Sunday, July 7, 2013

Well Done @Andy_Murray



I delayed setting off on the next part of my cycle touring adventure just to watch this years Wimbledon. I thought he could win it from the outset and today I am so glad I waited :) Well done @Andy_Murray

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Pannier Packing Checklist

Dispensing with the trailer this time means that I can and need to be far more efficient with my packing. Last time I found myself opening the trailer bag, the rack bag and at least two panniers every time I had to set up camp and cook. This time all the camping and cooking equipment is in the new rack pack meaning that arrival and set-up at camp will be far less cumbersome.

With my condensed packing list now complete, for this trip I will also try to stick to this pannier packing checklist I have created which should, hopefully, mean that finding stuff every day will be far more efficient too. It should also aid with packing up camp each morning as well. Not that I lost anything last year, but I found myself constantly double checking which bag I had put things in before setting off. I will keep a copy of this list in the reverse side of my handlebar map pocket so I can refer to it on the road before I stop to open just the bags I need to.

Mounted on/in Bike Frame
GPS
Front Light Battery Pack
Pump
Water Bottles x 3
Bungee Cords x 3
Spare Spokes & Nipples (Rear x 6 / Front x 6) (Stored in Seat Post)

Handlebar Bag
Map (Currently Navigating in Map Case)
Wallet
Cash
Debit Card
Passport & Laminated Photocopy
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
iPhone
iPods & Headphones
Digital Camera
English / French Dictionary
Tyre Levers x 2
Puncture Repair Kit
Knife / Fork / Spoon
Penknife (inc. Bottle Opener / Corkscrew etc)
Sunglasses (Or On Head)
Cycling Cloth Cap x 1 (Or On Head)
Lighter
Matches
Antihistamine Tablets & Eye Drops (Hayfever Medication)
Sun Lotion
Lip Balm
Chamois Cream
Travel Face Cloth x 1
AA Batteries
U-Lock Keys (One Set)
Tri-Star Allen Key (6mm / 5mm / 4mm)

Saddle Bag
Spare Inner Tube x 1
Front Lights
Extra Rear Lights x 2
Tyre Levers x 2
Puncture Repair Kit
Screwdriver
Allen Keys
Brooks Saddle Spanner
Brooks Saddle Proofride
Brooks Saddle Waterproof Cover

Front Left Pannier
Spanner
Pliers
Chain Link Removal Tool
Cassette Tool
Spoke Key
Grease & Gun
Spare Nuts & Bolts (Pannier Racks & Mudguards)
Spare Cleats
Jubilee Clips
Cable Ties
Fleece Hat x 1
Fleece Top x 1
Lightweight Jacket x 1
Waterproof Trousers x 1
Cycling Insulator Gloves x 1
Cycling Waterproof Gloves x 1
Travel Towels x 2
Toilet Roll
Washbag
Soap
Toothbrush & Toothpaste x 2
Dental Floss
Deodorant
Shaving Gel
Razor & Blades
Nail Clippers

Front Right Pannier
Spare Inner Tube x 1
Tyre Boots
Spare Chain x 1
Spare Gear & Brake Cables
Latex Gloves
Hand Wipes
Chain Lube
Electrical Tape
First Aid Kit
Plasters & Bandages
Facial Wipes
After Sun
Insect Repellent
Pain Relief Gel / Cream
Antiseptic Liquid
Paracetamol Tablets
Cough Sweets
Clear Storage / Food Bags

Rear Left Pannier
Trousers Long x 2
T-Shirts x 4
Underpants x 4
Socks x 4
Swimming Shorts x 1
Maps (France & Spain)
European Phrasebooks
Document Pouch
Laminated Passport Photocopy
U-Lock x 1

Rear Right Pannier
Laptop
Cycling T-Shirts x 1
Cycling Long Sleeve Tops x 1
Cycling Padded Shorts x 1
Cycling Thermal Sleeves (Legs)
Cycling Socks x 3
Cycling Headband x 1
Cycling Skull Cap x 1
Cycling Neck Tube x 1
GPS Laptop Cable
Laptop Charger
iPhone & iPods Charger
AA Batteries
AA Battery Charger
Digital Camera Charger
Wind-Up Head Torch Euro Plug Adapter
USB Keys
UK Four Socket Extension Lead
Fleece Jacket x 1
Sandals x 1
U-Lock x 1

