Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Our Neighbours, The Stones.

Menhirs actually, you surely didn't think I meant Messrs. Jagger, Richards, Watts and Wyman did you ? Mind you, that sounds like a firm of London solicitors doesn't it ? If they'd stuck in at their studies they would all be senior partners now or even Queen's Councillors or Judges, instead of strolling players. Maybe that wee brush with the Law in the Sixties kind of scunnered them for the Legal Trade ? (Scunner, Scottish verb meaning to cause abject disgust. It sounds right too. )

Back to Menhirs, which are large stones, mostly undressed and mostly undecorated, which have been deliberately set in a vertical position in pre-historical times. Why ? Don't ask me ! There are lots of reasons given but the consensus of current opinion is that they were used to mark seasons of the year. This was important to civilisations who were beginning to plant crops rather than existing as hunter gatherers. I have always been drawn to these sort of things, I don't know why, but they've always fascinated me. What kind of thinking was going on while these things were being erected ? When you consider that some of them were transported hundreds of kilometres before being put into place you realise that these were prodigious feats of engineering. I'd better not mention Stonehenge in Wiltshire as Madame  still goes grumpy at the very mention of it ! We were taking a short holiday on the south coast of England and were driving past the site of  Stonehenge. It was a bloody miserable day ! Early March, wet, cold and windy. So as we approached the site by car we could see absolutely nothing. We drove into the car park, which was free then, but had to pay an admission fee to actually enter the site. Well, it was admittedly pretty underwhelming !  " Whit ! we've just paid a good two pounds sterling to see this ! It's not even finished ! I've seen more interesting building sites in Glasgow, I'm away back to the car !"

OK, what's this got to do with bicycles ? Right, patience, I'm getting to it !
Like most people when the cycling addiction takes hold, I was pretty quick in scouting out a series of runs that I could use for various training regimes or just for pleasure. I lived in the south side of Glasgow and what I was looking for was a route that would get me out of city traffic as quickly as possible and into The Renfrewshire Lanes. Since the Sixties, Glasgow has been ripped apart and stretches of Motorway thrown over the city in a seemingly random fashion. Which meant that I was lucky, because the old A8 road from Glasgow to Greenock was at that time relatively quiet, as most traffic now used the new stretch of Motorway. From our house to Renfrew was about 10km and after that the cycling was then, late Eighties, fairly quiet. So from here I built up a series of runs based on a roughly circular route from Renfrew going through Inchinnan, Bishopton,passing The Monkey House, through Kilmacolm, Bridge of Weir, Houston , back through Inchinnan past the Old India Tyre Factory back through Renfrew, along the old A8 , turn at Glasgow Rangers Football Club's ground at Ibrox and then home. A total distance of about 50km. A good route, because mostly I would be going out into the prevailing westerly wind and have it on my back during the return. Wind direction is an important consideration when you're working out a training route, that is, one you're going to be using a lot during the year. This basic route could be easily increased in 25km stages by adding in, for example, an extra loop taking in climbs up the River Gryffe as far as the reservoirs above Port Glasgow, or even really stretching it out by turning at the reservoirs and taking a lovely wee back road into Largs and home via a good leg stretching climb up the Haylie Brae. I've got a lot of memories of these runs,mostly fond ones !

