Celebrating Life – MI +5

If you have read my blog before you will know that, at the age of 38, I suffered a myocardial infarction (MI, better known as a heart attack).  It was caused by a combination of bad habits – a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, smoking and a general lack of exercise.  That was five years ago and I have come along way since that hospital bed in Scotland, completely turning my life around by taking up cycling and running.

I don’t want anybody to have to go through what I did on the fateful day in April 2011.  Through my involvement with the Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Campaign, I’ve been sharing my story to encourage others to become active, whilst offering hope and inspiration to other heart failure patients that there is a future after such life changing events.

To mark the 5th anniversary of my MI and raise awareness of Heart Failure I’ve set myself a few challenges for April and May: –

#ChampionsWearOrange

I’ll be in my bright orange OS GetOutside kit for all four rides, do please say hello if you see me!

The main event is London to Paris, I leave Greenwich at 4pm on Saturday 30th and need to arrive at the Eiffel Tower before 4pm on the Sunday (70 miles to Newhaven for the four hour night ferry crossing to Dieppe and then 120 miles to Paris).

Paris

Whilst awareness of Heart Disease/Failure and getting people more active is my main driving force, I would like to raise much needed funds for Pumping Marvellous, a heart charity that represents the needs of nearly one million heart failure patients and just as importantly the patients families, at the same time.

If you would like to help the fight against heart failure – 20% of the adult population in the UK will be touched by heart failure and heart disease at sometime in their life – please donate to Pumping Marvellous by visiting my Just Giving page www.justgiving.com/coeurcycliste

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Behind the scenes with Ordnance Survey

It’s a practice that has taken place for over a century, people across Great Britain have grabbed Ordnance Survey (OS) maps, unfolded them and then scanned across the beloved grid squares searching out the familiar symbols we all learnt in school – roads, rivers, woods, churches, youth hostels, trig points, train stations, parking, contour lines etc.

All of this detail is vital to help you plan your next adventure and to navigate on the day – Where are you going to park? What feature are you going to take a bearing off? Where might you stop for a spot of lunch?

Ordnance Survey Explorer Map
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map of Great Malvern with the familiar symbols

Have you ever stopped to think about how all this detail gets onto the map in the first place and more importantly how does it get updated?  I spent a day and a half with Dom Turnor, a Surveyor with the OS, finding out how the master map of Great Britain is updated and how often.  I make no apologies for the length of this post as I believe it is deserved given the subject matter and the privileged access given to me by OS.

Dom is one of approximately 250 field surveyors across the country and is responsible for the Malvern District, which is part of the Wales and West Central region.  His district is long and thin from the county borders of Worcestershire and Shropshire in the north, down to Cheltenham in the south, as highlighted in the image below.

Malvern District - Wales and West Central
Malvern District – Wales and West Central showing Land Registry Customer Orders

Due to the size and shape of the District, Dom plans his work into economic packages, saving time, fuel and the environment.  I joined him for this planning on Monday afternoon at his home office where he explained the systems, processes and different types of surveying tasks he undertakes on a daily basis.

You may be surprised to learn that OS make approximately 10,000 changes to the master map every day and aim to capture all major change within 6 months of it happening. Each of these changes start as a field customer order which are generated from numerous sources such as HM Land Registry, Local Councils, Surveyors, OS HQ, third party suppliers etc.  Whilst there are multiple categories for these orders the majority will fall into one of four categories: –

  • Prestige sites – Sporting venues, Large shopping centres.
  • Land Registry – Survey requisitions for boundaries and land access
  • Total Revision – Changes such as construction works, house building
  • Derived Products – The symbols identifying locations and services

The field customer orders are downloaded on a regular basis to the surveyors computer and then “taken-up” to show that a surveyor is assigned to the order. As I would be spending the following day with Dom, he had selected a range of orders from the various categories, with the exception of the Prestige Sites as these are generally complex by nature.  For example the redevelopment of the racecourse in Cheltenham took several full days to survey.

Our customer orders for the following day were: –

  1. Land Registry –  boundary survey between two private properties requested by HM Land Registry so that the deeds to the properties could be updated.
  2. Total Revision – a new Sainsbury’s Local supermarket has recently been built and opened in Malvern.  The store and surrounding area needs to be surveyed and added to the master map.
  3. Land Registry – query over the precise location and boundaries of an electric sub station in Malvern.
  4. Total Revision – several new housing estates and notifications of potential building works in the Malvern area.  These would be initial visits to ascertain the stage of the building works, if any.
  5. Derived Products – a selection of locations and services that we would check were still there as we were passing them.

