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Cycling started for me with the Devon coast to coast (Plymouth/Ilfracombe and back) in 2004 and continued with the London to Brighton in 2005; there was then an attempt at the South Downs on unsuitable bikes, which finished up as a Winchester/Eastbourne round trip road bike ride!

There then followed several endurance events since 2006 and 2 cycling holidays (the Danube with luggage on bikes -2006 - and the Moselle with motor-home in 2007). The collapsible panels below describe some of what followed. They do not (yet) include three more Cape Argus's, two and a half more Swedish lakes, the trip to China or the trip along the top of the Pyrenees (all 2011-2013).


Bike Ride and Stride 2006

A day on the bike around the South Hams, collecting 26 churches. 96.8km (60.1 miles) just attainable before darkness fell! 2042 metres (6699 feet) of climbing

      Noss Luson Modbury Chst Wdlgh  Morl  Peak Cr  Ratry   S Br  Ugboro YemtnBridgend     R. Erme A Gif  Kbge Torr Harbtfd  Totnes Hford Avwk  Ermtn Coll   NF

Photo page (move cursor over church names, click for larger photo)

Bike Ride and Stride 2007

This year's sponsored event was held on Saturday 8th September organised by Devon Historic Churches Trust. Half of the sponsorship proceeds goes to the rider's nominated local church, the balance being for the Trust.

The ride was for all age groups and abilities - you didn't have to get on a bike - just visit one or more of the local churches - see map below for some in the South Hams churches. Some went on foot, others on horseback. We went by bike and ferry.

This year there was a peleton of two (Penny Punch and SO) that left Holy Cross Church, Newton Ferrers at 9am on Saturday morning. Our ranks were swelled to three at Holbeton by the addition of Brian from Yealmpton, who cycled with us as far as Salcombe before returning home for a squash match!

First half

NF Holy Cross > Noss (Revelstoke St Peter)> Stoke (St Peter the poor fisherman)> Holbeton > Kingston > Ringmore > Bigbury Court > Thurlestone > South Milton > Galmpton > Hope Cove, then lunch in a Caravan Club CL field above Hope Cove.

Second half

After lunch, on to Malborough > Salcombe (where we said goodbye to Brian) and then caught the ferry across the estuary to East Portlemouth (which we failed to photograph). Thence to Chivelstone > South Pool > West Charleton (again no photograph)> Kingsbridge > West Alvington (forgot to post the photo!) and then, as darkness was beckoning, cycled on to Aveton Gifford where we had arranged to meet a lift back home. We met up with Miranda - who had herself done a BSR ride from Totnes to Staverton - shortly after 7pm.

Total distance cycled was 54 miles, in 10 hours, including stops (ride time 6 hours). 21 churches visited. We gave the star "welcome" award to Holy Trinity, Galmpton, who not only provided a signed footpath of BRS stickers to the side door of the church, but a large selection of biscuits, cakes and drinks inside the church - see photo!

The ascents and descents we encountered were demanding (about 5,000 feet, according to www.bikely.com - see elevation profile below).

Click here for photos of the 2007 ride. Well done Penny and Brian!

We omitted Stokenham. Sherford and Churchstowe and were picked up at Aveton Gifford at 7pm

Shorter alternative route

MKO visited 6 churches on her folding bike, which she took to Totnes. Her route was Totnes > Dartington > Staverton and back to Totnes by steam-train. Full marks for initiative!

Bikely route mapping version

The following map can be zoomed, dragged and will also show satellite pictures of the route. To make your own maps, go to www.bikely.com and sign up!

Elevation profile of the ride - ca 5,000 feet of ascent/descent!

Elevation profile of the 2007 BRS ride. 5,000' of ascent/descent.

Danube 2006

Rivers flow downhill! So why not cycle downstream beside one? That's what we did last year - cycling 200 miles in Germany and Austria (Linz to Vienna) and floating for two days on Donau boat trips (Passau to Linz; Vienna to Bratislava and back).

