Trial Run to Alwinton,Northumberland

I wanted to get a trial run in before my trip to test out all the gear,and myself. Friday/Saturday provided the ideal chance to do that. On thursday night I packed up all the things I will be taking to Europe with me except for a few less clothes ,and weighed it all out.

Front left pannier 3.3 kg, front right 3.0 kg, back left 5.7 kg , back right 5.2kg, rack bag 3 kg, bar bag 2.5kg so all told the weight on bike was 22.7 kg!

Alwinton is 39 miles ( 62km )away and I set off in glorious sunshine. You notice a hell of a difference with all the weight on the bike, not weight wise but in handling , your very conscious on cornering.

I set off from Cramlington headed up to Morpeth, then dropped off onto the B” roads that take you up the quite way towards Rothbury. I will tell you this now ,Europe will have to go some to beat Northumberland on a sunny day as the views and scenery were fantastic. The descent into Rothbury was exciting to say the least, a 14% gradient taken at 40 mph (64km)!!. I stopped off in Rothbury to buy some award-winning sausages from the local butchers , and a Cornish pasty for lunch, sat by the river and had a nice 15 min rest. Got talking to a lovely lady who asked where I was off to and gave me a really nice short cut across a farm track. Sorry I did not get her name but gave her my website address so thank you Mrs !! I was just starting to feel tired when I got to Alwinton , tell you now I don’t have thighs, I have muscles on muscles!.

The camp site was at Clennel Hall and it was fantastic £10 per night, no mobile signal but sometimes that’s not a bad thing.I got there at 2.15 checked in to find I was the only person on the camping field . pitched the tent in 12 mins ,and 5 mins later I was off in the shower for a freshen up! 1 Shower later ,clean clothes I headed off the manor house to enjoy a pint of well deserved Guinness in the glorious sunshine, just sat and watched a Red kite circling high on currents on the hills surrounding the manor house.

Back to the tent to make tea on the Trangia- I love it, the gas conversion kit is superb.,controllable flame ingenious design, such a clever piece of kit, mind it was made and designed in Sweden !. my meal consisted of , 2 pork and Rosemary sausages, fresh mushrooms 3 pieces of chorizo ,1 med bowl of pasta and a tub of pasta sauce. It was bloody lovely . washed up and then headed over to the manor again for one more pint.

On leaving the manor , it gave me a chance to use my Petzl head torch as it was pitch dark and again another great buy, lit my way back to tent, then got myself sorted for the night. Now here is a fact, I fell asleep at 9.30 pm and woke at 7 am exactly so I had 9.5 hrs sleep, I normally get by on 7 hrs so all the cycling and fresh air , plus a couple of pint of the black stuff equals a great nights sleep.The Outwell self inflating 5 mm mattress is a dream to sleep on and the pillow makes all the difference .

Sat morning was raining, such a change from Friday, but I had two bowls of cereal , a cup of tea, and half a bar of fruit and nut! waited till 9.30 for it to clear up , packed up all my things and off I set.

The Journey back was great. some REALLY big hills along side Simonside and Tosson Hill, but I’m fit now and relished the challenge to get me and the bike up those hills without stopping, It’s a hard thing to do with all the equipment I was carrying, but the satisfaction of reaching the top is something else. Mind 40 mph down some hills 4 mph up those two.! but I did it.

Stopped off in Morpeth on way back to top up the drinks , and arrived back home at 3pm.

Everything worked great, nothing I would change equipment wise, and very happy to have the mileage with all the gear under my belt.

The Stats to Alwinton are : Distance 39.3 miles (62km), max speed 40mph, Ave 9.7 time, 4hrs 2 mins calories used 957.

Return Journey :37 miles (59km) max speed 43.5 mph ave 10.4 mph time 3hrs 32 mins cals 858 .

Total 77 miles( 123Kms)

Europe here I come .

Two things I love : JSMSB!


Sunday -fantastic day.