I met Dom on the Tuesday morning and after a few admin tasks we set off for the first land registry job, as it relates to private property I won’t go into much detail, albeit to say that we met the land owners, surveyed the fence line and boundary identified in the request, along with several photographs from requested viewpoints.

With the land registry job complete, we headed off for the new Sainsbury’s Local in Buttercup Walk, Malvern.

Sainsbury's Local Malvern
New Sainsbury’s Local, 30 Buttercup Walk, Malvern, WR14 1NR

I was surprised and delighted when Dom said that he would let me survey the store! As you can see from the photo above, the store is essentially a rectangular box, with a car park, several fences and landscaped areas.

With the wide open space this is an ideal area to use GPS, the Global Positioning System – a network of satellites in a precise orbit constantly transmitting signals to Earth.  Essentially a GPS receiver compares the time a signal was transmitted by a satellite with the time it is received, it is this time difference between the signals that tells the GPS receiver how far away the satellite is.  Once the receiver picks up more than three signals it can start to triangulate its position, the more satellites it picks up the more precise the location will be. The OS has a beginners guide to GPS if you would like more detail.

Most of us are probably familiar with GPS receivers and have used one in some form or another, with receivers in sat navs, smartphones, activity tracking devices and handheld navigation devices. These devices are generally accurate to within 5 to 10 metres 95% of the time.  Whilst this level of accuracy is sufficient for consumer use, it is not precise enough for detailed mapping. Therefore, each OS Surveyor has a state of the art Leica GS15 GPS receiver, mounted on a 1.8 metre pole and connected to the surveyors laptop via bluetooth and to the cellular phone network.

Surveying with the Panasonic Toughbook computer and Leica GS15 GPS Receiver
Surveying in Malvern with the Panasonic Toughbook laptop and a Leica GS15 GPS Receiver

With the equipment setup and connected Dom handed it over to me, I planted the GPS pole on the first corner of the car park, ensured it was level, waited for it to acquire the satellites (we managed to receive signals from 14 satellites), I watched the accuracy/quality of the signal improve to 0.01 (I believe that means an accuracy of 1cm!) and clicked on measure.  A dot appeared at our location on the map, we moved on to the next corner, waited for the accuracy to be less than 0.10, click another dot, then a line appeared joining the dots, move to the next corner, click, another dot, and so on until we had the complete outline of the car park.  Next came the curved kerbs of the entrance to the car park, selecting the curved line tool I measured several points around the kerbs.  Next up was the fencing and footpaths around the site.  With all the landscaping and ground work complete it was time to survey and plot the buildings location.

To get an accurate location with GPS the receiver needs a clear view of the sky, up until this point we were getting very accurate measurements, as we went closer to the walls of the building the accuracy dropped to an unacceptable level.  Therefore to obtain the locations of each corner, we measured a point along the line of each wall, as close as possible with an acceptable accuracy level.  When you have six of these measurements (two at each of three corners) you can join the survey points with lines (the same as plotting the kerb line of the car park), these lines will intersect at each of the four corners giving you the outline of the building. At this point we had a complete plan of the area made up of multiple polygons on the map.

The next stage is to attribute each of these polygons to define what it actually is, this does not need to be done on site.  As it was approaching midday, we decided on an early working lunch somewhere in the warm.

With a steak and stilton baguette in hand and a warming mug of coffee, we fired up the laptop and started to attribute the polygons we had plotted.  This is where detail is important, for example a path isn’t the same as a pavement (a pavement is on the side of the road, whereas a path goes through an open area), next is the surface sealed or unsealed? likewise a verge can only be used for the side of a public road and not the edge of a car park.  The last attribute to assign is to set the Sainsbury’s building as a functional site (retail) and add the road number to it.  The number on the building must be aligned to the road it is on. The image below shows the final result of our survey.