We took our bikes with us on the plane to Vienna and then caught a train to our starting point in Passau. The bikes had to be booked specially!

View route (Moving the cursor on/off the map/photo will switch between map and Google Earth picture).

Swedish 150km - June 2007

On June 10th with 2,000 other riders (including my daughter and musical friend, Frank) I completed the Halvvättern, which is "only" 150 km, in 6 hours 18 minutes (ride time 5hrs 49 mins).This is the short ride, which was a mere training run for some of those intrepid cyclists coming back a week later.

The following weekend over 15,000 riders cycled all round Lake Vättern (300km), starting at Motala. Intrepid Frank cycled the distance in 15hrs 51 mins, through the night. His son Edward took only half a day!

We took our bikes in bike bags in the hold of the SAS flight to Goteborg, with all our clothes as hand-luggage - one small bag each!

Swedish 150 km routeVideo clip - 54 secondsLake VatternHalvvattern medal

See Ride site. For results select the UK flag, click on Halvvattern and enter riders name. The search will then give the bib number; clicking on this will give the time for the rider, incluing split times at the intermediate depots

Moselle 2007

Just returned from two weeks cycling down the banks of the river Moselle/Mosel, starting in France (just east of Thionville, France and west of Perl, Germany), passing along the Luxembourg border (Remich to Wasserbillig) and then through Germany (Trier, Bernkastel-Kues, Traben-Trabach) as far as Cochem. We used a motorhome as a rolling hotel, returning each evening either by train, boat or even by bike. About 200miles cycling in all.

The bike tracks were on the whole wonderful, although the stretch between Cochem and Koblenz (along part of which we drove) was marred by the close proximity of the road and railway line in the narrow gorge between the steep sides of the valley. Elsewhere the bike tracks were generally dedicated, secure and most of the time completely unaffected by traffic.

Moselle river in Germany


Note the bike tracks on both sides of this stretch of the river (west of Alf)

Cochem - last stop

View upstream from Cochem castle

Cape Town 2008

Finally succeeded in taking part in the Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay ride in March 2008. 109km (70miles) through the foothills of Table Mountain - past my own birthplace (St James) and the last resting place of my father (Simon's Town).

Course completed as a team of two, in 4hrs 32 mins together with Clive Tollett, also from England. There were 35,000 other riders! See the Cape Argus results!

Cape Argus route

We'll do this again!
Team of two! Chappie's
Medal A
Medal B
Hout Bay (Republic)

The weather was great on the day of the ride - however, when the South easter blows, it looks much worse!

Exmoor November 2008

CA 4 day ride with Clive Tollett

2 on Exmoor and 2 in Devon - 156 miles; 14,500 feet of climbing.

To Porlock Hill or not!

Exmoor crossroads


South Dartmoor Jan 2009

Team building for LeJoG

I was invited by David List to join his training day around South Dartmoor. 54 miles and 4,800 feet of climbing!

Map and elevation profile of the S Dartmoor ride

LeJoG team

Dunkery Dash March 2009

Audax route completed 1/3/09 with Clive Tollett!

Route West from North Petherton to Dunkery Beacon and back

Elevation profile (theoretical)

N Petherton -      Cothelstone Hill -        Elworthy Hill -                        Dunkery

Elevation in dark green; grade % in light olive green - ex Garmin 705

Theoretical stats (from Ordnance Survey) Memory map

Each leg 49.4 km. Outward leg ascent 1151 m; return 748 m - total 1899m

Actual totals (per Garmin 705)

Total distance: 99.60 km - total ascent 1690m.

A great day in the sunshine with 140 other cyclists, including Ken from the Yealm Rouleurs. Well done the Bridgwater CC and Audax UK.

Only 30 miles back again to the Quantocks!
Clive at Dunkery Control

LEJOG training Tavistock 24/3/2009

Another training day with David List's team


Garmin print

David and one friend

Davids other friends

Somerset training ride 16/4/09

A great training afternoon with the experts - Emma and Tony who have already done JOGLE, and in Tony's case LEJOG. And both have done the Vatterunrandung!

