Category Archives: A Bike for Life

Some November calculations

As tomorrow is my day off I’ve just been calculating my travel expenses for November.
  • 4 car journeys (none possible by bike due to volume of stuff) total 229.8 miles at 45p per mile = £103.41
  • 52 journeys by bike total 336.96 miles at 20p per mile = £67.39
Savings from cycling:
  • cycling 336.96 directly saved the Church £84.24 this month.
  • cycling also saved me money as 45p per mile does not cover the full cost of buying and running a car when you don’t use it much for work. On the other hand 20p per mile is far more than the running cost of a bike (around 1 or 2 pence per mile) so contributes towards the purchase price. If this were annually then it would be about £725 a year above the running cost or a £1,500 bike every 2 years. It does make a very expensive Bike for Life look like good value though. The full cost of even a £5,000 bike is earned in around 3.5 years. Mine is now 3 years old and good for another 30 years which makes it an excellent bargain 🙂
  • It also used around 12,000 calories (around 15 full roast dinners) which is very approximately 1.5kg (3lbs) of body fat. Those figures are very rough indeed, however, it is undeniable that cycling 336 miles in a month does help with my weight management and general fitness.
  • It also saved in the region of 130kg of CO2 emissions.
Disclaimer: the cycling figure contains 2 adjustments. One a reduction as I chose to take a longer route to Market Harborough for fun. The other an increase as once due to tiredness Jane came and collected me by car and I have only charged as if I had cycled home.
So far this month 393 actual miles cycled in total which means I haven’t done as much leisure cycling as normal. Still a better month for work miles so it balances out.

BearBones 200 live tracking

You can see this weekend’s ride on Spotwalla:

Or it should display here:

Note that the thick blue line is the official route. My actual tracking should be showing on top of it. This is the BearBones 200km bikepacking ride

If this is not working then see


Preparing to go light on the BB200

On Saturday at about 8am I start the BearBones 200. This means preparing to ride as light as possible because there is a LOT of climbing on this 200km ride. I’ll be riding my Shand Stoater “Bike for Life” in a very stripped down guise.

Initial estimates (which because of the way online applications measure height are probably an underestimate) are of 14,300 feet (4,360 m) of climbing. That is a lot more than I have ever climbed in one ride before (as well as by far the longest mostly off road ride). The elevation profile looks like this:


I do not intend or expect to do this without stopping for some sleep, which will be just a matter of crashing out in my bivy bag somewhere along the route. However, given the amount of climbing I’m trying harder than ever to keep the weight down. The most effective way to do this would be to not eat again before Saturday morning – but I’m not contemplating that 😉

What I am doing is going more minimal than ever before.

  • stripped down tools and repairs kit
    • tiny ratchet handle and heads for all the fittings on the bike
    • 8 & 10 mm spanner
    • 2 tyre levers
    • hand tyre pump with CO2 support
    • 2 CO2 cartridges
    • self adhesive tube patches
    • 1 spare inner tube
    • a few zip ties
    • some insulation tape
    • spare drive belt


  • No cooking kit at all. Just one titanium spork for eating takeaways.


  • For sleeping I’m taking just:
    • Bivy bag
    • Exped UL7 sleeping mat with pillow/pump
    • Sleeping quilt
    • thermal long johns, long sleeved top and socks. If I need more I’ll just add my cycling clothes. If I get too cold when cycling these could be added.




    • Some food that can be eaten cold. Full list later.
    • Some wet wipes
    • First aid kit including sudocrem
    • Fully charged USB battery and usb cable to recharge my Garmin sat nav
    • lights (Exposure Joystick [maybe helmet mount], Exposure Tracer, Dynamo front light, cateye rear light)
    • clothes to wear while cycling
      • 3/4 length shorts with separate padded inner
      • waterproof socks
      • Shimano MT91 Boots
      • Warm gloves
      • waterproof top
      • short sleeve top
      • thin long sleeve top
      • warm windproof and shower proof top
      • helmet
    • Mobile phone (switched off to save battery as there will rarely be a signal)
    • Garmin 1000 with the route loaded. Only extra sensor will be heart rate monitor to keep battery use down.
    • SPOT Satellite tracker (and you will be able to track me from this blog – but I’m not allowed to publish the route until I start).
    • some cash and one bank card
    • Car key


    My intention is to fit this in 3 bags strapped to the bike:

    • Seatpost: Wildcat Gear Tiger with Alpkit tapered dry bag
    • Handlebar: Wildcat Gear Lion harness with Alpkit dual 20 litre dry bag
    • Handlebar: Wildcat Gear Lioness

    I’ll be starting from Llanbrynmair at about 8am and trying to get to Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant at about 72 miles before 10pm when Spar shop closes and ideally while the chippy is open. I’ll make sure I can survive if I don’t get there in time to stock up.