Rack Pack
2 Person Tent & Groundsheet / Footprint
Inflatable Mattress
Soft Pillow x 1
Inflatable Pillow x 1
Sleeping Bag & Fleece Liner
Bivvy Bag
Tent Peg Hammer / Extractor
Washing Line / Spare Cord
Campsite Electric Hookup Leads
Spare Tyre x 1 (Folding )
Gas Stove & Refills x 2

Wearing
Cycling T-Shirts x 1
Cycling Long Sleeve Tops x 1
Cycling Padded Shorts x 1
Cycling Over Shorts x 1
Cycling Socks x 1
Cycling Mitts x 1
Cycling Cloth Cap x 1 (Or In Handlebar Bag)
Cycling Helmet
Cycling / Walking Shoes x 1
Sunglasses (Or In Handlebar Bag)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My Packing List: Version 2.0

Having dispensed with the trailer for this trip, I'm cutting back on lots of the things I took with me last year, as I now realise they were superfluous. Also, as the new Ortlieb pannier bags are much smaller than the Altura ones I had last time, that too will dictate just how much I can take. As it turned out, the Altura panniers are not waterproof (despite being sold as such), so the smaller Ortlieb panniers are a small price to pay to actually keep the stuff inside dry! This year there will be no meeting up with family (to send stuff home) either, so I will be carrying everything until at least November.

Clothing - Working / Walking / Hiking
Trousers Long x 2
T-Shirts x 4
Underpants x 4
Socks x 4
Swimming Shorts x 1
Fleece Hat x 1
Fleece Top x 1
Fleece Jacket x 1
Lightweight Jacket x 1
Waterproof Trousers x 1
Sandals x 1
Sunglasses

Clothing - Cycling
Cycling T-Shirts x 2
Cycling Long Sleeve Tops x 2
Cycling Padded Shorts x 2
Cycling Over Shorts x 1
Cycling Thermal Sleeves (Legs)
Cycling Socks x 4
Cycling Mitts x 1
Cycling Insulator Gloves x 1
Cycling Waterproof Gloves x 1
Cycling Headband x 1
Cycling Skull Cap x 1
Cycling Neck Tube x 1
Cycling Cloth Cap x 2
Cycling Helmet
Cycling / Walking Shoes x 1

Camping
2 Person Tent & Groundsheet / Footprint
Inflatable Mattress
Soft Pillow x 1
Inflatable Pillow x 1
Sleeping Bag & Fleece Liner
Bivvy Bag
Tent Peg Hammer / Extractor
Washing Line / Spare Cord

Cooking
Gas Stove & Refills x 2
Lighter
Matches

Bike Specific
Spare Tyre x 1 (Folding )
Spare Inner Tubes x 2
Puncture Repair Kits
Tyre Levers x 2
Tyre Boots
Spare Chain x 1
Spare Gear & Brake Cables
Tri-Star Allen Key (6mm / 5mm / 4mm)
Allen Keys
Screwdriver
Spanner
Pliers
Chain Link Removal Tool
Cassette Tool
Spoke Key
Grease & Gun
Spare Spokes & Nipples (Rear x 6 / Front x 6) (Stored in Seat Post)
Pump
Latex Gloves
Hand Wipes
Spare Nuts & Bolts (Pannier Racks & Mudguards)
U-Locks x 2 & Keys (Two Sets)
Water Bottles x 3
Lights (Front inc. Battery Pack & Rear & Extra Rear x 2)
Brooks Saddle Spanner
Brooks Saddle Proofride
Brooks Saddle Waterproof Cover
Chain Lube
Spare Cleats

Electrical
GPS & Laptop Cable
Laptop & Charger
iPhone & Charger
iPods & Headphones
Digital Camera & Charger
AA Battery Charger
AA Batteries (GPS & Rear Light)
Wind-Up Head Torch Euro Plug Adapter
USB Keys
Campsite Electric Hookup Leads
UK Four Socket Extension Lead

Hygiene / Health
Washbag
Soap
Toothbrush & Toothpaste x 2
Dental Floss
Deodorant
Shaving Gel
Razor & Blades
Nail Clippers
First Aid Kit
Plasters & Bandages
Chamois Cream
Lip Balm
Facial Wipes
Sun Lotion & After Sun
Insect Repellent
Pain Relief Gel / Cream
Antiseptic Liquid
Paracetamol Tablets
Antihistamine Tablets & Eye Drops (Hayfever Medication)
Cough Sweets
Travel Face Cloth x 1
Travel Towels x 2
Toilet Roll

Tools
Knife / Fork / Spoon
Penknife (inc. Bottle Opener / Corkscrew etc)

Books
English / French Dictionary
European Phrasebooks

Documentation / Money
Passport & Laminated Photocopy
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
Maps (France & Spain)
Document Pouch
Wallet
Cash
Debit Card

Other
Map Case
Jubilee Clips
Cable Ties
Bungee Cords x 3
Electrical Tape
Clear Storage / Food Bags

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Getting Some Head Space

It's been a while since I posted anything to this blog but I am finally setting aside some time to do so and to catch up with it all. I have still been taking photos and keeping notes so it's all there to share as I begin to progress with it.