Lake District pass training April 2009

Kirkstone Pass from Coniston via Hawkshead Hill

The route up from Troutbeck

Kirkstone Inn

The Struggle down to Ambleside - Lake Windermere

I cycled LEJOG in May to raise money to beat cancer, which can affect any of us at the most unexpected of times. When I was cycling in South Africa a year ago (see Cape Town 2008, above), my wife Miranda's cancer was diagnosed.

A two week cycling holiday became a two month medical stay in Cape Town before we could return home following emergency surgery. The quality of medical care in Cape Town was of the highest order. Since her return to Plymouth, she has been having chemotherapy treatment as an out- and occasionally as an in-patient at Derriford hospital, where the care has again been first rate, from the oncology consultant downwards.

I would like to contribute to the continuation of the research that has helped us through this difficult time. So I rode this 1,030 mile ride for Cancer Research UK, the worlds' leading independent organisation dedicated to cancer. It supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of more than 4,250 scientists, doctors and nurses. My co-rider was my friend Clive Tollett, who also rode the Cape Argus ride last year. He too rode for the same deserving charity.

Justgiving button


This was our proposed route with stops pencilled in after about 70 miles a day - thanks to the CTC! In fact we stuck very closely to this excellent route.

The CTC B&B route

The ride was completed over 15 days between 15th and 30th May. Clive and I cycled 1030 miles, with brother-in-law Nigel driving the support car containing our kit. It was a truly memorable experience - and is recorded in the LEJOG Ditty composed daily as we progressed (see separate Tab).

Thanks very much to everyone who supported us - those that contributed financially to Cancer Research UK and in particular those that put us up for the night (Chapel Allerton and Worcester). We both achieved our targets in raising money for the charity.


For the TAPAS DITTY click here

For DITTY PODCAST click here

Just completed this 720 mile ride with Clive.

The route was in two halves - separated by a ferry crossing from the Pointe de Graves to Royan

First half of the trip

First stop Laredo, at the top of a steep hill. Second stop Gernika (having gone north of Bilboa - and not as shown on the map). Thence to San Sebastian - old sailing ground - before the push up through the flat bits of France - Hossegor, le Teich and Royan. Fairly hilly in Spain (12,000 ft climb in first 4 days).

2nd half

Part 2 took us to Mervent - where we had a rest day enabling us to change roadies and visit la Rochelle. Thence to Lege, la Roche-Bernard, Quimperle, Morlaix and Roscoff

Clive and three roadies to be
Clive with Paddy, Miranda and Rob. One and a half teams of roadies before the start of this year's epic!
The start at Santander. We found the first convenient place to pull over and get the bikes off the back of the car, where they'd been during the ferry trip from Plymouth
The start at santander
Laredo beach
The view from the Miramar Hotel, Laredo - a rather empty hotel at the top of a very steep hill - which we all either cycled up, ran or walked up.
The Punte Colgante - a heritage gondola bridge over the Rio that leads to Bilboa. We took this rarther than cycle through the centre of Bilboa
Gondola bridge at Bilboa
Spanish corniche
The Spanish corniche was very attractive
The photographer (who had successfully bet on nr 22 twice on the roulette wheel at San Sebastian) very kindly paid for lunch on Biarritz beach!
Biarritz lunch
Roadie team
Here's the first roadie team!
This is a difficult act to follow, Clive!
Balancing act
Coffee stop
I guess just having a pot of coffee will do the trick!
The second roadie team - rest day in la Rochelle, before we start again
Rest day in la Rochelle
Breakfast at Mervent
Marvellous Mervent! What a view from the breakfast table. What brilliant hosts Barry and Angela are!
The old team are in the groove here
Mairie coffee stop
Chateau B&B at Lege
Alistair Sawday finds all sorts of B&Bs. this a chateau in Lege
St Yve, patron saint of lawyers, as found in a prvate chapel in the Morlaix B&B
Patron saint of lawyers
Special roadie
Special roadie!
The second roadie team with riders about to depart from Port Manec'h
When you get as far as Morlaix, there's not much else to do, expect wonder if you will bring your boat here sometime!