Set off from home (Cramlington) at 7.35 am in thick fog which lifted when passed the Angel of the North. Rode to Hunwick County Durham, where I met up with a very good friend. Quick shower, change, and out for Sunday Lunch. Left at 3.15pm to cycle back home. As I was passing through Chester-le St . a convertible Saab came passed me, and I shouted out as I thought it was my cousin, and low and behold the car pulls over in a siding,10 secs later, and it was her and her Husband. not a bad shout out considering we have not seen each other for approx 19 yrs!!

Had a good catch up and it was great to see her again , wont leave it so long till the next time., set off after 15 mins and rode back home.

I even picked up a passenger for 4 miles see the picture on Facebook.!!


Total mileage for day 67.1 miles (107 km’h)

max speed 26.6 Mph (42 km h)

Ave 13 mph (21 km h)

Time 5hrs 12 mins

1596 calories burned off.

The weather was fantastic, once the fog burned off, and all in all , A REALLY good day :).

Toot toot I’m oot

Good Mates/ Ortlieb bar bag

Good Mates-  I’m very lucky to have some very good friends, by that I mean genuine friends.

For example,  yesterday in the post, arrived two portable mobile battery boosters for my iPhone 4s.

One of my mates (Craig) has bought them , and had them posted to me ,as a back up incase my iPhone runs flat while I’m on the road.

Now that’s good mates for you.

Cheers Craig 🙂

Ortlieb  Bar Bag- what a clever piece of kit, once its fitted to the  handle bar, it locks in place with a key to stop the  Scum for trying to nick it, It took me best part of 25 mins to fit the thing with all the fittings and wires ,( krypton factor would have been easier) but now its in place I can lock the bag to bike or remove it when I want to  go somewhere, its got the map case fitted to the top so my directions will be right in front of me while riding, not that it will make much difference , as I guarantee I will still get lost, but that’s going to be par for the course.

One of the cyclists Shane Little I follow who is at present riding through Africa !!(now there is an adventure)  has a fact and figures stat page on his site so if you don’t mind Shane, I think it’s a clever idea, so I’m going to nick it.

More detailed camping planning and finding a  route from Metz to Montpellier ( top right of France to bottom ) this weekend.

for now, toot toot I’m oot.

1st gear Cycles

I ordered my front rack via  and through no fault of their own the rack was not the spec I thought it was with a weight limit of 18 kg , not the 30kg that Axion quoted  on their  literature . So after a few emails back and forth , I decided to keep the rack as 18 kg is more than enough for my front rack anyway.

Mike , very kindly sent me a few freebies for the hassle and a gesture of goodwill, which he didn’t have to , so I’m  taking this chance to say  “if you want good customer service, then 1st gear cycles  offer a good service”.

Toot toot Im oot.


Looking back, looking forwards.

I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on lots of things  in life, some distant and some very recent. Have to be honest some of them brought a tear to my eye. Do I have regrets about some of them , Yes without a doubt. You can’t change what you’ve done , or what has happened, so the only way is to look back with fond memories on some of them, learn from your life experiences, and look forward .

The rest of my maps have come in the last few days , along with my Handlebar bag, and dry bag, along with some other things I’ve bought recently,  that’s all the gear  I need, now sorted.  Spent the last few nights trawling maps , internet, doing more research and fired a few questions off to someone with local knowledge.

I’m on countdown time now, (10 weeks today ) working very hard,  saving as much as possible, and planning. Hand on heart I wish I could go NOW, but have things to finish, tie up , more planning to do, and my sons 19th Birthday  before I go.

Will fill in some more details  soon, but for now , toot toot, I’m oot.



Fri night/Sat morning

Fri night-5 pints of real ale, 1 single vodka, two doubles and diet coke, Chicken /lamb sag, oinion pelaw, chips peshwari nan and  home for 1am. Sat morn 10am- 35 mile bike ride !! felt great so either im getting pretty fit now or alcohol + curry  + bike ride are a good combination . either way I dont mind 🙂