Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Bits and Bobs, This and That.

Well I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year, and all are fit and healthy, and looking forward to 2018 with renewed enthusiasm.

Here at Bimble Towers I did indulge myself just a bit food wise (I'm not a drinker) and filled every available space in the kitchen with snacks and goodies - all deliciously unhealthy and definitely ill advised. Mince Pies, Sausage Rolls, Pasties, Chocolate biscuits, more Mince Pies, Crisps, Pork Pies, huge fry ups... You name it, I scoffed it, and now I feel as fat as a house and every bit as lively.

I'm no healthy eater, but I have cut out a lot of ugly stuff since I got back into cycling and have had been feeling the benefit too, but now I'm paying for my festive excesses by feeling sluggardly and bloated most of the time. So, that's a lesson learned then and work to be done to undo all the damage. It was bloody good though, I did enjoy revisiting all the junk I used to consume so readily!

So what else regarding Christmas here in Cornwall? Well some parts of the country had properly festive weather, with snow up to their chins, but down here, well... we had...

Puddles. Big puddles, small puddles. Long puddles, short puddles, Deep puddles, shallow puddles. Puddles in the lanes, puddles in the woods, puddles in the fields, puddles in the house. Anyone like puddles? We've got plenty. Oh and wind, roof ripping, tree felling, bouffant bothering wind. We had lots of wind.

All of which, plus my usual ailments (and an exciting new one too! New for 2018! - Hip Bursitis according to Doctor Google) mean that I haven't got out much on the bikes lately. When I've felt mentally and physically up for a bimble, the weather has been violently grim. When it's been more agreeable outside, well I've mislaid my mojo somewhere, or my back was giving me grief. 

Plus, like I say, I've got this new exotic excuse to trot out as a reason for not riding - this hip burswotsname. The good Doctor Google suggests it's not fatal (always good to see) isn't arthritic (likewise) and can be fixed easily (yay!). So how do we fix it then?Avoid exercise, particularly stuff like climbing stairs, running and cycling... Oh bums.

I've said it before I know, but I'm glad I'm not a horse as they'd shoot me if I was, and with good reason too. Hypochondria is the only thing I haven't got...

But there have been a few rides since I last posted on this blog, so I'll lob a few photos into the Google auto fuzz enabler and post them up in a minute. A metric tonne of snaps to come, so a lengthy post this one.

Anything else? Well this time of year always means looking back at the year just gone and evaluating things. For me, health wise, I didn't move forwards at all - I still get all the usual issues causing me grief despite all the riding and time spent in the countryside. But the way to look at that is how much worse things would be without the rides and relaxing in nature, so it's not necessarily a point to the negative.
My annual mileage did slip though - in 2016 I notched 1424 miles while 2017 saw me rumble 1218 miles under my wheels. That's not a huge mileage by anyone's standards, but for me, it's still better than nothing and I'm grateful I can ride a bike at all.

Any New Year's Resolutions from me? Nah! I don't do resolutions really, but I do want to try and do more rides this year, and longer ones too. More time spent away from the house requires a bit of planning and a good helping of confidence too, and often last year I just wasn't in the right frame of mind to tackle bigger trips. 

So that's one aim, another is to ride the Marin more! I really am dead pleased with the Pine Mountain, it is a great bike to ride, but since it arrived in June I only clocked 180 miles on it. A lot of that is down to not wanting to get it filthy and all scratched up! I love the way it looks when all is clean and shiny, and the few mucky rides I have done on it have made my teeth itch seeing it get trashed. But it is an extremely enjoyable bike to ride, so I must get out more on it. But then again, it is also a nice treat now and again, like a good steak, so maybe I shouldn't feel so bad having it as my 'best bike' and for good conditions only.

A mountain bike I don't want to get dirty. Makes perfect sense...

Obviously my main objective needs to be to improve things health wise. I've fallen into the trap of just accepting things as they are because, well, that's the way they are, and so far various attempts in the past to make things better - mentally and physically, haven't yielded any great improvement, other than the cycling/nature/photography side of things. I have to try and be more proactive then - easier said than done, but if I can get a start, feel some benefits somewhere and feel like I've moved forwards, then I'm sure that will be the impetus I need to keep working on progressing further. 

