Dino's blog for mini adventures and endurance challenges

Author Archives: Dino

Joy of joys I just spent the last 4 days cycling 400km around the Chiltern hills, lunching on generous portions, munching mini eggs, and crunching the gears up some very steep hills.

This proved to be a fabulous way of preparing for Canada. And I learnt some useful stuff on the way..

Top 10 things I have learnt:
1. D-lock is ridiculously heavy and nobody will nick my bike cuz it weighs a tonne and I’m riding it the whole time
2. Take more mini eggs.
3. Cheese, figs and ginger beer are the ultimate post-cycling snacklet (see below).
4. I need to take a bath to Canada. Hot soak is bliss.
5. iPad / viewranger navigation is a wonderful thing indeed.
6. My legs don’t ache! Even after 400km!
7. But my hands go numb after about 350km.
8. Again, why are there not more mini eggs?
9. Fill up your water bottles. So they are full.
10. There’s no greater joy in life than whizzing along a country road, with the sun in your face and the wind at your back.



The ultimate post-cycling snack.
Cheese (manchego and gorgonzola) – contains vital protein for repairing muscles etc.
Figs, grapes and quince paste – vitamins for vitality.
Oat cake – carbohydrate
Ginger beer – rehydrates and replenishes electrolytes (probably)

The Full Monty

March 28th, 2013 | Posted by Dino in Canada | Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

Before you get too excited I should explain to new readers that my bicycle is called Monty. (50% readers now surf on) Happily, Monty has just hit a milestone as he (yes, he) has just had his racks fully loaded for the first time.

To celebrate this landmark, one lucky person has won an Easter egg for guessing the weight of the Full Monty – ie the bike plus all the kit you see.

How much does he weigh?

A whooping 38.5kg! Some stuff is gonna have to get thrown out before I go to Canada.

My bicycle, Monty, fully loaded for the first time. Aka the Full Monty

My bicycle, Monty, fully loaded for the first time. Aka the Full Monty

The one and only cycling jersey

March 27th, 2013 | Posted by Dino in Canada | Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

I’ve not been there, or done it, yet I have purchased the tshirt.

Two months to go and the pieces of my trip are slowly, finally getting together (read: kit is getting packed)

Delightfully my custom made cycling jersey arrived in the post at work today. Too excited by its contents I ripped open the package in front of my colleagues and held it up for all to see: Ta-da!! I expected the ooh and ahh reactions from colleagues usually reserved for New Year firework displays.

First colleagues comments: “only the one?” With a raise of the eyebrow.

Another colleague walks back to her desk. Ta-da!! I raise my jersey aloft like a prize. “You’ve only got one?” She asks.

Yes, that’s right. One tshirt for 7,500km – what on earth is wrong with that? I will, erm, wash it. I will also be cycling by myself so you won’t have to sniff it. At this point, a joke is cracked about me smelling so bad that the bears will leave me be. That could be a good tactic actually but I shall have to Goggle it first.

At the end of work, another colleague wanders over. She works in fulfilment and sometimes cycles to work with me so I imagine she will super impressed by my jersey. Ta-da!!

You know how she responded. Yes, only the one. For 7,500km.

Anyway, Ta-da!! Here is the tshirt. Please feel free to add your firework sound reactions into the comments box…

Jersey back


Bike insurance v Canadian wildlife

February 19th, 2013 | Posted by Dino in Canada - (0 Comments)

My bike is an object of much beauty and affection. My bike is called Monty. I would be very sad if Monty got stolen. In fact, not only would I be sad, but were he to get stolen when I was midway across the Canadian wilderness miles from anywhere then I would, in fact, be snookered.

The sensible part of me wants to get bike insurance because it seems like the Right Thing to Do. However, on reflection (and given the appetites of Canadian wildlife), it seems to be Wrong Thing to Do. Here’s why…

There’s only one company that I can find that will insure my bike oversees for 100 days. I phone them. I explain my trip. The lady asks where I will be staying. “Mostly wild camping or just plain old camping,” I explain.

“To secure your bike while you are camping,” the woman states, “you must take your bike inside your tent and lock the bike, using a Gold rated secure D-lock, to the actual frame of the tent.”

