Friday, August 3, 2012

Ready to roll at Sleepless in the Saddle 2012.

It's all getting very real again. Sleepless in the Saddle 24 hour race   takes place this weekend 4th & 5th August 2012 at Catton Park in South Derbyshire.
Mitchell Bryan and I registered this evening and then took a steady spin around the course to see what we had to look forward to.
It proved to be surprisingly undulating! Approximately 8 miles and just under an hour of riding. No massive climbs involved but there are several short steep ascents that could see a lot of pushing up as the race progresses. Some of the woodland sections are a lot of fun with tight twisty singletrack; they will be great if the rain holds off. If not they will probably turn muddy very quickly and a lot of the off-camber sections will catch plenty of riders out; especially during the hours of darkness.
It looks like being a great event and the atmosphere around the camp's is very relaxed.
I will be taking it slowly, one lap at a time, and trying to keep a steady pace. Eat, Drink, Spin... Hopefully I'll see you at the finish! :)
Wish us luck!

Friday, June 29, 2012


About to take the plunge at Water Wipeout.

Water, water, everywhere... It's seems that way at the present here in not-so-sunny England! In more ways than one I've been exposed to a few deluges over the past week or so; some, I might add, were through my own choice. The X-Runner Water-Wipeout 10km Extreme Obstacle Race & Mud Run was one such choice; more of which later.
First up I've been swimming a couple of times. My first time back in the pool, since returning from Nepal, I managed a comfortable 110 lengths (2.75km) just to ease myself back in to the routine. I was pleased with this because I thought I might struggle a little. On my second trip I pushed on for a little longer and swam further than I've ever managed before; 140 lengths (3.5km) before I ran out of time due to the pool closing. Although I was pretty done in I felt like I had another 10 lengths in me and I might just have a go at it next time if I'm feeling energetic.

June the 21st, the longest day of the year, had two special events going on. Firstly it is my Mum's birthday; and this year is a very special one. She was celebrating her Seventieth birthday! Secondly Phil Evans, director of The Yak Attack mountain bike race, was to undertake an immense challenge for charity. He was looking to raise £720 for his local Shropshire Cat Rescue. His audacious plan was to cycle up and down a famous Shropshire hill, The Wrekin, 36 times in 24 hours. This is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest (Up and down), hence the name of his challenge "Everest in a day". That's 9000m of ascent and 9000m of descent!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sleepless in the Saddle.

Sleepless in the Saddle.

My mate Mitchell Bryan and I have just entered this years Sleepless in the Saddle event at Catton Park, Derbyshire on August 4th & 5th 2012.
We are having a go at the 24 hour solo race which could prove quite challenging!
It looks like a lot of fun (apart from the pedalling for 24 hours bit!) and we are very excited about taking part in it.
Spectators are welcome, so if anyone fancies popping along to cheer us on feel free to come and give us some support (or abuse if you like!). We are looking for one or two very nice people to join us in a support team, if any of you lovely readers or friends are available and would like to stay awake for 24 hours to pass us food & drinks etc.

I think I had better increase my training again!
Wish us luck :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bikes, Boats, and Boogie. An introduction to The Netherlands.

