Friday, 18 December 2009

End of the year 2 !!!!!

Yesterday morning, I stumbled downstairs in my usual sleepy state and made coffee. After switching on the Christmas tree lights I walked back into the kitchen and stubbed my toe. It hurt like mad, and when I sat down to look at it, it was obviously dislocated as it stuck out sideways!!!

A friend took me to the local hospital where the Doctor 'replaced' the toe using some force. I was on 'gas and air' so although painful, I didn't care too much. It's 3am now and the pain is really bad. So, I thought I would write this addendum to the blog. I can't ride for a while, but I've always had good powers of recovery, so fingers crossed. I hope to be back out before the New Year, but there's nno real hurry and I've pushed injuries too hard before and it just takes longer then. So, Merry Christmas to all of you out there, and here's to chilling out.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The end of another year

I've been putting off writing this for a while because so much has been happening. New sponsors have arrived in the form of several major companies and they almost all apear on the 'Thank you' page now.

The main news is that I've ordered a new set of wheels for the Vitesse, having nearly worn out the Kinetix rims in just a few months. Sure I was a bit disappointed, but the weather was absolutely disgusting for over a month and the road conditions on the lanes where I live, totally hideous with cow dung, sheep shit, sticks, leaves, mud and water combining to make a really aggressive grinding paste. Brake blocks wore really quickly and thoughts moved to how many sets of these I could destroy in 4000 miles.

I always try to find the best solutions to this type of problem and with the help and advice of Andrew Fudge from Fudges Cycle Store, I have settled on a set of Sun rims with a Son Dynamo on the front to charge gadgets, and a Sram Dual-drive hub at the rear. These are dual wall BMX style rims, built up with double-butted Swiss spokes. They should have good endurance and the rest will last for years. This makes a big hole in my personal budget, but gives me a handbuilt set of quality wheels and peace of mind.

An amazing company has come in from the 'States'. Arapahoe Outdoors make a bonded 'all season' Teepee style tent. It's real quality and incredibly well designed by guys who live the outdoor life. It blows my mind that they are keen to be involved and gives me a lot of living space for a small weight trade-off, perfect. I already get lots of interest when I'm out with the folder and trailer and this will extend that interest onto the camping areas too.

On the training front, I'm actually doing a twelve week interval training package. I've adapted a schedule from 'training4cyclist' because the weather has been so foul and I didn't want to be out for hours when I could do quality cycling work in a smaller period of time. I'm only on week 2 and I can feel the difference already. I don't enjoy it, but it serves a purpose and improves my fitness level, strength and aerobic endurance. It will take me through the worst of the winter and then it will be time to tour. Ace.

As one of those people who hates to wear waterproof trousers, I've persevered with variations on the cycling leggings with fleece underneath or a good base layer. Seems to work well, and keep the legs toasty warm. I can't say the same for my feet, that need the protection of overshoes throught the cold and wet. They were like little blocks of ice the last couple of long rides I've done. I decided that 55 miles in windy, wet and cold conditions had to be experienced once at least, but have backed off on building miles now with the short days and increased risk of injuries. I must be getting sensible in my old age.

Recovery has been aided by drinking part-milk Horlicks and chocolate straight after training ,with a carb/protein meal after that. it's made a huge difference to how I feel 24 hours later. Another positive is that following the 5 years of hell I've been through, my cholesterol was bad. Changing my diet and taking much more care of myself has put this back in the really healthy section in 3 months. All in all, my mental state is relatively stable with just a few panics and tearful days although sleeping is still a problem in that when I do, nightmares plague me and if I don't, I end up writing this blog at 2am like I am now!!!!!

Anyway, Happy Christmas and a great 2010. I know mine will be very exciting and full of suprises.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Cycling and Head stuff!!

It's been a good week on the cycling front. I've managed around one hundred miles with little lasting physical effect. It amazes me, just how quickly our bodies can adapt to the demands we make of it, even when we are middle aged. I have done several rides to Okehampton with the trailer. Most of this is on account of the fact I got halfway there, got a puncture and I hadn't taken the spanner out of the kit that I remove the wheel with. Ha ha ha ha, the jokes on me! Note to self: never leave home without all the spanners you need.

Having cycled home with the flat, it was soon rectified and I was on my way again. It was really windy and wet this week, probably good experience for when I do the real thing! I checked out my section of the Tarka Trail that I keep an eye on for Sustrans. Several trees were down between my house and Bideford. All had been cut back, and apart from spotting some damage to railings over a bridge, there was little to see.

The trail was so quiet apart from the roaring wind. I met an american couple going North on a Tandem. They were on the Devon Coast to Coast and having a great time. Quite a lot of this trail is tarmac, although it's quite difficult to see it at this time of the year. it's nice to ride on an easy trail, it still gets me out for a 35 mile ride, but is less tiring and allows me to spin-up a lot more.

Most of the rest of this week, I've been suffering Head-Stuff. I won't try to explain it, except to say that it disrupts my sleep and makes me feel like the person in the famous painting 'The Scream'. So, I am having three days rest which will take me up to Sunday when I shall ride to Bude and back. I'm still discussing things with the Doctor, but there's only so much they an do. For the record, my Doctor has been really supportive over a long period of time.

Outside of cycling, I've written a lot of letters asking for support for the ride. It always amazes me just how positive and supportive people are. A lovely email from a guy who runs a company making lightweight Teepee style tents really buoyed me up this week. Other than that, the planning side of things is taking shape.

It's a strange piece of road where I live. You leave home and are hit straight away by three consecutive 'graded hills'. I used to avoid this road because of that, but now I kick back and twiddle and in the end they're done. As you get out toward Holsworthy and beyond it eases, thankfully, and I still get as excited as a child as I approach the coast.

I'll let you know how it goes this week and please do look at the slowly growing 'with thanks To' page. They are the companies making this happen. Cheers.

Remember to donate at

Friday, 20 November 2009

The Ride: Plans and Thoughts

The idea for this ride has been with me for many years. I have looked at vaious types of ride including a big offroad adventure, although I was much younger then! None of them came to fruition. No time or no money, whatever way you look at it, I didnt prioritise it. What is different now? Well as I said in the blog earlier, I have been unwell. Coming out of that is a blessing and the charity ride, I hope, a celebration. 'Released from Treatment', that is how it feels.

The ride itself is around 3800 miles and uses huge sections of the National Cycle Network . The idea to promote 'Sustrans' came from this fact. To ride around the UK, I can use thousands of miles of signed route and traffic free sections, set up by guess who? Yes, Sustrans. Brilliant. I then faced the small issue of which way, clockwise or anti-clockwise. Clockwise means the hard stuff up front but prevailing wind behind. It also means being in Scotland before the main midge season. Anybody who has been there will not be suprised that I want to avoid it. They are the real terrorists as far as I'm concerned. Anti clockwise feels right. I will have to tackle Cornwall and it's lovely hills first, but then I get into wilder and wilder country as I head North, escaping from the South East. All the way south I will be in mountainous environs, my favourite, and yes, it will put me later on the Scottish West Coast.

Hmm, choices. I have been to Scotland and supplied the midges with much needed sustanance for many years now, but I have found that they are quite bearable nearer the coast and at their pesky biting worst in the middle of the mountains and Glens. I'm going to take the risk of anti-clockwise because it feels right.

I reckon I will need around 4-5000 Kcal a day on this ride. Stopping for a decent lunch will be a must, not a choice. As I'm self-supporting ie: camping, I will have to buy, haul and cook the food I require. Not an easy task and I'm sure that will occasionally be substituted with the pub, chippy etc! The thing is, I have changed my diet really radically and it suits me, so I will try to keep to this for the ride. I have far more energy and the ups/downs are less pronounced than they have been. Eat Natural are supplying chewy bars. I asked them purposefully because I seem to get just what I need from them. Drinking is also important. A minimum of two full bottles to start each day and maybe an isotonic for recovery.

I have based the ride on days of 40-50 miles. Not too far you might think, but remember I will be on the bike for nearly 90 days and I'm no great athlete. Recovery is based on one day off for every three ridden. In reality I need to be quite a lot more flexible than this to maintain my mental health as much as my physical health. There are lots of places I want to spend time exploring and many friends around the country too. There would be no point to be in doing this as a time trial. maybe twenty years ago that would be different, but I will take the time to enjoy it. Inevitably, there are longer and shorter days. I've tried to minimise these and keep them to legs that don't look too hard or legs that look really hard. Ha HA Ha, as if this is how it will turn out!! Still, you have to have an idea or your stuffed before you start. Whether Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance depends on the quality of the planning, doesnt it? More importantly, it helps me to get my head around what it is I'm taking on.

