A couple of days oot…

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For the past year I’ve been meaning to get out and ride new paths and dream under the stars, but never quite got it together apart from one overnighter last summer. A note to ones self. Make the intention and go for it come rain or shine….

So it was an overcast damp morning in Surrey as I took those first peddle strokes from my front door. Fingers crossed hoping the weather would improve I headed in a south-westerly direction and within 15 minutes I was on the first of many quiet picturesque cycle paths. The simple pleasure of cruising along through the english countryside filled me with so much satisfaction that I really wondered why I’d left it so long.

Before I left home I’d put my destination into a journey planner just telling it to use bicycle paths etc then loaded it on my gps without really looking at it. Hoping for a bit of adventure without knowing what was coming. I wasn’t disappointed as the miles just disappeared beneath my wheels and the excitement grew with each new bridleway and country lane discovered, littered with stalls of plants and fresh free range eggs, honesty boxes asking for small donations, reminding me of rural Devon.

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Bridleways……

The skies cleared and the sun came out adding to the increasing pleasure of being out on the bike. By midday things had really warmed up at about which time I came upon Bignor hill, at the bottom I passed a motorist who gave me a knowing glance.  All I could see was the little lane disappear among the trees but I had a feeling it was going to be painful. And up it went. A ridiculous gradient, it put some of the steepest in Devon  to shame. Just over half way I was a mess, sweat pouring out and legs like jelly, even pushing was hard work, I was just thankful for the shade. The lane came out at a car park on the South Downs way surrounded by beautiful views. I lay down in the grass recovering …

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South Downs Way

After some lunch it was back on the bridleways and an old roman road took to the outskirts of Chichester where I stopped off for a coffee. I then headed on NCN 2 making my way through Portsmouth before boarding the ferry for the Isle Of Wight.

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Roman Road

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Leaving the mainland…

After the 20 minute crossing I followed the signs the around the island cycle routine an easterly direction keeping an eye open for a place to camp. After lifting the bike over a stile and pushing it up a ridiculously steep hill through nettles and thistles, I found the perfect place with great views to fall asleep counting stars.

night

Bivvy time

Come morning I was up with the larks and back down the hill in search of breakfast. Two hours later I was on the south coast of the Island enjoying fry up and coffee, looking forward to what the day had to offer. The cycle route is very well sign posted and considerately guides you around the island.

boats

cliffs

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The 63 miles around the island is an enjoyable roller coaster ride easily done in a day or if you want to string it out for two, there is plenty of campsites and wild camping opportunities. I got the evening ferry back to the mainland, hunted down some fish ‘n’chips and went in search of a quiet spot to rest under  the stars.

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back on the mainland

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another night under the stars, this time by the estuary…

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ready for the ride home

Picking a slightly different route home I found new cycle paths and did a section of the South Downs way, something I’d like to explore further. Also riding a new bike with a different riding style was fun though I’d wish I’d remembered sunscreen in all my excitement to get out…..

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part of the route

“> Continue reading

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Surly Disc Trucker

Surly Disc Trucker

Surly Disc Trucker

Finally I have built my dream touring/commuting bike. A Surly Disc Trucker with Rohloff hub and a Schimdt Son 28 dynamo. Having sold my previous frames the Thorn Nomad and Surly Troll for various reasons I must say I’m very happy with this build. So here’s the lowdown on the build and please feel free to contact me with any questions or please leave comments….. Updated November 2016…

* Frame set              Surly Disc Trucker

*Headset                  Cane creek 40

*Bottom bracket    Shimano UN 55

*Cranks                     Thorn 175mm

*Chain ring              Thorn 40 tooth

*Rear sprocket        Rohloff 16 tooth

*Rear Hub                 Rohloff Hub

*Chain Tensioner   Rohloff

*Seat post                   Thomson

*Seat                              Brooks B17

*Stem                            Thomson

*Shifter                       Rohloff

*Handlebars              Jones hoop bar

*Brake levers             Shimano XTR

*Brakes                        Avid BB7 Mechanical disc

*Rotors                        Avid G2 clean sweep

*Front hub                  Son 28 schmidt Dynamo

*Front rim                  Rigida sputnik 32 hole

*Rear rim                    Rigida Andra 30  32 hole

*Grips                           Ergon bio cork

*Tyres                           Schwalbe Marathon

*Pedals                         Shimano Saint

*Chain                           Sram 7/8 speed

disc-trucker

New Frame upgrade with surly 8 pack rack and wald basket.