OS GIS Software - Surveying
OS GIS Software – Surveying and adding Sainsbury’s to the master map

Having eaten and warmed up, with went off in search of the Old Hollow electrical sub station.  The sub station is located up a small dirt track surrounded by tall trees, we attempted to get a GPS location, but as expected the accuracy was out by over three metres due to the trees. Without GPS it was back to the trusty tape measure, line of sight and measuring from other features already plotted on the map.

Old Hollow Electrical Sub Station, Malvern
Old Hollow Electrical Sub Station, a 6.2m square fenced off enclosure in amongst the trees.

Next on our list were several sites that have been marked for new construction works.  There were no signs of any work on any of these three sites. However, this isn’t unusual as planning permission can be granted but the developers do not necessarily start immediately.  Although we did locate two new housing estates being built in Welland. It is important to keep on top of these sites, especially new housing estates as it is quicker and easier to survey a buildings foundation with accurate GPS signals before the walls are built.

Last on the list were several Derived Products, these are the familiar symbols across the map, we didn’t get the opportunity to check many of these as surveying the sub station took longer than expected. A viewpoint, such as the Worcestershire Beacon on top of the Malvern Hills, is extremely unlikely to change.  However, items such as telephone boxes are being decommissioned and removed on a regular basis.  Although most are removed they are also being re-roled for other purposes, such as housing defibrillators or in the case of one in Malvern, a library/book exchange.  Therefore just driving past a telephone box isn’t enough to check that it is still in use.

Having finished the field surveying, we returned to Dom’s house to fill out the paperwork for the land registry surveys, upload our changes to the main OS servers in Southampton and submit the completed field customers orders and paperwork.

I’m now going to be checking the online OS Maps and iPhone OS Maps app daily looking for these changes to appear.  I can now officially say “I’ve put Sainsbury’s on the map”

I can’t thank Dom and the Ordnance Survey enough for showing me a peek behind the scenes, there is so much more detail that I could have added but I wanted to keep it to an overview of the day. I hope that this post gives you an insight into the role of a OS Surveyor and that you found it as informative and enjoyable as I have researching it and writing it.

I am now wishing that I asked to do this for work experience back at school and a pursued a full time career as a Surveyor…

 

New Year, New Challenges

In the words of John Lennon another year over and a new one just begun, let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear… war is over.”   That war may be over, but my war against heart disease is just beginning…

This year will be my fifth since my myocardial infarction (heart attack), the memories of that day are still so vivid that it seems like only yesterday, yet I have come so far in those five years.

So much so, that I am going to celebrate with a year of challenges, honouring my #GetOutside pledge to Ordnance Survey and raising funds for Pumping Marvellous (my chosen heart charity).  Hopefully, inspiring others to get off the sofa and make a difference along the way.

My current challenges:-

All Year – 366 Day RunStreak, I’m running at least one mile everyday, I started this RunStreak on the 1st November, it’s day 64 with 118 miles of running.

February – OS Spin Insanity Sportive, 57 Mile cycle ride in Hampshire.

April – London to Paris, 190 mile (300km) cycle ride from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich to the Eiffel Tower in less than 24 hours.

May – Taunton Flyer Sportive – just a fortnight after L2P24, its back on the bike for a 111 mile cycle ride around the World War 2 airfields of Somerset and Devon.

June – Walk to the summit of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), the highest peak in England and Wales.

View to the East from the summit of Snowdon towards Llyn Llydaw

July – British London 10k Run – (6.8 miles) run around the closed streets of Central London. My first ever running event (other than a fun run as a seven year old in 1979 – I don’t think that counts)

August to December are yet to be decided, suggestions welcome in the comments below or through my Contact Me page.

I’m doing these challenges to raise funds for charity, please help my fight against heart disease by donating to Pumping Marvellous through my JustGiving page.

Thank you in advance!

 

Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion

I am excited, proud and amazed to be able to announce that I’ve been chosen as an Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion and have this fantastic opportunity to be able to inspire others to get outside and become fit and active.

OS Trig PointA new day, endless possibilities…

… let’s make 2016 a year to remember by getting outside and active.

