Saturday, 31 May 2014

Ready to roll

 Weathers set fair for tomorrow, everything is set and good to go.
 Essential food supplies and spare parts packed
and Gerry is packed ready for the off.

Watch this space!

Friday, 30 May 2014

Special delivery

 Gerry, complete with dead cow parsley, brought back to Rock HQ an essential piece of equipment for Sunday's mega ride. The racing steed has been serviced and refitted, so in essence, since the start of this project and my promise not to buy a new bike, even though the needed number of bikes owned is n+1 (n being actual number owned) all that remains of original bike is frame, saddle , crank, handle bars and front wheel (although a new front wheel is waiting for me in the olde worlde bike shoppe)
Some fine tuning is required but we (being me and nice man who replaced all the bits) feel it is more than ready (barring the aforesaid fine tuning) for the south to north epic Welsh ride. That's more than can be said for its pilot who has spent time preparing today by eating chocolate hob nobs and looking at the ride profile and hoping that google earth has got it wrong. Weather looks favourable, provided you like rain. Half the support crew have got a stomach bug (as have Rock HQ's rug rat MkII and apprentice) On the plus side the route has now been marked in bright colours across three pages of road atlas and learned by rote by yours truly and the donations have increased massively.
Life's good.
It feels like its the calm before the storm.  or text TTTA50 to 70070 and any amount from £1 to £10 and don't forget to gift aid it and leave a message.


Thursday, 29 May 2014

10 days and counting

10 days to go to the gathering of the clan

Think like a three year old

My beautiful and oh so patient wife will testify that yours truly seldom has difficulty in thinking like a three year old, even acting like one at times, however today there was another incident involving my bank card, and having already had three new ones this year, it was essential that it was found before we went shopping or any embarrassing phone calls had to be made to my bank. Once again little t had decided to be oh so helpful by putting daddy's card in a safe place. Like so many of my safe places, it was so safe none of us knew where it was. Rock HQ us undergoing a makeover at present meaning the dining room is now an office and what was the office is now the dining area. In the transfer of stuff from one place to another the precious bank card disappeared. Early doors saw the search intensify, there were few places to look as the changing rooms were practically devoid of furniture. In the centre of the desk was a small card box in the shape of a treasure chest. A forlorn lifting of the top revealed that it really did contain treasure, the missing bank card placed in it by the apprentice.
Racing steed is now back in one piece and will be collected tomorrow, final preps for the big event on Sunday continued and 2 hours training was completed despite the weather, which, if all goes well, changes for the good on Sunday. Day ended with a practice run of marmite and tomato sandwiches, a few fresh emails asking for sponsorship and a google earth session focusing on the Horseshoe Pass which is the monster that has to be slain some 200km into the ride.
Thanks to all that have sponsored so far and to those who still intend to heres a link to make it even easier

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Follow me!

Despite words of encouragement the apprentice was unable to get his latest woodwork project to follow him to the car.

Penultimate training session for the big 300km ride this weekend went well. At least I thought it did as I hammered out the miles and did some hill drills. Little t was concerned to find his Dad busting a gut on the training bike and fetched his Mummy as Daddy was all dripping and worn out and needed water. They wont be available to help on the day. I have a support crew to dog sit, feed me marmite and tomato sandwiches and shout at me for crying.

Anyone who wants to sponsor me can do by text message by texting TTTA50 to 70070 and any amount from £1 to £10 as many times as you like. Don't forget to leave a message. All money raised goes to Myeloma UK.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Table manners