For those that don't know, I took the opportunity to return to England for Christmas and New Year but have since decided to stay here until July. That opportunity came about after my plans changed following the theft of my touring bike in Barcelona last October, and some hastily rearranged volunteering with Workaway for the whole of winter, did not work out. I should have been spending the four winter months (from the start of December), near Perpignan but found myself at the other end of the Pyrenees near Bilbao and Santander. So, with no plans and winter approaching I decided to get the ferry back home from Santander to Portsmouth.

Once home I began reflecting upon all I had experienced in the six months in France and Spain and something which kept coming into my mind was Permaculture. I discovered Permaculture whilst staying with my second wwoof host in Brittany in May. Essentially it is concerned with growing ones own food but with a huge emphasis on earth care, people care, fair share and sustainability. I had always been a consumer in the past but that's all changed since I embarked on this cycle touring adventure. I am currently studying a full Permaculture Design course in Brighton and will complete that in June this year.

In the meantime though, I am already starting to plan the next leg of cycle tour and plan to go back to France and continue with the adventure from July 1st. I am already getting itchy feet!

In order to combat the moments of agitation, frustration and restlessness I seem to be feeling at the moment, a cycling friend (@cycle2everest), whom I met whilst cycling along the Loire Valley in July last year, suggested I give meditation a go. I have never really been "in-touch" with myself in that way before but I figured it wouldn't hurt to try. It might make future solo cycle touring adventures a little easier to relax into also. They suggested www.getsomeheadspace.com. I have only tried the first 10 minutes session today but it seems alright and the website is very nice looking...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cycle Touring Day 210

Ahead of finally getting back on the road tomorrow, now that the new bike has arrived, today I took it out for a couple of test cycles today, just in case a wheel falls off or something 50km away from here!

The last time I was cycling, it was in hot and sunny Barcelona, today though, back near Poitiers, it's bloody freezing out. The winter cycling clothes will certainly be residing in the easier-to-get-access-to front panniers from now on! It took until I was already undertaking the first test cycle to realise it though. Christ my ears were cold!

By doing two test cycles I wanted to see how the bike handled compared to the aluminium Specialized Tricross I had before. This new Kona Sutra is steel, so I wondered how it differed and if I would be able to notice a difference even.

Unladen, I didn't really notice much of a difference at all but was delighted that the Kona still felt like riding a road bike rather than a possibly cumbersome tourer. My fear was that the ride would feel completely different when I wanted to go for a ride without all my gear, but I am happy to report that it doesn't at all. Fully loaded, the steel ride certainly felt a lot firmer and more responsive almost immediately. Being aluminium the Specialized often felt quite "spongy" and unresponsive.

Materials aside, it will take me a while to get used to the different gear changing position, I think. Previously I had brake lever/gear shifters and they were a dream to use. Changing up and down with my index and middle fingers felt so natural. With the gear levers now at the ends of the drop handles, one has to keep taking ones hands off of the bars to change gear. This is not too much of a hassle on the flat, but when climbing I can envisage it becoming a real pain. The beauty of the brake lever/shifters is that you can change front and rear derailleurs at the same time. A feat which is now impossible.

Only time will tell if these new rims are really suitable for the job, so the only thing that needs addressing right now is that saddle. Even on the 38km I did today, I was starting to get a little uncomfortable. The only other problem at the moment is not having a stand. Although I intend to order this Click-Stand as soon as I can.


"Breathe better with maize. One hectare of maize absorbs the CO2 emitted by 18 cars", apparently. It doesn't say over what period of time though, unless that's in the small print which I couldn't read. Maybe it's over the lifetime of the crop.


Fully loaded and all set, ready to get back on the road once again. It's a real pain at the moment though, not having a stand.




