Completed my first 3 mile / 5 km run in 35 years!

Wow, so pleased with myself today. I actually managed to get myself out of the door for a run! I had only one goal which was to run 5k as that seems quite important given that I am in the Leicester Sprint Triathlon in two weeks time.

I started at a pace that could be described as:

  • can you really call that running?
  • watch out for overtaking tortoises
  • this is embarrassingly slow

but I managed to just keep going. Clearly a big problem with previous attempts has been to run to fast caused by not wanting to be embarrassed.

Beyond achieving my goal of actually running the 5k distance the other good news was that I was not overtaken by anyone walking or by an canal boats!!!!

I figure the faster club rides with Syston Syclers have really helped my fitness. The other thing that really seems to have helped is running in neoprene knee supports, at least so far my knees are not hurting which is a first.

Also for the first timer I didn’t get any pain in my shins while running. I think the slower pace and not mixing in walking might have helped. Whatever it was a very good thing to not have!


Sabbatical Comfort cooking

So I am enjoying thinking about my sabbatical, still a whole year away. I know that I’ll be riding my gorgeous Bike for Life and I have a fantastic chair sorted.

So time to think about another key priority. Food! I’m not interested in going totally minimal (see Ultralight Cycling) where you either eat dry cold food or at a restaurant. I will be camping for at least 5 weeks and want to eat well, for the most part cooking food from real ingredients rather than packets of instant meals.

We don’t have suitable stoves at the moment. All we have are the very basic sort that sit on a disposable gaz bottle, the key two problems with these are stability (we have knocked them over several times) and lack of a windshield (because they sit on top of the gas bottle they are too high for the stuff you tend to have lying around.

markill_canister_adapterAfter thinking about lots of fuel possibilities (meths, paraffin, petrol) I have decided to stick with gas for simplicity. In particular gas is more widely available in the UK than the liquid fuels (at least in the quantities I want to carry). However there are two main standards: Camping Gaz vs everyone else. Fortunately I have found a gadget to help with this: The Edelrid Valve Canister Adapter.

So I am free to choose any stove that has an EN417 screw gas connection and use either of the two main gas bottle standards (EN417 and Camping Gaz CV Clic system).

I have decided to carry two stoves. One as the main cooking stove while the other is used for boiling water and anything that does not need fine control.

At the moment I am looking at an Optimus Vega Stove as the main cooking stove and a MSR MicroRocket as the extra.

1371320847_98The Optimus can take a wide variety of pan sizes, is very stable and has a windshield. It allows the gas bottle to be turned upside down for cooking at very low temperatures where the gas becomes a liquid. It is still only 178 grams and folds very small.

MSR Micro RocketThe MSR MicroRocket is probably the smallest gas stove and weighs only 75 grams. Yet it is supposed to be very fast and very stable. Seems an ideal stove that will mostly be used for things in water (apparently it creates a local hotspot which without a thick pan is likely to cause food to burn in that spot).

That only leaves a few much less significant issues such as pots/pans to decide :-)

Hoping to get these sorted for Greenbelt this summer.

Innovative Cargobike by Rob English

English Cycles Electric CargobikeWhile I don’t have the same need to transport a cat, this new cargobike by Rob English is full of innovation.

  • If you are going for an eBike then having the motor replace the Bottom Bracket makes great sense (weight in the right place and you are free to use hub gears).
  • The integrated racks are beautifully done. Details such as supporting the rear mudguard to the rack are very neat.
  • Fully integrated lighting is a oft missed must.

Sabbatical preparation Comfort Camping

As I have demonstrated before I like comfort when camping. So my Sabbatical preparation includes comfort camping issues. I’m going to be camping for about 5 weeks in total so comfort is important. On the other hand for 4 of those weeks I am going to be cycling up to 65 miles each day, so lightweight and small volume are also important.

I have one new toy since I went cargobike camping. A fantastic lightweight chair. The Helinox Chair One which we bought in Cotswold Outdoor. At 960 grams it is tiny and yet also very comfortable. Ideal for the comfort loving cycle tourer seeking a refreshing sabbatical :-)

helinox-chair-one-bag helinox-chair-one

Epworth Pilgrimage tyre upgrade for Jane

Our Epworth Pilgrimage at the end of May includes a number of gravel sections and some huge potholes. Jane’s bike still has the original 23mm tyres on it so I have just ordered her an upgrade to 25mm Schwalbe Durano Plus Rigid tyres. I used the 28mm version on my Lands End to John o’Groats ride and didn’t get a single puncture.

I am hoping that the mudguards she has will still fit!

For the actual ride I am going to suggest I remove her rear rack and instead lend her one of my Bridge Street saddlebags (I’m very pleased with these!) that will save a bit of weight to make up for the heavier tyres. ;-)

I need more sponsors or I’ll be embarrassed. Please help

At the moment I am doing better at recruiting extra riders for our Epworth pilgrimage than I am at getting sponsors for me! We are up to 8 riders, 1 walker and 1 runner so far.

