Monday, 7 January 2013
Is this thing still working?
Is there anyone out there?
I guess it's time I started blogging again, it's going to be a hell if a year with lots if life altering events, from negotiating the property markets, doing the Worlds Hardest Triathlon and becoming a dad for the fist time.
If I can't find something amusing in that lot to blog about, I guess there's just no hope.
Thursday, 9 September 2010
Saturday, 4 September 2010
well if you been here over the last day or so you may have noticed a redirect from the old address into this one, 'Mountainbasher' is a name i've used for some time here and there on the Internet in various places and forums etc, so it seem logical that i registered it as a domain and finally do something about creating another website, so yesterday, rather hurriedly thats what i did.. you can check out the begginings of my new site at the address http://mountainbasher.co.uk and this blog will be kept in this format under the subdomain http://blog.mountainbasher.co.uk.
i'm gonna keep both updated with not only biking stuff, but any other random crap that i find amusing, i hope you will too...!
I'll be putting the photos from my recent scottish trip online in the next few days..
Friday, 27 August 2010
well... last day... sob sob..
but on the other hand... Yay!!! \o/
Got up with the birds this morning at about 6am... not sure if it was the excitement of going home, or the fact it was bloody freezing and i couldnt sleep...
A big pile of porridge and coffee later and i was on the road for 8am, down the country lanes around Writington and out into the plethera of traffic, cars full of angry people trying to get to work... how dare they encroach on my holiday!
through the edges of chorley, Leyland and into Bolton, with the traffic calming past the rush hour the long ride into Manchester in the sunshine was quite pleasureable. I was determined this time to 'do' manchester without the aid of a map or SatNav, so armed with the age old navigation tecnique of following the sun i hit the town... Knowing that at noon, if i kept the sun directly in my face i would surely be going i the right direction... and it worked! the maze of oneway systems and pedestrionized streets were no match for me and the sun and soon i not only had the bustle of Manchester city center behind me, but i was also going in the right direction, on the right road.. Easy!
out of manchester and into the the long slog uphill into Stockport and Whaley bridge.. deciding as ive done here before to take on the grind of a climb that goes up over the high edges of the Goyt Valley and decends into Buxton, rather than go up the dual carriageway into Chapel En Le Frith. and a grind it is!
a good 40 minutes of hard slog uphill before the breakneck wild downhill into buxton town. Out of buxton and another long drawnout climb over Taddington followed by yet another epic decent into Bakewell.
Not wantng to stop with the tourists i wheeled through and into Matlock where a coffe break saw me fit for the last 15 miles flatish valley ride to sunny Belper...
Not wanting to end it all too soon a quick text arranged a beer with John at the George down on the main street, where he met me and we shared a much needed pint (or 3) in the sun!
all in all a great day with a nice steady 83 miles to bring the tour to a close.
sorry for the short post tonight, but kinda tired and got a heap of things to sort out (and wash)
i'm gonna add a few more post to this blog over the weekend, and some more pictures and stuff and cover a few things i never spoke too much about because of the limitations of typing on a lil iddly piddly phone and stuff..
soo..... big thanks for reading, i hope you enjoyed reading this as much as i enjoyed doing it!
(pic to day is of me mate john at the pub today for a much deserved pint)
P.S. John also brought me a big hunk of home made apple cake! nice one fella, its awesome!!
Thursday, 26 August 2010
Another dry day! Weeeeeeee!
Up early, breakfast and on the road before 9am, wheeled into town on search of a bike shop to try and replace the little handlebar mounted mirror that I broke off yesterday.. lots of bike shops but none with the object in question.. so out on the road again and headed south..
Following the coast on a pleasantly quiet road, I wheeled into Morecambe at about lunchtime, bustling with tourists I pootled along the promenade in search of a cure for my craving for seafood, which in a town like Morecambe is easily found.. large portion of exquisitely cooked fish and chips followed by a little platter of mixed shellfish, muscles, cockles, prawns, crayfish and crab.. nomnom!
Craving satisfied and away to Lancaster with its maze of funky cycle paths, still gets top marks for cycle friendliness..
Resisting the temptation to take the turn for Blackpool I continued on to Garstang, probably the friendliest place I've passed through, a stop at a bike shop to try for the mirror resulted in a friendly crowd of cyclists all eager to talk about my trip, panniers and touring in general..
Even as I sat mounting my newly bought mirror a couple of people stopped to ask if id broke down and if I needed anything.. with one old chap pulling over and getting out his car to enquire on my road worthiness, how nice..
With the sun still shining I made is successfully through Preston and out into the countryside just west of Chorley where I pitched camp once before when on the 'ill fated' trip on the tandem..