Now to France! For a number of years we'd been spending a lot of time in our holiday home in Pays de Retz in western France. Real France, south of the Loire!  Here, we're only 10 km from the sea, so working out a 50km regular run which doesn't involve a long slog home into the prevailing westerly wind looked a bit tricky. In our small town, population 5,000, we have two thriving cycle clubs. Rust'in Retz is a Mountain bike club which organises a really impressive night time run every Easter with a big turn out, well into the hundreds ! Check out their web site ! The other club is for Road Racing and is a branch of the Union Cycliste Nantes Atlantique. Now, for a small town these clubs are impressive for someone from UK where for years, cycling like this was in serious decline. They share a purpose built club house/garage/workshop in the centre of town and the Sunday turn outs are what we used to see in the Fifties in UK. The emphasis in France is a bit different from the UK, If you join a Racing club, that's what you'll do..Race !! If you want to do touring you join a different club, if you want to do Mountain Biking you join yet another club. Rust'in Retz puzzled me at first because it's as flat as a pancake for miles around here, but more on that another day !!
I was invited along to a Sunday run by a couple of members of the UCNA and they showed me a super 50km run  which takes you from the town south to the sea then north to the banks of the Loire then home. This has become my regular training run. This was actually my first experience of riding with a real Racing club. Although I had done plenty of pretty brisk Audax Rides the emphasis there is on long distance, and a lot of my other cycling in the UK was with the CTC which is biased towards touring. And of course, the Veteran Cycle Club which is biased towards Tea Rooms ! Back in the Club house,while sharing a bottle of wine, I was asked what I thought of the part of France that we'd just covered. It seemed to cause a fair bit of amusement when I told them that all I'd seen for the last hour and a half , was a Frenchman's derriere ! However, it is a lovely route, and I just don't get tired of it .
But even a nice run like this needs some wee extra loops, just for a change.This was when I found out that the area is littered with ancient standing stones, many of them being well signposted. So using the basic 50km circular run I started adding on loops to take me to see the Menhirs. This is great !! I can take a slow steady potter out to stop and look at a few Menhirs or I can take a much longer run and just pass the site sand use them a way points. Without going more than 10km as the crow flies from our house,I can have a ride in excess of 150km by taking in a good few, not all !, of the local Stones.
Of course, this has led to another subject for study. Thanks to our local library and the internet I've found out loads of fascinating stuff about many of the local Menhirs

"So there you are" says Madame, " Well done, there's another thing you can bore people to death with !"
You just can't win sometimes can you ?