Elevation and Statistics

Click on the elevation profiles to explore the route maps in RunKeeper



Daily Totals
Distance : 37.73km
Cycling Time : 1 hour 45 minutes
Max Speed : 48.5kmh
Max Elevation : 155m

Cumulative Totals
Distance : 7,126.55km
Cycling Time : 421 hours 15 minutes
Max Speed : 70.8kmh
Max Elevation : 2001m

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Family and Other Animals

So far this year I have encountered a vast menagerie along the way whilst cycle touring. Here are a few of the star turns.

You gonna need a hand eating those sandwiches at all are you?

What so you think? Convincing? Apparently those Golden Retrievers made a bleedin' fortune at this during the 70s and 80s with their Guide Dogs for the Blind scam. No, none of it! Blew it all on big roll for the little ones. Wasted most of that too, so they did. All they did was run around the house dragging it behind them. Bunch of criminals that lot!

You want to take me with you! @JasperJRT who belongs to @FestinaGirl trying to hypnotise me into taking him with me. Look into my eyes...

Looking nonchalant, just before he stole my map. Git!

...97...98...99...100...Coming!

Oh, Jesus Christ!
With worm in beak en route back to feed the little ones in the nest.

Offspring fed, heading back out to find more grub.

I thought it was an otter but apparently it's a Coypu.



I was jolly surprised at the close-up quality of this taken with the iPhone.
Who you calling a slag? Stag! I said Stag Beetle. You watch it! I could take your finger off with these bad boys!

Woof. Woof. No, that's not right is it?!?

Oh, I've hundreds of impersonations in my repertoire. Check this one out... Run over by a car!

The biggest papillon de nuit that I ever did see. You can't really tell from the photo but this thing was about 3 inches long!

At the disaster that was wwoof five. This "thing" is a cat apparently. It looks more like a Jawa to me!

Ugly little bleeder ain't he!?!

It's a donkey jacket! Thank you. I'm here all week! In fact, I'm here all the bloody time. In the same field! I'm thinking of taking this stuff on the road though. Maybe forming a band or something, y'know. Him? Nah, he's not interested in that stuff, all he wants to do is eat grass all day. He's got no ambition at all that fella.

How on earth do all the other guys land on these things without crushing them? I must be doing something wrong!

I'm the black sheep of the family!

You talkin' to me?

Then who the hell else are you talkin' to? You talkin' to me? 

Well I'm the only one here.

Who the flip do you think you're talking to?

Please will you play "pull the blanket" with me?


Where's all this corn then?

Oh, I think I remember seeing some in the far field over yonder ;) Why don't you go get us some.

Heh, heh, heh. He fell for it again! Nom, nom, nom.

You're killing me!

Ok, what shall we play next? Yoghurt box on the head?

Quick! We gotta destroy the evidence before that brown fella gets back!

Job done.

Let's waddle!

What do you think of my beard? It's a goatee!

Heh, heh, heh.

What do you think of my beard? It's a go... He's told you already hasn't he? He's always stealing my lines that fella!

Eye. Eye.

You're not! You're a goose! But I can do the neck thing and everything! Go on then, let's have a gander. Oh yeah, so you can. But you're still a goose!

Wanna hear a joke?

Ok, it goes like this. I say, "What do you think of my beard?"

I've heard it before!

What do you think of my goatee? Do you mean beard? Oh bollocks, yeah! What do you think of my beard? You haven't got a beard. Shit!

If you see those ducks...

...will you let us know?

If you see those geese...

Hold on, it's in here somewhere.

He'll never find it. Seen it. Pinched it. Spent it.

Right, I'm gonna keep an eye on him from now on.

Are those two at it again? I can't watch this anymore.

They bore me rigid with their cat and mouse show.

Wake me when it's time to eat!

Try and take an arty one this time. Those lady cats go crazy for that stuff.

Did you get it then?

Honestly, there's something scratching around outside the window, I can hear it!

You were right. It's a bloody praying mantis!

See, I told ya. I'm just glad it wasn't a spider. I don't like spiders. Right, I'm going for a sleep.

Wake me when it's time to eat!

He'll love this when he wakes up!

If he wakes up that is! Although, even when he does, he won't be going very far since the other fellas tied his tail and paws together!

Right Colin, do you remember what you're supposed to say? Of course! Up here for dancing, down there for think...that's not right is it?!?

So, we're thinking of forming a band. You've heard of the Animals, the Beatles, Gorillaz and the Monkees right?

Well, we're calling ourselves Muse... No Colin, it's Mules! You're such an ass!

Jesus Christ! ...  Sorry :(

Please come back and see us again someday @Specialized_Guy.

How could you leave us? I never got to play yoghurt box on the head either!