Friday, 6 August 2010

New Website for KungFooSausage

On and off over the past few days I have been sorting out another site for my blog, and as of now I will be moving all my new posts to

I think the site is about 90% of where I want it to be; maybe a few little bits to add or change around.

What would be really nice would be if you could register and leave any comments or suggestions - Ive made a post where you can do this.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Wargrave Loop

Today I went out on my lonesome; missus at work, Ben at a friends house and Chris barely out of bed!

After dropping off the diva and the dummy I came back home and got the bike ready. I changed the mounting position (yes again!) of the Active 10 back to the top stem but this time reduced the angle of the stem from 25 degrees to 15 degrees so I could read the screen. A point of note here - remember to do it up, then give the handlebars a wiggle and if they're sloppy do it up properly as the teeth haven't engaged, rather than doing this half way down the road!

I had to get some stuff in town so I decided to cycle there, then carry onto Wargrave along the Thames towpath so I made sure I packed my padlock in my rucksack. I also made a packed lunch.

The pills are my Metformin for my diabetes, and the chockie biscuits are for just in case I need sugar - which I actually did and scoffed them down early in the ride.

The ride to town was as usual down the Kennet & Avon. I got 3 books to read and looked in a new cycle shop. From the outside it looked expensive, but when I went it I was amazed at the prices - sooo cheap! They have bikes in there, full Shimano quick shift, suspension, damned good looking from £180.00. Chinese imports, but damn! I wish they'd been open before I got my e-bay bike. I paid £30.00 for this new helmet:

Seriously apart from Aldi having a decent one on sale once in a blue moon, & Wilkinsons selling utterly crap ones I haven't seen anything as good and nice as this. They even had a tricked up modern penny farthing upstairs which actually looked like it would be cool to have a mess around on.

Unfortunately when I got to town I forgot to switch off the GPS and the batteries ran right down so I had to buy some more - not a problem, except I had to split my route stats in two.

I then carried on down the towpath to Sonning lock:

Then just past Sonning bridge is Uri Geller's house. You can hardly see it because of the tall fence and hedges so this is as good as I could capture:

After this point I began to suspect Id made a wrong turn at Sonning bridge and that I perhaps ought to be on the other river bank because the path got really crap. One side was barbed wire fence, the other was stingy nettles, thistles & brambles. A single track ran between with a raised right edge which if you went too far that way would catch your pedal. It was awful.

After 3 or 4 miles I came to a beautiful little bridge over a stream - ideal for Pooh Sticks - where I sat and had a late lunch.

I eventually made it to Wargrave and drooled over some highly expensive houses I passed. Rather than going back the way I came because the bumps nearly meant I needed a gynecologist to remove the seat from my ass, I went back via the A4 Bath Road, then to Morrisons for some food for dinner, and met my wife walking home from work.

Active 10 GPS Stats - Home to Town
Mileage: 3.32 miles
Total Time: 35 minsTotal Ascents: 226 ft
Total Descents: 160 ft
Max Altitude: 229 ft
Min Altitude: 104 ft

Route HERE

Active 10 GPS Stats - Town to Wargrave & Home
Mileage: 16.3 miles
Total Time: 2hrs 54 mins
Total Ascents: 971 ft
Total Descents: 958 ft
Max Altitude: 301 ft
Min Altitude: 85 ft

Route HERE

A round trip of roughly 20 miles, a good third of which was cross country type cycling, so not too shabby.

Garmin Forerunner 310XT Giveaway

No not me fools - whaddya think I am? Made of money? It's someone else whose made of money and you can check out how simple it is to enter by going here DC Rainmaker and entering yourself.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Sonning Lock Loop

Popped into town this morning with Ben. Came home, had a sandwich for lunch then repaired the puncture in Karen's rear tyre & relocated my GPS bike bracket to the handlebars.

The three of us then headed out for another ride. We did ask Chris if he wanted to go but he wasn't keen and I didn't have the heart to push it. It really would have been better for him to go, to get used to it, but ahh well.