 This is the lane to our world, the Bonsai Mountain is on the right. The cow parsley is threatening to take over and when it rains, which it does quite often in the summer (as well as spring, autumn and winter) these tall plants fall into the lane making it even narrower which is why yours truly ends up with bits of foliage in his lycra as he battles through the Triffid like gathering.
Number one racing steed has been dropped off with bicycle repairman for a service and some modifications ready for the big ride on the weekend. I never thought I would ever reach the stage where I could talk about gear ratios and nod knowingly when another rider extols the virtues of their 28 over my 25. Having now got the knowledge I know that my rear cassette is a pro racer set up and being a rider who is somewhat heavier than many, the standard cassette (the 10 small cogs that drive the back wheel) issued with my racing bike does well on the flat but as soon as a gradient is hit, and lets face it in sunny Wales there are a few inclines, the standard racing set up is a real disadvantage to me. Much like when I went parachuting and they gave me the one size fits all parachute. It worked, clearly or I would have difficulty in typing right now, but giving the one size that gave an 8 stone woman a 2 minute flight time (read fall) and gave me a 1 minute 23 second flight (fall) was not a good thing. In fact I was last of 6 jumpers out of the plane and the first to hit the deck in a mighty ooooooooofff moment. Once they decided my back hadn't broken and the bit sticking out of the front of my shin wasn't bone I was dumped in a cattle trough of ice cold water to encourage the exorcising of the bruising and told to prepare for my next sudden impact.
So back in the world of bikes, the bicycle repairman thinks that provided the rear mech has the capacity in the cage then he can fit a rear cassette more suited to a fat hill climber than an anorexic sprinter. Time will tell. Whatever happens all the tweaking needs to be done pronto to allow any blips to be eliminated before the big one.

 Gerry also got to grips with the massed ranks of the roadside weeds when I was tasked to retrieve an oak table that was an ebay bargain. This took an hour and a half to fetch and then a further two hours to persuade through the doors of Rock HQ that were a tad narrower than the house from whence it came.

Anyone wishing to sponsor me on this 300km solo bike ride taking place 1st June 2014 then click on the box in the margin. All money raised goes to Myeloma UK.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Not going to plan

 With only 6 days to go before the biggest solo bike ride yours truly has ever attempted my "training" should be ramping down. That is to say do less before the big event. But as do less than virtually none would be a bad thing then this last week was destined to be a series of intense sessions designed to  test and build on muscle mass. As can be seen from above pic things have not gone to plan today (for a change) and less time was spent training than sleeping. By the time I woke up only 40 minutes was spent on hill drills, again, not long enough to build up the endurance necessary for 300km non stop, but enough to assuage the guilt created by eating cheese on toast instead of a more waistline friendly lunch.
 Other things not gone right today. No time was spent gardening although Gerry did have a go at weeding for us.
 No time was spent on the redesign of the Swiss Style Kennel Block, or on the new fence around the garden.
Meanwhile Elf was spending time trying to figure out how to get into the rafters!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Change of plan

 Thanks to the attention paid by Bliss to the galvanised steel bars and the prevailing wind direction blowing rain into the Swiss Style Kennel Block a radical rethink has had to be thunk. So as its a bank holiday weekend what better way could be spent than sawing and hammering bits of wood together to solve the weather ingress and dog egress situation.
 Once the morning routine had been done and then a last ditch effort to get fit enough for next weekends man test (although 23 miles in pouring rain hardly equates to 300km) the metal work was removed and a new frame fitted.
 A simple task save for the weather.
 Berners took cover while yours truly soldiered on. Here's Spotty tasking shelter in the wrecked greenhouse, wrecked by Hetty and marauding goats seasons past.
 A couple of hours in the rain really set in so I took shelter in the kennel and sat on one of the massive luxury beds and listened to heavy metal while fighting off several large dogs.
 Job done, save for the fiddley bits at the top, thats tomorrows task.
 The wrecked internal steelwork was then removed and the "new" bit from the end put in its place, for the first time since I built it we have 6 operational kennels.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

