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.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Cornwall - Monday

Today we went to St Ives, which is on the north coast of Cornwall. St Ives is a beautiful town full of small shops with all kinds of things you would rarely see anywhere else, certainly in such close quarters. The town is widely renowned for its artist community and this is seen in the amount of extraordinary galleries. The harbour hosts a nice sandy beach when the tides out, although at either side of the town there are other equally nice stretches of beach.

We took the short cut across the River Fal on the King Harry Ferry. Apparently its the most expensive car ferry in the world based on a cost per distance travelled. Very short about 400 yards costing £5.00 one way and £7.50 return.

When we got to St Ives we had a great meal in a pasta restaurant we've eaten in on previous holidays. Initially we all ordered the Tagliatelle with Pork Meatballs, however they'd just had a run on them and only had one serving left so we graciously said Ben could have that and we both ordered the Chilli Chicken & Tagliatelle, side salad and a warm garlic buttered Ciabatta to share.

Ben with a "mmmmm absolutely divine" look on his face

My meal

Mastering the Tagliatelle without getting it all over the face and clothes

Dish of the day?

St Ives harbour


After St Ives we returned home via the ferry. Just after crossing there is a little side road which takes you to The Smugglers Cottage. Along the road are the remains of the American troops facilities from when they left there to go to Omaha beach. Not a lot remains; an old latrine, some rusty corrugated sheds and that's about it. Unfortunately the previous owners of The Smugglers Cottage retired last year and it has been taken over by some other concern. The place was great for a Cornish Pastie and a drink outside sat by the river and they had a lot of memorabilia which is now gone,along with the Pasties, in favour of expensive food which I personally wouldn't want to eat let alone pay for. We settled for a packet of crisps.

The Smugglers Cottage

This area is a side stream off the River Fal & is used as a storage place for huge ships which are soon to be sold for scrap or to make razor blades from them. Its a great shame to see such huge behemoths laying there waiting their doom.

We then drove into St Mawes village and got some take away Cornish Pasties which we brought back to eat at home. We had a great view out of the kitchen / dining room as we ate:

I've added enough weight to make me stop eating for a month.

Previous weight: 215.2 lbs (15.37 stones)
Today's weight: 221.2 lbs (15.8 stones)

I haven't weighed that much since around January this year. I may as well say goodbye to the past 6 months. And I was going to be soooo good on holiday too!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Life On The Ocean Waves

Family KFS are down in Cornwall...well minus one who decided they wanted to stay at home and be boring playing WoW and eating fattening microwave meals. We drove down Saturday afternoon, getting stuck in two traffic jams; one at Bristol and one near Launceston in Cornwall. Probably something to do with the radio reporting that a third of the country were also heading off on holiday this weekend!

Arrived at St Mawes on Cornwall's south coast around 5.30pm where my sister cooked us a wonderful meal of roast lamb and vegetables. They have a fabulous house and its like living in a scaled down palace.

This morning Ben got to go out on one of their three boats - a "shrimper" working boat with my brother in law - and they entered a race with other boats of the same type. It was a beautifully sunny day with a light wind but they got off to a bad start (i.e last) but by the time they reached the first buoy they had caught up with the rest of the racers. After two circuits, including a near miss coming about around a buoy with another "shrimper", they came home in third place. We watched the whole race from the balcony of the house and it was quite exciting.

After that we joined them on their lobster boat and motored around the headland to where they have some pots on the seabed. Unfortunately most of the crabs were under size and had to be thrown back, but we did get two large (quite aggressive) crabs plus a decent sized lobster. On the return journey we also caught a mackerel  on a line towed behind the boat. 
We then returned t o the house for a snack before our hosts went off to a BBQ and we went into the village for a meal. Ben and I were very healthy and had chicken goujon salad whereas my wife had a meal of ham, eggs and chips. Having said that, both meals were very well prepared and excellent.

Got a bit of a sunburn on my arms and neck today but its not painful at all. Must get some suntan lotion tomorrow. I think we're ff to St Ives or possibly St Michael's Mount.

