Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Beautiful Machine...

I'm reading ' The Beautiful Machine' by Graeme Fife.

The author is a former classics teacher who has spent a lifetime riding bikes and writing. It is a celebration of the bicycle; the joy. wonder and adventure of it. So far it is an excellent read, not only for cyclists but for anyone looking for an inspiring perspective on life, love, travel, history and other spiritual and worldly things.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Wednesday ride....

I've been playing with my iPhone while out on the bike!

And another one!!!!

A big thank you to Jan & John at Howson Print - they have pledged some sponsorship. Anybody who needs anything printing might want to get in touch with them - I have had a long working working relationship with HP and I know they always do a great job.

They are based near Walsall - Tel: 01922 744755

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Aren't Mum's Great !!!

As Paul said earlier, we had a relaxing week at Polperro. So now that I'm back I need to knuckle down to some decent training. Weekend's aren't too bad, but midweek is difficult now that the nights have drawn in, however some new lights and a ride to the next village (there are street lights) makes training a bit safer.
When back in the West Country, my Mum added to the sponsorship.

Fantastic !!
We will have to keep an on going record of the pledges.
A big thank you to everyone who has pledged a donation so far.

P.S. A photo of Mum's reaction when I told her what we were attempting to do. She's always given me a lot of encouragement...................

Can 'tha ride tandem?....

Just found this short clip of me and Gary riding a Tandem - we hired one for a few hours after we had cycled to Southwold during summer 2010

Monday, 25 October 2010

Making a Donation.....

 I've just set up a couple of pages at - some people might want to use these pages to make donations ...

New Sponsor....

A big thanks to Ray & Sharan Charlton from Netherseal who have said that they will sponsor us. Ray builds Conservatories and fantastic Wooden buildings - He made one for me as a garden office/studio. Check out the web site at

He has also built a recording studio at his house that his daughter Jacelyn now runs. It's called Llama Studios - after the two Llamas that Ray & Shaz keep.

Our village band 'Simply Crap' rehearse there.

Cheers Ray & Shaz - it's a good cause!!

Sunday sun....

Gary had arrived back from his holiday and we were both keen to get out for a few miles. Overnight had seen a frost descend and the early morning signs were that caution would be required, especially on some of the quieter roads where the accumulation of the 'brown gooey' stuff and ice could lead to potential problems.

After a bellringing session at Overseal we set off from Netherseal on one of our usual routes, climbing up Hunts Lane and heading via Grangewood through to Coton in the Elms. We've ridden these lanes so often over the past 12 months i'm sure we could almost manage it blindfolded. In Coton we followed a van collecting scrap; I remember the old 'Rag and Bone' men from my childhood, they came around with a horse and cart blowing hard on an old bugle and giving out goldfish to anyone who parted with sufficient booty. These days it seems the Rag and Bone industry has become more tuned into technology; this particular vendor had an amplified sound system blaring out from atop his vehicle - but still playing the familiar 3 note refrain that must represent a nationwide calling card. Gary told me that the scrap men who call around the streets where he works in Walsall play the theme tune to 'Steptoe and Son'.

Soon we were zooming downhill towards Catton Park, the sun streaming through the trees and melting the last vestiges of frost. We passed a field that hosted a number of hen-houses, the free range chickens preening and pecking around in the warmth looking like a collection of pom-poms floating on green velvet. We were moving quickly now, 18,19,20mph - we passed many cyclists travelling in the opposite direction, the sun had clearly woken everyone to the possibility of what might be a final ride of the season in such favourable conditions.

We varied our route just beyond Edingale, travelling towards Alrewas and then Whittington along very quiet, traffic free roads. Again, lots of cyclists around. Over the Canal at Whittington and past the three pubs in the village - The Bell is one I used to call at regularly and remember it being a 'proper' pub. We headed back towards home now, past the outskirts of Elford and then onwards to Wigginton, the sharp, steep hill into the village always requires extra effort but didn't seem too bad this morning. We turned left into Sycerscote Lane, a gated road and one of our familiar routes. We stopped at the railway bridge as we always do for a drink and I needed to tighten a loose spoke. We were joined by two passing cyclists headed in the opposite direction, they spoke with Birmingham accents although they lived locally. We exchanged information about various bits of clothing and kit and they were interested in our Lands End to John O'Groats plans - one of them had ridden the coast to coast route this year staying for a couple of nights in Youth Hostels.

