Saturday, 23 September 2017

We did it!

640km/400miles later, we reached our finish point, John Keay House, St Austell, former HQ of English China Clays, where my late Mum used to work. We've been through a lot, but it was worth it. We met some fabulous people, and saw some amazing places.

Soon, we'll be on our way home - by train.

I'll be posting much more about the trip later, in the meantime, here's a pic of us at our official finishing point...

John Keay House

Additional information and links

The JustGiving pages for the dementia charities can be found at:


Alzheimer's Society page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-as or text ASDP84 £2 to 70070 (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


Dementia UK page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-duk or text BIJJ81 £2 to 70070  (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


We are now also raising funds for a West Sussex based charity, Dementia Support

Dementia Support MyDonate page - https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/martynfeather1

@inmemoryofmymum can be found on both Facebook and Twitter, so you can follow the ride there too. You can also find me on Facebook - Martyn Feather (Skippy), and Twitter - @ZkidooKreativ

The text and photos contained within this blog are the intellectual property of Martyn Feather, unless otherwise indicated. © Martyn Feather 2017

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Day 10

So, we made it up over Exmoor. Up, is possibly a complete underestimate of the nature of the hills we had to climb - they were steep, and never ending!

View from Exmoor


But, we got there, and came down the other side. Only to find, possibly - one of the most unique pubs in the country. No mains electricity (just a generator and car batteries). No mains water (just from a spring about a mile away), and no mains drainage!

A completely laid-back landlord, who invited us to pitch up in the beer garden, and very friendly locals who even donated to our charities.

We're now in Great Torrington, luxuriating in a small self-contained, self-catering B&B cottage. Not sure how the B&B and self-catering works, but we got a discount, as we don't do breakfast, and a further discount, as we're cycling for dementia charities - bonus!

We continue down the Tarka Trail tomorrow, heading towards Camelford in Cornwall, where we pick up the Camel Trail (that's the river, not the beast!).

If all goes well, we should reach St Austell by Friday - if not, we'll be there by Saturday.

Happy cycling!

Additional information and links

The JustGiving pages for the dementia charities can be found at:


Alzheimer's Society page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-as or text ASDP84 £2 to 70070 (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


Dementia UK page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-duk or text BIJJ81 £2 to 70070  (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


We are now also raising funds for a West Sussex based charity, Dementia Support

Dementia Support MyDonate page - https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/martynfeather1

@inmemoryofmymum can be found on both Facebook and Twitter, so you can follow the ride there too. You can also find me on Facebook - Martyn Feather (Skippy), and Twitter - @ZkidooKreativ

The text and photos contained within this blog are the intellectual property of Martyn Feather, unless otherwise indicated. © Martyn Feather 2017

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Day 9

Day 9 - and here we are in Dulverton on the edge of Exmoor National Park. We're going up on the moor today, not sure how far we'll get, and we may need to camp out on the moor tonight.

We may not be Mark Beaumont, who has just completed his round the world cycle ride, but we're loving our little (by comparison) endeavour.

With any luck, we should be around Barnstaple and perhaps Bideford, tomorrow.

Today will see us tackling more hills, especially early on, but once on the moor, the route follows a fairly (I say that with a certain amount of trepidation) level course.

I'll try to update again, as soon as possible.

Happy cycling!

Additional information and links

The JustGiving pages for the dementia charities can be found at:


Alzheimer's Society page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-as or text ASDP84 £2 to 70070 (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


Dementia UK page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-duk or text BIJJ81 £2 to 70070  (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


We are now also raising funds for a West Sussex based charity, Dementia Support

Dementia Support MyDonate page - https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/martynfeather1

@inmemoryofmymum can be found on both Facebook and Twitter, so you can follow the ride there too. You can also find me on Facebook - Martyn Feather (Skippy), and Twitter - @ZkidooKreativ

The text and photos contained within this blog are the intellectual property of Martyn Feather, unless otherwise indicated. © Martyn Feather 2017

Monday, 18 September 2017

Updates - where possible

Apologies, but we haven't been able to keep up with updates to the blog, there'll be plenty when we return. At present, we're on the edge of the Exmoor National Park. Keep on looking in for further info.

