Packed and ready for the off

My bike is all packed and ready for the off. It is very overloaded so I’m going to be dropping stuff off at the weekend (once I realise what I don’t need!) in Bristol where I am meeting the family.

Anyway here are a few pics while I eat some lunch.






Bike sorted, just the packing left

Ok a bit more progress.

  • Tyres swapped from Schwalbe Marathon Plus (great for road and track use – not for mountain biking) to WTB Nano (ok on road, good for bikepacking on the Welsh Ride Thing)
  • Mudguards removed (probably don’t fit with the WTB Nano and anyway I don’t want to have to spend the time removing them at the start of the Welsh Ride Thing)
  • Pedals swapped from everyday flat to rather old Shimano PD-A520 pedals (SPD clip one side, flat the other). Also switched my Specialized MTB shoes from the clips for Frog pedals to SPD clips.
  • Done a quick check that a) nothing is coming loose and b) that I have the right set of allen, torx and spanners for the trip.

Can’t avoid the haircut and clothes packing much longer ;-)

Carradice Carradry panniers upgrades

As I prepare to go out the door for my sabbatical retreat I have just completed some upgrades on my Carradice Carradry panniers.

It does not fix the way they clip onto the racks. I take comfort from the fact that as I find the click fittings very hard to undo so would a thief.

It does not fix the squeak from the plastic backing to the rack. Maybe gluing something onto the plastic face would help.

It does fix 2 things:

  • The pop rivets that hold the metal bar for the clips onto the bag itself will break. I have had about 10 rivets break so far (in 2.5 years). The solution is to replace the rivets with M5 bolts and use a big penny washer on the inside so you don’t pull through the corex lining. Never had one of these fail.
  • The zip pulls on the pockets of the rear panniers break. So cut off the stub and replace it with cord. Much easier to use and won’t break.

Still nothing like as robust or convenient as Ortlieb Classics but stronger material than Ortlieb Plus panniers.

An over the top cycle touring kitchen


Packing review has led to a very cut down kitchen than now fits in one front pannier instead of two. A 2.75kg weight saving.

I’m giving Jane all the bits I’m not taking as I’ll see her in a few days and can change my mind if I need to.

[end update]

H’mm, pretty sure I have packed a very over the top kitchen for my cycle touring.

I do want to be able to take the time to cook proper meals and within a reasonable time. So I don’t want to be limited to one pot cooking nor to have to wash-up before I can make a coffee. So at this minute I have:

  • Stove 1: Optimus Vega. Super stable, very controllable and suitable for very low temperatures.
  • 1371320847_98Stove 2: MSR MicroRocket. Tiny. Fast. Light. Not very controllable.MSR Micro Rocket
  • Both stoves fit inside my Alpkit BruPot which is supposed to boil stuff more quickly due to the heat exchanger on the bottom (although it may not actually help)
  • Next is my simple titanium pot (my largest proper meal pot!). It was from Alpkit but they don’t seem to have it anymore. It has a small gas bottle and some paper kitchen cloths in it.
  • Finally for cooking pots is a simple small pot which has a larger gas bottle inside it.
  • A nested bowl (silicone inside aluminium) resting on top of a spare gas bottle for eating from.
  • A small silicone spatula
  • A kitchen knife inside a shield
  • Titanium knife, fork and spoon set
  • A long handled titanium spork
  • My plastic, insulated Yorkshire Tour de France mug with lid.
  • A very lightweight chopping board (also to be used as a plate, just like in a fancy restaurant)
  • A windshield for the stoves

Then I have a safe water kit

  • Water filter
  • 2 x platypus 2 litre folding water containers with one hose (to be used either to carry fresh water or with the filter)
  • 2 water bottles on the bike

Plus a coffee kit

  • Aeropress coffee maker with paper filtersaero_press_03
  • Porlex mini grindermini-porlex
  • TankCoffee Cameroon Hosnia Beans

When it comes to the Welsh Ride Thing off road bikepacking then it will be the MicroRocket, one bottle of gas, one pan, no coffee kit. Until then I’ll give myself a little time to see what can be sent home.

The whole lot fits easily in my 2 front panniers along with the first aid kit and 4 emergency dried meals. Total weight is about 6.75kg

Cornish rides

While on holiday in Cornwall I managed three rides. All on Strava with some photos.

Campsite to Liskeard for some shopping and a cash machine.

The Camel trail with Jane.

From the campsite to Fowey via the Bodinick Ferry.

Sabbatical is go!

Actually my sabbatical started a week ago :-)

Monday morning last week was busy clearing up the little jobs that I just hadn’t managed to get around to in the rush to Easter. Then Jane and I took our still almost new caravan to Cornwall.IMG_20150407_155417 We got back yesterday evening.

Now a mad rush today and tomorrow to

  • get our middle son to complete and submit his dissertation by tomorrow lunchtime
  • get myself ready for the first sabbatical tour which starts Wednesday morning.