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A closer look of the OEM anchor plate nut for the Rohloff. Left hand picture is the inside of the fork, right hand picture is outside of fork. Took these while renewing my frame due to size issue hence the new colour.

you can see the end of the threaded anchor bolt for the Rohloff OEM2 plate....

you can see the end of the threaded anchor bolt for the Rohloff OEM2 plate….

use of Rohloff cable clips for the Cable routing from the ex box...

use of Rohloff cable clips for the Cable routing from the ex box…

Rohloff and tensioner, simple and effective means of keeping chain tension without the hassle of adjustments...

Rohloff and tensioner, simple and effective means of keeping chain tension without the hassle of adjustments…

Thorn chainring and cranks also recycled inner tube used as a chain stay protector ...

Thorn chainring and cranks also recycled inner tube used as a chain stay protector …

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nice forks....

nice forks….

son 28 dynamo....

son 28 dynamo….

mudguard stay needed bending around disc calliper ....

mudguard stay needed bending around disc calliper ….

Comfort.....

Comfort…..

cockpit control....

cockpit control….

Thomson stem with Jones hoop bars ...this set up got me through Patagonia in comfort...

Thomson stem with Jones hoop bars …this set up got me through Patagonia in comfort…

Surly front rack and Edelux II light....

Surly front rack and Edelux II light….

the Disc trucker with a Carradice super C saddle bag.....

the Disc trucker with a Carradice super C saddle bag…..

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Change

 (9)_Snapseed Change happens to us all whether we like it or not, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. But I’ve always seen change as a new opportunity and welcomed it with open arms. To quote Gandhi “Be the change you want to see in the World.
So I’ve come to the end of my short time in Northumberland forced on by redundancy. But this is exciting times for me, as I utilise this change to move on in life and pursue dreams that are closer to my heart. The plan is to move to the city where I can engage in sustainable community projects, like Bike Kitchens and Organic Community food gardens. I’ll also be able to spend more time spinning the pedals as in commuting more and lessening my carbon footprint by being car free!!
As I ready myself for this move I’m building myself a new bike, having recently built my friend a Surly Disc Trucker (with the help of the London Bike Kitchen) it came to my attention that they are Rohloff ready, a fact Surly don’t advertise!. Having wanted a Long Haul Trucker for quite some time, but never committing to getting one due to the hassle of fitting a Rohloff. The Disc Trucker seems to be the ultimate Touring bike with Disc brake and Rohloff compatibility. So the last few weeks have been filled with Ebaying bike parts and frames getting the capital together for the new build. The good news is I’ve taken delivery of a Surly Disc Trucker frame set in Maroon and the build is imminent. So I’ll leave with some photos from my past year of bicycle travel and will update soon on the new build….
… Go well..Brian

Argentina..... on a Thorn Nomad.

Argentina….. on a Thorn Nomad.

Chile...

Chile…

Argentina with company found along the way....

Argentina with company found along the way….

Places like these bring you closer to God....

Places like these bring you closer to God….

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A tent, a bike and an open heart....

A tent, a bike and an open heart….

Ushuaia, end of the world....and a fitting end for the Nomad.

Ushuaia, end of the world….and a fitting end for the Nomad.

Exploring Northumberland on a Surly Troll....

Exploring Northumberland on a Surly Troll….

Keeping things simple yet magical...

Keeping things simple yet magical…

the Troll's last outing....

the Troll’s last outing….

