Friday, 25 June 2010

A new Glyde...

I've been quiet for a while now. After this year's leg of Glyde Around Britain I had what I had planned on being a 2 week recovery holiday up on the Isle of Mull. This was mainly a walking holiday and Whitey Glyde got to spend time with another rider. She's been away racing in Europe. Now Whitey is back and I've been getting some evening riding in and starting to think about Glyde Around Britain 2011...
Good news in that direction - a little later than expected, the body for the Glyde I ordered for the trip has popped out of the production line and has arrived at the factory ready for assembly. And one upside of the delay - I get the first of a run of an improved, lighter weight version - over 1kg lighter than the production models - maybe even more so when compared to Whitey.
So at last in a few weeks time the bike I planned on using for my trip should be here ready to get used to her and up to fitness before next spring.
And I do owe many thanks to Greenspeed for getting Whitey here to stand in in the meanwhile.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Kit Review Part 2: Terra Nova Laser Comp

I did lots of research before investing in a Laser Comp. I did consider the lighter version but talking to a rep and explaining my trip this was the one I ended up with. After some of the comments I'd seen on different blogs I was a little concerned that the tent might be difficult to pitch but it has been a beautiful piece of kit and has given me no problems... Well, not quite, I've got some stitching coming away on the stuff sack that the tent came in, but that is hardly a show stopper!
Some people have questioned the size, but I'm 6ft (1m83) and I am comfortable lying end to end in the inner. When there is condensation I do find I am touching the walls and getting damp on my bag but after implementing some of the standard modifications this has been less of a problem...
For a minimalist tent I found the porch space excellent - enough space to lay out my overnight gear, 'civilian' clothing, food and kitchen.
I made the following modifications the first two of which I'd seen recommended at blogpackinglight:
1) Threshold tie - a line to reduce the tension on the zip (just visible on the photo). Makes pitching easier and as it means the door zip isn't heavily loaded, looks like a good investment in lengthening the life of this tent.
2) Ventilation improvements - using Alpkit mini-carabiners to hitch the end elastics up to the top of the end poles. This lifts the ends of the outer allowing gentle airflow to clear condensation before it becomes a problem. The carabiners mean that this can be reversed if the weather is adverse.
3) Alpkit 'Nail' pegs with bright yellow loops tied on the top. On the one occassion I used one of the tiny stock Laser Comp 2 gram titanium pegs it worked just fine but I lost it when breaking camp... With the bigger 9 gram pegs I was better able to count out and count them back in again...
4) Ground sheet - I took a Team-Io ground sheet to provide some additional protection to the test groundsheet on wet/dirty/sandy pitches.
Overall I found this tent to be quick to erect and to pack and sufficiently sturdy on exposed pitches when all I felt I needed to do was to add a single extra guy line. I am considering the larger Laser as a step up from my favourite VauDe Hogan.

Kit Review Part 1: Glyde Review extra

After a couple of days rest I couldn't resist taking the Glyde out for a gentle spin to stretch tired muscles. Before doing so I gave her a little bit of attention - I adjusted the 'boom' (in the case of the Glyde a sliding bracket on a fixed tube) as far forward as I was happy with and pushed the seat forward a couple of clicks on its rails. This both gives a little more scope for leg length adjustment and shifts the centre of gravity a little more onto the front end.
Whether it was a result of these changes, running without the luggage load or just having had time to rest up, Whitey was flying! Even at speed I wasn't noticing the brake steer problem previously mentioned.
I took her around my regular 10 miles loop. The speed on the descents was expected, but the nimbleness on the climbes was not. I've been riding this loop on my GTX and there are several climbs which alternate a few times between steeper and easier sections. On the GTX these are steady, constant climbs. On the Glyde I found I was accelerating on the easier sections and almost cruising up the steeper bits. Not that it was effortless, but noticably easier than on the unfaired trike. Given the GTX is one of the lightest trikes I've owned this came as a surprise.
I didn't have discomfort from my ankle on this trip but my knees did feel tired. I guess a daily repeat of this circuit for the next few days is the way forward...

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Glyde Photos Part 3: Turning the corner

Starting the descent into Dover:

Hastings Pier:

Brighton Prom:

Not a great pier shot, but Brighton Pier in the distance:

The Glyde in Ryde (Isle of Wight):

Glyde Photos Part 2: Kent

Crossing the Thames on the Tilbury to Gravesend ferry:

Calling in for spare parts:

Between Whitstable and Herne Bay overlooking the Thames:

Herne Bay:


Glyde Photos Part 1: The East

As I've been asked for more Glyde photo, here are a run of images of the Glyde at different points in the trip. I've divided this post into 3 sections to keep the size down...

