Blog, Rides, Riding

Absence

Morning all, It’s been a fair old while since I posted anything on the blog and that’s been due to three things: 1. Me being uber busy. 2. Me being uber lazy. 3. Not having done anything remotely bikepacking related in far too long! But…..I’m nearing a nice window of[...]

Blog, Wildlife

Aiguille du midi

Glacier-01

I know, I know, it’s not even remotely bike related but I just wanted to document the nice photos I took today up at the Aiguille du midi. Up at 3842m altitude the air was thin and cold, I was mildly terrified in the cable-cars and the views were bloody[...]

Blog, Rides, Riding, Training

Buggered!

IMG_20140315_185928

Today was a very special day. It was the first day that there’s been sufficiently clear trails to take a regular (non-fat) bike out on the trails (albeit trails a little lower down in the valley) for some off-road action – nice! Maybe I was naive to think that I[...]

Blog, Training

Ski-touring

IMG_20140212_152219

In a weird switcheroo it appears that I’m learning to ski uphill before learning to ski down??? I’ve been out twice now ‘skinning up’ which basically means strapping on an omni-directional ‘skin’ to a pair of skis and hiking up some steep snowy slopes. The usual idea is that one[...]

Blog, Rides, Riding, Video

Epic snowy ride

video

Yesterday I went on a short but really quite challenging fatbike ride. Only 10km in total (but seemed much longer with the amount of pushing and slow-paced deep snow riding) it provided some amazing views and really difficult terrain. In places the trail was compacted for about 30cm in the[...]

Blog, Rides, Riding

A January well spent

wpid-wp-1391269702588.jpeg

I’m writing this from the car on the way back to France after 3.5 weeks in sunny England. January wasn’t a big month in terms of the quantity of rides managed but what it lacked in quantity it made up for in quality! After the previously blogged Ardeche and There[...]

wpid-IMG_20140113_035155.jpg

We’ve been in the UK for most of January and, as always, things have been crazy hectic and so, despite riding quite a bit, I’ve not managed to find time to write anything on the blog. The first big ride of the new year was my trip back to the[...]

Blog

Ardeche and Blighty visits

wpid-IMG_20140103_162205.jpg

A few days ago I headed back to the Ardeche to show a Swiss couple round the farm. I took the opportunity to do some non-snow riding by way of preparation for tomorrow’s ‘There n Back’ bikepacking event in Wales. The weather was awful throughout the drive over but weirdly[...]

Blog, Rides, Riding

Too much snow?

07

Evening, We’re currently enjoying loads of snow here in Chamonix but I’m a little worried. I went out Snowboarding yesterday for the first time this winter and I hated it! Waiting for ages for the lifts, crowded slopes and far too little skill meant that I only stayed out for[...]

Bikepacking, Blog, Gear

Winter is here!

fat

It seems that winter has landed in the Alps! There’s been a decent amount of snow around for the last month or so and it seems it’s here for good (well, hopefully spring will arrive at some point next year). I’ve been getting out fairly regularly on the fatbike (as[...]

Blog

Plans for 2014

night

As has been well documented on this blog 2013 was a year consisting mainly of failed attempts, reoccurring injuries and missed opportunities. But…..I’ve decided that 2014 will be different! I’m not entirely sure why I feel so confident (maybe because I feel like I’ve finally turned a corner with my[...]

snow

This afternoon I took advantage of the recent snow to get out and try my Fatbike out in the fluffy white stuff. It wasn’t a massive ride or particularly technical but it was a crap-load of fun and has managed to stop me feeling miserable about the coming winter. Below[...]

Blog, Gear

New bouncy bike!

01

I’ve finally finished building-up my new Alp-friendly full-sus beast! I bought a used Santa Cruz ‘Blur LT’ bike on eBay and then set about making it mine (by changing almost everything!). Some of the changes were due to the parts coming with the bike being knackered (despite being advertised as[...]

Blog

HOLY CRAP!

05

I went for a ride with Mikey and friends (sorry fellas I will eventually remember some names) on Saturday and to say that I was blown-away by the trails I now have on my doorstep would be the understatement of the week. The whole ride was epic – scale, views,[...]