I also want to up my photography game, as every photographer does really. I want to take more interesting and better technically shots. I'll always be a snapper - I'm not one for planning a shot in microscopic detail or whatever, but I do enjoy taking the snaps I do take and want to take better ones. Of course, it's more about the human behind the camera than the camera itself, but I have decided to upgrade my DSLR set up (I've already started as it happens, bagging a used Canon 'L' lens recently, and have a circular polariser on order for better woodland shots)  and gen up on better techniques and so on. I'm thinking of upgrading the camera too, my 450D DSLR has done sterling service but it lacks one or two features I'd like, mainly a flippy floppy rear screen (so handy on my compact) and more focusing points. I'd likely only buy used, but we'll see.

I also need to do better with this here blog too - make it more interesting and writted betterer. I need to do things with the blog in mind, particularly with taking photos that tell a fuller story, as we're about to see a bit further down...

Right, talking of photos let's get stuck in...

Woo... it's been a while... this was the 21st of December and a short ride out in the grizzly and drizzly countryside.
It wasn't without its magical moments though, as while taking this shot I saw some gert big raptor or other (a Hawk, Kite or Buzzard, a Pterodactyl perhaps) swoop down into the field full of solar panels that lurks through that gate on the left. So I went over to have another look and all was quiet - the flying killy thing was nowhere to be seen. Then all of a sudden all hell broke loose and Pheasants were scattering everywhere and making a heck of a din, but it wasn't the bird of prey causing all the agitation, it was a Fox that darted out from cover and sped along the edge of the field, vainly chasing a Pheasant that just managed to evade becoming Foxey's brunch.

Yeah, I'm a rebel me.
Target for this ride was some much needed isolation and immersion in some countryside, and my fave spot locally for this is down this erm, footpath, off Tregassow Lane. I won't ride on footpaths in towns or villages, or where it's just not a good idea, but some, like this one, are wide, long established and also used by farm vehicles and horses, and so fair game in my book. 

Besides, by using these paths I might be helping 'proof of use' and preventing farmers from blocking them off.
The camera being zoomed in for this all action photo makes the path look narrower here than it actually is, there are two distinct vehicle tracks along here as it was used as access for a shoot.

I only went half way along the path, to the point where it magically changes status to Bridleway, and therefore cycling is fully legal, but it was this stream that I wanted to spend some time poking around, set back away from the path in some raggedy woodland. Fatso is in the top of the photo, but I'd had to push the bike to this part of the stream as the ground was both very soft and muddy, and littered with fallen branches/trees and so on.

I don't know anything about Funguseseses, but they are fascinating things in the variety of shapes, colours and the way they go about doing their 'thing' as it were. These growing on the trunk of a downed tree are Puffball affairs, the slightest touch of them sending gert clouds of brown spores into the air.
I love spending time in spots like this, seemingly miles from anywhere, and full of interest once you start looking closely at the surroundings. Running water is always relaxing too of course. Well, when it involves streams and rivers, not so good when it involves wet ceilings or burst pipes perhaps, but you know...

Heading back towards Tregassow Lane again. Full finger gloves were much needed, as it was cold as a Politician's smile out.

Well that was the last ride I did before Christmas came and I'd waded enthusiastically and shamelessly into all the food I'd gathered.
But not riding didn't mean the end of bikey type stuff though, as at some point over the festive period (can't remember which day it was) I got bored and came over all creative, and decided to have a go at some off camera flash.

Hmmmm... not just looking mucky, but the auto fuzz filter has been at work, If you want to see these fuzzy ones as they should be, right click on 'em and open in a new tab.

Fatso wasn't actually as muddy as it has been in the past, despite trips along very gloopy Bridleways and footpaths. The mud being so wet and sloppy, as were the roads, meant that not a lot of claggy mud clung to the bike. Yes it's muddy here, but not half as bad as it can get sometimes.

Damned fuzz!
I do like the effects that can be gained with the use of flash, particularly turning daylight into darkness by having the camera on manual and under exposing the ambient light and then bringing the subject back up using the flash. These were all taken in my living room where Fatso lives between bimbles.

