Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Christmas on a penny farthing

This is a picture of me dressed for my commute to work on Christmas eve. The journey was great, I must have riden most of it one handed as every car and person I saw waved at me so I waved back. I even got a wave of a policeman.
I also managed to do the Worcester St Johns time trial on the penny in my santa suit on Boxing day. My time was very slow, but it was great fun. A short video clip of me in action can be seen here, It was taken by Mark, who rode the TT on a single speed mtb geared to 54" the same as my penny. I lost the race Mark did 34mins something and I did 49 mins ! So these new fangled safty bikes are faster, but they will never catch on....

Monday, 3 December 2007


What a joke! A suspected drugs cheat, someone who has served a ban for missing three drugs tests, is in the final 10 for this, Christine Ohuruogu missed a number of drug tests and served a short ban but is now able to compete again and could win this award.

In my eyes the only reason a professional sports person would miss a test is because they have something to hide. It's a joke. When you know your carear and reputation depend on it, surely you just get tested and then go home. To miss one test is careless, to miss three is unexcusable. It would be like me just forgeting to go to work, three times....

As I understand it she blames her missing the THIRD test on a change to her training schedule, but for me there is no excuse. She is one of the most fortunate people in the world to have a natural talant for sport and all she had to do was to turn up for a few tests. Now the BBC want to reward her for making a comeback!

Not only can she run again in little local events she is also able to run for her country in the Olympic games after she won an appeal to be able to do so.

I suppose the fact that she has a good chance of winning a gold medal in the Olympics has quite a lot to do with her return to sport, If she was just a mediocre cyclist you can be sure the ban would have been longer and the press would have buried her, and taken great pleasure in doing so.

If she is clean and did just forget to get tested or something then sorry Christine, your not a drugs cheat, just a stupid idiot, whose lack of respect for her sport should have seen her banned anyway.

Sports Personality voting:
1. Joe Calzaghe 177,748 (28.19%)
2. Lewis Hamilton 122,649 (19.45%)
3. Ricky Hatton 85,280 (13.53%)
4. James Toseland 84,570 (13.41%)
5. Jason Robinson 67,061 (10.64%)
6. Paula Radcliffe 34,895 (5.53%)
7. Jonny Wilkinson 30,302 (4.81%)
8. Andy Murray 13,242 (2.1%)
9. Justin Rose 10,227 (1.62%)
10. Christine Ohuruogu 4,481 (0.71%)
Total votes: 630,455

Excellent news, the drugs don't work. Last place to Christine, although it looks like Ohuruogu has 4481 friends. I was also pleased that Hamilton didn't win as his team have been caught cheating quite a few times this year, although not with drugs. Oh and well done Calzaghe!

Friday, 30 November 2007

Evel Knievel dies

I've just found out that my hero, Evel Knievel has died. A sad, sad day. Evel was fantastic I can't really believe he's gone, after surviving crash after crash and a liver transplant I had started to believe that Evel was going to live forever.

It's getting quite late here but I'm going to come back to this post over the next few days and add some of my favorite Evel stories. For now all I can say is thanks for the memories Evel, and take care if you try to jump the gates of heaven!

update 1, Sat 1st Dec

I rode my motorbike to work today, a Yamaha xt660x, a bike that Evel would have approved of. I wore an Evel Knievel T shirt too. My route to and from work was chosen with Evel in mind. On the way I took a detour to go over my favourite hump back bridge..... On the way back I came through the city centre so that I had wheelie opportunities from traffic lights.

Anyway, as I said last night here are the some of the best Evel stories that come to mind, in no particular order, Enjoy!

1, Early in Evels daredevil days he performed a stunt where he would stand facing a motorcycle which would travel towards him at 50mph. Evel would then jump up in the air and the bike and rider would go underneath him. However, it didn't always work. On one occasion Evels timing was off and the bike hit him, as Evel lay on the ground he was covered with a blanket and was presumed dead. In fact he had "only" broken a few ribs. This was way back in 1966.

2, When Evel tried to jump 13 buses at Wembley he hit the last one and crashed. As normal, he broke various bones but he was up faster than a footballer with a slight graze to the knee, and then told the crowd he would never jump again. On the way to the hospital his agent asked him what happened. Evels answer was something like this, "Well my mother always told me to catch the last bus...".

3, That last quotes not bad but my favourite Evel quote has to be this one made as he is about to jump snake river canyon in a rocket powered bike. Evel knew he had no chance of making it to the other side, the three previous unmaned test flights had all failed and Evel had run out of money for further tests. However, as Evel had told his public that he would do the jump backing out was not an option. As Evel pressed the launch button he said, "God take care of me, 'cause here I come!" HERO.

4, I'm going to be doing this post for weeks, there is just so much to tell about Evel! Another good tale is one that landed Evel in prision. In short the story goes something like this. A guy called Sheldon Saltman wrote a book on Evel. Evel said the book contained lies about him and he wasn't happy about the content. To put this right Evel went round to see Saltman and broke both of his arms with a baseball bat. In latter interviews Evel Said things like, "It's hard to type lies when both of your arms are in casts" and also described Saltman as "the rottenest apple in the barrel and he deserved killing." Evel accepted blame and told the courts the truth about what had happened. When sentencing him the judge said he appreciated Evels honesty, but he could not encourage such behaviour. He was sentenced to six months inside. His jail sentence didn't please the toy companies, they said "All American Heros aren't suppossed to go to jail".

5, Evel was the best stuntman of all time and he knew it, he often said, "I don't care about these other so called jumpers. They don't compare to me. I'm the guy who invented car jumping."

6, When sitting in hospital after a failed jump, I forget which one, Evel confided in a friend and told him he knew he was not going to be able to make the jump. When asked why he went through with it Evels response was "What the hell was I supposed to do, give them their money back?" This guy was so tough!

The stories just go on and on. My advice to you is to go and buy the book Evel Incarnate by Steve Mandich. Good bye Evel, I'll miss you.

Monday, 26 November 2007


Well the weather was good and I ran myself into the ground to avoid last place. Provisional results can be found on . I finished 185th out of 226. So I beat 41 people and my bike split time wasn't the slowest either.
For those who are interested, here are some stats.
winners time 42mins 54seconds.
my time 68mins 28seconds.
last place 89mins 30seconds.
my bike time was 39mins 35seconds, 6 people were slower!
My tactic for the race was always to run the first 2 miles as quickly as posible. This went quite well although I did have a few costume problems. My trousers kept falling down and my stick on facial hair got up my nose so my time of 13mins 52seconds for two miles, including change over onto the bike, was pretty good.
The bike leg was 5 laps of Castle Combe race track, which is roughly 10 miles in total. It's ideal for a bike leg as the circuit is pan flat and as smooth as silk. The other advantage is that it has no traffic on it so it's quite safe. I had some good support from the other competitors and the supporters durring my 39 odd minutes. I was cheered on by Les Bailey who is a family friend and very usefull runner and triathlete. Les had run in the earlier 10k race and had stayed on to give me some support which was great and I really appreciated it. Out of interest Les, who is at least 70 years old, ran the 10k in 46minutes and has won loads of international triathlons in his age group.
The final run was, as is always the case, very hard. For me it was quite good to have slower runners to catch up and I managed to pass about 6 people. I crossed the line in 1hr 8mins and 28seconds. I had aimed for 1hr 10mins so I was pleased with my time and I am sure that I couldn't have gone any faster as by the end I was feeling very rough!
So another event gets completed on the penny farthing, now I am starting to think about doing the big one next year, Lands end to John O'Groats.......

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Much Wenlock Olympian games video clip

I've just found a video clip of me in action at the Much Wenlock Olympian games. The whole video is 11mins 57secs long, the veteran cycle race coverage starts at about 8mins 45 secs. Also on the video is a bit on the 7 mile road running race, 6mins in, which my Dad took part in. Anyway here is the link. enjoy!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

The Thai - Burma railway

Last night I went to watch and listen to a world war II veteran, Fred Seiker, who was a POW working on the Thai Burma railway. I can't begin to describe what suffering this man has been through, It's a miricle that any of the POW's survived at all. Take a look at this link to an article written by Fred Seiker for more details.

