Saturday, 4 December 2010


"I believe in today (believe boy, believe boy)
'Cause it's better this way when you work through the night
I know what it means to work hard on machines,It's a labour of love,
so please don't ask me why

You take me up
So high" *

Went riding today . With Tony . We're not identical twins , but he fits my bike just nice .
here , he's pretending to ride across a snow covered bridgey thing . We set it up for the camera .
i've been working so goddam hard just lately . Flat out . It's all outside , too , so no respite from the weather . I suppose we all ' big up ' our working lives , but honestly , this job is the toughest i can remember in the 25 or so yrs i've been doing this . I do insulation . It's very varied , but whilst i am often outside , and dont mind that , there is usually a fall back job indoors for when it gets particularly rough . Not here .
I'd thought I'd be mad at it 'til Xmas , but I've been gifted a ' rest day ' .I've done about 3 weeks straight , 7 days , + evenings , So , whilst i probably shouldve had a lie-in , instead I went for a bike ride .
And very cathartic it was . You know , mentally . Not in any bowel moving kind of way , although i did have a few Powerbars , so we'll see .
OK . Met Tony at 0830 , so a little lie in . I was full -retro on Harry Leary's Axis . Just the ticket that . Go out on an unreplaceable vintage time machine steel bike the day after the council have salted the roads . Hmm .Intended to get as far as the TV mast up Rivi , until about an hour in my wife phoned to say we had a burst pipe . It was outside in the garden , so I wasnt rushing home , but it kinda knocked me off track a bit .
so , we stuck with a Haigh Hall vintage woods blast . Crunchy .
Toast . Soggy .
Coffee . Bitter .
Wit . Ascerbic
* Thompson Twins . You take me up .
NB . That's not me in that basket . But the day after it was .
We call it work .....
You'd pay good money for that at Alton Towers .....

Sunday, 14 November 2010

ZULU 8799

"Is something wrong?" she said
Of course there is
"You're still alive," she said
And do I deserve to be?
Is that the question?
And if so..who answers...?
I'm still alive

I've had another few weeks of debating whether or not I'm ill .
Went out the other week with Tony . Just a local ride , for local people . I'd woken with a sore throat , but , you know how it is , went anyway .
When I got home I was absolutely drained . Really feeling off .

During that week the throat went onto the chest . A bit . I dunno , I decided to not go out midweek/eve , as I'd intended , and by the following weekend I felt mostly better . Still a bit loose in the chest . Greenies .

Last week Tony couldnt do Sunday ( or this week ), along with most everyone else , so I said I'd do Saturday .

The weather forecast clinched it for me . It was nice and sunny . We did a ' basic ' Rivi and back , and it was OK .

Midweek the chest was bad again . Hmm .
Probably a result of working on a windy corner in M/cr, as much as anything else , but , hey .

So , this week . Rememberance Sunday ride . in case you dont know , Bolton MTN Rescue do a ' service ' at the war memorial on Leadmines Clough . It specifically remembers the flight crew who perished there in WWII . They were on a training flight in their wellington bomber . It was a particularly cold night and subsequently the wings of the plane iced up and they crashed . Obviously the service is also about the wider issue of rememberence .

Jeff was back out . Not seen him for a while . He got to our house for 0730 , and we head over to meet Jon on the canal bridge a couple of miles away .

Confusingly there is more than one bridge , and Jon wasnt reading my mind at the time . So , he's at one bridge , and we're not . A quick call sorted it , and he soon arrived .

Some confusion as to whether Andy was coming or not also sorted itself out , and following an hour or so of canal-ing , we met him at the Rivi reservoir .
Time was tick-tocking away , and I was a little concerned we might miss the 11 o'clock rendezvous at the war memorial .

I'd thought we'd make it over Winter Hill at the TV mast , down Hordern Stoops and then get over to Leadmines off the bottom of Spitlers , or something .
As it was , there wasnt time . Instead we headed up through the gardens then at the Pigeon tower , turned down Georges ln , ( behind the Stoops ) , to Sheephouse Ln , and went across to Leadmines that way .

It was just 10.30 as we turned off Sheephouse on to the last bit of moorland to leadmines . sam's pasture , it's called . Anyway , with good eyes you can kinda see leadmines from there .

Didnt really factor in , in the last mile or so , deep mud , rivers of cow piss , errant herds of cows , and a puncture , ( Jon ) .

All worked out OK though , as the guy had just tuned into the BBC for the 11 0'clock ' bongs ' as we got there .

