May Challenge #2 - Charity (Video) Work

I started this particular challenge earlier in the year.  Now seems an appropriate time to explain it in more detail.

Last year I helped organise and photograph a few local charity swims. This year we put the organisation on a formal footing and registered as a charity.  I'm one of the five trustees.

You can read about the swims we're running at HighlandOpenwaterSwim.com and on Facebook.

As (bad) luck would have it, the best weekends for our swims are also weekends when I'm already committed to filming work for The Adventure Show or I am out of Scotland on holiday or business.  Consequently, I'll miss most of this years swims.

I did manage to attend our swim across the Sound of Mull last weekend, so I used it as the basis for our promotional video.  Soon it'll find its way onto our website, but until it does you can take a look here.

May Challenge #1 - Attempt a Craft

When I told friends we were heading back to the Isle of Muck, one of our favourite places on Scotland's west coast, they assumed we'd be kayaking, swimming or running around the island.

"We're doing a two-day basket making course", I explained.  I was greeted by stunned silence.

Basket making was never on my bucket list, but my #yr60 campaign is more subtle than that.

It's about doing things I'd never got around to doing - for whatever reason.  Crafts are really not my thing, but I suspected basic basket making might be more about knowledge and experience - time actually doing the thing - rather than specific skills.  Turns out it was great fun, in good company, with great food, in an idyllic location.

Cyclists Visiting the Dordogne

Cyclists heading to the Dordogne, looking for good routes to ride, could do a lot worse than hooking up with The Dordogne Cyclist via his Facebook page.

Over 9,000 sq km in size, Dordogne is a big Department, and very popular with British visitors.

It does, however, have at least one quiet corner which I've marked on the map alongside.  This is Perigord Vert, so called because of the trees and lush fields.

It's great for cycling.  There are no massive climbs, sweeping vistas, or huge tourist attractions.  Those might sound like negatives but the locals love it that way, because it means the roads are amazingly quiet.

April Challenge #2 - Ride with my Best Friends in France

Good friends are hard to find and, arguably, harder keep.  This challenge has been about the latter. 

I've been friends with the bloke in the orange shirt for 33 years.  Last year he sold his business and moved to a quiet part of the Dordogne with his wife and dogs.

We waited until they were settled (and had the house live-able) and then decided - now is the time to visit.

It's too easy to procrastinate, to put off visiting friends for a few months which easily drift into years.  None of us know how long we can keep doing that.  

So while we were visiting London, we left our wee dog Maggie with Liz's family, hopped a cheap-ish EasyJet to Bordeaux and here we are.  The photo was taken in PiĆ©gut just before one of their local French cycling club outings.  It's a multi-cultural affair with French, Belgian, Portuguese and British languages circulating through the peloton. 

The temperature topped 35C and it felt fantastic to roll along on almost traffic-free French roads.  It's a far cry from our early cycling days, thrashing around on mountain bikes with my mate in Northumberland and Scotland.  And yes, we do know exactly how lucky we are to have our health, time and just enough money to enjoy it.

Routes for Cyclists Visiting London Area, plus Drop-In Club Rides

Walking into The Dynamo cyclist cafe in Putney early last Sunday morning I saw tow folks sitting at a table, and couldn't resist.

"Is this the right place for a Dirty Weekend?" I asked.  "Er, ride that is".

Within twenty minutes the place was heaving with about forty riders.  We split into three groups, each doing rides of slightly different lengths and speeds but meeting for coffee, then saddled up for the lanes and hills of Surrey.

In my previous post I mentioned I'd ridden Box Hill.  On previous visits to family in Richmond - and we come twice a year - I've rarely ridden outside Richmond Park.  The reason was simple.  I didn't know where to go.

April Challenge #1 - Ride Box Hill

OK so Box Hill is not a climb of the caliber of Alpe d'Huez or even the Beallach na Ba.

It wasn't even on the tick-list I drew up at the start of the year.

But it is famous.  Especially after the 2012 Olympic Road Race went up it.

And I'm down in Richmond dog-sitting for my brother-in-law - why not?

We come down a couple of times a year, but in the past my triathlon training has been focused on keeping a constant heart rate, so it was easier to stay within the relatively controlled confines of Richmond Park.

Duncan Winning RIP

Sadly I couldn't attend the funeral of Duncan Winning OBE yesterday as I'm not in Scotland.

Those attending were asked to take a photograph and write a few words about what it meant to them.

I'm pleased to say Gordon Brown of Skyak Adventures took my contribution which consisted of the photo alongside, a USB stick with video and podcasts of Duncan, and a copy of my book to which he wrote the foreword.

I'd been told family members had been listening to his podcasts so I felt adding the video would be of interest.  I also wrote a few words which I'll reproduce here: