin and thin over the years and will enjoy every year, every month, day, etc, that we are at the top.

I won't be up too late though. The weather is forecast good for tomorrow and for the rest of the week. I haven't been out since Thursday so a bit of a jaunt is called for in the morning and probably every other day this week. In any sport one must not take one's eye off the ball.

I must also attack the sales this week for camping and cycling bargains. I've got a great team behind me in that respect. People who can shop with a capital SH. Hopefully they will be up for the challenge.

Thursday, 22 December 2011


It was a beautiful day today for December. Not bad for July either. I managed to get up in time to get the new bike in order and fill myself with carbohydrate. I then set off by car to Ashton-in-Makerfield to meet up again with the Wigan Wheelers for one of their social runs, or rides. The weather ensured there was a decent turn out - 7 in all - and I think my presence reduced the average age a little.

Trusty steeds waiting outside saloon
Off we went through the back lanes around Warrington towards Northwich which seemed like miles away when I was told that was today's destination. I tagged along at the back while the septuagenarians all took turns to drop back alongside me to check that they weren't going too fast. I managed to stay with them and we eventually reached a roadside cafe near Northwich where we had a hearty all-day breakfast and a good chat.

Vulcan Village. One had gone early. I'm just a shadow.
Half an hour later we set off back through a different set of even more obscure lanes and tracks through villages I had never heard of. The miles went by quickly, being with good company, and we eventually arrived back at my car with 82.2 km on the clock which is just over 50 miles.

So, I've managed a significant target today, especially after managing 40 odd miles on Tuesday. I think I deserve a drink. I will not go out tonight. I will watch Spurs v Chelsea and hopefully will also see my fellow cycling legend and Manxman, Mark Cavendish, be crowned BBC Sport Personality of the Year. I will save myself for my Company Christmas do tomorrow when I will have an all-day session. Hopefully the usual suspects will be joined by various other self-employed ne'er-do-wells in the Pear Tree at High Noon. Do no forsake me Oh my Darran.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Uphill Relegation Battle

It was nice day on Sunday, relatively, that is. To be more accurate I should say it was good enough to go out for a nice bike ride. I didn't though - one of those cba days, or cbb to be more polite. We celebrated my mum's 89th birthday on the Saturday night and maybe I "enjoyed myself" a bit too much. I semi-promised I'd make an effort on Monday but that ended up as a wash out with persisting rain. I felt today (Tuesday) I needed to punish myself so I decided to visit the towns of the bottom three Premiership football clubs. I looked at the league table and found the bottom three were in fact Blackburn, Bolton and Wigan. It was spooky. What a slice of luck for them all to be within reach?

So off I went on the old bike. (cba fixing the new one on Sunday or Monday but will tomorrow). In Chorley I heard two chaps shouting across the road and felt like I had been transported to Eastern Europe for a second. I don't think they were speaking in the usual Chorley accent. Out of Chorley and into unchartered territory on the A674 toward Blackburn. All the small towns off this road were places I played cricket in the 80s and 90s. Withnell, Brinscall, White Coppice etc., and then Feniscowles where I was done over, good and proper, by some old codger sat on a bench as we all lay on the grass watching our teammates bat. I asked him what was the monument on the hill. He replied, "That's Darrin (Darwen) Cross. They say when tha' can see t' Cross tha' knows its going t' rain." "What if you can't see the Cross?" I asked - wide-eyed, innocent lamb to slaughter. All his birthdays came at once. "It's already bloody raining." Was his reply. Needless to say, all the others saw it coming and I was the butt of all jokes for weeks afterwards but I never let it get me down too much. I did hear some eerie familiar laughter as I passed the cricket ground though. The hill out of Blackburn went up and up forever and I enjoyed my drink break with over ripe banana after 21 miles. There was plenty of snow on the West Pennine Moors but none on the road, thankfully. The downhill bit into Bolton also went on forever but the road was very poor and I had to take it slowly.

It just so happened I passed through Hindley on the way back so I felt it was a good time to call in to the Wigan and Leigh Hospice to dedicate a "Light for a Life". This I had decided to do a couple of weeks ago on behalf of my mum as a "thank you" for what mums do for us, which is basically everything. It was good that I could tell her this on her birthday. Details on the website

All being well I will try and get out with the Wheelers on Thursday. Who will be in the bottom three then?

Saturday, 17 December 2011

All Bad Things

Happen in 3s - so they say.

But before that I must finish off Thursday's proceedings or, at least, give them more credibility. The fact is, on our Thursday night tour around Wigan we had, as usual, a tremendous selection of real ales at the chosen venues and I personally had five pints of beer, all different and all unbelievably tasty. I know for a fact that this would not have been possible without the efforts of four lads from the North West of England who got together forty years ago and set up what we now know as CAMRA. I understand that the lads in question are all still with us and I therefore salute you all - Mssrs,  Hardman, Lees, Mellor and Makin - take a bow.