Nothing much to say about the service itself , except that it's a moving kind of thing . It's not an overtly religious event , although they do sneak in the odd prayer / hymn , and then you place your poppy reverentially on the monument .

This will be one rememberence ride I'll be , er , remembering , as following the service , and Jon's super efficient puncture repair , I promptly fell off .

Proper stacked it . Like a sack of spuds dropped from a height .

I dont know exactly what happened , but it involved some confusion as to which way we were heading , a bit of front wheel lock-up , a bit of wet grass ,and my left side hitting the floor.

It was so quick I did'nt have time to take my hands off the bars ,which was probably a good thing , or I'd be typing this one -handed .
I swear , some mornings I think I've had a stroke on that side . In 40 odd yrs I dont think I've had a single big stack on my right hand side .
( Hmm , I'll regret saying that ) .
It's a bit tender today , and I might give the midweek a miss .

So , we went to the cafe , and I had some cake . Oh , yea . The diet . Listen . I dont diet , but , when I put the bike away this summer ( for nearly 4 months ) , my weight initially shot up . At one point I was 12 st 10 lb . Whilst at 6' it's not overweight , it's still , in real money , a stone heavier than I usually am . When I was mad commuting , for instance , I was just 11st 3lb . Which is waay tooo skinny . My body fat was arguably silly low ( under 10% )
So , when I hit nearly 13 st , at nearly 42, you start to think . In my mind there is a graph . On one side it is age . On the other it is weight . And it's going up .
So , like I say , I dont diet . I'm a bugger for the brown sweet stuff though . So , when I got back on the bike the other week and it was a bit tough , I knew that my weight , whichever way you look at it , was making it harder . So I'm just not eating quite as much chocolate , and I'm mostly back on porridge for brekkie . Bread is fairly back-heeled , too .

Last week , for the first time in years , really , I had just nipped under 12 st . Mind you , I'd been ill . Debateably .
I wondered then if I could just make another little effort . For rememberence Sunday ....

I've not set that up , honest .

Anyway . Blah blah blah . Cafe , big slice of sponge cake , ( which is not chocolate ) a black coffee , ( which speeds up metabolism ) ( Come on . Dont you read Paul Chek ? ) , and we hoof it home . Andy splits off first , with myself , Jeff and Jon heading towards Wigan . I kinda slightly fell off again on the way home , but it was hardly worth mentioning .

Good ride . Lucky with the weather . Just the right amount of toughness . Glad to be alive . Really .



Sunday, 7 November 2010

Sunday, 17 October 2010


" Dont gimme no shit because ,
I bin tired " *

Another good spin today . Sat here right now , I'm a bit tired . We drove up , ( Jeff and I ) meeting up with Stu , Rick , and Andy . On the barn rd we met Fred Flintstone ,he's as old as a conker tree , and his mate , Barney Rubble , who decided to tag along despite their advancing years.
Fairly usual kinda thing , although a little more than last week , which in turn was a bit more than the previous .
I'm slowly getting my legs back to something like , but , hey , there's no rush eh ?

lovely weather today . Bit chilly , but about right . Meandered up to the Pike , then across Wilders Moor to the mast rd , then ,a few of us at least ,continued offroad , parallel to the tarmac for a while , before a break/regroup at the mast itself .

We then dropped over the back down to the san marino at Belmont . Here , Stu's video ,presented in wobblevision. Pretty good though for a helmet cam the size of a lego brick .

After that we had to get back over the hill, obviously , which involved a boggy ( ish ) yomp out of Belmont, and then a drop through the valley towards leadmines ( rivers of piss, sheep , cattle , kinda salty ) , and an aborted cafe stop .
" Death please " .

Good ride . Like I said , bit tired now .
Oh , yea . I was trying out another pair of those ' classic ' A'Me grips . A matching pair this week of the ' ergo ' ( nomic ? ) variety . Yea . Ronseal .
Available at the bike shop on special offer . Mention the blog for an extra special free thick ear .

* Pixies . I've been tired . Off that Surfer Rosa long player .


Sunday, 10 October 2010


"I've never been wrong.

I used to work in the record store.
I had everything before anyone.
I was there in the Paradise Garage DJ booth with Larry Levan.
I was there in Jamaica during the great sound clashes.
I woke up naked on the beach in Ibiza in 1988.

But I'm losing my edge to better-looking people with better ideas and more talent.
And they're actually really, really nice."

