Garmin battery replacement

I recently replaced the battery in my Garmin 800. It’s 3 or 4 years old and the battery life was down to about 2 hours between charges. Not exactly fit for purpose any more. Sending the unit to Garmin to have the battery replaced was obviously extortionate so I decided to buy a battery online for about £10 and do it myself. It was surprisingly straightforward and I found several online tutorials on Youtube to guide me through the steps. I took a few photos along the way in case I forgot how something was attached.

Unit dismantled

Unit dismantled

New battery installed - power on

New battery installed – power on

The unit has a touch-screen but this is just a simple internal attachment. It took about 10 minutes to complete the changeover and has breathed new life into my old unit. Here’s to another few years of use hopefully. Although with Winter looming and the clocks going back, the prospect of rides over 2 hours for the next few months are not necessarily looking too promising…

Renewed unit

Renewed unit

Farewell fair-weather cyclist

I worked from home last Winter so missed out on the masochistic fun of commuting by bike. This inevitably caused me to become a bit of a fair-weather pansy, carefully choosing to cycle only when the sun shone. I used to think all those hours of toil, cycling to and from work in the cold, wet and dark months were cumulatively adding to my toughness. But unfortunately this was not the case – just a short time of selective, sunny cycling have been enough to soften me up nicely.

Winter cycling - need more lights

Winter cycling – need more lights

This year I’m back working in the city and have quickly realised that I’m constitutionally unsuitable to sitting in cars in traffic jams. However, not only am I now jointly responsible for ferrying a small person to nursery but also my job sometimes involves travelling distances and carrying materials which are beyond my cycling capabilities. So opportunities to cycling instead of drive are few and far between.

So when a window of opportunity happened to coincide with some nasty weather it was time to ditch the fair-weather approach.

As it turned out, cycling in the rain and in the dark is quite exhilarating. It’s fun but also slightly unnerving. Also, turning up on a construction site and asking the site manager if you can commandeer his meeting room as your own personal laundry drying room also gets a few laughs. The heaters mostly did their trick and I was left with just a few random patches of moistness in my kit for the return home.

Kit hung, heaters up, sit back and enjoy the sweet smells of drying sports kit

Kit hung, heaters up … sit back and enjoy the sweet aroma of drying sports gear

This weekend I also headed out to support the Bristol South Cycling Club annual hill climb race up Burrington Combe. We checked out the infamous ‘Cowbell Corner’, the little one bringing her favourite cowbells. It was good to see a few familiar faces including PJ, who having recently published a book on riding hill climbs was now demonstrating how to properly support them.

Ring the bells there's a cyclist coming

Ring the bells there’s a mad cyclist coming

PJ in full supporter mode

PJ showing how it’s done (from the roadside)

If you haven’t read his book I’d recommend it for its well-written and thorough coverage of the history of the National Hill Climb Championship. I was enlightened and entertained reading it, and also realised I’m also constitutionally unsuitable for competitive hill climbing – drinking beer, eating cake and riding only in fair weather don’t really seem to be part of the ethos.

A Corinthian Endeavour

A Corinthian Endeavour

A birthday surprise – perfect weather on Exmoor in September

For my birthday I gave myself the gift of zero responsibilities. This was mostly a gift from my wife who took care of business for the day while I skived off and went cycling. It wasn’t very “bikevcar”, but I decided to drive down to Exmoor for a long afternoon of cycling.

Glorious Exmoor

Glorious Exmoor

My previous cycling trips to Exmoor have been ‘sportives’, i.e. organised, mass-participation events. Today’s ride was the antithesis of a sportive – no early start because I do not like waking up early at the weekend, no other people because how can you enjoy the peaceful beauty of a national park when you’re surrounded by other cyclists, and no restrictions on my distance or route which was ideal as I hate being told what to do. It was perfect.

I parked the car at a place called Watchet, mostly because the name made me laugh but also because I’d had enough of driving. And then got on my bike and climbed straight up into the moors. The roads around Exmoor can be bonkers-steep – a 20% gradient seems fairly standard for these parts. At one point I almost fell off when the road ramped up so suddenly that I was caught with my hands relaxed on the tops of the bars and didn’t have time to switch to the hoods so that I could stand up. Clearly my concentration and bike handling skills still need some work.