Friday, 20 January 2012

Me and Moultons

" Oh, I think I remember them !" or " Do they still make them ?"  These are the commonest replies I get when I tell people that it's a Moulton I'm riding.
Moultons drifted into my life in the early sixties when I saw an illustrated account of some  place to place  record being broken on some queer looking small-wheeled bike with dropped 'bars. Probably John Woodburn  breaking the Cardiff to London record in 1962. This article was stuck in the front window of Riddell Brothers cycle shop in south-side Glasgow. Riddell Brothers was a bit of an institution in the south-side then.Yes, they were brothers, but they could have been identical twins dressed in dressed in matching brown workshop coats. At first I thought I could tell them apart because they operated a sort of "Good bike mechanic, Bad bike mechanic " policy, but later I reckoned that they just switched roles as they felt like. One side of the shop was cycles, the other side was model boats, planes and all the stuff required for that. It was a wee boy's , and big boy's, paradise. As kids, we rarely ventured in, we were quite happy to gaze in the windows at things like Campagnolo crank sets that cost the equivalent of a whole week's wage ! And brand new Flying Scot frames hanging from the ceiling along with an occasional curly Hetchins ! Stuff of Dreams !
Eventually one of our rich-kid pal's parents bought him a Moulton. Much to our disgust, this wasn't a record breaker in any shape or form, it was a rather wimpy shopping bike. But I was pretty taken with the Sturmey Archer  3-speed hub gear with twistgrip control.Most Sturmey Archer gears that we had then were either stuck in top gear or slipped so badly when changing that they were left alone and the bike ridden as a single-speed. So this , I thought was quite good, and the suspension, front and rear ! To be honest, we just weren't sophisticated enough to appreciate suspension, It was good to brag about but that was about it.
My Series One F frame Moulton
Fast-Forward to 1988 and I'm in Davy Walsh's shop, Clarkston Cycle Centre, when he wheels in a Moulton AM-ATB. To me, as a mountain bike, it was a non-starter, but I could see the potential for a long distance, quite fast tourer in it. When I heard the price however, my short reply had a lot of "f"s in it !! But I did start looking into Moultons again and learned about the AM series that was in production and how much owners were raving about them. Mind you , was it because they had spent so much money on an AM that they didn't like to admit to having been hooked by the hype, and that Moultons were in fact pretty flawed ? It was only then that I became aware that the Speed Six and the very rare S Speed had been produced and might now be available on the second hand market. By pure chance,a good friend of mine was given ( yes, given ! )  a Speed Six by an older club member who had bought it over twenty years ago but had consigned it to the back of the garage a number of years ago when suitable tyres became unavailable. Well, Alastair never was easily put off, and eventually he had the bike back on the road and looking great. In the meantime I had bought a Series One Moulton Standard in a pretty run down condition. The Frame was powder coated red, new 16inch wheels were built up with alloy rims and a Sturmey Archer S5/2 five speed  hub fitted, and it looked OK.  Alistair fairly quickly found that his riding style and the characteristics of the Speed Six just didn't match, but he kept it for a while because it looked  Cool ! With me however, it was soon apparent that the Moulton Standard, even with five gears was not going to be my dream long distance light tourer. What it did become though was my favourite commuting bike.With the built-in rear rack and bag, good brakes and handling it was a delight to ride and I used it for many years. Not without Problems !! Tyre wear and the availability of good quality tyres were a nuisance.The collapse of the rear fork while riding was somewhat more than a nuisance !! This put me in touch with the Moulton Owners Club and through this I met Steve and Allison Mundie from Harrogate. Lovely people ! Through them I was introduced to Yorkshire cycling, but that is  definitely a lot of other stories !!
Alex Moulton's Home in Bradford on Avon
The Great Man Himself !
I got a repaired rear fork from the Moulton Owners Club and was eventually back on the road. Around this time Alistair and I decided to go to the annual Moulton Rally at Alex Moulton's home in Bradford on Avon. This trip was a bit of an eye-opener, great fun though and we wouldn't have missed it for anything !English eccentricity at it's best. If you can imagine 1960's King's Road Londoners, renegade hippies,Victorian industrial millionaires,hard-core club cyclists and Japanese tourists on the archery lawn of a Jacobean Mansion putting on a show scripted by Monty Python you'll get the drift. While we were there, the new Moulton APB was launched. APB...All Purpose Bike ! This was very much along the lines of the AM but considerably cheaper, more of a production line version built by Pashley rather than a hand built bike. Looked none the worse for that I thought, so for a baur (Scotticism alert here !...  there is no single English word to describe "a baur" the nearest is" a merry jape but with more high jinks" !) we decided to borrow a couple of the demonstrator bikes and cycled off to the City of Bath for the afternoon along the newly opened Sustrans Cycle path. What a great afternoon that was !The Avon and Kennet Canal was absolutely at it's best in the early English autumn, fond memories indeed ! So much so that on our eventual return to Moulton Hall , I ordered one for delivery as soon as possible, and nothing to do with the fact that the organisers were on the phone to the police reporting the theft of two new Moulton bikes.
APB in Audax Guise
Tribute to Tom Simpson at Alex Moulton's House
In due course my new Moulton APB14 arrived. Black( they were all black for the first few years) straight bars, 14speed Shimano transmission via thumbshifters, 20inch wheels and tyres( BMX size, so surely no supply problems ) front and rear AM style suspension and a separable frame i.e. not a folding bike as such but easy enough to separate for packing into a car boot. Once I'd sourced and fitted mudguards to it I used it for a couple of 100km Audax rides and was pretty pleased with it. The decision then was whether to fit 'bar ends or go the whole hog and fit dropped 'bars. As it turned out, fitting dropped 'bars was a pointless exercise because the more I used the bike the more I became aware that there was a sort of built-in speed limiter. Not on descents of course, it dropped like a stone when the road went down and because of this I could keep up a reasonable pace. No, it was cruising on the flat that was the problem. To keep up a brisk cruising speed on the flat, about 30kph, I found that I was having to push a much higher gear than I liked at a much lower cadence than the cadence I was used to. Possibly because of my build ( OK some people would say fat ! I prefer the more accurate term Muscular ! ) and the fact that my cycling style has always tended to spinning the pedals at a cadence of around 85 to 95rpm, I found that at this pedalling speed the suspension started a sort of sympathetic vibration which felt as if I was riding a pogo stick. Plus the fact that the only times I deliberately used a low cadence was when I was out of the saddle powering up short steep rises. Long climbs I prefer to do in the saddle and spin a low gear and only get out of the saddle occasionally to rearrange things in the sitting room. Try riding uphill out of the saddle on a Moulton ! It can be done but it just doesn't feel right ! Well I tried just about everything I could to try and eliminate this resonant vibration in the suspension, I altered the front friction dampers, changed the front spring rate, tried umpteen types of tyres and pressures and even lost a few kilos from myself ! In the end I had to settle for the fact that the APB was a very good short distance cruiser but was too much hard work to use for longer runs. Was I disappointed ? No, not really, I had learned a lot about cycling in general and I still had a bike that I was delighted to use for the odd 100km run just for a change.
APB rear fork after repair
Original Gear Thumbshifters
Now here's a thing, I've only had a bike frame collapse on me three times in my life, but every time it was when I was riding a Moulton!!  The first time, as I described earlier, was when the rear fork on the Series One Moulton fell apart. The second time, again on the same Series One Moulton, the main frame itself collapsed due to internal corrosion.That was very nearly a nasty one, sheer luck saved me that day ! The third, and last time I hope, was when the APB's rear fork decided to crack and go all wobbly on me. OK the Series One was nearly forty years old by this time and it was well known that the rear forks were suspect, so I wasn't too bitter about that. Although the poor old Moulton was ceremonially dismantled and the frame binned, I sold the components at a cycle jumble for a mutually agreeable price so no real harm done. However I was fairly scunnered ( another fine Scotticism, meaning vexed or peeved in the extreme ! ) when the APB rear fork broke up. It was sentenced to 5 years in the back of the cellar with no remission. But, when it's time was up I stripped out the rear fork and brazed in a neat wee reinforcing section and built it back up to bring over to France when we moved.
Latest Gear and Brake Levers
Recently I have changed the rear derailleur, fitted combined brake and gear changer levers and fitted parallel push Shimano V brakes.  And so far, apart from a rear Continental tyre exploding on me, it's not put a wheel wrong and it's still a pleasure to ride. Maybe in the future I'll change the rear drop-outs from vertical to angled so that I can adjust the chain tension and fit a nice neat hub gear ? I've lost track of the actual distance I've ridden it , but it must be in excess of 30,000km so I can't really complain can I ?

