Tag Archives: cannock chase

A Holiday by the Oxford Canal

I am currently sneaking my way back to blighty to surprise the squeeze.  I think I have got away with it so far but that first flight was 10 hours.  10 hours of Skype silence in a part of the day where that would be considered unusual – I wonder if she will put 2 & 2 together and get 4.

And that leads me nicely into a story I just read on the BBC. Not one for vague news & reporting inaccuracies I noticed this little paragraph in an article that was telling us about the death of a maths genius in the US.  It struck me as a little odd.  These guys are meant to be so clever but they didn’t know which number comes between 2 and 4.

Nicknamed the “Nobel Prize for Mathematics”, the Fields Medal is only awarded every four years to between two and four mathematicians under 40.

Dont believe me?  Link to the article below. There is only one number between 2 and 4 as far as I am aware.  OK smart arses, you can’t include fractions this time, the number refers to people so it really has to be a ‘whole’ number this time

Maths Genius

So there – it appears I am smarter than the biggest maths genii in America.  Mind you, America, I am not setting the bar too high am I ?

 

So, the start of a month off.  What can I achieve this month?  Hopefully the Samsung will get repaired quickly, I will be reporting on the customer service experience right here so please check back.

I am also going to see if I can visit Chernobyl, Cannock Chase and maybe even Scotland while I am off.

Oh yeah – Hot Tub Time Machine, Drive the Rangie and sell the Volvo


10 minutes @ Cannock Chase

The camera never lies – or so they say.  Just below (and over in the video section) is a 10 minute clip from what will be my last bash around Cannock for this year.

Need I say more ? – Your vote counts – voting instructions at the end of the video.

 

 

 


When the Holidays are over

The time is getting near, nights are drawing in and very shortly I will have to return to work.  A few months down in Cannes, maybe even 6 or more.  Should be a mild winter with plenty of mountains around for the good old (rather new actually) carbon fibre mountain bike.

Talking of which, I hit Cannock Chase this morning on a very sneaky dawnie session.  Sadly it was wet so was never going to be a blistering time but I did manage to make and upload a quick video of my antics on the newly refurbished ‘Lower Cliff’ run – by far the best red run at Cannock.  Video is over in the section called ‘Videos’ strangely enough.  Look for the title ‘Lower Cliff – Cannock Chase’ and you will not only be amazed at my riding skills but also my depth of music taste in selecting a suitable backing track.

This week I also managed to sell my old Specialized mountain bike.  Way back in 2011 I paid $2300 for that beauty and have managed to secure a rather impressive $1260 for it now – not too shabby for a bike that is as well-travelled and used as that one.

Money is already in the bank, just waiting for the dude to come and pick it up.

I did manage to find two magnificent wild mushrooms on the blat through the Chase.  Apologies about the screen dumps, the runkeeper app has changed, but these were stunning, bigger than my fist too.IMG_0541

This monster is called a ‘Fly Agaric Toadstool’ – apparently abundant in the UK but its the first time I have seen one.

IMG_0540

from the same family but different shape although this one is a mushroom apparently.  Whats the difference between a mushroom and a toadstool?  if you believe ‘wisegeek’ – nothing at all, apparently the names are interchangeable.  Some believe mushrooms are edible, toadstools are toxic but that isn’t the case.

Look at me, getting all botanical on your asses !

 

Get over to the video page and check out my latest upload


Eating on a budgie

I just read through my last post.  When I wrote that, I was sick as a dog and not running…..hmmmm, something of a theme developing here then.

To keep a long story long, on Wednesday last week, I went to Cannock Chase with Poopie Pants and my mountain bikes.  After suffering a binding front brake on all of the climbs, I finally stopped to release some hydraulic fluid and stop the bind.

It needed to be done, I had struggled to climb at the same pace as poopie, in fact, there were a couple of places that I got left behind – and as you might guess, that right pissed me off – the only person that is allowed to get left behind at Cannock is Steve Brown, because he is old and slow.

So, with some hydraulic pressure released and my front wheel now spinning free as a bird, we sat at the entrance to the only big downhill section that was open that day.  I told poopie that as this section was fast and technical, I would put my crash helmet back on.  Normally I get too hot on the climbs to keep it on and generally our uphill speeds are much safer than our downhill stuff.

Helmet on and I lead the way.  It is fair to say that all of my uphill frustration was now manifesting itself as pure leg power mixed with brain out bravery.  Like a man possessed, I took off.  I have to say at this point that Mr. Brown who we would normally consider the downhill master, would have been left in my wake.  I was on a mighty mission.  The Specialized was absorbing the bumps as if they were mere pebbles.  Jumps were fluid, air time was abundant, the landings – like a boss.  In short – I was a World Champion, flying like a recently released Banshee.

Until

Just one little mistake and 20mph in the forest on a downhill track can suddenly appear to be a tad too fast.