You can start by making a pledge on the OS website, mine is: –

To mark the 5th year since my Heart Attack, I pledge to cycle to Paris from London in under 24 hours and to run at least a mile every day for the next 366 days – (Dan Grant – 31st October 2015)

 

 

 

#Run366 – A mile a day

Something strange happened on All Hallows’ Eve, I’m not quite sure what really occurred but somehow I was seduced by the “dark” side and I entered a challenge that does not involve a bike…

I’ve been following the UKSportsChat community on Twitter, which is made up of four fitness groups UKRunChat, UKCycleChat, UKSwimChat and UKTriChat. A separate hour of the week is put aside for each group in which related topics are discussed.  These vary from upcoming events, nutrition, fitness, goals, advice, etc. in fact you can ask any question you like, just add the relevant hashtag i.e #UKRunChat to your tweet.  Although, you might want to turn your twitter notifications off in advance as you are likely to get a lot of responses.

You will be surprised at what gets discussed, last week it was peanut butter of all things, we even had the peanut butter manufacturer Whole Earth Foods join the conversation – whilst I’m sidetracked by peanut butter – have a look at this recipe for Peanut Butter and Banana Ice Cream. I will leave the debate about whether peanut butter is good or bad for heart disease to a later date and/or the comments section, all I will say is I need to consider fuelling for the exercise I’m going to be doing that day and everything in moderation… I think the occasional spoonful of peanut butter will be ok for me, I just need to keep an eye on my salt intake.

Sorry, I digress… back to running.  It was on Halloween night that I read about #Run366 on UKRunChat.  Several of the run chat team had met up with the runner Ron Hill, who has run at least one mile every day for the last 50 years! Following that meeting they were inspired to challenge themselves to run every day for the next year. 2016 is a leap year so #Run366 was born and they invited the run chat community to join them with the tag line “no pressure, no prizes, just a bit of fun”

I thought it sounded like an excellent challenge, one that I should be able to achieve around work commitments and would motivate me to get out regardless of the weather.

So on Sunday the 1st November I became a runner and started my #Run366 streak with an easy mile.  I’m not the fastest by any stretch of the imagination, with an average pace of 12 minute miles but its early days and I need to watch my heart rate.  Like cycling up hills, if my heart rate gets too high I need to walk for a short period.  I’m hoping that as the seasons change I will progress and the distance will increase whilst the walking decreases.

Autumn Two Mile Run
Autumn, the first of my four seasons, hopefully the pace will be faster in the winter.

I’m now nine days into my RunStreak and have covered 13 miles so far, not bad for a cyclist! To help me with the motivation and to run whatever the weather, I announced my intentions on Twitter and added it to my charity fund-raising page. This has resulted in some very kind donations, now when the snow starts falling and its minus something degrees outside it’s the thought of these donations that will ensure I’m out the door and running.

Please consider supporting me in this challenge by donating to Pumping Marvellous on my JustGiving page. It would be very much appreciated by Pumping Marvellous,  the heart patients they support across the country and myself.

Now should I follow @UKTriChat and where’s the best place to buy a wetsuit?

REVIEW:- Temple Cycles – Leather Lock-on Ergo Grips

I’ve been riding my Brompton for over 18 months and with my average Brompton ride being approximately 8 miles, I’ve been looking into replacing the standard foam grips for something that will ease the discomfort on my palms. Having researched various different options I decided to go with a pair of leather grips from Temple Cycles.

Temple Cycles are a niche producer of bespoke and traditional steel framed bicycles, each one is built to order and all have that classic retro look. In addition to the bikes they have a range of accessories that complement that classic look, the Lock-On Ergo Grips are part of their leather collection.

TC_Lbar1

The grips are made from an acrylic sleeve wrapped in Italian leather, which is lovely and soft to the touch, aluminium bar ends, alloy locking clamps and stitched seams. The are available in two colours Honey (a light tan) and Chestnut (a dark brown), as you can see I went for the Chestnut.

TC-LBar5

The hardest part of fitting the grips to the Brompton was removing the standard grips. I was hoping to remove them without damaging them, but the glue was too strong and I had to resort to cutting them off.

With the foam grips removed and the glue cleaned up, it was a case of sliding the new grips onto the bar, it was a little tight, but with a twisting and pushing motion the grips slid on.  I needed to move the right hand brake lever about 5mm towards the centre of the bar to make enough room for the grip to fully fit. Once on and in position you just need to tighten two allen screws on each grip, you will need a 3mm and 4mm allen key. The locking mechanism is simple, but very effective, the grips don’t slip or slide around at all.