We headed down the tow path along the Kennet & Avon canal but this time into the town centre and out the other side onto the River Thames and along to Sonning Lock where we sat in the garden of a little cafe and had a pot of tea. The only problem was the amount of wasps buzzing around; the little bastards wouldn't leave us alone. After quickly downing the tea we headed back roughly the way we came. A very nice ride, although a bit knobbly on the buttocks what with all of the uneven paths and fields we went through.

I'm not too chuffed at the location of the GPS now. Sure its great for looking at, its just that its so exposed if I take a tumble and it worries me. Gonna try the crossbar next and see if that's okay as its a bit more protected there.

A few photos were taken.

New mounting position for the GPS

One of Reading's old Gasometers

As we came back through the town they had this great thing set up. Looked like a laugh to me. At least the kids get to know what a hamster feels like lol

The other view along the canal as it goes through town

Sweaty haired Ben and Karen enjoying a break

Bike Computer Stats
Mileage: 14.32 miles
Time: 2 hrs 27 mins 40 secs
Average Speed: 5.8 mph
Maximum Speed: 16.6 mph

Active 10 GPS Stats
Mileage: 13.4 miles
Total Time: 2 hrs 24 mins
Average Speed: 4.7 mph
Average Moving: 5.7 mph
Maximum Speed: 15.7 mph
Total Ascents: 1,916 ft
Total Descents: 1,919 ft
Max Altitude: 469 ft
Min Altitude: 88 ft

Route HERE

The Cunning Man Loop

We were due to go down to the New Forest for a few days this week but after (a) having a great deal of trouble finding any campsites with pitches available, and then (b) discovering that you can only cycle on certain designated paths with a penalty of £500 if you are caught on any other path, I decided not too. I had a look online at cycle paths in the forest and it just seemed that they were either short 4 or 5 mile ones or long 20 odd mile ones which I didn't think Karen or Ben would want to do.

So yesterday we decided to cycle along the Kennet and Avon canal towpath. My original intent was to go further than Ben and I normally go, hopefully as far as Aldermaston Wharf, but a couple of hitches occurred. I asked my eldest son Chris if he would like to come along too and after an initial "no thanks", he later on said that he would come, so I had to prep the MTB for him. Having only got 3 helmets I decided I was the least likely to get injured so gave each of them one and we set off.

It was immediately apparent that Chris had forgotten how to ride a bike. As strange as it may seem, riding a bike isn't like...umm...riding a bike! I couldn't believe he had forgotten how to do it but sure enough he kept flopping to the side. I guess its been 10 years since we have managed to convince him to ride one - I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but hes always refused & as hes an adult its his choice. So we walked the bikes down to the park at the end of the road and spent 20 minutes or so getting him familiar with the bike again. It didn't take him too long although he was a bit uncertain of himself and after leaving the park I stayed with him as we rode.

I made sure to stay off the main roads as much as possible and many of the paths initially were cycle designated, even so he became very agitated & a bit scared at even the slightest downward slope or bend after discovering the brakes didn't react as fast as he wanted them to. He even began to start putting his feet down first instead of using the brakes - a sure fire way to get your legs caught up in the pedals & lose balance. I think once we were away from any sign of cars or roads and onto the canal he was a bit better, but there were 2 occasions where he threw the bike down in frustration. It was becoming a nightmare, both for him and me!

I tried to advise him and offer support and confidence but he was set in his mind that something bad was going to happen and eventually told me to shut up because he couldn't listen to me and concentrate on keeping straight. I dropped back from the rest of the group then as I had had it and just wanted to ride by myself and enjoy it a little bit. By being way behind I could also keep my eye on him in case he needed me.

A few other things: I had to double back to home again at Speedy Gonzalez style after realising I had left the camera on the boot lid of the car! Thankfully it was still there. We stopped at the pub for a great drink (as usual). We did tag a bit of extra mileage onto the back of the pub which was really pleasant through fields. Chris came off and scraped his knee, I came off after being a show off on a grass bank, I scraped all the sides of my leg again on the metal pedals while walking beside it, and Karen got a puncture but it was slow enough we made it home okay.