In the meantime, here are the links to the charity pages. Cheers from Martyn and Allan...

Additional information and links

The JustGiving pages for the dementia charities can be found at:


Alzheimer's Society page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-as or text ASDP84 £2 to 70070 (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


Dementia UK page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-duk or text BIJJ81 £2 to 70070  (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


We are now also raising funds for a West Sussex based charity, Dementia Support

Dementia Support MyDonate page - https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/martynfeather1

@inmemoryofmymum can be found on both Facebook and Twitter, so you can follow the ride there too. You can also find me on Facebook - Martyn Feather (Skippy), and Twitter - @ZkidooKreativ

The text and photos contained within this blog are the intellectual property of Martyn Feather, unless otherwise indicated. © Martyn Feather 2017

Friday, 8 September 2017

2 days to go - training done, checking kit, packing, planning and preparation...

Yesterday was the last day for training rides, and we covered another 50km, from Lancing to Henfield via Bramber, Upper Beeding and Small Dole, then back via Poynings, Fulking, Upper Beeding and Bramber - where we stopped at the Castle Inn for "refreshments"!

There, we met a couple from the Lake District, who were on their way to France in a lovely vintage car. They were going to the Goodwood Revival Meeting (8-10 September) en-route, before taking a ferry from Portsmouth.

Now I know why the campsites around Chichester are all booked up!

Clothing for the trip is pretty much sorted. Not a lot really. Two pairs of shorts, jogging pants, lightweight fleece, cycling tops, T-shirts, walking/cycling shoes, and a waterproof jacket. Plus plenty of socks and underwear, a cycling helmet, sunglasses, and a cap, to keep my head warm, at other times.

Then tents, sleeping bags, sleep mats, two basha/groundsheets, and a couple of bivvy bags. With plenty of bungees and pegs.

Stove, gas, cookset, food and water, insulated steel mug and flask, and a sporky thing! - Musn't forget some disposable lighters to light the stove.

All the techy stuff - phones, walkie-talkies, small laptop, cameras (on bike and off - for recording the trip and taking snaps). All the charging bits - USB leads, chargers, portable solar panels, power banks, batteries, etc. etc.

And, a few other bits and pieces, like a wash kit and towel, and a supply of bike tools and inner tubes.

A selection, but by no means all, of the kit we'll be taking!


The bags on my bike can hold around 65 litres of kit, whilst Allan's can carry around 60 litres. Hopefully, that should be enough! Although we will also be taking small backpacks, mine is mainly for my DSLR and compact camera, and the laptop. But, there is enough room for other items too.

Then there are the maps, cash, bank cards, notebook, pen, first-aid kit - the list seems endless!

Is that it?

Well, there are quite likely to be items I've not mentioned, but that should all be sorted by the time we set off. And, if I do suddenly remember something, we pass my place after we leave from Southwick Christian Community Church on Sunday, and there are plenty of shops along the way.

Happy cycling!

Additional information and links

The JustGiving pages for the dementia charities can be found at:


Alzheimer's Society page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-as or text ASDP84 £2 to 70070 (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


Dementia UK page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-duk or text BIJJ81 £2 to 70070  (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


We are now also raising funds for a West Sussex based charity, Dementia Support

Dementia Support MyDonate page - https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/martynfeather1

@inmemoryofmymum can be found on both Facebook and Twitter, so you can follow the ride there too. You can also find me on Facebook - Martyn Feather (Skippy), and Twitter - @ZkidooKreativ

The text and photos contained within this blog are the intellectual property of Martyn Feather, unless otherwise indicated. © Martyn Feather 2017

Thursday, 7 September 2017

3 days to go - fear, nervousness, trepidation and excitement...

Yes! All of those, and a lot more!

