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  1. #1
    Senior Member NigelHealy's Avatar
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    Brompton UK Lake District 4 day camping tour

    I did this almost 2 months ago, thought I'd write up a blog-like for these young 'uns which might copy my foolishness.

    The Brompton's specification was a 2003-vintage short-wheel-base with 6speed, rack. I had customized it via fitting a 28T inner chainring to the 50T chainring on a longer bottom bracket, a Steve Parry Braze-on seattube and a front deraillleur, producing a 12-speed. I own 3 Bromptons, the other 2 are a 2-speed Titanium for home/train/work type multimodal, a 12-speed with Schlumpf Mountain Drive which was in California, and this old one I kept as a UK bike when I visit. Since this trip I sold the Brompton to a fellow enthusiast and have ordered a new Brompton. My intended end-setup would be a S6R with the Schlumpf for long day touring type situations, a S6L-X with the newer BWR hub for more local day rides where its hilly and the M2L-X for short lots-of-folding/carrying multimodal daily use.
    The issue with the Steve Parry / front derailleur setup is the crankset bends easily under my fit legs force so have to shift to the inner chainring on uphills and the holes where the inner chainring bolts on were becoming stretched with the steep hills force. I did buy the Mountain Drive to get around that problem, but that bike was in another continent.


    The weather forecast was for unseasonally warm and generally dry but I've learned in the case of the Lakes to not trust the forecast and brought full waterproof gear and warm layer, just in case. I never needed to wear it as it turns out, was warm and sunny most of the time.

    My camping gear... bought over some years begins the tent as a Terra Nova Laser Competition. At the time the lightest commercially available 2-skin tent with porch just big enough to fit a folded Brompton - I tested this fact by biking to the dealer on my Brompton, erecting the tent in the store and placing the Brompton inside. The bike needs to be central in the porch to not be touching the outer skin but during the times I need to get in/out of the tent I push it to one side and that pushes the outer skin. I place the Brompton in its cover to help protect the Brompton from condensation and protect the fabric of the tent from the sharps bits of the Brompton.
    The sleeping mat was a Neoair All Seasons, noting this was mid-September and valley temperatures can drop to freezing but turned out it was mild. My sleeping bag a PHD Minim 300, with 300g of 800fp goose down, no zip, to not puncture the airbed and to for minimum packed size/weight. I had the sleeping bag in a dry bag with an eVent fabric base so I would squish the sleeping bag in, roll down for waterproof and then squish for slow air removal through the fabric so it would become shaped by the other gear and have the smallest packed size. A good warmth/weight/volume combination. Combined with the mat, would have me cosy to freezing.

    My stove was a Trangia, the smaller size, which is the dinosaur in my kit, massive, heavy, but bombproof. I intend to get a Caldera Cone at some point, but I'd forgotten before this trip.

    My waterproof gear was a Paramo Quito jacket, the best cold wet cycling jacket I've ever owned, massive pitzips to vent when warmer, sleeves wide enough to cinch above elbows, or close it all up and out up the brilliant hood for cold wet long ride. The trousers OMM Kamleika, narrow to not foul in the chainring, waterproof. I made good use of a Montane Slipstream gilet for "just enough" insulation in the cooler clouder cooler days.

    My luggage is an old style Brompton Touring Pannier. Massive. It droops now when its not stuffed due to years of being my shopping bag (damn those buy-one-get-one-free supermarket offers!) but for this stuffed trip it was fine. On the back a Carradice Rackbox, cheap, no longer made. The rack of the Brompton is a harsh place and makes anything solid noisy so I put my soft lighter stuff in it which was the sleeping bag, the mat, silk liner, a foam sit mat and a synthetic insulated gilet if it got chilly. All the other gear went in the front pannier, easily fitting.
    I had a 3L water pouch as I knew I'd have some hit hill climbing and need plenty and I strapped a bottle cage to the handlebar stem which I decanted into from the pouch.

    Day 1, bike / train / bike.