Sorry no photo's today but will get some up on later posts this week.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Buying Bits

In a quandry right now. I want to buy a couple of maps for my Satmap GPS. I went down to the bookshop yesterday to compare the details available on 1:50K and 1:25K resolution maps. Obviously the 1:25K gives twice the detail and would be the best option to go for.

However its twice the price to buy a 1:25K (about £50.00) map on SD than it is to buy a 1:50K (about £24.00) map. I guess what I'm asking is: Have any of you used maps (either paper or digital) for cycling tracks or across country, and is a 1:25K map really necessary?

Looks to me like the cheapest place to buy the map SD's is from Satmap direct. I ordered a bike mount for it this morning - Amazon were cheaper for this than Satmap - so it really does pay to shop around.

What I want to do is get a map of Berkshire (my local area) and one of Hampshire which is where we plan to do a little cycling the following week in The New Forest. Following that I'll get one of Oxfordshire and possibly Buckinghamshire so I will have all the surrounding counties we border on. My problem is that we live so close to the county border that one map won't do.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Prezzies - Wot I Got :)

Well in case anyone wondered what I got:

Numero uno present from my wife and kids was a Satmap Active 10 GPS. This device is amazing. Apparently they had bought it before I even dropped a hint that I'd like one! The screen is a full colour 3.5 inches corner to corner display with an inbuilt map of the UK and major cities of the world. Extra maps which go down to 1:50000 and 1:25000 can be bought on SD cards - I'm going to get a 1:25000 map of the local area soon as I can.

It is primarily a handheld device of very rugged construction but they do two types of bike mounts as well - next on the list to buy also. So far I have walked up the end of the garden and back a few times and known exactly where I was on all occasions!

If you're interested in them this is their website HERE

I also got a pair of long trousers - the kind with the zip on/off legs to convert them to shorts, and a pair of 3/4 length shorts for cycling in, a fiction book and a £20.00 Waterstones gift card.

Quite sensibly my wife said she didn't buy me a cake because I probably wouldn't eat it. I love cake but she was correct and it would have been a battle of wills & conscience for me to stop from eating it.

The GPS is going to do down to Cornwall with us next week for a proper trial. Also the following week we are then hoping to go to the New Forest for a few rides and I will take it then too. I was hoping to camp there for a few days but after trying half a dozen campsites I have given up as they're all fully booked. Instead we will just drive back and forwards daily which isn't really that far.

The one hiccup to the holiday is that I will have to take my eldest son up to Wolverhampton University one day because of the stupid legal criteria the Law has for people who want to register to be in charge of children. Its not the fact that they need to do police checks on everyone to see if they're "bad people" - I totally agree with this, but its the fact that the University must see the person face to face to sign the form rather than posting/emailing/faxing it. Wolverhampton's a fair drive, especially for just a dumb signature from a clerk, then turn around and go home again. Even worse if the student was coming from abroad or Scotland I guess.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Much To Say

In order of priority:

1. Weight:
Lost more weight over the past 7 days. Yippee! Now down to 215.2 lbs (15.37 stone or 97.61Kg). Amazing really seeing as I haven't ridden a bike in the past 7 days. Must be the healthy eating.

2. Birthday:
Tomorrow - July 19th is my Birthday. Looking forward to some goodies. I love Birthdays, whether they're my own or other peoples. The giving and receiving still makes me happy in equal amounts. Oh yeah - the "downer" is that I'll be 45. Cripes!

3. July 150 Challenge:
I really don't know why I entered this. I have no possible hope of completing it, and if anything its stopped me from cycling the short trips I normally wouldn't think twice about. Yesterday for example I had to pop to Lidl for some sandwich stuff for lunch. I considered getting on the bike and going but reasoned that I would have to mark the poxy mile or so it was onto the July 150 spreadsheet, then log the route as proof, and that it wasn't worth the effort. I took the car (it was too close to lunch time for the kids for me to walk it in time). Apart from that I have my own goals to complete before completing those that others set for me. Perhaps a July 50, or a July 75 would be more reasonable for my kind of stamina, but 100 or 150 miles is not something I have the time to devote to. Grand idea though, but not for me I'm afraid...not yet anyway.