So I’ve been busy sorting out lots of details. This first tour includes 6 cycle sections and 4 “other” bits

  • Cycle section 1: Syston to Bristol approx 135 miles
  • Pause 1: Staying in Bristol for 2 nights. Meeting the family for a 21st birthday celebation (no not mine) plus going to Bespoked, the UK Handmade Bicycle Show.
  • Cycle section 2: A roundabout route to Cardiff with a few days in the Forest of Dean approx 75 miles.
  • Pause 2: A weekend in Cardiff, meeting Jane and seeing family.
  • Cycle section 3: Cardiff to Pennant. Heading towards The Welsh Ride Thing approx 97 miles
  • Pause 3: Taking part in The Welsh Ride Thing my route is approx 100 miles and 11,000 feet of climbing
  • Cycle section 4: Nipping up to St Beuno’s on Monday afternoon and Tuesday approx 68 miles
  • Pause 4: An 8 day individually guided retreat at St Beuno’s (yes me 8 days of silence!!!!)
  • Cycle section 5: Ride home to Syston. Approx 150 miles

I’m just trying to sort out the packing. Plus a couple of decisions to make about the bike. For the Welsh Ride Thing I need mountain bike tyres, no mudguards and no racks. I am planning to remove the racks and leave my panniers at the start of the WRT. The questions are about the tyres and mudguards. Should I ride to Cardiff with mudguards and my normal Marathon Plus tyres? I can then swap tyres and remove the mudguards. Or should I start with the mountain bike tyres and no mudguards to save time that weekend and increase my self-sufficiency?

At least I have now finished my route planning for the Welsh Ride Thing which you can see here:

Create Maps
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from millions at MapMyRide


Note that throughout my sabbatical you can track my progress on my tracking page or directly using spotwalla.

Little loaded test

So I stepped in to talk to a Senior Fellowship Group this afternoon. As I expected those who were setting up were asking me about my sabbatical so it was fortunate that I had planned to talk about it a bit.

That meant I took projector, laptop 25 metre extension cable and a whole lot of camping stuff to show them. So I threw everything quickly into 4 panniers. Hence:



It was one of those nice afternoons when I had time for lunch after a morning meeting before riding gently there. On the way back I was able to take the scenic route home still giving time for a few jobs before my evening meeting. Very nice:

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
02:37:53 00:46:48 8.55 10.96 22.37 206.69
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

I am learning to cope with hills

Today was quite a hilly ride from Launde Abbey to Oakham and back (1,472 feet climbing in 12.1 miles) on my Bullitt Cargobike. It was also very windy with a headwind all the way back. I have done the ride many times before in the 8 years I have been coming to Launde Abbey for our District Retreat, but only once before on my cargobike (and that was before I had the cargobox).

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
02:18:47 01:23:34 12.06 8.66 45.63 1,473.10
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

While I am still not very fast:-) I think I have made a lot of progress since I wrote Getting defeatist me up hills for years ago. I’m not sure I’m a lot fitter and the weight I was hoping to lose at the time didn’t stay off, so I am a similar weight now.

However, mentally I think I have made progress when it comes to climbing hills. I don’t panic that I won’t get to the top. I am able to relax into plodding up for however long it takes and if I get off to walk it is no longer the end of the world (although I didn’t have to walk at all today). I can now look ahead and see the top in the distance without that frightening me.

My limited amount of running (my first 5k since May yesterday) does seem to help, especially when it comes to standing on the pedals when you can no longer spin in 1st gear.

All this has been without specialised, dedicated and committed training. Events like the Ford Fiesta help, but generally I think it is the combination of just riding for transport and adding longer rides into the mix. Learning to relax and not get so stressed also helps and part of that is knowing that I and the bike are reliable and so it does not matter if things take a bit longer.

Oh and two other points about today’s ride.

a) I wasn’t wearing any cycling specific clothing. T-shirt, light fleece and Acclimatise Fleece, normal casual trousers, trainers.

b) I’m not too tired after. Ready for an evening session on the retreat.

Neither of these would have been true 4 years ago.

A good bike choice :-)

So after deliberations I did use my Bullitt Cargobike to ride 15.7 miles to Launde Abbey today.

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
01:30:25 01:27:18 15.67 10.77 31.32 836.61
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

This is why:


By that I mean that you can’t tell that I have a weeks clothing, laptop computer etc etc all securely locked in the metal cargo box.

That means I can enjoy the ride without worrying that all my possessions are on show.

And no I wasn’t quick but I did manage to cycle up all the hills (and at 14.8 miles it does get to 19.2% which is quite steep enough for me on a loaded bike).

Which bike shall I pick for work trip?

So in an hour or so I am off on my annual trip to Launde Abbey for the Northampton Methodist District retreat for ministers and other staff. It is about 15 miles using a route designed to miss the big hill and traffic upto Tilton-on-the-Hill.

Some years I have had time to make it a longer ride but not this time as life is a bit busy. In fact it has been so busy that I haven’t yet re-converted by Bike for Life (Shand Stoater) back to everyday use after turning it into a wonderful Bikepacking bike for the Ford Fiesta.

So I could pack very minimally and use the Stoater in Bikepacking mode, sadly though I really need my laptop computer so that is ruled out.

I could take as little extra as possible and use my Whyte Suffolk (which temporarily has a rear rack on) but it isn’t very far and I don’t like using that bike for too much load carrying.

So I’m going to use my Bullitt cargobike. Very quick and easy to pack (just throw the bag in and go)

P7100060One of the many great things about this option is that nobody actually knows what I’m doing. You can’t tell I’m off on a 4 day/3 night trip and if my route happened to take my past a coffee shop (sadly it doesn’t unless I’m ready early and detour) I can leave all my stuff locked in and secure.

Having multiple bikes is great because I like choice :-)



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