May cycling

I did 100 km of Swains Lane loop – which turned out to be 41 ascents (Mont Ventoux is the equivalent of 24 ascents). This earned me a 2015 ‘King of the Mountain’ award for Swains Lane which I’m quite proud of. I will buy a red polkadot mug to celebrate in due course :)

41 laps of Swains Lane


I cycled from Otford to Whitstable on a very enjoyable London Brompton Club ride. The bike got muddy, but I’m ok with that :)

Whitstable winder

April cycling

The front rim was about to fail on the Brompton so I built a new front wheel.

Brompton wheel rebuild

Two days after building the new wheel I cycled to Paris on it (but got the train back).
Read the write-up

Arriving at the Eiffel Tower


I rode the Rapha ‘Hell of the North’ with Iancu. It wasn’t my idea of hell.
Watch Iancu’s video

Happiness is not a destinationHell of a bike

I built a new front wheel with hub dynamo and fitted a light to my Condor bike

Son hub dynamo

I cycled 413 km in one ride by doing a 300 km audax as well as commuting to and from the start. My bum really hurt towards the end.
Read the write up

Oasts_and_coasts_audax_10


I cycled around the Isle of Wight on the Brompton for the annual IoW randonnee. Recommended!

Isle of Wight randonee

 

February cycling

I got to commute in the snow :)

Snow commute

The rear rim failed on Brompton, I discovered this *after* I rode to Windsor, did a sportive and rode back. Whilst I was waiting for the new rim to be delivered, the Condor got a bit of use.

Brompton rim failure

The advantage of living on a big hill is training rides look cool:

Swains Lane

I discovered the local chip shop serves excellent recovery food. It’s all healthy stuff, honest.

Pangs fish and chips

I took a nice trip to explore South London cycle routes 20 and 21.

View at Caterham

 

Though I went off-piste a bit and found myself deep in mud.

Muddy path

 

The Condor handled it beautifully but needed a bath as soon as we got in.Muudy brakes

A month of cycling

One of my goals for 2015 is to cycle 10,000 km, which translates as almost 200 km per week. If I cycle to and from work every day (which I do almost religiously), I get about 100 km in, which leaves me a 100 km top up each weekend.

I have made an effort to do a mix of interesting rides in the weekends in January. It’s been great fun getting the kms in. If the next 11 months cycling is as enjoyable I’ll be lucky, and very happy.

Continue reading A month of cycling

European cycling trip on my Brompton

Rough outline of route
Rough outline of route

I’ve just completed a six-week 4,000 km European tour on my Brompton bicycle.

My brief tour diary entries are below. These were daily updates, blogging from my mobile phone.

In the next three five days I’ll post a blog with some more technical information which I hope will be of interest and help to anyone thinking about going on a similar kind of adventure. It will include things like the bike set-up, equipment, navigation, camping and things I learned about cycle touring along the way. If there’s anything you’d like to know in particular, please add a comment or get in touch via the contact form.

Thanks for reading. You may want to go from the first entry or see the blog entries in date order.

p.s. If anyone knows of a small flat to rent in the Kentish Town that has at least two of, ‘is interesting’, ‘is cheap’, ‘has a garden’ – please let me know!

Day 43 : Am I There (epilogue)

I went to bed around 1am on the ferry, and wasn’t looking forward to getting up at 5.45am to have breakfast and get ready, but then in a Phileas Fogg moment I realised I had the extra hour from going from France to the UK.

Carry on abroad
Carry on abroad

Today’s navigation was a bit of an issue. I had found a route online that someone had posted of a nice way to get from Portsmouth to London by bike, but I had no way of getting it onto my Garmin satnav, so it remained on my phone. However once I’d got into the countryside, I couldn’t use my phone as I had no reception, so I stumbled my way towards London just generally heading East and North.

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Ahh – the English coutryside

The UK countryside between Portsmouth and London is very picturesque, and I saw many nice villages on the way.

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“A lifetime of laughter is wished for you” – a bit weird.. laughing all the time like a mad man..

I took a few breaks to have sandwiches, but millions of breaks trying to figure out which direction I should be heading.

