Lancaster to Paris – Setting off on Thursday 18th May

 

The Royal Lancaster Infirmary last month opened its new Diabetes Hub to aid in even better care and research. Setting off on Thursday 18th May Allan will be riding from the Diabetes Hub to the Eiffel Tower, again on his own with just a bike, a tent, and panniers loaded with various pieces of equipment, medical supplies, and food. Along the way, there will be both a blog and live tracking on this site.

A point of interest for the ride is also the bike which Allan will be using. Made by himself, hand cut, shaped and welded by the lad himself. He is actually finding it somewhat amusing as he classes it as “the most advanced bike in the world” which raises many eyebrows as people wonder what it is he is going on about as it’s just a steel framed bike, lugged, resembling something to some degree as something from the sixties or seventies. Upon closer inspection things tend to differ though, the quiet monstrous hydraulic brakes which are routed internally, the electronic gearing, all of which are state of the art but hardly making it that advanced. An even closer look and the gearing system is some very strange hybrid, half mountain bike and half road bike, while very unusual still not that “advanced”. But then there is all the other strange electrical going’s on’s. The bike is sporting all manner of strange sensory equipment, various wireless systems, it is talking to a phone, the cloud. What is going on with it?!

The bike, or Lancet as he refers to it in reference to finger pricking devices used by diabetics (and a running joke in the diabetic world as they are made from steel and last forever never getting swapped) uses it’s sensors to read Allan’s insulin pump and takes his insulin levels and amount of food he’s taken. It is also taking his blood glucose readings every four minutes and attempts to predict the direction of his blood glucose and reducing or increasing his insulin levels based on those directions. Reading sensors on the bike for his power output and heart rate it’s also able to make predictions based on the amount of food he has taken as to if he’ll need more based on the earlier readings for insulin in his blood stream and the direction of his blood glucose. All this information is sent to a small Garmin screen so he can view his current blood glucose level and see what the onboard systems are doing to him, alongside normal navigation and riding information. Along with his self-made concoction of a bike this also self-made ridable artificial pancreas based system makes for a very unusual and unique bicycle.

Allan expresses a huge thank you to everyone for the response and donations thus far. He also thanks his local GP’s over the years who have aided Allan with this condition. And for the fantastic team looking after him at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary he is immensely grateful for getting him where he is now, and for the check-up, he has to have before he’s allowed to set off. Ok, maybe not so much that last point!

If you wish to make a donation they can be made online at http://bit.ly/2rfEucC

 

There be a Lack of Electricity

Walking up I had next to no power. For any of my kit. Less than 2% and I was still in the middle of nowhere. Using what I had I checked and basically route 74 went all the way to Carlisle. That’s good enough for me. I cut power to everything, had a bowl of Alpen and hit the road not long after sun raise.

It was just after 9 and I was already approaching Lockerbie. I considered stopping for breakfast and looking for a mobile phone shop for a free charge, but decided my legs were on form and I want going to stop them.

By just before 12 I was entering Gretna and was famished. So a stopped and got a great deal on dinner. The sausage roll I got was great, so good I went back and got a bag of them for later before dropping into yet another local Spar. Between them and local garages I think they’ve fuelled my trip so far.

Road signs were saying Carlisle and Longtown, and I had had enough of Scotland by this point and wanted out. I gave up on the cycle routes and went right for Longtown and soon saw the welcome to England sign. And that just drove me on. Home soil again! And I was in Carlisle before 2 and sitting outside The Lanes getting my phone charged and having a large milkshake in the sun.

The phone had 20% power now. Surely that would be enough? After the flood of messages and calls it was less than 2% by the time I reached Dalston. So if down the cycle route I went heading for Penrith, or so was the plan. In the end it turned out to be back in Carlisle add I ride 5 miles down the route in the wrong direction due to lack of a map again beige finally heading in the right direction by about 4.30. One good thing about going the wrong way was that I did get a chance to chat to a guy in Carlisle about the ride. Nice guy and really interested in the ride and the JDRF.

There was a plan for a pitstop in Penrith to load up on more kit as necessary. Unfortunately my brother was now busy doing “other things” so that was totally scuppered by the time I was heading there. So my pitstop plan was now shot down, and I still needed to find somewhere to stay.

