Hoping to help these guys...

Hoping to help these guys...

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Disraeli Gears

Now *that* is an LP cover!
“You know how the title came about - 'Disraeli Gears' -yeah? We had this Austin Westminster, and Mick Turner was one of the roadies who’d been with me a long time, and he was driving along and Eric (Clapton) was talking about getting a racing bicycle.

Mick, driving, went ‘Oh yeah - Disraeli gears!’ meaning derailleur gears...we all just fell over! We said that’s got to be the album title.”

The quote above is from the celebrated and feared drummer/headcase Mr. Ginger Baker, who was remembering how the title of Cream's 1967 LP came about. Perhaps you had to be there, hah-hah-hah!

Never mind all that old (and excellent) pony, this blog update will perhaps only be of passing interest to gearheads/bike nerds and fans of Cream only, hence the tenuous title link. What a Venn Diagram that lot would make.

Believe it or not, there will be other deranged folk out there who will want to ride a similar jaunt to this one and it can be helpful to see just how others have done it...what kit they have taken etc.. It might equally provoke sharp intakes of breath with a muttered "Nope, I wouldn't have taken/would have taken that". Anyway, here goes...

Cheers Gordon, hah-hah!
My bike is a bit of a strange brew itself: I bought my 57cm Kinesis Racelight T2 in black through the Cycle-2-Work scheme in November 2011. Gradually almost all of the components were replaced, mainly because they were worn-out. The only original bits on it are the seat post, shifters and the frame and forks! It also got a respray pour Le Tour last year and a few dodgy decals too.
The Yellow Peril, as at August 2016. Just add panniers.
It's a good idea to get the bike looked at before any big trips so I turn to local maestro-mechanic Mr Colin Gardner, who used to look after Bradley Wiggins' bikes once upon a time. Wonder whatever happened to etc...

CG with Sir Wiggy Smalls in 2001.
Anyway, Colin knows his bicyclette onions big-time, so believe me when I tell you that my bike comes back in the best possible condition, running as smooth as a cashmere codpiece. It almost seems a shame to get it covered in cow-muck courtesy of the Lancashire roads, hah-hah!

New chain=clean chain. 11-34 and 50-34 necessary for weaklings.
Not anticipating too much of this down-route.
There may well be days when I struggle to remember it.

The bespoke spec'

Frame: Aluminium 57cm Kinesis Racelight T2
Forks: Carbon Fibre Kinesis DC07
Wheels: 36H Exal LX17 rims, DT Swiss spokes, Shimano 105 hubs
Brakes: Shimano BR-650, Kool-Stop pads
Shifters: 9 speed Shimano Tiagra
Front Disraeli gear: Shimano Sora
Rear Disraeli gear: Shimano Deore
Chainset: Shimano Sora 50-34, 170mm cranks
Cassette: Shimano 11-34 9 speed
Bottom Bracket: Shimano Tiagra
Chain: SRAM PC-971 9 speed
Pedals: Shimano M520 SPD
Handlebars: Kore 46cm
Bar Ends & Headset Cap: Kapz custom
Bar Wrap: Deda double-wrapped
Stem: Deda 130mm
Headset: Dear knows
Cables: Shimano
Tyres: Schwalbe Marathon Plus 700x28c, which means no mudguard clearance but more comfort
Tubes: Michelin
Saddle: Probably 4ZA...whatever, it'll cause grief anyway
Rack: Tortec
Panniers: Altura Dryline 32L
Bike Computer: Garmin Edge 800 & HR monitor
Beer: Long & cold, thanks.

The all-up weight of the bike with the panniers is 25kg and I add another 75kg, give-or-take. That is where the struggle is going to come, as any climbing has the double whammy of slowing things down and using up more energy and willpower i.e. burning matches faster than I'd really want to. Ah diddums...break-out the world's smallest violin etc.!
Nice work on the W's. S. V., hah-hah!
Down near the bottom somewhere. Apt.
Those seat-stays were curved before I sat on it, ok?
One 'em' too many. D'oh!
Stuff all that lot in two panniers and away we go!
You should have seen how much rubbish I *was* going to take...luxury living for a month, hah-hah!

Hate this junk, but there may be an occasion when I need to 'break the glass'...
As mantras go I've seen worse. Marginal ale ahoy!
At the time of writing, the sponsorship is getting there but there is a long way to go still. Please see if you can spare a couple of quid or whatever to help Bloodwise and Combat Stress. Here are those links if you are able to donate:

- To donate to Bloodwise, please click 'here'!

- Please click 'on this bit' to support Combat Stress.

Thank you: I know that the two charities really appreciate all your help.