Mind you, my Raleigh Model F is well over 90 years old and the frame on that hasn't collapsed ?

Am I still a member of the Moulton Owners Club ? 'Fraid not ! Our dear wives got us drummed out ! A couple of years after the first Moulton Week-end  Alistair and I thought it would be a nice wee treat to take our wives as guests.We were staying in a really nice B&B in Bradford on Avon not knowing that it was owned and run by the wife of Alex Moulton's company secretary.Alex Moulton's family were Avon Rubber as in Avon Tyres,Avon Rubber Dingies etc and Alex was the man responsible for the rubber suspension on the original Mini car and of course the rubber suspension on the Moulton bicycle. So you could say that he's really into suspenders and rubber, couldn't you ? Well, during the course of our breakfast, the two besoms (don't worry, this is the last Scotticism of the day !  the term "besom" is probably related to the English word scrubber but used almost as a term of endearment...usually! ) coaxed this information out of Alistair and next thing were laughing like drains and making the most disparaging and inappropriate  remarks about the good Dr Moulton. Before you knew it the whole breakfast room was in stitches of laughter except for the woman who was serving us our breakfast and fairly banging down the coffee pot onto the table. It all became clear that evening at the annual Moulton Dinner when who did we see sitting at the top table beside Alex Moulton but the Coffee Pot Banger herself. She was fairly glaring at us and seemed to be having plenty to say to Alex.
Ready for a Few More Kilometres
So maybe not unsurprisingly our invitations to renew our memberships were not forthcoming that year ...?

Monday, 16 January 2012

The Vanishing Art of Drumming-Up

During the heyday of Scottish Cycling (mind you , opinions vary...) just before WW2 and just after, club runs were the thing. These usually involved an early start on Sunday morning and getting at least 80km done before stopping for refuelling, rest and a Guid Blether ( Scots for a form of social interaction ). Now unlike the English club runs, in rural Scotland, cafes and tea rooms were almost non-existant...and expensive !! Licensed premises like the occasional road-side inn were the reserve of the gentry, people who could afford to run a motor car, and they would probably be on their way to hunt and shoot and fish and generally hobnob with their fellow lairds. It took a long time for feudalism to die out in Scotland ! Mind you, there are still places with this attitude in Scotland , but that's another story !