TC_Lbar4

TC_LBar3

The extra width of the Ergo grip provides that much needed support for the palm of my hand, which has increased the comfort levels dramatically for me.  Previously I would nearly always wear padded gloves to ride the Brompton over longer distances, now I just love the feel of that soft leather. In fact, it makes me want to ride the Brompton more than ever.

If you are looking at replacing your standard Brompton grips or any other set of grips/bike for that matter, I can recommend these grips for style, quality, ease of fitting and more importantly comfort.  So far, the only thing I can find to fault them on is that I would have preferred the 3mm allen screw the other way up, so that I could see the screw head rather than a small hole, but that is purely down to aesthetics and a mild case of OCD on my part!

TC_Brompton

The leather and design really suits the Brompton, I especially like the stitching and it seems right to install a British made grip (albeit Italian leather) on a British classic bicycle. I just need that matching Brooks saddle….

Avro Vulcan Photoshoot

The delta winged Avro Vulcan, the UK’s once nuclear bomber, will take it’s last flight in October 2015. When the last airworthy Vulcan, XH558, lands at Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster for the final time it will truly be the end of an era for British aviation.

Whilst we will never again hear the famous Vulcan howl as it roars overhead, wowing the crowds with its graceful moves, it is still possible to get close to these impressive bombers. XH558 will be kept in active ground running order, carrying out fast taxi runs at Robin Hood Airport and while another Vulcan, XM655, has been pulling in the crowds since 1997 with her annual fast taxi runs at Wellesbourne Mountford airfield in Warwickshire.

Avro Vulcan XM655 - Dan Grant
Avro Vulcan XM655 at Wellesbourne Mountford, Warwickshire, UK

Vulcan XM655 is cared for by the 655 Maintenance and Preservation Society (MaPS) and is the youngest surviving Vulcan of the 136 that were produced, being the third but last off the production line in 1964.  She retired from active service in 1984 and landed at Wellesbourne later that year.  She remained untouched until the late 1990’s when 655 MaPs was formed with the aim of returning her to active ground running.

The volunteers of 655 MaPs give up most of their Saturdays to maintaining and preserving her for future generations and keeping her active for as long as possible, many of these volunteers are ex-RAF personnel who served on Vulcans.

XM655 is open to visitors on Saturdays between 10am and 4pm where you can take a look around the aircraft, take photos and even get a tour of the cockpit for a small donation.  Cockpit tours are free for members of XM655MaPs on production of their membership card.  Annual membership, at the time of writing, is £15 – more details are available on the XM655 website.

Another way of getting up close to the most powerful surviving Vulcan bomber at Wellesbourne is through special events. I attended one of these events on Saturday, organised by TimeLine Events and facilitated by 655MaPs, making the aircraft available for an afternoon and late evening photoshoot.  All of the photos in this post were taken by me during this one photoshoot.

The weather forecast for Saturday afternoon was heavy rain, although it would hopefully be drying up during the evening.  I arrived at Wellesbourne at 3pm with full wet weather gear, camera (including a new rain cover) and a tripod. The rain was hitting the windscreen and the cars wipers were on full, I pulled onto the airfield at Loxley Lane close to XM655’s hard standing area and onto a grass area set aside of parking, hoping that the rain would stop so that we would stand a chance of getting all the cars off the field.

It was a wet dreary autumnal October day, nevertheless the volunteers of 655MaPs had been working hard throughout the morning and in the rain preparing the aircraft and the site just for a group of people to take some photos. Not forgetting the hog roast stand from Food Yule Love selling the all important cups of coffee (and tea), jacket potatoes, pulled pork rolls complete with stuffing and apple sauce.

Wellesbourne is an active airfield and they had agreed to close the taxi way from the main runway in front of the hard standing.  The Vulcan had been moved onto the taxi way, with towing arm, genuine tug along with the ground power/generator.

Avro Vulcan XM655 - Dan Grant
XM655 on the main taxi way at Wellesbourne Mountford

Following a safety briefing, an outline of the days events and with the rain easing off we set about taking our photographs.

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XM655 service and access equipment was on hand to get different vantage points.

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Just as I made to the top of the access stairs viewing platform the sun broke through the clouds and made an appearance, allowing me to capture the aircraft in a late afternoon golden light with the oranges, yellows and reds of autumn foliage as the backdrop.