Now I want some more sponsors! We are raising money for two great causes:

Youth Cafe in Syston. We want to convert part of the Methodist Church Centre into a self contained, youth friendly venue. The first target is to get the work completed (new entrance created by reconfiguring the toilets) so that we can open as many evenings each week as possible. Later we want to be able to open during the day too as a Community Hub. Syston is really lacking places for young people to go.

The Development Work at Epworth Old Rectory. This great museum has been having lots of work done to make restore it and making it a better place to visit. The place where John and Charles Wesley grew up is an important piece of heritage, not just for Methodists but for us all as the Wesleys had a profound impact on the whole country, indeed the much of the world.

The total I raise will get split 50% to each of these causes.

You can sponsor me here.

Please do so because it is starting to get embarrassing as all the others leave me behind ;-)

Bike for Life tweaks

So I have actually done some Bike for Life tweaks!

One bit was some maintenance and I got a Bike Shop to do it for me! The back brake seemed to have gradually lost hydraulic fluid so that the lever was pulling all the way to the handlebar. As I had it bled just after Christmas this seemed to indicate a leak. So I got the Leisure Lakes Bike shop at Long Eaton to have a look. They found the ends of the hose were damaged so have cleaned them up. Hoping that fixes it for a long time.

I have also done a couple of things myself.

VO Rando Integ Dec-1I have this neat little front rack. The horizontal bar is fixed to my bag and lifts off. So to fit the bag you just drop the two rods into the rack uprights. However, the uprights were a bit long so a) the bag didn’t rest on the rack itself and b) it was tricky to get the bag on due to the lack of clearance under the stem.

So I took it all off (fiddly because the wheel and mudguard have to come off) and cut the rack uprights down by just over 1cm. All fits much better now.

When putting everything together I decided to move my front light to this rack instead of the top of the low rider. To be honest I can’t think why I didn’t do this from the beginning. It means the light is about 20cm higher which is good for visibility.

As an aside I am getting an extra one of these horizontal attachment bars for the rack (they are called Decaleurs). The UK supplier is FreshTripe. My cunning plan is to see whether it might be a way to quickly attach my tent or other camping equipment to the rack which might be more useful than the randonneuring bag when on my sabbatical trip.

Sabbatical Routes Stage 1

Stage 1 of my 2015 Sabbatical is from Syston to Lindisfarne.

I am looking at taking 5 days for this first stretch. As this will be the longest fully loaded ride that I have done I am being very cautious with the daily distances. After all to rush would defeat the point of a sabbatical!

Day 1: Syston to north of Lincoln (56.5 miles)

Camp at Kellaway Park Campsite

Day 2: North of Lincoln to Scholes (63.5 miles)

Stay with Family

Day 3: Scholes to Barnard Castle (63 miles)

Bowfield Farm Campsite

Day 4: Barnard Castle to north of Morpeth (64.5 miles)

Camp at Forget-Me-Not Country Park Campsite

Day 5: North of Morpeth to Lindisfarne (41.5 miles)

Camp at West Kyloe Farm

Sabbatical Planning

I am enjoying myself doing some very early planning for my Sabbatical which is in approximately 12 months time. In the Methodist Church the sabbatical is a wonderful gift to ministers, one that is not optional. We get our first after 10 years and then every 7 years after that. This will be my first sabbatical.

The sabbatical is for 3 months and should include one major Christian festival. I am planning mine to start soon after Easter 2015 and so I’ll be on Sabbatical for Pentecost 2015.

The key part of my sabbatical is a cycling pilgrimage between three Christian sites.

I plan to cycle between them all. As soon as the 2015 programmes for Iona and St Beuno’s come out I’ll be looking to book something at each of them. I know I want an 8 day Individually Guided Retreat at St Beuno’s, when I know when they are I’ll hopefully find a suitable course at Iona that finishes 10 to 14 days earlier. I plan to be less organised at Lindisfarne.

After St Beuno’s I might take a detour down to Cardiff where there will hopefully be a 11 month old grandson to visit :-)

This will be my longest ever cycle ride and I plan to be camping most nights. Given that this is the UK with a need to plan routes to avoid major roads and to get to suitable campsites (ones with facilities can be quite widely spread) I will be planning the routes fully and loading them onto my Garmin.

Beautiful Syston Syclers club ride

So today I was leading a small group (3 of us) on the “yellow” Syston Syclers Club Ride. We started at the same time as the “slow” 45 mile Red group (which included some new riders as well as some progressing to the longer distance).

We had an absolutely glorious ride to Newtown Lynford, and this time we all returned on the road rather than through Bradgate Park.

My Whyte Suffolk was fantastic and I was pretty pleased to discover that I had broken 9 personal records on the ride. Seems like it must be a pretty quick bike :-)


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