Munga – Get The Book!

Really pleased to announce publication of the first Just Keep Pedalling book. “Mungral” recounts the adventures myself and Theunis Estherhuizen had on Munga 2018, together with extensive tips for those inspired to see if they have what it takes themselves.

Kindle and paperback editions are available. Be careful to select the Amazon store your Kindle is registered with – usually Amazon UK or Amazon US. It isn’t easy (or even possible) to transfer a Kindle book to a different regional store.

For South Africans, a special print run has been commissioned to ensure readers can enjoy the authentic experience of a proper book, printed and bound locally in Cape Town. Orders can be placed here.

… I did not ‘read’ the book, I listened to you talking to me. I hear T’s voice, felt the aches and pain as you cycled the Munga, tasted the dust, laughed and cried with you … reading this book will make any cyclist think of doing the Munga …

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Weight watching

As well as much needed back to back distance rides, an extra goal of the recent “Chepstow Weekend” (post coming soon) was testing the full NC4K rig. And I hadn’t even swung a leg over the bike before doubts began to emerge. The scales were reading 23.5kg loaded up but without water. To be honest, that number was probably similar to my H2H tour rig, although that being a leisurly tour I didn’t bother to weigh anything. The knowledge though that this new configuration was at least 1.5Kg heavier than either of my TCR rigs was troubling. Stood in the garage staring at the number, having weighed it again in the hope it was wrong, it felt excessive. And the next day, slogging up the dual hills into and out of the Honiton valley, “excessive” was probably the word my legs would have chosen too – if they’d had enough energy to speak. As buddy Chris van Zyl messaged on our long distance group:

That weight is going to hurt in the hills

He wasn’t wrong.

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A lesson learnt from work

Warning – geek zone alert. Put on your strongest jargon pant.

I’m a coder – aka techie, geek. At one time I might even have used the term hacker, but common usage and the dictonary have pigeon holed that definition to a narrow and more malicious subset of it’s original meaning. On my resume though it’s just “Software Developer“, since corporate types don’t like any of those other terms. OK, but what does that have to do with cycling you might rightly ask. Bear with me, we’ll get there.

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Why so much gear?

I’m not sure cockpit layout is something you ever really finish, let alone perfect. Each new ride comes with fresh challenges that your gear needs to play its part in answering. And with every event done comes a better appreciation of what works and what doesn’t – what’s needed and what can be left out. You’d think with the number of events I’ve done my cockpit layout would become more streamlined and minimal. Certainly my layout for #TCRNo8 was probably the most minimal I’ve ever used on a long event. So why is this layout for NC4K so crowded?

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Sad, Hungry, Ill, Tired

As I sat on the trainer, about an hour into a 2.5 hour session yesterday, I felt unusually crap. So I tried to remember the above acronym. Except I got it wrong – the one I was thinking of was HALT (Hungry, Anry, Lonely, Tired). But I prefer my version. Partly because I’m a potty mouth by nature, but also because I think it works better for fitness and cycle training, and for me individually. So let’s delve into how I got here on this particular session.

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It doesn’t get easier …

… you just go further

To paraphrase Greg Lemond.

With a bizarre and troubling similarity to TCR No. 8 – as soon as my North Cape 4000 entry was confirmed, I was knocked flat by the dreaded Whooping Cough / 100 Day Cough or whatever the nasty bug sweeping through the UK since December has been. I’d just about shaken enough of it for our family ski holiday, although our son was still battling it and didn’t get to ski as much as he would normally. But, as the New Year rolled around I’d improved enough to get back to some training – indoors mostly, with typical UK January weather plus family commitments.

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North Cape 4000, 2024

Sorry What?