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Coastal Circuit

on the beach....

on the beach….

Making the most of the canny weather, I jump on the bike and head out the front door for a ride to the coast. An hour and a half later I’m basking in glorious sunshine, inhaling the fresh salt-laden air. Bicycle lanes have taken me across part of Northumberland to meet up with NCN 1, the coastal bikeway heading up the east coast of the U.K. Heading north on the Coast and Castles route brings back memories of a weekend I spent a few years ago riding this way with my nephew. Riding and pushing up over the sand dunes I drop down to the beach for a relaxing lunch, which is surprisingly quiet for a sunny day in August.
Deciding to move on I head on up to Amble where I turn back inland for the slog back against my favourite adversary the headwind, which kindly accompany’s me all the way home.
48 miles pedaled, 2000 calories burned, a hot bath and a cracking sunset…

Perfect Day…..

atop of the sand dunes....

atop of the sand dunes….

heading through the dunes...

heading through the dunes…

Northumbrian  coastline...

Northumbrian coastline…

a spot of sunbathing....

a spot of sunbathing….

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coastal wildflowers ....

coastal wildflowers ….

Ambles common wealth war memorial....

Ambles common wealth war memorial….

that sunset.....

that sunset…..

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Lonesome Pine Trail

View of Kielder water from the lonesome pine trail...

View of Kielder water from the lonesome pine trail…

A return to Kielder to try out one of the more technical trails. Although I’m not a mountain biker I was lured by the prospect of some awesome views. The Lonesome Pine Trail weaves it’s way from Kielder Castle and up from the shoreline of Kielder water, through woods along single track, forest roads and one of the longest sections of Northshore in the UK. The Northshore takes you up hill giving splendid views of the area before plunging back down along single track to the starting point, passing Kielder Skyscape along the way, an interesting structure that gives equally interesting views of the sky depending on the light. The Lonesome Pine Trail is approx 12 miles long, a couple of hours of fun and not too technical even for a Tourer like myself….

just so you know what your getting yourself into...

just so you know what your getting yourself into…

into the woods...

into the woods…

along forest roads....

along forest roads….

under a moody sky...

under a moody sky…

a breather...

a breather…

up onto the Northshore.....

up onto the Northshore…..

heather growing through the Northshore....

heather growing through the Northshore….

some canny views....

some canny views….

back down into the forest...

back down into the forest…

pixie or elf territory ....

pixie or elf territory ….

or Golum's lurking around...

or Golum’s lurking around…

back into the sunshine...

back into the sunshine…

skyscape structure....

skyscape structure….

looking at the sky from inside skyscape ...

looking at the sky from inside skyscape …

time for tea....

time for tea….

another pretty one, a  wild orchid....

another pretty one, a wild orchid….

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Kielder Circuit

on the Kielder Circuit.....

on the Kielder Circuit…..

A cracking summer’s day, I decide to head up the road to Kielder to spin the pedals. Kielder is situated in the county of Northumberland, bordering Scotland. Kielder water is the largest artificial lake in the U.k. and is surrounded by Kielder forest which happens to be the largest man-made forest in Europe. So plenty of scope for adventure. But today I took the easy option of the family ride around the lake itself, leaving some of the more strenuous trails for another day.
The circuit around the lake weaves for 26 miles in and out of woodland and along the shores on a well maintained track, past a variety of sculptures, fantastic views and perfect picnic spots.
If you get lucky you may get a glimpse of a Red Squirrel or even an Adder basking in the sun…

Adder on the track......

Adder on the track……

The only snake best avoided in the U.K.

The only snake best avoided in the U.K.

meadow sweet in full flower....

meadowsweet in full flower….

the trail snakes in and out of the woods....

the trail snakes in and out of the woods….

along the shore line....

along the shore line….

over rivers...

over rivers…

past sculptures....

past sculptures….

canny views....

canny views….

plenty of beautiful resting stops..

plenty of beautiful resting stops..

cool and shady .....

cool and shady …..

interesting fauna.....

interesting fauna…..

verdant rides....

verdant rides….

wooded climbs...

wooded climbs…

great places to stop....

great places to stop….