(Wooden) Tulips from Amsterdam!  
Recently, at the behest of my good friend Wilco Voulon, I headed off the The Netherlands for a long weekend.
Strangely, considering it is one of our nearest neighbours, it was to be my first trip there.
It's not that it wasn't on my list of places to visit but because I had never really gotten around to it.
During our recent trip to Nepal Wilco had invited me to visit them during the weekend of The Fusion of Dance festival, held in his home town of Zwolle; about an hour or so east of Amsterdam.
So I took up his kind invitation and arranged a flight with BMI Baby from East Midlands Airport (Nottingham-EMA) to Schiphol (Amsterdam). Originally I had planned to fly on the Saturday morning and return on Monday morning. Luckily for me BMI had to cancel the Saturday flight and I was offered alternative routes. I decided to take advantage of this and rearranged my flights, free of any charges, so that I could fly on Friday morning and return on Monday night; thus giving me an extended visit.
As usual I breezed through the security checks in a few minutes. That's the advantage of only having carry-on luggage (my trusty Osprey Atmos 35) and the now simple & efficient option of on-line check-in. Also East Midlands is a small provincial airport and passenger traffic tends to be fairly light.
A pleasant 7.05am flight landed me at Schiphol at 09.05am (with the one hour time difference) and I had a long walk through the airport. This surprised me for some reason as I was, kind of, expecting it to be small like EMA. I don't why I had this notion in my head because Amsterdam is a major international hub and a big airport!
Everything was well signed and I found the ticket desk for the trains very easily. Purchasing my ticket for Zwolle via Amsterdam was equally simple and the clerk printed me off an intinerary of train times that I could use, including transfers and platform numbers. Excellent really. Travelling in Europe is very easy these days with the excellent transport networks, English tends to be widely spoken in most facilities, and the Euro makes for an easy transition from the Pound.
I jumped on the next available train a few minutes later and was deposited promptly at Amsterdam Centraal station in no time at all.
What a cool place! I loved Amsterdam and The Netherlands from the moment I stepped off the train.

Friday, May 25, 2012

New partner announcement. Osprey Packs.

Osprey Packs; our newest partner.

I am very pleased to announce that world renowned manufacturer Osprey Packs (Osprey Europe Ltd) have kindly offered to support us with product placement in our ongoing endeavours.

My sincerest thank to Dominik Wolf, Osprey's European Marketing Coordinator, for his tremendous enthusiasm and generous offer of assistance.

I have already received an Osprey Atmos 25, to use in next years Yak Attack mountain bike race; and a  a very nice t-shirt that, if I do say so myself, looks rather fetching on me! :) I might even post a picture of me wearing it for all you lovely ladies out there to admire! Hahaha :D

I'm looking forward to working with Osprey in any way that I can.

Thanks Dom; you're The Bomb!

Check out their outstanding range of products here: Osprey packs

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Battered, Bruised, and Smiling!

Tamworth Snowdome.
I don't about you folks out there but I've had a particularly fun weekend!
It all started on Friday for me with a trip to one of my favourite Summer haunts, Tamworth Snowdome. It's a great big indoor fridge that allows me to ride my snowboard during the Summer months when it would otherwise be gathering dust in the spare room. It's very quiet during the Summer which suits me just fine; most people go there in the Winter months to prepare for their "real" snow holiday.
There was hardly anyone on the slope for the whole morning except for a small group having a lesson and about 20 or 30 people riding just for fun. I had a great time carving the slopes, hitting up the kicker, getting a few grabs in and generally smiling a lot.
I like to smile.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New page added for The Himalaya Quest 2013.

I have now added the new page for The Himalaya Quest 2013.
It details the challenges we are undertaking and the organisations we are supporting. Please feel free to take a look.

Friday, April 27, 2012

More News. Yak Attack 2013.

Great News!

Today I have received confirmation from Extreme World Challenges that my application for entry in to next years Yak Attack has been successful! And I have already paid the deposit just to make sure.

Another "Showdown in The Annapurna's" for me then! :)

Along with trekking The Expedition Route to Mount Everest Base Camp and attempting The Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon this completes my Himalaya Quest 2013 itinerary.

I will be seeking corporate partners so if anyone wishes to support me in any way please get in touch.

Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter here @HimalayaQuest
Wilco and his organisation can be followed here @AutismeSportief

And on Facebook here: Chase The Rainbow - Himalaya Quest

Thank you for looking :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New page added. Images from our Everest Trek.

Mount Everest Base Camp. A lifelong ambition achieved.

I have now uploaded a selection of images from our epic trek along the Expedition Route from Jiri to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal.

Click on the link below or use the button at the top of the page.

Hopefully you will enjoy them and be inspired to visit Nepal and enjoy it as much as we did.

Bon Voyage!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Announcement! Himalaya Quest 2013!!!