It might seem strange, but all of those emotions are flying through me at the moment. Over the years, I've travelled many miles, using various forms of transport - pretty much everything from walking to flying.

But, I've never before undertaken such a journey by bike.

As with walking and running, you're completely in touch with what's going on around you. The views, the weather, the scenery and the smells.

30 to 40 miles a day can be readily achieved. However, as I've already found out, seeking somewhere to stay overnight, isn't quite so easy.

Many campsites are still fully booked, even at this time of year.

Kids! Aren't you all supposed to be back at school?!

That combined with the very simple fact that we don't know exactly where we'll be stopping each day, makes booking a pitch in advance, almost impossible.

Even the latest online OS maps aren't too helpful. They don't show all campsites, and some of those they do, are no longer there! That little blue caravan and tent symbol, is often next to useless!



As a result, the distance we travel the first day, may not be as far as I'd originally anticipated.

There are a number of campsites close to the route, but only one - one of the nearest - appears to have last-minute pitches available. Others are either fully booked, or don't bother to answer phones or reply to emails!

When they do bother, there's a remote possibility that you may have the following, albeit brief, conversation:

Them: "Do you have your own toilets?"

Me: "Er, no! We're on bicycles!"

Them: "Sorry, you must have your own toilets..."

And that was from an official, apparently club "certificated" campsite, close to the South Downs National Park (popular with hikers and cyclists), not a "wild camping" site.

I know I've covered such sanitary issues in an earlier post "the sensitive issue of being caught short", but, I certainly wasn't expecting such a response from what purports to be a "proper" campsite!

I've stayed in some pretty basic campsites before, but this is the first time I've actually been expected to provide my own toilet! On a bike!

"Just pitch up in the nearest field!" you say.

Unfortunately, in England, it's not that easy, except on Dartmoor - and, we're not going that way.

On open access land, as defined in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW Act), camping without the express permission of the land owner, is not permitted.



We will be passing through part of Exmoor National Park, but even there, "wild camping" is not, theoretically, allowed. Although, there are reports that park rangers tend to turn a blind eye to a single overnight stop - so long as nothing is left behind, apart from footprints, and nothing is taken away, apart from memories and photographs.

So, on occasion, we might just have to seek out a friendly farmer, and ask permission to hunker down in one of his/her fields.



Either that, or risk being woken up in the middle of the night, only to be told to "move on!" I'm beginning to feel a bit like a vagrant!

It seems the cycling bit is the easy part - it's the overnight stops that are causing the greatest issue!

Oh well! The experience will be interesting...

Happy cycling!

Additional information and links

The JustGiving pages for the dementia charities can be found at:


Alzheimer's Society page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-as or text ASDP84 £2 to 70070 (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


Dementia UK page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-duk or text BIJJ81 £2 to 70070  (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


We are now also raising funds for a West Sussex based charity, Dementia Support

Dementia Support MyDonate page - https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/martynfeather1

@inmemoryofmymum can be found on both Facebook and Twitter, so you can follow the ride there too. You can also find me on Facebook - Martyn Feather (Skippy), and Twitter - @ZkidooKreativ

The text and photos contained within this blog are the intellectual property of Martyn Feather, unless otherwise indicated. © Martyn Feather 2017

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

4 days to go - bike serviced!

Well! The bike has had its pre-trip service...

I'm not even going to mention how much it cost! Even bike servicing can work out expensive these days. All I will say is the parts alone came to just over £100!

There were no issues with the bottom bracket, but there was a wobble and noise from the rear freewheeling hub, so that looks to be where the problem lay. It has been replaced.



The chain might have been OK, but it has been replaced, as it was close to its extreme length. Yes! They stretch!

The gear-change (Deraillieur) cables were replaced, as they are exposed to the elements, and subject to corrosion. A generic set cost £20, whilst an OEM Shimano set cost £25 - I opted for Shimano.

My rear Tektro hydraulic disc brakes have been "squealing" for a while, probably caused by brake pad contamination. The mechanic cleaned everything up, ready for me to install the new pads I purchased a while ago.



The headset bearings (the bit where the handle bars go into the frame), were also replaced with a superior (and more expensive), easier to maintain, set.

Rear tyre

Aside from the service, I've also purchased a new 27.5 x 2.25 Maxxis Ardent rear tyre to use on the ride. The original tyre (same make and type), still has plenty of life, but it is the one subjected to the heaviest wear and tear, under heavy braking. So a new one for the trip makes sense.

Photo courtesy Maxxis UK


Fortunately, depending up how you look at it, the total cost of parts and the service, was pretty much what I'd budgeted for, and was still considerably less than buying a new bike.

Touring on a Mountain Bike?



Yes, it may seem a bit extreme to undertake such a long journey on a mountain bike, as opposed to a touring bike, but...

It's the only bike I have, and I can't afford a new one at the moment. Besides, the bike is only just over a year old!

Not all of the route is on paved surfaces, so it's on the "off-road" sections where a mountain bike comes into its own.

It's a hardtail bike (no rear suspension - only front suspension (Suntour XCM suspension forks)), so installing a pannier rack at the rear isn't a problem.

From a completely illogical and slightly emotional point of view - I love my mountain bike! I know its quirks. I know how it handles. I know it, from the ground up. It's not perfect, but it's pretty close!

And, now it has been serviced, it just might be that little bit closer to perfect!

Happy cycling!

Additional information and links

The JustGiving pages for the dementia charities can be found at:


Alzheimer's Society page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-as or text ASDP84 £2 to 70070 (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


Dementia UK page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-duk or text BIJJ81 £2 to 70070  (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


We are now also raising funds for a West Sussex based charity, Dementia Support

Dementia Support MyDonate page - https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/martynfeather1

@inmemoryofmymum can be found on both Facebook and Twitter, so you can follow the ride there too. You can also find me on Facebook - Martyn Feather (Skippy), and Twitter - @ZkidooKreativ

The text and photos contained within this blog are the intellectual property of Martyn Feather, unless otherwise indicated. © Martyn Feather 2017

Monday, 4 September 2017

6 days to go...

Keeping an eye on the weather

As preparations for the bike ride continue, and the day we start draws ever closer, keeping an eye on what the weather might do, becomes increasingly important.



The first few days of the ride are starting to look a little challenging, with the potential for gales towards the west. Fortunately, they should have died down by the time we reach the affected areas.

Later in the first week, it should be drier and brighter, though temperatures may be slightly lower than average.

The second week is looking a little better, but there is still the possibility of rain at times. On a positive note, there is a higher chance of more settled weather, with higher temperatures.

So, with luck, the final part of the ride might, just might, end up being sunny!

Other matters

Making sure the bikes are ready for the ride, is just as important as making sure WE'RE ready for the ride. Allan's bike is new, and has very recently had its first service, mine goes in tomorrow.

As far as I can work out, it should mainly be adjustments and lubrication, but, there is a very remote possibility that it might just need a new bottom bracket.

Pedal and bottom bracket


For those who don't know, that's the rotating bit where the pedals go through frame. Basically the part that's under the greatest pressure, especially when going up hill - so it's pretty essential it's in pristine condition - I'll just have to wait and see.

The rear brake pads might need changing, but I've got a spare set anyway, so that's not an issue, and I might just invest in a new rear tyre, as that's the one that gets the most wear and tear from heavy braking - especially when your bike is fitted with hydraulic disc brakes.

The bikes are both insured, and I've even taken out personal and public liability insurance (same policy from CyclePlan), just in case. Proof that not all cyclists are under or even uninsured!

That's it for now, I'll report back on how the bike fares, during its service, tomorrow.

Happy cycling!

