Friday, 23 March 2012


I called at the Wigan and Leigh Hospice today for a chat with Julie, the Community Support Officer and Edwin, the Communications and PR Officer. As I arrived the lady at reception said "I know you. Our sons played football together when they were 6 yrs old." I did recognise her but just couldn't remember her name even though it was there on a massive badge pinned to her blouse. Thankfully, she had to ask my name which made me feel better and we shared a few memories of good times long ago. The lads played at the brilliant Wigan Juniors FC which, I think, at one time, was the largest football club in the country or some other staggering statistic. They played for the Angles who played against the Jutes and the Danes and Saxons etc., in a six-a-side competition. If more lads turned up they just formed another team. When they were big lads, ie, 7yrs old, they became Falcons or Eagles or some other bird of prey. Happy days indeed.

I have been to the Hospice a number of times now and have always found the atmosphere to be uplifting and positive. This was no exception. The chat went well and photographs were taken in the sunshine in the car park. I think there may be a newspaper article in the pipeline which is a little bit embarrassing but will obviously be worthwhile if it boosts the income of this very worthy cause.

As I rode back towards home I noticed my front rack had come loose which is very dangerous because it could end up in the spokes so I took it steady and called at ML cycles which was fortunately en route. It was sorted in no time and I got home in one piece. The weather was beautiful and after a drink and a bite to eat I set off towards Standish. My phone rang as I reached the top of the hill and I stopped to answer it, mainly because I was hardly moving anyway. I was a bit abrupt because I thought it was a timewaster, wasting my time. It turned out to be Nigel very kindly reminding me that it was Thursday and inviting me out for a the usual drink. I apologised for my sharpness, which he hadn't noticed, and accepted the invitation gratefully. I ended up doing about 20 miles in all, sitting up, taking it easy and enjoying the scenery. Lots of lambs about which is always nice to see.

The evening session went well despite there only being two of us out. We weren't making much progress with the pork scratchings which seemed to multiply as we nibbled away. What a fantasy that would be? It was tough but we got through them in the end.

I was stuck for time today so just did 11 miles or so at a quickish pace with no bags on. That's it now until Monday when I meet up with George again and we head North for the four day epic camping trip.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


I was given a kindle with internet access for my birthday last year and here I am blogging on it. An option for when I'm out on the road. It's a bit slow but I should have time. Just did a 20 today to mum's and back. Going to the Hospice tomorrow for a photo shoot for their publicity and then a biggish ride. Nice weather these days.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Support Your Little Bike Shop

I was a bit concerned the other day about the weight I will be carrying on the real ride. I thought maybe I will need to get used to a heavier load so I put a brick in each of the front panniers for my ride yesterday (Monday). I chuckled to myself in the back garden. I could hardly lift them never mind ride with them on a bike. I set off up towards Preston, slowly as you can imagine, and gradually got used to the weight and distribution. I reached the area where I should be meeting George next Monday hoping to find a little cafe or a park bench but there was nowhere suitable for a rendezvous. I came back the same way fairly comfortably and after the usual bath and recovery food and drinks I rang the lad and we sorted a meeting place out by phone and email. He has had his gears repaired and additional gears added and also chunkier tyres so I shouldn't need to bring ten spare tubes this time.

I took the Ridgeback to the LBS for a service this morning and went out on the older road bike. First, though, I went up through the park towards Haigh Hall with the dog galloping in front. The path was closed at about half way because of repairs being carried out to a bridge so we didn't do the full course. Barney wasn't too upset because he wasn't feeling as fit as he used to and we came home downhill with me clinging on to the brakes. I then set off on the standard Chorley route and came home just in time to pick up the "proper" bike. I stated in a post the other day that we must make use of our little bike shops and not let the bike "supermarkets" put these lads out of business. Michael from ML cycles has done a great job looking after my bikes over the years and the help and advice he gives is priceless. This occasion was no exception. He made slight adjustments to the gears and brakes, generally lubricated and tweaked a couple of things and the bike is smoother than ever now.

All set then for the big trial run on Monday. Just a couple of longish rides between now and then and a rest over the weekend.    

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Quiet Weekend

Since I will be out of the country for a couple of months it's only fair to give my valued clients an alternative person to sort out their problems. I was just leaving, on the bike, to discuss arrangements with the second best at my job in Wigan, when my toe caught in the front mudguard as I turned the wheel and the mudguard ended up bent and twisted with the steel ties all over the place as well. I had no time to fix it so I went in the car. When I came home I had quite a bit to do, ie, Cheltenham, and I found that with a little manipulation, the mudguard had returned to its original shape which was a pleasant surprise. I managed to fix the mudguard in the kitchen while watching the Gold Cup amongst others. I used to have a bet but I don't know enough about the game these days so I don't bother. I pick a horse out and hope it loses, with amazing success.

I went out on Saturday morning and did 24 miles around Horwich. Now that is one mean uphill drag on the other side of Horwich and I realised I had never done it fully loaded. I managed it OK and called at the LBS (little bike shop), on the way back to see about a service and some spare parts before I go. I called at St Pats this morning to see the under 18s' resounding victory and checked out the road to Wembley this afternoon in front of the telly.

No excuses this week. The weather forecast is quite good so I really must go out every day (heard that one before?)