Category Archives: Biking

Starting the next stage of my mega bike ride

Zurich RouteTomorrow I’m reluctantly moving on from my lovely apartment in Les Gets towards Zurich so that I can meet my big brother & nephew next weekend for a 70th birthday bash (and I’ve heard a whisper it’s his wife’s birthday too 🙂 )

I’m fully recovered from the ride here and the excellent Thierry has fitted the bike with new chain, rear gear cassette and brake pads. The dreaded rear pannier’s have been despatched home with my neighbour, as I’ve been assured by Sally after speaking to Pete that a tent isn’t necessary 🙂

I’ve spent the last few days trying to sort out my Etrex 20 with maps and in a moment of sheer stupidity lost my OSX application library – which interestingly broke all my Chrome extensions in a very nasty way, the dangers of using an offline backup service. 🙁

NB: All that follows is for Mac OSX users.

What I’ve learnt about Garmin maps is that you can fill your Garmin Etrex up with highly detailed Open Street Maps, essentially for free by visiting Velomap and downloading the desired country(s). Installing Garmin Basecamo & Garmin MapInstall. Unzipping the maps using The Unarchiver, setting the destination to the Application Library/Garmin /Maps folder (be careful here!).

Then using Mapinstall pop them into the Garmin. I now have all of France, Germany, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary & Romania installed on my recently purchased 4GB micro SD (€8 from GITEM in Morzine).

To work out the routes I’ve been using Bikemap to create a track. A tip here if you want to modify someones existing track, download the gpx file to the desktop, create a new track in Bikemap and upload the gpx file, then you can edit it. To make the track into a route I used the cool JavaWa tools. I then used Basecamp to stuff the route into the Etrex. Tomorrow is the test 🙂

However, that’s only the backup sorted :-). What I really will use is the iPhone and the Gaia app, I’ve uploaded the tracks to the iPhone via email. Then used the neat Gaia utility to auto download the relevant Open Street Map tiles to the iPhone that cover the tracks, so in theory it all works offline.

Apologies to anyone tracking me but my SFR MiFi unit has used all it’s 2GB of data so I’m off air until I can reach a SIM shop in Switzerland…




Instrument bar for an Altus bar bag.

One of the annoyances on the ride down to Les Gets from Cambridge was that at every cafe stop (of which there were many)  I had to struggle to disengage the GPS & iPhone from their handlebar mounts plus the iPhone couldn’t be used in landscape mode due to there been no space left on the handlebars.

So on the way I was thinking of schemes to overcome the problem. If  somehow I could attach the GPS & iPhone to my Altura Dryline Bar Bag then with one click of the Klickfix quick release I could remove the Altura bar bag, GPS & iPhone in one swift easy movement and head straight to the cafe with all my valuables.

Obviously any system shouldn’t affect the bag water proofing, map case use or ease of access to the bag for taking quick shots with my camera.

Altura bar bag with iPhone & GPS mount
Altura bar bag with iPhone & GPS mount

As all good design the answer was cheap & simple 🙂 Take an old aluminium broom handle from the scrap bin. Hacksaw it to the right length, then crunch the ends into a flat using a vice, bend to right angles (very slowly & carefully). Put a hole in each end then attach to the sides of the Altura lid using penny washers and M4 bolts.

The map case slides underneath allowing space for The Bikeline books, even better the broom handle bar keeps the map case  firmly in place.

The Topeak iPhone 5 case fits perfectly and can be used in landscape or portrait mode and as a bonus can have the power cable in place with the auxiliary battery pack in the Altura bar bag. (Use an IKEA plastic bag clip to hold the cable in place and seal the iPhone in anything but the worst conditions.). The Garmin handlebar mount fits on well.

Now to give it the 2000 mile test and to work out how to fix the Silva wind gauge……

The centre pull generation,

Geoffs bikeToday the excellent Thierry at Nevada Sports here in Les Gets gave my Dawes bike a good going over. Tightening the headstock, replacing the chain, replacing the brake blocks, oiling all the pull wires, fixing the broken pannier rack & resetting all the gears.

He mainly specialises in downhill mountain bikes. Fixing with his team about 100 a day giving amazing service & turn around times, broken spokes, air in your brakes, duff suspension forks, broken gears you name it & it will almost certainly get fixed whilst you pop around to the patisserie for a cake & coffee.

What I have noticed whilst hanging out in Thierry’s workshop is that my bike is now an antique with centre pull brakes, Sally’s new bike is side pull as all new bikes are now. Yet when I was a kid all I wanted was a bike with Weinmann centre pulls 🙂 so in 50 years they have had their time been and gone. Kind of makes me feel very old. But here’s the weird thing, derailleur gears are still all the rage, so another childhood dream of having Campag gears (only invented in 1949) can still be fulfilled. But maybe its like my dream of buying a Lotus Elan when I had the chance to buy one I bought a Porsche instead 🙂



Spot the difference?

Spot the difference?

Starting off to Les Gets 2009
Ride 2013
Ride 2013






I thought it would be interesting to compare my two rides to Les Gets. The first ride was in August 2009 where I rode the 767 miles and in the saddle for 72.6 hours over the 10 days it took.  This time in August 2013 I travelled 774 miles with 76 hours in the saddle but over 13 days.

The biggest differences are:  I’m now 6% older,  4% lighter but  now carrying the tent and additional Danube guides etc in the two panniers making the bike weigh a total of 44 kg , in 2009 it was probably about 25kg .

So although my average moving speed has only dropped from 10.6mph to 10.1mph (5%) the actual ground covered each day has gone from 76.7 miles to 59.5 miles a 22% reduction 🙁

For the rest of the journey from here to Zurich and then down the Danube to The Black Sea I’m very tempted to dump the tent etc and revert back to the saddle bag.  However we will see….

Here are the tables, click to enlarge:

2009 bike ride stats
2009 Ride
2013 ride
2013 ride