Blog

Changes…..

not-me

For me this year seems to be all about changes. Firstly, our lives have been completely up-ended and our lifestyle has changed forever as we gave up the farm and moved house. Sports-wise – I bought a carbon road bike (something I said I’d never do), I tried skiing (something[...]

Blog

I’M BACK!!!

01

WOW – when the house got struck by lightening a few months ago (one hell of a lights exploding, fuse-board melting and ear-splitting bang affair) we didn’t think that we’d never be online in that house again – but that’s exactly what happened! So it’s no surprise that things have been[...]

02

In a strange reversal of fortune I finally achieved one of the things I wanted to do in 2013.

Blog, Monthly km count

June

03

So…..that’s June finished! It’s felt pretty uninspiring on the riding front this month (which is why things have been pretty quiet on the blog). It’s not that I’ve haven’t been putting the miles in but they’ve been road miles and so there’s only so much to report.

Blog, Rides, Riding, Training

A roadie?

05

It would appear that I’ve become an actual roadie???

04

I realised yesterday that I’d not done any monthly round-up posts for April and/or May and so here they are…..

Blog

An evening tootle

03

I went on my first proper ride since the Pyrenees this evening and it was lovely. Not long but mean as hell in terms of a nasty little climb and some seriously technical descents!

TP-04-01

Right, we’re nearly done. Day 04 dawned early if not bright as I’d decided that I was going to get up at 05:00 and set off at 06:30 – a couple of hours before the others.

TP-03-10

The plan was that every third day would be shorter and easier than the previous two to give us a rest and so Day 03 was, on paper, a half-day with time to rest and recover after two big days in the saddle – HA!

TP-02-03

Ok, day two….. I woke up nice and early feeling rested, refreshed and with an aching painful back – bugger!

TP-01-03

This is not the comprehensive trip report of a successful and complete off-road traverse of the Pyrenees that I’d hoped to be writing but nevertheless here is a little write-up of my (shortened) Pyrenean adventure.

TP-04-03

So….. After 3.5 days of 12 I was unhappily on my way back to blighty!

pyrenees

Right…..it’s almost 04:00, I’ve got a taxi coming to take me to St Pancras in 15 minutes, I got 3.5 hours sleep after a wedding last night and I’ve got a 17 hour day of travel ahead of me! All being well I’ll be back in two weeks having successfully[...]

solaris-01

Tomorrow we head back to Blighty and in just over a week I’m scheduled to take the train to the very north-east of Spain in order to start the TransPyr trip with Nick, Duncan and Kevin. At this time my elbow has regained 90% of it’s movement and the pain[...]

trainer

I’m stubborn.

Blog

Buggeroo!

x-ray

Good evening – here is the news:

08

You know a trip has gone a little awry when it’s 01:30 in the morning and you’re sat up a tree in your pants, armed with only a headtorch and leatherman watching a wild boar attempt to eat your bike!

06

I went to see a sports physio this morning and got me some new and (hopefully) improved warm-up/post-ride exercises as well as some more core strength stuff and so I set-off on a nice little celebratory tootle to see how things are progressing spine-wise.

07

January’s km count was a bit lame though February saw a massive improvement and so let’s see what March had in store for yours truly…..

01

I’m continuing my monthly bivi challenge but…..due to weather, my ongoing bad back and other time constraints, I was fast running out of March and so I decided that I’d do something a little different this month.

04

Afternoon, I’ve had a very quiet few weeks as my back’s been giving me crap again and so I’ve been taking things VERY easy (a run here and a swim there but not much else). But…..today there are a few little things to report:

06

I can’t believe it’s the 8th and I’ve only just done my first ride of the month! To be fair I’ve been bloody busy so far this month and so I’ll let myself off just this once. I’ve been spending my days chasing out the old mortar from the walls[...]

09

Yesterday I descended from the bright and sunny Alps in order to do two things: 1. Drop Nikki and Amelie off at the train station in Chambery for their week back in blighty. 2. To head out for a day/night/day in the hills to tick off my February Bivi trip[...]

02

Evening all, It would seem that I had a much better (riding stats-wise) February than I did January (though I thoroughly enjoyed this years January to be honest).

