Thursday, 26 March 2009


Sorry for the total lack of posts. To be perfectly honest I'm really struggling to sum up my feelings about the whole thing. It was a lot to take in.

If you are at the Outdoors Show at the NEC this weekend my bike is on the Alpkit stand. I'll be there on Saturday so head over for a chat!

Hopefully some pictures will keepthe rest of you amused for a while though...

Sunday, 8 March 2009

This just in: me

I'm in. Weather turned out nice and I pushed super hard. Finished 4th. Happy.

James and Chris turned up in a plane. Long story, but an almost very good short cut fell through...

I'm of to drink some more Alaskan Amber. I'll write some more when my head clears.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Email from Nikolai

Just got an email from John. He's in Nikolai alive and well and feeling strong.
He says he's just going to eat lots and dry out his clothes before he heads off for the last stint to McGraph. Apparently its -30 out, which even the locals say is cold! He says it's a minimum of a 12 hour push to the finish.

He's been riding with Alec Petro - and trying to keep safe.

He thinks that James might have got lost along with Chris Wrobel as they were both ahead, but John and Alec didn't pass them on the trail. They have probably just taken a wrong turn somewhere on the way. I'm sure Kathi will post some news soon.

Friday, 6 March 2009


So what news to tell. No doubt you have all been following the race by looking at the latest news page. What a hardcore race it is turning out to be. If you haven't already, have a look at a news article in the Anchorage news, to help to get some sort of perspective of the conditions the racers are having to deal with.

The winner of the 350 mile race has never taken more than 5 days. In fact Pete Basinger did it a couple of years ago in just over 3 days. We have already passed the 5 day mark and none of the racers have yet made it to McGraph, the finish point of the 350 mile race.

From the leaderboard and the latest news from Kathi it looks like John has finally made it to Rohn. After, I should think, a good rest there he has the long barren route to Nikolai which is a painstaking 90 miles from Rohn.

I wonder how many of the 8 1100mile racers will continue on to Nome this year. They have already had the race of of their lives and the shorter race is not yet over.

A big hello to two of John's siblings Kirsty and Ali who have been following his progress from somewhere in the galapagos (is that right Kirsty?) and Australia.
Can't wait to see you guys at the wedding in May.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Pushing on

John arrived at Puntilla at 7.26pm Tuesday. Closely followed by Cory Smith, Billy Koitzsch, Robert May and Aidan Harding. They all left Rainy Pass Lodge at around 5am Wednesday. Who knows how long it will take them to get to Rohn over Rainy Pass. As Kathi has quoted, the conditions can be so varied that it could take up to 24 hrs in partularly difficult conditions.
Billy Koitzsch has a SPOT so if you look at where he is, John is likely to be close by.

We may not hear when all the riders get to Rohn, so I think we are all going to have a long wait until we get some news. It gives us all time to move the mouse away from the refresh button and live our own lives for a few hours. Me, I'm going to go spinning and then have a nice long bath.


John got into Fingerlake in the early hours of Tuesday morning (3.50am). He left at 11.17am for Puntilla and the Rainy Pass Lodge. See the latest news page for more info.

Jeff Oatley is seriously powering along 11 hours ahead of the next group of riders which include James Leavesley and Jay and Tracey Petervary. They are all now heading along Rainy Pass on their way to Rohn.

James took seven hours to get to Puntilla from Fingerlake so I would be expecting John to get into Puntilla late evening on Tuesday, depending on weather conditions.

It's also fantastic news that Jill's frostbite shouldn't require surgery. Rest up and get well soon Jill.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Keep on truckin'

John arrived at Skwentna Roadhouse at 11.50am yesterday and after a good break set off at 5.16pm for Fingerlake. I expect him to arrive there in the early hours of Tuesday morning. (I'm finding it difficult to write in Alaskan time seeing as we are 9 hours ahead here in the UK!).

James is flying along behind the leader Jeff Oatley who has already made it to Fingerlake.

A few riders have scratched including Geoff Roes and Jill Homer I hope they sort out their respective knee injury and frost bite and get well soon.