We pressed on soon arriving in Haunton, then it was the gentle pull, up to Clifton Campville and on to Chilcote - soon be home now. We were passed by Clive Arthur one of our friends from Netherseal who gave a hearty 'pap' as he drove by! - He works for Oakley and helped us when we were looking at suitable sunglasses/eye protection.

Suddenly we were back - both of us had worked up a decent sweat and a quick check of the computers revealed 30 miles covered - not bad - we'll hopefully be covering some longer distances weather permitting in the coming months - but today was an enjoyable Sunday morning excursion.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Premier Sponsorship....

Today just gets better and better! - My old friend and colleague Dave Jones, Group Marketing Director of Premier Paper Group has very kindly offered sponsorship for our endeavour! - Thumbs up Dave, thanks a lot and stay tuned in!

Anybody reading this blog who purchases paper in large quantities should check out the Premier Paper Group web site at

New Sponsor on board!.....

Marcia & Pete Birks
It's another lovely day and to add the joy of the glorious weather I've just been speaking to Pete Birks who runs The Pokey Hole music club. He has kindly sponsored us for 20p a mile (that'll be about £200 Pete!!), not only that he has agreed to collect money for the charities at his open air gigs held at the Conkers Amphitheatre next year - there's a lot to sort out but I'm sure this will develop into something worthwhile - you can check out The Pokey Hole by looking at their website.

A big thanks to Pete and Marcia then!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Mission Control... Sorted.

We are pleased to announce a new and important member of our team, John Grant.

John is at present a District Councillor in South Derbyshire, he is a World renowned expert on Barbershop Singing, a former Grand Prix time keeper and a formidable quaffer of copious amounts of fine red wine - ideal!!!

John will be our 'Mission Control' - from his office he will monitor our progress during the ride, warn us of any possible hinderances, advise on routes and generally manage the whole operation - oh yes, and he's also become our first sponsor with a generous £50 to start us off. Thanks John!!

Back on the bike - and a struggle

After a week feeling sickly and then a long weekend in Cornwall i found myself vexed by my outright failure to clock up any miles for the past 9 days.

Today I intended to rectify that. The soggy weather of the past few days had subsided and faced with a spacious, powder blue sky and a particularly radiant sun it seemed like the perfect day. This coupled with the fact that I had just finished a particularly protracted and increasingly infuriating work project made the prospect of a ride-out inevitable.

After a quick change that included donning a thermal vest, long lycra bib pants, thermal socks, a tee shirt over the vest and a cycling shirt over that I was at last ready! I set off from home at a pace, pushing harder than usual as if trying to make up for recent failings. My route was tried and tested, local lanes and villages taking in a few stiff rises. I quickly regretted not wearing sunglasses - the sun was low and unremittingly bright. I paused at the top of the first decent hill, an impressive 360 degree vista stretching out to the horizon. The low lying fields spotted with a myriad of shining puddles from the recent rainfall, stretching out as if a hundred mirrors had shattered and been thrown to the ground, each one glinting in the sunlight.

I pushed on breathing harder now with my legs already complaining at the effort. I managed a stretch at 20mph and things began to feel better, the wind which had been tugging at me since I started, had now dissipated - it was getting easier. I flew through the small villages that I know so well, each twist and turn measured with the precision that only repetition can provide. All too soon I was within sight of my village Church and home - 13.5 miles - not a long ride by any estimation but satisfying and suitable on this first day back after a break. I felt reasonably good, the month is too old now for any hope of achieving a high mileage but with a little over a week left I shall try to reach 200miles.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

A new plan...

I've just spent an enjoyable weekend break in Polperro, Cornwall with Kate, Gary and Val - the weather was simply sublime and it was just so good to be near to the sea in such a beautiful part of England. We were treated to a memorable supper at Couch's Restaurant in the village - well worth seeking out if you are ever in this part of the world. The chef proprietor, a young man who trained with Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsey and Raymond Blanc has created something really special and deserves some recognition for his efforts.

Gary and Paul at Polperro
But what has this to do with LeJog you might ask? - well, we saw first hand the terrain that will be the first part of our adventure, and it's very hilly! - but more importantly we came up with a new plan for the trip - and it is this.