Alright then, back to Ginger, Eric and Jack. Did I ever tell you that I once asked JB for a handshake? The curmudgeonly old git refused and it damn near killed him to pose for a photo, hah-hah!
In fairness, he signed my setlist and he did play a blinding show too, in Kendal of all places. I'll finish with perhaps their finest, and certainly one of *the* great riffs...

Lucky to have been there: Cream's first reunion show at The RAH. Right, Rog?

Thursday, 11 August 2016

For What It's Worth

Today marks one month until the start in Seattle (nervous much?), so now is as fine a time as any to mention the two causes that we are helping.

Combat Stress are the people who help combat veterans who have suffered psychological wounds whilst serving their country: more commonly known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It was formed in May 1919, and then known as the Ex-Servicemen's Welfare Society: it was ahead of its time. The prevailing attitude to mental welfare was, by today's standards, primitive, even barbaric.

Those who suffered from mental breakdown during their Service life received little or no sympathy. At the end of the War there were thousands of men returning from the front and from sea suffering from shell-shock. Many were confined in Mental War Hospitals under Martial Law - with the risk of being sent on, without appeal, to asylums.

But the founding mothers of Combat Stress (they were mainly women) believed that these men could be helped to cope with their condition through a rehabilitation programme.  Work was seen as essential to masculine identity; it provided men with financial security and many doctors believed it to be an excellent form of therapy. So, for many years, Combat Stress ran employment schemes that created real work opportunities for Veterans.

A lot has changed since then (not least the charity's name), and they are working with more than 5,900 Veterans who suffer mental ill-health. Residential and community treatment programmes support Veterans with severe PTSD, anxiety and depression. Combat Stress also works in partnership with other organisations to support the welfare of our Veterans within their community.

The physical wounds are obvious but it is the insidious nature of PTSD and the natural reluctance of people to want to admit to having a problem that make this such a challenge. Nightmares, flashbacks, sleepless nights and depression are indicators of the condition, and of course there is the risk of this leading to other destructive behaviours like excessive drinking, gambling and violence. 

Raising the profile of CS: until this year I had never heard of them either.
They offer a free service to ex-service people and their clinical treatments and support services are proven to work. It's no less than these people deserve, right? Right. To be honest, until this year I had never even heard of Combat Stress- all the service charities that I knew about focused on the physical wounds suffered but it seems so obvious that the other side of the coin needs help too.

Combat Stress have co-opted an awareness and fundraising campaign that was started by a similar charity in the US: the idea is to complete 22 press-ups everyday for 22 consecutive days. The significance of the featured number is taken from an awful statistic: apparently 22 combat veterans take their own lives everyday in the US.

Personalised 'plate for the trip.
Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have video clips of various loons taking part in the challenge, and to that end I thank cycling pals John, Bruce and Ant for doing the hard work and publicising my ickle bike ride! For what it's worth, I do have two or three *unusual* plans for completing the 22 challenge on the trip...

Please follow this link to help those suffering from PTSD!

The other cause is Bloodwise, and they have changed their name too as they were known as Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research until a few years ago but their mission remains the same. They've been working to beat blood cancer since 1960...to stop people dying from blood cancer; to make patients’ lives better; and to look for ways to stop blood cancer before it starts. Needless to say, all this vital and continuous work costs money. That's where we step in!
They set-out to help and support anyone affected by blood cancers.
I know that there are quite a few cancer charities and I'm sure that like me, you get tired and blase to all the appeals for money, almost wondering if you're wasting your time and cash.
A sponsor sent me this email today and I include it here only to show that the time, effort and money that goes to research and caring for those affected by the many strains of cancer *does* make a positive difference...I know it's so easy to get fed-up and have 'compassion fatigue'. I get it too!
"Yes I will happily sponsor you. It’s nice to see Blood Cancer on the map too as this sometimes get overlooked. FYI my brother had Non Hodgkins Lymphoma, luckily he was able to have my stem cells and platelets, which later on cured his cancer. The treatments now are expanding and improving. So this is another reason to donate!"

I think it's that often we don't hear about the success stories that have only come about because of our donations: it's easy to lose track of the real and lasting good that is being done. If you want to read what I'm on about, please follow this link here. You might have something in your eye afterwards though...
The money we raise *does* help people...let's do this!
The inevitable link to donate and help Bloodwise is here, thank you!

Training continues!
As I sit here typing this, the track cycling is in progress at the Rio Olympics. Man alive, now *they* are athletes- go Team GB! That reminds me of my own Olympic success. Sorta...

Thanks to Steve Ashworth for arranging. Top man!

One from Atlanta. Wow!

And as ever, we sign-off with one from the vaults...another Stephen was on one when he wrote this number. Wow!

A stone-cold classic!