Scrapety scrape scrape...

Now this is where when it comes to making a blog post, I didn't think things through, 'cos I later went out and gave the bike a much needed wash and brush up, but did I take photos of all that? No, I flipping didn't. But in my defence, it was drizzling heavily at the time so I just wanted to get on with things, and taking snaps wasn't really a priority.

What then followed the wash was a wheels off polishing session, firstly using Autoglym Super Resin Polish to clean up the paint and give it some shine, and then followed up by the same manufacturer's Extra Gloss Protection, a sealant rather than a wax, that gives good long lasting protection and works well on lighter colours.
Once again I didn't do much joined up thinking, and only took as couple of shots of the proceedings - this one being before getting busy with the buffing cloth as the sealant is allowed to set for a few hours. 
The main thing with this sealant, well, the same goes for most such products really, is to only apply very thin coats. Put too much of this stuff on and you'll be needing a belt sander to get it off.

Buff buff buffety buff...

More flash trickery (rear or second curtain sync selected) makes for some ghostly blur while white balance fail makes for a warm orangey glow (either that or the kitchen was on fire).

And the only post titivation shot I got before the batteries in the flash ran out of jam and died a dimly lit death. You see, I didn't think any of this through!

Proper shiny photos will no doubt be got when I next wheel the bike out for action, but for the time being, Fatso is excused duties, along with the Marin, and is staying in the warm and dry.

No such luck for the Voodoo though, and on the 28th of December, I set about burning off some of those extra calories I'd ingested with a trip to Boswiddle Ford.

More Fungi, this time some great big beggars growing on the roadside at Five Turnings. I parked the bike well away from this particular monster in case it ate the bike or rode off on it or something.

A quick peek under the skirts of the Fungi... (I feel like a dirty old man now having written that...)

Boswiddle Ford and a go at a panoramic for a change.
After all the wet weather we've been having the stream here was running very well indeed, although I have seen it higher/deeper across the road in the past I must admit. You can just see the white of the foam on the left where the water drops down several feet, and consequently makes for a very invigorating roaring noise.
While I was up on a bank, backed into a holly bush taking this pano set, a Rabbit came lolloping down the road on the right and across the bridge and sat beside that tree in the background. Wanting to get a shot of it I reached for the compact camera (the zoom lens on the DSLR I was taking the pano with was no good for reaching that far) and the bunny saw my movement and took off like a well kicked cat. A bright red cycling jacket is no good for wildlife photography it seems.

Festive looking mud near Ladock.

Another cold day this one, but with occasional sunny bits to tease the brave bimbler with.

So that was the 28th then - calories burned - about half a sausage roll's worth.

Oh, still got some Mince Pies... yum...

One last ride of 2017 was still to come though, as on the 31st I had another mooch about, this time in light rain.

The night before it had properly belted down and the wind had been very stroppy indeed. Come morning though and things were a bit quieter, the wind had dropped a fair bit and the rain was only light. So after donning waterproof over trousers, I headed off to go and see what things were looking like. Wet was the answer.

Flipping fuzz...
The rain was only light, but it still meant the 'proper' cameras were mostly off limits, neither being weather sealed, so for this shot I used the GoPro. Tregassow Lane floods if there is as much as a heavy dew, but this was the most flooded I've seen it in a long while. Despite that, I didn't take any other shots as I've taken so many of the floods along there in the past that it all gets a bit repetitive.

I did risk getting the compact out for this shot though as the GoPro wouldn't do it justice. It's only an empty country lane, albeit a rather wet and bedraggled one, but I love places/scenes like this, and it's no exaggeration when I say I'd rather be stood here in the cold rain than on some sweltering beach somewhere.

A quick pootle up Bodrean Lane ensued, here on the bridge over the small stream.

Then it was back onto Tregassow Lane, and then the lane down to Riverside, on which I took this last blog shot of 2017. 
Calories burned on this ride - A couple of Twiglets and a Cheese and Onion roll.

So 2017 was seen off, mileages tallied up (as mentioned above, rather disappointingly) and in came a whole new year, along with more food still left to consume. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it. 