I couldn’t hear Rupert behind me, he hadn’t stayed anywhere near on pace.  I hit a jump with my left foot slightly out of position on the pedal which then caused the bike to veer slightly to the right from the top of the jump.

The 200 year old tree loomed in front of me.  You don’t need to be a Rocket Scientist to know that mountain bike brakes and steering have little if no effect when airborne. Instantly I knew I was in trouble.  I wasn’t going to be in the air all the way to the tree, that was obvious enough but at the side of the cycle track, at the base of the tree was the root system of the 200 year old beast.  Now I say root system but to accurately describe it I need to use a word that rarely comes out of my vocabulary locker.

These roots were gnarly roots – yep, gnarly mother fu**ers. Polished and shining at the side of the track and standing maybe half a metre above the ground and I was heading straight at them at almost 20mph.  At this point, my life didn’t flash before my eyes but instead a quiet calmness reminded be about the physics (gyroscopic effect) of a spinning wheel.  The best chance I had of survival was to continue at full speed directly at them and let the bike ‘do the work’ as it floats across the top.

For anyone that rides, drives, runs, skates, skis etc you will be aware of this theory – keep up the speed and you will be ok.  The problem is, as your brain very quickly makes the association between your speed, the obstacle in front of you and a great deal of pain when it all goes wrong. It wants to slow down as it quite rightly makes the calculation of  ‘less speed = less pain’ which is of course true but it doesn’t take into account the greater  possibility of clearing the obstacle at the higher speed and thus, no pain.

There is another part of the physics equation that I either forgot about or just didn’t have time to compute after landing very close to those gnarly mother fu**er roots.  The bunny hop.  The simple thing here was that those roots stood at around half a metre or 50cm, whereas my front axle stands around 36 or 37cm.  For the mass of my flying body and bike to have any chance of going up and over the roots, my axle (or to be more scientific, what would soon be my ‘Pivot Point’) needed to be above the gnarly mofo root height.  Without the hop, it wasn’t.

My Runkeeper GPS showed and initial speed of just under 20mph before coming to a complete and abrupt stop using only the hard forest floor as cushioning. I remember hitting the roots, then seeing the track fast approaching my face as my arms naturally stretched out to break my fall.  Then, I thought it was over as I lay in the dirt until my bike came crashing in on top of me in some sick kind of comedy fashion.

Laying on the floor like a stale sack of potatoes, I went through my self checks.  Hole in my knee, very pale skin, some blood.  Right forearm light scratching, right hand, light scratching, left foot – big toe very painful. Moaning from the shock, I continued self checks and was still in one piece.  About 15 seconds later – Poopie caught up, slowed as he negotiated the new obstacle in the middle of the track and then called out ‘Looks like I will beat you to the bottom this time’ as he released his brakes and pedaled on – the wanker!  Never even stopped to see if I was OK.  I later found out that this was because he was afraid of finding broken bones poking out of skin and general bloodiness.

Thankfully, the bike survived without damage.  I can’t say without a scratch because it is already full of them, I wouldn’t notice a new one.  It does mean however that since Wednesday last week, I haven’t been able to keep up with my run training.  I am hoping to get out again tomorrow.

 

Eating on a budget is where this all started.  I was in Sainsbury’s yesterday and looking for some baked beans.  I had a flashback to a TV program some time ago where they compared own brand foods to big label stuff.  One thing that had stuck in my mind was their baked bean experiment.  I decided to give it a go for myself.

Heinz baked beans – the main stay of any childs diet that liked to fart.  I found many variants of these on the shelf, 90p per can.  I looked around and found a Sainers own brand for 40p and then looking even further, found another Sainers own brand for just 25p.  Sneaky I thought.  But what is the nutritional comparison?  Well, this is where I got a shock.  Both the cheaper brands were  lower in Sugar and Salt – that has to be a winner right?

The taste test needed to be completed so this morning I had beans on toast.  I bought a can of each of the own brands to see what the difference was.  This morning I opted for the 25p can.  No ‘easy open’ lid so I had to get the can opener out but let me tell you – these were good.  They did in fact taste a bit sweeter than how I remember Heinz but for almost a quarter of the price, I had a healthier option.

So a can of beans for 25p, three slices of bread from my fresh loaf that cost £1 (I reckon that’s 10p a slice), a smidge of Lurpak Spreadable 5p and not including the electricity for cooking, I reckon I had a champions breakfast this morning for around 60 pence.

I ROCK !!!

 

 

This post is dedicated to Amy Horne of Leamington Spa – who despite her flatulence problem, is still brave enough to be seen in public.


Where the f**k have I been ?

