Colorado is Going to Kick my Butt…

There were many things that I took from my journey through France and Spain last year. Some of these need writing about, if only so that I don’t forget them. Perhaps I’ll get round to that at some point. But one thing that struck me strongly whilst camping in the hills around Calanas on one […]

Across the Moors

If you Google the Westcountry Way, you will probably come across a Sustrans route weaving its way gently from Padstow in Cornwall along quiet roads, canal towpaths and cycle paths to Bristol. It’s probably a lovely journey but in some 250 miles, only 75 are traffic free. If you dig a little deeper, you might find […]

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The Cool Shack…

This post isn’t about biking. Or bikes. Or camping, or long journeys. But don’t worry. There’s nothing in the small print that says stuff on here has to be about these things. I checked. This post does, however, involve surfing and skateboarding, some pretty cool kids, following your dreams and in a roundabout way, this blog. […]

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Manic May Microadventures

Wow. This year is flying by. Spring came and the days stretched out. This should be a summer of weekends outdoors, of long, lazy evenings before the sun goes down.  But as much as I try to fight it, it’s easy to succumb to the bad habits that seem to come with a ‘proper’ job […]

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Here Comes the Chill…

The descent down into Aracena cuts through the vegetation along narrow paths and then tight, rooty singletrack. Its an exciting change from the wider dirt roads, at least until I need to get off and walk… Over the last few days I’ve noticed things getting colder – when I’ve camped, I’ve needed my jacket as […]

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West of Cordoba

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] Once again, I’m in danger of letting the final few weeks of a trip fade to a vague memory before I’ve managed to write down some words. Already two […]

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A Winter Microadventure – by Instagram

The journey through Spain hasn’t ended yet. Well, actually it has, at least for a while, but what I mean is that the story hasn’t… There are some more words and pictures to come, when I can manage to sit down for a day and beat them into shape. I had always planned to come […]

A Glimpse of Cordoba

Spanish maps initially showing motorways between main towns and cities look a little daunting when you’re on a bike, but when you look closer you realise that usually there is a way of following the main route without riding the actual road. Sometimes there is a bike lane on the other side of the fence, […]

Into Andalucia

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] How long do you think it is polite to carry on chatting in the street with someone who has just made an unsolicited offer of sexual favours – mid […]

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The Wind in Spain Blows Mainly in my Face

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] It feels good to be back on a Camino. To be following those little yellow arrows, for a while at least. There is some reassurance that the route will […]

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A Warm and Showery Introduction to Valencia…

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] Heading down the coast from my little beach retreat at Benicassim towards Valencia involves taking some nice smooth bike paths… …tracks through lime plantations… …past decrepit industrial estates… …and […]

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Inland Bound

Having left Valencia with my front wheel pointed roughly in the direction of Andalucia, I thought I’d put up something on the planned route ahead. Just on my last afternoon in Valencia, having thought I might be heading into the mountains on tarmac, I found an off-road route heading out of the city, in the right […]

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The Bike and the Gear

A few people have asked about my bike setup and so I’ve finally got around to adding pages with details of the bike and the gear I’ve got with me… (they’re up the in the menu along the top of the page…). I’ll try to add a bit more detail and some thoughts on what […]

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Ten Days of Transition

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] As I start to write this, I’m back on the Mediterranean coast just north of Valencia, having a little break by the sea. After the amazing views of Montserrat, […]

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In The Shadow of Montserrat

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] Leaving Vic a little later than planned, with a rushed packing up of my gear that would have been done the night before were it not for an invitation […]

Under a Catalan Sky

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] The rain is still running down my face as I try to find somewhere in the tent to put my soaking waterproof without getting everything else wet. Thunder echoes […]

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Wanderlust’s Blog of the Week!