01

Morning, Yesterday I took my new road bike (well, new to me – 2nd hand frame and forks with all of the old bits swapped over from my previous road bike) out for it’s maiden voyage. Sure, it’d been used on the turbo-trainer a few times in various states during[...]

Blog, Rides, Riding

More deep snowy riding

07

I took Sam back to the airport last night but before we left there was time for one last blast in the snow! That made a total of 5 rides in 8 days – not a bad tally.

Blog, Rides, Riding

Rides with Sam

01

Morning! Sam’s out here for a week and so we’ve been out a few times on the bikes.

info

As part of a drive to motivate myself to do more this year here is the first of 12 planned monthly instalments which document just how much (or how little) I’ve ridden each month. Below for your viewing pleasure (pah!) is a graphic representation of the first month of 2013.

Bikepacking, Blog, Rides, Riding, TransPyr

Booked!

route

Right, it IS ON!!! Today I booked the train tickets for my upcoming TransPyr trip.

05

I’ve not managed to get out for a little while due to being (overly?) cautious with a bit of a sore back but today the sun was shining, the snow was crisp, my back was feeling good and I definitely felt the need to get out into the hills.

02

I’ve been managing to get out a little bit for a few night rides (necessary as there simply isn’t enough daylight to do everything that needs doing (renovations, baby, cooking, farm) as well as getting out on my bike).

15-01-2013-Half-Ride-03

Today I had to leave the car at the garage in Valence for 6 hours and so it seemed sensible to plan a nice big ride but I must have pissed someone important off as the entire day was a joke!

13-01-2012-03

This morning I went on my first ride with a local Mountain Bike (VTT) Club. Well…..with one member anyway. Everyone else didn’t show up due to either the overnight snow or because they had some kind of reunion drinks last night – but me and Laurent had a nice ride[...]

04

Last night, after being inspired reading everyone’s ‘2013 bivi-a-month challenge‘ aims over on the Bear Bones Bikepacking forum, I decided to change my plans for a night ride into an impromptu mini-bikepacking trip.

Blog

2012 – a hell of a year!

IMG_2000

It’s the 30th of December and as the year draws to conclusion I thought I’d do a little summary of 2012 along with some photographs which I think nicely illustrate what a hell of a year it’s been for me and biking!

pyrenees

It’s been a while in the planning (and things may well alter yet) but preparations have progressed sufficiently that I think it’s not premature to mention the plans for my Big Trip 2013! After loving my TransAlp 2012 trip so much I didn’t want to stray too far from that[...]

ride-151212-01

I’m definitely not complaining about there having been loads of lovely white snow around for the last few weeks but it did mean (as I’m not yet set-up for serious snow-riding) that I was unable to get out on my bike!

Blog, Rides, Riding

l’Etape du Tour

Bugger! It would appear that I’ve accidentally entered the 2013 l’Etape du Tour road event. It’s a stage from next years Tour de France (usually one of the harder mountain stages) and so it seemed ideal for someone who’s never ridden in any road biking event – ever.

Blog, Gear

November Bivi

271112-bivi-03

It took until the 27th of this fine autumn month before I managed to get out for a night in the wild! There were a number of aborted attempts and failed missions but last night I ignored the forecast snow and sub-zero temperatures and set-off into the night for a[...]

261112-ride-thumb

Today I went to pick-up my new road bike frame (I mean my mother-in-law) from Lyon airport. They (Pam and the frame) arrived at 16:00 and so there was just enough time to squeeze in a ride on the way.

211112-salamander

Tonight I went on another little night ride. It’s a one hour loop that I was doing a lot in the summer but it seems more of a mission on a cold dark rainy night!

Blog, Rides, Riding

1st impressions…..

1st-29er-Ride-03

Today, in complete contrast to my previously stated plans for this weekend, I finally got out on my new 29er for the first time.

Blog, Gear

Bike porn!

solaris-08

Evening all, Today I took delivery of the final parts to put together my long-awaited shiny new 29er build! My Cotic ‘Solaris’ is finally complete and ready to hit the trails (there’ll be a mini test ride tomorrow before a weekend of bike/bivi fun!).

Blog, Training

Paleo diet thingy

thumb

Evening, I’ve always liked the idea of eating better but unfortunately I’ve never liked the idea more than I like eating cakes and drinking beer and so, a few years ago, I found myself on the slippery slope to obesity and early death (ok, so I’d put on a little weight).