Friday was my hungoverish designated rest day and it was just as well. I was clocking the weather on the BBC website, and also the real weather outside, and it never looked good. What a shame "the weather" had conceded defeat so early in the contest. There would have been an honourable draw on Thursday when I went out and was forced back, but there was no way I could have got out there on Friday when there was full, proper, snow all over the place, the cyclist's no go area. So then, if I hadn't gone out today, Saturday, it would have been four days without a ride and that would be looking weak.

So off I went in the rain. I got fifty yards when I realised I should really be wearing my new waterproof pants so I went back and changed. I set off again and after fifty yards again heard a ripping sound. My new pants had a reflective strip along the hem and this had caught in the chainring. I tucked my pants into my socks and set off again. Fifty yards later my pedal clip caught on the ground and detached from the pedal. I decided there and then to give up and went home. The biggest disaster then occurred. While closing the garage door in a semi-strop I broke my fingernail. So that was it for the day. I settled down and watched the darts on telly and then researched camp sites in Holland for a bit. I then noticed the weather had cleared and there was an hour of daylight left so I clenched my teeth and off I went on my other bike and did a gentle 11 miler. It was very cold but there was no ice and I felt so good afterwards.

I celebrated my mum's 89th birthday last night with all the family. It was a really good do but I'm a bit delicate today. We have beautiful clear skies and sunshine but I won't be out today. So glad I went yesterday. Maybe a small one tomorrow and, with a bit of luck a long one with the Wigan Wheelers on Tuesday.  

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Arrangements Over There!

I received two encouraging emails on Thursday, one from Terry Harrop who is my contact in the FIG (Fethiye International Group) who administer the CCC (Calis Children's Charity). There are some very positive things happening over there in that warm place. Thankfully, he didn't mention the weather. Nothing is cast iron as yet so I can't say too much. Details to follow as and when. The other was from Keith Campbell who has set up a new website - - which has a page publicising my efforts, which is nice to know. The website is worth a visit for anybody intending to visit Fethiye, or anybody curious about the town and the surrounding area.  

This morning, Friday, I made my way to Ashton (by car) and met up with Harold from the Wigan Wheelers. The weather forecast was cold but with no rain and little wind. We set off Southward, just the two of us, until we met one of Harold's usual companions coming back the other way. He had set off before us and had hit the rain and had enough. As we spoke the rain started and it was freezing rain too. We were soaked within seconds and decided to turn back and "live to fight another day". So that's just 5 miles completed today but they all count. There was a time when that would have been an achievement, for me anyway.   

Just had the rallying call from Nigel with regard to tonight's session and he has proudly announced that he has "been to the Market Hall" which can only mean one thing. My withering criticism last week has done the trick and there will be some crackling going on tonight. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Stepping Up

I really wanted to avoid using "Stepping Up" as a title but couldn't think of anything else and today did seem appropriate.

What is it with dogs and sticks? Every time I throw the stick I know for a fact he will chase after it, and he will do it all day. He will never turn around and look at me and say "No, I can't be bothered", and do you know why?
Because he can't talk. Seriously, there is a reason though. They don't get moody, do they? Why don't dogs get moody? Is it possible I'm spending too much time alone on this bike? If so, it's only going to get worse.

I took Barney down Coppull Lane to the dam this afternoon after what can only be described as an epic ride this morning. My first as a 61 year old. As it happened, the chap I had spoke to at the Wigan Wheelers, Harold, wasn't well when I rang him this morning and he wasn't sure if others were going out today. I was running a bit late and didn't fancy going to Ashton, the starting point of their Tuesday ride, not knowing if there was going to be anybody there. Instead I set off myself  in the bright but (very) chilly and (quite) breezy sunshine, on the new bike again. I did the usual 19 mile route with a big loop off around Horwich which incidentally has really good cycle lanes. This all added up to 55kms (34.2 miles) the longest I have done during this schedule. Apart from feet like blocks of ice I felt OK at the end, good enough to take the lad out anyway, after I had warmed up a bit.

Now that the new bike is sorted, I've moved on to researching camping equipment over the last few days. There are so many tents, sleeping bags, stoves etc. All different weights , pack sizes, prices, good points, bad points. It would be impossible to choose until you find that almost every item has someone on YouTube demonstrating how good, or bad, it is. Some are genuinely helpful people but there are some who just seem like some kind of wannabee TV presenters. I will keep looking and will leave my decisions as late as I need to. There's no rush. 81 days to go or is that 82 - Leap Year?

Early night tonight. Must do some work tomorrow.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

New Vehicle Arrives

I need to finish off Thursday's story. It just so happened my daughter needed a lift to work on Thursday evening so we struck a deal. OK but you need to nip into the Market Hall and get me some scratchings from the butcher's. The little beauty agreed and there were indeed scratchings on the table at the end of the night. I didn't tell the committee the full story at first. They thought I actually went and bought them myself despite my earlier extreme efforts. Anyway it was a good result and we had a laugh. The beers in the anvil were unusually good. There was a Brewer's Gold, a Brewster's and a Rooster. It could have been confusing if we'd been there at 11 o'clock but we got out of there early enough and did the usual route homeward.