Additional information and links

The JustGiving pages for the dementia charities can be found at:


Alzheimer's Society page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-as or text ASDP84 £2 to 70070 (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


Dementia UK page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-duk or text BIJJ81 £2 to 70070  (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


We are now also raising funds for a West Sussex based charity, Dementia Support

Dementia Support MyDonate page - https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/martynfeather1

@inmemoryofmymum can be found on both Facebook and Twitter, so you can follow the ride there too. You can also find me on Facebook - Martyn Feather (Skippy), and Twitter - @ZkidooKreativ

The text and photos contained within this blog are the intellectual property of Martyn Feather, unless otherwise indicated. © Martyn Feather 2017

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

11 days to go - lists and more lists, maps and more maps!!!

And maybe, just maybe - a little blood, sweat and GEARS!

With a mere 11 days before we set off - where did the time go?! It's now a case of checking plans, equipment, getting bikes serviced, last minute purchases etc. etc.

We're almost ready, well, nearly almost!

The next week or so, will include more training rides, with more hills! At least the first couple of days of the actual ride will be fairly level - but after that, we'll start to encounter hills, potentially some very nasty hills!

It's all very well riding up hills with no weight, but we'll be carrying everything we need, on our bikes. That throws a whole new light (or should that be weight?), on some of the hills we are likely to encounter.



I don't subscribe to the "drop down to the lowest granny gear, and pedal like hell" method - what's the point of pedaling like fury, whilst travelling slower than a sleeping tortoise?!



At that point it makes more sense to "get off and push!" There may be a down-side to going up hills, but there's always an up-side to going down them.

Did I detect some mixed metaphors in there, somewhere?!!!



Hills and riding aside, we need to sort out exactly what we need to take with us, and how we are going to pack it all. Then start all over again, and again - until we hit just the right balance - literally as well as metaphorically - so that we can ride comfortably, and more importantly, safely.



On the subject of safety - I hate cycling helmets! But, as a responsible cyclist, I wear one. I've even attached one of those annoying (to drivers), little red flashing lights, to the back (of the helmet). In poor visibility, I intend to be seen - even if I'm not heard, when I curse other inconsiderate road users. My action cam might pick it up though!!!



As for visibility, as well as the helmet light, we've got some very bright front lights, and some fixed (also with a flashing mode) rear lights. The panniers also have hi-vis rain covers.

Anyway, I digress. On to the lists.

Well, without boring everyone senseless, my current list consists of 183 items, including the bike, and everything from the smallest items needed, to larger essentials, such as tents and sleeping bags. That list is likely to grow and shrink, and probably grow again, over the next few days!



How many pairs of pants and socks do I really need?

Joking apart, it's amazing how many things are actually needed, apart from socks and underwear that is! And that includes a first aid kit - which only counts as one item on the list mentioned above (not the cartoon).

Maps

After carrying out endless research into apps available for smart phones, printed maps still come out on top.

And, they never answer back, tell you to make a u-turn, or nag you about your speed - or probable lack of!

Fortunately, OS Maps are now available online (subscription required for a full set of UK maps), you can plot your route using their online app, and then print out the maps required, on A4 sheets.

But, that's still 41 x A4 (or 21 double sided) sheets, for the whole route!

To laminate or not to laminate?

That IS the question. (Apologies to William Shakespeare)

In fact, there are two options available - one is to laminate the maps printed on to paper, the other is to print the maps on to a waterproof substrate.

As I've already got some laminating pouches, I guess I'll opt to laminate - I haven't really got time to test out the other stuff! And, I know that laminating works.

That's it for now...

Happy cycling!


Additional information and links

The JustGiving pages for the dementia charities can be found at:


Alzheimer's Society page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-as or text ASDP84 £2 to 70070 (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


Dementia UK page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-duk or text BIJJ81 £2 to 70070  (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)


We are now also raising funds for a West Sussex based charity, Dementia Support

Dementia Support MyDonate page - https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/martynfeather1

@inmemoryofmymum can be found on both Facebook and Twitter, so you can follow the ride there too. You can also find me on Facebook - Martyn Feather (Skippy), and Twitter - @ZkidooKreativ

The text and photos contained within this blog are the intellectual property of Martyn Feather, unless otherwise indicated. © Martyn Feather 2017