Dinner tonight contains a few freebies I gathered throughout the day.. pasta of course, with tuna and sweetcorn.. the sweetcorn I 'found' just growing at the side of the road.. well in a field by the road, well... in a field full of sweetcorn by the road..
And dessert tonight is a big heap of Plums which were really growing at the side of the road, mixed with some blackberries from the bush next to my tent.. which I'm now boiling up into a big sweet sticky slop I'm gonna pig with some 'homemade' shortbread purchased from the bakery down the road that also supplied me with a big stack of Chorley Cakes.. nom!
Yay for Freeberries!
Gonna grab an early night and with a bit of luck and tailwind i'll be back home in time for a pint tomorrow..
Will keep ya posted..
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
Well a fun day, and a dry one! \o/
Started out with a glorious clear sky and golden sunrise, only spoiled by the bastard cockrel in the next field who decided to cock-a-doodle-do from 5:30 in the morning only to be joined by a very large and very noisy bird of prey that joined in the chorus with its loud and angry yelling... but at least it wasn't raining!
Now the local shop id called in in the evening before didn't sell normal porridge oats so I was forced into 'moving with the times' and risking 'oats-so-simple' ...
*stares at the weeny individual sachets*
3 of them should do I thought...
It's not bad... but its not porridge..
Slightly miffed I was on the road before 9.
Out on the road, and soon through Longtown, up and down the relentless hills into Carlisle. Now last time I blogged about Carlisle I may have been a bit rude about the place, calling it something along the lines of a town full if chav boy racers and Vickie Pollard wannabies.. I do take it back, cause approaching the town from this direction I did pass a street that looked really nice.. so to the residents of that street, I am sorry.
Hurriedly out of Carlisle an down the very hilly stretch of the A6 into Penrith, long hard uphills with the downhill parts spoiled by the headwind... but at least its not raining!
Lunch in Penrith and feeling fit I made the decision that the last two days of Audax style biking has been fun, but now time to get back to what this bike was built for.. Touring!
So I took a right and headed westward to the north of the Lake District at Keswick, were the last couple of miles into town I was joined by a female "Roadie" out for a days biking and interested in my travels..
Another food stop and I headed south through the heart of the Lake District marvelling at the lines of walkers marching up and down the sides of these massive mountains like trails of ants on the move. Past the lakes at Thirlmere and Grassmere into the pretty town and outdoor hot spot of Ambleside, packed with shoppers spending their fortunes st one of the million outdoor shops in this little village. Along the banks of Lake Windemere and up the vicious hill into Windemere village, which hurt, a lot.
Then a plot up and down a few more painful hills to my current camp at Kendal.
All in all a very hard but rewarding day of 80 miles, and I'm very happy that I took the diversion through the lakes.
I suspect a pasta dinner again tonight, and tomorrow I might (weather depending) go and have a look down the coast at Morecambe and mebbe even blacklpool.
Till then I'll leave you with a picture of Grasmere..
Tuesday, 24 August 2010
Well, another day over...
Started out from a wild and windy Androssan this mornin at about 8:30ish, started out dry ish with little showers of light rain but after an hour or so the rain set in good and proper.. away dawn the coast through Irvine and then a steady climb up into Kilmarnock, nice familiar town with its rust-red coloured buildings and churches where I lost a good half an hour mending the first puncture of the trip, where a big angry looking thorn decided to bury itself in my back tyre. At least it had the decency to stay in there making locating the puncture and fixing it a simple straight forward task. Rejoining the main road I headed south again. With the road closed for roadworks at Mauchline to all but 'local traffic' it was nice and quiet with the long swooping decent out of the hills on the newly surfaced road an absolute pleasure. It was around then I caught up with a couple of guys on shiny new hybrid bikes with shiny new panniers, all obviously bought for this trip, who were heading south 5 days into there John O Groats to Lands End trip; we rode together for a few miles with them quizzing me lots about the route I took when I did the same trip in the other direction a few years ago.. then remembering I still had a laminated copy of my route still selotaped to the inside of my handle bar bag, I handed it over, wished them luck and pedalled off into the distance leaving them in peace with their iPods.
With the rain now breaking into showers I plodded on to the grey and rundown town of Sanquhar where s friendly woman at the local store furnished me with sandwiches and cakes and I sat happily in the first bit of sun of the day and munched the lot washed down with an obscene quantity of lucozade I was cohersed into buying because it was on offer. I'm a sucker for a bargain.
Whooshing into Dumfries I did my usual trick of looking so closely at the shops and building I hadn't payed any attention to where I was supposed so be going and wasted a good half an hour riding around trying to get my bearings on which way I should be going.