For yet more photos and the TAPAS DITTY click here







Swedish 300km - June 2010 - Vatternrundan 2010

This was the big one - with 21,000 other riders! Clive and I flew out on 17th June, with our bikes. We did the ride with two other musicians - Frank and Peter, who was cycling with Johanna. Three of us started at 2020, Peter and Johanna started at 2030.

Clive and I've done our 1000km training already, by cycling 720 miles (1150 km) from Santander to Roscoff last month. Neither of us had much time to do any other training, except for a couple of short rides during the week before the big ride.

Three years ago Tess and I did the Halvättern (150 km) in just over 6 hours. Clive and I succeeded in going round the whole lake in just over 16 hours, including nine stops, viewing a hot balloon in the middle of the night, being exhorted by topless bathers in an outdoor jacuzzi, and being preached to by a miked padre in a tent at the top of a long hill!

My iPhone Cyclemeter app was used to send updating emails around the world every hour. See for example the completed route via the iPhone

Clive was using a Garmin 500, which gave the following information about the ride:


Frank's time was an earth-shattering 14 hours, while Peter and Johanna took 20 hours.

You can see all the results here. You can see Clive and my results around line 15261, where we appear to be lying joint 532rd

Vätternrundan 2010 Ditty

Five of us have tackled the Rundan,
Frank McNamara, Clive and me -
Nothing should make us abandon
8.20 start, for us three

Then rode off Johanna and Peter
Their start, 8.30 behind us.
We'd doubts as to who was the fleeter
In the end - just hoped they would find us

Peter's vet bike had a tripod
His Brookes saddle shiny with use
Preferring his brogues to an iPod
He'd stop at each depå for juice

300 k round Lake Vättern
It all seems a dream looking back
The weather got wetter, then better
A bit at a time was the knack

First stops offered buns and bananas
Gherkins and blueberry soup
Bike trains went by like piranhas
Höger Höger their warning whoop

Surprisingly welcome the meatballs
In Jonsköping out of the cold -
Last year we had cycled through Peebles -
Night-riding sure broke the mould!

Couldn't avoid the tented preachers
As we struggled on up a hill
Passing beatific teachers
For all I know, they're there still!

Veterans rode by us uncaring
Of our looks at Granville's Bike,
Or their clogs or red wig wearing -
Made our Lycra seem very dyke.

We had no radio in our basket
Left over-shoes all back at base,
Mistakenly thought not so drastic
As actually turned out the case

Highlight came with hot air balloon
Lighting up from village tether
Startling us almost to a swoon
While onlookers laughed all together!

Topless bathers in roadside jacuzzi
Toasted us from floodlit bath
But too soon for oats or muesli;
Have to find a return path!

Never used the massage booth
Offered free at every stop.
Met a Brit who thought it couth
To get his rub from bottom to top!

Last depå boasted 4 piece jazz
Guitars, well played and exhortation
Only 20 k tween "is" and "has" -
Then the welcome jubilation

Was it the porridge made by Frank
With bird seed, or the gherkins
That left enough gas in our tank -
Although doubts were sometimes lurking?

We could not match the well-built matrons
For whom this ride was only part!
Swedish Classika long term patrons -
Put us firmly back at the start!

Looking back, our lights 'n reflectors
Illuminated a Lake of fun.
Next year we'll need a SatNav vector
Perhaps we'll then find Frank's honey bun

BLOG about Tour de France 2010 (Pyrenees trip)

Use the inner scroller (on right hand edge) to scroll through the Blog


HOW TO SURVIVE BAD DRIVERS (and watch the movies!)

Foolish crossing 1 (to Right)

1. The stupid red car that pulled up beside a stationary me waiting at a minor road intersection and then turned hastily right into the path of a car coming on the major road from the right. The impeded car swerved left into the junction to drive behind and avoid the plonker, and then had to swerve back onto the main road to avoid the still stationary but by now heart in the mouth me.