Next week I expect to work late every night. I don't want to, but as we're going away for a week next weekend & I have two tenders to get submitted by Friday I have no hope of doing them in time if I only work 8.30am to 5.30pm. Its always the bloody same! In order to have a holiday I find that I have to work longer hours leading up to it and the same long hours when I come back. Somethings wrong with life when that has to happen. Its not just me either but its the same with the others in our department.

4. Sunday Ride:

Sunday dawned breezy and overcast. As the day wore on the sun came out making it quite warm but the wind kept its strength making for a slower cycle than normal for me. Also due to an astounding bit of laziness on my part I didn't set off until 3pm, leaving Ben to play Mario "Somethingorother" on the Wii.

I took the usual route up to Shinfield but deviated off when I got there to take a track between fields. I came out onto a main road looking for a couple of what had seemed to be footpaths across fields on Google Maps but had to double back twice because they weren't there.

I made the mistake of wearing my tracksuit trousers instead of shorts and it wasn't long before my meat & two veg were starting to steam cook, however I was thankful for the bottoms as I found what must be the narrowest public footpath in existence. Barbed wire fence one side, wooden fence the other and overgrown on both with nettles, brambles, thistles and those god damned plants with the little sticky balls which we used to throw at each other as kids that stick to you like Velcro.

came out of it with stuff stuck all over me looking like a swamp creature, not to mention the bike managed to drag a bucket load of the vegetation out with it. Oh yeah, and the bugs...bloody loads of them in the overgrown shady area of the path, and twice I had to whip my helmet off as they got stuck inside because of the vents. Photo below is of the start of the path before it got really narrow.

After emerging from "The Land Before Time" I hit a small road. Figuring turning left would take me back towards home, I headed right which ended up going over the motorway and coming out near Asda, then a long slow uphill bit.

I had a couple of "Joby Moments"; one where some twit decided he could make it between me and the central island road restriction - well credit to him he did actually "make" it through the gap with me in it too but damned if it wasn't close!

The second was quite funny really. As I was cycling along, a car full of "youf of today" louts screamed past, the guy in the rear hurling some abuse at me through the open rear window. It was totally intelligible though. Anyway, a little further on I saw their car by the Tesco mini supermarket and this guy standing by the car, I knew it was him as he looked like the blond one from Bill & Ted:

So I rode up to to him and said "You got something to say to me mate?" I could tell he was a bit shocked and all he could do was say " mate. Nothing". I asked if he was sure because it sure sounded like it back there & he mumbled something like "no not me" as he walked quite quickly into the shop. I laughed to myself and rode off. What a twat!

After that I was quite chipper and decided to make a round about route home as the wife would need picking up from work shortly. I ended up going down a nice long hill into Reading again.

Picked up a bit of speed finally but had to slam on the brakes when I saw a promising side path which in fact turned out to be crap. After that I decided to make tracks home.

Distance: 9.20 miles
Time: 1 hour 0 minutes 42 seconds
Average Speed: 9.1 mph
Maximum Speed: 24.5 mph

Route HERE

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Sunday Ride & A Goal Achieved

Went out with Ben again this afternoon for a ride along the Kennet & Avon Canal. I left it to him to decide where to go but I suspect he likes the fact that this ride takes us up to a pub so he can have a nice pint of blackcurrant & lemonade. Truth be told I like the idea of a nice cold drink in the beer garden as well.

We took a slightly different route to get there this time, diverting off the path half way to take some "jungle trails" then following the path past the pub along the tow path before heading in a short circle back to it before ordering our drinks.

After quenching our thirst and adding to the chance of sunburn I asked if he wouldn't mind heading back along the quiet roads the way I had taken on one of my evening rides. This took us into the back of Green Park and in fact was a very pleasant ride all the way.

The tow path by the canal is great fun, but the surface is pretty bumpy on the hands and buttocks and even though we took minor roads home instead they were in very good condition.