The new bike, a proper touring bike, a Ridgeback Panorama, arrived on Friday morning in a big box with an unfeasible amount of bubble wrap. It looked good and even I could tell that the specification was better throughout than my other bike. It needed a few tweaks here and there so I couldn't get "out there" straight away as I wanted to. I was like a kid on Christmas day. Anyway, I was a bit hungover from Thursday so, as it turned out I had a rest day. I felt OK by Saturday morning and it was better weather and I ended up doing the 11 mile route on the new bike. It felt good, and I'm sure I made the right choice and it will safely see me through my trip. The feeling was surprisingly not much different from my road bike. The computer display is metric though and I can't be bothered changing it so I will be dealing in kilometres from now on.

I spoke to a gentleman from the local bike club, the Wigan Wheelers, and found they do longish rides, 50 or 60 miles, at weekends and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, weather permitting. I am thinking I will have another day of tomorrow, Monday (since it's my birthday as well) and hope the weather is OK for Tuesday. If they don't go, I will just do a long one myself.    

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Weather Concedes Defeat

"I threw everything at him today and he took it. The guy is just too tough. I give up."

That's what the weather said after today's ride. It was grim to say the least. It wasn't as cold as recently but it was raining as I left the house and a bit blustery. I suppose we are quite sheltered where we live and it wasn't until I was out there in the fields that I felt the force of the wind which was mainly from the side because the route is roughly North - South. There are a couple of Eastward stretches though and I almost came to a halt when I turned into the wind just before Chorley. The hills on these stretches were that much worse again and it was hard to keep going. But I did. I don't think I will encounter conditions like that on "The Ride" so it's good to have the experience now. If it does turn nasty there is always the option of finding a room and resting for a few days.

After I posted on Wednesday I found a decent looking second-hand bike on Ebay. After a bit of research I decided to have a go and the bottom line is that it will arrive tomorrow. It may need a few tweaks here and a visit to the LBS but there is every chance I will be out there on the new bike at the weekend. Looking forward to it. I just hope the wind drops a bit.

There is a meeting tonight of my "committee" where the drinking requirements for the early stages will be discussed over a few pints of the pale golden hoppy stuff. This will take place in the complete absence of the famed pork scratchings because the wimps who work in the town centre could not manage the walk to the butcher's in the Market Hall. "It was a bit wet and windy" was the excuse. You can imagine my response. They will receive the shortest of shrift.    

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Tom 2 Weather 1

Yesterday (Monday) was a bit disappointing at first. I was determined to "do a bit" despite the weather but it was cold, wet and blustery. I checked the weather forecast for today and saw it promised to be a bit better so I chickened out. Live to fight another day as they say. So it was the equaliser for the weather, making it 1 - 1 in the series, and I managed to finish off a couple of jobs and clear the decks for today. I also continued my research for equipment and I actually found what looks like a decent bike, second hand, on Ebay. The auction finishes tomorrow (Wednesday). Lets see how that goes.

The paddy fields of SW Lancashire. 
This morning I had an early meeting and left home (by car) with a dark sky and a bitter wind. Amazingly, Brian, the chap I was dealing with has a place in Calis so we had to compare experiences and locations after the work was complete. Small world, or what? This meant that by the time I had finished on site the sky had cleared a bit and on the way home I thought I could squeeze a decent ride in if I got a move on. The sky cleared further and I left home (by bike) with patches of blue sky above. I felt good and actually ended up on a different route. It's good doing the same route because you can compare times etc, but I was in the mood for a change. I deviated from my normal route, turning right at Frederick's near Chorley and set off towards Horwich. Chorley Old Road, North of Horwich included a climb of 110m over 2km which is an average of 1 in 18. Don't laugh but that's about the longest steepish hill I have attempted this year and I managed it OK. I ended up doing a total of about 24 miles which was a pleasant result. I was very cold at the end though and thinking about maybe pushing the start date back to July! Not for long though. Anyway, I am now 2-1 up in the series. Yet another different training philosophy occurred to me on today's ride. With the weather not being so good, it is impossible realistically to plan ahead so it's best for me to just get out there and do it while I can.

Oops, rain has stopped. Got to go.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

You've Got to Live Before You Learn

What a great feeling it is to wake up on a Sunday morning and hear the wind gusting outside and to hear the rain pattering on the window and then slowly realise you can just turn over in the soft warmth of your bed and go back to sleep or even just - lie there. That's exactly what I did this morning. Sod the stupid bike ride! Ha!