That's pretty much all I want to say about the ride. It would have been great. Having Chris along didn't spoil it - hes my son and I love him - but having his totally negative & aggressive attitude with us as well was too much to bear.

Onto the Active 10 GPS - well I need to relocate the bike mount from the current location. Its mounted on the stem right now but because that's on the slope, the angle makes the screen hard to read.

I'll either move stuff about on the handlebars or mount it on the cross tube. Its a dilemma really as the cross tube affords the GPS more protection in case of falls, but the handlebars give better access and viewing. Unfortunately you cant adjust the angle of the mount at all. However, the GPS worked a treat on this ride pumping stats out and recording the route in exceptional detail, even the messing around in the park and my riding around the car park of The Cunning Man pub!

Here's some additional photos of the trip.

Bike Computer Stats
Mileage: 16.23 miles
Time: 2 hrs 34 mins 06 secs
Average Speed: 6.3 mph
Maximum Speed: 22.3 mph

Active 10 GPS Stats
Mileage: 14.6 miles
Total Time: 3 hrs 28 mins
Time Moving: 2 hrs 21 mins
Average Speed: 4.2 mph
Average Moving: 6.2 mph
Maximum Speed: 21.2 mph

Route HERE

I'm inclined to believe the GPS stats more than the bike computer as that takes a reading from satellites every second of travel.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Could You Get Rid Of Your Car?

Something I've been wondering for some time is whether any of us could really get by without a car or other form of automated transportation in our day-to-day lives?

You may or may not have noticed the constant link in my "Blogs I Read" for LFoaB, or Large Fella on a Bike. The link's always at the bottom because Scott gave up blogging a year ago having completed his goal of losing weight and indeed massively changing his lifestyle. Anyway, he & his wife decided to sell the family car and commute everywhere they needed to go by bicycle.

I guess the question is encompassed by do you actually need to go massive distances to perform daily tasks like shopping, work, visiting friends, etc. If the answer is "no" then why take the car or bus? I think our need to use automotive travel is often a combination of habit, laziness & not wanting to be different to other people. For example if you lived in a community where motor vehicles are frowned on or banned then using a car would be as much of an anathema as it currently is using a bike continuously.

Places like this do actually exist, and we have something vaguely similar in Centre Parks holiday camps here in the UK. You deposit your car at the car park and from then on I believe all travel inside is either on foot or by bicycle. Expand this concept to enclosed modern housing estates or what the USA has as guarded estates and it doesn't really look too bad does it? Again the concept is only really valid if amenities are within a reasonable travel distance.

Once you factor employment into it things become a little more fuzzy, because other practicalities apply such as where you work, what you do for a living & there's always the "I need to get home ASAP to watch the footie" type scenario's. Scott got around this in a rather 'extreme' way by relocating the family a number of times and then he and his wife found new work locally. Personally I couldn't do that as the security of work & the families security created by constant employment overrides the need to cycle. Hey ho but that's just me!

The question I have asked myself then is "could I get rid of the car?". Its a fictitious question because within 5 seconds I have decided there are too many factors against the idea. The distance to work is the main factor though and maybe...just maybe, if I had an office job in the Reading area I would seriously consider it.

The weekly shopping could be carried out using an Xtracycle type bike, my wife works locally, her relatives are semi local - not outside cycling distance, the school is local, cinema, and when we need to travel longer distances like on holiday there is the main train station and the bus.

So not so far fetched eh? Of course my wife would probably divorce me, the kids would leave and they'd all consign me to a mental hospital.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

End of the Week Round-up

I was a little bit lax in updates on the back end of the week so here's a synopsis of what went on:

I awoke early and borrowed xxx's Cannondale hybrid to do a few miles around the village. I used the Active 10 GPS but unfortunately as it was in my bum bag I must have accidentally pressed the "stop" button part way around. As I got to the end of the circuit around St Mawes castle I tried my hardest to make it up the hill but I had to get off 3/4 of the way up because I thought my heart & lungs were going to burst. Its only 3 miles and the Ride With GPS site or Google Maps are sorely mistaken in their calculation of the elevations. Route HERE