The camping setup, including a tarp to keep the luggage inside the Glyde dry:

Lunch stop in Clackton:

I couldn't resist the chance to visit Frinton and collect proof that I'd been there:

Heading into Lowestoft:

The most easterly point in Britain, and, on this occassion also the wetest...:

Kit Review Part 1: Glyde Review

Glyde Review
April 2010

This review is based on having spent the last two weeks touring on a new Greenspeed Glyde. I previously owned a Quest so this review considers the differences between the Glyde and Quest when used for cycle camping in the UK.

The Glyde is noticeably smaller than the Quest - it is shorter, lower and seems to be narrower, although on paper I don't think there is a significant difference in width at the widest point. This means that there is potentially less luggage space inside the Glyde, but as my Quest had a 26in rear wheel and the Glyde has a 20in one perhaps it is just differently shaped space. Either way I got my full camping kit packed inside her. I had planned on having some luggage stowed ahead of each wheel well as there is a useful void between the spaceframe tubes and the bodywork but after a couple of attempts, in practice I found things inevitably shook loose and ended up catching against my feet. For my next trip I will arrange some kind of lightweight wall to create a 'box' either side of the pedal area so this area can be used without this problem occurring.
With care to keep the height down, luggage did stack comfortably either side of the seat and acted as arm rests. With a camelbak hooked just behind the seat the remainder of my stuff was slung around and above the rear wheel box. The areas either side of the seat are not as big and do not run all the way into the tail as they did in the Quest but this didn't really prove to be an issue with the gear I had. Being a smaller machine it should punch through the air better - I didn't have a speedo fitted this trip so I didn't determine if this was true.

The most important improvements the Glyde has over the Quest for this trip were better brakes and gearing. The Glyde I used has twin BB7 mechanical disc brakes - an unfamiliar model to me, I'm used to hydraulic discs. I had no issue with the mechanical side of things but the pads did need 'advancing' to allow for pad wear several times during my trip - once I'd worked out how to do it, it was a routine 5 second job to adjust each one every couple of days. This is something that hydraulic brakes do automatically and something I'd never even needed to consider on the Quest. The stopping power from the discs felt significantly better than the Quest's twin drums. On flats and gentle downhills there is maybe little in it, but I really did prefer the feel of two discs controlled via two separate levers with the nice light modulation that disc brakes have when coming down steeper descents such at as the 14% descent down into Dover city centre past the castle. Because of regularly needing to make these adjustments I'm considering upgrading the specification of my own Glyde to have hydraulic discs but it is a tight call whether it is worth the extra cost… Mechanical discs are field-repairable, hydraulic ones are less likely to need attention but more difficult to work on if they do. Drums, as per the Quest, are pretty much bulletproof and maintenance-free. I'd say the choice depends entirely on the terrain where you ride but for me and the areas I ride, discs are an essential choice.

Gearing - the Glyde I've ridden had a Schlumpf Mountain Drive (2 speed bottom bracket hub gear), a SRAM Dual Drive (3 speed hub) and a 9sp cassette. The benefit of the two hub gears is that they can be shifted when stationary (or, more usefully, stalled on a hill). On the leg of the trip I've just completed I expected the mountain drive (MD) to be a luxury that would only be needed occasionally but I think I ended up using at least once every day. With a relatively heavily laden touring bike it can take a degree of effort to pull away from an uphill junction or to make a brisk start from a stop in traffic. With the MD this is just a matter of drop the gear and spin until a higher gear can be picked up. When I asked for an MD on my Quest I found I wasn't the first to ask and the guys at the factory were clearly not impressed with the additional load such low gears would put on the hardware. Greenspeed have designed the Glyde to take the same gearing options as their other trikes so the MD, Dual Drive and even the Rohloff hub would not be unreasonable options… With the aero benefits of the streamlining I did find that I used the entire range of available gearing. On the good days with a nice quality road and a tail wind like the Dymchurch-Rye section I was heading towards the top end of the available gearing and really eating the miles. The Quest I had had a standard 27sp drivetrain with only the option of juggling the chainring/cassette combination biasing the range towards the 'hilly' or 'sporty' ends. The options fitted to the Glyde gave a gearing range half as wide again as my Quest had. And I used it on this trip!