OK , here . I'm back on board .I've been decorating the west wing .
No pix today , but Stu took his nifty little helmet cam thing .
it sits on top of a 3 foot spring on his helmet , but it's OK .
I was ' evaluating ' some retro modern A'ME grips . I had one ( LH ) 1.1 super thin grip , and one ( RH ) 1.2 medium thick grip . Very good , very grippy , very nostalgic . Conclusion , 1.2 ( med ) is the way to go . 9 out of 10 . I'm being picky , but they only ' lock -on ' on the inside edge , and are closed at the other . Fine for every other person on the planet , but I'm the only weirdo who still uses bar ends , that I had to forego for this test , as i did'nt want to carve up the grip .

Meself , Dave , Stu . Usual Rivington sunday thing . Pike . Gale force insanity , juxtaposed with surreal calmness of Walker Fold .
Yea . just like that .

Here , Stu's bouncy video . it's hard to tell but I very very nearly decked it at the top of the Ice Cream Run .

I dunno . The ' Embed ' thingy's not working . It'll be me . I'm losing my edge .........

Oh , there we are .


Sunday, 22 August 2010

2010 Scott & Cannondale Sale Bikes

Scott Genius 60 Medium Was £1800 NOW £1299

Scott Spark 40 Large Was £1800 NOW £1299

Scott Spark 50 Medium Was £1600 NOW £1199

Cannondale RZ One Forty 7 Medium Was £1900 NOW £1399

Cannondale RZ One Twenty 3 Medium Was £1800 NOW £1299

All bikes are new, unridden. Includes PDI and 1st service. Call 01942 826598 to get these deals. One of each only. Price does not include delivery.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Cannondale Demos

We got our Cannondale demo bikes in:

Flash 3 Medium
Flash 4 Large
RZ120 2 Medium
RZ120 2 Large
Rz 140 Carbon 3 Medium

These will be available the weekends of 19/20th June and 26/27th June.

Please contact us NOW if you'd like to take one of these out with us on 01942 826598 ask for Rick.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Cycle To Work Scheme Information

"Look out for a brand new bike in your pay packet."
Cycle to Work leaflet

That's the headline on a Cycling England leaflet for the government's Cycle to Work scheme.

Cycle to Work is a tax incentive aimed at encouraging employees to, er, cycle to work, thereby reducing air pollution and improving their health.

The scheme allows employees to benefit from a long term loan of bikes and commuting equipment such as lights, locks and panniers completely tax free.
Employers benefit from fitter, more punctual, more wide-awake staff. Employees benefit from better health and better bikes because their money goes further. There's more bike commuting positives in this free and online 50-page Bike to Work Book. With a budget of, say £400, an employee in the high tax-band can now afford a bike, plus accessories, worth nearly £800.

The typical saving for an average tax-payer is between 38-45 per cent. There are online calculators to help you see how much you may be able to save. This one is from Cyclescheme. Type in your salary, the cost of your new bike and the cost of accessories such as a helmet, lock, panniers and so forth.

Worries about climate change, a planned lack of parking spaces at hospitals and new-build company HQs and other 'sticks' is making major employers take a long hard look at the 'carrots' on offer when formulating ‘Green Transport Plans’.
Car-sharing is one option, but cycling to work is another.

And to encourage cycling to work, the government created a little publicised incentive in 1999 to encourage employers to help their employees acquire tax-free bikes. In 2005 this scheme was re-branded as Cycle to Work.

Employers can loan bicycles to their staff as a tax-free benefit on the condition that the bicycles are mainly used to get to and from work or for work-related purposes. The employee ‘buys’ the bike at the end of the load period for a nominal sum.

It’s possible for any employer to set up their own Cycle to Work scheme.
However, creating such salary sacrifice schemes requires a working knowledge of employment law and the intricacies of the tax system. The paperwork is tricky to complete and there are pitfalls for the unwary such as falling foul of minimum wage requirements, credit licences and the redrafting of employee contracts.

Each employer will have different challenges which is why salary sacrifice scheme implementation is often out-sourced to third-party companies.

Cycle to Work used to have a tax-break parallel in the PC trade. The Home Computer Initiative (HCI) was a salary sacrifice scheme for getting an employer’s staff hooked up with PCs for home use. It used the same VAT and NIC rules as the bike scheme and was once a booming sector. Major players such as BT, Comet and PC World operated HCI schemes, as did Booost which entered the bike market via Halfords in 2004. The HCI scheme was discontinued in March 2006 but some HCI players are now investing in Cycle to Work schemes, see The Facilitators, below.