Do you really care?  The important thing is that I am back now.  A long stint in the Americas saw my interest in life itself dwindling beyond belief as the country sucked my will to live right out of me.  However, since the 9th December, I have been safely tucked up in the eurozone and slowly re-charging my life batteries to a point now that I feel it is safe to write again.  I was also slightly reminded that I hadn’t written for a while by Word Press themselves when they sent me an email telling me about the stats for the year.  Now that I have a world audience, I can plan my attack for world domination but until such time, let me bring you up to speed.

Yesterday, I went for a run in the forest up the road – you may have heard me talk about this many times before but for me, it is a giant adventure playground.  In the winter, all the leaves are gone and yesterday the ground was covered in snow so visibility in the forest was spectacular.  Add to that the fact that I was running in a high viz jacket and you might begin to understand my dilema of needing a dump at about 2/3 distance – no way of making it home, no bushes to hide behind, quite a few people around and me wearing a bright fecking yellow jacket – but I had no choice, no chance of making it home so I chose a tree and let it all go.

I also had a ride at Cannock Chase just before Christmas with Rue.  Steve couldn’t make it so it looked like we had a chance of putting a good time in.  I even made a video of one of the better downhill sections but it turned out shit so I didn’t add it to the archives.

My iPhone 4s shat the bed late in November and left me with a dilema all of its own.  The back up phone I had, a standard iPhone 4 was sold to me by the shop as an unlocked phone but it turned out it was locked so that was of little use.  The choice was stark and simple, the 4s was now no longer supported by Apple so it was time to go iPhone 5 or iPhone 6.  If you know about these phones, the problem was, the charger socket and SIM card size, both the 5 and the 6 sport lightening sockets and nano sims so a full change was on the cards whichever way I went.  Thinking that if I took the latest phone, it would be a while before that phone became redundant like the outgoing 4s had now become.  I bought the smaller of the two units BUT it is still too big.  Clumsy to hold, doesn’t fit in my running bum bag as easily and a bastard to navigate with just one hand.  Steve Jobs was 100% spot on when he said that nobody wants a phone that they can’t hold and operate with just one hand. I remember fondly the time when Apple products were wanted because they were leading edge, not because they had a big screen.

The new mountain bike is slowly being bedded in – one trip in the forest and another around Cannock Chase means that I am slowly getting used to it.  Running is slowing down a bit though, all due to the hilly terrain I am using instead of the monotony of flat Florida.  I also managed to run my best Parkrun ever !!!!  Leamington Spa on Saturday 13th December, I chopped a massive 57 seconds off my previous personal best, giving me  22:19 – not only that but I also had my best position finish, 45th out of 241 runners, 7th in my age group (that’ll be the Veterans by the way), not one female finished in front of me and I also increased my age grading to 63.55% so a productive outing after all – it will be a tough one to beat but there is more time in there – next target is under 22:00

I have a confirmed place for the Great North Run 10k and also entered the draw for the Great North Run Half Marathon the following weekend, that should be confirmed within a week so the North of England could be graced with my handsome charms in the summer – I may even venture across to the lake district for the week in between with my mountain bike, or attempt a cross country hike across Hadrians wall or a long run along Offa’s Dyke.  Scotland also wouldn’t be too far away at that point either.

Now, for those of you that didn’t receive my Happy New Year message, firstly let me wish it to you now but also explain what went wrong with the iPhone 6.  I wrote my text message and added the 32 recipients I wanted to send it to.  I pushed send and 7 of you got it, 25 of you didn’t.  I couldn’t get it to send the next day either, completely locked up, so I send my appologies.  I think for next year, I will also revert to sending Christmas cards again.  I had two this year that found me, one from Connor and one from Ralph.  It did kind of make me smile so if at some point between now and christmas, I ask for your address, please don’t panic, this is why.  I did stop sending cards years ago because I thought it was a huge waste of paper but now, I have changed my mind.

That will do for now, it’s almost time for a trott in the forest. I am wondering though – where the hell is Verity McCoy ?


It’s all over bar the flying!

They think it’s all over – it is now!

That was it, my last 10k run in the forest for the summer – next time I get in there, it will be mud brown instead of summer green, maybe even a blanket of snow on the ground – who knows?  Tomorrow I fly back to Rio de Janeiro and then start the month-long up hill sail to Florida. I am of course immensely proud of myself for needing a dump on the way round.  Maybe I could have held it for that last 3k, maybe not but when I return there will be no camouflage for me to squat out of sight so I thought I better make the most of it while it was still there.

I just had a quick week in the UK as my last bit of freedom before the prison cell that is a sailing yacht – a sweet blast around Cannock Chase yesterday with Rue and Steve-o (or as we will call him from this point on ‘Snail Steve’), caught up with as many people as I could before hitting the ferry back yesterday evening.