Handling - whilst I've seen plenty of Quests on the race track, the Glyde is clearly designed from twisty criterium racing heritage. Whilst I've seen Ymte handle a Quest on the race track in a truly impressive way, I never felt entirely comfortable with the joystick steering and the tendency of the Quest to lift a wheel and feeling as if it were beginning to roll when travelling fast through tight corners. I immediately felt at home with the Glyde side-stick steering. This is a little different from the usual Greenspeed arrangement where the handlebars are mounted on a pivot below the seat - in the Glyde the two handles pivot forwards/backwards along a channel in the back of each wheel well. This may sound complicated but is completely intuitive and the same arrangement as used on their SLR race trike (as can be seen here A little alarming on first noticing, the Glyde also leans into a turn - the whole trike just leans as a bike would do. When stationary this seems to make the steering feel very heavy - presumably because the steering is lifting one side of the body, but once moving at even a gentle walking pace, this effort is unnoticeable. Throughout the entire length of my 760 mile tour I never once had the sensation that the Glyde was unweighting, let alone lifting a wheel.
However there was one fly in the ointment - I was surprised to find that at higher speeds the Glyde did suffer from brake steer. This feature was not observable below around 30mph and became a little more exciting at around 40mph. This is a feature that has been pretty much removed from current generation recumbent trikes so it did come as a surprise. Once I knew it was there it was no problem - simply applying both brakes together gives normal behaviour and slight modulation of the balance between the two levers allows very delicate adjustment of line.
I am feeling much happier with the handling of the Glyde than I was with the Quest. I never relaxed into riding that machine, particularly at high speeds I always felt tense and had to give it my full attention to hold an accurate line. This might purely be that I've not spent enough time with joystick-steering trikes and may be something that other riders do not experience. As I was touring I've mostly been keeping my speeds low, or at a good steady cruising pace, but when the opportunity to gain some free hill climbing has presented itself I have allowed her her head and on sprints between 40 and 50mph the handling has been perfect.

Comfort - no issues at all with the seat or steering. I've had coccyx bruising from longer back-to-back day riding on the Quest, maybe just because I don't carry much fat as padding. I ended my Glyde tour early due to suffering tendonitis in my right ankle after two weeks/762 miles of riding. I think this is due to having done more miles in two weeks than I've done in the previous 18 months. I had planned to have 3 months to get used to the Glyde before the trip but due to manufacturing problems I ended up with a borrowed machine arriving on the Friday before my Wednesday trip departure… I am planning on picking the tour up again next year with my own Glyde and more miles on the machine before the departure date.

Friday, 16 April 2010

The End... for now

So I'm back home. Tired and sore, but I got out there and did it. Glyde Around Britain is now looking like a several-year project but that is no major problem. I have a target for my cycling for that period. Something to aim for keeping the winter training in.

Day 15 Swanage to Weymouth

30 miles.
The start of the day from Swanage to Corfe Castle was rather lumpy, just a little too hilly on tired legs to get much 'free' climbing from the prevous descent. After Corfe things eased up and I was able to wind the Glyde up a bit, getting the speed up enough on the downs to top the following hills without too much effort. Caught and passed a pair of touring cyclists and then a touring group on MTBs so even though my ankle is not feeling good I guess I'm not doing too badly.
Spotted a roadside catering trailer after turning off the Dorchester road towards Weymouth - these things seem to be getting pretty rare. Tea and a bacon butty was a welcome 2nd breakfast.
The remainder of the run down into town was nice and fast, and only rough along a few sections. The middle of town was full of stationary traffic. I normally just join the queue with a velomobile but there was a helpful bus lane so I just shot on by. By noon I'd reached the Swannery carpark where I'd arranged a rendezvous with Carol...
So time to break the news... with the increasingly painful tendon problem I'm calling a premature end to Glyde around Britain for this year. I've had knee problems take a couple of months to recover in the past so I really don't want to agitate this tendon problem any more than I need to. As things only get steeper from here on in I'm thinking the strain on the injury won't be getting any less. So that is the end of mileage for this year...
I think my biggest problme has been from starting the ride from such a low point of fitness and without having put a good number of miles in the Glyde to have my muscles trained ready to climb comfortably with it. The muscle strength has been arriving slowly, despite it feeling like the cold weather has been hindering it.
I guess the plan now is to review the kit and make plans for running another leg of the trip next year. I want to finish the trip but will have difficulty getting a long period of holidays. So I'm currently planning on hitting Glyde Around Britain for another two weeks in Spring 2011 picking up where I've left off.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Day 12 the missing blog

Worthing to Waterlooville.
42 miles.
Worthing to Bognor Regis was easy enough. Denis had me on the road nice and early as he had to leave for work. I had a resupply parcel to collect and they opened at 7am so that was no problem. I grabbed a coffee and chocolate twist before leaving Worthing. Arriving in Bognor I was expecting to find a cafe but Bognor appeared to be in a state of undress and hadn't even bothered putting any pants on yet. I took what i expected to be a quiet backroad out of town, awoiding the a road but everyone and their dog and all of their dogs' puppies seemed to have made the same choice. I've no idea why there should be a mad exodus from Bognor along this route at 10am but there you are. Perhaps they were all heading out to buy the missing pants...
When I eventually turned off onto a somewhat quieter road I stopped for a navigation check. I'm using an OS map based GPS that automatically plots my position on an image of a real map but the screen isn't great in bright sun and this was the start of our mini heatwave so I was hunched down into the cockpit to read the map. When I looked up I had an RAC van with orange flashing lights and two mechanics wandering over to check I was OK. I thanked them and sent them on their way, started to set off and discovered i had a flat rear tyre... Bah bah bah...
A quick repair and I was soom in Fishbourne. As I only had a short day as I'd arranged to stop with Paul I had time to visit the remains of the Roman palace. The main mosaic that the site is famous for was stunning but I felt the rest were a bit underwhelming. Maybe I've just been spoilt from visiting Roman sites in southern France.
The ride through Havant wasn't that great and Waterlooville was clearly a dorm town for car drivers of Portsmouth. I was at Paul's house for 2pm having spotted no other distractions en route. I knew Paul wouldn't be back until 4:30 so i just dozed as i waited. When he arrived we had a cup of tea and talked bikes for a bit. I offered to order takeout but at 7pm Paul drove us out to get food. We waondered around Asda but by this time i was running rather low on energy. When we got back at 8pm i just couldnt stay on my feet without passing out so went straight to bed without food before falling over...