Anyone want a crisp? Prawn Cocktail flavour... a chocolate biscuit maybe?

So with last year's mileage a bit on the low side, and a determination to make things better all round this year, have I got 2018 off to a positive start?


I've only managed one ride so far unfortunately, on the fifth of January.

The recent stormy weather has taken its toll on one of the trees at Treworgan Manor Farm.

And the bike in the lane with the above mentioned farm in the background. The sun might be visible in these shots, but I was dressed for foul weather again, as one or two raucous showers had blown through ahead of me setting off, so it was on with the leggings and the bungee strap round my head to hold my hat on.

You have to love Campion - lovely colour, delicate appearance, but hard as coffin nails. Everywhere all around is wet, battered and bedraggled, but there is the brave Campion giving a big two fingered (or should that be petaled?) salute to the conditions.

Over the fast moving stream at Lanner Mill.

Time for a gnarly tree shot...

On I splashed and squelched, dodging all the twigs and branches littering the lanes but enjoying being back out on a bike, and in the fresh air once more. But just as I was passing Lanner Barton Farm I caught sight of something out of the corner of my eye that I've been wanting to see for ages. I quickly grabbed the brakes/threw out the anchor (delete as appropriate for the prevailing road conditions) and made a 'uey' in the road. It may have been raining again, but I needed to get a photo of...

The old Thames Trader that normally lives hidden beneath a large tarp that had presumably blown away in the storms. Nicely proportioned body - HUGE wheels!

The Thames Trader was a fairly short lived model, built by Ford between 1957 and 1965, which surprises me a bit as I seem to remember these being a very common sight on our roads. Some of these old warriors are still in daily combat too, in places like Malta and New Zealand, so they were obviously well built.

This one above is a MK 2 model built from 1962 onward, and from what I can gather, the differences twixt this and a MK 1 jobbie are purely cosmetic.
Whoever designed the truck though dropped a cobbler by the look of it and clean forgot to pencil in some indicators, hence those rather after thought looking motorcycle style ones sat on the front wings, which were a standard 'feature' on all the Traders. Or maybe they were meant to look like that all along, who knows?

Nice to finally see it uncovered at last though, and in such good nick too. It looks to be a 'goer' rather than a wreck awaiting restoration, and one day I hope I might encounter it out and about once the classic show season gets under way again.

See what I mean about Campion? Tough as old boots.
St Allen church in the background, and was that another spot of rain?

Puh... splutter... yep, okay... pfff... I'm getting rather... aw yuck... wet now... condition red... take cover!

My word I caught a right old shower, a properly vigorous one that was more like being hosed down in a wind tunnel than a refreshing and cleansing splash of rain. Luckily I was just passing St Allen Church so took cover in the Lych (Saxon for dead body/corpse/cadaver/expired geezer) gate. Dead peeps back in the day would often be kept under a shroud at the gate to the church until such time as a burial service could commence. The roof over the gate was added to keep the weather off the pall bearers or family members who attended the body to keep body snatchers/Foxes/local dogs away. Many churches round here also have coffin rests in the centre of the gateway on which a coffin was placed once the wooden box became the normal packaging for the recently croaked.

View from the Lychgate into St Allen Church grounds.

Finally, after about 20 minutes of lurking where the dead folk once lurked, the rain eased up and I made a run for it, hoping to get home before any more such deluges caught up with me (which I duly managed I'm pleased to say).

Now you can see this weed's problem straight away - it's not a Campion! Had it been it would be still flowering brightly, despite copping a faceful of slop with every passing vehicle, and getting battered about by the wind and rain every day. 
Campion, they may be pink but they're tough as teak. 

Calories burned on this ride - Two chocolate biscuits and a third of a Peppered Steak slice.

And as the grocer once said while holding up a reddish looking onion, that's shallot. All up to date thus far, that's the news, that's what's been goin' down in my 'hood.

So until I next have something to witter on about, all that remains to do is wish anyone who has got this far a very happy and prosperous 2018. 

Happy Cycling!

Sausage Roll anyone? Mince Pie?


Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Muddy Marvelous.

Flipping fuzzy photos are frustrating and infuriating, but right click and open in a new tab and all will be right and proper.