Plonker rating

4 for failing to stop at the junction
5 for failing to keep a proper lookout
9 (concurrent) for pulling out into the path of a vehicle (other than a bicycle) with right of way

Score: 9 Plonkers out of 10

Survival message: when all else fails, stay where you are! At least the plonker's other victims have a chance of avoiding you.

Foolish crossing 2 (across main road)

2. The female driver of a silver Chelsea tractor that emerged from my right from a minor road into the path of a 25 mph downhill cycling me (the speed limit was 60 mph). She saw me as she was 2/3rds across the junction, by which time I was virtually in her passenger door. But for the efficiency of my recently serviced brakes I would have been dead.


Plonker rating

4 for failure to stop at junction
5 for failure to keep a proper lookout
10 (concurrent) for pulling out into the path of a bicycle with right of way

Score: 10 Plonkers out of 10

Survival message: always assume that women in Chelsea tractors are oblivious to cyclists, let alone the existence of major roads. Service your brakes regularly.

Foolish exit from drive

3. The malcontent driver who emerged backwards from his drive without looking to his right, stopping only at the conclusion of his manoeuvre, by which time I had had to come to a halt to avoid colliding with his rear offside.


Plonker rating

3 for entering his drive forwards, meaning he had to exit backwards.
Add 5 for failing to keep a proper lookout for cyclists toiling up the hill.
Subtract 2 for apologising
Add 2 for prevarication

Score: 8 Plonkers out of 10

Survival message: Always assume that people backing out of a drive have not seen you, despite the fact that it's broad daylight and you are wearing brightly coloured "see me in the dark" cycling gear.

Success! We completed the ride on Sat 30th May 2009 at 1230, after cycling 1030 miles over 15 days. For more photos of the ride click here.


Lands End to John o’Groats is our goal
Kitted out and all in our Skins
Our bikes eager to roll
Hoping “Who Dares Wins!”

Slathering on each morning
The Assos chamois cream
We heeded well the warning -
Baboon bum else there’d have been.
Lands End had an extensible sign post
Where photos were taken to mark
The start and the view from the coast –
Let’s go and leave the car park!

The sun shone over St Michael’s Mount
South Westerley wind behind us blew
So many hills we soon lost count
And Garmin’s route gave us the clue.

Lands End to Penzance
Fri 15th May
St Michael's Mount

Sheltering with bikes under lean-to
While Nigel was off in the car
We said we didn’t quite mean to
Get wet, or travel so far

The Camel estuary came in sight
And with it the prospect of curry
In Rosina’s farm we’d spent the night
Get dry and try not to worry.

Penzance to Wadebridge
Sat 16th May
Clive by a lock

Boscastle, Bude and Crackington Haven
Millook, Torrington - hills stuck in our mind.
No sign of chough or even of raven
Wings did we need – up to 30 we climbed

Wadebridge to South Molton
Sunday 17th May
30 degree at Crackington Haven

Bishops Lydeard for lunch and the start of a hill
Cothelstone, Withypool – they all seemed the same
Exmoor’s descents, we remember them still
Then sea-level moor to Patrick’s we came.

South Molton to Chapel Allerton
Mon 18th May

Today was the day it rained hard from heaven
Cheddar Gorge ascended as early as nine
Chew Magna, then on to Bridge over Severn
A meeting with family, and legs feeling fine.

Overnight, from Ross on to Worcester
Rosebank Vineyard in Fernhill  Heath.
Early next day up with the rooster
Onwards and upwards and gritted our teeth.

Chapel Allerton to Ross on Wye
Tues 19th May
Severn Bridge crossing

Unmemorable day; at least it was dry
Introduction to Pears, the bike shop in Ludlow
Along tractor alley the tractors did fly
Cycling the miles; improving the blood-flow.

Ross to Much Wenlock
Wed 20th May

About the Wrekin, I ain’t been speakin
For more than fifty years.
Mississipi mud pies in Market Drayton
Nearly brought us to tears!