I’m surprised but excited that my little summary post on crossing the Massif Central by mountain bike has made it onto the Wanderlust travel website as their Travel Blog of the Week! Awesome! I do find it a little strange that its often these short list-type posts that make it onto sites like Wanderlust, but […]

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A Mediterranean Jaunt

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] A few days spent hugging the mediterranean could barely be more different than those spent plugging my way through the Massif Central. Passing through Sète, I am suddenly in […]

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6 Tips for Crossing the Massif Central by Mountain Bike

The Massif Central region of France is quite literally, massif massive, stretching from virtually the centre of France right down to the Mediterranean, and covering some largely remote 36,000 square miles (93,000 square km) of mountain, high plateaux, forests and heathland. As the Rough Guide states… “Thickly forested and sliced by numerous rivers and lakes, […]

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A Reminder That You Never Regret Going for a Bike Ride…

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] I arrive in a misty, grey, deserted La Vacquerie feeling a little bit subdued. And very wet. Initially it seems that everywhere is closed, although I find that the […]

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A Sign of Things to Come…

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] Travelling through the forests in France means joining an overlapping network of secret paths. These routes, where motorised vehicles are mostly prohibited, are decoded by a series of layers […]

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A Tale of Two (Many) Gorges

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] The trail leaving Bagnols les Bains (913m) heads up and over the Mont Lozere massif, passing La Croix de Maitre Vidal (1445m) and the Col de Finiels (1541m). Comparing […]

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A Brief Interlude in Civilisation

From the friendly gite in Le Giraldes, I head south to Lac de Charpal where I leave the GTMC and ride directly to Mende to pick up a train to Montpellier the following day for a little pre-planned city interlude. I leave my host with a promise to transfer her the money for my stay […]

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The One Where Things Get a Bit More Enjoyable…

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] After two days of rest and hot weather, thunder echoes around the hills the night before my departure from Clermont Ferrand and in the morning I pack up a […]

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This Bike Ain’t Made for Sprinting

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] Leaving Saumur I head east along the Loire Valley. The view of the city I get as I leave makes me sad not to be able to stay and […]

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A Rude Awakening…

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] “Could the Guard contact the Driver please, could the Guard contact the Driver” At the time I don’t pay much attention to the announcement other that thinking that it […]

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Meet Frank

In his day job, Frank is an X-Wing pilot. Not one of the famous ones that you’ll have seen on the big screen, but one of those Squadron guys that just gets on with the job in the background, killing Tie-Fighters without boasting of his glory to Han and Chewy. You can see it his […]

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Where Did The Motivation Go…?

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] [Caution – this post may contain a small element of over-emotional soul searching. Please don’t read on if you think that will cause you to cry, get angry or […]

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A Cheese-Based Strategy to Travelling Light…

My friend Anna (of A Night Outside fame) is about to head off to ride the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route – 2,700 miles along the Rocky Mountains from Banff, Canada, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. She has very little mountain biking experience and, in her own words, little interest in bikes or gear… So this […]

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The Book of Face

Over the past couple of months I’ve started finding my favourite blogs on Facebook and, slightly surprisingly, I’ve found the pages really good to look at and a useful way to follow their updates. So I’ve created a Facebook page for (Un)Inspired Ramblings, which will be automatically updated with posts from here, and which might also let […]

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So, When Are You Actually Going to GO?

That is the question everyone is asking me. The question that, eventually, enters every conversation with friends. But seriously, Chris. When are you actually going to GO? When? A year or two ago I decided that I was going to take a break from work, rent out my flat and head off on some kind […]

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Trans Cambrian Extras – Sights and Sounds

There are a bunch of video clips that Harry took of last years ride along the Trans Cambrian Way that I didn’t get in time to put into the little film I made. I’ve been meaning to recut it to include them, but just haven’t got around to it. In the meantime, Harry popped them all […]

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Trans Cambrian

Last summer Harry and I headed off to Wales to ride the Trans Cambrian mountain bike route which runs for 100 miles from Knighton, on the England / Wales border over the Cambrian mountains to Dovey Junction on Cardigan Bay. About 70% of the ride is off-road on bridleways, singletrack and doubletrack, through some fairly […]

El Camino, Part 5: the End of the Road. Or Just the Beginning?

Many people arrive in beautiful Santiago de Compostela every day, having slowly walked or ridden for hundreds of miles across Spain.  Some have travelled from much further away, covering thousands of miles on an ancient network of paths that lead here from the farthest reaches of Europe.  Many complete the journey for religious reasons; but […]

El Camino, Part 4: Buen Camino!