Then there it was, the sun said Keswick 22mile…that’s not far thought my brain. So of I went sleep in my own bed, sorry it the kit, all sorted. There was just one tiny little snag to this plan. Caldbeck and Uldale. The climbs were merciless. Actually by far the hardest climbs I’ve faced this entire trip so far. Dragging all my bags I made it home for a refuel, restock, sleep and a night out catching up with friends in town.

As you can tell from how far this is on the map, I just broke my all time distance personal best. 142 mile. Think it’ll be done time till I try to beat that again.

Beasties

By the time I made it into Crianlarich last night my heart cable had stretched so much woke the grind of the climbs over from Glencoe I only had five functional gears. So it was time get things smooth again and I promised LM on my way over last night I would make her purr again this morning.

Up until today, the only time I had seen a midge yet was coming into Loch Tarff and almost swallowing a colony like some kind of two wheeled basking shark. But while working on the gears they came out. First a couple, then loads. Going for my bottle of Smidge worked wonders though. Left me alone instantly and I was able to get back to solving LM’s issued and tightening up the gear cable.

For a slow start to the day, she purred along beautifully. Getting through the smaller Lochs and into Loch Lomond on no time. The original plan that morning to have lunch in Glasgow kept slipping though as the cycle track got more and more congested and I got caught up with phone calls. The latter really ate my battery life which you will see had repercussions later on.

Glasgow has some pretty bad stereotypes, but the ride into the centre town was none of them. Beautiful and picturesque canal with bright greens off the hanging trees, and lovely tree covered cycle tracks. The centre of town did become a problem due to all the major bike tracks where being dug up or where currently in the Clyde with large parts of the riverbank routes under mayor rebuilding. My progress was slow… Very slow which was really starting to grate on me. I had a nice chat with a local lass about them and she was saying the diversions were all pretty crazy and all over the place unless you knew them. My plan to have lunch in Glasgow and be out of town soon after was now over 4 hours behind schedule.

Heading through Glasgow Andy using the navigation software very heavily, along with the calls that morning had really emptied my batteries for my systems. Much more so than I was expecting. By the time I was teaching Hamilton I was riding with most off to save power, which made things like finding my way with no map of only briefly very prone to errors.

Eventually though I was heading south and was seeing nice sights with things like Carlisle Road. Which was a great prospect. I wanted to leave Glasgow behind and get clear and I was going to do so. Coming into the dual carriageway I found it odd I hadn’t seen many cars. Always nice though. Then a group of bikes tore past in full team kit… Odd I thought. Then another, and another. To note here, this was a local groups doing time trials, full on had down racing under the clock as little groups. While yours truly, with monster bags attached, had been riding since that morning, with a open jacket on flapping away, and big tyres decided that hang on, I don’t like being overtaken… OK hind sight would probably also suggest blood glucose reasons, but I want going to stop now and was off after that last group. They were quick on the flats, but on the hills I was taking massive chunks of of them, but there was no way I could catch them. But talk about spooking them. The team just kept looking back and yep, I’m coming!

Sadly though my pushing myself, which while fun for the moment was good and it covered a fair few miles left me wondering where the heck I was going to stay. Doing my usual call around using the yellow pages was pretty futile as there was only two b&b’s to the south. And I want going to go back to Hamilton. The first had retired from business, and the second took great delight in telling me I should of booked weeks in advance and us end to enders are a pain in the behind. So that was out as well. Which left one option. My tent!

If I was going to camp it I might as well make the most of it really so I just kept on going to use the remaining daylight for more miles. In the end I set an all time personal best of 124 miles which ones really pleased with, if tired. And I found a nice quiet corner, not far from where a load of lorries were parked up for the night just off from the cycle route heading south.

My tents not that bad to get up, and everything set up, and I even managed to get all my bags in the porch area of the tent. And lay LM flat in the long grass to hide her from being spotted, and secured here to the best I could around the tent pole. The tent his very nicely, obscured from the road by a wind bush and the fact is black and green.

Closing my inner tent area I watched the sunset before closing the outer tent and getting a nights sleep while the silhouettes of bugs wondered above on the top of the inner tent.