Instead of travelling by train and then cycling the last few miles to Lands End, then subsequently booking into B&B's for the journey northwards and a final train journey from John O Groats back home, what if, instead, we hire a Camper Van? - This could be our base for the trip. We could contain all of our spare equipment, clothes etc within it, we would have somewhere to eat/sleep handy at all times, and if we felt we wanted to ride further one day (or indeed cut short) we wouldn't be confined by a schedule of predetermined overnight stops that might put us under pressure.

The van would be driven by Val/Kate and while Gary and I are on the road they would have the day free to explore and visit places along the way. Then they meet up with us in the evening. It seems like the ideal solution! - we have to look at costings and availability etc but it does sound like a good plan!!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Useful Research....

One of the prerequisites of making this trip a success is good research - we need to know stuff! - I found this site - it has an online archive of 'End to End' blogs and various other bits - there's a lot of info on there and it will take some time to trawl but I'm sure we'll find something helpful.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Training around Ticknall....

A short clip of us in action - filmed back in January of this year I think?

Good Morning....

It's early days for this blog site - and indeed for this whole mad project - however, seeing as our plan is to complete the ride and raise money for charity, I thought I'd try allowing advertising on the blog - it will be a trial and we'll see how it affects the look and feel of the site - the advantage is that we will hopefully receive money for allowing the ads - I suspect the amount will depend on how many people view and then click on the ads - but whatever money we manage to generate will be added to the charity pot - so, please click away on any ads you see that you think might be interesting.

A beautiful Sunday...

Wow! - Sunday October 10th 2010 - and the weather felt more like June. Gary and I had been enlisted to help with cooking breakfasts at Netherseal Village Hall, there was a 'garage sale' taking place and so the village was teeming with people looking for a bargain. Naturally there was an opportunity to take advantage of the crowds and make some money towards the 'flowers for the village' campaign. By lunchtime we had sold out - in fact demand was such that we had to relieve Marion's shop of her entire stock of bacon! - I think we sold over £350 worth of breakfast rolls - not bad for a few hours.

Because the weather was so unusually clement we felt the need to get out and put a few miles in - a 4.00pm meet was deemed appropriate and a fellow rider (Paul Robinson) was drafted in to make up the peloton!. I had packed away my shorts and short sleeved top - I had to get them out again - such was the temperature!.

We decided on one of our training routes which meant a rendezvous at 'The Odd House' on the edge of Snarestone/Newton Burgoland and set off with the sun blazing and a spring in our pedals. It went well and we bowled along at a fast pace down through Snarestone, across to Appleby Magna, Austrey, Thorpe Constantine, Clifton Campville and then up to Haunton. We took the gated road through to Wigginton all the time keeping up a high cadence and an impressive average speed. We paused to sip energy drinks before continuing through to Harlaston and then the long road back up to Clifton and on to No Man's Heath - from there we joined the busy main road to the M42 island. junction 11, down into Appleby again and back to Snarestone - we split up there, I went along the Derby Lane to Shackerstone and Congerstone and then home - Gary and Paul R went via Measham. It was a particularly enjoyable outing because the conditions were so favourable - very soon we'll be wearing thermal vests, coats, industrial type gloves etc etc - I had covered 43 miles by the time I got home - and I enjoyed every minute.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Friday Musing.....

It's Friday night - and traditionally a time for blokes to get together in the pub and discuss the to-ings and fro-ings, the ways of the world - and reflect on ideas and aspirations - and get pissed of course! Well I'm just back from my regular Friday rendezvous - the 'Mad' idea has been discussed - do we do Lejog or the Jogle? - should we aim for an Easter start or wait until Whitsun? - how will we get home after the epic adventure? - Are we in fact capable of such a feat? - these are the questions of the moment - and we will be pondering on them.

First Post!

The first post. Hopefully we won't get to hear the last post on this mad, bad journey. Here we are, September 2010 and we have committed to the ultimate cycling test (at least for us it is!) to cycle 1000 miles, Land's End to John O'Groats, next summer - 2011. We will hopefully complete this marathon of pain and suffering over the course of about 10 days - should be easy then!

Training has started - but stopped suddenly due to bad weather - we don't want to get wet!

We do need your support - and better still your money!!! We are intending to raise as much as possible for charity - we're probably going to split it between Guide dogs for the blind and Help for Heroes - but we'll be looking at other ideas no doubt.

Anyone who would be interested in trying to raise money, or who wants to make a donation, please email me at 

Remember - every little bit helps - so no matter how small your sponsorship is it will be doing some good.

Anyway - it's stopped raining and being as I have my lycra on I'm going out for a few miles!

More soon