    After that it will just depend how I feel and the weather. My only goal is to finish before the limit limit of 36 hours although the finish closes at 10pm on Sunday. Realistically in Wales I don’t expect to find any shops open on Sunday. Maybe I’ll find a pub at some random point in the day for some hot food.


Conference travel coming up :-)

I’m attending a conference at Cliff College starting Friday lunchtime and ending Saturday lunchtime.

Fortunately, it makes a great cycle ride there and back. Current route is just over 63 miles so I might need to go the wrong way a few times to increase it a bit 😉 I’ve made it go on minor roads to increase the climbing to just over 4,500 feet as light training for the BearBones 200. It will mean a bit of an early start though.

You can see the route on Strava and it will tick off 2 of the remaining 7 60+ day rides to get my Eddington number up to 60 by the end of the year 🙂

As I’ll have finished preparing my Bike for Life for the BareBones 200 I think I’ll sort out my packing to use it in light weight bikepacking mode (essentially 2 drybags in WildcatGear Lion and Tiger harnesses plus my Lioness bag for bits). I might add an Alpkit Stem Cell for snacks.

And for anyone interested the conference is “Marriage and Relationships: facilitation training event” for the Methodist Connexion 😉


Bike for life 9,000 mile, 3 year service

Big Service time for my Bike for Life! Although I am slightly jumping the gun by describing it as 9,000 miles and 3 years (currently 8,500 miles and only 2 years 10 months so far).

I’m jumping the gun not because anything was noticeably wrong but because I wanted to do the preparation for the BareBones 200 in two weekends time. I thought I would use the opportunity to catchup on a number of things that are on my when I get round to it to-do list.

So far the jobs include:

  • Removing the Plug II USB charger as it hasn’t been working since part way through my sabbatical. As that required the headset star nut I’m putting in a Hope Head Doctor.
  • Putting in some more Frame Saver to protect the inside of my frame from rust
  • Replacing the Rohloff Shifter with a “Wave” style one, courtesy of a friend. Should be easier to grip, particularly in the wet (replacing the cables at the same time as the ends are chewed and rethreading them is probably not an option.
  • New Ergon grips as the BioKork ones have worn out. Going to try Ergon GS1 Grips
  • New oil in my Rohloff hub (a bit early but while I’m doing all these jobs).

The rest is just cleaning and stripping off all the general transport stuff (mudguards, racks, stand etc) & changing tyres for offroading during the BB200.

Given the everyday use over nearly 3 years this is not much at all.

Fun and games 🙂


Visualising my Sabbatical

I like this graphic of my sabbatical bike rides (click for larger version):


This is thanks to the brillant website which collects all my rides from Strava and presents them in lots of creative and useful ways.

Here is a similar wheel for my LEJOG ride in 2012:



Crazy inspiring stories

This tale of the Highland Trail 550 by Tom, the fastest finisher is both crazy and inspiring.

Of course he was riding a Shand 🙂

Not that all Shand riders are capable of such feats, even if their bikes are 😉


Packing progress

Since my last post I’m pleased to say I have made some good progress that is going to help considerably with the packing.

Firstly, OutdoorGB have confirmed today that a replacement Exped Sleeping Mat is on it’s way and should arrive tomorrow 🙂 That saves a huge amount of weight and space compared to the next best mat we have.

Secondly, I’ve ordered some new cycling boots. Shimano MT91’s which will save me having to carry hike boots as well as wearing cycling shoes.

mt91-bootsPlus they are going to be ideal for an upcoming autumn adventure (more later). Should arrive tomorrow.

Thirdly, I’ve sorted out my cockpit. My (rather large but comfy) tent, a Vango Banshee 300, fits neatly (without pegs and poles) into my Alkit 20 litre Xtra Dual drybag. That is held in place by my Wildcat Mountain Lion (upgraded to the latest version with tongue) and my Wildcat Lioness. On top of the handlebar is my Tomcat bag.

wildcat-cockpit3 wildcat-cockpit2 wildcat-cockpit1

Fourthly, as my Alpkit Gourdon 20 rucksack was so useful on and off the bike on my last tour I’m going to put that on top of my rear rack. I’ll use it for my sleeping bag and so on instead of using my Wildcat Tiger.