Blog, Gear

Night-rider!

021112-night-ride

Last night I went out to test my new Hope ‘Vision 1′ light. When used with my LED Lenser ‘H7R’ head-torch it seems (based on yesterday’s outing) to offer up enough light for me to get out and do some night time rides over this coming winter.

Blog

A real ride!

311012-02

Evening, Today I went on what should be considered my first ‘real’ mountain bike ride since the dreaded back incident of late August. It wasn’t far but it was sufficiently technical that I’d go as far as to call it actual mountain biking!

Blog

Caminata españoles grande

241012-05

Being so close to the bottom of France a few days ago meant that we were also very close to the top of Spain (funny that)! As I’d never been to Spain before I took the opportunity to sneak over the border for a mini bivi trip.

Blog

WOO-HOO!!!!!

221012-01

Today I managed my first little ride in well over a month! It wasn’t a long ride, it wasn’t a technically difficult ride but it certainly was a very welcome one!

171012-02

Afternoon, Another month has passed without so much as a sniff of a ride and I’m beginning to lose the remaining patience I had with my useless excuse for a spine.

Gear, TransAlp-2012-Gear

Luggage:

tiger

One of the most important factors in bikepacking is the carrying and weight distribution of your kit. Five pieces of kit complete my bikepacking luggage ensemble: Frame-bag Rucksack Seat-bag Bar-bag Gas-tank

Gear, TransAlp-2012-Gear

Clothing:

00013524

Ok, next up is the clothing I took/wore on my trip…..

Gear, TransAlp-2012-Gear

Cooking gear:

hm

To continue the ‘gear I took on my trip’ series here’s a run-down of what I cooked on and how it faired throughout the trip. I did a fair bit of looking around and testing before I settled on my stove/cookware for my trip and I have no complaints –[...]

Blog

On the mend!

140912-02

This evening I went for an actual real life bike ride! My back is now feeling sufficiently healed for me to risk a (very VERY tame) short little tootle around the woods near here. For the first km or so I think that the only reason I felt stiff was[...]

Gear

Retail (back) therapy

solaris

My back is feeling a lot better. In fact, I went out on my bike (for the first time since my disc selfishly herniated) today! I popped down the trail from the house for a few hundred metres before turning around and riding back.

Blog, Riding, TransAlp, XXC

XXC article

02

Evenin’, Despite the fact that I’m still stuck flat on my back, unable to move, in constant back pain whilst looking helplessly out over Mont Blanc I find myself in a strangely good mood.

mat-mcpm-01

For my trip I had another big sleeping-system decision to make – the sleeping mat!

sb-04

Round two in the ‘kit review’ series: The Sleeping Bag…..

tent-06

I received a fair few requests for my thoughts and opinions on the kit I used during my recent big trip and so here’s the first instalment….. The humble tent:

Blog

New blog address

new

I should also probably mention (not that it’ll have escaped your attention) that I’ve moved my blog and so, whilst you can still be redirected here if you visit www.simple-lodge.com/biking, the easiest and most direct route is to simply type in www.gairy.co.uk

Blog

Ouch!

xray

I’ve spent the last week pretty much entirely horizontal due to crippling back pain. My old friend the ‘herniated L3′ has reared it’s ugly head and put me on my ass!

02

We’ve had Matt, Rachel and (Amelie’s best friend) baby Connie with us for the past week and so it’s been my pleasure to take Matt out into the Ardèche hills so that he can teach me some lessons in humility.

view-02

I did some maths and realised that I have no free evenings for the rest of the month and so, beginning to panic about the ’2012 Bivi a month challenge’, I opted to do a 12 hour stealth-bivi last night.

Blog, Gear

Salamandre bikes

06

I met up with Yann yesterday (as mentioned in my previous post) who makes custom bike frames in the south of the Ardeche. I couldn’t resist sharing a few photographs of a few of his fat-bikes as they’re beautifully made and perfect for bikepacking duties.

01

Last week I got an email form a guy in the south of the Ardeche who said that he’d been given my details by two people within an hour and so he thought he’d get in touch.