According to the official Department for Transport info, the Cycle to Work scheme works thus:

* Your employer signs up for the scheme * You then choose a bike from an approved supplier * The bike is then bought by your employer who reclaims the VAT * You then take delivery of the bike for your exclusive use - provided you use it for qualifying journeys, i.e. commuting to work * The VAT free price is then deducted from your salary by equal instalments over a period of time (typically 18 months), but as you don’t pay tax or NI on the income you forego, this will give you further savings. * After the period of salary sacrifice, the employer may give you the option to purchase the bike at a ‘fair market price’, though depends on the period you have had the cycle loaned to you.

This ‘fair market price’ is usually five percent of the original package price. So, after a 12 or 18 month ‘loan’ for a bike package costing £1000, the employee takes full ownership for just fifty quid. This is as yet untested by HMRC.

The actual discount available to an employee will be based upon their own personal tax circumstances (higher tax payers get fatter discounts) and whether their employer can recover all VAT. Some public sector employers (such as the military), charities and some others may not be able to recover all the VAT.

The discount also varies depending whether cash purchase or lease finance is used.

In rare cases, where employers decide to directly bear all scheme costs themselves, employees need no budgets at all, with the full cost of their loan bikes then legally treated as ‘non cash tax free benefits’. However, although it is at their discretion, most employers do not actually incur the costs themselves. They achieve this by taking advantage of parallel salary sacrifice tax legislation, allowing them to recover all costs from their employees over a period of time, while their employees still substantially benefit from Income Tax and National Insurance reduction in line with salary sacrifice, plus input VAT recovery where possible.

A Cycle to Work bicycle is 'hired' to the employee and hence does not fall into a benefit category. If the right to purchase the actual bike hired by an individual employee is guaranteed then this would change to a benefit in kind and exit the salary sacrifice offering.
Cyclescheme, one of the Cycle to Work facilitators, believes that the fair market values offered for a second hand bike, used for a year to cycle to work, would be 'scrap value' and 5 percent of the original voucher value (i.e. bicycle and safety equipment which normally amounts to 15 percent of the package). Bicycle shops are not generally interested in selling second hand bikes as they will need to give a warranty on something that has no service or use record. They will offer less than half of the shop retail value which would be the price that the employee would get via eBay or local papers, notice boards and so on.

Here’s an example of how Cycle to Work helped 'John':
1. Under his employer’s scheme, John chooses to have the loan of a bike retailing at £450
2. His employer reclaims the VAT – reducing the cost to £383
3. This net amount is met by John agreeing to a salary sacrifice whereby his gross pay is reduced by £21.28 per month over 18 months
4. The monthly net cost to John will be £14.26 because he doesn’tpay tax or national insurance on the gross pay (£21.28) that he has sacrificed
5. At the end of the 18 month period John’s employer offers the ex-loan bike for sale at a fair market price
e.g. £50 (To establish the fair market price, employers should obtain quotes from local bike shops as the value of the bike will partly depend on the level of use)
6. The cost to John is:
Net salary given up £14.26 x 18 months = £256.68
Cost to buy the bike at end of the period = £50
Total cost to John (68% of retail price) = £306.68

Many existing cyclists ask whether they can use the Cycle to Work scheme to buy just accessories, as they already have the bike.
In theory, this is allowed - the fine print says "bicycles and/or safety equipment" but as most schemes are now run by third-party facilitators it's usually their rules you have to play by.

Many facilitators say they have a £200 minimum (and some have a £1000 maximum), and this is to discourage a cyclist asking to buy just a helmet and a lock under the scheme (although this can easily come to £200 for quality items). However there will be some people who want a frame or wheels or some other integral part of the bike like a groupset which means there will be potential tax problems with 'dual ownership' where the employer owns the new bits and the employee owns the rest. (This is also why 'topping up' - where an employee adds his/her own cash to by a bike and bits in excess of £1000 - is problematic).

There are a growing number of Cycle to Work third-party facilitator schemes. Click on the company names to go to the websites.





Some companies wishing to use the Cycle To Work scheme have been advised that employee contracts of employment would have to be rewritten to accommodate the scheme. Some of the third-party C2W facilitators can issue employee hire agreements that temporarily amends employee terms and conditions of pay. Check that this document and the terms and conditions of hire that accompany it are written in strict accordance with the OFT, HMRC and DfT.

The Office of Fair Trading has issued a group consumer credit licence to cover employers implementing Cycle to Work schemes. The ceiling via these licences is £1000. Download info from here. If companies already have a Consumer Credit Licence there is no £1000 ceiling. Electric bikes which cost more than £1000 cannot be bought via the majority of third-party facilitator Cycle to Work schemes, which is why electric bike companies are lobbying to raise the £1000 ceiling. It's's understanding that there is little chance of such a raise.

