Little Free Library

I went for a run this morning with Nelly, our unruly English Pointer, and on the way back from the park we went down the next street along. The purpose of this little detour was to have a look at a free little library.


What a great idea. On the wall outside a house is a small box full of books. If you like one take it, with the idea that you would replace it with a different book. This morning I got lucky with George R R Martin’s prequel to the Game of Thrones series.


Later today I took a book back, John Grisham’s The Rooster Bar. Every now and again I feel the need to read something from Grisham. On the whole I find them an enjoyable blast, but he Rooster Bar was a bit dull, if I’m being honest.

Back to Little Free Library, and the website has a search function so that in theory you can find any that are near you. Unfortunately the search function isn’t particularly good, and the one in Lancaster isn’t listed, so there could be one only a couple of streets away from where you live, and you’d never know about it.


Grizedale Half Marathon

Me and my beautiful wife, Helen, had entered this off road trail race some months ago, along with almost everyone that we knew. Just look at all the COLTs, and this doesn’t include some random Cycle Bunnies or the crazies doing the full marathon, who had set off 15 minutes earlier.


I had picked up a couple of niggling little injuries in the last couple of months and hadn’t run at all in the last two weeks, so I was determined to take it easy. It was cold on the start line, and as requested by the organisers I had my space blanket, whistle, thermal top and waterproof to take round with me. I didn’t need any of it, but I suppose it covers the organisers in case something bad happens. What I didn’t take was enough water as it was cold, really cold. I had laughed at a couple of people for wearing shorts and vests, but I was far too hot, especially as the first three miles were almost constantly uphill.

At the top though, the views across Coniston Water made the up hill all worthwhile.


As I mentioned, I’ve not ran enough, so by the feed station at 8 miles I was starting to feel tired, and by the end my legs and feet were very sore. I just managed to sneak in under two hours, which considering how much climbing there was, I wasn’t too disappointed in.

My wife, on the other hand loved it, and managed her fastest ever Strava Half Marathon, finishing with a huge smile on her face.

The race was well organised by Epic Events, and as with all of their races they allow you to download photos for free, which is a very nice touch. It was also one of the few races that I have done where I’ve had my name on my number. Matthew 216 sounded very biblical. I looked up the bible verse, and all I can say is that there are some not very nice things in that book.

Enough rambling. It was a great day. Big thank you to Jim for giving us a lift there and back, and to everyone who I said hello to, far too many to mention. I feel that me and my lovely wife might well be doing a few more trail races in the future.


Book Review 2018 – Part III

Did I mention that I’d had a go at publishing my own short e-book? Read about it here. Sales have doubled today, it’s up to two copies.

Back to the book review, and I have two very good books for you (both much better than my short story).


First up is What Goes Around by Emily Chappell. When I lived in Oxford I often travelled to London and I was always fascinated by the cycle courier’s, and slightly terrified by what they did day in day out. Emily’s book takes us from her start as a courier, when she was a newbie up to her being one of the most experienced couriers in London. She writes about the people she meets, other couriers, receptionists and her friends from the world of cycling. I love the short cuts and the hang-outs that only the courier world know about. I really enjoyed this book, although it reinforces by desire not to cycle around London. I find it bad enough between Wigan and Leigh and I doff my cap to cycle couriers the world over.

Next up is Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Cheryl decides to walk most of the Pacific Crest Trail, a route that starts at the border with Mexico and heads all the way to Canada, passing through the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. Many years ago, after reading Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, I was all set to take on the Appelachian Trail, but promotion at work put a stop do that dream.

In this book Cheryl doesn’t hide anything, including the death of her mother and her infidelities which led to her divorce, along with her intermittent heroin habit. She is also completely inexperienced when it comes to long distance walking, and never tries out her loaded rucksack until the morning she starts. Inevitably she can’t lift it as she is carrying everything including the kitchen sink. Fortunately she meets some kind and experienced walkers who help her sort out her kit, sending home the items that she won’t need. The year she’s walking also has some of the worst snow in history, meaning that almost everyone walking the trail has to leapfrog a section.

This is another book that I really enjoyed, even though its hard in places. As with the courier book earlier, I’m not planning on long distance walking, but that doesn’t stop me dreaming about other adventures.

I’ve Written a Book

When I say that I’ve written a book, it’s not a book. It’s a short story, very short, less than 7,000 words, or 36 pages of a Kindle. It was more of an exercise to see how easy it was, and if I could manage it. It’s fairly easy, although I would probably design my own cover next time, if there is a next time. I was also amazed that it isn’t that easy to publish your own book for free, which is what I intended to do, instead it is at the lowest price point possible, 0.99p. I think this is all about Amazon wanting to make a profit, although they do allow you to promote it for a few days for the knock down price of free.

What’s the book (short story) about?