Monday, 2 March 2009

First checkpoint - Yentna Station

It's just been posted on the Iditarod latest news page that 28 riders have now checked in and most out of Yentna Station.
John arrived with James Leavesley 1.15am Alaska time, the two of them then left at 5.05am.
They are now on their way (and may have even got to) the next checkpoint, Skwentna Roadhouse, which is the 90 mile point.
I can't describe how excited I was when I saw that he had passed the first all important checkpoint, I did a little dance!
Check where the rest of the racers are on the leaderboard.

And they're off...

Got a call yesterday an hour before the racers were due to leave to get a bus to Knik lake from the hotel. John was excited but very nervous. They are now on their way to the first check point at Yentna River 57 miles in. Apparently due to fresh snow fall they are running a few miles behind the normal pace at this time, as they have to push the bikes. (Information and photos from Carl Hutchings...thanks Carl).

John with James Leavesley

Don't forget to check out the podcasts and the other racers blogs for more info. Jill Homer's should be interesting as she is carrying a SPOT.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Race day

Got a call yesterday morning to say that John had arrived safely and he had just spent his birthday at the pre race party. He had met up with quite a lot of the racers, had a nice chat with Roger Leavesley, and James Leavesley had just arrived.

Despite the weather in the run up to the race being mild, it was snowing heavily during the race meeting, held at the Golden Lion Best Weston Hotel yesterday afternoon, which should make the going interesting.

The race starts today at 2pm from Knik, Alaskan time, so join me at 11pm tonight UK time to raise a glass of your favourite tipple wishing John and all the other racers the best of luck.

I'll post updates on here when I get the chance, but check out the latest news part of the official website for more up to date info.

Good luck John we're all thinking of you. Allez Allez!

Friday, 27 February 2009

And so he is off...

Thanks again to everyone who has wished John well, he really appreciates all of the support and good luck wishes he has received.

He left yesterday morning bright and early. His kit looks really ace. I've been quietly(ish) and jealously observing as packages have turned up over the past few weeks containing all manner of treats that even the most restrained geek would get excited by.
The amount of precision which went into the food for the drops was also an astonising thing to observe. Working out exactly numbers of calories per bag, and looking at the calorie to mass ratio...I now know that wasabi beans have a significant calorie to mass ratio...interesting stuff.

I received a text message last night to say that he had arrived in Houston with no problems but due to incompetence at the airport, had almost missed his connecting flight to Anchorage. He should now be there.

Bill Merchant send an email earlier today saying...

Every year the trail throws something unexpected our way. Part of the "fun" is trying to guess what unexpected suprise we will find each year and be prepared. I was watching the news tonight and Mt Redoubt which has been quiet for several days is blowing off steam again. Never had a volcano blow up during the race before but a dust mask might be a good addition to everyone's kit. On the bright side ash in the air makes beautiful sunsets.

Sounds super exciting, I hope someone gets some good photos if it does erupt.

Posted by Mel

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Final post before the start?

The last week has been really manic and today was horrible. I phoned my credit card company to tell them I was travelling and they told me the card had been canceled because of suspected fraud (probably a surge of payments to hotels and bike shops in Alaska...). I don't have another card that works in the US. It took a long time but it seems to be sorted now! After that stress and too much to finalise at work I got car-doored on the way home. Thankfully the Merc came of worse than me. Phew. Anyway, I'm now packed and I hope everything is done! It's typical that after months of planning I'm still up a couple of hours before I have to leave. Such is life...

On a brighter note, some highlights of the week:

My new, improved Alpkit frame bag and EPIC bivy bag are here.
My pedals no longer freeze up and they have some Power Grips added.
Gore cables have been fitted.
Some lovely Giro glasses have been added to the kit list.

I have a few bits to pick up in Alaska- new tyres, pogies and some food but then I think I’m good to go. The kit list isn’t 100% finalised but it’s just a matter of deciding what I don’t want to carry, rather than finding new things.

I’m a bit nervous now, but I think it’s healthy manner. I just want to get out there!

Speedway Cycles are having a party on Friday so I’m looking forward to meeting all the other racers just in time to join me for a birthday drink.