01

Ok, so this is it, the final TransAlp post – thanks for staying with me. It’s been a long trip-report and I think we’ll all be happy to move on with our lives now that it’s almost over!

06

Right, we’re nearly finished….. Day 06! In a word ‘LONG’.

04

Day 05 was brutal! It had a nice easy beginning (as you can see below) but then there was a 1600m/1mile vertical ascent which nearly killed me:

07

Afternoon, Sorry for the delay in the posting of Day 04 but I’ve been having image hosting issues and have been unable to put anything new up for days. So…..where were we?

270812-thumb-01

It’s taken a fair old while to put together but at last the mini-movie of my trip is finished! Below is the low-res version of the video but if you’d like to view it in HD then you can  click here.

02

Day 03: Despite what the profile of the .gpx file indicates below I did not descend to sea-level before climbing a 1.5km vertical cliff at the start of day 03!

01

Ok, day 02….. I woke up pretty early as everything was damp (especially where the leak was funnily enough!) and so got up and started to pack everything away.

01

It’s been well over a week since I returned from my ‘Big Trip’ and so I decided it was about time I attempted to string some words together and write about what went on. Ok, here goes…..

After 6.5 days (3.5 days faster than expected) in the mountains I successfully completed my TransAlp trip! I’ve just gotten back to Chamonix and am absolutely (both physically and mentally) exhausted.

Evening all, Almost time to be off and just enough time (before eating some pork chops and going to bed) for this post. Everything that I can be arsed to do is done and anything that’s been forgotten is staying forgotten!

u

So, only 3 days to go until I leave on my big trip and I am seriously under-prepared!

200512-ride-01

Ok, so it’s now just over a week until I’m off on my trip! So…..last weekend I entered a 3 day/4 stage mountain bike race in Le Chelyard to see how my ‘training’ has worked out. I’d been meaning to enter this race for the last few years but something[...]

160612-bivi-08

Evening! On Friday I went on another 24 hour ‘training trip’ which turned out to be a real humdinger of a ride! I wanted to have the most riding time on both Friday and Saturday and so I set-off at 14:00 which would give me approximately 6-7 hours of solid[...]

01

Good afternoon, There’s less than a month to go now until I set-off on my big trip and so I’m starting to pick up the pace with regards to ‘training’ so…..as well as doing some nice long rides I’ve also been doing a sweet little 10 mile sprint-loop from the[...]

road-01

Evening all, Seeing as I went on a massive ride in crazy hot weather last weekend I decided to do something a little different today.

270512-ride-05

Evening, Early on Saturday morning (after getting up with Amelie at 05:30) I set off south to the Ardeche Gorge for a little 24 hour adventure. Here, for your viewing pleasure is a short (really!) movie of the trip:

Gear

Adapted seat-bag

250512-01

A while back I bought an Ortileb seat bag and it was basically a bit crap. Always moving around and getting in the way and generally (apart from being really waterproof) of no use what-so-ever. Then, whilst recently thinking about ways to make a harness for my dry-bag to mount behind[...]

250512-01

I’ve been trying to refine my kit and packing-order in preparation for my big trip in July and now that my kit is (mostly) sorted I feel like I’m finally getting close to being happy with it all. So…..I’ll be heading off on Saturday for a nice big test ride/bivi[...]

Bikepacking, Gear

Fuel-tank

230512-01

Yesterday, I took delivery of my newest piece of bikepacking luggage – the ‘fuel tank’. It’s basically just a little top-tube mounted bag for carrying the little things which usually clog up your pockets or become annoyingly inaccessible (as they end up at the bottom of your pack) when you[...]

200512-ride-03

Afternoon folks, This morning I headed out to do a ride which I managed part of back in January before my navigation skills let me know down and I missed off the intended last 3rd of the ride. Don’t get me wrong my new and improvised route was still a[...]

Rides

Great new ride!

190512-04

Today I bagged myself another great ride to add to my collection of ‘rides to do whilst picking someone up/dropping someone off at Valence train station’.

Rides

Lake Devesset ride

140512-ride-03

Today I went on another little tootle which I thought I’d post about. I rode from Saint Agreve via Lake Devesset to Le Chambon Sur Lignon and then back home.

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