Back on the penny farthing front, my trainning for the duathlon at Castle combe on the 25th Nov is going ok at best. I've managed to do something to my back and riding my normal road bike is quite painful. It doesn't hurt at all to run and I can only feel it slightly when on the penny, so hopefully It will be ok. There are almost 200 people entered in the duathlon now so I may not come last. This time last year I did the event on my time trial bike and finished in 55minutes, Using the penny I think It will take me about 1hr 10minutes. Last year this would have been well inside last place so hopefully I will be ok!

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Penny gets the horn!

I've just come back from a classic motorbike show at Malvern where I managed to buy a horn for the penny farthing. There were loads of nice bikes at the show, I've put some more photos on flickr, so if you're interested take a look. The rest of my weekend has been pretty good, I got a copy of cycling weekly on Saturday and I was listed in the cyclocross results. Only a 10th place in a local event but even so it was nice to see my name on the pages of the magazine. I've been concentrating on improving my running fitness rather than riding the penny so I've no penny stories to tell but hopefully if I can do ok in the two running legs at the duathlon me and the penny will not come last!

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Chilly duathlon 25th Nov

I've just entered this event at castle combe, so far there are 128 other competitors registered and I would guess that all of these will be riding a bike with two wheels that are the same size! I would also expect the other bikes to have gears and brakes that work, but where's the fun in that?

I like to have a few events to look forward to in the winter as I find it can be a dark and depressing time. Today was the first day this year that I have had to deal with daylight saving. This is someones bright idea to put the clocks back an hour in the winter so that we can all get to come home from work in the dark. Today wasn't too bad as I finish at 4pm on a Sunday but in the week I will be riding home in the dark at 5.30pm. I really don't like the dark long nights, I can put up with the cold and wet but the dark gets to me....

Friday, 26 October 2007

Sue's wedding, round 2

My sister Sue has managed to get married to Simon! Take a look back through this blog to see why the wedding was delayed untill now....We had much better weather in October than in July and the whole day went really well. The next day was not so plesent as I had a pretty nasty hang over....

On the penny farthing front I am about to send off my entry for another duathlon and plan to use the penny for the bike leg. I'm not expecting to do a great time as I have let my training slip after doing the coast to coast last month. Even so I've got untill 25th Nov to get myself ready so you never know, I may not come last...

My penny riding days are also about to become a little more difficult as here in England we are about to change the clocks. This means that it will be completly dark when I get home from work so evening rides are over for the next few months... I'll just try to get out on it on my days off.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Penny farthing world championships, Tasmania.

Earlier in the week I received my invitation to the world championships in Tasmania. I'd love to go but it's not going to be cheap! At the moment I am thinking that I may have to give it a miss as I already have an outstanding credit card bill, my car mot looks like being fairly costly and Christmas stopped being a free religious festival many years ago.

On the positive side, staying at home will keep my carbon footprint nice and small, in fact over the last five or so years I have cycled further than I have driven and have only flown once.

Anyway, I've not riden the penny farthing much since coming back from the coast to coast so this weekend I plan to have a good long ride on it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, I am going to enter a local cyclocross race, but not on the penny!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Coast to Coast!

Well I made it, full report to follow but for now check out photos on flickr,

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Coast to Coast by penny farthing!

What a journey! I managed to cross the country by penny farthing in three days. I'm sure people have done it faster but I really don't care, for me my goal was only ever to finish the journey so I am more than happy with my achievement.

For more pictures see, So here goes, I'll try to document my long weekend as best as I can.

Thursday 27 Sept 07

I had a really poor nights sleep as I had caught a cold earlier in the week, I was hoping that when the morning arrived I would be ok but I actually felt worse. I'd looked forward to this ride for some time so there was no chance that I was going to stay at home so I just loaded the van and hoped that by friday morning I would be ok.

I stopped for a break at Knutsford and unloaded the penny farthing. Knutsford is the home of the penny farthing museum and anyone who turns up on one gets free tea, so I was off to claim mine! I bumped into an elderly couple on my way and they came with me to the museum. Unfortunatly the penny farthings had all be taken away for cleaning so mine was the only one! There was still lots to see though as the place is full of old photos, signs and penny farthing bits and bobs.

I claimed my free drink and sat talking bikes to the elderly couple and the owners. I learnt that in 2010 there is to be a three hour great race for penny farthings and I was welcome to take part. When they learned about my coast to coast ride everyone wished me well and the old guy told me about how he used to ride over Hartside pass twice a day for months on end when he was courting his wife. Nowadays kids turn 17 and demand a car to get around, when their girlfriends live just round the corner. How times change.

After an hour or so I continued my journey and was soon in Penrith. The owner of the B&B couldn't belive I was going to use the penny for the ride, he'd never seen anything like it. I asked if he had somewhere secure to leave the bike over night and he showed me to his back yard. It was secure all right, protected by the biggest dog you have ever seen!

With the bike locked up I went out for a quick meal then had an early night as I was still feeling a bit rough with my cold.

Day 1 whitehaven to penrith

Friday 28th Sept.

In the morning I did feel quite a bit better so as we loaded the bikes onto the transfer van I was getting pretty excited about the ride. The other bikes going to the start were all mountain bikes so everyone thought I was mad doing it on the penny. I however, thought they were mad for not bringing a road bike.

After a few photos at the start I made my way onto the official route and I was soon experiencing all of the worst things about cycle paths. The drill for the first 10 miles or so went something like this. Ride for 200metres, get off and push around metal gate, get back on for 200metres then get off to ride down a kerb. Get back on for 200metres, get off to cross road junction. Get back on, get off, get on etc. I love cycling but I have to say cycle paths are not my favorite place to ride. You are either on and off your bike all of the time or you find yourself being directed to ride down the inside of traffic and are putting yourself at risk of cars turning left across you. I can't help thinking that the money spent on cycle paths would be better spent educating drivers to be more respectful of the humans that choose to ride a bike on the road, as they are perfectly entitled to do.

Anyway, rant about cycle paths aside, I enjoyed the first few miles. The one thing that I did see that surprised me was a guy flying a falcon of some sort in what seemed to be a school field. Strange.

Something else that I wasn't expecting to see was a red squirrel but I ended up spotting 2, which was a nice surprise.

The cycle path problems continued for me latter in the day. Just before Keswick the offical "road route" directed me up a forest trail. The surface was very rough so even when the gradient was flat enough to ride I found more often than not I had to walk. I must have walked about 8 miles out of the next 10 and I was starting to get really wound up that this was suppost to be a cycle route. The off road route was also giving my spokes some trouble. Two in particular kept coming loose so when I eventually got back onto some tarmac I looked at my map and decided that I could no longer trust the sustrans route, from now it was going to be main roads all the way back to penrith.

The tarmac roads were much better, I had no troble with traffic and found that several other cyclists had done the same as me and given up on the sustrans route.

I got back to the b & b before everyone else which suprised me. I had a quick shower then went out to get some food before having another early night.

Day 2 Sat 29 sept. penrith to stanhope

Looking at the route profile this was the day I had been fearing. The main climb of the day was up and over Hartside pass. On my road bike I would have looked forward to this as I am actually fairly good on hills, but pushing the penny up the hill wasn't going to be too much fun. As it happened the climb was tough but I started early and was soon at the top. The cafe was open and I was now confident that I could complete the c 2 c. People in the cafe couldn't believe that I had riden / pushed the penny to the higest cafe in England, but there I was. I was soon joined by other cyclists, two of which had stopped on the way up the hill to resuce some baby foxes that they had found on the road. The foxes were now in their ruck sacks and on route to a wildlife centre that they had been directed to. The other strange thing about the two fox rescuers was what they had planned on sunday. They were booked in to do the great north run and were going to cycle to the start. It was now about miday on Saturday, the run started at 9am sunday. That gave them 21hours to fit in some sleep and to cycle 50 odd miles to the start.