    I left my mother's home town of Keighley on a drizzly Sunday morning.

    I folded the bike up
    and carried on the train.
    Changed at Lancaster to catch the intercity London-scotland train

    Changed at Oxenholme

    for train to Windermere



    The Sunday train service needed to change twice, during weekdays can change just once, as I did on the return.

    I biked along a mixture of road and pavement with "bike path" signs through Windermere, Ambleside



    to the National Trust (NT) campsite at Langdale

    Unpacked and waited for dark
    http://s334.photobucket.com/albums/m...t=DSCN4163.mp4
    In the evenings I planned on catching up with some comedy shows on my old Ipod

    which I recharged using an external battery charger, one set of fresh AA batteries lasted the whole trip.
    It was light drizzle as I got Langdale which I was sure was just a little local rain as the valley was surrounded by sunny skies but proved to be a wet night, raining all evening and until dawn
    http://s334.photobucket.com/albums/m...t=DSCN4168.mp4
    I spent the morning thinking about would the Brompton cope with my intended next ride, over Wrynose and Hardknot Passes. One voice in my head was "are you crazy! on a Brompton!" another voice said "he who dares wins" and I wrestled it into a decision to at least try, if I'm defeated I'll turn around as what goes up can come down.

    .....
    Last edited by NigelHealy; 11-08-11 at 11:04 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member NigelHealy's Avatar
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    ....

    Day 2



    Breakfast


    with an emerging sun to aid drying my tent



    http://s334.photobucket.com/albums/m...t=DSCN4169.mp4

    I packed and left the NT Langdale campsite in fine weather




    I biked along the valley to the foot of the road out to Little Langdale and pushed the bike to the top





    Rode along the flats passed tarn, then steep descent to the road to Wrynose Pass, with plenty of "turn around you fool" hints around



    ....
    Last edited by NigelHealy; 11-08-11 at 11:10 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member NigelHealy's Avatar
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    ......

    In case you're wondering why in all the shots the front pannier was open, I was taking camera out to take the photo and then repacking. Later photos I figured quicker to stuff camera at the bottom of the saddle pouch.

    I rode til it became too steep and then pushed to the top of Wrynose Pass. I am very fit, I bike up my local California Kings Mountain road many days/week. The challenge only for this climb was the weight of the bike and my calves pushing all my body weight and the loaded bike weight up a very steep surface, on the steeper bits near the top I was beginning to feel my calves would not be able to keep going. But I've learned the weakest part of the human body is the brain so I ignored the thoughts and kept moving.

    I had some comments, verbal and hand gestures from passing car drivers, all essentially questioning my sanity and/or giving encouragement.

    I made it to the top.





    The ride down to the west of Wrynose was easy, a short valley floor section and looming Hardknott Pass in front.



    The actual height of ascent from Little Langdale up to Wrynose Pass is the harder physical effort, more total climb, but the Hardknot Pass is a winding path.





    Plenty of "you crazy fool" signs



    I pushed up the hill, it was easier than the Wrynose Pass, possibly the windy route was less steep under foot?

    http://s334.photobucket.com/albums/m...t=DSCN4193.mp4

    The view looking back from where I'd come as I ascended Hardknott Pass



    ....

  4. #4
    Senior Member NigelHealy's Avatar
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    ...

    I made it to the top without any difficulty.

    The view looking to the west into Eskdale, where I'd be riding through, with the blue Irish Sea on the horizon, looking roughly towards the Isle of Man.



    In the foreground, I'd be passing later, the old Roman Fort. Surprisingly well preserved. Tho slave Scots who probably built it under Italian supervision should be given due credit.



    There were about 3 sharp steep bends it would not be safe to bike down due to a cliff drop beyond a short wall, so I walked along the bike for these worst bits but otherwise sat on the bike the rest of the way. A little later I was passing the fort.



    Then proceeded to the valley and some more "silly fool" signs behind me.