But not for long. The spirit in me eventually lifted me out of the bed and dragged me downstairs to sort the dog out while others slept, some deservedly, having been on a night shift, I might add. I then slowly made myself some tea and a super-carb breakfast and, despite taking ages over every item, found it was still raining and blowing as hard as ever. I was scheduled for a 20 miler today and determined to stick to it so it had to be done - and it was - almost. I set off with the best of intentions but was so cold I veered off to the shorter 11 mile route. The main thing is I got out there and did something and that's important to me. The other thing is, despite prolonged stiffness from Fridays effort I felt more than OK at the end and will be right for tomorrow's effort. In fact I felt I deserved a proper drink so I concocted a meeting at St Pats rugby club in order to plan for next year's under18s team. Between us we sorted a few things out and here I am now. I think I will now have a cup of tea followed by an early night in anticipation of Round 2 of Tom v Weather.

The good thing about adverse conditions like today is that it is the only way to learn about how bad it can be. I mean I doubt it will be 3 degrees in March when I set off and also a few memos - windscreen wipers for my specs, waterproof gloves - in fact waterproof everything would not go amiss. A solemn thought is that today I could look forward to a warm bath on my return. What will I have to look forward to as I plough through the rain and wind of Europe and beyond?

I think I will probably not bother if it's raining. I'll just roll over in my sleeping bag and promise to do more the next day. Don't worry about me. I'll be OK.    

Friday, 2 December 2011


I was amazed the other week to find there were people in Russia and other places reading this Blog. Well, I found out yesterday that the Russian page views were from a dodgy website which is looking for "referred spam". Being an administrator, I can see the website that the views have come from and there is an obvious temptation to click on it and see what it does. The thing is, they then get money from an advert which is all that would come up. Luckily I was never really that curious so they never got a kopek from me and they never will, so whoever you are - идти ебать себя - or something like that.

Had a wonderful evening yesterday with a rare full turn out of the Thursday gang. Excellent beers in the Anvil, Berkeley and Royal Oak as usual, together with some delicious under the table scratchings. During the proceedings, Chris offered to be my "liquid nutritionist" which means he will research local drinks at my stopping off points for me to taste and report back. I was going to remain tea-total for the duration of the trip so I suppose that's "out the window" now. Whatever happened to willpower?

Completed a cool 19.2 miles this afternoon on the "big ring" which was a great boost. I pushed hard up all of the hilly bits and felt tired at the end. It was actually nearly dark when I got back so it's just as well I put the effort in. I will update my December training schedule now while there is no sport on the telly.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

November Review

It's the end of the month so a good time to reflect on what's happened since 3rd November when I went on my first training ride which was a 5 mile ride up through the plantations to Haigh Hall with the dog panting after me, and loving every minute. I completed 33 miles that week, then 60.5, then 82.8. Guides I have read state that a weekly increase of 10% is preferable to reduce the risk of injury so I may have overdone things a bit. I suppose I have been lucky so far but I am really happy with what I have achieved and think I will be in the right shape when the time comes. I will take notice of advice though and will probably rein myself in a little over the next few weeks.  

I have been looking at equipment and have added a provisional list on the drop-down menu based on advice from various websites and forum posts by people who have done this type of thing before - God Bless 'em. Any comments and/or advice will be most welcome.

I hope to have all my equipment in place by the end of December and with a bit of luck will be training, fully loaded occasionally, on my new bike in the new year.

I managed my usual 19.2 mile route today, another tremendous day weather-wise. It was a bit cool but I never really feel it on the bike. Maybe when it drops a few more degrees I will start complaining.

It's interesting to think what the December Review will be like - more to the point - what state I'll be in on 31st December when I'm writing it.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Restful Weekend?


I was in a bit of a rush on Friday after my long ride through the wind and rain so didn't even have time to finish off my beans on toast. I set off in a hurry to pick up Sawyer, now known as "Jimmy Shoes", from the bus station. Fortunately the bus was a bit late. My lateness, by the way, was due to starting the training ride a bit late and OK maybe it took me a bit longer than I thought. 
Jimmy Shoes has caught up - lets go
We got to Corky's in Leeds where we met up again with Brendan, now known as "Double Egg". After a cup of Bell's fortified tea (or was it the other way round?) we set off for the North York Moors. We stopped in Pickering for a couple. The official reason was to check out the possibility of watching football on Saturday which didn't eventually materialise. We arrived at the billet a bit late possibly because Peter laughs in the face of satellite navigation, a commodity he used to sell, apparently. We were quickly introduced around and made welcome with all the traditional insults. We were plied with a tasty, very meaty stew, several portions for Brendan, and a few pints of a local brew named "Two Pints" and then whisked off by minibus to the New Inn for the beer festival. I was a bit tired and described as "Lightweight" which was most welcome. I actually went to bed as soon as we returned, living to fight another day after dropping down from "Super Heavy". 

