Shot for the Day (28 January 2018)

Shots from the vault: Back in 2009, I had just completed my cycle ride from London to Nordkapp in Norway, some 2.5k miles away. Following completion of this journey, I took a ferry from Honningsvåg to Hammerfest, where I spent these evening before heading on to Tromsø the following morning. I was treated to a spectacular light show that evening as the sun bounced along the horizon. Being north of the Arctic Circle and mid-summer, the sun never dropped below this level.

Shot for the Day (08 February 2017)


End of day in Iceland in 2011 when I cycled round the island. It was the middle of summer and on the first few days, the temperature was a balmy twenty degrees Celsius.

A few days later, the skies open and for the remainder of the 18 day circumnavigation, the weather was in single digits and rained steadily most days.  However, what stays with me above all else from Iceland was the unrelenting wind. Regardless of one’s orientation, the wind seemed to be permanently against one. If ever I have been close to quitting on a ride, it was several days into that experience.


One week and counting…

Time is ticking away as the ensuing departure date is now less than a week away.  Even though I have been preparing for this trip for ages, I am stick racked with anticipation.  Concerns of the overall requirements of the ride interlaced with daily issues such as shopping, whilst not having my kit stolen or finding somewhere to camp.  All in all, there are many issues to contend with.

In the grander scheme of things, I hope that this ride is a success.  By this, not only do I mean achieving the loft target of cycling 2800 miles to a vary sparsely populated are of the world but I also mean raise finds for the charity I have dedicated this ride to, Child’s I Foundation.  So far, I have raised just under £350 on my Just Giving page, which is a good start.  I hope that as I continue, people read about the various adventures I am likely to have en route as my blog will be maintained by Tom from Child’s I, in my absence.  I would love to hit my target amount of £2,500, so please keep reading this blog and make a donation if possible.  All of the money is destined to help kids in Uganda.  I am paying for all of my own expenses on this trip!

I have been testing all of my kit prior to my departure and so far, so good.  I have to make sure I can maintain my MSR stove as I know occasionally they can gunk up.  The biggest challenge will be to decide how much stuff to take along with me.  In the first couple of weeks, the temperature will hopefully remain in the warm twenties.  However, the further I travel up the spin of Sweden, the cool the weather will become.  Indeed, the figures I have seen for night time temperatures for Nordkapp and the north coast of Norway, even in mid summer, are around 4 degrees Celsius.  The weather is also likely to me inclement but that should only add to the drama of the journey.

It would be great to hear from any one if they have experience of travelling in this part of the world as so little has been written about it.  That said, hopefully my blog will be a useful place for other people considering this journey as a portal of information in due course.

Lost weekend in Guernsey

I was fortunate enough to be in Guernsey last weekend. The main purpose of the visit was to see my good friends Mary and Pete. We had a lot of things to organise. Firstly, about 60GB of HD video footage we shot on our Le Jog ride last year. Thanks to opaque technology and the need to have multiple external hard drives capturing the output of huge files via various video programmes, we spent most of the weekend indoors, struggling with the computer.

Fortunately, the results from the first MTS file transfers look good. Once we have managed to drop out the videos as manageable QT files, I hope to upload a selection of 1 minute files for each of the daily rides for the Le Jog ride to YouTube and link into this blog. More on this when I get round to it.

The other big focus of the weekend was to decide upon the timing and location of this year’s big ride. I have elected to raise money for a charity called Child’s i Foundation, set up by some of my Endemol colleagues. There is plenty of great information available about various charitable endeavours on their website, which is another WordPress blog like this one.

So far, we have chosen two rides that we would like to select one to undertake from:
1) London to Nordkapp (Norway) via Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. This would be an epic 2500 mile ride, taking us well past the Arctic Circle.
2) Circumnavigate Iceland, which would be considerably shorter at a mere 1,200 – 1,500 miles.

I would love to do both rides but due to various fiscal and time limitations for all parties concerned, this is highly unlikely. What it will ultimately boil down to is timing. When there are several people involved with varying calendar restrictions, finding the sweet spot is complicated.

Does anyone have experience of either of these cycle rides?

Day 12: Kendour YHA to Lochranza (Isle of Arran)

Total mileage: 78
Terrain: Flat on mainland but steep end of day climb on Arran with heavy rain

Another long day in the saddle after the previous day.  However, we had a glorious view in the morning at the YHA hostel.  The guys there were all really friendly and sent us off with a hot cup of tea and toast.

The weather was pretty foul again but not the same level of rainfall as the previous day.  We cycled for a few miles on the small B7000 the hostel was sited off, until we came to the A713 main road to Ayr at Carpshaim.  This road was fantastic as there was a long downhill through some incredible countryside.  I think in all, we must have had the slope in our favour for about 4 miles.

We stopped off at a superstore in Ayr to stock up after the previous night’s food shortages.  None of us wanted to be stuck in that position again in a hurry.  Ayr is a very industrialised town and not particularly pleasant.  Although the cycle route was well marked, the parts that took us through the urban areas, up through Prestwick and Troon, were particularly forgettable.

Fortunately, the route through the forests close to Kilwinning and Stevenston were really pretty and well maintained.  We hardly saw another soul.  The well kept cycle route made the ever worsening weather more bearable.  Indeed, with 5 miles to Androssan where we intended to catch a ferry to Arran, the skies opened.

By the time we made it to Androssan, we were all completely soaked and the level of motivation was dropping almost as fast as our body temperatures.  We timed the ferry perfectly, arriving with just enough time to buy our tickets and board the ferry.  As you can see from the first picture, our bikes were fastened with a single bungee to the side of the boat.  This, however, was sufficient as the crossing was relatively calm.

Arran looked incredible at first sight.  The heavy, opalescent skies looming threateningly overhead as the ferry drew into the harbour.  It was getting cold and our kit had not dried on the brief crossing.  Mary was feeling the worst, suffering from knee problems.  The harbour town of Brodlick was sufficiently congenial but very small.  We soon pushed past the town limits as we headed northwards, towards the other ferry port town on the island of Lochranza.

Our route clung to the coastline, affording us the opportunity to see a sea lion as we rode along.  The absence of traffic was also noted, something that made the final 16 mile push all the more bearable in the rain storm.  The second leg of the Arran ride took us inland, into the mountains.  The drama of the landscape was incredible, a real highlight of the trip as we forced the bikes up an ever steeper climb.  The lashing rain only seemed to heighten the moment, making the scenery foreboding and menacing.  It truly felt as though we were adventurers in parts unknown.

The hostel in Lochranza was great but considering that we had hardly passed a soul on the roads, strangely busy!

A longer outing equals more pain!

More gorgeous scenery on Sussex

With such good weather here in Sussex, I thought it would be a real shame not to make the most of it by going for a longer cycle that on Tuesday.

I got a little lost en route and ended up cycling along the A3 dual carriageway at one point, with trucks and cars whistling past me at 70mph. That was certainly not the relaxed country ride I had planned! hat said, I did get to see some extraordinary scenery and beautiful villages in the Downs.

Google map of today’s cycle route

I think I will keep the cycle tomorrow short and save myself for a decent one down in Devon over the weekend.