The descent off Hartside was good and I was able to ride most of it. The day still had a bit of climbing though. At one point my gps told me I was at 2200 feet. The only problem I had today was the old favorite, the loose dog. It came running out of a garage and I was in two minds as to weather to stop and risk getting attacked, or to try to out run it. On a normal bike I would have sprinted away, but I couldn't risk getting a dog stuck in my spokes so I bravely jumped off and faced the beast. Luckly once off the penny the dog lost interest and I was able to continue on my way.

When I got back to the b & b I checked out the stats from my first two days, they made quite impressive reading. 91.46 miles, with a total ascent of 7170 feet! My average speed was less impressive at only 7.4 mph. But considering the long off road walk on day one and todays hills it wasn't too bad.

That night I went out to find some food with Craig, one of the guys doing the trip on a normal bike. We ended up in a small pub which was the only place in the village doing food. In the pub a local guy started talking to us, he was quite interested in the bike ride but seemed even more interested in telling us about his adventures. If he was to be beleived these included a four month road trip through south america, including staying at the highest peak in the Andies. The tales may not have been completly true but I do think they were based on actual events, and to be fair everyone like to exaggerate a little.

As the night went on the pub became very busy and it turned out we were in for a real treat. The locals were having a vegetable auction! These were no ordinary vegies, but prize winning giants. Leaks the width of telegraph poles, Carrots that were more like orange snooker cues and onions the size of footballs. Unfortunatly my camera was back at the b & b, there was only one solution, we would have to buy something! We asked at the bar if we would escape alive if we were to bid for a prize winning leak, the advice we got was to wait untill one of the smaller ones. The result was a winning bid of £1.50 for a fourth placed onion. the photo of which is on the flickr link from this site.

While we were in the pub getting drunk the other members of the group were having some problems of there own. We later learnt that one of the other had gone off ahead earlier in the day and had not been seen since. The others were so worried about him they phoned the police, who in turn phoned mountain rescue.. Luckly, just before the rescuers had been activated the missing rider showed up, a little embarrased after getting very lost.

Day 3

Stanhope to Tynemouth.

Even though today was suposed to be easy I still decided an early start would be a good idea. So after my breakfast I was under way at 8.00am. As it happened Stanhope seemed to be possitioned at the bottom of a huge hill so the first hour saw me pushing the penny more than riding it. The riding then got much better as the road pointed down hill for miles and miles. I did have to come off the offical route at the start of the Waskerley way as, yet again, the sustrans cycle route was more like a section of a mountain bike enduro.

The rest of the ride was fine as the surface on the last few cycle paths was good enough for me to ride. I was a little worried about riding through Newcastle but even the local want to be gangster kids loved the penny. I wouldn't have fancied riding a flash mountain bike alone through some of the estates though..

I got to the finish at 2.30pm, well before anyone else. After a few photos I then did the decent thing and found a pub. Talking to people in the pub they couldn't believe my journey, most people can't imagine riding a bike for one mile, let alone a penny farthing across the country. It was now that the scale of my achievment started to sink in. I realise that I'm never going to win an olympic event or a stage of the tour de france but today I did something that maybe only a hand full of people on the earth have done, in fact more people have probably walked on the moon than have done what I have this weekend, I RODE A PENNY FARTHING FROM COAST TO COAST!

Monday, 17 September 2007

Bmf tail end bike rally

I've just spent the weekend at the BMF tail end bike rally. It's always good fun but I'm always pleased to come home. There is only so much drinking and sleeping in a tent that I can take, in fact if the rally was any longer it would become a real test of endurance, probably a test that I would fail. As it stands though it's a great weekend, although not something that you would want to do too regularly.

My accomplice for the weekend was Mickey, his weekend was made extra tough as he had to travel up on the back of my bike. Over a long distance the last place on earth you want to be sitting is on the back of an xt660 with loud exhausts, but we made it. The bike managed the journey with no problems, however the lack of luggage space gave us a few difficulties. We had to take a tiny tent, which was described as disposable and cost £7.97.... We also had no room to take drink so I left Mickey at the showground and went back out for beer. I ended up at a small local store and purchased 48cans of lager, then returned to the rally and we started to drink them.

A lot happened durring the first night but my memory of it is for some reason a little blured. At some stage I rode a mechanical rodeo bull, we met some people with flashing teeth, ate some alcoholic sweets, rocked to live music and drank lots of lager before stagering back to the tent.

The next day was predicitably tough we both went through bad spells on and off for most of the day, I started worse than Mickey but at about 1.00pm Mickey seemed to have a relapse and we spent most of the afternoon asleep on the grass. We later learnt that one of the people we were talking to the night before came over to say hello but he couldn't wake us up. A sorry state to get in.
We recovered enough to walk round the show and also to check out the bikes in the camp site. When in the camp site I noticed something quite frightening. A guy, who I had seen the night before staggering around drunk, was sitting by his bike with a spanner in his hand, scratching his head with his front brake in pieces. Scary stuff, made even worse by the fact that the bike in question was a zzr1100, and capable of 180mph... We managed a few more drinks on Saturday night but what with having to ride home the next day we took it quite slowly.
When we came to pack up and leave other campers seemed to feel sorry for us, one group offered us a new tent for nothing as ours was the worst they had ever seen, and another guy gave us a rucksack that he no longer needed. What we really needed however was a taxi home...
That's about it for now, my next post will probably be in a couple of weeks time when I am getting ready to ride the penny farthing from coast to coast...

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

King of the mountain?

I'd like to say that I rode all the way up Ankerdine on the penny, but I have to confess that I pushed most of it. I probably made the slowest ascent of the day but it was worth it. Loads of people turned out to watch the climb and it was good to see that even the pros found the climb hard, look at the face on the rider in the first photo, he's really hurting.
My day started with a slow ride into Worcester to see the start village. Loads of people showed an interest in the penny, one guy from cycling weekly took a few photos and said he would try to get it into the magazine. Hopefully this will happen as I would love to get a mention in the comic, obviously I would rather be in print for winning the national 25 mile time trial championship but this is also obviously not going to happen, so a comedy picture of me and the penny will have to do!
The whole race seemed to be well organised, we even had a commentary car telling us about the riders in the break and the road closure seemed to work well. Unfortunatly, despite my encouragement on Ankerdine, Roger Hammond didn't quite manage to win the stage but all in all, it was a great day.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

The Tour of Britain hits Worcester

Stage three of the race starts in Worcester tomorrow and I am going to ride the penny out to watch the race at Ankerdine. I have decided on Ankerdine as, previous readers of the blog will already know, it's a climb I have first hand experience of. Racing up it as a stand alone event is hard enough, the tour riders will be 60km into the stage with another 90km to go. It will be interesting to see how fast the pro riders go.

Although I'm really into cycling I've not actually watched that much racing live. I did go to watch Armstrong in his last tour de France though, and it was an amazing experience. We rode up some of the famous climbs just before the race came through so the crowds were massive and the atmosphere was amazing.
The first stage that I watched went up the climb of Ax-les-thermes, I can't really explain what I felt when the main riders came into view for the first time. A few hours earlier I had struggled up the climb at snails pace, then Armstrong, Ulrich and Basso came up the mountain side by side, looking almost effortless. The crowds parted around them and I genuinely felt that I was in the presence of greatness, and I'm sure that others watching felt the same. It sounds stupid I know, but I have never felt that before, or since, it was an incredible experience. The other thing that has stayed with me is the support for the riders from the crowd. Most of the fans were French, a fair number of Spainish and then little groups of English, Americans, Germans etc. All of the fans without exception offered their support towards all of the riders. The french desperaply didn't want Armstrong to win again, but when he came though they all gave him a clap and a cheer, the fans appreciated his performance. They would have preferd him to have gone badly but nobody offered anything but applause towards him. Imagine that at a football game...
On another day I managed to get a couple of photos as the riders went by, this one is of Jan Ulrich as he suffered up the climb to St lary Soulan. Jan was unlucky enough to be competing against Lance Armstrong and some of the strongest teams in history. In any other era Jan would have ruled.
Anyway, tomorrow I will cheer on all of the riders at the Tour of Britain, I'll just try to cheer a bit harder when I see anyone British! I'll update this post later in the week...