Barry with mouth almost closed

Next day, after the heartiest of hearty breakfasts and a pleasant ramble over the hills we eventually arrived at Lastingham, despite Sawyer's inappropriate footwear, hence the nickname. We then embarked on a tremendous four hour joke-telling marathon in a lovely country pub named the Blacksmith's, suitably accompanied by more than a few pints of Copper Dragon's Golden Pippin which was sensational. The Japanese tourists who stumbled in to the pub were amazed but they entered into the spirit of things. Just at the right time Anthony and the magic minibus appeared from nowhere and took us back for more meaty stew, a very quick swill and then before we knew it we were back at the beer festival at Cropton.   
Look at those tankards (rhyming slang)

The evening went well with some good bands on view and we rounded off the evening with some "tuneful" singing of our own back at the digs. The breakfast on Sunday was as hearty as ever and we said our farewells and set of for home. 

Japanese Tourists joining in
I don't think the above precis has done justice to the weekend. It was brilliantly organised and the humour was second to none. I feel as if I laughed from start to finish. I enjoyed the company of my old mates of 40 years or so and met some real characters - I think they call that a euphemism. 

Wasn't this supposed to be about a bike ride? Anyway, yes, back to reality. I felt sort of recovered this morning and trundled around my 11 mile ride. It was just a case of getting back on the bike again. I didn't even check the speed.         

Friday, 25 November 2011

Quick One

No, not the ride. Just enough time to confirm I actually did 30.6 miles today at 12.2 mph. A bit tricky up near Preston with heavy rain and motorway junctions but I got through it OK. So now it's beans on toast and off to pick up Man With Bus Pass and off we go to Cropton.

Your good health.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Unsung Heroes

I thought I had nothing interesting to report so I wasn't going to blog today. The thing is, the work of the Real Ale Police is never over. To protect future generations we are out there, tasting meticulously in case standards drop. I have been out for a curtailed session tonight but you can sleep safely in your beds with the knowledge that my colleagues have been to all corners of the immediate vicinity, the suburbs of Worthington and beyond, tasting obscure beers for the benefit of all.

I met with the chaps tonight after their ordeal and find I am inspired to such an extent that I had to record their efforts. Apart from that I just happen to feel in the mood - so, spell checker activated - here we go on my situation.

Yes, indeed there is quite a dramatic situation  in prospect tomorrow morning. Slight-ish hangover anticipated. The bed in the morning will undoubtedly be warm and soft. So what will it be? Shall I spring into action and just get out there and do the 30 miles as required, as promised? We are talking two hours plus here. Or shall I turn over and make some lame excuse? Remember I am off to a monster two-day drinking session in the afternoon so my money is on the good answer. I have a long, non-cycling, rest ahead of me. It will be tough but I think I'll do the right thing.

Watch this space.     

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


I have been looking at equipment over the last week or so and the dramatic conclusion is that I need a new bike, or should I say, a different bike. I have finally accepted the fact that my dear little road bike can not take panniers or a rack which are absolute necessities and I will need a touring bike of some sort which is equipped with all the attachments for that sort of stuff. I have also been looking at proper cycling clothing, lightweight tents, sleeping bags and other camping stuff and none of it is cheap. It's a good job Christmas is only just round the corner and there is a small matter of a birthday as well but we don't want to mention that do we?

I will set up an equipment page on the drop down menu and will, from time to time, add what I believe I will need. Any suggestions will be welcome. Silly ones will only be accepted if they are really funny.

Again I didn't really feel like it this morning but what a beautiful day. Cool, yes, but clear and sunny so how could I refuse? To be honest it occurred to me that one day in the future I will wake up in my tiny sleeping bag in my tiny tent and I will have no choice but to get out there on the road, whatever the weather. Can't wait, actually.

Anyway, I managed a quickish 11 miles and will have a rest tomorrow before attempting 30 miles on Friday morning. I also need to get some work done before zipping off on Friday afternoon for a weekend of good company and real ale.

There was an interesting little interlude today. There I was lording it in the bus lane with all the cars for once giving me lots of space until I heard the noise of a vehicle behind me. What the.......I was thinking. Cheeky so and so etc.  Oh, a bus, sorry.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Less Haste More Speed

I had a meeting with a young man named Danny at Wigan and Leigh Hospice yesterday to discuss the ride and fundraising generally. I was very impressed with the set up there. I was shown around and was amazed with the general atmosphere and positivity. I left very happy that I am in a position to help in some way. I must admit I am not very good at fundraising so I was pleased to see that the financial aspect is in very good hands.

I have unfortunately not been able to visit my other chosen beneficiary but have been in contact, via several emails, with the Fethiye International Group. I am hopeful that arrangements we are in the process of making will maximise income at their end.