For kids of all ages

 Having the apprentice smallholder and rug rat MkII to trip over occupy, some thought has to be given to activities away from Rock HQ which is, as ever, bursting at the seams with critters. The apprentice has for a while now been obsessed interested in a small blue tank engine called Thomas. Not sure how this has occurred as Thomas the Tank Engine has not been of TV for a while, and aside from some slippers its hard to trace where this influence came from. So we have humoured him, buying franchise friendly yoghurts and most recently a train set.
 This went down a storm and since Christmas the train set has been added to and expanded to such a huge size that it now takes up the entire floor of the new utility room. Plans to fit it out with washing machine and so on have been shelved until this phase of offsrpinghood has been got through. (anything up to 10 yrs then)
 So yesterday we made a trip to see Thomas on his home ground, the island of Sodor, conveniently located at Drayton Manor Park and Zoo (where our peacock came from) and despite the threat of rain and having to come home with an even bigger train set we were determined to show the apprentice a really useful engine.
 To say the day was a success would be the most massive understatement ever. So engrossed was our apprentice in all things steam that he completely missed the big lizard sneaking up behind him.
 We got to ride on trains, fly helicopters, jet aeroplanes, drive cars, eat ice creams in the rain, watch our sproglet almost explode when releeased into the biggest Thomas the Tank Engine shop in the world and marvelled at his bravery on the Diesel mayhem ride (bit like the wurlitzers) where he made each of us go and have a go so he could stay on it.
 In all a fantastic day, the rain kept off until we left. I managed not to buy a train set but was tempted to buy Henry one of Thomas' friends, he's now whizzing around the track after the rest of the engines.
 Our boys were happy with the day and rewarded us with some quiet time.
Today summer carried on as normal, three inches of rain in the last 72 hours. Meant no work got done outdoors, instead I stayed indoors and fretted about next weeks bike ride.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Its been a fantastic day. Its amazing how much a small blue tank engine can make everyone so happy. Full story when the ringing in my ears has stopped caused by small child squealing with delight.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Racing Start

 With weather as good as this its rude not to ride to work. This is my warm up, a slow jog pushing racing steed along wheel breaking dirt track (very slow considering current blisters).
 Views aplenty. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, the birds are singing in the trees.
 This is where our world meets the real world
 a quick blast down this track and we are on a main A road. GPS is switched on here its not a race but now and then I like to push a bit harder to try and do the 5 miles a bit quicker. Not today though, this is a recovery ride and anyway the weathers too good to rush.
Traffic lights. Took this picture to show how much work is taking place. The lights failed to recognise me as a road user so stayed red until a big quarry lorry appeared behind me. The driver expected me to wave him through first. He didn't expect a fat bloke on a bike to get off to a racing start and maintain over 30mph for nearly a minute. The power of lycra.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Done it again

Yours truly has managed to lose the lead to connect camera to PC so no new pics of how tiny horse kept blacksmith occupied while tag team of vermin cats stole his bacon and egg banjo. Instead heres a pic of Spotty the action Berner helping me fence by running off with a top rail.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Two tribes go to war

 Laurel thinks the fence has been built solely for his benefit, it allows him to patrol part of the smallholding from a useful viewpoint. Mrs Laurel is AWOL at present, hopefully sat on eggs. Laurel calls every 45 seconds just to let her know where he is. For some reason war broke out in the aviary, the quails have formed two tribes and are hell bent on killing each other. There is no apparent reason for this conflict, they have masses of space, unlimited food and water, but the factions had to be split up early doors, casualties abounded on both sides  and the least hen packed and most aggressive gang were put in the greenhouse while we thought quite what to do. The stroppy little buggers in the greenhouse had other ideas and broke out to wreak havoc on the world, which is where they discovered that being an aggressive little quail in an aviary has very different consequences than outdoors. By late evening three surviving quail were doing a very passable re-enactment of Custer's last stand while predators closed in. Yours truly rode to the rescue ignoring the fact that A) Finding walking impossible due to large areas of skin missing from feet and B) Quail choosing last stand action in worlds biggest nettle patch and rescue party only clothed in shorts and t shirt. Despite this I managed to catch one, then a second, much to our mutual surprise, she recovered quicker than I and as I tried to put her in my pocket (dont ask) she flew off into a mightier patch of stingers. A third escaped the closing jaws of a large dog and as she flew over my head was almost caught, the change in trajectory the impact with my hand caused landed her dead centre of the brambles. I retreated with my one captive and will wait and see which vermin cat turns up not wanting breakfast.
Meanwhile someone is finding his training regime boring......

