Mud, mud, glorious mud (nothing quite like it for cooling the blood)

BE SAFE: BE SEEN
BE SAFE: BE SEEN

I managed to complete a full mountain bike ride yesterday with bike intact and a full complement of body parts, which is something to celebrate. Despite threatening skies, near total darkness and lashings of mud, this week’s Bike Club was a big success. Fun was had by all (3 of us) on a varied 15 and a bit-mile route around the forested hills and valleys of the Stourhead Estate, taking in Stourhead house itself, a close-encounter with a deer, enjoyable downhills and tiring climbs. Feeling thoroughly buoyed by the experience, I intend to keep carrying the Webtogs Bike Night torch on through the cold, dark winter months! (more…)

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Keith Cycles The Velodyssey: French Atlantic Coastal Route

Our MD and long-running cycle touring enthusiast Keith spent his time off last summer cycling the a 800-mile cycle route along the Atlantic Coast. He encountered many revelations about kit, France and cycle touring in general along the way. Here he shares these revelations with us here on the Tog Blog…

 

I spent most of the winter thinking about what I was going to do for my summer cycle tour. I knew that I wanted to do a tour in France and that I wanted to feel like I had been on holiday, so after hours of research I settled on the Velodyssey.
The Velodyessy is a 1,200 kilometre bike ride from Brittany to the boarder of Spain. For ease of logistics I started from the airport at Biarritz and Cycled North. (more…)

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Mayhem of mud

Well the teams are back and there are some fairly shattered folks after the Mountain Mayhem this weekend. The story of the weekend seems to be Mud. Oh and then a bit more on top. Cycling proved tricky in the conditions with folks pushing their bikes for up to a third of the course. There’s been a few negative vibes on Facebook to do with the gloop but the guys & gals here have had a good time, despite the best endeavours of mother nature.

We’ve pulled together our best photos of the weekend along with a couple of videos to give you a taste of what went on.

Camp mayhem

Team Webtogs

Lucys team

Bottom of one of the hills

Unicycle nutter

Charlie shows a bit of leg

Charlie keeps smiling

The Islabikes team racing on kiddy bikes

Post race gloop

To all those who went and participated – we salute you! If you went, how did you get on and is anyone planning on tackling it next year?

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Mountain Mayhem this weekend

Five of the Webtogs team are off to do the Mountain Mayhem this weekend in weather that’s looking a bit iffy to say the least! Mountain Mayhem is the largest and the most prestigious 24-hour mountain bike event in the world, where teams of up to 10 cycle off road for a total of 24 hours around a 10 mile circuit in Eastnor Castle Deer Park, Herefordshire. There’s a lot of night riding as a result, so the guys are really looking forward to testing out some of their Silva head torches, particularly Tim with his Silva Sprint plus.

Mountain Mayhem at nightWe’ve got two teams entering, Charlie, Keith, Mike & Tim are in one and Lucy has teamed up with other friends to cycle with another. So far today, everyone appears to have been huddling over computers nervously watching the weather forecast. Early reports have said the site and course resemble classic Glastonbury circa 1997 – not pleasant….

Best of luck to everyone who is entering this weekend, if anyone has entered previously or is taking part, we’d love to hear how you got on or what you think of it, so please post up in the comments below.

Photos courtesy of Nic R & Andy Armstrong on Flickr

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Walk Wednesday in the New Forest – Hawkhill round walk or ride

This weeks Walk Wednesday route is a straightforward walk that can also be cycled. Near the village of Beaulieu in the New Forest, you start off at the Hawkhill enclosure which you get to by taking the B3054 from Beaulieu or the B3055 from Brockenhurst.

At the Hawkhill Car Park you follow the dirt track south before zig zagging your way to Round Hill , then following tracks North through the Forest to New Copse & Stubby Cope Inclosures before circling Denny Lodge and heading back.

New Forest horsesStaying in the forest you head down to Frame Wood eventually leaving the woods at Furzey Lodge before heading back along the road to the car park.

All in all it’s nearly 12 miles with a little up and down and is perfect as a cycle with the family, a blast after work when short of time, or a long half days walking.

