Saturday, 20 August 2016

Porridge, kinda...

A rather un-eventful week. Every now and then, I get a week and everything right seems wrong again. This was largely one of them weeks.

The week didn't start too bad on the training front. I took a cycle commute to work and back on Monday. Maybe the 'going to work' bit wasn't so great.

Tuesday was a run into work. I find running a little harder of late - think that's because my frequency and intensity has greatly reduced. This run wasn't so bad.

Wednesday was much like Monday. On my cycle commute my front wheel starting making those squealing pig noises again. Thankfully this was easily fixed by tightening up the front wheel.
To take or no?
Did not train any further this week. Weather wasn't kind. Had wanted to cycle to work over the weekend (yes, I had to work the weekend too) using my fully laden gravel bike. Here lay a further problem. Am not sure how I am going to load bike up yet. Is so hard 'packing' in the bike packing sense. Still not really sure what I am going to take. Not sure what I am going to strap where. My bags seem to swing and sway a little wherever I put them. Do I need a back pack? Do I need to use a handlebar harness? Does the harness I have suit this bike? Where is my battery pack? Argh...
Had experimented making porridge this week which went a little better. I essentially stole a recipe from the internet and tried it myself. This was good because I was able to test my stove cooking skills again and potentially be able to feed myself (breakfast at least) during my planned trip. Cheap, light-weight food. The porridge mix is kept in a food bag and once hot water is added I eat from there. My wooly hat acts like a cozy. My secret mix could't be too bad either because the Mrs requested I made her a bowl and she ate the lot! 

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Fully blown camping!

This week was certainly a little different to the norm. Oh yes, this week we went a camping with wife, kids, warts and all! Well, we actually didn't take too much gear because we really didn't have too much gear and I wanted to test the ultralight gear that I had.

Prior to our adventure I ensured that my trusty Trangia stove was working well. Felt quite proud that I made myself a pot stand and windshield all DIY style. Tim the Toolman Taylor indeed!
My funky little project fitted inside my titanium mug too. Bonus! I reckon there's room to stuff more stuff in too!
SJ prepared for our trip by ensuring Doo Little gardens were first well watered. Lunar was real excited that Chester Bear (from nursery) would be coming along. Chester was a bit perplexed that every now and then folk would call him Barney.
Food was a major part of our adventure. Sometimes we ate out and when we did we ate some real tasty stuff. The dishes below were some tasty Greek dishes that we couldn't pronounce.
We ate at Wetherspoons a few times too. Their breakfasts were huge and cheap. I pinched some of the Nutella spread for my Turin-Nice trip. Good thinking eh?!
Sometimes, we would eat at our camp site which was situated right in the Forest of Dean (Bracelands). I got to try out my titanium knife (even before my spork). The cake was delicious and the knife a success!
The cake tasted even better washed down with a little rum. How handy, I had a little hip flask to test out. Pretty neat!
Naturally, I had to try out my Trangia stove. For the most part it worked just fine and many cups of tea were had. SJ complained hers was cold (she faffed about for ages before she took a sip). I had been cooking with this gel fuel and wanted to try meths. With meths in hand (well stove), I cooked the girls some beans which seemed to go down well.
If truth be told, I nearly caused a camp fire. The meths burnt very well but it was hard to put out. Previous fires were easily extinguished using the Trangia lid as a snuff. Meths however, would continue to burn (there is a tiny weeny hole in the lid). The O ring on the lid caught fire and whoosh, burnt bottom of mug. Grr. Never stopped the girls eating mind.
As stated already, the camp site was pretty awesome. We were in a real pretty area and if we were to camp here again we would know our way around so much better. There were signs for wild pigs everywhere but we never caught a glimpse of one. Saw some wild deer though which was nice.
We lived in a 3 man tent for the duration of our adventure. I took to sleeping in the porch, and the girls in the main tent. My self-inflating mattress worked a treat. The girls had to keep pumping their mattress even in the crazy hours of the night. Maybe that was why Lunar sneaked into my bivvy!
Some of our adventures included climbing great heights and walking down steep slopes. The view point from Symonds Yat rock was quite spectacular. It appeared the birds of prey had migrated though.
Being so high up of course meant that we had to clamber real low down. I think we must have walked miles. Walking was a challenge for SJ and I, but Melody appeared to have it nailed!
Melody and Lunar found a magic money tree at the bottom. Try as they might they couldn't extract any money from this tree. They managed to extract money from their ma and pa though!
On the flatter ground we walked some more. And more and more. Then I found a little swing to monkey around on for a while.
I really enjoyed swinging from that good rope. It gave a short rest from walking. On we went and then we found a super bridge which was fun to run across. Lunar made repeat trips.
Those that know me well will know that my navigational skills leave a little to be desired... As we made our way back to camp, I suggested we took a short cut. All were in favour because we were knackered. At times we would pull each other up the inclines, or I would push both girls in the buggy.
Whatever it took to keep us happy. Happy we were! Especially when a 'random' woman agreed to drive me to the car park to collect my car (and save me a good 5k walk).
Each adventure would ultimately end up back at the campsite. We really enjoyed it here. It was our home for a few days.
Our last holiday adventure didn't end up back at the campsite though. Oh no, our last holiday adventure was a trip to Goodrich Castle. Lunar took Chester Bear from nursery out with us too.
Just because our holiday was over did not mean that the fun stopped. On our drive home we reflected on adventures had. We also planned adventures for times ahead - watch this space!
Once home, it didn't take me long to start thinking bicycles again. I took Winter to get serviced and I'm real pleased to say her brakes worked again. My only training this week was the short cycle back home from the bike shop in Redditch. Winter looked really rather special in her new guise as a gravel bike (tyre clearance is really on the limit - am sporting 32mm tyres). The photo's below show her mostly loaded for her Turino - Nice adventure. I'll blog more in later posts with exactly which kit I plan to take.
More adventure was had with the family over the weekend. We took a trip to Baddesley Clinton and essentially had a picnic. Very strange place this and boasts a moated manor house.
This picnic provided the perfect opportunity to sup on the pale ale that my buddy Chris had won for growing his 9 month beard and moustache! Bottoms up. Delicious. Nice one Chris.
Cheers!