    Eskdale is a beautiful valley, not on the usual tourist routes, partly due to the difficult pass or the long drive around the coast.

    It has a mini railway commercial service up to top of the valley from the coast, and itself would be a good Brompton route if you wanted to avoid the pass, train to the coast and train up the valley. There are plenty of B&B, Youth Hostel and a pub in this area if someone is interested, from there could bike/walk around, e.g. to south side Scafell Pike, which later photos will show from the north side.




    http://s334.photobucket.com/albums/m...t=DSCN4206.mp4

    http://s334.photobucket.com/albums/m...t=DSCN4207.mp4

    I biked down the valley, and passed my old Outward Bound School I attended in '83 when but a wee boy.

    http://s334.photobucket.com/albums/m...t=DSCN4208.mp4



    I continued round, hugging the hills edge, plenty of steep undulating hills

    .....

  5. #5
    Senior Member NigelHealy's Avatar
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    ....

    Eventually I emerged into Wasdale, where I'd be camping. A stunning valley, fairly quiet and frequented by mostly hardy/foolish/wise types.








    A rather wind-swept heavily sweated cyclist ruins the view


    Whilst the hills had been steep, I'd only really done about 20 miles and wasn't many hours, the NT Campsite at Wasdale Head was not open yet for cars, but us green tourists can get in, I pitched tent

    After the ride I mapped it
    http://ridewithgps.com/routes/805959
    is 20miles and 3300ft climbing.



    and then headed to the pub for my first of four lots of Fish & Chips.



    and vital rehydration



    Biked back to the campsite before dark when the shop was open.

    http://s334.photobucket.com/albums/m...t=DSCN4220.mp4

    .....
    Last edited by NigelHealy; 11-04-11 at 05:36 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member NigelHealy's Avatar
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    ...
    Wasdale is a gorgeous area. Plenty of good walks all around. If I'd been in a car, or simply on foot, I'd have walked but I didn't fancy leaving my Brompton in a tent. I'd be 90% sure of it not being touched but wasn't worth it. So only valley-view photos for me.


    http://s334.photobucket.com/albums/m...t=DSCN4222.mp4

    A good night sleep, dry no rain like the previous night. Little wind, woke to clouds and lots of tent condensation.

    http://s334.photobucket.com/albums/m...t=DSCN4223.mp4

    Day 3



    Breakfast


    It had taken me some years to return to Wasdale, I spent some time soaking in the views and feeling a little emotional, I don't know when I'll be back, it must have been 7 years since I'd been there before.

    Scafell Pikes being kissed by cloud.



    A ring of hills around





    http://s334.photobucket.com/albums/m...t=DSCN4238.mp4

    Goodbye Wastwater



    Next: onto Keswick, an "easy" day I thought relative to the previous day... How wrong I would be.....
    .....
    Last edited by NigelHealy; 11-08-11 at 11:18 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member NigelHealy's Avatar
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    ....
    I'd not actually brought any maps. I'd looked at a route online before I left my mum's and wrote some key milestone locations/route on a scrap of paper. I did get a little lost. I did though pass through a village of Gosforth, found a brilliant little local bakery, had a sandwich a pie and a fruit almond slice. Yum. Then hugged the main road for a few miles with big trucks playing their amusing "how close can I get" little charming game. Oh how we smiled at each other.

    Eventually I took away from the main road at Calderbridge with "road closed" signs which I figured I'd ignore as I could always push/lift/carry around whatever would block me. I climbed, and climbed, and climbed..... seeing the nuclear processing plant at Seascale



    which I held the camera up to the telescope I had



    I found myself in a cold sheep-covered hill and my front derailleur clanked and stopped working. I had to bend metal, fortunately I brought some tools. I then eventually descended a long fast road to Ennerdale Bridge, passing the "road closed" which was really just hedge trimming as far as I could tell. I pushed back the workmen and then more climbing following signs for Lowes Water.