Route HERE

Distance: 9.21 miles
Time: 1 hour 13 minutes 45 seconds
Average Speed: 7.4 mph
Maximum Speed: 12.6 mph

On our return I realised it was "weigh day" so I got on the scales and discovered I have reached my lowest weight yet on this mission. I am 216.0 lbs - right on the noggin!

That's the same as 97.97kg or 15.43 stones.

To say I am ecstatic is putting it mildly. In fact 217.0 lbs is a barrier I have been trying to cross for some time now, and I got very close last week with 217.4 lbs and a few weeks before that 217.1 lbs but I couldn't in all honesty scratch that goal off as it needed to be 217.0 lbs. The fact that not only have I achieved that but also lost another additional 1 lb is soooperb.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Evening Ride - Shinfield & Ryeish Green

Managed to do the trip I was going to do the other night which I had to cut short, although even in its entirety it was turning out to be a lot less mileage than I had thought, so I tagged a bit of extra distance by coming back home a slightly longer way.

On the way down Whitley Wood Road I managed to get the old bike up to 26.4 mph. I could have gone faster but in just cloth shorts and a tee shirt I felt more than a little bit worried that "something" would happen to make it a there's a sharp corner at the bottom to negotiate.

I guess the trip is good if I'm after something quick, but it is a little short for my liking even if I go the longer way home.

Route HERE

Distance: 6.54 miles
Time: 40 minutes 51 seconds
Average Speed: 9.6 mph
Maximum Speed: 26.4 mph

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Afternoon Pub Ride

The supposed rear puncture in my Hybrid failed to materialise. I checked it in the morning and although it seemed like it might be down a fraction, it wasn't enough to convince me it was a slow puncture and not my imagination. Either way, my tyre was definitely down the other night. Might be the valve so I'll get it into a bucket of water later.

Ben and I took a jaunt on our bikes along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Burghfield after lunch & stopped in The Cunning Man pub for a drink before heading back more or less the way we came. Ben had a pint of Blackcurrant & Lemonade & I had a bottle of Becks Blue. We sat outside in the garden and relaxed. It was very pleasant.

Wasn't as hot today and for some reason we had a head wind in both directions. Route HERE

Distance: 7.99 miles
Time: 1hour 2 minutes 11 seconds
Average Speed: 7.7 mph
Maximum Speed: 15.2 mph

EDIT: Just saw this on Flicker. Ring Ring....Bananaman?

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Evening Ride Cut Short

Went out tonight for a ride after dinner (my homemade Mexican Soup). I didn't want to go far so decided to do a circuit of Shinfield & Ryeish Green - route HERE. The trip took me over the M4 which is via a footbridge. On the way up its steps so no chance of cycling up those, but the other side is just a ramp...with a sharp 90 degree at the bottom to be aware of.

Then its a slog up Brooker's Hill because for some reason the lowest gear I could select was 15th - in fact I seemed to only be able to go from 15th to 21st! Bloody crap bike shop work! Then cut onto Hollow Lane for a few yards and take a path through trees into the old Ministry of Agriculture site and then through a church graveyard, across a road into an estate and then across the fields to Ryeish Green.

However just as I got to the field I felt the back end was a little wobbly. I looked down to see the rear tyre almost flat. Couldn't see anything in it but hadn't got a pump with me (doh!) so I mulled over whether it was a "slowie" or a "quickie" and decided to risk it a bit further. I then saw a side path which I figured would be the right direction for a short cut back home and took that. Well all I can say is I wish I'd had some suspension because the baked ground was rough as an old woman's barnacles, especially the speed I was going.

Anyway I headed home from there. Just pumped up the wheel & will see in the morning if its gone down.