Bearings found I headed south onto the edges of the solway firth and along the coast into Annan before making the last push into Gretna on the Scotland-England border. It was my original plan to spend the night on one of the two campsites in the town, but wanting to get back on home turf I pedalled over the border at the river Sark and into Cumbria and England! \o/
Happily on home turf I pootled down the road and into the first campsite along just west of Longtown, where as the only one here have my choice of pitch.
The site here is run by a friendly blonde floppy haired surfer guy with a three legged cat and an electric guitar, but is clean, tidy and cheap.. my three favourite things for a campsite!
Pasta for dinner! Surprise Surprise!
All showered and clean and ready for an early night.
Not quite a record breaker today but a healthy 107 miles ain't bad going me thinks.
The sun came out for just a few minutes just now and the sky is clearing up nicely, so i'll be praying for a dry day tomorrow!
Monday, 23 August 2010
Sorry for the late blog, been a long day...
The day kinds started late, owing to the pitter-patter sound of the rain on my tent I really really didn't wanna get up.
Eventually I could resist no more and had to do it. Luckily the place I was at provided a covered area for campers to eat and cook out of the weather, so at least coffee and porridge making wasnt so much of a chore.
Packed the tent up in the pouring rain yet again and hot the road for a lazy 9:30.
Out of Oban in the pouring rain and up into the hills, now when I say pouring rain... I mean pouring rain, the kind of rain that falls in droplets the size of golf balls and about as heavy!
Up the Pass of Brander, a pretty glen flanked by massive thick set pine forest, with the rain beating down and the mist rising up it made for an eerie spectacle that could only be likened to being on location at the filming of the next Twilight movie.
Mid morning around Loch Awe, and feeling peckish I pulled in at one of the many 'random shop on the middle of nowhere' stores for a bite to eat, being the first time id had to use my bands in a few hours, I had a few epic minutes trying to get my hands to work to be able to get my money out, embarrassingly managed it in the end, and took my dodgy looking snack out into the rain, then to my utter horror my hands were too cold to open the damn thing! I could have cried at that point.
Then it struck me, that the bag it was packed in could be squeezed lightly and popped open like a paper bag...
It's tough stuff that polyethylene!
Eventually after having a good look around to check no one was watching, I threw the offending article to the the floor and angrily stomped on it!
*pop* et voila! Tis open!
There I happily and somewhat smugly, sat in the rain and ate my tasty, if not a little miss shapen snack.
Around Loch fynne (not Loch awe as I said in previous post ) and into a cafe for a correctly shaped baked potato lunch! Much better!
By this time it had been raining at full force all day, making the scenery somewhat spectacular, all the sides of these steep sided valleys no road with heavy streams of water, that peat-stained flood water, that looks like the hills are leaking Theakstons Old Peculiar into the dark lochs, along the thick wooded Loch Eck, the thick pine forests pouring plumes of mist up into the skies...
Now it was my original plan to camp somewhere around here at the head of Loch Eck north of dunoon, but feeling fit I decided to carry on a bit, reaching Dunoon soon after, here again I must apologise..
I couldn't resist...
Just one more time...
So I did...
With the boat almost ready to leave, I one last time flashed my long since expired 8 Day Rover ticket at the ferry man, where in a 'doctor who' style moment he saw exactly what he wanted to see and with a big smile wave me past, "oan ye go laddie" shweeet!
Over the water into gourock and away again down the coast.. first through Largs then the beautifully named 'Fairlie' and finally onto my current location and home for tonight Androssan, which is where I bought the afore mentioned ferry ticket when I first left mainland to hop to Arran.
Feeling surprisingly fit and strong despite to day breaking my own personal best for a fully loaded touring bike, with today clocking 110.3 miles in just over 8 hours riding time.
Another strong day like that and I'll be back in England this time tomorrow, hope tomorrow goes as well as today (but preferably without the rain)
Oh P.S. todays picture is of folk singing goddess Kate Rusby, two reasons
1. It was too wet to take any photos today.
2. I think she's beautiful.
Sunday, 22 August 2010
Well as you prolly gathered I didn't wanna start heading south just yet, so I decided to go and have a look at Mull.. the decision was made thus morning at about 7am this morning... id pulled into the first campsite u game across yesterday, and without checking out the 'neighbours' first, just pitched and want to sleep. So... imagine my horror this morning at 6am the small child in the next tent decided to serenade the entire site with some incomprehensible German nursery rhyme.. and then to my utter dismay, the little shites father decided not to silence the child, but to join in!
Whilst on the middle of me translating into German the phrase "i'm going to kill your child with a spoon!!!" I hit upon two... not one... but two great ideas..
1. Go to mull instead of going south
2. Due to my late arrival last night, I figured that if I got a wiggle on, I could make it off the site without being noticed, and thus... without paying.