    I noticed I was crossing the Coast to Coast (C2C) route. I saw it pointing to a side road but ignored it and thought I'd stick to the main route as I had no map, to then later find the C2C was cutting corners and taking quiet roads, so I figured I'd then follow the C2C signs all the way. That probably added an hour and lot of sweat to the rest of the day.

    I eventually got to Loweswater





    With Crummock Water and Buttermere ahead. There is actually a road through there either via Newlands or over Honister Pass but I stuck to my planned route of via Winlatter Pass to Keswick.




    .....

  8. #8
    Senior Member NigelHealy's Avatar
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    ...

    I followed the C2C signs for Keswick, passed through High Lorton, found an open shop and bought some sweets and crisp for lunch. Then climbed up for Winlatter Pass, my last steep climb of the day.

    I passed an unexpected memorial, when I got home later I looked it up, as it turns out a fireman from the east coast had died on this road. Sobering thought.




    The C2C at this point took me up the southern edge of a pass, I could see the main road to the north, I was looking down on it but then later descended to it with some mountain bikers nearly clipping me thinking they had the road to themselves.

    Passed the Forestry Commission tourist spot.



    Descending now, almost the end of the day's ride, and view of Skiddaw and Bassenthwaite



    Made it to the Braithwaite campsite.



    I pitched and then biked into Keswick for some supplies, had my 2nd of 4 Fish & Chips

    I have since mapped the route and I'd climbed 4000 ft and done 40 miles, with fully loaded camping gear. To my surprise, each climb my legs still had strength. Plenty of training back in California has paid off. It was difficult but I was not too tired.

    I've saved the route.

    http://ridewithgps.com/routes/805905

    My original plan was to bike from here to Ullswater and camp at Glenridding but by now the bike was complaining. The left Brompton folding pedal was crunching at every pedal. I could not see actual damage but I was hearing the "I'm going to fail on you soon" so I went to sleep thinking about an easier next day. Plus whilst I knew I'd done a day's ride within my capabilities, I know I can't do that day-after-day as one night sleep can't recover from that type of endurance......


    ....

  9. #9
    Senior Member NigelHealy's Avatar
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    ....

    Day 4


    I woke to another damp campsite from dew.





    I'd packed food on the basis of I'd cook for 3 breakfasts, and I assumed I'd B&B for one night due to rain, but the weather was good and no point in sleeping indoors at an expense. So I'd figure I'd use this campsite's breakfast bar and had a Full English, whilst keeping an eye on my tent.

    I waited a few hours for the sun to get to my tent and begin drying, but wasn't much wind and it was packed damp.




    I decided I'd head back to where I'd been 2 nights earlier, Langdale, as I knew the road through Thirlmere and Dunmaile was easier than the route out of Patterdale over Kirkstone Pass. My legs felt they were within their capabilities but it was the bike I was concerned about. I at that moment decided I was going to sell this Brompton and build a stronger one for such trips in the future. Interesting how the man is stronger than the machine.

    I headed towards Keswick, the view back to campsite and Grizedale


    Keswick in the morning, not too crowded.





    Now I'd eaten breakfast, but with the waiting for the tent to dry by now I was ready for brunch. So two Gregg's Steakbakes and then the climb up to Thirlemere.

    .....
    Last edited by NigelHealy; 11-08-11 at 11:28 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member NigelHealy's Avatar
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    ....
    The climb from Keswick to Thirlemere is itself quite a challenge but I kept plodding. If I'd been less fit, the day before would have left me probably incapable of this climb but it wasn't challenging as I was well within my fitness limits.

    A "secret road" exists to the west side of Thirlemere which quiet and very pleasant, I forked into that
    http://s334.photobucket.com/albums/m...t=DSCN4266.mp4
    and had a very nice, warm, spectacular views of the Hevellyn range to the east.





    http://s334.photobucket.com/albums/m...t=DSCN4274.mp4




    ... edging ever nearer to the small pass of Dunmaile Raise


    ......