Sunday, 18 May 2014

A quiet day

 After yesterdays shenanigans of the BBMC 2014 today was necessarily quieter, not through any lack of ability to walk from having 5 blisters on my left foot and four on my right, the smallest being the size of a 50p piece, no, the reason for silence was yours truly has tonsillitis.
 The apprentice smallholder has joined the local playgroup in preparation for school and so we are running the gauntlet of every infectious disease carried by small children to school and taken home to adoring parents and after two weeks of running noses we now have no voice, or a voice like a Dalek sucking helium through a kazoo. Highly entertaining but extremely painful and an interesting distraction from the pain of my feet.

BBMC 2014

 Obligatory start photos over with
 Richard, Spotty the action Berner and I set off on a 30 mile trek, first destination is the V at the top of the picture. This section is steep, full of gear rats, kit zombies and military wannabees being funneled into single file, the traffic jam is massive. Into this heady mix we three piled in, Spotty choosing to drop the worlds most incredibly offensive dump at a strategic point where we all had to walk single file. Once we were past this steaming mountain and the totally unprepared types staggering under the weight of their rucksacks or dying from the heat exhaustion caused by jeans, thermal shirts and waterproofs, we, in our lightweight mode(Spotty lost at least 3 pound in that one)  raced by.
 Making the top of the first peak within 80 minutes of starting.
 More sunny pics showing how well we were doing dutifully taken we raced along the ridge before
 the massive descent to the valley floor
 views were aplenty, who cared that later on after some 15 miles  in the peaks and troughs of the valleys to the left we would be walking over these far hills on our right.
 These are the ones on the left, the funny looking lump is the big one, from there we turn left along the ridge.
 But this is a fore warning of future trouble.
 Richard celebrating his 40th birthday, yes the actual day, by yomping across the hills with yours truly, did some repair work to his feet while I ate his "sandwiches" which were suspiciously like his last nights chinese stuck in a wrap.
 The heat was intense and while Richard struck poses straight out of "Monty Hall's How to look Butch in the Wildeeness" book, Spotty the action Berner coated himself in mud
 or sat in puddles at every opportunity.
 We were in the zone, head of this valley we were 16 miles in, ahead of schedule and feeling good.
 By here we were still on target for a good time, ominous rumblings in yours truly's innards questioned the prudence of eating Richards sandwiches.
 And by mile 20 I made a deposit in a porta loo that would have rivaled anything found in the fausty overworked closets of a rock festival. Just after Hay Bluff things went a bit wrong. We had overtaken some 60 or so walkers, met a lovely lady who was at a checkpoint called Mel (thats her name not the checkpoints name, most checkpoints didn't have interesting names apart from Huff and Puff checkpoint) who asked as we got our route card punched if I was the one who wrote this blog as she read it. She recognised Spotty. So if you are reading Mel, come along to our Berner dog show 8th June, watch this space for details. Right back to how things went wrong, no one over took us but by 3pm we still had either 6 miles or 10 miles to go, dependent on which calculation from KM to Miles you took, and as it was it was 10 and we just got slower and slower, No one overtook us but the reason for our lack of progress was blisters. I never ever get blisters. This time I got massive ones on both heels, the balls of both feet and each step was like placing your foot into molten glass. Richard was happy as I had an insight into his world, he always gets them and I always video his wobbly legged walk at the end while laughing. We convinced ourselves that this was "good" pain and that it was "good" that we were able to experience it, but mile 27, 28, 29 and 30 was not good and passed with clenched teeth and experiments in Celtic language. We kept good time, stayed in front of the pack and even reeled a couple more in, but as we crossed the only flat bit to the finish line we were both in agony. Fitness wise not an issue, pain threshold thoroughly breached.
 So we stuffed ourselves with free cake, listened to everyone oohing and aaahing over Spotty who helped himself to any unguarded lemon drizzle and set off to Richards 40th birthday party some 2 hours later than planned.
Will we do it again, yes, but not wearing Karrimor boots. Big Black Mountain Challenge 2014, another excellent day organised by the Longtown Mountain Rescue Team, hats off to them for their skill at shepherding 1000 people of dubious ability across an arduous landscape. Last year I did it solo and on finishing made the bold claim that this year I would set a new record or PB. My best time ever was 8 hours fifteen. This time is a new record, 11 hours, its never taken me so long. We will beat that next year. With new boots.