Bikes bought via the C2W scheme are owned by the companies concerned, until the end of the C2W agreement. This has concerned some major employers, fearing legal ramifications of faulty bikes and injured employees and so forth.

Most of the third-party facilitators have contract small print that stipulates that the bike shops selling the bikes are responsible for warranties and claims as per usual. Since the employer owns the bike they will pass on any claim to the bike shop who will pass it on to their supplier who will pass it on to the manufacturer.

For employees on short-term contracts - even rolling ones, such as doctors - it can be difficult to implement a Cycle to Work scheme, although not impossible. It's also worth noting that if you're made redundant or otherwise leave the company with which you started the salary sacrifice scheme, you'll need to replay the outstanding amount with your final pay cheque.

Some employers are concerned they could be liable for an employee cycling to and from work because the bike belongs to the company, not the employee.

Richard Grigsby from Cyclescheme said:

"One way to get around this thorny topic is to lease the bikes from a finance house who then own the bikes throughout the hire period."

The Cyclescheme hire agreement requires the employee to sign that they will maintain the bike in a safe and roadworthy condition during the hire period. They also sign to say that they will insure the bike themselves.

Sarah Gow from cycle insurance provider Cycleguard/JLT Online said:

"I have taken advice in respect of the legal position employers may find themselves in if an employee is found negligent whilst using a bike to and from work. Whilst there is no legal precedent and case law which we can use to qualify this answer, we feel that it would be unlikely that the employer would be found negligent for the actions of the employee to and from work. If the employee caused an accident, it is out of the control of the employer who is not responsible for how the employee rides the bike. Equally if the bike failed as a result of a defect that would be more likely a product liability claim. However, each incident is judged on its merits and it is impossible to say with 100% certainty that no liability applies.

"We feel that this issue is adequately covered by the Employers Liability cover, which doesn’t usually have an exclusion for manually propelled vehicles, so even if an unusual set of circumstances did arise it would more than likely be covered on a standard EL policy.

"However, the issue of using a bike for work purposes is a little more problematic and if an employer gave instructions for an employee to use his/her bike in this capacity, it may be likely a claim could be brought against the employer, again dependent on the circumstances. This event would usually be covered under an employers standard EL cover."

Employees of charities, universities, the armed forces and many parts of the NHS are usually denied a VAT saving.
Plus, if you don't have a PAYE salary, you can't take part in a Cycle To Work salary sacrifice scheme. The only bike saving for a self-employed person would be to buy a bike via the business and reclaim the VAT, if VAT registered that is.

If your organisation is running the Cycle to Work scheme already, or thinking of starting, download and print the PDF leaflets from Cycling England. There's a version for employers and one for employees.

In October 2009, the Departments of Health, Transport and Culture jointly launched a major employer promotion for the Cycle to Work scheme.

More than 70 major public and private sector employers - including many NHS trusts - pledged to implement a new 'Cycle to Work Scheme Guarantee' in a bid to transform the numbers of people cycling to work.

Central Government
Cabinet Office
Communities and Local Government
Department for Business Innovation & Skills
Department for Children, Schools & Families
Department for Culture Media and Sport
Department for Energy and Climate Change
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Department for Transport
Department of Health
Environment Agency
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Forestry Commission
Government Equalities Office
Government Office for the West Midlands
Ministry of Justice
Northern Ireland Office
Office of National Statistics
Planning Inspectorate
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Scotland Office
Treasury Solicitor’s Department
UK Statistics Authority
Wales Office

Local Authorities
Bedford Borough Council
Blackpool Council
Borough of Poole
Brighton & Hove City Council
Brighton and Hove Police Division
Bristol City Council
Cambridge City Council
Cambridgeshire County Council
Canterbury City Council
Cheshire West and Chester Council
Darlington Borough Council
Devon County Council
Ealing Council
East Riding of Yorkshire Council
Eastleigh Borough Council
Essex County Council
Exeter City Council
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service
Kent County Council
Kirklees Council
Lancashire County Council
Lancaster City Council
Leeds City Council
Leicestershire County Council
London borough of Lambeth
London Borough of Lewisham
London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Neilson Active Holidays
North Kesteven District Council
North Lincolnshire Council
Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council
Shropshire Council
South Gloucestershire Council
South Tyneside Council
Southampton City Council
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council
Watford Borough Council
West Sussex County Council
Wirral Council
Wolverhampton City Council