Much Wenlock to Knutsford
Thurs 21st May
Mississipi mud pies

Slaidburn marked the halfway house
500 miles cycled in the rain.
And now through moor, watch out for grouse
Met up with Hamish; on again.

Knutsford to Low Bentham
Friday 22nd May

Cumbria was a revelation
With valleys, scarecrows, cups of brew.
Olley’s 30 miles an inspiration
Even passers-by said “How Do!”

Low Bentham to Brampton
Sat 23rd May
Nigel the roadie

Geordie bikers, new-found friends;
River Esk with curlews calling;
Black/white bird, cries and bends
Tibetan lunch at Samye Ling.

Then the peace came to an end
When Peebles’ drunken teenagers
Binged as if to set a trend
And Celtic lost to Rangers.

Brampton to Peebles
Sun 24th May
Ibetan lunch

The Firth of Forth bridge – as wide as the sea;
Through Edinburgh, Princes Street and the Crescent
Avoided the place where they steal sugar from tea;
So do it – no time like the present!

Dunning was stunning and the food was divine;
Pickers and fiddlers around a log fire.
Foals with their mothers – that’s a sure sign
Of a welcome that lingers, of which we’ll not tire.

Peebles to Dunning
Mon 25th May

Braemar’s as royal as you can get
But first you must climb up Glenshee,
Brave the snow and North’s cold wind jet,
Try not to wail like a Banshee!

Some people need to dominate –
We met an ageing swimmer,
Whose breaststroke he did demonstrate
To show he was a winner.

It seemed his club won every race
On bikes – to lose, a travesty;
For years he said he’d set the pace,
But now his problem’s gravity!

Dunning to Braemar
Tues 26th May
Nigel at Balmoral

The Tomintoul road has passing places
Where Google cameras roam,
Looking for grouse’s startled faces,
800 long miles from home.

3,700 feet of climb
But Cornwall’s day was double
Seemed much harder at the time
But short’ning kept us from trouble.

Cairngorms came and Grampians went
Bridge of Brown was easy,
Sun in the evening heaven sent,
No longer need I feel queasy.

Braemar to Granton on Spey
Wed 27th May

Inverness is a dump you can keep
Save it had Polish valets.
Otherwise you’d want to weep
At grimy yards, loading pallets.

In Bonar Bridge we found a Bistro
Where Mine Host was loud and jolly.
Pity he’s so far from Euro,
Cos further South he’d make some lolly.

All at 6’s and 7’s
Kyle House, with the vanishing sign
We thought, surely, good heavens
We hadn’t checked out, at that time

Granton on Spey to Bonar Bridge
Thu 28th May

No rehearsal of today’s navigation
Travelling blithely with sun on our back.
Right/left wrong instigation
Putting 20 more miles on our track!

Unexpected road signs could you find –
“Achtung! Lämmern auf der Straße!”
Scottish crofters are so kind
To Germans riding “Räde”!

The Big Bang came at the Crask Inn
Just south of the Kyle of Tongue
Where we found the car with the Roadie in
Mended tyre, and the day yet young!

Riding along with Sarah
Who we’d joined a few miles back
Two Phantoms came over to scare her
And us, with the power that they pack!

Sarah’s a marathon lady
Doing LEJOG on her own
Pedalling her panniers like crazy
On her Roberts and with her iPhone.

Strathy Inn served up curry
But we’ve only 40 to go
No need in the morning to hurry
For by lunch we’ll have done John o’Gro!

Bonar Bridge to Strathy
Fri 29th May
Big Bang

Dounreay marked our thousand miles
And although tough, the rest was smiles.
I wryly thought, as bike was parking
Of those who’d said I was quite barking!

From moors and mountains we’ll not shrink
In future on our bicycles.
They’re really faster than you think –
Just as fast as tricycles!

This year was the year of LEJOG
There’s nothing much more to say.
It’s all going up on my Blog –
With Clive every mile of the way!

Strathy to John o'Groats
Sat 30th May