My own preperation is going well. I can still ride a bike without falling over (yet) and each ride is adding to the total miles. I am not intending to train 'properly' until next winter. The main reason is that I know from previous experience that I can get too intense and I just want to enjoy riding again whilst avoiding injury. I do have a sports science degree which helps and there are some excellent forums on the web. I am curently riding 2/3 times a week. One for shopping (20miles with the trailer), One on the flat, 30/40/ miles,working on cadence and therefore my aerobic system/ cardio vascular stuff, and finally, one on the roads, 30-50 miles, as I feel, a day out. Closer to the ride ie: next winter, I will put in more structure and specific work. I also do lots of stretching to try to avoid injuries, avoid caffeine, apart from my morning kickstart, and as I said eat lots of fruit, veg and fish. It's hard to do because if I overdo it then the gremlins get out and I have what I consider to be a 'bad-head day'. Not nice and that leads to sleep/ lack of sleep, as well as withdrawal, uncertainty and depression. I have to pull myself back from trying too hard. "remember to enjoy it" and "there's no race" are things I think to stay in the right zone.

Finally, Next year, I have planned two tours to use as 'markers' and get used to the shock of touring. By that, I mean riding more than usual, pulling a trailer full of gear every day, living outside and managing myself outside of my home environment. The first will take me around the South West Penninsula, and the second from North Wales all the way down Lon Las Cymru via chepstow and Bristol and back to my house in west Devon. These will let me know what I am doing right and wrong and which gear is right and wrong. I will still have the Autumn and Winter to make changes.
So, I will leave it there for now. I'm open to all suggestions and any knowledge of any part of the route would be especially useful.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

With many thanks to:

Sponsered By:

Brilliant, flexible, colourful, functional & cool


Eat Natural:
Simple ideas
Simple recipes
Simple ingredients


Fudge Cycle Store

Great prices
Great service
Great people



he best tyres for any ride, anywhere.Visit:

Carry Freedom City Trailer has won design awards

OK Leisure

Fantastic local oudoor shop on

Okehampton High street.


Arapahoe Outdoors
Visionary Teepee design from the USA. Lightweight,

all season tents, with all panels bonded not sewn.

Great design from peole who use their own products.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Lazy Sunday afternoon

Well normally I'd be out on the bike today but I decided against it. Why? Well to start with a very large lump of oak tree appeared on top of my shed following the weekend storm. My neighbour , Neil , kindly offered to saw it up with his chain saw. Imagine two small boys at play!! The logs are going to a friend who is skint but has a wood burner so she will be happy.

I needed to chill-out a bit after frazzling my brain setting this up and my fund raising page and the bike was in need of some tlc as the last few rides were, to say the least 'Mucky'!! looking after the bike is as important as looking after me, so, it was washed and lubricated and various things adjusted ready for my trip to the shops in Okehampton. I only go once a week, with the trailer and buy all the usual stuff, but it's a different experience from going in the car and one I Ireally enjoy, rain or shine. Just got to put the rack back on and I reckon were ready to roll.

Personally I woke up really tired and that is why I'm not forcing myself to go out riding. First signs of this were sleepng until 10.30am, not usual at all. Secondly, I was totally convinced that it was Monday until my friend who's coming to lunch didn't turn up. I was quite worried until I realised it was Sunday. DOH!! Sounds funny, but this confusion stuff really is trying at times. Have I taken my drugs? god knows, but I think so, have to see later!

So, a lazy day it is, tommorow I shall be out early to shop if I remember that is! the rest of today, well I reckon a bath, nice tea, and telly. Enjoy your sunday

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Please sponsor me

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One step at a time

Hi there

My name is Graeme Willgress and I'm planning to ride Round the Uk mainland to support a charity called Sustrans in 2011. You can find out about them at . the main reason I am starting this blog is that with a year and a half to go I want to share the up's and down's, joys and frustrations of my biggest ever adventure with you.

The Reasons for this are simple. Four years ago and for a variety of reason I suffered a major breakdown. It seemed like the end of my life was really close. I am so glad to be feeling better than that, thatI decided it was time to try to do something useful that will benefit the community.

I also want others to see that mental health issues are not as scary as the media portray. There are many levels of many illnesses and living with them is very scary indeed but no threat to others. So, anybody who wants to discuss anything to do with ride or issues like the Bi Polar Disorder that I suffer, feel free.

Finally, I have started a charity webpage to raise donations to my charity. You can find this on and punching in my name or the charity name.Until the next episode then..........