Day 14 Brighstone IOW to Swanage

A better day today. After I fixed a rear wheel flat. Last night's thorn flat that I'd fixed had apparently gone through the opposite side of the tube too. Perhaps a disadvantage of suspension... I assumed the feel was just rough roads until it started to slow me down...
Once I'd recovered my GPS I headed along the military road to Freshwater. A local had warned me that it was a long way and hilly but the Glyde enjoyed the better roads and even the tougher climbs with beautiful views of the chalk cliffs were not too bad. They did have no stopping signs so no photo opportunities...
Up to Yarmouth to use the second half of the ferry ticket I bought yesterday. There was time to grab a quick bacon sandwich before the boat arrived. It was a 45 minute trip before getting back on the road.
Barton on sea appeared to be holding the world championships for idle folk wandering down the middle of the road and standing with the driver's door wide open whilst standing with your back to the queueing traffic whilst talking on a mobile phone. Perhaps they all have big insurance policies...
Bournemouth wins the prize for the worst place on my trip. Unhelpful signing to destinations that disappear at the next junction, designed as a car race track, awful road surfaces and magic width reducing cycle routes that then disappear.
Canford cliffs had a rather more sophisticated cafe bar where I had an excellent hot cross bun bread and butter pudding and a coffee. It wasn't cheap but the raspbewrry sauce was so wonderfully tart...
Down to Sandbanks for the chain ferry across the mouth of Poole harbour and the run along quiet roads just serving the ferry to a campsite in Swanage. The price of the site for the night even included use of the pool, not that I'm carring swimwear.
I've been having deteriorating Achilles tendon problems for a few days now. Bah.
Today was only 40 miles but did include two ferries so I guess that isn't really too bad as the wait for the boat was about as long as he actual journey in each case.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Day 13 Waterlooville to Brighstone

After yesterday's dinner failure I was running rather on empty this morning. But with Paul acting as pilot he led me along the first part of the run into Portsmouth. Leaving Paul I grabbed breakfast in a cafe on the sea front before heading for the ferry. The guy lining people up in queues seemed somewhat confused as to why I was using the car rathger than the foot passenger ferry when I had a bike but seemed happy enough when I explained I thought she'd be easier to load here. The crossing was smooth and we were passed by the hovercraft ferry... Perhaps I should have investigated that option.
The ride to Ryde was rather undulating and cold; underfed muscles were struggling. I didnt spot an obvious cafe stop but I did take the gratuitois Ryde and Glyde photo. Not using the phone though, so you will have to wait. Following the coast road along to Bembridge my journey was interrupted by a road closed sign. Now the Isle of Wight isn't huge but checking the map showed that the detour was significant. The closed road headed downwards so, dreading having to backtrack, I carried on. It turned out that the closure waa due to pothole repair and with no sign of any work being done, I dodged these works for half a mile or so and was rewarded by finding a cafe where there was a vigorous argument going on about the roadworks keeping away trade.
After lunch I picked up the island cycleroute that Paul had recommended. The route uses quiet lanes which a sign informed me had a 15mph speed limit. They were also mostly single track with passing spaces. This would havev been fine if half the world and his dog weren't driving up and down them. They were also lumpy with climbs and drops but with poor sightlines so no advantage could be taken of the descents. And the centres were often filled with debris - sometimes rocks, other times mud or worse. All in all not a very nice place for a velomobile - it took hours and a couple of flats to finally pop back out onto decent roads where I could open up the speed a little even if it was in a long gentle climb. The haul along the south coast of the island was a relief after the singletrack and so I made good time to the campsite. Then I found one that would let me stop.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Day 11 Normans Bay to Worthing

