Studland, Dorset – February 2016 Microadventure

I decided to skip January but was refreshed and ready for another wildcamp night out. We’ve been to the coast and a lovely area in Dorset.

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We had found some woods on the map but wanted to check them out before night time to make sure they were suitable and out of freezing cold wind. After a good walk we found a good spot and headed to the local pub for a few pints, dinner and the rugby.

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Once it was dark we headed back to our spot in the woods and got our beds ready. I’ve brought a new matt – Alpkit Dirtbag and it was really comfortable. It takes up twice as much space as my Numo but it was worth it for a comfortable night. I’ll save the Numo for the bike-packing adventures.

The woods we were in was covered with wild garlic so by the morning we were infused!

It was pretty cold and still very windy in the morning at sunrise. It was still quite cloudy so we did get much of a sunrise. But still had an amazing view.

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A year of Microadventures ( bit of a catchup from last year)

I’ve been a bit slack on keeping my blogs updated at the end of last year. We did complete the year of Microadventures! What an experience.

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October in a different local woods.

November we rode up to Greenham common and had a wet and windy night without much sleep

December was a Christmas special with a fire, chestnuts, mulled wine, a barrel of homebrew and some light sabres! Well Star Wars was in the Cinema.

 

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Now onto 2016!

 

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Greenham Common Again – September Microadventure

I’ve been having a busy month, starting with cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats for Vodafone Foundation (still need to write that up) so we hadn’t planned this month’s microadventure so well.

The location ended up being decided on the day as the local woods where we have permission to camp and have a fire. But when we arrived there was already a group then with children so we needed a plan B location. We couldn’t think of anything so headed to the pub for a pint and a new plan.

It was dark by now and we decided to head to a location we’d tried before on Greenham Common. We chose a different corpse of woods this time and set up and settled down for some beers and snacks. It was quite a cold night so after a few nightcaps we got into our Bivys and went to sleep.

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Nightcap
Nibbles
Nibbles

 

“AAAARGGHHHHHHH!!!!” it’s the middle of the night and Tim thinks a cow’s about to walk over us! It’s only Nick getting up to go to toilet.

In the morning, we have a brew, some breakfast, make quite a few jokes about Cows  before packing up and heading home. I’m off to parkrun!

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Moo!

 

 

 

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Astro Microadventure – August

After last month’s big adventure K&A Bike packing i needed something a bit smaller and quicker to fit in with the summer holidays. So we chose a local site – Beacon Hill, over looking Highclere Castle for this month’s microadventure. We were joined by Nick again.

We had clear skies and I’d set the camera up for a time lapse of the stars and the International Space Station passing overhead.

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International Space Station passing over Beacon Hill

 

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Morning Visitors
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Testing out my new Bru kit from Alpkit
All packed up and on our way home
All packed up and on our way home

 

 

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Kennet and Avon Bikepacking – the video

I’ve made a video of the bikepacking adventure. Check it out here –

Kennet and Avon Bikepacking from mark chance on Vimeo.

July’s Microadventure biking along the Kennet and Avon Canal from the start in Bath to the finish on the River Thames in Reading.
Filmed using a Gopro mounted on my bike.

Music – Stunning Clarity by Signal Hill http://www.last.fm/music/Signal+Hill?ac=signal%20hill

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Kennet and Avon Bikepacking – July Microadventure

 

 

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Tim and I wanted to do a bigger challenge in the summer and rather than the 5 to 9, get some more time out enjoying the countryside. We’d soon come up with the idea to cycle from Westbury to Thatcham and camp over somewhere half way. A quick Google maps session later and I’d discovered the The Barge Inn , the “Most Famous Pub in the Universe”. Crop circle central and home to some interesting beers. As we got nearer to our adventure, Tim felt more comfortable on a bike so we decided to increase the route to cover all of the Kennet and Avon Canal – From Bath to Reading, 75 miles of towpath.

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Tim and I were joined by Nick, who had heard all about our adventures and wanted to give it a go. The first part was getting to Bath. British train transport has some crazy rules about the number of bikes allowed on their trains. We managed to book spaces on the first train (max 6 spaces) but couldn’t reserve any on the connecting train. This one turned out to only allow 2 (3 of us) and there was already a bike on it. Luckily we had a friendly train manager and he let us squeeze them all on and we made it to Bath together.

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The start of the canal is next to the station and we were soon on our way to our first stop at Bradford-on-Avon. The tow-path is in excellent condition and we felt great. The canal and railway line snake through the hills and the scenery is stunning. There are a couple of viaducts for the canal to cross over the river.