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Worcester pedal in the park

Today I rode the penny to Gheluvelt park in Worcester for a cycle event held as part of the Tour of Britain promotion. My cycling club, Worcester St. Johns had a stand so I was going mainly to make up the numbers on our stand.

When I got there I was pleased to see there were a number of other stands and quite a bit going on, I had a go at the roller racing and posted a time of 21.57secs., at the time good enough for 4th spot. I only had one go, and according to the girl running the stand I started slowly, but being so short it was more a test of pedalling speed and style rather than fittness, so I was pleased with my time as I have always thought that I can't spin. The people running the rollers were , I've not checked out the web site yet but apparently they do parties so it might be worth looking at if you are after something different to a bouncy castle.

The other penny farthings in the photo belong to a fellow club member, Martin, and are both for sale. One is an original from 1888, the other is a replica. Both are ridable, I had a quick go on the replica and it rides really well. The purists out there may not be too keen on it as the join between the backbone and forks is quite bulky, but if you're after a penny for fun or to learn on you could do a lot worse, e mail me if you're interested in either bike and I'll pass your details on. (more photos on ) There is also a trike in the photo, this was used by a club member, Gordon, to ride from Lands end to John O'Groats. Gordon did the ride to celebrate his 70th bithday!

A couple of select club members had a go on my bike and also a guy from the try a bike stand, everyone got on ok and the bike survived fine.

The mountain bike demo was pretty cool too. My photo doesn't do it justice but these guys seem to defy gravity!

All in all a good event, congratulations to the organisers.

I stayed untill about 1.00pm I think, I don't wear a watch at the weekends so that I am not a slave to time! Then I rode off to Vanfest at Malvern. Vanfest is a VW Transporter show and as a bit of an air cooled VW fan I thought I'd pay it a visit. It was a great ride over in the sunshine with lots of people cheering me on from their cars. Once at the show I checked out a few trade stands and chated to a few people about the bike. I also had a quick look round the vans for sale area but came to the conclusion that £10000 buys a lot of B&B, besides I think Split screen vans are too small to get my bike in and the later larger vans just aren't that cool. I had a T25 camper for a couple of years and it was fun but, sorry T25 fans, they are not cool.

The ride home was also good, I did notice that a couple of spokes on the penny had started to work loose, but the wheel still seemed true so I'm not to worried about it, I'll give them a quick tighten later. The only negivite thing about the day was a real rarity, a negivive comment. I was riding along in a dead straight line in full control when a car pulled up along side me, the lads in the car then shouted, "F*!KING IDIOT" to which I replied "F*!KING IDIOT? YOU'RE THE ONE DRIVING THE ROVER 213!" I mean, a Rover 213, why even entertain the thoughts of buying one? The only surprising thing about Rover going bust was that it didn't happen years ago. I don't swear that often, but I think he deserved it, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones..

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Penny farthing time trial

Back to the penny stuff at last! I've just done a club time trial on the penny, the course itself was only 5.5miles but after riding to work, then to the start, doing the event and then riding home I'm really tired. In total I must have riden about 35miles. This in itself is not that far but what with the hill climb a couple of days ago and last week I raced at the track and did two time trials, I'm glad the season is coming to an end.

The ride to work was fine but I was late leaving at the end of the day so I had to push on to get to the start. I was in time but lots of people had already signed on so I asked if I could go as number 0 so that I could ride at least some of the way home in daylight.

The event itself was good, I did a time of 21mins 6seconds. I had done this course once before on the penny and managed 21mins 10seconds so to go a bit faster was a surprise after the rush to get to the start. After the event I had a quick drink in the pub with some of the other riders then made my way home.

The first part of the ride was fine as it was still light. Then when the sun went down it become harder. To start with it was good, with just enough light to be able to see and owls and bats starting to fly around I really enjoyed it. Then when it became very dark it was just a case of surviving the journey. You really need to be able to see the road when on a penny and my front light was not really good enough, I made it home but riding in the dark is not something I plan to do too often.

With the coast to coast ride coming up I think I may have to do some early morning starts to make the most of the daylight. This weekend I plan to get a few daylight miles in on the penny and take a few more photos....

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Ankerdine hill climb

Sorry, yet again nothing to do with penny farthings! I'll make up for this at the end of the month when I ride the penny from coast to coast, I promise!

Back to Ankerdine, anyone who has ever riden a bike will know how hard it is to ride up a steep hill. Well Ankerdine is properly steep, with an average gradient of 17% and each year at the end of the time trial season my cycling club holds a time trial up it.

I have prepaired my bike in the usual way, by taking off anything that adds weight like lights and mud gaurds and I'm confident that I will do a decent time. Last year I got up the climb in 3mins 41seconds. I'm not sure if I will go faster this year as I changed the gearing on my bike earlier in the year and my lowest gear is now a bit higher than it was last year.

I have also had today off work as well so I should be nicely rested. While I was sitting arround today I had the idea of attaching my camera to my bike to make a video clip of the climb. So I have now added back a few grams of weight, well it's always handy to have an excuse lined up!

Anyway if the video works I'll put it on you tube so that you can experience the pain of a hill climb... (seems to have worked ok, going up = going down = the first one is quite long so it's still processing, should be ok by 5th sept though).

For now I'm trying not to think too hard about the prospect of getting my heart rate to maximum and holding it there for 4 mins, actually I've just thought about it and that's going to be about 760 beats! If I was watching tv 760 beats would take about 15minutes.....

Well I survived the hill climb but went slower than last year by about 7seconds I think. I'd like to make a special mention to two fellow riders though. Firstly Ed Dursley, he tried so hard he was sick at the finish, good effort Ed! And secondly Steve Price, who flew up the hill in 2 mins 56 seconds! An incredible performance, I'm quite a fit bloke and half decent up hills but Steve took 53 seconds off my time, to use a word that is often used but rarely deserved.. Awesome. I am truly in awe of that time and so should you be..

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Almost a winner

Nothing to do with penny farthings, but I almost won a club time trial this week. My pb for this course is 24.02 so I was pleased with 24.08 considering I spent the weekend before drinking 24 cans of Lager, sleeping in a tent and eating rubbish.. If only I was more dedicated.....

10m tt Severn Stoke 30/08/07
Name Cat Time
R Graham G 23.51
D Preece G 24.08
B Boswell S 24.16
C McSweeney S 24.24
J Barnett G 24.35
S O'Toole V 25.26
A Taylor V 25.40
E Dursley G 25.49
D Evans G 26.11
B Whatton G 26.25
E Garton S 27.25
D Yapp V 27.32
G O'Mahoney V 27.59
W Douglas V(F) 28.35
D Burnage V 28.42
C Connell G 28.52
T Knight V 29.17
A Sims S 29.30
P Jolley S 30.24
D Morgan V 31.24

I also made my track debut this week at Halesowen. Although I didn't finish with many points I didn't crash so I was quite pleased. My best performance was in a 500m sprint, which is strange as I have always thought I couldn't sprint. The bigger bunch races were a bit to cut and thrust for me so I sat at the back of the bunch to stay out of trouble. Again I was quite pleased to finish them without incident and still in touch with the main group. With a bit more practice I can only get better...

The coments people make

Virtualy all of the coments people make when they see a man on a penny farthing are positive. This makes a refreshing change as fellow cyclists will know this is not always the case when out riding.

In this section of the blog I have tried to list the best coments that I have received whilst out on the penny, I will add to as and when I get any variations on the coments received.

Best comments to date. 2/9/07 (Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 0) sorry about the football reference but I'm so pleased Villa were the first team this season to wipe the smug grin off Mourinhos face, as for Drogba what a big girls blouse. Anyway, back to the penny stuff...

1. "Nice bike mate, Halfords?"

I was out riding the penny when a fellow cyclist caught me up and offered the above question. At the time it made me laugh, lots. Thinking about it, although I still find it funny, he would have had some time to think of what to say, Still brilient though.

When people have less time to think about what to say they typicaly seem to come up with one or more of the following.

2. "Do a wheelie!" I've tried, it's not possible.