  11. #11
    Senior Member NigelHealy's Avatar
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    ...

    The small pass was easy. Looking back to where I'd come from the north



    Then a weeeeeee descent. I was so very early I figured I'd need to get into stalling mode so did what is every cyclist's privilege and turned the rest of the day into a Pub Crawl. Those car drivers can't really do that and hikers have too long between pubs. Cyclists don't have any such issues.

    The Traveller's Rest was the first stop.




    Look carefully at the bottom of the glass is a surprise



    However a pricey pint. So then biked through Grasmere, which was heaving with old woman (they really need to raise the retirement age, plenty of fit people living off the state pension. Tut tut.

    Then stopped at the Badger's Bar in Rydal.

    Then bike through Ambleside, turned right towards Coniston then right again back to Langdale.



    Then another pub stop at Wainwright's Bar in Chapel Style and by now its approaching 5pm, good time to head to the NT Campsite. Erected then biked over to the Old Dungeon Gyll pub. A very nice evening reading the newspaper with fellow outdoorsy people. I waited there til approaching dark and back to the tent for dinner and rest. A much easier more relaxed day than the previous 2 days.

    Route: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/811678
    ....
    Last edited by NigelHealy; 11-08-11 at 11:25 AM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member NigelHealy's Avatar
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    ...

    My last day in the Lakes. Yet another damp morning from condensation.



    Leaving Langdale, when will I return next?

    http://s334.photobucket.com/albums/m...t=DSCN4292.mp4



    Turn left then right to Ambleside then right through Windermere



    With the overfed Swans



    Another Fish & Chips sat outside in hot sun in Bowness, I was watching the clock, I had to get a specific train to be home before dark.



    Nice part about a Brompton is it will fit almost anywhere, here it is hidden between seats



    sorry could not get it not-blurry - moving train!

    Bags overhead


    Back to Keighley then bike up to my mum's with the encouraging positive sounds of uniformed school children

    I was aware the camping would not be unpacked for a long time so I took it all out and dried it carefully before packing.

    The end of the trip.

    Statistics
    • Day 1 - Keighley-Langdale, biking, house to train 1.6miles , train to campsite 12 miles 1000ft ascent.
    • Day 2 - Langdale - Wasdale, bike / pushing , 23mile, 3300ft ascent
    • Day 3 - Wasdale - Braithwaite, bike 36miles, 4000ft ascent
    • Day 4 - Braithwaite - Langdale, bike 29 miles, 2800 ft ascent
    • Day 5 - Langdale - Keighley, 14 miles, 1300 ft ascent
    • Total - 116 miles, 12400ft ascent.


    Since then I sold the Brompton and the Neoair All Seasons. I've ordered a new Brompton and will move parts around to make a commuter, a daily rider, and a tourer. Whilst Bromptons are not the best for specific trips, e.g. the gearing and the brakes and handling not the best, it is a generalist and sticking to the one family of bikes allows for interchangeability. As I type this I actually have a M2R-X and a S6L-X and a Schlumpf Mountain Drive removed, within a month I'll have a M2L-X, a S6L-X with the BWR Brompton Wide Range Hub and a S6R with the Mountain Drive.

    I'm beginning to think about my next tour, it might be across USA, say north through San Francisco and onto....... Portland....... ?
    Last edited by NigelHealy; 11-08-11 at 11:40 AM.

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    Absolutely lovely! Well done, mate!

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    Thank you for that enjoyable trip.
    Speed Uno
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  15. #15
    Senior Member NigelHealy's Avatar
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    Thanks. I've about 5 such tours on Bromptons since about 2004. I have some older photos here. There's a few shots which show the Brompton fitting inside the tent, there's snow on the peaks.