Private Sector
3 UK
3K UK PLC Aycliffe Plant
Anglo American
BAA Heathow
BAA Stansted
Baigent Digital
BG Group
Brighton & Hove Bus Company
Company Z Ltd
Contemporary Transport
Cycle Experience
Cycle Solutions
Cyclescheme Ltd
CycleToWorkNow Ltd
Cycling Instructor Ltd
Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative
Ernst & Young
F.W. Evans Cycles (UK) Ltd
Finsbury Orthopaedics Ltd.
Glaxo SmithKline
Halcrow (Exeter office)
Incisive Media
Integrated Transport Planning Ltd
Johnson Matthey
Journey Latin America
Lansons Communications
Marshalls plc
May Gurney
MHA Planning & Transport
National Grid
Nine Four Ltd
Pedersen UK Ltd
Pinewood Studios Group
Process Focus Ltd
Pru Health
Richard Armitage Transport Consultancy
RWE npower
SK Transport Planning
Steer Davies Gleave
The Adidas Group
Wheelies Direct Cycle Solutions
White Label UK
Willcan Motors
Zoe Mode

Bournemouth University
Canterbury Christ Church University
Gateshead College
Leeds Metropolitan University
Leeds Trinity University College
Link Secondary School
Newcastle College Group
South Leicestershire College
Stockport College
The Arts University College at Bournemouth
The Open University
University of Bristol
University of Central Lancashire
University of Leicester
University of Oxford
University of Sheffield

Third Sector
Business in the Community CTC Ltd
London Cycling Campaign
North Yorkshire Sport
Southwark Cyclists

Berkshire West NHS
Bolton PCT
Brighton & Hove City PCT
Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust
Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Cambridgeshire PCT
Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Countess of Chester Foundation Trust
Dorset PCT
Dr Smith and Partners
Durham PCT
East Cheshire NHS Trust
Harrow PCT
Hounslow PCT
Leeds Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust
Liverpool PCT
NHS Blackpool
NHS Halton & St Helen’s
NHS Kensington and Chelsea
NHS Kingston
NHS Knowsley
NHS Manchester
NHS Norfolk
NHS North Lancashire
NHS North West (SHA)
NHS Northern Lincolnshire & Goole Hospitals NHS Trust
NHS Nottingham City
NHS South West (SHA)
NHS Wirral PCT
Norfolk PCT
North Bristol NHS Trust
North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust
Oldham PCT
Penine Care NHS Foundation Trust
Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust
Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust
Sefton PCT
Sheffield PCT
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Somerset PCT
Southampton PCT
Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust
Stepping Hill Foundation Hospital Trust
Stockton on Tees Teaching PCT
University College London Hospitals NHS Trust
University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust
University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust
Worcestershire Health Services NHS Trust
York Hospitals NHS Trust

Sunday, 21 March 2010


"Parents . Why wont they shut up ?....." *

The last two weeks rides amounted to about the same thing . Haigh Hall and back with the twins , Luke and Adam , or , as viewed below , Adam and Luke .

It's been my ' bread and butter ' ride for 20 odd years now , and whilst the boys have been riding bikes since they were this big , it's still quite a ways farther than they're used to . Quite a bit of climbing , too .

Oh , and this week , we went through the Wuchie .

They've done OK though , only really getting tired in the last few miles . Which is about right .
If I can prise them away from their DSi 's , I'll get them to write something up here.

Bit chilly early on .....

Soon warmed up .


About 18 miles at this point . Both boys are feeling it . We only have 2 miles to go , but it's basically all uphill.

Top : Boy's Mongoose Rockadile 24" . Perfect MTB for a 10 yr old
This one : 1989 Diamond Back Axis ( Ex Harry Leary ). Perfect MTB for a 41 yr old.
(If a little on the small side )
* Descendents . Parents
LOOOOK . A MAP.............

Saturday, 27 February 2010


"After I have travelled so far
We'd set the fire to the third bar
We'd share each other like an island.

Until exhausted, close our eyelids
And dreaming, pick up from
The last place we left off
Your soft skin is weeping
A joy you can't keep in ." *

The foteygraf below, is our street at about 0800 . We'd planned on a trip to Coed Llandegla , in N.Wales , but after seeing the forecast , and under advice from the guy at the place ,we called it off for another time .

So , then we wake up to this .

Good call , I'd say .