In an attempt to catch up with last year’s trip and actually be able to focus on current plans, this is a bit of a long one.  So grab a nice cup of tea, you may be here for some time… Over the next few days the trail becomes much busier as I join the more popular […]

Welcome to the Wonderful Bunyan Velo

I haven’t yet felt the need to post links to other people’s writing but sometimes there are exceptions. Bunyan Velo first appeared a year or so ago, and when I opened Issue 1 it was as if I’d discovered a treasure trove that I had previously not even considered might exist. Compiled by Lucas Winzenburg […]

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El Camino, Part 3: Along the Camino Aragones

The municipal Albergue in Jaca shuts its doors at 10pm and kicks all visitors out by 8am. This feels at odds with the Spanish way of eating and drinking late into the evening but I guess those pilgrims are not meant to be enjoying themselves. I manage to squeeze in a beautiful Argentinian steak in […]

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Riding the Welsh Thing

I took a little bit of sketchy video footage whilst riding the Welsh Ride Thing back in May and have finally got around to putting it together into a little film type thing. Some dodgy audio but fun memories.

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El Camino, Part 2: Mud, Sweat and Gears

“Please remove all the bags, sir.” “Sorry, what?” “You need to remove all the bags from your bike, sir. We can’t take it like that.” Damn. Not what you want to hear when you’re checking in, late, for the Eurostar. And when the bags concerned are awkward shapes strapped in a complicated manner to your […]

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The Lifecycle

Since the little spark of realisation that it was apparently possible for vaguely normal people to travel long distances by bike – to cross continents, even! – appeared in my mind a few years ago, I’ve come across stories of many adventure cyclists that have slowly built the urge to go and do something similar. […]

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Gravel, Grain and Gurkhas

The flames from the open fire provide a flickering light as the smoke from the huge wok fills the tent, encouraging the clouds of midges to find somewhere else to huddle. Lightening flashes across the sky behind us. Thunder follows, as the warm rain batters down. With a smile, we are handed a plate to […]

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El Camino, Part 1: An Introduction

(Image from http://www.millionsteps.org/?page_id=121) The Camino de Santiago de Compostela forms a web of ancient footpaths crossing Europe towards Santiago de Compostela, in north-western Spain. Originally started as a Roman trade route that took people from all over the empire to what was then the end of the known world, since the Middle Ages pilgrims have  walked […]

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A Night Outside

Al Humphreys and those nice people at Howies set a summer solstice microadventure challenge: to have a night under the stars and then submit a photo, story or video about it. My friend Anna wrote a poem about her night and as she doesn’t have anywhere to post it online, I said I’d pop it […]

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A Swiss Recap…

I’m updating the blog a little.  The information below was on the ‘Where on Earth…?‘ page but is only relevant to the ride to Switzerland a couple of years ago.  So here it is as a final post in the set from that ride.  The ‘Where on Earth…?’ page should now just show the location […]

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That Welshy Riding Thingumy

A guy you meet over the internet emails you the coordinates of a number of remote locations in mid Wales. You spend a month plotting how to visit them, and geeking over the outfit you’ll be wearing and what accessories you might take. Then you drive 6 hours to Wales to hook up with a […]

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Beware of the Geese

I spent the early May Bank Holiday in the Peak District with some friends. Their plan was to spend 3 nights camping at Edale, Hathersage and Grindlow, walking with their gear on the days inbetween, and then heading back to Edale to collect the cars on the final day. I thought I’d do it by […]

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South Downs Sunrise

After much faffing in January, February and March and after one failed attempt in April due to a bike problem, I finally managed a ride and bivvy on the South Downs a few weekends ago. And it was lovely. I took the train with a friend out of London to Shoreham on Sea, headed up […]

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In Search of Lightness

I loved the ride to Switzerland but since that ride I’ve been curious about how to do things lighter. Less weight means less stuff and less faff. A simpler life and the ability to cover more ground with less effort. Cass Gilbert’s blog, While Out Riding offers the ongoing story of a guy riding dirt […]

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Getting Back in the Saddle

I haven’t been sure how to write this post. I’ve been meaning to write it for a while. Not writing it has prevented me from writing any others. It’s not even important what I actually write here, or that anyone reads it, just that I write something and then move on. So I suppose I’ll […]

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A Year of Not Much Adventure… So Far…

Despite the year starting off with a little overnight adventure which boded well for much more this year, other than a February camping / walking trip in the Brecons again, a mixture of illness (a month with labrynthitis), awful weather with heaps of rain, getting a little sidetracked by the amazing Olympics, and other life / work / […]

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Starting the Year With a Little Adventure

New Year in the Black Mountains, a set on Flickr. So, my brother and I didn’t have a huge amount planned for New Year 2011/2012 and both fancied a bit of fresh air. I had plans for a couple of days biking at Afan in South Wales, so we made a plan to walk and […]

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Lakes and Hills…

Crikey.  Its been a while.  Despite having finished this trip months ago, I wanted to post something about the final week heading across from Lac Leman to St Gallen… more for my own memory than anything else.  So here are some notes from that week, as well as some photos. Day 1 – New brake […]

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Psssssffffftttttt…..

Well, it had to happen eventually. After one thousand, one hundred and thirty something miles, I had a puncture. What kind of hardcore terrain did this, I hear you ask. Was it some kind of hardy alpine plant with vicious thorns? Or perhaps a nasty bit of jagged Jura rock? Errr…. No. I somehow managed […]

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The Beginning of the End…?

So after getting up early for sunrise views of / from the Creux du Van, a quick coffee and breakfast (muesli pour moi, two carefully fried eggs for Uwe, the yolks of which he took great pleasure in wolfing down in one) we headed off back to the trail. I was feeling good as it […]

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A Daily Beasting

Each day on the Jura route seemed to follow a similar pattern. Head off and fairly soon hit a hill. Pedal upwards slowly. Try to avoid cows. Follow the route as it peels off the roads onto forest tracks or rocky, slippery ascents. Push. Sweat a lot. Cross the plains on the top through forests […]

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What a Load of Old Bull

The Swiss farmers seem to like their electric fences. They use them to keep these guys under control (although given the Swiss love affair with all things bovine, perhaps the fences are actually there to keep us from bothering the big fellas) and are pretty much everywhere. [This guy is not your (my) friend] The […]

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Back to Square One?

Staying in city hotels makes you weak. That’s now my considered opinion. I’d been feeling a bit under the weather in Basel, just like I was coming down with something but needed a couple of nights of good sleep. But somehow with four nights of a double bed, proper pillows and a duvet I didn’t […]

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All Downhill From Here…Well, to Basel At Least

Dave and Mark were thoroughly nice chaps (despite the socks and crocs!) who sounded like they would rather be on their mountain bikes with me than on their shiny BMWs, and I got an invite to head up to Nottingham and the Yorkshire Moors for some mountain biking when I’m back. [Bit easier to cover […]

Hills, Hills, Hills

So, I’ll try to keep the word count down, but the next few days kind of built on the first only getting better all the time! On day 2 I had intended to head off down the river to get some miles covered but took the wrong turn as I headed out of Nagold and […]

I Found Some Singletrack!

[Lovely smooth singletrack] So partly feeling demoralised that I’d failed at the first attempt with the mountain bike route, I headed off down the river valley, secretly happy to be on flat tarmac. Every so often I would come across little signposts with distances to all manner of places pointing up footpaths. Cyclists use these […]

Never Underestimate The Germans

aka: never underestimate the weight of a loaded bike aka: a plan never survives contact I’ve struggled to write this as it feels like a lot has happened in the last week – first hills, first proper off road, first riding off-map/route. I’ve failed with the ‘little and often’ mantra that is meant to make […]

Another Day, Another Big City Negotiated

Heading down the Rhine, I’ve now had the dubious pleasure of cycling into, through and straight out of some of Holland and Germany’s major cities: Rotterdam, Dordrecht, Arnhem, Duisburg, Dusseldorf, Bonn, Mannheim, Koblenz, Mainz, Karlsruhe. The experience normally goes something like this: – hit the city boundary and buildings (often industrial estate) with slight surprise; […]

The Hungry Cyclist

Just finished reading The Hungry Cyclist by Tom Kevill-Davies. It seemed fitting to have a biking book at the start of this ride, and I’ve heard mention of him before but not in any detail so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It turned out to be the brilliantly entertaining story of a twenty-something […]

Wine on the Rhine

A resting couple of days in Koblenz was great, drinking too much coffee, reading and bike window shopping at Canyon’s factory shop which happens to be there (which I really didn’t know about in advance!). [Hero lives here: This tent and bike belongs to a Japanese guy I met who has spent the last two […]

Baggage, Baggage, Baggage

I rode my bike today for the first time in a couple of weeks without any bags on it. What a revelation. How smooth! How quick! How light! How agile! How bloody difficult to steer and keep going the way you think you want it to. No longer weighed down and laboriously heading in the […]

What a Difference the Sun Makes

After an uninspiring couple of nights in Duisburg I then had a glorious couple of days in the sunshine heading down 60 miles to Koln for one night and then another 65 onto Koblenz, passing through Dusseldorf and Bonn on the way. Both Koln and Koblenz are lovely. The route is now leaving the agricultural […]

Ein Bitter Bitte

There is something about using the word bitte in a sentence asking for a beer that makes my brain want to actually ask for a bitter. The above sentence hasn’t yet popped out of my mouth but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time, intentionally or otherwise. [The border] Its been a slightly frustrating […]

Drizzling in Dordrecht

To be honest, this could have been called ‘Hammering it down in the Hague’, ‘Raining in Rotterdam’ or ‘Pissing it down in Pannerden’. Let’s just say that it’s been rather wet. Some first few days statistics: – Thunderstorms endured on day 1: 1 – Sets of bike shorts currently wet: 2 (out of 3) – […]

And We’re Off…

Somehow it has taken the best part of a week after finishing work to sort out my flat, gather my things and get myself ready to head off. I seemed to spend successive days trying and failing to tick the same things of my list(s). Because I’m heading off a couple of weeks later than […]

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Udderly Smooth…

  I’ve never used this kind of stuff before, and it’s always seemed a bit weird. But I am led to believe that over the next two months, this will become my best friend: Originally made for cows. Moo.

Finally, a Route!

Well its all been a little quiet on here on account of the last month or two being pretty much taken up with buying a flat & moving in, moving out of the old one, trying to finish up my work, and sorting the bike out. Plenty of things to do, no time to write […]

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Bike Shop Zen

The relatively new gears on the bike had been pretty slick until I was trying to fit the new mudguards and racks. Keeping the bike upright without a stand whilst working on it is a bit of a pain so I ended up having to prop the bike up against a bench, and where it […]

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Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’…

So, some decisions have been made… 🙂 Brixton Cycles kindly provided and fitted a nice set of rigid steel Surly 1×1 forks which are lighter than my old ones and contain the right fittings for both disc and v-brakes (the v-brake fittings are used for attaching my pannier racks – more on those another time). […]

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Microadventures…

Al Humphreys has a theme running on his blog at the moment on Microadventures. The idea is to try to show people that they don’t need a long, expensive trip to somewhere exotic to have an adventure, and to inspire them to break out of the normal routine and go have an adventure in their […]

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Sorry for the Swearing!

Commuting by bike in London means that its a fairly regular experience to be cut up by a driver changing lane or turning across you without checking their mirrors first, or checking their mirrors but just not seeing you.  Normally they get a few words shouted at them to point out the error of their […]

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Ray Mears Eat Your Heart Out

This weekend I went on a 1 day bushcraft course with Wild Spirit Bushcraft near Bridgend in Wales.  My brother and I both had an activity voucher as a present one Christmas and finally got around to using them.  For one reason or another we couldn’t really fit in a longer course (they also do […]

The Bike – Some Decisions to be Made

So the plan is slowly developing. I need to do a bit of work on the route, nothing too detailed but a general idea. However, what is more important is to sort out a few key items of kit, in time to be able to do some kind of test run. This post is a […]

A Wandering Path

It’s probably about time that I actually looked at a map in detail.  It sounds as if navigating by cycle in France is as easy as finding a little road on the map that heads in roughly the right direction, and pedalling off.  Lovely!  However, I do want to end up heading in roughly the […]

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New Beginnings

Crikey it’s a while since I was here. A lot has happened since. I moved to London. I rented out my flat. I rented a flat. I started cycling to work and realised I quite liked it (mountain biking (badly) has been more my thing). I put my flat on the market. I started looking […]

Up and Down

Despite people telling me that this is incorrect (check out the London tube, they say), I like this: ‘I like an escalator because an escalator can never break, it can only become stairs. There would never be an “Escalator temporarily out of order” sign, only an “Escalator temporarily stairs. Sorry for the convenience” sign.’ – […]

Appreciation

At the moment, I live in the north east of Scotland. Some things about being here get me down from time to time: Its so far away from the rest of the country, from family and old friends. It rains lots. Its very grey (the ground, the buildings and the sky). The city feels small […]