The view of Mount Everest and Lhotse from Tengboche one evening.
For some crazy reason my good friend, and fellow "Himalaya Quest'er", Wilco Voulon has invited me along to Nepal once again.  We will be guiding a large party of athletes and repeating our epic trek along the Expedition Route, from Jiri to Mount Everest Base Camp, and then foolishly taking part in The Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon! back to Namche Bazar. (May 2013).

 I think I can manage another month in beautiful Nepal!

Wilco has had a website created specially for this event and anyone wishing to come along can view the details from this link (you will need to use Google Translate if you don't speak Dutch!).

Once again we will be highlighting the Autisme Sportief Foundation and the wonderful work they do helping to build confidence in children and young adults via the medium of sport.

You can follow us on twitter using these links:

Or on Facebook here: Chase The Rainbow

Look out for more news coming soon!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New page added for The 2012 Torq Yak Attack images.

This is why you ride one of the toughest races in the world! Amazing.

I've finally managed to get the images uploaded after a few technical glitches!
I hope you enjoy them. The landscape was amazing. My thanks to NepalSutra, Jeremy & Carena Dean and Sonya Looney for some of the images.
Click on the link below or use the dedicated button at the top of the screen.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Normal service resumed!

Hi everyone.
Firstly a quick apology, since returning from Nepal I've had problems with my internet connection, sorry about that. This has now been resolved and I should be able to upload new blogs about our trekking trip to Mount Everest Base Camp and my successful completion of the Yak Attack mountain bike race over the next week or so; time permitting. 
I'll also be uploading a lot of images from both events; some of the things we experienced were truly amazing and hopefully you will be able to get a flavour of it from our photographs :)
I have also secured the domain name and we might move to a full website at some point soon if we can; at the moment it is just linked to the blog.
I am hoping to have some BIG news to announce towards the end of the month about a potential adventure or two for next year as well; watch this space! 
I'm also considering entering another one of the worlds toughest mountain bike races, La Ruta de Los Conquistadors held in Costa Rica in November but that really does depend on my being able to finance the trip and work out how to get enough time off work. Still a pipe dream at the minute.
In the mean time I have a reunion planned with Wilco in Holland in the middle of June and we will be attending The Fusion of Dance rave in his home town of Zwolle. I'm looking forward to that!
Thanks to everyone for their support and please keep on looking.
See you soon :)

Friday, March 2, 2012

And so it begins... The 2012 Yak Attack, Nepal.

The 2012 TORQ Yak Attack. Nepal.


So it’s actually going to happen! The registration event went off promptly at 12 noon today in the beautiful sunshine, in the equally lovely garden of the Kathmandu Guesthouse. As you might expect I turned up promptly (5 minutes late) at the Dawn til Dusk mountain bike office to register; completely the wrong place! So I slipped in to the garden, blended in with the crowds and tried not to look like I had turned up late.
Phil Evans gave a brief for the assembled competitors, the press and the gathered throng.

Phil Evans giving the pre-race briefing at the Kathmandu Guesthouse.

The competitors were then called up in turn to collect their race number and Torq Fitness gift pack (Event Sponsor).
I asked fellow rider Paul Topham to take a few photographs for me when it was my turn. Now it’s really lucky for me that I’m not superstitious; I was handed number 13! I had to laugh.

It really could only happen to me!

Each competitor was then requested to give a short interview to who are covering the event online with video footage etc. I’m not sure what they thought of me when the interviewer asked if I had a message for everyone at home; I smiled at the camera, gave a little wave and said “Hopefully I’ll still be alive!”.
We then had a very nice, informal garden party where the competitors mingled and chatted for a while. And that was it really; everyone slowly dispersed to carry on with their own preparations.

Roll on tomorrow! 

Competitors at the briefing.

Neil Cottam chatting with Phil Evans at the registration desk.

You just couldn't make it up! My "lucky" race number.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Kathmandu days and preparing for Blast-Off!

Like a modern day Billy The Kid!