Either it was a sunny day last Saturday, or Pentecost from Camborne has been beggaring about splitting atoms in his garden shed again...

There's nothing like discovering a new Bridleway to explore, especially when, like me, you think you've pretty much ridden them all in your area. But, as mentioned in my previous post, I'd discovered a Bridleway I'd not seen before, either in the flesh as it were, or noticed on the maps. Further more, checking it out on said maps, showed it promised much of the good stuff - routing well away from roads, woodland, a ford, and at the southern end, the site of a Medieval Settlement, so the distinct possibility this track would be an ancient one.

I had thought of leaving this Bridleway until the Spring, but with Fatso still bleddy hangin' (Cornish for being a little dirty) from the previous week's adventures, and with my curiosity and excitement pricked, I set off last Saturday morning in the sunshine retracing much of the route I'd done the week before.

It was a still morning, just a light breeze blowing, but it was a Northerly one again, and rather cold. Thankfully not cold enough for a frost or for ice to form though, so after plenty of hefty showers of rain, sleet and hail over night, the roads were a tad wet and messy rather than lethally slippery.

Looking back the way I'd come on the lane to Lanner Mill. I had that sun behind me thankfully, as going into it at this time of year is a sure recipe for a headache I find.

Of course the trouble with the lanes is they wander about all over the shop, so in places I didn't have the sun behind me, but had it strobing away in the corner of my eye through the trees at times.

A glimpse of the new build estate going up in Shortlanesend. The shared bike/pedestrian path here is closed in by that huge temporary wall for much of the route into the village, but just here we lucky nosy folk get to peer in at all the chaos and mess going on as new homes are thrown up.
This path follows the track of the main road, and on the other side of that road, another similar estate has just started building work. More green fields, trees, hedgerows and habitat lost, more excessive run off to over power the existing drains when it pelts down. We need thousands of new homes, apparently, but the infrastructure round here is at bursting point as it is. Cornwall is a very, very different place to when I was growing up, and it isn't the better for it.

From Shortlanesend it was a relatively short blast along the main road to where I wanted to be, but after the previous week's close passes by fast moving traffic, I wasn't looking forward to it one bit. 
As it happened, this week there was a lot less traffic and no nasty moments at all, yet it was the same time of day on the same day of the week. Odd how these things happen.

Target reached, the Bridleway past Choon where it meets the main road at Allet Paddocks.

The Bridleway starts off with some very easy riding, as it is a tarmac lane, albeit with grass growing thickly up the middle, down to the farm at the rather oddly named Choon.
This cattle grid was a beauty - not slippery like the matal ones, but properly rough even with Fatso's portly tyres. Double vision time this was.

After about 3/4 of a mile the lane bends left into the farm while the bridleway goes straight ahead down along the line of the trees. 

The first section off road runs down a slight hill to a big left bend where those two trees are, and along here the going was a bit stodgy, but perfectly rideable.

Looking back up the hill to where I'd just come from, with the roof of Choon farmhouse just visible.

And the view looking ahead, with a helpful sign post to point the way, not that you'd need such help really, it is pretty obvious where the Bridleway goes.
But all of a sudden, the riding has gone from a bit stodgy to looking a bit wet and gooey...

Woo this is getting squelchy...
The ground here was saturated, and the mud in places wheel suckingly deep. But running downhill still riding was still possible as long as I kept moving. Coming to a halt in such deep mud made getting going again difficult. Too low a gear and the back wheel spun uselessly, too high a gear and I couldn't push the gear, and the front wheel, through the mud far enough to get my left foot up on the pedal before coming to a halt again. At times the fat front tyre was a bit of a hindrance as it needed quite some effort to push it through the deep and wet mud.

Just a bit gloopy...

At this point the track is running down to the ford where it crosses a stream, and it appears all the ground water is following the track down there as well, as this section was very wet.

Odd how clean the tyres and the bike stayed through all the quagmire though, probably because it was so wet all the mud just ran off rather than clumping up all over the place.

It's always the sign of a good ride when you get bits of plant, tree, walker's bobble hats, small furry creatures and so on stuck to your bike.