A short 42 miles in order to pick up a supplies parcel. This morning's ride down to Eastbourne was gentle enough but several folk had warned me of the climb beyond... From the beach to 512ft onto Beachy Head sounded like it could be tough but actually had alpine style gentle gradients and it was just a matter of spinning up. Beachy Head with the Seven Sisters is spectacular chalk downland and when peeks allow, classical white chalk cliffs.
A second hard climb through Friston was an unexpectedly steep surprise.
On the run into Newhaven i called in at McDonalds for a breakfast coffee and the worlds smallest ever bacon butty. Not my usual haunt but it was 10am on a Sunday morning...
The run down to Brighton ran through several small towns but most of the route had a bus lane and little sign of busses this early. Brighton was already bustling so I dropped onto the cyclepath along the prom. Bright sun and the beach... Another 10 degrees warmer and no wind it would have been ideal. Another food stop at a beach cafe and the gentle ride into Worthing. I normally ride the velo as a car but on joining a huge queue I joined the motorbikes hopping past the half mile holdup for some roadworks. I'm stopping with a friend tonight indoors for a change. Unfortunately the postie has done a runner with my parcel so I've got my ticket and I get to go stare at them in the morning...
43 miles. Tomorrow will bring us the delights of Bognor, Fishbourne and Waterlooville where I have a rendezvous to give a Glyde test ride.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Day 10 Folkestone to Normans Bay

Today was 57 miles and a day of extremes. The climb out of Folkestone was not too evil once I found it. The finding consisted of going over a viaduct only to circle arround back underneath the same bridge... Weird ideas... The campsite owner had warned me the climb was as bad as the one out of Dover if not worse. Now the Glyde climbs nicely even with the camping load but only when rolling at a good speed. Due to the niceties of city design this climb was from a standing start... But it wasn't actually that bad. And then the reward! The first half of the day, a day heading west since turning Hellfire Corner at Dover, was on good roads with a tailwind. I just geared up and up, faster and faster until top! In the towns I backed off ready for someone pulling out but then back into cruise... So places were just a blur until Lydd which curiously claimed to be home to London-Ashford airport. Curious in that it is near neither....
Had a bacon butty stop at Camber when the little back road around Dunge Marsh was surprisingly busy. A council worker told me they get 20,000 visitors a day on a sunny weekend.
The climb through Fairlight was evil. With several lying summits and the descent into Hastings was mostly wasted.
Smaller roads to the campsite and ... It wasnt there! A call home and further searching and it waa another quarter mile south of the position in my GPS. Oh well found it and got to have supper on the sunny but rather cold beach...

Friday, 9 April 2010

Day 9 To Sandwich and on to Folkestone

The country lanes of Kent were marvellous. Sandwich looked like it would have been worth spending time on but I shot on through to pick up the golf course toll road to Deal. There seemed to be a large number of Astons and Bentleys parked up along the way but oddly the drivers' heads turned to watch the Glyde go past..
In Deal after a photo op with another pier i found a cafe for late breakfast.

At Kingsdown i was tempted by a national cyclenetwork route to Dover but having been caught that way before I followed the roads.
The descent into Dover past the castle was rather special. As was the evil climb back out on the B road to Folkestone. I stopped at the cliff top cafe for refreshments before a lively descent int Folkestone and the Little Switzerland campsite. And it really is. On the cliffs and everything on a different level. The fir trees just finish the look.
Today was just 30 miles or so with 3000ft of climb I'll check when I get my GPS back from reception where it is charging.
Tomorrow on to Hastings....

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Day 8 Hoo to nr Sandwich

An odd day. I was up early having spent most of yesterday afternoon hiding from rhe rain and dozing in the tent. Heading into Rochester I was tempted by a cyclepath. It ran alongside the dual carriageway i needed. So i got to the first sideroad and some twonk had parked over the dropped curb... After blaming two suspicious council workers who claimed it wasn't theirs they helped lift the Glyde over the precipice. So following this path suddenly there is a fence between me and rhe road. Then it turns into a dirt track but reassuringly has a NCN sign. Then I popped out on the road approaching the dual carriageways where the story started...
So i took the main road and followed signs for the A2 as main route through the Medway towns. And a surprisingly nice ride it was... Most traffic must be using the parallel M2...
It was nice to pull of the fast road onto lanes heading to Whitstable. Finding an open cafe on a section of beach and seawall i stopped for lunch. Whitstable and Herne Bay both seemed nice places but only enough time for a photo op.

The roads were all terrible though. Several long sections of very rough concrete block with joins every couple of metres and many sections with severe potholes where it was hard to tell if the intended level was the highest or lowest one.. Pushing on to Reculver where my OS map said there was a tent campsite but all I found were rows of static caravans. Bah.
On the was out I had a tyre fail. Double bah.
Fortunately I had a spare tyre snd was able to continue to my originally planned campsite. Which leaves me with a dilemma. I've detoured 10 miles or so inland to the backup camping' and am fairly close to Sandwich. But I've missed Margate and Broadstairs. Im thinking of just heading onwards as it seems pedantic to double back for completeness...ho hum... Next planned stop Folkestone via Dover.
Today was 52 miles.