Dave, Wilco and I arrived back in Kathmandu on the 19th February, several days in advance of our predicted arrival. We flew in from Lukla on what must be one of the coolest flights on earth! Well that’s if it goes smoothly of course; luckily ours went with barely a ripple and took a mere 20 minutes from take-off to landing. We realised just how far we had walked in the preceding days as we flew back over much of what of we had covered on foot! The High Himalaya is just a impressive from the air.
We spent a few days recovering from our wounds and did a little sightseeing. We ate as much food as we could including copious quantities of cake from the local bakery. We deserved it, we figured!
We bumped in to new found friends from the trail and toasted them in the bars of Thamel. Beware of the local “Everest” beer. It gives an Everest sized hangover! Ouch.
I spent separate afternoons cycling around the city with both Dave and Wilco; and we had a lot of fun running the gauntlet of the outrageous Kathmandu traffic. If you can survive there, you can survive anywhere!
We booked ourselves on to a kayaking trip for a couple of days (Thursday & Friday) with Adventure Aves Nepal. The trip was a lot of fun, the instruction from Bishnu Gurung was first class and the food was excellent; the equipment was mostly UK imported and was in very good condition. Check them out if you are ever in the region and fancy some adventure. We paid $100 each and it was well worth it. They offer a number of packages for differing levels and also a spectacular looking White-Water Rafting trip.
Some of the rapids were wicked and we even had to by-pass one due to the level of difficulty/danger. It was a lot of fun riding that one on the safety raft; I’m pretty sure we would have lasted about 5 seconds trying to negotiate it in a kayak!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Krazy Kathmandu!

Mount Everest. Nepal.

Yesterday we visited the Swayambhunath Temple set high on a hill to the west of Kathmandu. Prayer flags fluttered in the breeze, pilgrims and tourists alike crawled up the steep stone steps to the shrines, and the resident population of monkeys terrorised innocent picnickers; stealing any unattended goodies and, working in perfect harmony to distract them, they even stole items that were closely guarded! Dave laughed out loud on a couple of occasions as he watched them stalking potential victims before pouncing with rapier like speed to plunder their bounty.

Wilco snapped happily away with his camera, taking pictures of anything that caught his eye. He has an eye for the interesting; it turns out.

And me? I just wandered; I like to wander.

Kathmandu is typically Asian. Manic, dusty, heavily polluted. But it has all the charm of Buddhist Asia. The people are as warm as they are enterprising. Every Asian city I have visited seems to have an angle; a trade that the underprivileged embrace. In Hanoi, for example, ladies walk the city streets calling out “Pineapple-Banana”; In Bangkok it always seems to be “Tuk-tuk sir? Ping-Pong?” referring to the ubiquitous transport and the seedy shows! Saigon was all cigarettes in large folding cases or cheap copies of well known travel books. Here in Kathmandu it seems that everyone is selling Tiger Balm, small musical instruments specially made for the tourist market, or prayer wheels in one form or another. And of course every shady looking fella sidles up and whispers “Hashish Sir?”

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Namaste from Namche!

Hi folks. Just a quick update.
We have arrived back in Namche after our successful visit to Gorak Shep and Everest Base Camp. We had a few mishaps and a lot of fun along the way but we made it. It has been unbelievably tough walking all the way in on the Expedition Route from Jiri but it has been worth it. We all acclimatised extremely well but I can tell you that 5000m above sea level is no place for normal human beings! It's nice to be back at a more moderate 3500m! We also trekked back from Gorak Shep to Namche in 9 1/2 hours! That's faster than The Millennium Falcon  does the Kessle run! Hahaha.On the way back I narrowly avoided an actual Yak Attack and when we arrived in Namche Dave was so hungry he ate Yak steak and chips twice!
Lots of stunning and silly images to be uploaded as soon as we get to Kathmandu (hopefully in a couple of days; fingers crossed!) and a bit more detail about our experiences. Be warned though; the main topic of conversation over the past few weeks has been about our toilet experiences! Hahahaha.
Thanks to you all for being patient and for continuing to support us.
Much love to all our families, we miss you all so much xxx

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Namaste! Kathmandu.


Namaste; Hi from Kathmandu!
We arrived yesterday, safe and sound, at the Kathmandu Guesthouse in Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal :)
Although we did suffer a few mishaps along the way, including a worrying problem with the flight bookings, along with Dave and Wilco getting lost in the airport at Dubai! They went through the wrong exit, passed through immigration, and ended up going in to the city to view the Burj Khalifa instead of hanging out in the transit lounge for eight hours with me. I’d call that a lucky mishap!
We spent our first day exploring cool Kathmandu on foot in glorious sunshine and managed to purchase our trekking permits and bus tickets along the way. It is so nice to back in the melee of Asia once again.
We ate great local food; the Chilli Chicken Mo Mo is particularly fine and the local beer is very nice too!
We have a very early start for the bus tomorrow; Dave didn’t realise that you could actually get out of bed at 04.45am! We have a long day on the bus; the guy at the ticket office says it is six hours so that usually means at least ten! :D
We are looking forward to getting to Jiri now and getting started on the trek.
See you soon

A few images of Kathmandu

Stupa in Kathmandu

Some of the local art is amazing

Wilco collecting his trekking permit

Dave and Wilco in the local market

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Everest Base Camp weather!

Dave Slater mentioned to me that he had been checking the weather forecasts for the Everest Base Camp recently; so I thought I'd take a look. Makes for very interesting reading. I might have to pack an extra pair of socks!
Minus 50C in the mornings and "Feels like" minus 67C. At least it warms up the afternoons with a positively balmy minus 31C out of the wind! :D Very sunny too though; I'll pack my shorts!

Massive Thanks to Oakley UK Ltd.

I'd very much like to thank Ronnie Loveridge from European Customer Care at Oakley UK Ltd for outstanding service above and beyond normal expectations.
I had quite specific requirements because I needed 2 sets of lenses that would be compatible for both the Base Camp Trek and The Yak Attack. Unfortunately when I went to place my order for custom sunglasses on their website both of the lenses were out of stock. I was very close to hitting the panic button! :D
I contacted Ronnie for help. As soon as they were available Ronnie arranged for the assembly of the glasses and the lenses immediately; and then shipped them overnight so that I would receive them in time for our departure.
This is a process that normally takes 7-10 days plus shipping. Ronnie pulled it off in under 48 hours!
Now that's customer service. 
Huge thanks and huge praise from me for Ronnie Loveridge and Oakley UK Ltd.
World class service from a world class manufacturer.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New sponsor announcement -

 What Digital Camera BEST ONLINE RETAILER 3yrs running!

I'm very pleased to announce that PicStop have come on board with an unsolicited offer to supply us with Memory Cards and spare Camera Batteries for the trip.
Dave contacted them to make an order and asked if they could deliver them urgently. He then got chatting to Peter as to why he needed them so quickly and they were so impressed with our endeavour that they offered to supply them free of charge by way of sponsorship; and also very kindly added links to our blog site on their webpage! What a fantastic bunch of guys! :) Thank you very much Peter, we really appreciate your support. Hopefully we'll be able to return the favour with some great images of The Himalaya!

They also have a hugely popular Facebook page that is worth checking out here:

And can be followed on Twitter here:!/PicStop

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Neil and Dave visit the Rab factory.

Neil Cottam, Dan Thompson and Dave Slater at the Rab UK Headquarters.

Dave and I called at the Rab UK Headquarters in Alfreton, Derbyshire today to collect the Neutrino Endurance Jackets and Ascent 700 Sleeping Bags for The Himalaya Quest. Many thanks to Dan Thompson for arranging this for us and the generosity of Rab's parent company Equip Technologies for supplying them to us. It's been a great help and has allowed us to focus on the many other things we've had to deal with.

Thanks Guys. You're The Bomb! :)

Tricia Whitt commented  on our Facebook page that "It is all starting to look mighty real now!" OMG I think she's right! Seven months ago it all looked so far away; now with just over seven days to go it's starting to look a bit scary! :D But in a good way ;)
We are really looking forward to it now and I can't wait to see my old friend Wilco Voulon when he arrives in the UK, from The Netherlands, next Saturday to travel with us. :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New page added: Travelling light. Advice for Backpackers

After posting my Yak Attack pack list earlier I decided to do more detailed post on my normal travel packing.
I travel the world, whenever I can, with carry-on luggage and it's comfortably possible to do this with a pack size of around 35 litres and a weight of 8-10kgs.
Why not take a look at the new page and see if it helps you to travel lighter. 
With a smaller luggage burden you'll also being doing the environment a favour too. Double win! :)

Travelling Light. Advice for Backpackers

Don't forget you can follow us on Facebook:

And Twitter:!/HimalayaQuest

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Packing for Yakking!

I thought it might be of value to my fellow travellers to give you a look at how I pack light for travelling and in particular my pack list for our upcoming Himalaya Quest.

I’m one of those backpackers who likes to travel as light as possible and have been around the world using just carry-on luggage. I really got into this because of the budget airlines and the ability to keep my travel costs low by not having checked-in luggage. I then realised the value of not dragging too much stuff around and the freedom of being able to walk straight out of an airport without wasting valuable time waiting for my luggage to meander around the carousel. (And my backpack never gets lost!)
I normally use an Osprey Atmos 35 litre pack and if I can’t fit something in I probably don’t need it!
With a little thought and the use of versatile clothing it’s amazing how far you can travel with pack weight of under 10kgs. (Actually I’ll write another piece specifically for travelling light and stick to my Himalaya trip for this one).

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Under a wandering star.

Dave enjoying the view from High Tor, Derbyshire.

Dave and I headed to the hills again today for a spot hiking and to continue breaking our boots in for the trek. It will also help to condition our leg muscles for the rugged terrain on the route to Everest. Hopefully!
We met at Matlock in The White Peak area of The Peak District National Park at about 9.00am and sensibly headed straight in the nearest Costa’s for a cup of coffee! The thermometer was reading -5c and we fancied a warm up first :D

The view from The Limestone Way across to Riber Castle.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Trails & Tribulations.

Always smiling! Derbyshires Peak District National Park. Ladybower Reservoir in the backdrop.

Today (Thursday) we set out for a Dark Peak epic!

However as often happens it didn’t turn out to be quite the epic we had planned (no change there then! :D).
Mitch and I set out about 08.20am to hopefully meet up with Mark Franklin in Edale; the beating heart of Dark Peak mountain biking. The Captain (Mark Bishton) couldn’t make it today which was a shame because whenever The Captain comes out it means that I’m not the slowest rider! En-route Mark Franklin informed us that his van wouldn’t start and he wouldn’t be coming either. Just me and the wing-man today then (or am I his wing-man? Probably!).
The forty mile drive to Edale always flies by when you have the beautiful Derbyshire countryside for company and Mitch and I arrived in good time. It was unexpectedly windy when we opened the car doors and not a warm wind either. We shivered and grumbled as we got changed and prepared the bikes. It was a ‘jackets on’ job for the first few miles until we warmed up. Once mounted we retraced our steps along Edale road towards Nether Booth before climbing steadily up the bridleway that traverses Nether Moor, through Jaggers Clough and up on to ridgeline at Hope Cross. I stopped briefly to take a couple of photographs of the stunning views all around us; it is a truly beautiful place and I never tire of it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Health, Happiness & training tips for mortals.

Disclaimer (:D): I am an ordinary guy with a full time job and a life. I’m certainly not an athlete nor am I a sports scientist. Here I’m going to try and give you an insight into how I train and how I’ve been training for the Himalaya Quest. I’m not sponsored so every product that I recommend is tried, tested and paid for with own money. None of this may be suitable for you; although I’m sure some of it will help.

Anyone thinking of taking up a challenge like our Himalaya Quest or just wanting to get fitter should consider seeking advice from a professional; you can find plenty of advice online or consult an adviser at your local gym etc.
For me there are three important criteria for preparing for an event or for just living a balanced and healthy lifestyle; which is pretty much what I try to do these days.
All are equally important to me and help me to function better.

Fueling, Hydration and Recovery.