Sonder Camino Ti, First ride first impressions - video

This is my new gravel bike, a Sonder Camino Ti.  That's the titanium version of Alpkit's popular Sonder gravel bike.

Initial impressions are that it is staggeringly good value.

I specified the top of the range build and it cost £2349.

That's slightly cheaper than listed because I swapped the forks from all carbon to carbon with a aluminium steerer, allowing me to add a front mudguard.  This bike will double as my new winter bike, the titanium frame being ideal for Scotland's winter conditions.

Video - Resipole, Loch Sunart. Highland Openwater Swim

We wondered how many people would turn up for Saturday's swim.

45 had registered but, after a long period of settled weather, the forecast was not great.  Two days before the swim, there was talk of having to call it off.

So when 34 people turned up we were slightly surprised and completely delighted.

Swimming across Loch Sunart to the Resipole Holiday Park (OK, campsite) is an unusual and deceptively difficult swim.  We ferry the swimmers to the other side, which adds a little adventure to the proceedings, as they jump from boat to boat and eventually reach the shore.

Videos - Kinesis ATR Tripster Titanium, Demo Bike Tested

I've just experienced a new twist on an old problem of buying a bike.

I've previously complained that, if a bike is not in stock, it's really tricky to organise a test ride.  If they order a model in, then you have to buy it.

I understand why shops do this, but it's not great from the buyer's position.  You'd never dream of buying a car without a test drive, so why buy a bike without knowing whether it fits or suits you?

I was delighted when my local bike shop Nevis Cycles managed to arrange a demo bike from Kinesis.  I'm looking for a titanium gravel bike for off-road, plus touring, plus winter road bike.

Video - A Paddle Doesn't Need A Blade At Both Ends to Work

Last weekend we went paddling again.  This time, however, it was in a canoe.

Our friends Colin and Katrina run Source-2-Sea canoe adventures.  We introduced Colin to wild swimming and they volunteered to take us paddling.  Again.

The cross-over between canoeing and kayaking is obviously quite high.

It was wonderful just to get back on the water again and it showed us how much we've missed sea kayaking.

We swapped around the pairings occasionally so we had the experts to take us through some white water, Liz and I managed quite well by ourselves too.

Ecuador, 5-day Mountain Bike Tour with Biking Dutchman

I'd thoroughly recommend this trip, provided you understand what it truly is.  That's the point of writing this blog and making the videos.

Biking Dutchman had no editorial input and I made the videos for myself, not their business.  We paid full price and have received no benefit from the shoot.  OK, let's go.

We were in Ecuador for a week-long swimming holiday in the Galapagos Islands.  I wrote and made a video about that here.

After travelling all the way to South America from Scotland we didn't want to rush back, wanted to see some of Ecuador and felt we could spare an extra ten days.

We'd take a few of those days in Quito before and after the Galapagos, so we were looking to travel around for five days.  We bought the Lonely Planet, an excellent guidebook to the country.


Quito, Ecuador. Thoughts for Visitors

As part of a superb swimming holiday in the Galapagos and mountain biking holiday that took in the high volcanoes and Amazon jungle, we stayed in Quito on three separate occasions.

Video and story of the mountain biking coming next week.

We learnt a few things which I thought it might be helpful to pass along to visitors.

The airport is about an hour's drive north-east of the city and a genuine taxi (they have people in arrivals) will cost $25-$30.

Bounded by the sides of a valley, Quito spreads 80km along a north-south corridor and looks massive, but in places it's only 4km wide and home to fewer than 3m people.  A metro is under construction to link the north with the south.

Lismore to Port Appin Charity Swim with Highland Openwater Swim

 It only happens occasionally, but sometimes I can feel a good photograph going into the camera.

I felt it Sunday when I took the shot alongside of a young swimmer, slightly apprehensive perhaps, before the charity swim I'd helped to organise.

We did the recce swim back in January so she knew it would be great.  Seventy people registered and - fortunately - only 48 turned up to swim.

I say fortunately because the wind was at the limit of what was safe.  It produced challenging sea conditions, especially for people more accustomed to swimming in pools.

Those who started early and maintained a good pace had few problems.  Those who messed about on shore (you know who you are) and/or swam a little slower were drifted by the wind and tide.

With wetsuits (mostly) and tow-floats no-one was at risk. However, our safety team had to collect a few who'd drifted down the coast.