3. "Nice bike, can you juggle as well?" For whatever reason people seem to think I must be part of a circus.

4. "Hey, penny farthing." For those who know what one is.

5. "What the f*!k." For those who don't.

6. "What the f*!k, what the f*!k." A coment made by a suprised lad in London when first Kat rode past on her penny then me on mine.

7. "No way!"

8. "Jesus Christ!" No, it's just me.

More to follow as and when people coment...

Monday, 27 August 2007

British motocross GP

I know it's got nothing to do with penny farthings but I've just come back from the British MX GP at Donington. I love motocross and a camping weekend at a GP takes some beating and this time all of the vital ingredients were present. We had sunshine, a British winner, Lager, decent food, more Lager and all in all we had a great time. As well as the current crop of riders there was a masters race which was won by the ledgend, Dave Thorpe. Tommy Searle won the mx2 overall, and one of the motos, and Billy Mac did his bit and led the first mx1 race for a number of laps. Anyway, from what we can remember, we all had a great time, I promise to try to get back to the penny farthing stuff soon!

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

you tube link

I've just opened a you tube account, at the moment I've only uploaded one video clip for a test to see if it works, so heres a link. The clip is of me riding the penny and filming myself so It's not the best clip out there but I'll do some better ones in the future if it works ok. Anyway, here is the link,

Monday, 13 August 2007

Penny lane

I've just been out for a penny ride to Malvern. I chose this route for a number of reasons, the first photo is one of them, I knew of this lane and thought it would make a nice photo. The other photos show my second reason, a quick visit to a gallery called riding high. In the window is an original penny farthing and inside there is loads of cycling memorbilia. The owner seemed really pleased to see me and my bike, to the point that he didn't charge me for my drink! After a few photos and a quick chat I continued on my way home. The profile of the ride itself was my third reason, as I am now only 7 weeks away from my coast to coast penny ride across the pennines I have started to work some hills into my riding. I was able to ride almost all of the uphill sections. I didn't quite manage Church street in Malvern, but this is seriously steep so doing two thirds of it could be viewed as a triumph anyway! The other thing I was going to mention is a link to my flickr photo page, on here you will find other penny farthing pics along with my other photos.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Duathlon result and report

The distance should have been easy but the combination of the heat, my fancy dress and the penny fathing made the event quite tough. I travelled down early to watch my Dad do the 10k run and then waited around until my event. Dad went well and did a time very close to his target but it was already obvious that the heat was going to be a problem for me in fancy dress. I spent the time between races sheltering from the sun and drinking water, lots of water.

I was pleased to get booked in and get the penny into the transition area, all I had to do now was get going. I managed to meet up with Will, who had agreed to let me enter the event ,said thanks and he gave me a bit of a plug durring the briefing, cheers Will. Looking around the other competitors it was obvious that I was going to have to put in a big effort if I wanted to avoid last place. Everyone, young or old, looked fit and almost everyone had a proper lightweight time trial bike. My bike however was 45lbs of steel, with no gears, a riding position that can only be described as ridiculous and not an ounce of carbon fibre in sight. My only advantage was that with solid tyres I wouldn't need to worry about punctures.

I was glad to get started and the first run leg went really well. I was aiming for about 24mins and ended up doing 23mins. So at this stage I was up on my target time of 1hr 30mins and I was also not too hot.

Next came the bit I was waiting for, the Penny Farthing bike leg. Finding my bike in the sea of low profile carbon fibre machines was easy, I also performed my quickest ever change over as I didn't have to change shoes! Once on the bike the support of the other riders and of the spectators was great, I started the first two laps at a fast pace, fast for a penny farthing that is, that I thought I would be able to maintain for the whole distance. About half way through the third lap I started to overheat and with no water bottles on the penny I had to slow down a bit. On the far side of the circuit it was really hot, the wind was blowing into your face and sitting high up on the penny I found it really hard going.

Each time I passed the start line the crowd gave me a big cheer and Mickey counted my laps, I definitely did the full seven, although we have our doubts that everyone did. Anyway, when I came in for the last run leg I had to stop the penny in the box to dismount. I stopped somewhat quicker than I had planned and performed a penny farthing stunt by lifting the back wheel off the ground, Mat Hoffman (bmx rider) would have been proud! When I started the final run I was fairly sure I was now in last position. I could see a few other competitors in the distance so it was now or never, I was going to give it all I had in an effort to avoid last place. Getting off a bike and then running is not an easy thing to do and getting off the penny and then running was very difficult. The first 200 or so metres were very painfull. My backside had pretty much gone to sleep and each time my feet hit the ground it felt like mike tyson was punching me in the bum cheeks. It got slightly less painfull after a while and as it happened I caught the first person quite quickly, then another couple and then I couldn't see anyone else so I backed off a tiny bit to avoid blowing up.

When I came over the line to finish I was seriously hot, but I had made it and was only 6 minutes off my best target time. The heat must have been worth most of those 6 minutes, it was so hot the glue holding my fake moustache on had melted!

All in all I was really pleased with the day and with my performance. I'd just like to say Thanks to everyone who gave me a cheer, it really does help and thanks to everyone who sponsored me. I now feel ok, my legs aren't even stiff and I am looking forward to getting back to normal time trialing duties tomorrow night .

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

DBMAX Duathlon build up.

It's only a few days untill the penny farthing makes its duathlon debut. My body seems to have survived the Dunwich ride ok, I've just been for a short run which went ok, in fact my legs felt fine. The only slight problem I noticed was that my neck is still a bit stiff after getting cold and wet when it wanted to be dry and warm.
The riding position of the penny should actually be of some advantage to my stiff neck, the last thing you want to be doing with a stiff neck is crouching over a time trial bike. Talking of comparisions between the two bikes, it's surprising how they are similar in many ways. Areo section forks and deep sections rims are not new inventions. The forks on my 2006 Dolan are pretty much the same design as those on a 1887 Rudge. Ok, they are about 18" shorter, almost as many pounds lighter and made of carbon fibre, but if you look at the profile they are almost a mirror image. I can't imagine the lads in the Rudge factory talking about drag co-efficient and the possibility of saving 10 seconds in a 25mile time trial, but looking at the forks you can almost believe they did! However, the areodynamics of rider positioning were clearly not discussed. It's hard to imagine a less areo position. Even with me on board, a man so thin he has to run around in the shower in order to get wet, a penny with a rider has got to be up there with the least areo vechicles ever.
Anyway, I have decided not to use the penny untill the race on sunday as if anything goes wrong with it I might not have the time to fix it. So untill Sunday that's about all....

Monday, 30 July 2007

Dunwich Dynamo, 200km in the dark!

First photo, the start. Second photo, the middle. Last photo, the end!

Well we survived the ride, it was touch and go at times but we made it. I've tried to block the ride into sections for this post but it's not proving too easy as I can't remember at what stage various things happened. Lack of sleep does strange things to your mind, or as someone pointed out to me at work today, it can actually kill you....

Pre ride.
I travelled down to London for about 2.00pm, managed to park ok and unloaded my stuff into Kats flat. Shortly afterwards we rode off, on our penny farthings, to meet some of her friends for a picnic. This made for a nice relaxing start to the weekend, and helped to take my mind off what I was about to attempt.

The ride.........

0 to 10 miles.

The ride got off to a good start, with no offical start time we made our way down to the meeting place nice and early to ensure that I could get a return bus transfer. Kat had already booked hers but I was less organised! The atmosphere at the start was great, looking around there were all sorts of people and all types of bikes. My bike was probably a typical example, standard road bike, half decent lights and small mudgaurds. Others were less standard, from recumbants to track bikes, complete with a total lack of brakes! We decided to start at about 8.30pm so that we could get out of the city in day light and hopefully without too much drama. As it turned out our biggest problem for the first 10 miles was the stop start rain. Waterproof on, waterproof off etc, but by about 9.30pm it was raining quite hard so on they stayed, as it turned out, for the next 10 hours...
The only other thing that sticks in my mind from the first few miles is watching a rider chase after and catch up with a bus which he then held onto for a free ride! I'm not sure if this is normal in London or not but it certainly didn't seem normal to me!