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After a relaxing pit-stop (Pint of beer) at Bradford-on-Avon we were off to our next stop at Devizes. Again the tow-path was in good condition and the ride was enjoyable. We had 1 challenge to get up Caen Hill Locks. The 29 locks have a rise of 237 feet in 2 miles (72 m in 3.2 km). The locks come in three groups. The lower seven locks, Foxhangers Wharf Lock to Foxhangers Bridge Lock, are spread over 1.2 km. The next sixteen locks form a steep flight in a straight line up the hillside. A final six locks take the canal into Devizes (Caen Hill Locks Wiki). There is a good cafe at the top of the locks and we were in time for a cold drink and ice cream before they closed.

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The final leg of the day was to Honeystreet and the pub for dinner. This is where the tow-path became more and more overgrown and the path disappeared. It was becoming hard work and definitely “Mountain bike only” ride. We were ready for The Barge Inn and the end of the day’s ride.

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After dinner and a “few” pints we headed off to find our camping spot for the night and enjoy the sunset over the Wiltshire countryside.

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I woke in the middle of the night to clear skies and set my camera to capture a time-lapse.

 

Day 2 was the usual early start with a coffee and some porridge. We were going to get some more food at our first stop of Crofton Beam Engine cafe. The tow-path was tough – overgrown and in poor condition. It was a struggle. When we finally made it to the cafe it was closed. We had a quick break anyway and continued on to Kintbury. The tow-path only started to improve near Hungerford. At Kintbury we stopped at Tim’s mums for a fry up. Just what we all needed.

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After recharging on bacon sandwich and drinks and the improving tow-path we headed off at a quicker pace. We we got to Newbury the path was in great condition and the speed increased. Next stop the Rowbarge!

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Final section now! On to Reading. We were flying now, with a good tow-path and tailwinds we completed the last section and came into Reading and made it first to the Oracle shopping centre.

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then onto the end of the canal at the River Thames. It was a bit disappointing that they didn’t have a sign announcing the Kennet and Avon Canal. But we had made it and felt great.

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It’s got to be our best adventure so far. Plenty of planning and luck had made an enjoyable trip. Can’t wait for the next bike challenge….

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Sausages, Marshmellows and Coffee – June Microadventure

Last night was fun. No worries. Lovely wood and a fire. We had permission from the owners. What a difference a fire can make.

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We had hoped to be able to use the site all week and finally got the go ahead the day before. The weather and forecast weren’t the best, initially thunderstorm we’re predicated then just rain. In the end is stayed cloudy with some rain during the night and was very warm. Tim set up a Tarp to keep us dry and i set up my new Alpkit Hunka bivy bag underneath. It just about fits over my sleeping bag and meant that i couldn’t put the top over to hide from the early sunrise.

 

 

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Once the sleeping arrangements were sorted in was onto the fire and a beer.

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I’d popped to the local Butcher’s earlier in the day and picked up some of their fine home made sausages.

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The sausages couldn’t handle the heat and split but still tasted great with some bread. Dinner was followed up by some marshmallows and coffee.

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We discussed next month’s bike micro adventure and what to do the rest of the year. When the fire had died down and the beers had been drunk it was time for bed. I was toasty in my 2 season sleeping bag and Hunka bivy bag. It was a warm night. There was rain during the night but we stayed dry and it was a damp start in the morning. We had a coffee and packed up and headed home.

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Wiggle Dragon Ride 2015

The Wiggle Dragon Ride is a 143 miles sportive in South Wales. The ride has +5000m of climbing including Famous climbs Rhigos, Black Mountain and Devil’s Elbow.

The 12th annual Wiggle Dragon Ride, known as the UK’s most prestigious cycle sportive, was held at Margam Country Park in Port Talbot. Thousands of riders take part to conquer valleys and mountains to slay the dragon.

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I had signed up for the Gran Fondo – 143 miles (or 226km) distance. It was an early start to get to Port Talbot and get ready. We were off at 8am for a full day’s ride. Luckily the weather was amazing. Light wind and sunny (sun-cream applied). The hill climb go on forever and the descents we so quick.

Half way up Devil's Elbow
Half way up Devil’s Elbow

It was tough but once i’d hit 100 miles i feel like i was over the worst and quite enjoyed cycling up Black Mountain

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The 4th feed stop was in the middle of nothing in the mountains. The view was amazing and quite a few riders has stopped to chill out in the sun.

4th Feed stop in the mountains
4th Feed stop in the mountains

Total time – 9 hours and 30 minutes.

Wiggle Dragon Ride Timelapse

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Orchard Woods May Microadventure

Tim and I had a wedding to photography during the day and decided to stay over somewhere close to the wedding afterwards and enjoy a few beers. Some of the wedding guests were local and recommended a wood at the top of the hill. So once the wedding had finished we changed out of suits and into something for walking, pick up our rucksacks and headed up the hill. We found the suggested woods and setup camp.

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