Flying Solo South

Sorry I haven’t updated this for a while. In brief: my
riding partner James, fell ill at the end of day 1: he had stomach
cramps and lost all power to pedal at any decent rate. We resumed
the next day and he clearly wasn’t any better. So, just short of
Inverness we had a tete a tete and collectively came to the
decision he should return home. Naturally he felt bad about leaving
but having him not able to put in the miles or pull on the front
meant we were falling way behind on schedule. I left Inverness
after seeing James off on the train back to Euston and headed off
down the Great Glen… instead of taking the A82 I opted for the
scenic if rather hilly route South of Loch Ness. Seriously hilly…
The wind decided to blow up from the South West so it was a case of
go up slowly or do everything slowly! This wind persisted all day
and I only made it to N Ballachoulish around nightfall. I wild
camped that night in the woods along Loch Leven – an inspired
choice as it was sheltered from the worst of the gusting winds. It
threw it down all night and into the morning. I struck camp in the
rain, headed for breakfast nearby and then rode up Glencoe in
driving rain and wind with the spray from oncoming trucks blasting
my face over Rannoch Moor. The following lorries were very patient
in passing as indeed they have been throughout Scotland. It dried
up after lunch and I made it down Loch Lomond and had a really
wonderful campsite in Arrochar – Mrs MacTavish let me stay gratis
after hearing I was doing the ride for charity! I got to wash and
dry clothes and have a night’s sleep. On the Tuesday I headed down
Loch Long and after a detour around Faslane Naval base due to a
missing sign, made it down the peninsula to Kilcreggan, had lunch
while I waited for the small ferry over the Clyde to Gourock. From
there into Greenock and up a huge climb onto a B road which took me
South. Dinner was at Kilmarnock at the New Hong Kong Chinese – who
let me bring the bike in – and then I found a great B&B nr.
Mauchline at Dykes Farm.

A huge breakfast set me up for the biggest
day yet: 110 miles to Penrith via Dumfries


…and Gretna

(no time to
get hitched!).

Finally I had a slight tailwind again and not quite
so many climbs for this laden machine.


A very nice hostel bed for
the night at The Wayfarer’s who have secure cycle storage and I’m
off to climb Shap Summit in the morning!

Progress track until evening Wednesday:
"https://www.strava.com/activities/56984978" target="new">Strava

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Under Way: If a little late

After not being able to get the bikes on the train the night before and the 4.5 hour journey from 7 this morning and the obligatory filming and snapping, we finally got on the road proper at around 3pm…
We were going well until James, my riding partner, suffered stomach cramping and loss of all power. We managed to roll into Helmsdale 50 miles away to get a really greatly needed square meal at the Bannockburn Inn. Heading on for an hour or so …

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All Set

Just a quickie. The bike has been loaded up and checked and is now broken down and packed out with as much spare bubblewrap and other assorted left over parcel material I could find and stuffed into a huge cardboard box from my LBS (Cyclopaedia).

Here’s how the set-up looks:

Ian Homer's bike set-up for the big challenge.

Aeron set-up for the big challenge.

The Carradice bag on the back is a bit retro I know: I’ve had it a while and have used it to carry a load of DSLR kit ok with a Lowepro insert so it’s up to carrying a tent, bag and mat.

The framebag is supposed to go into the other end by the seatpost but since this fouls up that bottle cage placing I’ve re-purposed it to the front end.

Overall the balance of the bike seems fine. Whilst not ideal I have ended up with a small backpack but it’s not very heavy. Anyway onwards and skywards, next stop Scotland!

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The Austerity Ride: Draft Route Drawn Up

In a little over 10 days, James and I set off to cycle, what I’m now convinced will be, somewhat, over 900 miles in 7 days: I’m both excited and apprehensive at the prospect of covering such a distance.

I know this as I’ve been busy sorting out a proposed route. We’ll no doubt deviate from it when it comes to riding – I’m hoping that’s not because we get lost!

Here you go: 933 miles or 1505 km take your pick! Somewhat disconcertingly it says ‘unknown total vertical climb’. Just check out the profile though there’s not much flat land in GB!

PS. Don’t forget you can donate to Epilepsy Society – my chosen charity – here or by texting EPIC97 ¬£amount (2,5 or ¬£10) to 70070. Thanks!

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The Austerity Ride: 2 weeks and counting…

Ian Homer with his bike: this one unladen!I hinted at this coming up in my last posting but I didn’t want to steal the thunder away from what is also a great and tough charity event.
On the 24th May I set off to cycle the length of Great Britain from John o’ Groats at the NE tip of Scotland to Land’s End at the SW tip of Cornwall, a distance of roughly 900 miles.
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Tumble Up

Cyclist climbing The Tumble on Tumble Up 4 Life Charity Cycling Event.

Cyclist climbing The Tumble on last year’s event.

On May-day Saturday I plan to return to Llanfoist near Abergavenny and take part in a charity cycling event called Tumble Up 4 Life to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
The goal is to ride up The Blorenge aka The Tumble or indeed, Iron Mountain as many as 15 times in a day. It’s no mean feat: the climb is over 400m in 7km so if you do the maths that’s a really tough physical and mental challenge. The journey is symbolic of the daily uphill struggle cancer patients face.
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Bespoke Video

Last week was a good one for video at ‘Homer Towers’: I started a new self-shot documentary project (more on that as it takes shape) and later, on the Friday, landed a commission to shoot and edit a 2-3 minute impression piece on the opening afternoon and evening of a bike show for the magazine road.cc . As it is an on-line publication, time was of the essence, so the video had to be live by the next morning…

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Spring-Sprung?

Well let’s all hope so, although I have a feeling it may be wet and cold a bit yet before it properly gets there.

It was great to get out into some sunshine with no biting wind. Here’s a short video shot using a GoPro HD, mounted on a chest harness, in the woods around Cardiff (Fforest Fawr, Wennault and the ridgeway, dropping into Cefn Onn) For once it wasn’t a mud-fest….


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Milk Race

Milk Race stage winner Ben Luckwell punches the air as he crosses the line, Stage 6, Leicester, 5th June, 1993.

Milk Race stage winner Ben Luckwell punches the air as he crosses the line, Stage 6, Leicester, 5th June, 1993.

The Milk Race, 1993, Briton, Ben Luckwell (Team Raleigh Banana) steams to victory in Leicester at the end of a 165km stage in the English Midlands.
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Snow in the City

Just before the snow hit my home city of Cardiff pretty hard the other week, I headed to London by train and bike. Not to escape it (honest!) but to shoot pictures and do a bit of networking at the Outdoor/Cycle/Boat show at the Excel in the docklands.

After a couple of days cooped in at the expo I’d had quite enough, so my mate, with whom I was staying, and I, took a walk in the snow. First port of call was Greenwich Park where the meridian and observatory is. The place was heaving with kids and adults and sledges. It’s unusual to have extensive snow cover in the UK’s capital and also to fall on a weekend so everyone was making the most of the opportunity.

Slopes covered in people enjoying the weekend snow at Greenwich Park, London, in the shadow of the Royal Observatory.

Slopes covered in people enjoying the weekend snow at Greenwich Park, London, in the shadow of the Royal Observatory.


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