Quite a few people have asked me about updates. The Iditarod Invitational news page is going to be updated twice daily and (click, click, click) MTBcast (is on the air) is hosting podcasts again.
The MTBR Alaska and Endurance racing forums might be worth checking as well. Mel has the keys to this account so when she hears from me she’ll let you all know.

Finally, a big thanks to everyone who called, emailed or texted me best wishes. It is much appreciated. Also Phil the Horse, Anya, Jon, James and Gareth deserve a big thanks for surprising me with a bottle of Whisky older than me. I look forward to a dram when I get back, hopefully it wont all be gone before I see you all.

Take care, I will :-)

Saturday, 21 February 2009


This weekend we were talking today about music. Specifically The Desert Sessions. While I'd love the original vinyl versions, copies of the CD are perfectly good enough to listen to, and much easier to upload to my iPod. A real geek wouldn't stoop that low though. I think most people like getting rare stuff. It got me thinking about some of the cool kit I've got for this trip.

I've got a load of prototype stuff from Alpkit's Devkit division. This includes a new down jacket, a -40 degree sleeping bag system and the frame bag. All top stuff.

The latest bit of kit is this prototype head torch from Exposure. It weights a bit more than the Petzil I was going to take as my primary light but it is a lot brighter. The other two prototypes are already seeing some abuse- and going strong!

Sorry - poor photos. Rushing!

Drop bags

It was a bit of a panic but my food got there. The only disappointments were that I could no longer find chocolate covered coffee beans (Whittards where I previously got them has shut) or Reese’ Peanut Butter cups (pretty hard to get in the UK). At least the Peanut butter cups I can get in the US.

Each bag is 16,000 kCal- 2 days worth of food, they weighed in at about 9lb each. Obviously I’ll be carrying more from the start and there are a few places where food should be available on the course.

Here’s what I packed in each bag:
Mule Bars
Trail mix- nuts, raisins, chocolate raisins, M&Ms, jelly beans, dried fruit and berries, coconut flakes…
Spare batteries, Lithium of course.
Gels, some caffeinated.
Chamois cream
Pop tarts (an old Iditabike favourite- they hardly freeze and are dense with calories!)
Assorted chocolate bars
Wasabi bean mix
Pork scratchings
Beef jerky
Nuun tablets
Cough sweets
Hot chocolate
Instant soup
One Reiter dehydrated meal
Clif Shot Blocks
Hand warmers
Vitamin tablets

I also included some spare batteries and chamois cream.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Getting there...

Apologies for the lack of posts. I’ve been super busy. Here’s some of what’s been going on:

Packed drop bags (more on that later).
Mr Whirly Cranks and lower gears have been added to the Pug.
The hubs and bb have been degreased and re-greased with low temperature grease.
I’ve replaced the old AC headset with a Chris King. It’s probably just as old but lasting much better. It also got the winterisation treatment.
Dismantled the pedals but couldn’t get the bearings apart. Hopefully they’ll be OK with normal grease.
Got some new clothing from Endura.

Still lots to sot out but getting there!

Monday, 9 February 2009

His name is Gary Paulsen

A while ago Steve lent* me a copy of Winterdance by Gary Paulsen. It’s a story about how he got in to racing dog sleds and about the Iditarod. Although I know nothing about racing sleds I really enjoyed the book- funny and honest. What was odd though was, unlike the vast majority of the stories I’ve have read, I’m actually heading out to many of the places he talks about. While I have no intention of ever attempting the Hinterstoisser Traverse, or Silula Grande, Rainy Pass and Farewell Burn will soon be places I’ll be visiting. I took some mental notes. “Steep”, “windy” and “scary” probably sums it up. It still feels a bit surreal that in la few weeks I’ll be out in Alaska.

Any suggestions of inspiring/adventure true stories to fire me up? I get the feeling the film adaptation isn't going to be up to much.

*I will give it back Steve. Just got to read it again!

Thursday, 5 February 2009


The two elements of kit that have been bothering me the most are those that protect my hands and my feet.

Strathpuffer destroyed my hands. The cold, wet and constant pounding got to them. Even after a couple of weeks they still don’t feel quite right. I’ve talked to a few people about this and the general consensus seems to be “Pogies rock! Don’t worry so much”. I’ve got a set of Epic Pogies on order.