I managed my little 11 miles today. It was a struggle three weeks ago and now it's "little". I woke up to a murky Movember morning and didn't really fancy it. I was feeling a bit tired and generally convincing myself that I would be better off leaving it until tomorrow. The sky brightened up later on and so did I so I got my kit on and set off. I thought I'd best take it easy and conserve my energy for later in the week. Strangely though, I felt great towards the end and bombed home. I took a couple of pictures of Winter Hill from two different places and was pleased to see my Twitpics (aptly named) actually appeared on my map on the SocialHiking website. 

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Demon Drink

After an alcohol free Friday surely I couldn't manage an alcohol free Saturday as well!

Spot on, you are correct of course, I couldn't. I did a little favour for a relative a couple of weeks ago and was rewarded with a nice 15 year old Glenfiddich as payment. The bottle had been around for a while and needed opening so I had two glasses while watching Match of the Day. Very nice as well. For some reason I didn't feel too good on Sunday morning so I decided I wasn't going to drink any more. Of course, that doesn't mean I was going to drink any less*. I actually went out on Sunday afternoon for a meeting at St Pats Rugby Club (the most famous amateur rugby league club in the world) regarding arrangements for next year's under 18s team and managed to keep it down to a couple. Arrangements went well. We are obviously looking for players since we didn't have a team for this transitional short season. If you are of that ilk - come on down.

Today's ride was my usual 19.2 miles. Last week I went all the way around on the easy ring but today I mixed the two. I will know I'm on the way when I can do the whole circuit on the big ring. (I am sorry but if these cycling technicalities are above you just ignore them). The speed wasn't bad and I may have a little effort tomorrow.

There is a dark reason I may be out again tomorrow and it is alcohol related again. I am being dragged, kicking and screaming, to a weekend-long beer festival at Cropton in the North York Moors on Friday so will miss two days' training. If I'm out every day this week and manage a 30 mile ride on Friday morning I will feel I deserve the rest and will enjoy some tasty real ales with a clear conscience. The clarity of the headgear on the Monday after will be interesting to say the least.

*Shame on you if you didn't see that one coming.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Health Scare!

I managed a few beers on Thursday night but had some bad sniffles early on and expected the worst the morning after. I woke with a small hangover and a bit of a cold but got gradually better as the day went on. That's the beauty of drinking. Dean Martin once said, "feel sorry for people who don't drink. They wake up in the morning and that's the best they're going to feel all day." I felt better still this morning, after a very rare alcohol free Friday night, and completed the short 11 mile ride at about 14 mph which is quite pleasing. There was a bit of a wind against from Coppull Moor or it would have been quicker. Where did the wind come from, I wonder? It wasn't there earlier. It's funny but cyclists never really notice the wind when it's behind them. 

Another beautiful morning. I started with gloves on but soon had them stashed in the back of my jacket. The weather is holding out, tremendous for November, but I believe it will be colder next week but still not much prospect of rain and that's the main thing. I'm not looking forward to going to the gym to train. Much better out in the open air. Another rest day tomorrow and then into only the third week of training, hopefully with a step up in distance to 30 miles at the end. 


Thursday, 17 November 2011

Buddies and Beacons

I thought I'd post early today after my training ride and before my trip into town for a bit of business and the purchase of tonight's victuals to accompany a few proper real ales.

No burn - No gurn
A funny thing happened on the ride. Spooky even. I had set up Viewranger BuddyBeacon to record my progress and was amazed to find a text, when I stopped for a drink of water, from an old "buddy" who was following my progress on the internet. I later found out he was looking at the Blog and clicked on the link from Viewranger that I had added in an earlier post, "Track Me Down". I wasn't aware that it updated like that. A bit more education required, I think, but it bodes well for the proper ride if I can get that sorted out. Needless to say, the old codger (I'm being kind) gave me some stick about my speed but I was too shocked to make a sufficiently caustic reply. I managed the 20 (just less) miles anyway at 12.4 mph which is acceptable at this stage, for me anyway.

Here I am returning from  yesterday's effort, well wrapped up as usual. I am trying to smile but it actually looks like a grimace.Trust me.

Finally, I tried out proper cycling shoes yesterday and they felt great. My other equipment is OK for now but I think I will need better stuff and more of it. As you can see it was gloomy yesterday but beautiful sunshine today. A great day to be out and about. I'm delighted with progress so far and with so many other aspects of "the project".

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

He is "The Man...

...Who Cycled the World". I have been reading Mark Beaumont's Story. That's the title of his book

It's a bit humbling. Mind you, he did have his mum with him for a few days and a masseur for a week! No, seriously, 100 miles a day for 195 days is frightening to say the least. It is very interesting reading and I have learnt a lot from it. It makes me want to get going now.

I have noticed a number of comments made on earlier posts offering advice. I have tried to reply to them all. If I haven't acknowledged you then I apologise. Please keep them coming. I am delighted to hear from anyone who has done this sort of thing.