Following some frantic texting , Jeff and I decide to hoof it up Rivi . I've had a message off Rick out of the shop . He's got some snow too , and is going to set out from his side of the hill and we'll rendezvous later on . Whatever that means . It's French . There's no mad panic to get up there , although Keiron is heading up there too , but I'm not even sure we'll make it . Anyway...

Here . We take the usual route ,heading up towards the canal and Wigan .

Around about this time I get a TXT off Tony . I ring him . His lad's footie is off , surprise surprise , and he's coming too . Ace .
The clock's ticking , and to be honest , it's tough going at times .

After briefly making camp ,we eat the dog , and soldier on .

OK , so we successfully circumnavigate Wigan ,encountering many hazards ,en route , whatever that means . As we get to the top end of Wigan at New Springs , I suggest getting on the road . It's going to save a fair chunk of time , so it is done . There's no way we'd get up there in time to meet Tony and Keiron.

We're on the road climbing up to Aspull no more than a few minutes , when behind us we hear a ship's claxon . Like that one on the Titanic .

It's Tony in his wheeled cathedral.

It's actually a Volvo , that's thiiiiiis biiiiig.
It's got heated 4 wd leather seats ,and a built in fondue set , and all kinds of gadgets .
It's a tough descision. Hmmm .

The result of this serendipitous event , means Keiron is only suffering from mild , early stages of hypothermia when we get there .

So without any further ado , we mount our rusty steeds and continue . I must've been suffering from snowblindness , or something , because I kinda took a wrongish turn . You cant really call it wrong , but as climbs up through the gardens go , it wasnt exactly right either . Suffice to say , we pushed up a fair portion of it . What can I say ? It was a toughie.

So , we meander , on and up , and up and up and on to the Pike .

It was'nt all that cold , but it was a few degrees cooler up here , as you can see in the pix , a bit bleak .

For the first time in , I dunno , ever , I back-heel the slabby drop , fearing ice , and stick to the grass drop , ( to the right , yes ? ).

I suppose it's 'statistically ' not as hardcore as the slabs , but as I'd not done it since I cant remember when , it was all a bit new . The rutted drop had filled in with snow in places , and one that I picked towards the bottom had about 18" of snow in , that nearly had me off . Brill .

We get to the gate at the bottom in one piece , when the phone rings . It's Rick . He's leading the charge ( " Huzoor "), up through Walker Fold / Burnt Edge with his buddies .

The plan's coming together , and we decide to meet on the Mast Rd .

So we head for there , then.

We need to get up Wildersmoor . Regular viewers will no doubt remember it gets many a mention here . Depending on the time of year , and the weather we've had / are having , it can be anywhere from a right laugh ,to a fair old ding dong ,or anywhere inbetween. Today it's got a fair covering of snow , but , surprisingly , is'nt so bad .

Luckily , it's that nearly perfect snow that lets your tyres just bite in enough and affords a reasonable amount of grip .

Jeff nails the Humphrey's Ditch . Which was nice .

We climb on towards the Mast Rd . No sign of Rick at the top , so we make a left ( up ) , and head for the Two Lads . Well , underneath it on the road . Here ...


It turns out Rick et al , are just behind us , so we wait for a few minutes , and here they are .
' Garçons sont arrivé.

We exchange pleasantries , and head off on the most perilous part of our journey thus far.
Before we had a ' back up vehicle ' , I was thinking about now would be about enough . Time to head back . Tony has offered to run us home in the Volvo though , so we can go a little farther . Obviously , going over the top , means we have to get back over .
San Marino , then .
The San marino is good at any time of year . It's challenging enough , without being too steep and dangerous . I only fell off twice .
It was snowy.
Here , Rick in action.

Following this we drop through the little woods at the bottom and hoof it up the road , pass the ' Black dog' Pub , and turn up left beside the Black Bull pub to run parallel-ish with Rivington Rd / Sheephouse .
It looked like this . But better .

The next bit is good . But it's also bad . I've been along this 'path ' in the height of summer and got my feet wet .
There was a slim chance it could've been frozen solid , but it was'nt . Still , in a perverse ' personal challenge ' stylee , I really enjoyed it . And only got slightly wet .
We join the road just briefly , Ian leaves us for home , and we carry on . Just along the road we turn right and nibble at Spitlers a little bit , only a 100m or so , and then head to the left diagonally to drop down to the valley that leads to Leadmines . ( Hempshaw / Sam Pasture / Wilkinson Bullough ) . The temperature has plummeted , which just goes to show .
I remind myself that this is one of my very favourite routes back as I grit my teeth through freezing rivers of stagnant sheep piss.
And then we arrive at Leadmines Clough . Which I like . There's a war memorial you know ? And a Stone Circle . Well ,you seen one , you seen em all .
Yarrow .
Cafe .
Custard .
1970 Dodge Charger . The actual vatican on wheels . Parked up . Bonkers.
Volvo .
Home .
Bit late .
That's all you need to know .
* Snow Patrol .