Distance: 3.43 miles
Time: 23 minutes 49 seconds
Average Speed: 8.6 mph
Maximum Speed: 17.1 mph

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The July 150

In a fit of madness, I signed up for Phills July 150 LINK this afternoon. Why is it dumb for me to do this?
  1. I have a bad back or more likely a trapped nerve making it painful to sit, walk, lay down, etc. Ive had it a week now and its not going anywhere.
  2. I have never cycled anywhere close to 150 miles in a month.
  3. I'm on holiday in Cornwall the last week of this month meaning I have a week less than every other entrant.
However I just got the "new" bike back from the shop today after having a shed load of expensive work done to it and I wanted to give it a shakedown tonight, so I fitted the new bike computer & off I went. I followed the national cycle route along the Kennet & Avon canal up to Burghfield and then the back roads to the rear of Green Park. I had to double back a few times when I got lost - or more correctly when the freaking sign saying there was a cycle path to Reading town centre turned out to be a dead end! Feeling sure Id missed the turning I went up and down the road 5 or 6 times before giving up. Its no clearer having looked at it on Google Maps as they are old and development has occurred since they were taken.

Here's the route July 01 2010 ride

Next time I must remember to take a Hannibal Lecter mask to stop the freaking bugs going in my eyes and mouth along the canal. I also need to get some lights fitted as it was a bit beyond daylight on the last leg.

Oh and for some reason RWGPS only shows the route as 8.6 miles, whereas my computer, which I know is set up right states its 9.16 miles.

Distance: 9.16 miles
Time: 52 minutes 24 seconds
Average Speed: 10.4 mph
Maximum Speed: 24.2 mph

Dangerous Bus Driving

Fellow blogger and cyclist Clive of The Massive MTBer posted this short video a little while ago

As You can see, the bus driver, which I believe was driving close to the school where it collects and drops off children, has a narrow miss from hitting Clive who was wearing his normal hi-viz cycling gear. The bus driver swore he never saw Clive, which is significant for two reasons

1. If he didn't see him then Clive is even luckier to still be around! What was the driver doing at the time then when he ought to have been driving with due care and attention?
2. If he didn't see Clive then why is he indicating when he pulls in and nearly wipes Clive off the road? Did his arm accidentally lean on the indicator stalk as he fell asleep or lit his fag?

Either way, Clive hasn't let this rest and has communicated with The Green Bus Company his concern and upset at the incident. Hes quite obviously being given the run around by the management who appear to have done little or nothing to investigate and report back.

You can read the original blog post here LINK

And his follow up with copies of communications here LINK

Clive needs our support in this. Things have to change with regards to how vulnerable we are as cyclists both on the road and being seen as sub-par road users not worth the recognition. Too many deaths and accidents occur and will continue as long as things like this are left to be ignored.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Gears n' Pasta

Gears - Who needs 'em! I'm pissed off with frigging gears, specifically the ones I fitted today. If it wasn't for the England - Germany match Id have been messing about with those poxy things all afternoon, covered in oil and crap off the bike, chain, derailleurs, sweating under the sun and with one eye buried in the Zinn maintenance book trying to figure out why the hell they wont work properly.

The front one goes on the small or middle one depending on how tight I do up the cable. The rear one seems to skip gears and either wont get to the inner cogs or wont get to the outer. Slacken the cable, tighten the cable, adjust the high screw, adjust the low screw...I eventually gave up in frustration.

I will probably have to work late almost every night next week so I doubt I can get to do anything with a clear head in the evenings. I might just take it into the shop & beg.

The only good thing about today was I made this in the morning.

A nice chilled pasta salad for dinner, which went with a bowl of mixed lettuce I drizzled in rice wine vinegar & poached chicken breasts which I had been marinading in a chilli, lemon & dry white wine solution all day. Absolutely fantastic on a hot day like this. Plus theres a good 2/3rds of the pasta left over for meals during the week.

As for the England match, well I don't blame the referee - it was all the lines mans fault who should have had his eye on the ball like every other person in the world watching the match. As for FIFA and their stance on no goal line monitoring, they need a good kicking. Its not fine to say "well it wouldn't have made a difference in the end", because we don't know that! If England had equalised its possible this would have  driven them mentally & given them the edge they didn't have being a goal down. Maybe it wouldn't, maybe it would. Of course our defense was non existent anyway. I mean the Germans had nearly the whole England half to themselves sometimes!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

More "New Bike" Stuff

Well the brake problem is solved, with great thanks to John, Clive and Welsh who provided astute back-up. Really great thanks guys!