I just did a steady 11.06 miles this morning (the .06 is so very important) and intend doing a 20-ish mile tomorrow. I actually felt quite stiff after today's ride and thought I might benefit with a massage if I am to do a bit tomorrow. I haven't done a back to back ride yet. I imagine it will be easier than back to front. Anyway, I looked on You Tube and found a number of helpful videos, the most appropriate by a gentleman named Rich Poley showing self-massage methods . I had a go and did feel better so we'll see how that works after tomorrow's ride.


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Track Me Down

Had quite a productive day today. When I have more to do I seem to get organised better and actually do a lot more. Don't worry, it won't last.

Barney, the blue merle border collie, was winking at me the other day, or so I thought. As this went on the two young adults who share(?) our house decided to do something about it and took him to the vet. It turned out he had an eye infection and I am now just short of £50 poorer. The vet also said he was overweight ( I don't remember asking for a second opinion). Suddenly a rota is produced and today just happened to be my turn. No cycling for me today so, after a productive morning earnings-wise, I didn't mind taking the poor lad for a decent walk. I nearly damaged my shoulder throwing the stick so many times.

I did some "joinery" in the kitchen this afternoon, repairing hinges and shelf type things which gave me a warm glow and, if that wasn't enough, I managed with the help and patience of a young man named Russell, to get sorted with a website named Viewranger. This tracks you down using signals sent from your phone.

This evening I made a couple of visits to discuss arrangements with a couple of friends in Parbold and then in Ormskirk. I had set the Viewranger BuddyBeacon to send a signal every 5 minutes and here is the result.

Very useful if you need an alibi. Lend someone your phone and get them to ride around while you rob a bank.

No rain forecast for a few days so I might go for a decent ride tomorrow with my new cycling shoes. See, I have been so productive I nearly forgot that major item of news.   

Monday, 14 November 2011

Power of T'Internet

I have a facility on this Blog to see in which country pages have been viewed. I find it remarkable that people in USA, Russia, Canada, Australia etc., have viewed some of my pages. I am fascinated and flattered at the same time. There is also a person in Bulgaria which is interesting (are you a cyclist?). I posted a link on the "Calis-Beach Forum", the other day so unsurprisingly, I now have a number of followers in Turkey and I am very grateful already for all their good wishes.

I have been working on the route today and hope to one day upload a map showing, in a decent amount of detail, the road I intend to take. The operation is taking some time, basically because I don't have the computer skills, but I will get there. For now, I will include a list of the towns where I intend to stay in the drop down menu. If you live in or near any of these towns please feel free to join me for as long as you like, as long as you don't go too fast, that is.

I have actually done a bit of work today. I woke to an unfamiliar and distant sound which I recognised from yesterday morning as the alarm on my new phone. Then I remembered it was charging in the loft, which is my workplace. So I left it tinkling away for a few minutes (20 actually) as I slowly came around. There was a day I would have rushed upstairs to switch it off. I think I may have had too many Turkish holidays.

I was soon ready for the day's training which was a comfortable 10 miles. No sense in going too far yet. It is not only the legs that have to get used to the distance. The soles of the feet, hands, shoulders and of course bum cheeks all need to very gradually get used to riding further. On a similar note, my good friend Phil emailed me earlier today with hopes that I don't suffer too much in the Balkans.

Benny hill lives on.  

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A Few Calculations

When I am cycling I tend to carry out little calculations regarding distance, speed etc to keep my mind occupied. Sad, I know. I also sometimes sing out loud which can be embarrassing at traffic lights. You can get away with it in your car but not on a bike. Here are a few calculations I thought out the other day while riding.

I intend to do about 50 miles a day. I can ride now quite comfortably at an average of 12.5 mph which would take 4 hrs a day riding. I will however be carrying about 20 kgs of equipment on "the ride" so it is logical to conclude that I need to ride faster on training runs to equate to the main ride. I could always carry extra weight on training rides but I haven't got panniers yet and I don't like the idea of a rucksack. 

An extra 20 kgs of kit represents 44lbs and somehow I don't think I can lose that much so, with my current weight of 213lbs plus bike at 23lbs the total training weight is 236lbs. With 44lbs added makes a total of 280 lbs which is nearly 20% extra so I need to go 20% faster on training runs to be able to achieve 12.5 mph on the proper ride. 

I think I'll settle for 10 mph on the ride and take 5 hrs a day.

I have had the green light from my old pals in Yorkshire so the first night's stop is sorted. The second night is on the Hull-Rotterdam ferry so only another 40 odd nights to organise.    

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Sporting Inspiration

Before I go on about my own meagre efforts I must say what a great performance by England to beat the World Champions tonight. It was a bit close for a while but our lads stuck to their principles, defended really well as a team and won quite comfortably in the end.

The England Football team did OK as well.

Nice to know the mighty all-conquering St Pats (probably the most famous Amateur Rugby League team in the world) are following me on Twitter. I am deeply honoured. The lads had a great win today. They came from behind with 12 men to beat local rivals Leigh East and  are on their way to a major final next week.