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Dapper horsey

And lots of hills in West Sussex and Surrey too. Nothing major, and a few other cyclists out enjoying the morning.

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The Brooks leather saddle is actually rather comfortable for long distance touring

My geography knowledge of Surrey and South London is completely lacking, and by pure chance I found myself going past the foot of Box Hill which is much used by cyclists. I’d never been here before so thought I’d have a go at going up it. It’s not actually steep at any point along it’s route, it’s just persistent, so I found it easily manageable after all the hills I’ve been doing for the past 6 weeks. I might try it again soon without all the touring gear. The toilets at the top were out of action with a note saying ‘sorry for the inconvenience’ – not sure if this was an intended pun.

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Cycling up the short road from the Rheinfall in Switzerland.. now that was a hill

It was nice to pass over the M25 – now officially back in London.

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Traffic looking good on the M25!

After bumbling my way across South London, I eventually found myself on Cycle Superhighway 7 – this is a painted blue lane which meant I didn’t have to worry about navigation any more as it would guide me into central London. I’m not sure what the ‘super’ refers to – I think it is the number of obstacles in the bike lane such as parked cars, people and broken glass.

Once I got close to the river I made my way across it, glad to be in an area I was more familiar with.

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Tate Britain

I headed East along Millbank to Westminster.

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Big Ben just about to chime 7

Then North up through Camden towards Enfield.

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Nelson’s column

Traffic was awful across the whole of London as it was Saturday evening. It was only when I reacheded Palmers Green that the traffic petered out and I could cycle without interruption.

The final 10m
Made it!

I had a nice welcome home, with champagne celebration and dinner with tasty veg from the allotment. Cycling adventure over! What next?..

Portsmouth to London, 160 km. Total distance cycled = 4,152 km.

Day 42 : Last day in France

One of the old barns at the farmhouse I am staying out now houses a heated swimming pool, so I was up early to take advantage of that. Then breakfast was at a large table with the other guests – an American couple and three French couples. After the Americans had left I managed to comprehend a large part of the French conversation and also contributed a little (in French!).  No doubt I’ll still continue to be saying ‘pardon’ after bumping into people when I get back to the UK.

After checking out I headed to Bayeux. I thought the cathedral was impressive.

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The organ sounded really good. I have a video clip it didn’t record well on my phone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8naTQmgfzQ (A decent digital sound recorder was on my list of things to take that didn’t make the final cut).

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I then popped to see the bayeux tapestry. No photos allowed, sorry! I think you have seen the pics before though..

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Afterwards I went to the British war cemetery.

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I then cycled up to the coast and cycled along the area of the D-Day landings and invasion. History becomes realistically imaginable when you are in situ.

 

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Seeing the geography of the region and the distances involved from the beaches to the defences brings everything to life.

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I  spent the afternoon cycling along the coast, visiting the various invasion sights. The following house came as a bit of a surprise though. It had a poem by Rabalais on the front of the house. There were lots of dragons on the side. Steer clear I reckon!

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I reached the port about 3 hours before my ferry was due. A man I had met at the British military cemetery had recommended I visit Pegasus Bridge, a key part of the D-day invasion so I cycled along the canal to Caen and back.

The canal is a nice cycle path. And it was a pleasant sunset. There was even a chunk of rainbow. A good omen?

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Here’s Pegasus Bridge (or rather a more recent replica):

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And here’s the café by the bridge which was possibly the first French house liberated on D-day. The owner of the café now was living as a small boy in the house on D-day.

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I saw two kingfishers, which are amazing to see in real life because of their vibrant colouring. I also saw a cormorant catch an eel and eat it. Not pleasant, as the eel was eaten alive and refused to give up quietly. The cormorant is just about to swallow the eel in the pic below:

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Then a nice sunset to conclude the holiday!

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And as I neared the ferry port, I passed this auspiciously named boat.

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I boarded the ferry as a foot passenger to avoid having to queue up with the cars. I’d booked a berth so was able to drop off my bike and bags and then head to the bar for a quick drink.

À tout à l’heure France!

Mosles to Ouisteham, 95 km. Total so far = 3,992 km.