Yep – that is a fair question given my previous post on scratching from TCR#8 on day 9 in 2022 clearly stated it was “my last attempt“. But I still stand by that fully. Having had two attempts, TCR is not for me – maybe not impossible, but not doable by me in a time that fits the spirit of the race. The daily budget of 270km+  of riding combined with the often savage amount of climbing is not something my body and mind can sustain. I might be able to finish it in 20 or 21 days, but why enter something which is a race, knowing you are likely to finish 5 days or more beyond cutoff. To paraphrase Mike Halls words from the Race Manual – “TCR is not a tour, if you want one of those then there are plenty available“. But oddly, there aren’t – at least not if you want a properly long, adventurous event with a decent but still roughly attainable daily distance requirement (circa 100 miles) and around a 3 week duration. In fact there’s only one I know of in Europe: NorthCape 4000. Which is why I’ve thrown my hat in the ring to give it a try.

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Rebellion Way – Part 2

The Journey Home

5 July 2023 – Diss to Arlesey

It hadn’t ended. The rain that is. Peering out the window through a sheet of pure grey my idea of leaving at first light faded and instead I turned to the kettle and made tea and biscuits. An extra half an hour or so in the dry, pottering around re-packing the bike with some inane drivel on the TV droning away in the background seemed infinitely preferable to a soggy, first light start to the day. Eventually of course, there was nothing more I could usefully do than get dressed and wheel the bike along the narrow, low corridor and undertake the somewhat precarious descent down the winding stairs. However many times you’ve checked and rechecked your kit, that moment when the unattended hotel door clicks shut behind you is always a nervvy one. The nagging thought that the key now left inside was your only means back in to retrieve something essential until reception staff arrive hours later. But, as with so many times in the past, I knew I hadn’t. It was just an irrational fear, mixed in perhaps with a little reluctance to ride out alone into the watery dawn.

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Rebellion Way – Part 1

“Four Priests go on Tour”

(you’re gonna need to stick with the story a bit before the title of this first part makes sense)


Just shy of a year after my 2nd TCR attempt ended I find myself in a VW Kombi loaded with bikes heading up towards Norfolk. On board are Chris Eccles from my cycle club, and two of his friends: ‘Baggers’ (Peter Bagwell), and Mark Waters. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t really planned or expected to do any bike touring this year. The passion for any type of extended bike ride deserted me for quite a while. For around a couple of months after TCR I was nursing too many broken bits. And for a longer period after that, the mojo just wasn’t there. But as the weeks rolled by a steady sequence of pleasant mid-week club social rides got me back into the spirit. So when Chris ventured the idea of a short summer trip to ride the Rebellion Way (one of the newer Cycle UK gravel routes) it was an immediate ‘yes’ from me. A flat, non-technical route, split up into 4 or 5 easy days sounded ideal. Of course, no sooner had dates been penned into my diary than another thought occurred to me: Norfolk isn’t that far from home, and my cousin Bron lives on the way back. Why not ride home at the end of the tour and visit her along the way? Only those who know me well, or who have followed this blog for a while will understand my logic in deciding to tack a completely unnecessary 450km ride home onto the back of a 350km tour. That’s just how I roll. But I’m getting ahead of myself, that’s for Part 2 of the blog entry.

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TCR No.8 – Day 9

Even with a room that had a kettle and tea, it was more of a battle to get woken up and going than usual. At some point in the night a huge thunderstorm had broken across the mountains. I don’t recall whether it woke me, but it was still rolling around when the alarm went off. Although it took me some time to realise what the rushing sound was – at first I thought it was the waters of the nearby river. But on walking over to the window I could clearly see the cause – a heavy curtain of rain was lashing down into the street. The idea of riding out into it did not fill me with joy but having covered so little ground yesterday I knew I’d need too as soon as the thunder had passed. No way I was going to climb back up into the mountains with lightning forking down.

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TCR No.8 – Day 8

I can’t remember now if my later start this day was intentional or I had faffed with something and ended up setting out later. I do recall though being aware that I was more likely to run out of energy than time with the two big climbs just up ahead. So it could well have been a concious act – realising that I in all likelihood I may be heading for a hotel after the Gavia rather than tacking on the extra 500m or so of climbing over the Passo Tonale as well. Whatever the reason, it’s already beginning to get light as I push the bike back up the ramp from the basement. After quickly jogging up the steps to get back into reception and drop the key off, I roll left onto the main road.

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