As always you can download the route on Viewranger, have a look at the Social Hiking Map below, or right click and “save as” the GPX file here to download for your Sat Nav device of choice.

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Keith’s cycle & camp from John O’Groats to Lands End – Stage 1

Our MD Keith is well in to the first week of his epic trip  cycling from John O’Groats to Lands End, camping as he goes. He began riding on Sunday 20th May and since then he has done 300 miles, 14370 feet of ascent, 0 midge bites, 27 near death misses by caravans, has a bit of sunburn, less fat and a good sweat pong!

He’s doing it all in aid of the Alzheimers society, which works to improve the quality of life of people affected by dementia in the UK. Keith’s a prop forward so cycling a 1000 miles isn’t going to be easy for him…. If you would like to support him he would be absolutely made up,  just click here to visit his Just Giving page.

He hit Loch Ness last night after cycling down through Glen Coe yesterday and sent a long update with photos of his journey so far. True to his word, he’s kept it hardcore and hasn’t stopped in to a B & B yet, camping or wild camping all the way……

more John O'Groats

hitting the road south

near Stac Mor

Wades Military Road - great riding

Bridge to Inverness

Canal Tow Path

Camping in Glen Coe

Buchaille Etive Mor

Long Climb - Loch Ness in the distance.

As soon as we get any more updates, we’ll put them up here. If you’ve got any questions about his route, gear or anything else in the meantime, post up in the comments below!

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Never The End…

Well, another trip is over. Eight months and 11,600km cycled, 725km sailed and 250km packrafted on the North American continent.

But my journey, continuing down the road around the world continues. Who knows where it will take me, but that is where the fun (and fear) lies.

But for now, here are some highlights from the last eight months…

Pushing up the Heckman Pass…
Top of Heckman's Pass
Top of Heckman's Pass

To cycle across the Chilcotin Plateau…

Chilcotin Plateau
Chilcotin Plateau

Cycling the Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Banff in beautiful British Columbia…

Icefields Parkway, British Columbia
Icefields Parkway, British Columbia

Over the Elk Pass and into Montana…

Spray Lake Trail on way to Elk Pass
Spray Lake Trail on way to Elk Pass

Over the Lolo and Whitebird Passes through Idaho…

Whitebird Pass, Idaho
Whitebird Pass, Idaho

Biking the backroads of Nevada…

Off the Beaten Track...
Off the Beaten Track...

And facing snow in Utah…

Summit in the Snow
Summit in the Snow

Seeing some of the most stunning landscapes in Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks…

Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon

Crossing the Mohave desert and Joshua Tree…

Joshua Tree...
Joshua Tree...

Through Southern California and into Baja, Mexico with it’s abundance of cacti…

Cacti in Baja
Cacti in Baja

Sailing the Sea of Cortez with Kevin on board Alex II and sighting whales, dolphins, turtles and a shark…

Sailing Sea of Cortez
Sailing Sea of Cortez

Cycling Mexico’s coast…

All up and down along the coast...
All up and down along the coast...

And inland and over hill to Oaxaca and San Cristobal de las Casas…

Oaxaca Cathedral
Oaxaca Cathedral

Visiting the Mayan ruins of Palenque and Tikal…

Tikal, Guatemala
Tikal, Guatemala

Cycling through Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras…

El Salvador, a small country of many volcanoes
El Salvador, a small country of many volcanoes

Packrafting the Rio Bocay and Rio Coco in the Moskitia border region of Nicaragua…

Packrafting the Rio Bocay in Nicaragua
Packrafting the Rio Bocay in Nicaragua

And finishing it all off with some back-road biking through Belize…

Backroads of Belize, Through Rio Bravo Conservation Area
Backroads of Belize, Through Rio Bravo Conservation Area
I am now back in the UK and looking forward to the rest of the year exploring a little closer to home… our little British island has just as much to offer!

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Farnham round walk or off road cycle – take your pick!

The Museum FarnhamThis weeks #walkwednesday route is one we have created in Farnham, Dorset and is either a challenging 13.5 miles of walking, or a quick hour and a half on the Mountain bike – whichever you prefer. Set in an Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Cranbourne Chase, this is a walk or ride that takes in downs, ancient deer parks before delivering you back to a pub of course!