A couple of shots of the Glyde's luggage spaces :-


Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Day 7 rest day

I was thinking during the evening last night that I really ought to have a maintenance session for Whitey the Glyde. Then when i didn't get up until 8:30 this morning i thought that a hint. This morning was fixing and adjusting. Lunchtime was shopping in Hoo and fish & chips.

Reception has been great everywhere. Yesterday a very Afro Carribean looking gentleman wrapped in gold chains in a big low white car yelled "Yo Bro" as he spotted me which seems like acceptance for the pair of us.
One useful feature of the East Anglian villages that i fogot to mention is the installation of fixed bike computers. Each village has an illuminated sign that give you your current speed! No need to even take your eyes off of the road... These are that new that i passed the team installing them.
The plan tomorrow is to head out to the North Kent seaside resorts and find a pitch for the night....

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Day 6 Bradwell to Gravesend and then some

Today started with the rather odd experience of heading north... In order to visit a 1400 year old stonebuilt chapel... St Peter on the Wall. I can't imagine there can be many buildings built in the 7th century in the UK that are still standing and still in use... There should be photos to come but I don't think they'll do it justice.

By contrast when heading back south i found an equally exciting bacon butty shop in Southminster. The rest of the day was precision navigation to avoid the bigger roads and built up areas of South Essex. I didn't know Billericay was in Essex - I'd have guessed it was in Ireland.
Eventually arrived in Tilbury for 4pm and managed to load the Glyde on board but I was then followed by three motorbikes so the ferry is clearly not as "foot" as it could be.
Coming out of Gravesend I realised something had shaken loose in all the fun of the day. I spotted an MOT station on the A226 and pulled in. The guys were great and quickly had me on my way...
The ride out to the campsite featured some nice lanes with views of the shipping on the Thames but an evil uphill dual carriageway with a helpful end of cycle lane sign at the start of it. The site owners are great and I managed to scrounge a cup of tea as I put my tent up. Another long day at 72 miles including the detour to see the chapel and the ferry trip.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Day 5 Manningtree to Bradwell

85 miles. Today's ride was great. The roads were a little bigger so I was able to get the Glyde up to speed and take advantage of the aero for some easy cruising. The was still some grovelling on climbs where I ran out of steam though. The ride along the Stour to Harwich was stunning. I actually found a tea shop today. They only did tea and cupcakes and it was the best appointed teashop I've should appear here...

I stopped at Frinton and took a photo by the station sign just to prove I'd been there.
Clacton was busy but I managed a tea and food stop. I think I ate better today which might have helped. Essex is really nice cycling country... The miles out to Bradwell were all good. The campsite owners tell me I must visit their 6th century church before i go...

Photo update

Day Two, Cromer Pier

Day Five, View Across the Stour Estuary to the Stour Valley YHA bunkhouse

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Day 4 Eastbridge to Stour bridge

I never did find the campsite owner at Eastbridge to pay for my stay... Today started on debris strewn roads and not long after getting off them I had a rear flat. I fixed it without removing the rear wheel - just popped the tyre off and patched the hole. A quartz chip from the wash down. The rest of the morning was a series of small places of no interest. Until i joined the A14 dual carriageway . The map showed what I guess is the old road just the other side of it and I ezpected at least a bike crossing. But no the only option was to join it and ride several miles away from my destination before getting to a junction to get on the old road. At least that bit had a tailwind...
Eventually heading in the right direction I got to Ipswich -the first cycle friendly bridge over the Orwell. The final b road of the day had a strange thing... Suddenly in the middle of nowhere is the Royal Hospital. No explanation.
OK so I finally roll up at the Youth Hostel to be greeted by a sign reading "bookings by appointment only". Feeling pretty tired and having not seen a campsite for the last 10 miles I was a bit stuck for options. I phoned Caroline the warden who told me there had been a cancellation and she opened the hostel for me. So tonight I have a choice of any bed and three showers...
Tomorrow hopefully is Frinton...

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Day 3 Walcott to erm... South of southwold

65 miles
North East Norfolk was nice and quiet but the roads were poor. The beach was on it for a while. Lots of "say no to sea eagles" but I didn't see a single one to talk to. Poppy land cafe near Horsey was great. I kept to the A12 past Yarmouth as it was full as indicated by the queues of stationary traffic but there was a cycle lane to cruise past it all. Used a bit of cycle path and a mile later had my first flat... Hmmm...
Lowestoft was in monsoon. Hail. Rain. More rain. At 2:30 arrived at my first potential campsite but decided 47 miles wasn't really far enough. Southwold was also full. and I was pretty tired on the drag out to the campsite in the middle of nowhere. But at least it has a pub next to it.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Flat hills

Day 2 Hunstanton to Walcott
60 miles North Norfolk. How hardcan that be? The gps says just under 3000ft of climb. Every descent into a village with a 20mph limit because of the right angle tuns. Tent now pitched behind the lighthouse inn. It is raining so pub food is calling...