Up up and away

Up up and … then round the corner and up some more

There were a few notable climbs that I’d wanted to find (Dunkery Beacon and the Porlock Toll Road) but other than that I had no aim. Just a photocopy of a road map to avoid getting lost and jersey pockets stuffed full of food to keep me going.


The moors

The moors

In the end I managed 70 miles and around 6,500 feet of climbing. But it was just one of those days that I’ll remember for a long time. Exmoor in September in crisp, beautiful sun. A glorious 5 hours on the bike followed by a pint of ale in a classic English pub garden beside a river. For a man who loves to moan,  it’s fairly epic when I have a day with nothing to moan about!


The White Horse Inn, Washford – post ride beer in a pub garden beside the river


Frothy pint of ale – perfect day

One way traffic

Family BikeVCar went on holiday to Wales this week. Pembrokeshire to be exact. Coming from the outskirts of Wells in Somerset, most of our journey was accompanied by the sounds of our toddler daughter’s mantra: “Not goin’ Welz … goin’ Way-Uls”

"Where's my bike?"

“Where’s my bike?”

Whilst there’s been a significant drop in my cycling mileage over the last 2 years (and let’s not even mention the significant increase in car miles …. nor my very recent acquisition of a new “family car”), there has however been an enjoyable last few weeks watching a new cyclist arrive on the scene.

Look out cat!

Look out cat!

This has resulted in needing to make space in the shed for a new bike – obviously it was some superfluous gardening equipment that met the chop. I’ll gladly have a jungle for a back garden if it means I can still get out and cycle at the weekends.

New addition to the bike shed

New little addition to the shed, threaded through the Merckx 

I set up the little bike and stabilisers on my flat workshop floor. It was a textbook novice-Dad manoeuvre: as soon as she encountered some uneven ground the rear wheel spun in the air like she was riding a turbo trainer. Before I’d had a real chance to contemplate the possibility of setting up the bike as an indoor trainer during the coming winter months, she started shouting to come and rescue her. Initiative test number 1 – go fix it yourself:

Making a few minor adjustments

Making a few minor adjustments to some incompetent Dadsmanship 

Anyway, holidays are a time to try new things. So Mum had time to relax. Little Miss showed off on a trike . . .

Holiday bicycle

“I go this way” 

. . . and I found some time to squeeze in a few decent length rides. With beautiful weather, the coast of Pembrokeshire to explore and a toddler who requires an afternoon nap, I had a brainwave: one-way cycling. If we went out as a family for the morning I rode home. And if we were going out for the afternoon I set off after lunch and met them there.

Exploring the Welsh countryside

Exploring the Welsh countryside: castles, hills, sheep and more hills 

Even compared to Somerset and Southwest England, the roads were quiet. And the idea of one-way riding allowed me to squeeze in 100 miles of cycling over a weeklong family holiday without being too selfish.

Seaside towns - the beautiful views are just about worth the effort

Seaside towns – beautiful descents, tough escapes 

The coastal roads were stunning. Although the hills and the winds made for some challenging cycling too. I took the steel frame bike so that I could attach the baby seat for local rides. This added an extra element to the challenge. But, after all – it was a holiday so I mostly ignored my average speeds and just enjoyed the beautiful weather and the change of scenery.

We lucked out with the weather

We certainly lucked-out with the weather 

“Avon Cycleway” 100 mile loop

I decided late last night to ride the Avon Cycleway loop around Bristol today. Like some of the best and worst ideas I’ve had, this one was discovered somewhere near the bottom of a bottle of wine.


Sunny and windy on the Avon Cycleway today


The sun slowly broke through the clouds 

I woke this morning without too much of a fuzzy head, ate breakfast twice before then preparing my bike. I had a completely free day to myself as well as a personal point to prove after my only other 100 mile ride this year resulted in being painfully towed and finally dropped by my fitter and faster mate.

With my jersey pockets and stomach stuffed full of food I set off at around 9am heading towards Bath along narrow country lanes. The Avon Cycleway is an 85 mile loop around Bristol along quiet lanes and bike paths. Looking back this was one of the first long rides featured on this blog almost four years ago.