    Each year I get new passion for minimalism, less is more and that really the limits of what is possible is shear bravado, its amazing how when you push the human body it bounces back given enough Fish+Chips and sleep.
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  16. #16
    jur
    jur is offline
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    Wow absolute wow.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

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    Obvious question, where do others find the 28 tooth chainring with the right bolt circle , now.
    to bolt onto their 50t chainring?., apparently by forgoing the FD, people can bolt them outside the 50t
    rather than change BB spindles

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    Thanks for posting. Great read.
    As a youngster I spent a fair amount of time in the UK. I would often go to the 'lakes'. I was friends with a chap from Leeds who knew this area really well.
    My favourite place was ? Dungeon ghyll (the old one) which is near the campsite. Spent many evenings drinking sweet beer and warming by the roaring fire before going back for a cold night in the tent.
    Later in life I learnt the value of having the proper gear in order to be warm when camping.
    One day would like to go back there and take my family.
    Also, you can not beat that Brompton fold, so compact.
    Rob
    Last edited by robsta; 11-06-11 at 12:51 AM. Reason: Wrong pub name

  19. #19
    Senior Member Paul Braithwait's Avatar
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    Tackling Hard Knott and Wrynose on any bike is insanity but on a Brompton - heroic! I hope you called in at Boot, one of my favourite places. You were in my county (Keswick is only about 30 miles from my home) and I know the roads well. Brilliant trip which puts my little rides to shame!

  20. #20
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Not only was this an epic ride, the detailed trip report is equally noteworthy.

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    Thanks so much for posting that excellent write-up.

    I'd love to do something like that on my M6R - But I suspect in my case the machine will out-do the man.

  22. #22
    Senior Member NigelHealy's Avatar
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    Double chainring modification, I've moved away from that apart from emergency granny-gear.

    The first thing that happens if you literally simply bolt a 28T on the inside is the bolt heads promptly scrape all the paint of rear triangle as you fold. That's after you've realized the chain rubs on the stay. If you then post-bike-damage then put a slightly longer BB on, e.g. with a spacer, then the next issue you find is the shorter distance from the sprockets means the inner-chainring / outer-sprocket combination, the chain rubs on the left side of the inner-chainring. So then you have to use an even longer BB and wider spacers til it all works. You need to push the right chainring out by about 3mm and use 3mm-3.5mm chainring spacers.

    For a bike which either won't be used often in hilly areas, or the steeper hills are infrequent, a double chainring makes sense. Since I made up customized front-ends, Brompton came out with the BWR which produces a much wider range and that kills 80% of the reasons for why folks did such stuff pre-2009.

    I have a made 30T/54T on my 2-speed Brompton and I have on order a new Brompton with BWR on a 44T "gear reduced" but I'd still be interested in a double chainring just to be able to handle the once-a-year steep hill I might find ahead. For short hills, get off and push but some hills take an hour to climb and then biking is easier and faster than walking.

    Bolting a smaller chainring on the OUTSIDE of the larger chainring, true that means not having a longer BB, but
    • The inner sprocket is your lowest gear so you're creating a very crossed chainline at your most intense effort.
    • you still need a quite wide chainring spacer to make the chain clear.
    • If manually shifting, its easy when the hill's gradient is showing its needed, to push the chain to the left with your foot.
    Last edited by NigelHealy; 11-08-11 at 12:13 PM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member NigelHealy's Avatar
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    I think a BWR with manual-move double chainring and replacing the supplied pedals and bringing a wrench to remove the left pedal would last the longest.

    Another key thing is to rethink all the non-bike gear, shrink its weight and volume. Seriously......
    If I'd not been fit, I'd probably not have coped. Being fit, the man was stronger than the machine but if didn't have the fitness the man would not have coped.

  24. #24
    Senior Member kamtsa's Avatar
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    That's inspiring!

    Is it the American version of The Office on that you are watching on that player? ;-)
    Happier than a camel on wednesday.

  25. #25
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting the excellent photographs and helpful comments! I hope to make it to the Lake District sometime.

    I have been climbing the mountain roads here in California, to get my fitness better, but have been using my normal road bike . . . I'd better try them on my folder!

    Rick / OCRR

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