This was our last full day in Cornwall and we drove over to the beautiful coastal village of Polperro. Cars aren't allowed in the village proper as the streets are too narrow so you have to park at the head of it and either walk or take the Shire Horse drawn cart down the hill or take the milk float converted into bus. We chose to walk as its not long and there are some really nice houses you miss otherwise. We had lunch there. I finally got to have a chilli-con-carne, and I have to say it was the best I have ever tasted outside of home cooked ones. I was in heaven! While we were there Karen bought a nice silver charm bracelet of those Russian dolls that go inside each other, made by the woman in the shop. We also bought my sister and brother in law a present to say "thanks" for letting us stay the week.

We then drove down extremely narrow tracks between fields towards Fowey (pronounced "Foy" by the locals). We had to get a car ferry over the river and one of the houses near the bank is where Daphne Du Maurier used to live. Parking the car in the town NCP we had to walk down the side of Mount Etna to get into the town. In truth there wasn't a great deal to see there. Apparently the huge cruise ship "The World" is due to arrive there in a day or so and its a shame we missed such a behemoth. Its the worlds largest cruise ship. My wife refused to walk back up the hill to the car so we took the bus - what a wuss!

After that we drove to Pendower beach to meet up with sis & her hubby for a beach BBQ. Not all went to plan though. We arrived before them and the tide was on the turn making the beach seem very long, so we walked the length of it - probably 1/2 mile - without seeing them. We were half way back when my sister rang asking where we were. I said "we're in the middle of it", and she said she was as well but we couldn't see each other. Anyway it transpired that it wasn't one long beach when the tides in but when its out it looks like one long beach. Its in fact 2 beaches joined together. We eventually met up after a bit more walking and had a fabulous BBQ of salads, steak & sausages. An ideal way to round off the day...except there was more to come...

After packing up we all headed off to St Mawes marina to board their Nr3 boat - a Cornish Shrimper - which is a beautiful boat, and headed up stream. The wind wasn't really strong enough for sailing so intermittent use of the engine was needed, however when it was turned off it was so peaceful just floating along on the breeze. We saw many fish jumping above the surface catching flies. After going as far as we could without grounding we headed home for around about 10pm.

Dawn proved to be miserable with overcast skies preventing us from seeing the opposite headland. Could hear the lighthouse's fog horn going like the clappers though. Eventually it lifted but it was still overcast. We packed our things hand headed off around 10.30 hoping to stop at Cheddar Gorge for lunch but once on the A30 we got stuffed by a broken down vehicle a few miles ahead causing a huge tailback which was agonisingly slow. Instead, once past the queue we decided to stop in Jamaica Inn for one of their great roast dinners. Fully sated we made it home for around 5.30pm.

My bike mount and 1:50k map of the SE England had arrived from Amazon while we were away and I have to say this has to be the best fitting mount I have ever seen. I have no worries fitting the GPS device to it and considering the GPS was a good few hundred quid that's saying something. The only problem was I had to spend a couple of hours figuring out how to undo the strap which some assembly numptard had inserted wrong and jammed the ratchet up. Eventually I managed to strip it all down and redo it properly & it now sits firmly on my handlebars.

- oh and I weighed myself on our own scales this morning and corrected my weight on the chart. I knew it would go up but hopefully next weeks activities will bring that down to a new lowest ever weight.

Things to do
1. Upload all the rest of the photos. I want to do something a little different with the formatting so this will be tomorrow probably.
2. Do a review of the Active 10 bike mount.

Other things to do
1. Change from BT phone and broadband & Sky TV to all three being on Virgin cable.
2. Look into New Forest bike rides for next week.
3. Buy some bike lights.
4. Buy Karen a new saddle or see if an old one will suit her.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Cornwall - Wednesday

Today we went to the Minack Theatre to see "On The Razzle". The morning started out looking a bit miserable with a light drizzle, breeze and overcast skies. I was going to pinch my brother in laws bike to go for a spin but the combination of the weather and sleeping in put the kybosh on that. I also somehow did my right ankle in yesterday; I think its when I was walking on cobbles in my flip flops, and it feels quite weak.

