Saturday 24 July 2021

My biggest challenge.

bar bag

Last month I rode over 100 miles for charity. What to do next? I had been thinking about riding to Cornwall for some time. But kept it to myself, maybe not sure I could do it. A visit to see my sister started the planning again.

The route is two hundred and fifty miles. To come home I can get a train to Clapham Junction and cycle the last bit.

I'll have around seventeen hours of daylight to do it.

At the moment, my thinking is:

Ride from around four o'clock on the 21st June, stopping every four hours for proper food and drink. In between use energy gels and bars.

Arrive at my sisters around nine thirty.

Rest for a couple of days and leave from Bodmin on the Friday.

Sounds simple. ;-)

I'll have to be able to carry more food with me, and warm/waterproof clothing. I now have a handlebar bag and will need to investigate a bigger saddle bag. And be able to charge the sat nav, and phone. Both of which will be needed, but unlikely to last the distance. I have a power block, it will have to fit in one of the new bags.

I don't think it's too ambitious, I have done a few rides of over hundred miles, the longest being hundred and sixty two.

The first part of the puzzle shown above; the handlebar bag. Considering changing the bar tape to red; what do you think? I can pack a lightweight rain coat, and food, with the net pockets on the front adding to the capacity and ease of access on the move. I think it looks great, just the right size. And doesn't interfere with or alter the steering very much. Saddle bag to follow later in the year.

The next part will be what to wear; I got very uncomfortable after about a hundred and twenty miles, see the hundred and sixty two link above. Maybe expensive is better, I'll hopefully find out before June. I bought an expensive pair of padded shorts. They will be tested in the coming months.

Being vegan, food maybe a problem, most cakes, sandwiches and snacks sold in cafes and shops contain eggs and dairy. I have continued to try different options since this post. I do think they are expensive, so will be looking for alternatives.  I'll pack some figs and dates, for a sugary pick-me-up.

Lastly I need to maintain or improve my fitness. I'm not sure how to improve it though. I ride everyday; big miles on Saturday with Oxted CC, then on Sunday a ride of around twenty miles to meet Matt in Westerham. Maybe I can change the intensity. At least one day a week on the trainer; I definitely work harder in that hour than during the after work rides.

My bike should be fine, it'll be serviced in preparation. Although there is always the temptation to upgrade bits of it. Lighter is faster; and I could look at the comfort, make some adjustments. To be honest it's a much better bike than when I bought it. It's been gradually upgraded. With new wheels being the last improvement.

Tuesday 20 July 2021

Happy days


oxted cycling club group ride

I have mentioned this before, cycling is mood altering. But last weekend was better than ever. 

For five reasons: I rode a challenging route with Oxted CC, I rode over to see my mum and sister, talked to my other sister on the phone whilst there, sat in the garden with my wife on Sunday, and chatted with Matt in Westerham on Sunday morning.

The last time I had been so very, very relaxed was in Cornwall and before that the few days with Fitz and Alli.
I needed the above to make the weekend complete.

Thanks to everyone who contributed.

Saturday 10 July 2021

Cornwall photowalks

cornwall farm cottage

My wife and I are just back from seeing my sister in Cornwall. For the second time we stayed at Treworgans Farm, Ladock. It's adapted for Marcia's needs and isn't very far from Sheila's house so it's ideal. The last time was in 2019.

I took it easy on Sunday, and after breakfast I went for a walk. Had to wait for the rain to stop, and not be out too long. It always looked like the torrential downpours would soon return.

At a walking pace you notice so much more, the picture above was the cottage from the twisty lane towards Probus. The one below was taken as I left the farm at the beginning of the walk.

cornwall farm cottage and field

The rest are what drew my attention.

dry stone wall

snake head

The village of Probus has a telephone box that hasn't been converted for another use. Looking a bit old, run down and neglected. I know how it feels. ;-)

poppies cornwall



Side note, everyone I walked passed every time I went shopping in Probus said hello. How nice is that!?

Walk number two, I headed for Ladock. The path is a lot more enclosed, less expansive views. It dawned on me how many wind turbines pepper the landscape, are they too much of a blight? We all want power, with less emissions, so they will likely increase in number.  I searched for a vista without them. We look out across hedgerows, dry stone walls, and a patchwork of cultivated fields, mankind has shaped the landscape for a long time, and we have gotten use to it.

wind turbines

Kept an eye out for smaller details.

Another short walk across the fields at the back of the farm house had plenty of wide views. 

patchwork fields

patchwork fields cottage

And another wind turbine.

wind turbine

The weather was changeable but we got out on Thursday to Pencarrow House and Gardens, meeting Sheila for something to eat in the cafe. We went for a walk around the grounds, heading for the hill fort. I'd advise you don't bother; we walked through it without realising. It was a long ascent too. And the view spot; wasn't. The sunken garden is accessed by steps, so it was another place to bypass for Marcia. I took some pictures, Marcia did have Sheila to talk to while I did. If we hadn't wasted time with the invisible iron age encampment we could have seen the lake on the other side of the estate. Most important we all had a long chat in the sun, before heading home on Saturday.

sundial pencarrow house

fountain pencarrow house

sundial pencarrow house

pencarrow house across the sunken garden

roses by the cafe pencarrow house

A last few words about the cafe; tasty food, served by very friendly people. It is expensive though, and whilst the cutlery was disposable, it could be composted. It arrived at our table in polystyrene containers; not environmentally friendly.

There weren't any sheep in the field next to our cottage this year, just an elusive pheasant. It took a few days to sneak up on him.

elusive pheasant

Thursday 1 July 2021

Supported causes

ascnd jersey

Last week I rode over 100 miles for the charity Mind. This week I took delivery of a jersey in support of a site providing a hub for mental health. Take a look. It encourages talking, and removing the stigmare still surrounding mental health.

It's not a sign of weakness to admit you need help, a lot of the time you just need to talk. The listener only needs to do that, a solution is not always needed. Talking can reduce loneliness, our minds can build very effective walls. I couldn't have breached mine without help. And that didn't really start until I wrote about my experiences. I guess I wasn't ready to let anyone in to my world until then.

There are some powerful stories in the interviews, Nick speaks very well about his story.

I had talked to my doctor about what I was going through; maybe I didn't express myself well enough, or downplayed how bad I was feeling. The advice I got was to find a less stressful job. 

There is a great sense of achievement knowing I pretty much helped myself in the early days. Arranging a short Cognative Behavioural Therapy course confirmed I had been moving in the right direction. The big step forward was definitely talking.

You'll also notice the picture is a very rare "selfie" in the jersey bought to highlight and help ASCND. Taken on the bench where I had sat in March 2020 and admitted to myself that I needed to talk.

If you're unsure about your mental health, seek help. I think doctors are better at this now. Go to the Mind website.

The CBT course I attended was booked online.