Last week Jim had a big bag of Mountain Equipment Gloves for me to try as one of the Alpkit guys (Nick?) designed them all. The current plan is to take three sets of Windstopper gloves use underneath the Pogies and to rotate them so they are always dry. I’ll also take a set of warm pile lined/Goretex mountain gloves. I have a set of down mitts as well, but now I'm thinking they’ll be overkill.For my feet I’m planning on using:
Smartwool Liner socks
Smartwool Mountaineering Sock
Scarpa Mirage GTX boots
Superfeet insoles. (All from Snow + Rock)
Neos Navigator 5

I played around with a few set-ups at Snow + Rock but these boots fit really well. I’ve never seen Neos over here, but they are seriously good. The set-up was super warm even after trudging around in the snow for hours. The only thing I might change is the socks. I may change to sythetic/blended socks so they dry quicker.

"The worst snow in 20 years"

Worst? Really? Seems a bit lame!

Managed a 2 hr ride in to work and a different 2hr ride home. Fun!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Less than a month until the start now...

I’m glad I feel like I’m almost ready. There is still a lot to sort out though. Drop bags is the next big one. Biffa dropped a load of Mule Bars round the other day which will make up fair part of it. I’ve been doing lots of sums, for example:
10,000 kCal per day? 8 days? 221 kCal per Mule Bar. That’s 362 bars, or 23.5 kg…


Don’t worry, I’m not just taking bars. My trailmix “recipe” has also come on a long way and I’ve got another few things to add. I've still got to work out what food to take that I can cook. Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

I wonder who that was?

I visited my friend Miles earlier. He works in one of the outdoor shops in town. Seems a girl had been in who said she is running the 350 mile route. No brit girls on the list at the moment. I wonder if I know her!

Testing times

It’s snowed here for the last couple of days. That’s pretty unusual. I’ve commuted on the Pug, gone the long ways, and played in the parks. Great fun. Anyway, that’s why I haven’t written anything about the weekend yet!

Sometimes the weekend flies by. Straight after work on Thursday I was off to the airport. A couple of hours later I landed in Edinburgh and met Jim and Angus. Jim drove us up to Aviemore where we found the Old Bridge Inn was shut so, after playing with a big bag of Mountain Equipment gloves, we headed to bed.

Friday morning I rebuilt the bike and loaded it up as close to the set-up I’m intending to use in Alaska as possible. The plan for the weekend was for me to get some decent practice using the fully loaded bike and fine-tune a few items of kit. Angus was along to film me for the Trad Film competition.

We headed up to Cairngorm Ski Centre- the highest area around. Heather, the Ranger on duty gave us some suggestions of where to find the best snow, without annoying too many skiers and Snowboarders. The winds were pretty strong (80mph?) and the push up the hill was pretty strenuous, but just as I’d anticipated. It was pretty much a white-out so the filming will hopefully make me look tough. Although it’s more likely it was just un-usable… After several hours of pushing, only broken up by small sections I could ride, we ran out of time. The descent was great though! I even overtook a couple of snowboarders!

We then shot down the hill to meet Carl, the mountain bike guide at Glenmore Lodge. He had a play on the Pug and gave us some good tips on places to ride, as well as planting the seed for a new adventure… We also tried to get in touch with the local dog sled centre as one of them is heading out to run the Iditarod (dog race) next year, so would have been interesting to talk to. Unfortunately they weren’t answering their phone.

Saturday we drove to the Lecht ski area and headed up to the plateau at the top of the hill. Compared to the previous day it was quite a bit brighter but the snow was deeper. I did a load of loops and played about in the drifts and trying to wall ride the frozen banks. Loads of fun. After a late lunch Angus interviewed me a bit then we sorted ourselves out and headed out. We parked in a forestry car park, ignoring the “no over night parking” sign and all the mobile homes, grabbed our bikes and headed out in to the dark. After a couple of miles ride in to the forest we headed off in to the brush in the vague direction of a secret bothy spot. It took us a while to find but when we finally spotted it we were pleasantly surprised. Once inside we did a little more filming, enjoyed a couple of beers and played some Pass the Pigs (an Alpkit favourite). Jim and Angus slept inside but I slept outside in my new hot pink prototype bivy bag and –40 rated Devkit sleeping bag. Both preformed exactly as predicted: The sleeping bag was far too warm and the bivy bag was not breathable enough! The sleeping bag system is awesome. Basically, there is an inner down bag and an outer synthetic layer which means the bag will be a lot warmer when it’s damp and the dew-point will be outside the down so it should stay dryer anyway. The next bivy bag is going to be made out of Event fabric so the breathability will be sorted. It’s good and light and the ideal size to fit around the sleeping bag allowing the down to fully loft but not to big in order to minimise weight.

In the morning we woke up and immediately realised just how obvious the bothy was… Oh well. We rode back to the van and headed up to Cairngorm again. We did a different loop this time, the ground was really icy and it was really windy again but it was a fun ride. After that there was just time pack up and head of to our respective homes. I got back at about 11:30.

From my point of view the weekend was a great success: everything worked as expected, I felt fine carting the bike around, and, well, it was fun! Hopefully the film turns out well!

As an aside: Since I’ve had it the Pug as been a big conversation piece. It gets weird looks and everyone is fascinated by it. The funny thing this weekend was that a lot of people “got it”, I guess, the weather up in Aviemore is sufficient for it to make a practical bike, while down here it only comes in to it’s own a couple of days a year (including today…). On that note I’m going to get it built up again and go and play in the snow!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Like a good scout

I'm heading up to Glenmore Lodge tomorrow thanks to Alpkit.

While I always try to be prepared, packing for this trip took me off guard. All the new Snow + Rock kit I've been deliberating over was in a box, ready to go. I thought I was sorted.

Mid-layers aren't dry.

Socks aren't washed.

Pugsley doesn't fit in to my bike bag.

Clothing doesn't fit in to my biggest duffel bag.

Almost everything is sorted now (I hope) but I'm about to head to bed . Tomorrow (err, later...) I'll be sporting Neos and boots as well as a totally overkill Alpkit prototype ("Devkit") jacket. If you see me sweating in Bristol airport feel free to buy me a cold drink!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

It's all about the bike...

The Pug is finally back in one piece. It’s not quite done yet but I’ve built new wheels, replaced the tired parts and fitted racks. The rear rack will be coming off once I get my Super Twinkie through from Epic Designs. The Bontrager post I got was too short, so I had to fit a Thomson from another bike. It’s silver. Oh, the humanity.
Cranks will be changing to Surly Mr Whirlys and I have an XT bottom bracket and a King headset packed with low temperature grease. Gore cables will be fitted, but I want to keep them as clean as possible. I’m undecided about whether I should fit Powergrips or not.
The first test ride took me all the way up the hill to the Off-licence. Nothing fell off, which was reassuring. The Alpkit frame bag did a grand job of carrying the beer home. The second test ride was, deliberately, more of a push than a ride. Mel and I went out for a couple of hours in the local woods. She walked and I pushed the Pug up and down the steepest hills we could find. I get the feeling I’ll be pushing for a long way so I’d better get used to it!
This Thursday I’m off up to Glenmore Lodge with Jim from Alpkit and Angus to do a bit of filming for the Trad film competition. More importantly it’s a great chance to get some practice in on proper snow and to test out the majority of my kit. I’m looking forward to it.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Strathpuffer pictures

These two pictures are a good illustration of how much the weather changed at Strathpuffer. Suffice to say they dont even show the two extremes.

Thanks to Dave Stewart.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Trench hand

Pictures of just after the finish by Brian MacLeod. Thanks!

Back in to work today then more sorting for Alaska. Collected some Aerospace grade grease that should be good down to -55degrees! I also got the prototype Alpkit frame bag through. Picture tomorrow, with a bit of luck.

I also spoke to Chipps. Turns out Stamstad has written a bit about bonking for the next Singletrack mag. He gave me a sneek peak. It's very good!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Strathpuffer 2009

This weekend saw my third attempt at the Strathpuffer 24 race. It's a really brutal race, 17 hours of darkness and almost guaranteed bad weather. In the past it's never gone to plan. The first year I rode a fixed with too big a gear, and then last year other commitments pretty much kept me off the bike for the three months in the run up to it. This year the plan was to go steady and use it as an excuse for a big ride in bad conditions.

Mel and I flew up and hired a Mazda Bongo from Highland Campervans. While this was supposed to be a cheap decision Mel was so taken with the van that, well, it might end up being very expensive in the long term. Last year the camp site got so waterlogged everyone had to get towed on to the site, as well as off! This year the camping was on hard standing just off the fire road climb that starts the course. After re-assembling the new 69er we hooked up with the Savalas boys for some beer and dinner.

Saturday morning arrived in suspiciously nice weather, everyone who had checked the weather forecast didn't expect it to last. The race kicked off with the traditional Le-mans start. I jogged to my bike and was really careful not to over exert myself this early on. Phil the Horse shot past on his fixed 69er shortly followed by Anja who was also racing solo single speed, normally I would ride at the same pace as them so, again, I had to make a conscious effort not to chase them. The first climb is several miles long so gave me plenty of opportunity to set in to a rhythm. I was wearing a lot of clothing, as I was expecting the weather to turn bad at some stage ad didn't want to waste time changing. I unzipped all the vents on my Endura Stealth jacket and that did the trick.

Half way through the second lap I stopped to pick up a rubber duck from a pond. Number 8, lucky for some. It netted me a spot prize of some lights.

I always say that a solo race is broken into two halves: the first and last half, and the middle half. The first and last quarters are all about conservation. The middle half is where the race is won. Sticking to that principle I made sure I rode well within my limits for the first six hours. I felt comfortable and just kept on trucking, no mistakes. At about 4 it started getting dark. I had plenty of juice for my Exposure Lights so I switched them on straight away rather than risk a mistake in the shadows.

Strathpeffer has a special sort of mud. It cuts through brake blocks more than anywhere else I have ever been. I've heard of people go through eight sets of pads in a day. To counteract this I had fitted the XT brakes from my old 69er, they are pretty tatty but, for some reason, for a given pad manufacturer, the blocks seem to last longer. Perhaps the pistons retract further? This year the course wasn't so muddy as there had obviously been a lot of work done on the trail. However after about 9 hours the first set were down to the metal, and on the front they had gone through the spring and one of the pistons popped out at a funny angle. I rode half a lap like that. The long fast descent was somewhat sketchy. I swapped the pads, put on a midlayer, filled my Wingnut and grabbed some more Mule bars and trail mix. Fifteen minutes wasted.

Rain turned to snow. The snow got heavier. Then the wind picked up. Good news I thought - people will be stopping. I put in a little more effort.

I had asked Mel not to let me know where I was in the rankings until after 12 hours (10pm). She told me I was leading. There had been an announcement that there were special prizes for Single speed soloists, so I assumed I was leading the sub category. I asked where I was overall... I found out later, there had been quite a race between myself and Twinky Dave from On-One, but I never saw him on the course and didn't know anything about it at the time!

The hours ticked by and I kept on on pushing the 34:18. Still no mistakes. I had a bottle of flat Coke at midnight, changed to dry gloves and grabbed my Shuffle. The tunes made a nice change from just the noise of the wind.

About 4am I had to change brake blocks again. My hands were so numb that this seemingly simple task took 20 minutes and my swearing woke Mel up.

6 am saw more Coke. 8 am someone finally told me I was still winning. After that I stepped up the effort again only to be slowed down when I smacked my light and loosened the cleat. The mud covering my saddle bag, and my numb hands made it a nightmare to get at my multi tool. I got in at at quarter to ten to find out I couldn't be caught, but opted to head out for one last lap- this is still training after all!

I got some nice prizes but the highlight is a cool tankard for winning the SS solo.

All in it was a brutal race, but that only makes it more rewarding having finally beaten it!

Photo stolen from birchwood t's Flickr. More photos to follow if I find any good ones!


PS. I just heard that I also set the record for the most laps ever! (although the course was longer last year!)

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Cake, cake, cake!

I’m in the happy position as one of the few people to be pleased with the weight I put on over Christmas. I’m normally in the region of 11stone (160lb), pretty light for someone who is 6”1’. I’d like to put on a bit of fat before heading out to Alaska. Consequently I’ve been helping myself to another slice of cake. Or a second breakfast. I’m up to 12stone (168lb), so still not heavy but moving in the right direction!

Pic by Trina. Again.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Surprise bike!

I popped in to Mud Dock to wish the guys a happy new year. Handsome Rob says, "We've got a bike for you here." I answered with a blank look. "perhaps its for me then" he replied.

Turned out my 2009 Trek 69er Singlespeed had turned up, but no-one at Trek had let me know!

Anyway, the first impression is good- it's the same frame as the old one so should be rad!

This weekend I'll build it up with a load of old parts so Strathpuffer doesn't kill all the new stuff!

Happy new year!

The holiday period was a nice break from work. I kicked it of with a Christmas eve dinner with my parents so I could free up Christmas day… I had a bit of a sleep in on Christmas day followed by a big breakfast. About 1pm I headed out on my cheapo touring bike- designation Glasgow. The trip was fairly uneventful but the sun was shining and the traffic volume was really low so the ride was quite pleasant. Unfortunately though, there was a reasonable headwind and I struggled to find water so the first day I didn’t make as much progress as I had intended. At about 140 miles, somewhere near Warrington, I snuck of the road and rolled out my new Alpkit Hunka and Pipedream 800 in a nice sheltered hole. I later described the location to Dr Jon, “Just off a main road, sheltered behind some trees. It was a narrow trench, about a foot deep and perhaps 7” long… so, err, like a shallow grave”. I’m sure it was nothing so ominous really! I got a good 4 hours sleep. It was more than I had previously intended, but I hadn’t drunk anything for several hours so it seemed sensible to only get moving when shops would be starting to open. The roads through Warrington and Preston were fairly cut up, but I made good time. Breakfast was a very fatty Subway and a Pepsi. One amusing incident was watching a fun run going in the opposite direction. The runner off the front was in an Elvis Catsuit. Good lad. By the time I reached Kendal it was starting to get dark and cold. The Climb over Shap Fell (?) was pretty tough so I tried to get something to eat in Penrith. All the pubs had stopped serving so I settled for a very poor steak and chips in a Indian restaurant. Serves me right I suppose. I tried to get my own back by abusing their bottomless coffee. About 7o'clock I hit the road again and headed further north. I got a bit lost around Carlisle before I realised I was navigation with a nine year old map and the roads had changed. Oops. By the time I cleared the Scottish border it was really icy and the roads were really pretty treacherous. I opted to stop at about 01:30 when my water bottles froze solid. I had a surprisingly comfortable nights sleep considering I was on the edge of my bags temperature rating, and was sharing it with two bottles of ice. 3 hours later, I was up and in to every piece of clothing I had with me. A coke, an energy gel and a Mule bar made up breakfast as I hurriedly stowed my kit. The remaining 50/60 miles were a lot hillier than I had envisaged and the road was still pretty icy so I made slow progress. However the miles slowly passed and I was treated to a great sunrise and plentiful wildlife. I met Dr Jon in the outskirts of Glasgow just as Mel’s flight landed in a different suburb.
I certainly could have done the route a lot quicker but the journey was more an excuse to test some kit, practice getting in and out of my bivy, eating lots, sleep deprivation etc. All-in it was pretty good way to spend 400 miles, even if it did confuse many of my friends and make for a rather surreal Christmas!

I spent the New Year’s Eve in Ardnamurchin with friends. It was a good chance to get some relaxing in.
I read Ghost Trails- it got me excited, very enjoyable.
I stripped my MSR Whisperlite so it should be as good as new.
I tested my new Alpkit Devkit prototype jacket on the beach.
I started to break in my new Scarpa boots.
I got some running in.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Media Dahhrling

I was on TV over the holiday period- racing in Cyprus on Adrenaline Rush. It will be on ESPN soon and is available here for a limited period.

In association with the guys at Alpkit I'm also going to star in a film!

Exciting stuff!