Hang on…

Had I known that I’d need to share my tent with my bike then I’d have purchased a larger tent. I didn’t. I purchased (or indeed was kindly gifted by Santa) a very small handmade Swedish tent. For one. So I’m not sure we’d fit very comfortably together without Monty elbowing me in the ribs and hogging the duvet.

But let’s imagine that someone wants to steal my bike. Do they bring bolt cutters and slice in two my Gold rated secure D-lock? No. They snap my ultralight tent pole like a twigglet in a hungry jaw. Thus leaving me with no bike, and the flapping remains of a broken handmade Swedish tent: a happy cycle-camping tour maketh not.

Hmm. The lady on the other end of the phone picks up on my incredulity.

“Alternatively,” she adds, “you can lock it to a tree.”

“Is there any minimum thickness of truck?” I ask, knowing that insurers are likely to find any excuse to weasel out of a claim.

“No,” she replies with a chuckle. I am at this moment calculating how thin the trunk of a tree would have to be such that I can slip the appropriate lock around it, and how long it would take to chop or saw through that tree.

Oh, except that would leave Monty venerable to theft by a nibbling beaver. He’d risk being carried off to dam a distant river, never to cycle again.

I need a tree that’s beaver-proof. An idea flashes into my mind: I could carry a small bonsai in my panniers. Ha! That’ll catch ‘em out. A pop-up carry-along bonsai bike stand might be just the ticket.

Oh, except a moose might munch it.

Monty - my trusty steed

Monty – my trusty steed

My fear of bears

February 15th, 2013 | Posted by Dino in Canada - (0 Comments)

Bears. Grizzlies. I started worrying about bears concurrently with planning my trip. The worry went something like this: And there I’d be – camping alone in the middle of a forest, curled up in my sleeping bag. Every shuffle from the trees is the threat of a bear, every gust of wind a sniff of my scent, every snapped twig a footstep approaching…

My worry was hugely exacerbated when I was kindly given a book for Christmas called Call of the Wild. The book is written by a Scot, Guy Grieve, who lived in the Interior of Alaska for a year. In it he recalls the tragic story of a man, a self-taught expert on bear behaviour, and his girlfriend who were both eaten to death by a bear in October 2003. As Grieve explains “it takes a long time to be killed by a bear, as they start on the lower limbs, buttocks and soft tissue. Bears are also keen on our glands, and seek these out with relish… [the man’s] death lasted for over an hour.”

Oh yikes.

My first thought on reading this was that “with relish” is a really inappropriate turn of phrase as it evokes an image of a bear popping open a jar of piccalilli. The second thought, confirmed by glancing down at my ample behind, was “oh goodness, can you imagine how much lower limb and buttocks I would have as a transcontinental cyclist?” That would be a very, very long lunch.

It’s at this point in trip planning that panic sets in. But no! I say, with great resolve. I must get the FACTS on bears.

So I do what I should have done months ago and look up the stats on bear attacks on Wikipedia. I am at this point on my Dad’s computer. My Dad is ironing his work shirts in the background. I read aloud:

“Around three people in the US and Canada are killed by a bear each year.” Oh, that’s not many. “One is more likely,” the page continues “to be struck by lightning than to be attacked by a bear… around 90 people are killed by lightning each year.”

“Oh yes,” interjects my Dad, “you should worry about the lightning. In the prairies your metal bike and tent pole will be the tallest things for miles around.”

And suddenly my fear of bear vanishes in a flash of lightning.

Across Canada on two wheels

January 1st, 2013 | Posted by Dino in Canada - (0 Comments)

On Christmas Day 2010 my Dad gave me a gift that started my journey across Canada: a map.

I’d already thought about cycling across Canada – and made idle comments about my dream – but it wasn’t until I unwrapped that gift, unfolded it and traced my finger across the Trans Canada that the journey began.

So here I am – two Christmases later and yet I still haven’t really moved anywhere. I have, however, acquired an entire family of Ortlieb pannier bags and a custom-made Roberts touring bike.

The map now has tatty  scuffs where it bends.  I haven’t pedalled anywhere across Canada but have plotted a detailed route across that map. Now we have just turned the corner in 2013 and the start of my trip is on the horizon. I am planning on leaving at the end of May. It will take me 3 months (!) to cycle  the 7,500km  from Vancouver to St John’s.

You can join me on my adventure on the blog or on Twitter @dinojrock