10 miles to 25miles

It was pretty much dark after the first 10miles but at this stage we still seemed to be in a big group of riders and as we were not yet tired visability seemed ok. nothing much happened really, the route seemed easy enough to follow and it was nice to be pretty much clear of London. Then at about 25 miles we had our first problem...

25 miles to 40 miles

We had not looked at our maps for about 15 miles and we were now just trusting the lead rider to go the right way. Decending a slight slope a car slowly aproached our group, the road was very wet, quite narrow and the enevitable happened, a crash. I was towards the front of the group and missed the action, Kat, however, wasn't so lucky. It all happened so quickly we are still not sure what exactly did happen, but it happened anyway. Kat and her bike hit the tarmac along with two or three other riders. The first I knew of it was the noise, Metal against tarmac is quite a disinctive and unwellcome sound. As I was still upright I slowly came to a halt to see if everyone was ok. When I turned round I could see Kat picking herself up out of the hedge and the first thing that came to mind was that I have no idea where we are. As it turned out noboby was too badly hurt, Kat had a few scrapes and bruises but luckly nothing too serious. Her bike came out of it about the same with bent leavers and ripped bar tape but nothing broken. we went quite sowly for the next few miles, hoping that none of Kats injuries stiffened up and after a quick stop for some jelly babies and a check on Kats war wounds our confidence slowly returned.

40miles to 64 miles

The only good thing you could say about the rain was that it was probably helping to reduce the swelling on Kats injured hand. All I can remember about this section of the ride is the rain. I was now wearing all the clothing I had and it was all wet. My waterproof was ok for about 35 miles then either the rain came through or I was sweating and getting wet from that. Either way, not a plesent experience at any time let alone at 1.00am with over half the ride still to do. Up untill about 55 miles and 1.00am I felt ok. Then, all of a sudden, I felt really bad. The novelty of taking part in the event had now worn off, I was cold, wet and really wanted to go to bed. We stopped at about 60miles, I felt really hungry but when I tried to eat a cereal bar I couldn't make myself swalow. Things were not looking good and I was starting to go a bit dizzy. I managed a few jelly babies and we carried on to the food stop at about 64miles. We went inside, the room was nice and warm and we found a seat. Kat, injured or not, was now looking far more likley to finish the ride than I was, The last time I felt this bad was at about mile 22 of a Marathon. I was really concerned, it was 2.00am and we had over 50 miles to ride, the time had arrived, DRUGS were my only option. While everyone else in the room looked to be doing fine I felt like death. I couldn't belive my poor performance so out came my secret weapon, PRO PLUS. With a turn around almost as dramatic as Vinos in the tour after a blood transfusion I got back on my bike and, although freezing cold, almost imedately I felt fine.

64 miles to 80 miles

After the drugs stop I felt like a real cyclist again, sure I was suffering but in an enjoyable way and I almost wanted the rain to get worse so that I would have a better story to tell. Once the peak of the pro plus had gone I came back down to earth and started praying not to have a mechanical or get a puncture. We saw quite a few riders fixing flats in the dark and in the rain. Every time we rode past somebody we asked, somewhat tentitivly, if they were ok. Luckly for us nobody asked for our help. We later learned of people not only having flats but running out of spare tubes and having to use repair kits in the rain. Not nice when you would rather be tucked up in bed asleep. At one stage around this distance we got talking to another rider who had cycled 40 miles to get to the start. He also claimed that when he reached the finish he was going to turn round and cycle back! I can only assume that this guy was on something stronger than proplus... It was also somewhere around this distance that we started to get a bit lost. We tried our best to read our wet and now almost unreadable maps but ended up going the wrong way. Fortunatly a car driver stopped and gave us some directions, he looked like a decent enough guy so we trusted him and turned round. As it happened he was right and we were soon back on track.

80 miles to 94 miles.
Somewhere around this distance it stopped being dark and became light. Dawn was a welcome sight, the increased light made the visability better and downhills safer. I also started to feel less tired in the daylight Unfortunatly it was still raining and overcast so we didn't get to see the sunrise but it was good all the same.
Why 94 miles? Well up untill now 94 was the furthest I had riden a bike in one go. It was durring My lands end to John O'Groats trip with Mickey in 2003 and up untill now I had not been further. Nothing magical happened as we rode our 95th mile, at this stage we both just wanted to get to the finish, have a cup of coffee and a sleep.

95 miles to Dunwich.

Durring the ride I had been motivating myself by setting mile targets were I could stop and eat a jelly baby or two. This worked untill 100 miles when I ran out of sweets. Then it was just a slow grind to Dunwich. For the last few miles we found our selves riding with a couple of others whos map had somehow survived the rain. It was reasuring to know we were going the right way and before we knew it we were at the finish. The cafe on the beach was open and we were glad to get into the warm, where we started to dry off, drink tea, coffee and eat cakes.


We sat in the cafe for a while, chatting to other riders and generaly marveling at the durability of the human body. Now it was daylight and I had stoped riding I felt fine, my legs didn't hurt and I was even feeling that tired. We then went out to sit on the beach and watched some of the riders swim in the none to tempting sea. Some people just have to go one step further! The sun gradually started to shine now so at least we could dry off before the bus transfer back to London.

Bus ride.

The bikes got loaded into one set of trucks and the people into buses, where I had hoped to try to sleep. Unfortunatly the space available on the coach would have had the RSPCA involved if had we been talking about transporting animals and not people. I did manage a bit of sleep but nothing to speak of. By the time we got to London I was really hungry and ready for bed. We unloaded the bikes and headed back to Kats flat for some food. When Kats bike came off the truck it had a flat front tyre, as we couldn't be bothered to fix it we pushed the bikes home. Once there James cooked us some food, and in doing so probably saved my life! After eating and yet more coffee I decided now was a good as time as any time to head home.

The drive home.

I didn't start to feel tired untill about Oxford but when I did there was only one thing for it, PRO PLUS. Unfortunatly it didn't seem to have that great an effect this time so I got off the motorway and carefully made my way home on less borring roads. To say I was pleased to get back is an understatement similar to saying that Nelson Mandella was quite happy when he was set free. It's great to go away, but there is no place like home.....

Thanks to...

Continental bike tyres. The thought of getting a flat in those conditions still makes me shudder.

Pro plus. Drugs and cycling, the two go together like nothing else.

Jelly babies. So easy to eat.

James. For the food, the best soup I've ever tasted, and as for the chocolate brownies....

Kat. For the idea to take part, not everyones ideal weekend away, but now it's over I'm really pleased we did it. Don't get any ideas about doing it next year on the penny farthings though Kat!

Tony. For the loan of the van, I didn't fancy a 120 mile ride to the start.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Dunwich dynamo

It's only a week on sunday untill the Castle combe duathlon and while the other competitors are probably tapering down I am about to undertake the longest single day ride of my life! When I say day I really mean night, as the ride starts from London at 9.00pm on Saturday night and ends 200km later at the seaside in Dunwich.

I'm really not sure how I will deal with the lack of sleep as sleeping is one of my favourite things, a normal night will see me snoozing for about 10 hours. On Saturday I will substitute sleep for cycling. My plan is to ride untill about 2am and then take as many pro plus caffine tablets as I can. Hopefully this will get me to the finish, then all I have to do is drive home...
While my drug of choice is to be caffine the Tour de France riders continually try to out do each other. First we had someone kicked out for good old testosterone, then Vino failed a blood test when someone elses blood was found to be in his body! And today the race leader has been kicked out for, along with other things, missing out of competition tests. Of these results I find the blood transfusion that Vino must have had to be the most disturbing. What sort of doctor has done this to him? Or is it something you can do to yourself, with the help of a "my first blood transfusion manual"? Either way Vino must be mad, and he's probably lucky to be alive. I feel sorry for the clean riders who happen to be on the same teams as the guilty ones, as they also have to leave the race. I understand if nobody watches the rest of the race but I will stick with it as I still love cycling.