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Day 1:Mablethorpe to Hunstanton

A gentle ride down to Skegness where I'd arranged Carol to meet up just in case of needing a full toolkit as this was my first real ride with her . Decided the screen wasn't helping because it had got greasy marks on it obstructing the view. Decided safest option was to do without and sort it after the trip. Got held up in stop start traffic in Boston for an hour after battling strong winds all the way from Skeg. The A47 was 20 miles of fast heavy traffic with no realistic alternative route. But with the wind on my back I did get to cruise it at 3 gears off top. At Hunstanton I tried the YHA but it was full. Being cold and tired I checked into the B&Bb next door. I know I'm supposed to be camping. Tomorrow will be under canvas... 73 miles. I'd wanted more. Maybe tomorrow...

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Adding last minute Bling...

I must be ahead of schedule if I've got time for decoration...

This one for T.Sue Poet who said I needed a Union Jack... it is fairly close!

And thanks to Mick for allowing us to add a link to our sponsors... (ok, so that is me but hey... it looks more pro!):

And finally, for those asking, I've just finished the 1st repack. I've got the gear piled up in the corner of the lounge and tomorrow it goes into the van before trying the game of 'how much of this can I stuff inside the fairing and still get in to ride'. I thought it safer not to attempt to lift the Glyde in and out of the van with it fully loaded!


I just had a happier thought... It is a coastal ride. I shouldnt need to use the winkies. It is just follow the left hand cerb!

Monday, 29 March 2010


This is a test of phone blogging...

A bit down...

The Glyde is assembled, the gear is stacked ready for sorting tomorrow night. I'm feeling worried that I've just not had chance to put any miles on the Glyde before leaving - after reading plenty of travel books where people have set off on straight-out-of-the-box equipment and I've laughed at their problems. I've put the electrics together but they've not had any road time so they might not be up to road vibration. I'm sure the bike hardware will be but as the Glyde is enclosed I don't have a fallback plan if I loose the winkies...
I thought I'd planned to avoid that problem. But no....
Oh well, I've got the holiday booked. All I can do is set off and see how things go. I was hoping to get down to Tilbury for the ferry on Saturday as it is closed Sunday and Monday for the bank holiday. I'm now wondering if I'll be able to get there for Tuesday when it opens again or maybe aim for the Dartford QE2 bridge which I'm told has a road 'bike ferry'...

Panic, panic, panic

Ok, the Glyde arrived here on Friday and I've spent all weekend putting it together and getting my custom electrics fitted.... this evening I got out for a quick 2 mile test ride and when I got back I had a few bits and pieces to tidy up.
So now for the pictures...

Where to start:

She was beautifully packed. The box is now outside our front door because, well, it won't fit anywhere inside!!!

And several hours of hard work (Ok, Friday afternoon, Saturday and most of Sunday...):

Friday, 26 March 2010

Assembly is happening...

... but it is a bit cold at wet at times!

She's here

And alternating sunshine and showers...
But she is on her wheels now. Needs some air.
Next got electrics (indicators are priority before I can go out) mirrors and clears to sort.
Photos soon!

So Near...

UPS are saying the Glyde is at my local airport waiting on customs - just a tantalising two miles from where I need it... Maybe today!!!

Monday, 22 March 2010


Rumour is that the trike has shipped...
With departure date being 10 days away I'm just a little worried it won't be here in time. I'm hoping UPS do their stuff and it'll be here soon. With luck it'll be here by Friday so I've got the weekend to take it out for a spin and get at least a little bit used to it.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Rumours of Spring...

Saying it was warm out riding today would be an over statement, but at least it is starting to look a little warmer...
And the railway bridge was clear of water again, so no need for icy paddling!

Three weeks to go and the Glyde is still not here... not that I'm getting anxious or anything. I am promised there will be developments this week!!!

Saturday, 27 February 2010

I really should find a different circuit to ride...

After wading through the floodwater again... Even though there is no ice floating on it, the muddy water felt as cold as ever!
And spot the incompetent photographer taking a picture of his camera case - my excuse is I'm used to an SLR camera where the picture you get is what you see through the viewfinder... Note to self for the tour - put the camera case down before trying to take photos - we don't need a collection of 'Robs camera case in xxx' photos. Bah!
Rumour is that something may be happening on the Glyde front next week - I hope so because we'll be into 30-days-and-counting on Monday.
I'm also hoping that Spring starts to show it's face - the current weather will make for rather miserable camping.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Learning last weeks lesson...