One of the problems on long rides in unknown territories is refuelling. Especially on a Sunday with most shops shut. I ended up barricading my bike between two signs outside a little shop and checking on it several times. The thought of it being stolen miles from home was a hassle I could do without.

Finger crossed it'll be here when I come back

Finger crossed it’ll be here when I come back

Having successfully navigated around 70 miles of twists and turns, I got lost at the exact same point as last time. Somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle of Avonmouth the signs just seem to disappear. Fortunately I could see the looming Avon Bridge and headed in the right direction. As with all 100 milers the final 20 miles were fairly tough, but the warm breeze of a welcome tailwind helped me home. I was just around the corner from home when I realised I was going to finish up on 96 or 97 miles. Putting fatigue aside I took a small detour to hit the magic 100.

The indignity of being robbed twice by a seagull

This weekend we went for a family cycle ride on the newly opened “Two Tunnels Greenway” from the city of Bath. It’s a 13 mile, largely traffic-free route along a disused railway line. The first of the two tunnels was a short couple of hundred metres; the second was almost a mile and great fun to all ride along shouting and hearing the echoes.


“Maaaaaaaaaaa-meeeeeeeeee …. me, me, me, me” 

We probably should have come equipped with a light and a bell, but it was a last-minute idea and these days just getting out of the house with a toddler is a major achievement so we didn’t dwell on it too much.

Into the tunnel

Into the tunnel

Disused station platform

Disused station platform



Canal path

Canal path

Pit-stop for raisins

Pit-stop for raisins

We ended up stopping a couple of times for food and wees and other toddler-driven demands, but generally she’s a good little passenger and enjoys the ride. However, by the amount of food she consumed on the ride you’d think she was the one doing the pedalling.

By the time we returned to Bath, the two actual cyclists were starving to we headed to a  cafe for some lunch. The little passenger was in relatively good spirits and was even happier when her hot-dog was brought out for lunch. Unfortunately she let her guard down and to the shock of the whole cafe a seagull swooped down and stole off with her sausage.

Who took my sausage?

“Bu-bye sausage!”

I felt like I ought to man-up and take control of the situation and moved us to what I felt was a more sheltered table beneath the awning. I competently moved our food to the new table, then went back for our belongings. At this point another seagull seized the opportunity and launched an attack on my wife’s sandwich making off with most of it. This was now getting a bit embarrassing and also providing too much entertainment to everyone else. I considered cutting our losses and just tucking into my burger but in the end I moved us insides away from the audience and gained enough sympathy from a waitress to have our stolen dishes re-prepared.

As a countrysider coming into the city for the day, I’d been keeping a diligent eye on our bikes and had somehow managed to have our food stolen from right under my nose. Ah, the indignity. At least we had a good ride.

Tandem cycling in the USA

We’re currently on holiday in Maryland, USA visiting my wife’s family. We last visited two years ago, back in the long-forgotten pre-baby era when we could do whatever we wanted. Looking back that free time was clearly wasted on me because all I ever seemed to do was cycle.

This holiday we had a couple of blissful days to ourselves – leaving the little one with her grandma we headed off to the beach. Unimaginatively I steered us towards a bike hire shop at the earliest opportunity.

Tandem beach cruiser

Tandem beach cruiser

Neither of us had ridden a tandem before and it turned out to be great fun. It was easy to talk to each other and being permanently hitched together removes any potential competitiveness of cycling with another person. In theory a tandem ought to be more efficient than a regular bicycle, but that relies on both people pedalling. If, say, the person on the back was sometimes just letting their feet be turned by the pedals then a tandem could in fact be very hard work for the person on the front. Fortunately American beachfronts aren’t short on refreshment opportunities for hard-worked cyclists.


When the going gets tough, the tough get compensated with ice cream

One of the trickier aspects of tandem cycling was turning. The person on the rear can’t always see the twists and turns ahead but needs to participate to some extent in leaning on sharper bends. The other tricky aspect is starting and stopping. All of this requires a bit of communication but we seemed to get the hang of things and be motoring along quite well.

My other cycling this holiday has been using Pete’s arsenal of bikes in his basement. I took a single-speed out a couple of times but it mostly ended up being a reminder of how fit I used to be when we last visited. Riding up hills on a single-speed is tough work, and I quickly swapped for a bike with gears.


Getting out for some road cycling