Avro Vulcan XM655 - TimeLine Events Photoshoot

A group of re-enactors, dressed in period clothing were on hand to make the scenes that little bit more authentic, replicating the 1960’s/70’s when the Avro Vulcan was a nuclear deterrent and maintained in a readiness state known as Quick Reaction Alert (QRA)

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Avro Vulcan XM655 - Getting ready for take-off

With the sun setting behind us the clouds started to break leaving a lovely clear sky as the new backdrop, Neil Cave and his team from TimeLine Events setup the lights illuminating XM655 from various angles.

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Towards the end of the evening, XM655’s Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) was fired up and her navigation, anti-collision and landing lights were switched on for that unique photo opportunity, giving the impression that XM655 was again on Quick Reaction Alert and at any moment she would taxi off to the runway and off into the night skies….

IMG_7200

Even with the rain it was an excellent day, in fact without the rain I wouldn’t have taken my best photo of the day, XM655 in the evening sun with it’s reflection in the standing water (first photo in this post).  The only negative thing I can say about the whole experience was that there seemed to be too much emphasis on setting the scene with the re-enactors, whilst they do make the scene, I would have preferred the opportunity to take more shots of just the aircraft.

I would recommend this type of photoshoot/event to anyone interested in aviation photography.

A selection of my XM655 photos are on Flickr

Why I’m Supporting Pumping Marvellous

Six weeks ago I started the CoeurCycliste blog and social media accounts with the aim of raising awareness of heart disease, with the hope that I can prevent someone else from having a Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack) due to their lifestyle choices.

On Twitter, I began following various heart charities and foundations, especially as I had just started my random monthly coffee money donations. Out of all of the charities I followed the Pumping Marvellous Foundation, a patient led Heart Failure charity in the UK, was the only one to reach out to me and take an interest in me and what I was doing.

Pumping Marvellous

Over the next couple of weeks, without me asking, Pumping Marvellous promoted my blog and  introduced me to fellow heart patients. Some of who had also taken up the challenge to fight heart disease through running and cycling raising funds for charity.  I was very impressed with the work they are doing and what it offers its beneficiaries, some of which are listed here: –

  1. Supporting – heart failure patients, family, friends and carers
  2. Advocacy – representing the opinions and needs of heart failure patients
  3. Self Management – help on how to self manage a heart condition
  4. Partnership – working with clinicians and decision makers to improve the care for people with heart failure
  5. Access – working with stakeholders in heart failure towards universal access of the best drugs and interventions
  6. Awareness – key to increasing the quality of care

As a result of this one single connection I have met one of my aims, offering HOPE to real heart patients that there is a future after such a life changing event.

I previously supported the British Heart Foundation and raised just over £1600 for them in a couple of cycle rides.  Please don’t get me wrong, the British Heart Foundation are doing fantastic work in the field of research. However, I now feel that the smaller charities need funding just as much, if not more so. Especially those working hand in hand with patients and families at what can be one of the most difficult periods in someones life.

More out of interest than any real need I looked at the public annual accounts submitted to Companies House for both the British Heart Foundation and Pumping Marvellous for the last reporting year (March 2014).  The BHF income for the period was £275 million whilst Pumping Marvellous income was just £103,500.  I now really wish that I chosen to support them earlier, my £1600 would have equated to nearly 1.6% of income compared to the 0.0006% of the BHF income.

I am proud to be a supporter of and fundraiser for Pumping Marvellous, they cannot do the much needed and valued work without funds.  Therefore, I have challenged myself to cycle from London to Paris in less than 24 hours.  This challenge coincides with the 5th anniversary of my heart attack, it’s not going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination, but that’s what makes it a challenge.

It would be fantastic if you could help me and Pumping Marvellous by making a donation. Knowing that people have given their support and hard earned money makes each mile (I’ve got 190 of them to cover) that little bit easier!  If you would like to donate you can do so on my JustGiving page or if you are in the UK you can text DANG72 followed by either £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070

 

Please donate, however small, it will mean so much to both Pumping Marvellous and myself.

Go on, you know you want to 🙂

Thank you in advance!   Please note – I am self funding the challenge, so all of the money donated will go to Pumping Marvellous.

For more detailed information please take a look at the Pumping Marvellous website and twitter feed on how they are helping not only patients but their families, friends and carers as well.