We wore long trousers for the first time this holiday. It felt funny on the legs to wear long trousers after so long. We packed cushions and coats and set off towards Penzance.

Our first stop was the fishing village of Mousehole just past Penzance. A lovely little village, where we had a walk around and bought lunch to take away to the theatre. Wifey also bought herself an obligatory wedge of caramel cake.

The theatre was a further 20 minute drive down single track roads and was packed when we got there. Fortunately I had pre-booked tickets a week ago so we found seats and had our lunch before the show started. Unfortunately for us, the sun came out with a vengeance and we along with most of the other guests baked for 2.5 hours. One (large) woman even passed out and had to be taken away after a dose of smelling salts and a bucket of water.

The theatre is a marvelous place to go to and just for the atmosphere is a 100% must see place. Sadly the show was not the best we've seen, perhaps a mix of the play itself and the fact that watching it during the day is not as good as going to a night time showing.

After that we headed to the car and home to St Mawes again. Ben is suffering badly from a cough and cold which he may have picked up during the boat race on Monday so was getting a bit tired, and in truth we were all glad to get back home again.

Somehow Karen managed to eat fish and chips from the take-away in town whereas Ben had a cuppa-soup and I had a couple of slices of toast and Marmite. Just watched the latest Top Gear on BBC i-player with Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise taking on the lap in a reasonably priced car. A very good show :)

Tomorrows our last full day here before heading back to Reading on Friday so here's hoping for good weather.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Cornwall - Tuesday

Weather wasn't so good today. One thing about Cornwall though is that it can be crap on the south coast and great on the north coast, or vice versa, and as the two coasts are separated only by a few dozen miles of land (depending where you are) its easy to get to the good weather.

Today we went to St Michaels Mount, which is on the south coast just before Penzance. The island is the twin of Mont Saint-Michel in France. We've been to St Michaels Mount before on a few occasions and always enjoyed ourselves on the island and the long beach. The island is linked to the mainland when the tide is out by a stretch of sand and a cobbled causeway, both of which are submerged on the turn of the tide. If you get stuck on the island when the tide comes in then they have ferry boats to bring you back and forwards.

The island is part of the National Trust now but is still owned and lived in by the St Aubyn family who have lived there since 1647. Its seen its fair share of history though, even stormed by William Cromwell from the sea side of the cliffs.

As we walked along the beach to the causeway we came across one of those kite flying skateboard geezers. He was hairing it along.

As you can see from the photo below of the mounts own harbour, the tide was well and truly out, but we had got here early and it wasn't due to turn until later in the afternoon. I think this would be the first time we haven't had to take a ferry one way or the other.

One of the main reasons for going straight over to the island was because the other two were hungry and they have a couple of nice restaurants there. After my shock of the scales last night I was determined to have a light lunch. This was foiled by the bloody crap menu they had. The apparently obvious light meal was the ploughmans lunch but when I asked about it I was told it wasn't served with ham, but with 3 different cheeses! The next "best" thing was a baked potato with cheese and bacon which is what I went for. Ben had a tomato and basil pastie and Karen went for the ploughmans lunch (shes a cheese-a-holic). When her meal arrived I was aghast at the size of the slabs of cheese they gave her; they were HUGE. Then she had a big wedge of chocolate cake too! Photo below shows it half eaten (devoured more like) by the way.

Following that we decided to take a ferry ride around the island and saw some stunning sights you'd never usually see.

In the photo above, you can see a kind of grassy slide on the right of the castle all the way to the top. This is apparently the route Cromwell took to seize the fortress.

Photo above looks very "Hogwarts" doesn't it?

The ferryman. Chris De Burgh once said not to pay the ferryman until he gets you to the other side, but we had no choice!

A bloodthirsty bunch of pirates if ever there was one! Aaaaar!!

Finally we had a walk around the rest of the open area of the island before heading back home. Unfortunately Ben got attacked by some Medusa plant while he had his back to it. Only my supreme bravery saved him!

Tomorrow we go to a play at the Minnack Theatre which is carved out of the rock face overlooking the sea.