Parking starts at the Museum in Farnham (do make sure you stop in for a pint afterwards, it’s a cracker) and there’s a little bit of up and down to whet your appetite. You start off heading past Chettle Down where you can take a detour to look at an abandoned ancient settlement. View of Chettle Down from Dunspit LaneQuite a bit goes through Harbin’s Park which was once a Medieval deer park covering, more or less rectangular in shape and surrounded by a bank up to 16 feet (5 metres) wide and 5 feet (1.5 metres) high and a ditch over 15 feet (4.5 metres) wide. See if you can spot any of these features as you head around. You come back through Chettle which has been described as the perfect English Village before heading back to Farnham.

Chettle churchWe’ve put a map of the route up beloow, but if you’ve got Viewranger you can download this route for FREE on to your mobile and follow it around. Please note Walking or MTBing can be challenging activities, so do check out the weather and be honest about your level of fitness before setting off.

 

 


© CC The Museum Farnham by Bert 23 – Flickr 
© CC Chettle Church by jfarnhill Flickr
© CC Chettle Down by Toby

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A Wild Night to Remember…

Wild camping

So what do you do when you are seen wild camping in a not-so-stealthy spot? Where three teenagers, a cocky lad and two girls, walk past with a bottle of rum to be drunk down by the river, just 30km outside San Salvador near the main road?

Well, we said hello as they went by and stayed where we were.
But half an hour later the three return, inebriated.

The lad was staggering and slurring his words. Barely understandable. But he is asking for a phone. We don’t have one (so we say), but soon he gets aggressive and starts demanding our phone. And the girls are peering through the tents looking to see what they can take. Time to get serious. Take a stand. Make clear there’ll be no messing with us. How exactly they thought they could steal from us in their intoxicated state I don’t know. I suppose they weren’t really thinking at all!

But as they leave, we immediately start packing up. Time to find another place. We don’t know if they will come back, or bring others, or if someone else will see us.

And that’s how, at 8pm, in darkness, we push our bikes back to the main road and hesitantly cycle on. But being on the road after dark in these areas is not safe either. So we ask if we can camp in the yard of the first home we see.

Although it is difficult to understand all that the father is saying, he eventually tells us go follow him across the road to another house.

The gate is locked, but it’s only wood and barbed wire, so it is bent and we carry our bikes over. And up to the front door of this simple single room, corrugated roof house. The door is locked, the curtains drawn. The father and son knock on the door. No reply.

The son raises up one of the glass slats on the window, pulls back the curtain and calls inside. No reply.

I peer through too. The TV is on and a man is sat in an armchair with his back to us, watching it. The son calls again. No reply.

Maybe he is sleeping.

I feel guilty for not only disturbing one family, but now waking up another stranger having broken through his gate and pulled apart his window.

I say that perhaps it is better if we carry on and look for somewhere else to camp. But the father will have none of it.

I think the man must be drunkenly unconscious not to hear our racket outside. But his left hand is up in the air.

Now the father has a 3metre long stick from the garden and is starting to poke it through the window. I hope the man inside isn’t startled and have a shotgun close to hand. Seriously, how can he not have heard us? We have been here a good fifteen minutes trying to raise the dead…

Actually, it turns out we’ve been trying to raise the deaf.

So there we are, calling to a deaf man in the darkness and waving a long pole through the window to get his attention.

Finally he sees us.

He opens the door, wide lop-sided grin on his face, pleased to see his neighbour, even if it is nighttime and there are two strange gringos with bikes there too.

Now we know we are in a safe place. He wants us to stay in his home, but we insist on camping in the garden. We have intruded enough already.

The father and son leave us to put up our tents. The happy deaf man offers us fruit and gives us a bottle of ice cold water. With a few hand gestures he shows us the toilet and explains what time he must go to work in the morning. Not only is he deaf, but he doesn’t speak either. Surprisingly though, it is easier to communicate with him than with some locals who speak Spanish very fast and no English at all.

What a night and we haven’t even cooked dinner yet! But at least we are safe it. And so I sleep well… until the roosters start calling at 5.30am, which apparently is enough to raise even the deaf, because our man is already sweeping the yard when I emerge from the tent.

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