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Ironman and PBP re-visited

I have some great friends, don't you know?! On Monday, my buddy Ron rocked up with a fantastic present. Yes indeed, Ron had gotten me a Marvel Ironman figure to help me keep alive the buzz of becoming an Ironman. Cheers mate! How cool was that?!
Monday was also the first day that I had ran since completing my Ironman challenge. This 10k commute into work felt much harder than normal. My time was slow (took about an additional 10 mins compared to my  more usual times) and my back and legs ached following this activity.

Tuesday's run commute was much better. I ran a slightly shorter route (8.7k) and felt great. It rained the whole time but that didn't matter - it was so humid, the rain felt fresh and cooling. As I ran down the Pershore Road, Suz Runner whizzed past in her car and gave me a thumbs up. Let's hope the running mojo is back!
In the evening, my wonderful wife SJ had put up a rather funky picture and frame in our new dining room. Yes indeed, SJ was keeping alive the buzz of me completing the PBP (with her wonderful support) back in 2011. How superb was that?!

Thursday and Friday were days that I cycled to work and back commute style. Nothing particular of note happened. Weather was pretty fine.

No more training / exercising took place. However, I played around with my Winter bike and hope I've turned her into a super gravel bike. She is now sporting fat tyres (32mm), a rather splendid frame bag (designed by my good self), a PDW bindle rack and a gizmo allowing me to carry an extra bottle on my top tube. Pretty funky, eh?!
The pic above does not show the gizmo things holding the further bottle on the top tube. Plan is to add a further gizmo to the down tube - bike will have capacity to carry 4 bottles then (1 bottle may carry tools). My Wildcat harness did not fit the bars on this bike, being specifically made for a MTB (or bikes with crown forks at least) so my tent will have to be strapped to the bars. Hmm. Maybe a couple of extra straps will do the trick. Packing one's gear onto a bicycle is quite a feat!
The weekend was also a great time to experiment with my gear. With the help of wife and kids we set up camp in the back garden. The smaller of the tents above will come bike packing with me.
This solo tent, as the name implies, is super small. If you're Melody size, it's perfect size. If however, you are 6' 2'' like me, then it's a bit of a squeeze. My buddy Chris has the self same tent and has ideas of taking his daughter camping with him using this solo tent. He is crazy!
Lunar and I both fit in this tent together. Just. But, I don't think any quality sleep would be had if were to camp out together. Not sure how camping would go with just me, so decided to try it out!
The tent was snug and quite cosy in fact. Very difficult to get in and out and hard to manoeuvre inside. (How I will get changed in there will be interesting). My Snug-Pack sleeping bag was a little small but in a tent this size it mattered not. The 3/4 length Gelert self-inflaming mattress was perfect.
Before I went to sleep though, I figured a cup of tea was in order and what better way to try out my Trangia stove. It took me about half an hour to make this cuppa! The stove really needed shelter from the sides to burn well (and not blow out), the gel fuel I had was naff (maybe alcohol would be better) and the pot stand did not allow my titanium mug to rest on it. I did not mount the Trangia on the stand - instead I placed the stand over the burner and then placed my mug on top. Half an hour for a mug of green tea - but it was great and worth it!

As for my sleep, you wonder?! Well, it was ok but not the best. The local youth were noisy and out drinking until 2 in the morning. The biggest problem though was definitely the fact that I did not have a pillow. Next time and a dry bag or similar will have to rest my head. 

Plan to go camping for a few days soon with the wife and kids. Hopefully, I can try and test stuff further. Maybe I'll be able to make SJ a cup of tea in less than half an hour!