Sunday, 7 February 2010


"One can have a dream , baby,
Two can make the dream so real..."

Good spin today . Myself and Jeff .
I sent a TXT round yesterday announcing the usual rendezvous at 0830 , up Rivington on the Barn Rd .
The almost total lack of replies changed my mind a little bit . Jeff had said he'd pick me up , but seeing as there was nobody to meet , and we didnt have any particular time to adhere to , I suggested riding up . We could go at our own pace , see how far we got , and when we'd had enough , turn round and head back . Old school . Kinda how it used to be before the invention of car-biking.
Car-biking is a modern off shoot of mountainbiking , a bit like uplift assisted downhill mountainbiking ,and it's popularity is growing in direct correlation with the UK population's BMI.

So , Jeff gets to ours around 0800. Already the spanners are out . I'm on my mid-school Gary Fisher Big Sur . I've not been on it for a while and I think the cables have settled in or something , but I couldnt easily get the granny gear , and the big ring was not having it at all . A quick fettle and we were off . That was the faffing out of the way , and it performed without incident for the rest of the ride .

Jeff is on his new- ish Orange Five . We dont sell them , so I wont tell you about it's robust , industrial simplicity . It's a sorted bit of kit , but you should definitely not buy one . Opt instead for a custom built American 5" er , say , a Turner ,(Available now to demo ) or if you prefer ' off the peg ' as I do , you cant knock the Cannondale RZ 140 .

I havent taken any pictures today . No particular reason , apart from it being a little damp / cold early on . Later on I just couldnt be arsed . Here , a picture of an old bike instead...

We headed up through Wigan on the canal to Haigh , nipped into the woods ,not climbing as far as the hall , then back on the canal to Adlington . Out of Adlington into Rivington , then up to the Pigeon Tower and the Pike . Off the back , and then down the boneshaker ( Roynton rd ) to the back of the school in Horwich . Hoofed it to Aspull , and then dropped through Haigh Plantation again to pick up the canal , and home the same .

Here , the canal .....

Good ride , some good ups , a few tough climbs , and some good drops .
I particularly enjoyed bombing down the boneshaker . There's a gate about a quarter way in , that was fortunately open , so no loss of momentum . It's one of my classic downhills that I would do regularly in years past , but havent for a while . It's the kind of fast , wide trail that on a full susser might be seen as a bit tame . It's perfect then for a hardtail .
I know I can bang on all day about the simple joy of an uncomplicated old MTB , but I realise it's not for everybody . There's a place too for the modern bikes . They've without doubt come on leaps and bounds in the last few years , in how they work , how little they now weigh , and how much performance they can bring to the trail for less money , relatively , than ever .

But , I , me , myself , and all my other split personalities get something from my old bikes that you cant buy . An actual ' nostalgia trip ' .
I also realise that I'm a bit weird . If I had more money I could be labelled ' eccentric ' , I suppose , but I prefer being a normal regular working class nutter.
See , in a way , it's exactly like it used to be . Mostly I took up MTBing because I just love riding bikes . But , secretly , it was good to be part of a select little club that other people , ordinary people , didnt get .
Ergo .
Vintage sit up and beg .
dayglo legwarmers .
Polystyrene mushroom helmet .
So , I'm bombing down the boneshaker , and I'm 17 again . You cant buy that . Well , you can, on Ebay , but it takes quite a bit of effort trawling through the detrius. It's better to just keep all your old crap.
The Fisher is'nt exactly old though . It has modern-ish things . Like brakes . Theyre of the ' V' type , so work OK , and it has forks of the suspension type .

" Cold gravel " , I hear you cry .
Compared to the Axis I was on last week , it rides like a Bentley.

I didnt mention this to Jeff , but I had a little moment on the second half of the descent . I was probably going what can only be described as too fast .
A water channel crossing the path turned into a jump , which in turn , turned into a bit of a ' dead sailor ' . On an old ( ish ) bike , at over 20 MPH ( feels like 50 ) , it definitely gets the arsehole winking . I thought I was going down , but didnt .
That's the kind of thing I'm looking for . All the thrills , but leave the spills . Hey , I'm 41 now . It's shaping up to be a classic year.
Here , Map thingy .