Checked my stats and found I have people in the USA Germany and Russia have read my blog. How good does it get?

Way to go     Благодарю тебя, мой друг    danke mein freund       (thank you my friend)

It rained early this morning but did that bother me? No. Not at all! It had stopped by the time I emerged from my pit at 10.00 am. I did my stretches and exercises, got some cereal (sponsorship available) down me and well and truly  "upped the ante". (Oooer missus). Yes, after much prevarication I finally did my 20 mile training route. I really felt OK but must resist the temptation to go too far this week. Did a decent speed as well and felt good at the end. Long way to go though  but a big step forward.

Friday, 11 November 2011

The money side of things

As far as this bike ride is concerned, it is self-funded. I am going to do it anyway and I am not asking for any donations or other financial assistance. 

I am not actually doing it for a charity but I have absolutely no objection to a charity or charities benefitting from my efforts. In fact, if I can help a worthy cause it will give me a particularly good feeling so it's all positive. They both benefit and so do I and there are no losers. 

My chosen worthy causes are :-

WIGAN AND LEIGH HOSPICE In their own words "Wigan & Leigh Hospice is a bright, modern building staffed by dedicated, caring professionals and assisted by volunteers; whose sole objective is to provide care, compassion and support for patients living with a life-limiting condition and their loved ones".  

FETHIYE INTERNATIONAL GROUP Again in their own words  To promote the education and welfare of children in the locality of Fethiye, through fund raising and voluntary activities.’

I will set up an account into which donations can be made. Any payments into this account, together with any cash donations, will be shared equally between the two. Alternatively, if you wish to donate to one in particular, you can do so through their own website. 

I had a night out last night so it's been a rest day today. Hoping for a dry day tomorrow while I "up the ante".

The Basic Plan

The basic plan is to get to Hull in two stages with an overnight stay at the house of an as yet unnamed friend (hello over there) in Yorkshire. The next stage will take the form of the overnight ferry to Rotterdam, hopefully with willpower (what's that?) preventing too much beer. Straight on the bike next morning and following the Rhine through Holland into Germany with a possible stop at the village of Enzberg where I (think I still) have a few friends. At a suitable point I will leave the Rhine and shimmy across Germany to pick up the Danube and then follow this majestic waterway through the capital cities of Vienna, Belgrade, Budapest and Bucharest to the Black Sea. From there down the coast into Turkey and either through the centre over the hills to Fethiye or maybe round the coast, Izmir, etc. The final route is to be decided and may even change as I go along, subject to progress and a lot of other things. The total distance is approximately 2,600 miles and at an average of 54 miles a day should be achieved in 48 days including 5 or 6 rest days. Sounds simple when you put it that way. Can't wait! 

I received the go ahead today from my chosen Charity in Turkey so will be working with both charities over the next few days in order to maximise income as well as pushing the boundaries of health and fitness back further.

Just managed the 11 miles today on my training run today. Something stopped me going for the 20 and it's just as well! After my training ride I took yon mon for a stick-chasing marathon around the new dam at the bottom of Coppull Lane and when I finally got home to finish a job and then put my feet up I found I needed ink for my printer. The old cartridge would not accept any more of that cheap refill stuff so off I went to ASDA. I made my purchase and cleverly left the car there while I walked into town to put a couple of cheques into the bank and pick up the Pork Scratchings for tonight's session (don't tell the manager). I ended up killing 2 birds with 3 stones because I forgot the car was at ASDA until I was nearly home so I ended up walking almost twice the distance I should have done. 

Not clever at all. Can you trust this man to find his way across Europe?    

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Quiet day on the cycling front

I haven't even thought about the ride today, until now that is.

Sunset at Calis Beach, breathing in like a good 'un

I had quite a bit of work to do so training and arranging took a back seat. I have had a positive response from one of my chosen charities but can not seem to contact the other one. I've sent a couple of emails out to try and track them down. We'll see how they get on.

I hope to do a decent ride tomorrow, 20 miles or so, while the weather is reasonable. May combine it with delivering a job or two in Skem and visit Mum at the same time.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

How did this all start?

Years of playing football Saturday and Sunday, together with a family history, left me with mild arthritis in both knees. The left is worse than the right, or should I say, the right is better than the left - more positive. I couldn't walk up hills in The Lakes, certainly couldn't jog, so I took up cycling. This happened about 4 years ago.

We have a small apartment in Turkey in the lovely little resort of Calis Beach near the town of Fethiye. We spend many holidays there and some family members also have apartments there.

It was at the last holiday in front of a number of witnesses, I jokingly announced that I was going to cycle over next time.

I later (sober) gave it some thought and it gradually dawned on me that I could actually do this and the more I thought about it the more I realised that it would be quite an adventure.

So I'm going to do it. Training is under way. Other arrangements are being made.