Yesterday I popped into Halfords Metro in High Wycombe looking for brake spacers. The shop was dire. It's like a mechanics Primark where everything looks just cluttered up or strewn about and cheap. However, and I bet much to Halford's disgust, a few months ago a pucker bike shop opened up right next door to them Freewheelin' . While maybe not the cheapest shop around, they aren't wallet breaking and certainly have a great deal more interest and experience in bicycles of all types - and they have a beautiful racing bike in the window.

So I popped in there, had a chat with one of the great guys who was working on a bike at the time, and he agreed with John, Clive & Welshs' assessments and so I bought 2 pairs of brake blocks. He also informed me that I ought to toe them in to stop squeeling noises, which I didnt know as Bens bike does that, and how to adjust them. I hadnt realised they could swivel at all. If I hadnt gone in there I would have just resorted to washers as spacers. The brakes I removed were only a screw directly into the rubber. Very odd.

They work a treat now!

One other thing I mentioned to the guy was that the brake levers were not matching nad asked how much a new pair were. After some discussion about which ones I wanted & the merits of twist grip gears I bought these:

They're combined 21 speed quick shifters and brakes in one unit. I can't wait to fit them, although opening out the instructions gives you two double sided sheets of A1 paper which looks very daunting. Thats todays project.

I also noticed that the main outer gear on the front seems to have had 2 or 3 of the teeth partly ground with probably bottoming out on concrete (aka shitty care of the bike). The photo isnt too clear but I think you can see the ground teeth.

Its a bit of a concern, but hopefully wont cause any damage to the chain. One of the teeth is bent over which I can file / straighten and so maybe it will be okay.

So my list this weekend is:
  • replace the gear/brake levers with the new Shimano ones
  • sort the teeth out
  • properly clean the bike
  • fit my old trip computer
  • fit a water bottle holder
  • clean the car inside and out ready for its service and MOT next week
  • cut down some of the tree branches at the bottom of the garden
Its going to be quite a busy weekend for me.

P.S I got a reply from the ebay seller. He cant think why the missing parts arent in the box and says he will look for them and forward them in the post...yeah right! I'll not hold my breath for that.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Bike Assembly

Got home, had dinner, got bike out of the car, got bike out of the box, assembled it in one fell swoop, which isn't bad considering that it isn't something Ive done before. Okay it was pretty simple. Not come across them but the wheels are quick release things with a long spindle through the hub. Very handy - for thieves!

First a question for you bike aficionado's:
I cant seem to adjust the brakes so they grip properly. This is the rear brake when its not squeezed in.

This is the rear brake when it is squeezed in

As you can see the nipple hits the nut which grips the cable.
Ive tried adjusting the cable adjuster at the point the cable enters the brake lever on the handlebars.
Ive tried bending the spring behind the brake blocks.
Ive tried undoing the nut and moving the cable you can see above.

The front brake grips the best, but when moving its almost useless, whereas the rear brake may as well be made of lard. I fiddled with them for a good hour before giving up. Can anyone offer any suggestions I haven't tried? Is there a trade secret method to this stuff?

Okay onto the rest of the bike. Well actually its not in as bad a condition as I first thought, and is certainly the most modern Ive owned...ever. Its also quite light; not as light as a racing bike but a good half the weight of my MTB, and as you can see the tyres will do just fine for bumpy tracks, fields, towpaths etc as well as having a Kevlar inner to prevent punctures.

More pictures (click them to enlarge):

This is how I assembled it all together and tested the brakes & gears (all 21 of the little beauties!)

It also has a spring loaded saddle post. I tried it out and damned if it works really well, plus its a very comfortable saddle.

The back end. As you can see he didn't bother to clean any of the bike before selling it. Personally I would have but maybe that's just me. That's a job for the weekend.

The front end, and you can see some of the scuffs and scratches. The paints even been partly removed from the bell. The bell FFS! I mean how the heck do you ride a bike so badly that the paint comes off the bell? I like the bell though - haven't had one since I was a kiddie :)

And finally yours truly, in my special protective cycling shoes, risking life and limb cycling around the garden.

Anyway any help with the brake thing would be really appreciated.