So that's exactly what I did! In spite of the noisy campsite, cold showers and high prices, I scarpered straight on the first boat to Mull, where upon I celebrated my cheap night by spending the cash on an obscenely large cooked breakfast..
(it also turned out that half the camping field followed my lead and a good 6 or 8 tents were packed up in record time as we all made our escape to Mull)
So, my faithful readers, I ask that you can find it in your hearts and souls to forgive me for my evil deed.
Before I tell you about my next evil deed...
Having finished the main portion of my breakfast, I was mulling over my mornings deed with some toast and coffee, when u glanced upon my 'Calmac 8 Day Rover' ferry ticket... and noticed that it Infact expired yesterday.. something myself, or the ferryman failed to notice..
So after my cost saving on my nights camping, and now the cost saving in my ferry ticket.. I celebrated yet again with another steaming mug of americano coffee..
(I once again ask for your forgiveness)
Landed on Mull in the pouring rain but after a couple of miles it brightened up and the sun came out yet again..
Along the pretty coastline constantly being screeched at by angry buzzards, I past lots of small groups of what I figured to be Russian Scout Troops, young lads, 13 ish to about 18 ish, brown uniforms, neckties and woggles singing some bizarre chanting style military songs as they marched down the road in perfect time, it was very surreal.. even more surreal was when one of the troops of about 20 lads broke from their song to give me a perfectly timed and executed Mexican Wave as I passed..
20 odd miles down the coastline and o was in the postcard perfect Tobermoray, with its brightly coloured buildings lining the harbour, all bustling with tourists snapping pictures of anything and everything.
I found somewhere to grab a sandwich, which in this little town is no easy thing... well food is easy to find but the prices are outrageous.. I mean, I know these little tourist trap towns kinda have a right to milk the prices a little, but I'm also fairly sure that £16.99 for fish and chips from a tacky little cafe, is a little excessive..
(Tip: nice place, take sandwiches.)
After a good mooch around I thought id better make the return journey down the coast, just making it in time as the barrier was going up to let the cars and bikes aboard, I flashed my expired ferry ticket at the ferryman for the second time today and wheeled down the ramp onto the cardeck.. Epic Win!
So I celebrated my slyness again with a chip butty from the cafe.
(For the final time again in todays blog, I ask for forgiveness)
I wheeled back into Oban and foe obvious reasons thought I better check out the other campsite in town, a much smarter affair, all clean and tidy with hot showers and a little laundry where I currently sit, catching up on some washing.. rock n roll huh?
So, gonna have to start heading south sometime I guess, I've been 'midge food' way too long now.. I noticed earlier there's a nifty route south that would allow me to take one the Isle Of Bute too, but I can leave it till midday day to decide on that one too...(if I don't do Bute, and one of my SL buddies could pass a message to Phooks, I could well be passing past her doorstep Tuesday morning)
Oki that's about it for tonight..
Ooh p.s. a very important looking ferry man was recapping on the weather we had on Uist the other day, and he said the gusts were at 90mph, and it was a force 10 gale. (11 is a hurricane) o.O
P.p.s. I saw my Canadian friend yet again this morning in Oban, after she managed to talk the coach driver into taking her and her bike to Edinburgh! Her lucky day/week I guess.
P.p.p.s. todays picture is entitled 'Pasta In Process'
Saturday, 21 August 2010
The B&B last night was fantastic and a real life (and tent) saver, and after a week on a rollmat sleeping in a real bed was very nice indeed.
A truly magnificent breakfast was served up at 8:30 sharp and was a greatly received start to the day.
Breakfast all done and farewells exchanged I hit the road with the wind still blowing a hooley I headed south, wanting to have a look at Eriskay, the small island between South Uist and Barra.
More stunning coastline, white beaches broken by rocky outcrops, all the beaches busy with noisy gulls and beaky wading birds dipping the sand for and worms or bugs.
Eventually reaching Ludag at the southernmost tip of South Uist where an impressive causeway leads over to Eriskay where yet again the wind trying to snatch the bike out from under me.. with time being short and not knowing how long the ride back to the ferry at Loch Boisdsle was going to take in the wind, after a quick cycle on Eriskay I turned tail and headed back up the coast, passing on the way none other than my savoir from yesterday, smiling and waving madly from his yellow van.
Now back at the ferry terminal, being entertained by an unfortunate family who Dispite once being told they were booked on the ferry, are now being told they were only booked on the reserve list, and with 6 cars ahead of them in the reserve queue, there was a strong possibility they are not going to be sailing any where today.. :o(
Although sat here listening to the gossip about the "fair old swell on" staying on dry land might not be a bad thing..
We'll see.. :s