Last summer, me and my lovely wife went cycling in the highlands of Scotland for a week, and this is my take on our mini adventure.¬†Here is a link to the book, although I won’t be disappointed if you decline to make a purchase. Below is another link, and did I mention that I wasn’t particularly happy with the cover.

Within a day of my book (short story) being available, someone from Canada had bought a copy. I doubt if my royalties will allow me to get that Colnago.

As I said earlier, it was more of an exercise to see if I could self publish, and over the next few weeks I’ll probably post each chapter on my blog. If I’m honest I don’t think it’s very good, but then I’ve bought loads of books in my life that have been unreadable.

I would like to have another go in the future, but something longer but probably still cycling related.

Veloviewer Leaderboard

My regular readers will know that I’m a fan of Veloviewer and all of it’s extra stats. Read about all of my Veloviewer posts¬†here. A few years ago Veloviewer introduced leaderboards, but only the top 20, and I was amazed to find that for overall Eddington score (miles) I was in 19th place. Recently Veloviewer has introduced placing for everyone, although only the top 20 make it to the list. I’m now down to 87th for my Eddington score.

My good friend The Prof has made it up to 18th for the maximum cluster score, while I’m still languishing in 50th place, but I have made the top ten on one list.

Swimming distance so far in 2018.

swimThat’s me in 8th place, having swam 32km so far this year. I’ve entered a 10km swim later in the year, and in June I’m doing Isoman which is a triathlon with a 7 mile swim (read about my races for this year here). I have therefore increased my swimming, helped with the terrible weather, and this morning I managed my second 5km swim of the year. I couldn’t stop eating all morning.

Let’s be fair though, this leaderboard isn’t too impressive after just one month, and I have no doubt whatsoever that I will soon drop down the list, but it’s nice while it lasts.

Book Review 2018 – Part II

Normally I review two books at once, but this one deserves a review all of it’s own. Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff.

fire and fury

I’m not a fan of Trump, but this isn’t new. I didn’t like him years ago when he declared bankruptcy and stiffed loads of ordinary workers when his big casino failed. I never watched The Apprentice, and I wasn’t happy when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

When he stood for President I never expected him to win, like almost everyone. I would have liked to have seen Bernie Sanders stand, or Joe Biden, but as we’ve seen over the last year, Trump has been a complete and utter disgrace.

I tried to buy a copy of this book when it was released, but Leigh doesn’t have a bookshop, so I had to wait until the weekend. I don’t really need to go into too much detail about the book as it’s been in the news for weeks, but if you’ve been living in a bunker, the author was given access to the White House and had almost unfettered access to everyone. Apparently he has tapes as well, just in case anyone from the Trump administration tries to sue him.

The book plays to my prejudices, as I like to read about what a moron Trump is. I don’t watch the news on TV anymore, and I generally get most of my news from left leaning websites, for example, The Canary or Evolve Politics. I am just a guilty of this as someone who only reads The Daily Mail and sups up every last piece of hate. OK, so I’m not as bad as the hate filled racists who avidly watch Fox News or it’s ilk, but you get the idea.

Back to the book, and one of the most interesting aspects was how the whole Trump team who not only believed that they would lose, but actually wanted to lose, just not by too much. They could then blame illegal voting and try to claim the moral high ground, saying that Trump actually did win. This would then boost the Trump brand. This is backed up by the fact that there were no plans or policies in place just in case he did win.

The other interesting fact is that everyone close to Trump has to try to manage him, as he doesn’t read, and isn’t interesting in anything except himself. If there is justice then Trump and his entire family will end up in jail.

Read this book and laugh at how pathetic he is.

Milestones – Part II

Last week I blogged about reaching a milestone, namely reaching 100,000km of cycling since I joined Strava (read about it here). This is the second part of three Milestones that I have reached all at about the same time. Part II is, wait for it, 100 rides on my Trek 920.


The moment I saw this beast in the Trek catalogue I knew I would be getting one. I wanted a bike that I could go touring on and not worry about the odd trail as well as a bike that I could do some gentle off-roading. ‘Barry’ is the perfect bike for all that, and my wife named him after an ice-cream desert from a Chinese restaurant. I’ve had him for almost 18 months and I’ve blogged about adventures with him many a time, including earlier this week around Skipton (here) and last year’s Easter tour (here, here and here).


I continue to smile every time that I take him out, and the only changes I’ve made since he rolled out of the shop is a replacing the saddle with a Brooks Cambium.

As expected, some stats. Total distance 4,144 km, climbing 47,000 m, kudos 6,780, average distance per ride 26 miles.

Another bonus about this bike is to do with tile or square hunting on Veloviewer. Some of the more hard to get squares invariably involve dirt tracks, farm tracks or bridleways, which are not always accessible on your more regular road bike.

When I’m out other cyclists often comment on the size of the tyres, and I joke about how great the bike will be when I’m crossing the deserts of Kazakhstan. Next up is a four day touring break with my beautiful wife at Easter, although a bit closer to home as we head off to York.

Here’s to the next 100 rides.