This week I came prepared - following advice from Fenlander I've picked up a pair of 'Crocs' (just plain ordinary Cayman, not the fur lines type) to use as camp shoes. As they're some kind of impervious plastic they also served well for wading through the icy floodwater carrying the bike where I wasn't daft enough to try riding again this week - doubly so as the level looked deeper than last time...
Would have been a nicer ride if I hadn't had a visit from the fairy of holes-in-tyres-that-let-the-air-out-but-who-should-not-be-named courtesy of Farmer Giles who left an unavoidable trail of hedge flailings across the road when he went from one farm track to the other...

Friday, 22 January 2010

Camping Kit List

I've been asked by a few friends about my kit list so here is my planned basic camping kit list for my Glyde trip. I have a selection of other items that I'm considering adding to increase comfort or as backup items in case of breakages so I'll update this list as I finalise my decisions. Weights are of the actual packed items I have here as per the photo, not claimed weights and generally include bags, etc. The size 9 shoe is in there for scale only...
For now basic minimum list is:

Tent(Left, green sack):
Terra Nova Laser Comp (bagged) 960g

Tarp (backup/fast pitch option to tent, right blue stuffsack - squishy):
Backpackinglight Microtarp 145g
Alpkit Hunka bivvy bag + carrysack 417g
Poly-io Groundsheet 70g
5 x Alpkit 'Nails' + tags 43g
Cord 30g
Mountain King Trail Blaze 128g
(walking pole)

Sleeping (orange centre top, red middle and green top right):
Thermarest Prolite 4 full length 626g (2 years old - much lighter options available now)
Alpkit PipeDream 400+waterproof sack 854g
Silk liner 111g

Cooking (dark orange top right):
MiTiMug (700ml) pan/mug/lid 110g
Tibetan 375ml mug (bagged) 68g
Folding Ti spoon 19g
MiniBullDesigns HN-Bongo-Deluxe meths burner (incl fuel bottle) 126g
Lighter 21g
Firesteel 10g
Pot cosy 25g
Windshield 10g

My spreadsheet says that lot comes in at just under 3.8kg. Obviously on a shorter trip it isn't necessary to take both the tarp and tent but at the moment I'm feeling on my long trip I want different options that I can choose on the day (or night).

I have a host of clothing, water carrying, fire lighting and other accessories that I'm sure I'll be throwing into the list for the Glyde trip but I believe the above is a working set of gear. I've not yet used everything in this combination - items are lighter replacements for my original 'high street shop' weight kit or, in the case of the cookset, a kit that I've been testing over the last year or so and finetuning.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Getting the miles in

After a series of 10 miles rides in the snow since New Year I got out for a longer ride today - I managed a 36 mile loop around the southern Derbyshire Dales. And very pleasant it was too.
Apart from one problem.
Approaching a railway bridge on a quiet back road there were flood signs. It didn't look that deep and was just a puddle - no flow to it risking getting washed away. So I geared down and pedalled on in. It came up to the wheel hubs. It came up to the chainring. It came over the top of the wheels at which I point I realised I was floating above the seat but was still clipped into the pedals. I kept pedalling, pushed the front wheels around to give extra grip and slowly emerged from the other side... Lovely. Chest deep cold water, with the final traces of ice and snow on the ground around. Fortunately this was the start of a hilly section so I was at least generating enough body heat to drive off the worst of the wet. Bah!
The car driver who rolled up as I emerged didn't even risk trying to get through...
But hey, a 36 mile loop is a good effort in my return to fitness.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Time is getting short...

The good news is that I've been out riding several times since the new year without any problems. Only 10 miles at time so far, but after Friday afternoon's ride I had my GTX in to give it a bit of a service and fit new parts and it is ready to go. Saturday is looking rather damp and dismal and I'm feeling tired. Sunday is forecast to be sunny so I plan on taking the GTX out for a longer run tomorrow. I plan to head up towards the Derbyshire Dales, somewhere I've not cycled for over a year...
In the post today came a tarp. It is a very minimalist shelter weighing little more than a couple of mars bars and it mainly provides head cover making the use of a bivvy bag more pleasant. This is 'Plan B' for if there are any problems with the tent. In reasonable weather it could become 'Plan A' as it will be far quicker and easier to pitch than the tent...
Once I've got a few more miles in my legs (and hopefully it starts to look a little more like spring) I guess I need to get my camping gear together and start trying some overnight stays to put this gear through its paces. For now, with the threat of snow I'll hang fire on that idea!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

The Distance is known

My task over the holidays has been to plot my route for the trip....
This has been done using, a website that can generate the necessary navigation files to use in my GPS. It might seem like the simple option of keeping the sea on your left would do the job but there are an awfully large number of dead ends and I really don't need the extra mileage.
So, the route is plotted and the sections added together - the distance on the map is 4094 miles. This is a little bit of a relief because I was worried I'd come up with more than the inital advice I had that it was 4300 miles.
Of course a route plotted on a paper map does not mean that is the mileage that will be recorded in real life - even without taking wrong turnings! For that we will have to wait and see....