So, what was the answer ?  The Noble Art of the Drum-Up ! Nearly all clubs had a (supposedly !) secret road-side stop, where running water, firewood and hopefully a bit of sheltering vegetation were available. Some of these places were actually quite formal, with permission granted by the land owner, but most were pretty wild. Many of the Drum-Up spots were really well established having been discovered in the Thirties. Remember, this was way before Energy Bars and Gels and questionable powders to mix into your water bottle were even thought of . A can of soup and a couple of prodigious pieces...politely known as sandwiches...were stuffed into a saddlebag along with a few matches and a few pages of your favourite newspaper This was often the comic section of The Sunday Post, still going strong, despite the loss of the wonderful Dudley D Watkins who was responsible for the classic Oor Wullie and The Broons cartoons. What are we going to do when eReaders take over and there's no newspaper left ? Newspaper was a perfect example of recycling, it was a source of information and amusement, it was used to wrap the pieces in, you would use it as a firelighter and finally, I apologise for having to mention this, but it was also the original bathroom tissue ! An eReader ? I don't think so !
When you reached the Drum-Up stop, the first thing was to get a fire going, hence the newspaper and matches.Timber was always available because if you used wood from the pile, woe betide you if you never replaced it before you left ! What often happened was that the real racing/hard riding men would sprint off the front of the bunch about 15km before the stop, get there before everyone else and get a good blaze started. So you then had a choice, you could join in with the fast men or if there was a big club turn-out, you and a few of your buddies could go and start a smaller fire for yourselves. There was one very famous Scottish rider, when he was riding with the Glenmarnock Wheelers, allegedly !  used to sit away from everyone else and light his own fire....but that's another story ! So what was the fire for actually ? This is Scotland we're talking about, it's nearly always bloody freezing !! You would open your can of soup leaving the lid attached as a sort of handle,place it carefully in the fire, then proceed to warm yourself up at the fire.There was very little danger then because most folk would be wearing good Harris Tweed plus fours or black woollen tights, real wool from sheep, not Lycra or Spandex !Once the soup was heated you would devour it with your pieces, usually mopping up the last of the soup with the remaining crusts. This was always considered a smart move because then you had to thoroughly clean out the can, fill it with water and return it to the fire with a good pinch of tea leaves and sugar.Five minutes later , tea is served ! I can still taste it ! Almost as good as garage tea and definitely better than tea room tea.  Garage tea ? Again another story !
Then the pipes and cigarettes would come out,( smoking pipes that is, I very rarely remember bagpipes being brought out, harmonicas yes, but bagpipes ...? ) the best bits of the newspaper would be read and when the timber store had been replenished for the next time the newspaper was tossed into the fire....or used in some other way ....If it looked as if you were riding well, some of the fast men might suggest that you  join their chaingang for a fast run home.Mind you, there was no quarter given in this ! If you couldn't keep up or take your turn at the front you were dropped and that was it ! A lonely, slow trauchle homewards ( a fine old Scots word, used to describe an arduous journey, Napoleon's retreat from Moscow is a perfect example of a trauchle, with the ch pronounced as in loch.....are you paying attention to this ? I suggest you do, questions might be asked later !)  your only hope being that you could ignominiously drift back into the slower bunch for some company on the road. The slower bunch by this time would have made sure that all fires were out and cans flattened and carried home and that the Drum-Up place was just as it was.

A good Drum-Up was often the highlight of the week, and stories are still being told about some of the memorable ones, but like everything else things change. Does anyone else remember the Noble Art of Drumming-Up?

Friday, 13 January 2012

Not All Custom Bikes are the Same ...

