Thursday, 29 October 2020


The Ortlieb O-Bag mounted on my Brompton

There comes a time when planning any trip that you have to decide what to take with you. This is probably the hardest task for me to complete as I've got a habit of trying to cover every possibility, and then taking the right kit for each of them. On my recent trip to Scotland this included taking a full size track pump in case I really wanted to get the Brompton tyres up to 100PSI - it went unused, and a 4G home broadband router which would be deployed if the internet connectivity provided by the resort wasn't up to scratch - it wasn't and the 4G ended being used quite a bit. If I had my sensible head on I would have left these at home and saved a few kilos of weight, but the temptation of having a big bag meant I could take them.

So, on this trip I'm going to try to get away with the least possible luggage, but not so little that the trip becomes an adventure in me getting kicked out of places because I've began to smell a little too gamy!

The Brompton bike has an embarrassingly large selection of luggage that can be connected to the little carrier block on the front. Some very practical, others are quite pricey fashion statements.

Shortly after I bought my Brompton I splashed out quite a tidy sum (although less than they currently sell for) on a nice Ortlieb "O Bag" which has been used and abused for a few years to carry laptops, spare clothes, and pretty much everything else a cycling commuter needs during all four seasons. This bag has stood up to pretty much everything the British weather can throw at it, so will definitely be coming on the big trip. That bag, while really useful, isn't big enough to carry everything I need for what could be a couple of weeks.

Fortunately on the back of my Brompton I have a rack that can hold "stuff", and over the years I've had all sorts of "stuff" on it - bottles of wine, pizzas, bags of gravel... so, "stuff".

One things the rack is really bad for is wide stuff - this is because, unlike bikes with bigger wheels, the rack is very close to the pedals. The downside of this is when you pedal, your heals hit whatever is on the rack that's too wide... this means you either hurt your heals on a bag of gravel, or the pizza you've just picked up from the shop gets unceremoniously dumped on the road. So, whatever is going to be carried on the back must be quite narrow.

By far the majority of the clobber that I'll be taking with me will be clothes - at least a couple of changes - I plan to do some washing along the way. So the rear luggage must be capable of keeping the clean clothes dry even in the event that the British summer weather becomes very British.

Many years ago, after a particularly good dose of the weather exhibiting it's Britishness while on a hike in Snowdonia, I was introduced to "dry bags". I'm not sure how I'd been completely ignorant of their existence for the proceeding 40 odd years, but they completely changed the way I travel. Everything now gets packed in them and all the air squeezed out before closing them up - ensuring that they take up minimal space, and in the event the luggage gets wet, my clothes stay dry.

So, for the trip I think a reasonably large dry bag may do the trick when mounted on the rear rack of the Brompton with a couple of bungee cords. Hopping on to
The dry-bag receipt from Amazon
The Everything Store, I found a huge array of possible solutions at almost every price point, eventually settling for one listed at £21.99, which after a "promotional" discount and application of "reward" points, I bagged (see what I did there? ...sorry!) a 25L capacity one for £1.96.

That is the first purchase for the trip, and may possibly turn out to be the best.

Here's the bag on Amazon:

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

28th October 2015

Five years ago today I was walking in Nepal and arrived at Namche Bazaar in the Khumbu region.

The trip to Nepal changed my outlook on life completely, and made me want to get outside and travel slowly, not whizz from airport to airport - something I seem to have spent much of the previous years doing for work.

I urge everyone if they are able, to make a similar journey, it’s very therapeutic for the mind. The Nepalese people are kind, generous, and friendly... well, except one particularly grumpy taxi driver in Kathmandu.

The company I used for the trip was Jagged Globe - very experienced in the region and all round great people.

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Avoiding the Obvious Route

Suggested Google Maps Route

Looking at the full trip, Google Maps suggests that the route end-to-end is about 460 miles, but it looks like a lot of that is on major roads, and avoiding the really nice bits of the country.

So, thinking about starting the trip with a big day, taking in what looks like some very nice bits of Cornwall that I haven't been through before.

After making my way down to Land's End by train to Penzance, I'll spend the night somewhere near Land's End itself so there's not too much back-tracking in the morning.

On the first morning proper, after leaving Land's End, head immediately away from the A30 and then take some small roads to Penzance for a bit of breakfast.

After breakfast, head off through the heart of Cornwall towards Falmouth. Think I'll have a spot of lunch there and then get the ferry across to St. Mawes.

The last leg of the day is then off up to St. Austell, probably stopping off at The Lost Gardens of Heligan for an afternoon tea - had a great one there in 2019.

Staying somewhere in or around St. Austell at the end of day 1.

Think that's a good rough plan for the first day - I'll look into the exact route in more detail closer to the time when I get around to programming my GPS - but that's a post for another day.

The Beginning

2015, I was in my mid forties and having sat behind a desk most of my life writing software, I got out and trekked to Everest Base Camp. This was hard for a relatively unfit bloke with short legs, but gave me a taste for the outdoors and seeing the world very slowly.

Within a month of coming back from Nepal my father passed away suddenly.

So I did what anybody would do in such a situation, I bought a folding bike with small wheels!  OK, so maybe not everybody.

Since then, my little Brompton bike has gone to most places with me. It's been on business trips to The Netherlands, commuting in London, and even as far afield as the frozen aisle in my local Sainsbury's to do a shop.


Brompton on a dyke in The Netherlands

September 2020 saw the Brompton and me go up to Scotland for a week. This was the first time I'd really gone away with just the bike for a whole week. Being inexperienced, over-ambitious, and a little stupid, I packed far too much.

Overloaded Brompton on a train, heading into London
It's not as if I was camping - I was staying in quite a nice apartment that was fully equipped. Long story short, the 40 mile cycle from Edinburgh to Auchteradar was a bit of a challenge. Definitely a day full of type-2 fun. (see Types of Fun)

So now, it's almost November 2020, the slight mental scaring from the trip to Scotland having mostly healed, I'm thinking about what to do next. I quite fancy a long distance trip but can't spare the amount of time it'd take to do the Land's End to John o'Groats route (at my speed it'd probably take 3-4 weeks)...

My current thinking is to go from Land's End to Ness Point, the most westerly and easterly extremes in mainland England. The route will be about 500 miles, something that is probably very achievable in 2 weeks, and do it during June in 2021 when there's maximum daylight.

On this blog I'll post details about the planning for the trip, various decisions (crazy and otherwise) that I'm making, as well as the route that I'll be planning to take and no doubt deviating from along the way.

Hopefully by posting all of the details I'll maybe encourage or inspire others to get out on their bikes, of whatever wheel size, and enjoy the outdoors.


When I bought my Brompton back in 2016-2017 (to be really honest, I can't remember what year it was, but Brompton geeks will would know ...