I have also taken the opportunity to stock up on Tripel Hop.  When I return, it will have been long gone from the supermarket shelves, I am guessing by mid October, this years brew will be no more and it will be March before the new batch is ready.  There are currently 3 crates nestling in the utility room along with a 4 pack of blonde bush.  While we are on the topic of Belgian Beer – what do you get if you mix several Belgian beers with a Steve-o?

Interview with a Vampire – this minute long video is available for a limited period of time in the video section (exactly where you might expect to find it).  Sadly cut short by lack of memory in my iPhone – I wont make that mistake again.  I have just found myself thinking……..when I die, how much Belgian beer will I have drunk?  Not enough I suspect.

The T-shirt competition is coming along – although by now, it should have been closed and moved on to stage two. I am officially giving a time extension to the following people:-

Neal Westwood, Mush George, Verity McCoy, Lexa Timothy, Amy Horne

It’s not too late to get your entry in.

Getting back to Blighty, I also paid a visit to the Battle of Britain memorial just up the road from Dover.  I was a bit of an eye opener to see a sign requesting people NOT to climb on the Memorial Wall – who would do that FFS?  I took some photos and noticed something – you might think it obvious but it took a moment to dawn on me.  At the end of the wall, there is half a column of free space, there are also some names out of alphabetical order. I realised these were a couple of Churchill’s Few who had died most recently, I am assuming that the remainder of the spare column is reserved for those that are still alive.  I have created a small photo album for ‘Churchill’s Few’ – stop by and have a look.  Check your history books too – so early on in that conflict, the Battle of Britain took place – the Nazi machine stopped in its tracks at the shores of Britain by a bunch of youngsters!

We also have a new subscriber to swell the ranks – everyone please welcome Shazza Evans to the party – I make that 32 now.

 

 


Barcelona near miss

I have been thinking recently, dangerous I know.  Some of you will be aware that there is a speed camera just up the street from me.  The speed limit is 50kph and quite rightly so – but 50kph should be easy enough to reach on my bike right?  I have tried so hard to trip that bloody camera but I cannot get past 55kph which is probably right on the threshold for taking my photo.

The other afternoon, I even tried using a bus to reduce wind drag, undertaking it and popping out in front with probably 50 metres of road left before the sensors in the tarmac.  I popped out of the side, centered in the road and as I crossed the sensors, looked back over my left shoulder to see if it flashed – NADA!!!

I did see the bus driver smiling though as he realised what I was trying to do.  And that got me to thinking……….Maybe I could add to the list of eccentric English sports that are available

The Worthing Bird Man  – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4XQtphCd0w

Coopers Hill Cheese Rolling – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOyQBSMeIhM

World Shin Kicking Championships – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGXDwbzlJKw

How about ‘Tow in Speed Camera Baiting’ ? (Westwood’s gonna love this one – and I ain’t talking about Tim)  Similar to tow in surfing, where a jet ski is used to boost them into a wave too big to paddle into.  Obviously there would be points for tripping the camera in the first place, followed by style points for tripping it with a little flair and thirdly, as the sport is called ‘baiting’ – all competitors should be dressed as Badgers – points for the best costume.  Eventually we could get it into the Olympics too right?  I mean, if Mogul Skiing is allowed, tow in speed camera baiting should be fine too.  As a back up, my reserve sport would be Olympic Bonking. Simple rules – whoever comes first, looses!

Anyway, enough nonsense.  My reason for todays entry was to highlight a recent near miss at Barcelona Airport.  I wanted to point this out to you because I believe there has been a gross error in the quotation supplied to the BBC.  The beeb reported that …

The plane then lands safely on the runway shortly afterwards. Officials have denied passengers were in danger at any point.

Now, for me, having worked in Spain for several years and knowing the work ethic of the locals, I strongly suspect that the quote should have read as follows

The plane then lands safely on the runway shortly afterwards.  Officials have denied passengers or ground crew were in danger of being disturbed from their siesta at any point

But I have a link for you so that you can decide if you want to fly to Spain for your holidays in the near future

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PbIVO8TDq4

 

Lexa – let me have your address again to send another prize.

 

England by Thursday morning – if you feel like having a chat give me a call – 07500 562 776.  If I don’t answer, maybe there is some swell after all and I will be catching my first English wave in over a decade.  I will be visiting The Battle of Britain Memorial near to Dover on the way in, before heading to either Camber Sands Bay for a surf check (remember the Inbetweeners caravan trip) or up to Joss Bay, just outside of Margate.  I may then venture up to Cromer on the east coast in my efforts to find an english wave

Still no sign of Verity – and I haven’t heard from Max in a long time either – where is everyone ?? come to think of it, Jo Beach too.  I know Sue is still with us though, I finally had a message last week.

Cannock Chase on Tuesday next week with Steve-o and Rue before returning to Brasil on Thursday 17th.  McCoy, last time we spoke you were living not far from there – come on – get in touch.

 

Rock on


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