Well, that worked out OK ! My latest project was to replace the derailleur gears on my wife's bicycle with a hub gear set-up. Many years ago she bought an open framed bike from our local Decathlon store. Not at all expensive, less than 100 euros if I remember correctly! It came with a five speed derailleur gear operated via a twistgrip on the handlebars, and this arrangement suited her just fine. To be honest, she hardly used the bike until recently when she decided she was going to use it a bit more seriously to help with her fitness regime. Like many people, retirement from a regular job can bring about weight gain and a general loss of fitness. Now I'm sure lots of guys  my age remember what it was like trying to teach your dear wife to drive ! If you value your marriage you just don't do it ! So very cautiously I asked her if she wanted me to accompany her and show her some quiet traffic-free routes to follow until she had built up enough confidence to go out on her own. Over the years, I've found that when going out with a beginner or even a less experienced cyclist it's better to cycle a good bike length behind them and keep the talking to a minimum. They've got enough to cope with at first and carrying on a conversation can be really distracting, so confine yourself to just giving clear directions. Don't cycle beside them, it'll scare them ! And don't cycle in front of them because they'll instinctively put a bigger and bigger gap between you and next thing you know you'll have ridden away from them!  Very discouraging !
The Cyclist Touring Club in the UK used to recommend people who would teach beginner cyclists and they would also put you in touch with experienced cyclists who would be prepared to just cycle with you as a buddy to help you gain self confidence. A good arrangement I thought, I wonder if they still do it ?
Pretty quickly I noticed that if my wife was going to get any real benefit from cycling she was going to have to get something done about the gearing on her bike. This is not uncommon. After all how does a manufacturer know what level of fitness a potential buyer has ?  How many people in the 1970's got a "ten speed racer", used it half a dozen times and then parked it in the back of the garage because it was just too much hard work ? Probably that was one of the reasons why mountain bikes sold so well....lots and lots of gears !! Many people use only one or two gears out of the fifteen or eighteen gears, but those gears let them get up hills they couldn't climb on their "ten speed racer" so it puts "bums on saddles" which is what we want !
Now it so happened that I had, stored away, an almost new Shimano 7 speed hub which I had bought very cheaply at one of the excellent cycle jumble sales at the Manchester Velodrome. This just needed to be built into a rim, so to save time ( and probably money ! ) I made a visit to our local Decathlon store and bought a basic front alloy wheel. When I got  home I stripped the front hub out of it and using one of the many on-line spoke length calculators I cut and rethreaded the spokes to suit the Shimano hub. It took me a couple of hours to do this,certainly not nearly as fast as the redoubtable Mr Alex Cross in Clarkston Cycle Centre in Glasgow.This man can hold a conversation with you and completely build and true a wheel in less time than you can make a cup of workshop tea ! True Genius !!
Anyway, another mornings work had the wheel in place, Shimano twistgrip installed and new cables connected. Another one of the reasons for using this Shimano hub was the fact that it had a built-in rear brake which considerably tidies up the rear end of the bike and is effective under all conditions and just about maintenance free. So a quick run up and down the street to try the gears and brake and then the hand-over to Madame. She still only uses three of the gear positions but finds the changes so much slicker and of course when she does go further afield and encounters steeper climbs she's got a couple of lower gears to help her over them. And a couple of higher gears to use on those lovely long descents ! She can now keep up a good spinning cadence of 80rpm on the level which is essential for efficient fat burning. She's delighted,I'm delighted but now she's wanting to know how to sprint for the 30kph signs !!

So all in all, a good inexpensive modification and another cyclist has now got the bike they always wanted.

At the CTC York Rally once I overheard some Yorkshire cyclists discussing the Scots " Aye, they're just like us, but a bit frivolous wi' the money !"

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

About The Handlebar Code

O.K. another Blog ? What's this one about ?  I'm hoping to reach cyclists and potential cyclists who find themselves in a similar position to me twenty five years ago.

I was fat, forty and not particularly happy with myself in Glasgow Scotland. My health was a source of concern, if I didn't do something about it I was going to end up as one of the casualties of a West of Scotland lifestyle. You know, poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, the lot !

As a kid and into my mid teens I used a bike all the time, until I managed to scrape together enough money to buy a motor cycle. I was absolutely intoxicated with petrol and power !  Well, this never wore off until about twenty years later. And one day, purely on a whim, I borrowed a bicycle. I was horrified by how unfit I was, hills that I climbed with ease as a kid had me off the bike gasping and walking ! I'll never forget that moment, maybe it was oxygen deprivation, but it was as if I was being shown what was in store for me in a few short years time.
This was not good !

Soon after, I read an article by Jock Wadley about riding the Paris-Brest-Paris cycle event. This had not actually been an official race for a number of years as it was considered to be too hard and too long for for professional cyclists. Sure they could have done it, but the training required for this particular event would have had an adverse effect on a pro rider's condition for the other races on the calender. To ride Paris-Brest-Paris successfully, you start in Paris, ride to Brest, turn round and ride back to Paris,a distance of 1200km. Sounds easy ? How about having to do it in 96 hours ? 
This became a goal for me. Especially when I read that guys well into their seventies were doing it and turning in pretty respectable times too !

So this was the start. I researched weight loss, many kinds of diets, physical training, psychological preparation and everything I could learn about bicycles. I even learned how to build a bike frame at night school and build my own wheels from scratch. And on the way I discovered things I never expected. Like sheer joy, total excitement, a sense of inner peace and deep and lasting friendships. The bicycle made me what I am today, healthy and contented and fit !

For quite a while now I've been gladly sharing my experiences with people wanting to improve their lifestyle, lose some weight healthily, take up cycling without having to start from square one and generally get more fun in their lives. Some folk suggested I write a book but jings! this is the twenty first century !! 
I would rather give out my expertise for free and take satisfaction from the fact that I'm giving back what many other people gave me over the years.

Watch this space....there will be more !

Did I ride Paris-Brest-Paris ?  That's another story .