Back to this weekends ride, my accomplice for the ride is going to be Kat, who also owns a penny farthing. The idea for having a go at the ride came from Kat, I think I was the only person she could think of who was daft enough to agree to it! I should point out that we are going to ride normal bikes, we might be mad but we aren't stupid! We did think about using the penny farthings, but when we did the maths and worked out that 200km = 120miles we quickly decided against it!

I'm actualy really looking forward to riding through the night, I've tried to sleep as much as possible this week and decided to rest rather than train so I haven't done any time trials or hard training for the 12 days leading upto it. I figure that I stand a better chance of enjoying the ride if I start it fresh and training in the last few days doesn't gain you too much fitness anyway.

The only other piece of news I have is that I now have a track bike. I have borrowed it of Mark, through the Worcs st Johns cycle club (cheers Mark!). So far all I have done is set the seat height, put some peddles on it and riden it down the road. As it's a fixed gear bike I think I will have to ride around on it for a while to get used to it before I take it to the track. Talking of the track, the photo at the start of this post is of Halesowen track after the recent floods, I think I'll give it a miss this week...

Saturday, 21 July 2007

My sisters wedding......

Well today My sister, Sue, was supposed to be getting married to Simon. Unfortunately the great British weather had other ideas and they have had to postpone the event. Theses pictures are of port street in Evesham 21st July 2007, the middle of summer. The first picture is of the river bridge, the white thing in the water is a boat, Latter in the day a mobile home from a camp site somewhere up stream joined it. The church is about a quarter of a mile away. The best mans house is about half a mile away and is also under water. At the time of writing his wife had still not made it home from work on Friday!

Yesterday I had to put up a work collegue, Chris, as his village was cut of. Our night was better than my mates Daves as he got stranded on his way home and spent the night in his car. This morning I dropped Chris off at work then made my way to Evesham. On my motorbike this journey should take about 25minutes, today it took the best part of 2 hours. I had to go down the m5 as Pershore was impassable. The motorway was like a scene from a sci-fi film. Cars were abandoned everywhere, all three lanes of the m5 were full of cars going about 10 mph. It looked like the whole of the midlands was heading south to avoid a nuclear holocaust. I was able to filter through the traffic on my bike but had to watch out for rocks and gravel washed onto the carriageway. The a road into Evesham was no better, in several places I passed through water that was about a foot deep but managed to get to Sues house.

At this stage the wedding was already called off, Sue and Simon seemed to be handling things really well, although they were both obviously very dissapointed. I stayed for a while, helped phone round a few people, drank coffee and then came home, again battling through abandoned cars and floods. I am now watching sky news while typing this and there are pictures of caravans floating down the river avon, people being resuced by helicopters and boats, pictures of huge holes in main roads, and talk of bridges collapsing. I can't be bothered to go and look at the river in Worcester for myself as I've had enough of it now. The rest of my night is going to be spent drinking Lager and listening to music, I'll just have to pretend I'm at the wedding reception.

All in all a bit of an unbelievable weekend, oh and by the way I haven't ventured out into the floods on the penny! Also looks like Tuesdays time trial is off as a bridge on the course has collapsed.....

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Wenlock Olympian results

My Olympic dream has come true! After competing in various cycle events over the years I have at last won something. I came home with two golds and a silver. The racing took place on an athletics track and as well as the mile race I competed in two other events.

The first race was for all pre 1930 machines so I was up against a mixture of bikes including one other penny farthing and several safety bikes. A safety bike looks pretty much like a modern road bike, they were called this as they are a lot safer to ride than an Ordinary (penny farthing). The race was a kind of a knock out, with the last rider each lap being eliminated. After a tactical start I moved up to second to ensure I at least stayed in for a few laps. As the laps went by nobody came past and it was down to a sprint for the line. In the wet conditions I felt my only chance was to stay second round the final bend then go for it on the finishing straight. I won the sprint by about half a bike length and with it my first gold!
I hadn't got my breath back when we set off for the second event. Again open to all bikes but this time a set number of laps, I think five. Anyway I decided to try and time trial my way off the front of the bunch but after two laps I still had a rider on a safety for company. I then changed my tactics and slipped into second place to try and recover and stay in touch for the last lap. Entering the final bend I was certain that I was not going to get the win as I was losing ground on the corner. I got the bike upright as soon as possible and sprinted, giving it everything I had. If the finish line had been a metre or two earlier I wouldn't have made it but as it happened I led the race at the only point that matters, over the finish line. Gold number two....
The third and final race of the day was just for penny farthings. It was a bit of a shame that there were only two of us. For me it was also a bit of a shame that it was decided that the other rider would be given a head start of one and a half laps. I think I may have been taking the event a bit too seriously for some, but to me a race is a race and if you're not aiming to do your best then there is little point taking part. Anyway, I was unable to pull back the gap so my final prize was silver.
I should mention that most, if not all, of the other riders had chosen to do a 25mile reliability ride in the morning so they may have been a little tired. I didn't do this ride as I didn't know about it untill it was too late, I got to the event at 10.30 to find it had left at 9.00. In truth I probably wouldn't have done it anyway as the weather was truly appalling and I came to race. However, I truly believe that if I had done the 25 miles as well it wouldn't have changed that much. If I ride at a sensible pace I can ride the penny all day and I do quite a bit of cycling so 25 miles, and then a rest of over an hour,wouldn't have taken that much out of me, even so the other riders deserve a round of applause for doing the ride in the worst july weather I have ever seen.
Just before I go I would like to say congratulations to my Dad, he also became an olympian today when he completed the 7 mile road race. Also thanks to Mickey, Cassie, Mum and Charlie for braving the elements and coming to watch and offer their support.....

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Pre Olympic nerves!

Well, for an event I have entered for a laugh, I'm all of a sudden really nervous! I was going to do a bit of sprinting practice on the penny today but decided against it in case I crashed or broke the bike. I then started to get paranoid about injuring myself so I sat inside all day, on the best summers day we have had for about a month, and watched the Tour de France. The tour was great though. A little known German rider, Gerdemann, rode away from everyone on the first of the mountain stages and by the time he went over the top of the climb and down the stupidly fast descent he had gained enough time to go into the overall lead. Even if he does nothing else in his cycling career he will be able to look back on today with pride, he wont care that his whole body hurts, he has completed the dream of all cyclists the world over. He leads the greatest race in the world and tomorrow will be wearing a huge smile on his face and the yellow jersey on his back.

Anyway, after the tour I became even more nervous. I don't really get nerves before races so I can't really explain it. I really don't expect to win anything either so quite why this has happened I don't know. I've decided to go out tonight to take my mind off it, I don't know, the pressure of becoming an Olympian is just something I never thought I'd have to deal with!

Well thats about all for now. Next stop the Olympics!

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Much Wenlock Olympics update

I am definitely in the Ordinary race! The race starts at 1.30pm on Sunday 15th July. I'm not sure if I will do any good as I have no idea of the standard of the other competitors. The distance is also not exactly my favourite as it is more of a sprint rather than an endurance event. The race is over 1 mile, ideally I think my best distance would be about 20 miles as I can mantain a constant effort for long periods but I don't have much of a sprint. Anyway, come Monday, win or lose, I will be an Olympian! I have just riden the penny farthing to the Worcester news offices, the staff all seemed really interested in the bike and they are going to run an artical on it and the event in the next few days. I wasn't really expecting them to take photos today but they did. So that's why I am in jeans and an old t shirt. I am going to try and video the event and, if I can work out how to, I will then post it on you tube. I am still going to time trial tonight with Worcester st Johns but I will be taking it steady on the fast down hill sections so that I don't crash and end my Olympic dream before it has started. That's all for now...

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Much Wenlock games.

I have just found out about this event which is on next weekend. Full details are on the link but the bit I am interested in is the veteran cycle racing. I am awaiting an e mail from the organisers to let me know if I can take part. I am really excited about the possibility of becoming an Olympian! I was sent the information about the event by Scotford who I know through the VC Sevale cycle club . He also does some work for the national cycle muesum . Scotford is a really nice guy and is always full of encouragement when he hears of my Ordinary (penny farthing) plans. With a bit of luck I will be able to take part in the games and even if I get soundly beaten it will be a great experience.

Talking of being soundly beaten, Fabian Cancellara handed out a beating of epic proportions to the rest of the field in the prologue of the tour de France on Saturday. Fair play to David Miller in the interviews afterwards. He didn't claim to have a bad day or make excuseses, in fact he said even if he had had the best day of his career Cancellara would still have beaten him. I kind of like Miller, even if he is a self confessed drugs cheat (at least he confessed), so come on Dave win a stage for us.

Back to penny farthing stuff, I haven't had too many opportunities to ride the penny over the weekend, but I have managed a couple of rides. In the end I didn't ride it to work on Friday but I did do a bit on Friday night. After work I went for a run of about 5 miles then took to the penny and rode about 10miles with Mickey and Cassie and ended up in the Huntsman pub (again!). We stayed untill closing and then rode home in the dark with quite a few pints on board! I'm fairly sure athletes training for the real Olympics use a different sort of energy drink after exercise but beer seems to work for me! When in the pub we were joined by other friends, Andy and Mary, Who had just come back off holiday in France (again!) so we had plenty to talk about. Anyway, we all got home ok.

That was Friday, on Saturday I had a really busy day with no opportunities to ride. I was at work all day then in the evening I was at my parents ruby wedding party. My job was DJ and barman. The bar was easy enough as I just pointed everyone in the right direction and they helped themselves, it's never been a problem getting the Precce family to drink. The DJ duties were not much more difficult as I just made a playlist of old 50s and 60s music and left it to play. By all accounts the party was a success, My uncle Jim apparently said it was the best one he had been to as he enjoyed being able to talk over the music rather than being deafened by it. However, I did make up for the quietness of the party on the way home by playing ac/dc at huge volume in my car.

Unfortunatly I was at work again on Sunday but I did manage a quick trip to the British VW festival in my VW Beetle. I had hoped to be able to find an 80's bmx to buy to relive my youth but there was nothing worth having. Anyway, after work I went out on the penny and ended up in another pub, if only beer was a performance enhancing drug, I'd be a world champion!

Well that was my weekend, this week I have a tough week of time trials on my normal bike. On Tuesday I will ride a 14mile hilly with Worcester st Johns then on Thursday I will have a go at a 25 mile with VC Sevale. I tried this combination last year and went well in the 14 but fell apart in the 25. Hopefully I will be able to have the Thursday off work this time to help my recovery...

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Donate to sands on line

The good chaps at SANDS have set up a donation page for me so that all of you generous people can donate to charity from the comfort of your own homes. the link for this is Any donation, big or small will be greatly appreciated. Also, if you are a uk taxpayer the government has to add an extra 28% to your donation which is great. For example if you donate £10.00 SANDS can claim an extra £2.80 from the government, giving them a total of £12.80, which has only cost you £10.00.

Other less important news from me this week includes a return to form for my time trialing with a better performance on Tuesday night. I could tell at the time I had done better than last week and then when I woke up at about 1.00am and my legs were having a major twitching fit I was sure that I had given 100%. I did nothing training wise on wednesday but this morning I went for a run and felt fine. I haven't had chance to ride the penny this week but all being well I think I may commute to work on it in the morning.

Saturday, 30 June 2007

My weekend

Firstly, check out this picture of what looks to be a time trial penny farthing... I don't know anything much about this bike, I just stumbled across the photo on the internet the other day. What I do know is that I want it, although it would have to be a very still day to risk riding it, that big front disk is going to be hell in cross winds!

Well I had a busy weekend, what with Simons stag do on Saturday and then the Halesowen track day on Sunday.However, I did manage a couple of rides on the penny farthing. The first was a short ride around the lanes on Friday night and I ended up in a local pub. Once there I had the usuall penny farthing questions put to me, how do you get on / off? Is that a solid trye etc. The one thing the bike does is get people talking to each other. I find it strange that people from all walks of life seem interested in it. It really does seem to bring people together. At one point I was talking to an old couple, who must have been at least 75, about the tensioning of the spokes. Then the next minute a group of kids on bmx bikes wanted a demo and soon the bmxers were talking to the old couple about the recent bombs found in London and the threat of terrorism! These groups of people would never have exchanged plesent words normally but now they seemed to be chating like old friends, weird, but quite cool!

The stag do was also pretty cool, First we went go karting, then we did the normal stag do activity, and went drinking. As the weather wasn't too bad I decided to ride the penny to the karting track. This ride was only about 7 miles from my house so that presented no major problems. In fact in many ways the penny farthing makes things easier. Car drivers actualy give you room, and wait for you at roundabouts and junctions. Rather than seeming to aim for you when on a normal bike they actually give you an extra wide birth when on the penny. This is probably for no better reason than they think you are sure to crash at any moment and that you might damage their car when doing so, but it's still nice to be given space on the roads. The one thing that I did notice on the way to the karting was the unsuitability of some of the local cycle paths. The council has done a good job round here with the surface, on most paths it's better than the road. However, the council had clearly not envisaged someone riding a penny farthing. At several points I had to get off the bike to go under overhanging road signs and trees. I suppose I can't really complain too much about this as I am riding a bike that was outdated over 100years ago! The go karting turned out to be fun. The rain made the conditions pretty slippery but if anything it added to the fun, oh, and by the way I won! The rest of the group then took a minibus to my local pub, the ketch, for food and beer. I joined them for this, again traveling by penny farthing, and then went on to a real ale pub,, the huntsman, in a neighbouring village. The rest of the group went in the bus and I was again the odd one out and went on the penny. At this stage the riding was still under control as I had only had a couple of drinks. One thing I did notice on this ride though was the amount of road kill, either headgehogs, badgers and rabbits are really stupid and can't help but get run over, or there are just loads of them and proability means that some of them are bound to get run over at some point. Either way it's a shame so many get squashed. Anyway, the drinking started in earnest in the huntsman, and after another 4 or 5 pints we moved on. I must admit I was glad to have an excuse to go home as I was already three sheets to the wind, being a skinny cyclist may have helped me when go karting but it was doing me no favours now we were drinking, and the others in the group had the luxury of the bus transfer to the next pub. This pub was some distance from my home, so I made my excuses and cycled home. I had an audience as I mounted the penny, so I concentrated hard on not making an arse of myself and rode off out of sight as quickly and as safley as I could. Once out of sight I must admit I begain to wobble and weave down the country lanes as I made my way home. I obviously managed to get home ok, as I am writing this, but I can recomend that drinking and penny riding do not mix! The journey home was quite hard work. Being drunk in charge of a penny farthing is not good for your life expectancy. I found every hill extra difficult and the amount of effort needed to peddle over 40lbs of steel had my heart and lungs working overtime. My control of the bike was fairly limited and it seemed to be going pretty much where ever it wanted to, I hit a few pot holes and at one point even strayed onto the grass but somehow I made it home.

The next day, complete with a hangover, I cycled to Halesowen cycle track. I really enjoyed the track day, the ride over was interesting as a number of the lanes we rode down were still under water from the recent floods. When we arrived we looked like we had just finished Paris Roubaix, rather than 26miles of English country lanes in summer. We were all covered in spray and mud but it was nice to get a few laps in, all be it on my standard road bike, complete with mudgaurds and lights! Hopefully I will soon get to borrow the st Johns track bike and have a go at some racing.

On a different note, one of the other things that I am interested in is motorcycle racing and this weekend there was a moto gp and motocross mx1 and 2. I wasn't that pleased with the moto gp result as I want Rossi to be beaten, and he won, but Stoner once again scored good points with a second. I've not got anything against valentino rossi, he is a fantastic rider and is arguably the best in the world, but I really want him to be beaten. My problem with Rossi is more with the commentaters. They seem to think he is the only person who can ride a moto gp bike, when in actual fact all of the top 20 riders are brilliant. Anyway, it would be nice to see the underdog do well so come on Stoner and the rest, get after him!

In the mx2 motocross the british had a winner with Tommy Searle, hopefully Searle will continue to progress and I may get to see an English world champion one day. That's about all for now, I seem to have rambled on a bit anyway.........