...and take tea...

…and take tea…

is this what they call a selfie these days.....

is this what they call a selfie these days…..

..anyway something a bit prettier .....

..anyway something a bit prettier …..

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Patagonian Afterthoughts

Photo by Michael...

Photo by Michael…

Having been back in the U.K. 6 months now, wanderlust has again set in. I often think about my Patagonian adventures, the people I met, the friends I made and how I would do it differently next time. So here I’m going to dissect the kit I took and have a look at what worked, what didn’t and what I’ll take next time around and to where.

The Thorn Nomad Mk 1 Was my beast of burden again and again it performed flawlessly, with only one pinch flat the whole trip. This time round I used Jones hoop bars which were great and comfortable. I also swapped out front racks and used a Surly Nice front rack, big and strong with that really useful top platform.
This is a heavy-set up something I’m shying away from. Trying to lug a bike box around that is close to the 30kg mark was a real pain. Also seeing what other bikes were out there doing the Carretera made me realise that you don’t need a overbuilt steel bike, so forums can be misleading at times. As an example, Flora’s bike was a 9kg alu frame with I think 20 spoke 700c wheels. She did the back roads of Bolivia and the whole of the Carretera without even so much of a puncture!

Tent Hilleberg Allak… big enough for two people, two porches great for stowing wet gear in one and getting of out the other. Stable and easy to erect and dismantle, a good all round tent.

Sleeping Bag My old Alpkit pipe dream that went on my last tour, great bags but I messed this one up trying to wash it…

Sleeping Pad Thermarest prolite, again from my last tour, still going strong and puncture free.

Water filter Sawyer squeeze filter, great bit of kit, fill the bag with water and squeeze pushing it through the filter. No pumps or batteries. Filter can also be screwed onto regular sized bottles and be used as a drinking straw. Only 3 ounces.

Stove Honeystove, a wood stove which also accommodated a trangia burner. This give me the choice of wood or alcohol, alcohol being easy to obtain in South America and this is what I primary used.
I also carried a MSR Dragonfly but only used this a couple of times and ended up giving away the white gas I’d been carrying all trip, these stoves are far too noisy for my liking.

Camera Panasonic GF1, great camera but I got fed up with changing lenses and missing wildlife shots etc. Sold this and got a Canon G15, perfect for the job.

Laptop Macbook Air 11″ used this on my last trip also… worth the £££’s

Panniers Ortliebs say no more!

Drybags Alpkit…great bags, great price..

Bivvy bag Alpkit Hunka, great for nights under the stars and for sleeping in those places you can’t fit a tent.

Next time I fly my bike I will probably put it in a bike bag. Ground Effect do one that is less than a kilo and packs down to A4 size, you just pack it out with any old cardboard you find.
I’m sick of having to try to cart around a bike box that’s falling to pieces because everyone and their dog has opened it to look inside! Hence a bike bag, zip it open look inside, zip it shut, no need to cut it up! In theory anyway.

a fully loaded heavy bike at the beginning of the trip....

a fully loaded heavy bike at the beginning of the trip….

action shot...photo by Flora Cochand...

action shot…photo by Flora Cochand…

3 friends at the end of the Careterra Austral....photo by Michael..

3 friends at the end of the Careterra Austral….photo by Michael..

the righthand bike being Flora's light weight steed...

the righthand bike being Flora’s light weight steed…

the beauty of Patagonia....

the beauty of Patagonia….

again outstanding landscapes....photo by Flora Cochand...

again outstanding landscapes….photo by Flora Cochand…

It all needs protecting!!!.....

It all needs protecting!!!…..

time for a rest...

time for a rest…

Posted in Argentina, bike stuff, Chile, Fully loaded, pretrip planning, South America | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments