Two weeks to go: a training ride and a St Mungo’s appeal

It was a rather grey morning in San Francisco today but having ridden only a couple of hours a week for the last three months, I decided that a little training ride for the upcoming South Wraxall to Majorca ride was well overdue. My youngest son, Harry, turned 14 at the end of January and the magical year when we ride bicycles together at about the same speed has arrived. By next year, I’m certain that the 50 year age gap will begin to tell and I’ll be looking at electric bikes to give me a fighting chance to keep up.

We drove north over the Golden Gate Bridge to San Rafael then rented a couple of mountain bikes from Acme Bikes – a great bike shop at one end of the town where we first hired some three weeks ago. The ride along the roads then up into the China Camp State Park proved challenging in the hills because the heavy rains in January have made some of the single track trails all but impassable. Nevertheless, the exercise was good and we survived the challenges without injury – I’m more than a little nervous when it comes to downhill mountain biking!

This morning’s training ride in China Camp, Marin Country, CA. Since his 14th birthday in January, Harry has become taller than me. The other good news is that he’s now outgrown his size 10 shoes and I’m being treated to some rather nice hand-me-downs.

Richard Stanton, my companion for the upcoming 1000-mile continental adventure, is commendably taking the opportunity to raise money for one of his favourite charities, St Mungo’s, which provides support for the homeless and helps them rebuild their lives. It’s a cause he’s passionate about and he’d greatly appreciate any contributions. Please consider supporting him through his JustGiving page. We’ll keep you posted on progress here too.

A vintage reason to get on my bike again

It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to write on this blog but as my 65th birthday approaches on April 1st  I thought it time to attempt another reasonably challenging ride and to create a record of the experience. On my 60th, I set out from Barcelona on a 1950 Thanet Silverlight and rode it back to where it was made in Bristol, the city where I was born. Apart from a slight problem with a worn axle, the bike didn’t miss a beat and I didn’t even pick up a puncture over the entire 928 mile journey. The story of that little adventure is recorded elsewhere in this blog, starting here.

To mark my 65th, I’m going to go in the opposite direction. Around 7:30am on April 1st I’ll set out from home in South Wraxall, Wiltshire, which is about 7 miles east of Bath, and head towards Barcelona, largely retracing my steps from five years earlier. This time, I’ll have company. My good friend Richard Stanton, who lives in the village, is joining me, which will mean I don’t have to talk to myself for two weeks!

Our goal is to ride 1000 miles in 10 days. Barcelona is only 900 or so miles from home so the idea is to take the overnight ferry from Barcelona at the end of day nine and complete the last 100 miles riding around Alcudia on Majorca.

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Our approximate route for the trip: if you exclude the ferry crossings, it’s only about the same distance as Lands End to John O’Groats

I’m coming back to the UK from California, where I’ve just spent three months on business, on March 28th, so there won’t be much preparation time. What’s more, I’ve still not settled on which bike to take – I have four that are around my vintage, including a Paris Galibier and a Hobbs of Barbican Blue Riband. The former is set up with a single chainring and is heavier, so would be a little more challenging. I think I’ll probably go for the Hobbs – it’s a 1950-52 frame, a late one, with a mix of 1980s Suntour and TA parts as the chain set. Five years on, I think I need a little more flexibility than that offered by the 1949 4-speed Sturmey Archer hub that powered my 2012 jaunt.

This 1952 Hobbs of Barbican Blue Riband frame was restored by Argos in Bristol. The chain set is 1980s but I feel the need for wider gearing than that available when the bike was made

Richard is of a more sensible disposition so will ride his Genesis steed. In practice, I don’t think there will a great deal of difference in performance, and we certainly won’t be racing, even though I’m assured that riding north to south means it’s mainly downhill!

My companion for the ride, Richard, is opting for a more modern set up from Genesis, a great British steel bike nevertheless

More to follow…