Glad that is all sorted 🙂



Sabbatical Photo Gallery

My sabbatical photos from 2015:


Second sabbatical tour planning

So with less than a week to go before my next Sabbatical Tour I have been working on more detailed plans.

Some of the plans are currently in flux. Due to changing family circumstances what happens after I have been to Iona is currently uncertain. It looks likely that I’ll be joined by Jane and Stephen with the caravan and we will travel across Scotland together. Hopefully that will include some things, like climbing Ben Nevis, that are still on the bucket list that I had not expected to be doing this time.

So I’m currently expected to cycle 2 out of 3 legs (1: Leicester to Iona and 3: Lindisfarne to Leicester) with some day rides between.

I’ve now planned the route in full detail to get to Iona. Irritatingly Strava kept thinking the A6 was a good route which meant a fair bit of manual work to correct. I’ve found campsites as well, including checking I’ll be allowed to stay on a site that says “No single sex bookings” (presumably not many single people will qualify).

Next I need to sort out my Bike for Life (I think it does deserve a wash but mainly need to swap tyres to my Marathon Plus road tyres – the rear WTB Nano is almost completely worn out) and work out what/how I’ll carry stuff. I have 3 challenges with that.

  • I’m planning to use a larger tent (sadly we have nothing between a tiny 1 man tent and a small 3 man tent). I want to be a bit more comfortable and warmer if the weather is bad. The Trekkertent Stealth 1 is amazingly light and small to carry, but it is draughty which makes it cold, and if it is raining when you want to get dressed or eat it is not a comfortable choice.
  • My comfy and tiny Exped Synmat sleeping mat is off to be repaired/replaced. If I don’t get it back in time then the alternative that I have is much bulkier.
  • Just been reading the info from Iona and I really need to take my walking boots. Gulp. They are bulky and while as boots go they are light for cycle touring they are still pretty heavy.

So I am going to be much stricter on not carrying much in the way of spare food and I think I might even leave my coffee kit at home (yes I know, shock horror. But with the extra weight of tent, potentially sleeping mat and boots I need to cut down).

As I’m taking my walking boots I’ve been wondering whether to cut out either my trainers or my crocs. The crocs are light but bulky and are really useful on campsites. However, with a tent I can sit up in it is easier to use trainers than with the stealth. I think the trainers will be much more useful for a week on Iona than the crocs.

I’m hoping there will be a washing machine at Iona Abbey. If so I’ll only take “normal” clothes for a couple of days worth and just wash them. That will be a big saving over my last trip.

As this does not include any off road adventures like The Welsh Ride Thing. I’m going to cut down on the Bikepacking bags that I use. So no frame bag and no fuel pod. Possibly 1 stem cell. On the front I’ll use my full set from Wildcat Gear (Mountain Lion for the Tent, Lioness for electronic gadgets and wallet, Tomcat for tools and spares) along with my Carradry front panniers. Depending on what happens with the sleeping mat I might not use the Wildcat Gear Tiger for my sleeping bag and instead just put it on top of the rear rack.

One key lesson is to rethink how I use the rear pockets on my rear Carradry panniers. The zips leak but the pockets don’t so you get a puddle at the bottom of the pocket everytime it rains. I will still use one for my lock (but remember to put it in with the U at the bottom and the lock at the top). Not sure about the other but anything it it will have to be in an Exped drybag.

Anyway the routes on Strava are:

  • Leicester to Ardrossan. Camping stops
    • just south of Macclesfield (72 miles)
    • between Preston and Lancaster (73 miles)
    • just south of Penrith (70 miles)
    • West of Dumfries (66 miles)
    • North side of Prestwick (59 miles)
  • Arran Camping stop
    • Lochranza campsite (32 miles and 1 ferry)
  • Arran to Oban camping stop
    • Just south of Oban (1 ferry and 61 miles)
  • Crossing Mull with camping stop on Iona
    • Iona campsite (after 2 ferries and about 37 miles)

As before I’ll be using my Satellite tracker once I start riding if you want to know where I’m at. I’ll have my phone and tablet for facebook, twitter and blogging. To try to alleviate battery life as a concern I’m carrying two Anker Astro batteries (an E4 13,000mAh and an E6 20800mAh) and my Anker mains charger that can charge upto 5 devices at a time. But I do have a lot of usb devices to keep charged:

  • Phone
  • Garmin 1,000
  • Nexus 7 tablet
  • Front and rear exposure flare lights (I like to have them flashing when on busy roads)
  • Bluetooth keyboard
  • Kindle

One thing I will be more careful about is putting my tablet and phone in airplane mode more often.

No doubt like last time some of this will change when I discover it won’t all fit 🙂


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: