Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Longest Day - Ultra Tour of The Peak District

A great big inflatable elephant!

A couple of years ago Mitch Bryan and I went through a spell of running Ultra-Marathons which culminated in the successful completion of The UTPD - Ultra Tour of the Peak District - 60 miles (100km) event. To your average man (or woman) on the street this seems inconceivable, when we set out to do it it seemed almost that way to us too.
Both of us intended to continue to do other similar events, in fact we had our eye on the big prize - a 100 miler, but for various reasons we got distracted.
What may surprise you the most, as it did me, was that it wasn't actually as hard as I thought would be.
I'll quantify that rather bold statement. Running 60 miles in half day is very hard, it's just that I expected it to be brutally hard.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Review: Alpkit Bikepacking Luggage.

Over the last ten years or so there has been a growing trend (or sub-culture) in cycling for Bikepacking.
(I have added a few useful links at the bottom if you are interested).

If you're not familiar with Bikepacking then it's a bit like off-road bicycle touring encompassing anything from an overnight adventure with a bivvy, multi-day (or multi-week) racing like The Tour Divide, right through to global adventure travel. The great thing about Bikepacking is that it can take you as far, or near, from the beaten path as you desire. It has developed alongside the desire to have these adventures.

Pioneering routes like The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route or The Israel Bike Trail have given more mountain bikers a thirst for just such an adventure.

Hand-in- hand with its growing popularity are a bunch of companies innovating solutions to packing gear on a mountain bike. The age old practice of fitting pannier racks on a cycle tourer just doesn't work on a mountain bike.

This is where the likes of Alpkit, and others, have stepped up to the plate and filled in the gaps.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A tale of three cities. Friends, football, and a beautiful girl. The Netherlands.

Shameless travel selfie with my son Dan.
Finally we seem to have left the shadow of winter behind. It has felt like a long time since I felt the sleepy caress of a warm breeze on my face. Here in the UK we seem to have skipped a season this year and lurched from winter to summer in the blink of an eye. From the grip of cold Siberian northerlies to an overnight heatwave. And it is very welcome.
It must have felt even longer for most than I. I spent most of the dreary late autumn and early winter riding dusty singletrack in Nepal, returning only in time for the Christmas festivities; and enjoyed a winter break in Israel, in the fine company of my friend Yoram Hen, doing much the same.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

#DestinationUnknown - Independent short-haul travel - getting started.

It's surprising, in the age of the budget airline, how many people find the prospect of independent travel a slightly scary undertaking, overwhelming even. The seasoned traveller may not benefit a great deal from much of my advice, but many people still travel under the comfort blanket of prearranged packages and it is they whom I hope to inspire. Package holidays aren't a bad thing and can often be almost as cheap as a decent flight to long-haul destinations, Thailand from the UK is a good example of this, but if you'd like to get out there and explore more with some shorter breaks then hopefully you might find this useful.
I'm not an industry travel "expert" but I do have plenty of experience, I've visited in excess of thirty countries predominantly as an independent traveller, and I have made plenty of mistakes along the way. This isn't going to be one of those silly "Tourist v Traveller" things either. We are all, by definition, tourists.
With this series of blogs I'm going to attempt to dispel a few myths and, hopefully, open up a little world of opportunities for you to go and explore.
Over the next few weeks and months I will be writing about how to get started, how to avoid a few of the common pitfalls, and hopefully encourage at least a few of you to take that step into the unknown. Once you've made that first step you may be surprised at how empowered it can make you feel and the freedom that it brings.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Destination Unknown. A little road trip in the making.

My new project, a bargain basement hybrid for a budget bike tour.
In recent weeks I've had my eye on bargain basement hybrid bike for commuting, during which time a spark of an idea has been forming in my mind.
Given that I've had to defer my Tour Divide attempt until another time I've been musing over other adventures.
I'm also embarking on a little side project that I am tentatively calling #DestinationUnknown (or maybe #NewHorizons) in which I'm trying to encourage the ordinary holidaymaker to embrace independent travel and try a little adventure of their own.

As a consequence of that I have bought said bike with the idea to show that it's perfectly possible to do a budget bicycle tour on a £200 (ish) bike, and to share the planning and the journey with you.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Fabulous Fatty!

Phwoar! Check out this beauty. 
The new Alpkit Vir Fortis Adventure Fatbike.
I spotted one finished up in the final build over at the Alpkit showroom the other day
It's a beautiful beast! I think I want one :P
It's definitely gone on to the "Most Wanted" list. 

Take a look at it here

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Thanks for looking :)