Dan (@CoeurCycliste) – Fundraising for Pumping Marvellous

Dan

Remain active over the winter, get outside and enjoy yourself.

With the temperature starting to drop, the evenings getting darker and the sportive season drawing to a close many people will be thinking of packing the bike and cycling kit away for the winter.  If this is you, please think again, you can easily continue to ride throughout the winter, you just need to plan ahead.

The change in conditions means that you aren’t likely to get a personal best or be hitting your highest average speeds. So enjoy the slower pace, grab a map, a camera and go out exploring, turn down that road you always pass, find new routes and the enjoy the views and ride.

I came across this lovely little lane, with it’s tunnel effect of trees and leaf covered verges, completely by accident one day whilst out cycling.

Autumn Lane

Another day, I got to enjoy a frosty morning with the mist slowly being burnt away by the rising sun, casting long shadows as I cycled through this avenue of oak trees.

Autumn Morning

The low evening sun with it’s golden light illuminating the landscape, gives you that added incentive to climb up through the valley to find the highest vantage point.

The Meon Valley from Harvesting Lane, Butser Hill

“There is no such thing as the wrong type of weather,  just the wrong choice in clothing” – I can’t remember who said it or where I first heard it, but it is so true.

Plan ahead, check the weather forecast and dress accordingly. You may need to invest in some winter specific bike clothing, but it’s money well spent. I would say at a minimum you should have a windstopper jacket, lightweight showerproof jacket (that you can pack away into a jersey pocket), a pair of roubaix lined bib tights, overshoes, full finger gloves, neck warmer/buff and a windproof skull cap.   If you’re looking for a skull cap I would recommend the Pearl Izumi Barrier Skull Cap, it’s the best for keeping your head and more importantly your ears warm!

Talking about the wind, its generally going to be stronger during the autumn and winter months. Plan your route accordingly and head out into the wind, that way you will have a tailwind for the return leg making the second half of your ride easier. If you want a quick and easy way of checking the general wind direction and speed, take a look at Earth it’s a virtualisation of global weather conditions that is updated every three hours.

Earth: A Global Map of Weather Condtions

If you have the right clothing you can just about tackle any weather conditions, the only time I won’t ride is if it is icy.  Wear what you think is appropriate for the conditions, but think layers.  It’s easy to take off a layer if you get too hot.

I’ve even cycled to the top of Butser Hill (the highest hill in the South Downs) in the snow.

Selfie at the top of a snowy Butser Hill

Again, think layers, here I’m wearing bib tights, a thermal long sleeve base layer, a normal cycling jersey, windstopper jacket, lightweight showerproof jacket, buff and skull cap.  If anything I was probably too warm climbing, but remember it’s colder on the descent.

The top of Harvesting Lane, Butser Hill
The top of Harvesting Lane, Butser Hill

The last item to consider is your bike.  You can ride any bike over the winter, but think about the effect the water and salt will have on the components over time.  I rode my normal road bike over the first winter, but ended up having to replace the headset and a wheel (quick release skewer seized in the hub) so I generally do pack it away and use my old mountain bike over the winter unless it’s dry and sunny. The most important thing is to clean and lubricate the bike after every winter ride if you want to keep it running smoothly and maintain the components.

Harvesting Lane, Butser Hill in the Snow

With my London to Paris ride coming up in April next year I’m going to need to put the training miles in over the winter so ideally I need a road bike for the winter.  I could have gone out a bought a winter road bike, but over my time cycling I have gained a nice collection of spares as certain parts have been upgraded.

I went out I bought a second hand frameset, a cheap set of bars, a stem and a saddle for approx £95 and built up my own winter trainer bike, the only item left for me to do now is add some mudguards and maybe look for a good set of winter tyres.

My Winter Trainer
My Winter Trainer

If you haven’t got a collection of spares, look at the second hand market, there’s some great deals to be had.  Just check the frame is in good condition, look for any dings and dents, rust etc, ask the seller if it’s had any crashes and check the frame/serial number of any potential purchase against a database of stolen bikes, such as Check That Bike and Bike Register

Remember it doesn’t need to cost a fortune, it’s a bike for all those days when the conditions aren’t suitable for your best bike.

The main point is to remain active over the winter, get outside and enjoy yourself.