View off to the side at the above spot and some rather old looking woodland. Dodgy the going might have been, but I was having fun, and the effort involved in riding to this Bridleway was well worth it.

Another look down the hill towards the stream.

When I saw the magic word - 'Ford' on the maps, I envisaged perhaps something rather more exciting than this I must admit. A rope slung across the raging waters to guide the traveler across and help prevent him/her/yet to make their mind up, from getting swept away perhaps. A bridge off to the side for the less intrepid to avoid getting their boots wet. 
All I got was this bit of a trickle, but still, there it is and jolly nice it was too.

One thing the stream did provide though was a good opportunity for some much needed housekeeping - the chance to wash a couple of pounds of mud off each boot. Bizarrely the bike's tyres stayed free of clingy mud, not so my Beetle Crushers, so I was glad to get them clean again.

Only to go and sink in up to the ankle when pushing the bike through that gate beside the stream... doh! There's never a walker's dog, or a sheep, a young child perhaps, to wipe all the muck off your boots on when you need one. Back to the stream I went...

Emerging from the trees beside the stream the route of the Bridleway isn't so clear. There is a big gap off to the bottom left of this shot, so does it go left and across, left of the hedge and up, or right of the hedge and up. I looked up at the horizon and it looked like keeping the hedge to my left was the way to go, and it proved correct.
Nice to see the farmer not cultivating right up to the very edge of the field/Bridleway, but leaving a good stretch to its own devices. Good for wildlife and all that.

Passing from the open field to tree cover once more, and although the going was muddy again, it was shallow mud and made for easy riding.

Up through this last section of the Bridleway there was a great sense of this being an ancient thoroughfare. I'd enjoyed the ride thus far, but up through here things got even more interesting with old Cornish Hedges up on the high banks either side of the track, and all around was riddled with holes, tunnels and burrows. At night this must be teeming with hairy arsed nightlife.

 Badger Town. One mound in particular was peppered with entrances to Badger Setts.

Given there is the site of a Medieval Settlement about 150 yards up the hill behind me here as I took this, I couldn't help but wonder if this had been a route used way back then. Amazing to think of who may have trudged along here in the past.

Where the rubber meets the road - End of the Bridleway where it meets the lane towards Tregavethan or New Mills.

The Bridleway had been well worth the ride, and even though the mud made for some very heavy going and some spine bothering bike pushing, I really enjoyed being immersed in the surroundings. I must've gone two hours without seeing another soul as I poked about, and that's always good!
In summer of course this may be a tad busier with horse riders and walkers, we shall see, as I am already looking forward to better weather and riding this route again, particularly in Spring when the wild flowers will be putting on a display.

Back on tarmac as I headed along the wet lanes towards New Mills.

Whoop! I do like a good ford to belt through, and after the slight disappointment of the off road one earlier, I was going to enjoy myself with this one alright.

Great fun!

Random lane shot.

Heading back I took the handy short cut option through Idless Woods where some Mushrooms/Toadstools/Fungi growing out of the bank caught my eye.

What they are I don't know. I did try and look some Fungus or other up in the past to try and identify it properly and get a species name. Big mistake! My word that is a complicated subject. I'll leave it with Fungusy things then.

 Crappy map of the ride.

And a bit of detail of where the Bridleway lurks.

The full version of the mapping can be found HERE

So another great ride in the bag, and one I'll definitely be repeating in the future.

Fatso was both a help and a hindrance really on this ride. Normally I have no problem with mud in most of the places I ride, it's never too deep and with the Fatbike giving good traction, it's not an issue.
At times on this ride, once again the bike was an ally, just driving forwards through all manner of slop that I know would see my thinner wheeled Voodoo floundering in a blur of wheelspin. But also there were occasions when that big front tyre made it's presence felt, acting more like a plough needing pushing through the clag. The ideal set up for this route would be a fat rear wheel/tyre for traction and a skinny front for cutting through the slop rather than pushing it aside.

Of course, the 27.5 plus Marin, with its three inch tyres might be the correct compromise, but that would mean getting that bike, my 'best' bike all mucky... Oh no no no... that ain't happening any time soon... Maybe I'll take it along there in summer, when I know it isn't so muddy!