Medal of Honour

Despite my blog posting frequency dropping over the years, the number of miles I’m doing has drastically ramped up over the last two years in particular. Prior to moving to our current home in a more rural area, I was getting a rather paltry sub-300 mile average in per year. Now? It’s not even June and I’ve done 765 miles. Admittedly a good chunk of those are on the pleasant enough but distinctly un-gnar country lanes and bridleways of south Warwickshire, but they’re miles nonetheless.

My goal this year is to hit 1500 miles, which I think I’m on track to do – I’m way ahead of previous years, so barring any further limb breaks, I should be good to hit my target. But, to give me a little extra incentive, I signed up to some Conqueror Virtual Challenges – specifically, because I’m a massive Tolkien nerd, the Lord of the Rings Challenges.

Now, some people may argue that you’re basically paying for pretty medals, and… well, OK, that’s mostly true. The medals are awesome. But there’s also a rather nifty app that hooks up to Strava and Garmin Connect that shows the map for each challenge, so you can follow in the furry footsteps of Frodo and company, with markers and stories highlighting various bits of lore and where you are in the story. I’ve bimbled through the Shire…

…travelled the East Road to the Misty Mountains…

…and passed through the Mines of Moria.

I’m currently on the ‘Eye of Sauron’ challenge, which takes me from the exit of Moria to Mordor – and I’m currently sailing down the Anduin River, pursued by orcs. Three medals so far, working on the fourth, which is a 1000+km challenge.

Like I said, Tolkien nerd.

The tragic thing is, the medals are actually so much better than I was expecting when I signed up. They’re beautifully detailed front and back, and some of them have moving parts. The Shire medal has a envelope containing a replica of the One Ring on the back…

The Moria one has doors!

I know this post probably reads like a hideous paid promotion, but it’s really not. I just really like the medals, and the extra drive to put in extra miles to get aforementioned shiny medals.

Naturally, such majesty needs a display worthy of Mordor. I’d been planning on resurrecting the Map of Joy (remember that?!) for a while, but this year was the year!

It’s the first time we’ve had a Map of Joy since Mini Toast was born (which honestly sounds a lot more melancholy than intended!), so I decided we’d all get our own colour pin. Mine’s purple, Mr Toast’s is yellow, Mini Toast’s is blue, and there’s black for places where all three of us have ridden. Which will hopefully start becoming more common, as today t’boy finally got the hang of pedalling!

Mr Toast will be adding a pin to London on Monday, along with a medal, as he’s riding RideLondon 100 tomorrow.

Last weekend was a bit of a milestone for me – I rode the Monkey for the first time in nearly ten years. The last time literally has to have been pre-2013, as I have no Strava record of the Monkey on either a normal or e-bike – and as we know, if it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen. There was an attempt in 2019 – but I immediately sacked it off after the Devil’s Staircase.

This time I stuck it out and… it was OK. Ish. Still a lot of stuff I’m not comfortable riding, and a lot of the downhill switchbacks have a lot of nasty loose stuff on them that I’m not a fan of, even if I was good at corners. Still, there’s some nice sections – I’m still pondering whether it’s worth it though. I’m painfully aware that I’m not the fastest downhill, so, being unfamiliar with the trail due to it being so long, spent a lot of time between sections waiting for other people to go, as I didn’t want to hold them up.

I was probably not in the best frame of mind for this momentous occasion, as I’d managed to go arse over tit on one of the optional red rock gardens on the start of the new blue trail on my second lap, less than 4 miles into the ride. I’m still not entirely sure what happened – whether my wheel caught, or whether my weight was in completely the wrong position. Either way, it was quite spectacular.

I still decided to do the Monkey though, plus the old blue to take the ride up to nearly 27 miles, because I want shiny medals. I was pretty battered though – my tights were stuck to the blood of my left knee (nothing too bad, just a nasty graze), and even a week later, I’m still covered in an array of interestingly coloured bruises, and my left hand still doesn’t feel quite right (getting better though, the swelling’s gone now!).

My poor Intrigue, fresh from its service, also took a bit of a beating, and now has a bit of play in the seatpost (which is very similar to how the first one was from the start!)

Still, medals! And I least I know from the last Intrigue that the local Giant shop are excellent at fixing droppers (and at least this one has an excuse for having an issue now, instead of being shonky out of the box!)

I got compliments on my ‘Will Ride for Cake’ jersey, and my new glasses were undamaged, so not the worst ride!

The horror! Or, Map of Joy: Volume III, Update I

I’ve been sadly remiss with my Map of Joy updates!  This year I decided to take a different approach –  rather than making a list of the places we were hoping to visit and ticking them off as we get there, I’ve gone for *drumroll*…


Which is like the old Map of Joy, except we fill it out as we go along.  It’s less of a crushing disappointment that way at the end of the year when we realise we haven’t managed to visit half of the places we were hoping to!   Keeping on last year’s theme of slacking I’ve not actually posted this year’s yet, but in my defence we have had a lot on.  Well, wait no longer!


OK, slightly overdone build up when it only has three locations on it, but look!  A medal!  From Mountain Mayhem!  Over-excited blogpost to follow soon!

Map of Joy: Volume II, Update II

Now with added Llandegla!  Bought a rather attractive RSPB pin badge of a flower – last year’s black grouse one is now pinned to my biking wallet.

My arm is healing up well, by the way, although the biggest graze is still oozing.  And iodine hurts. Still, nothing can dampen the raging excitement for Glentress!  Only a week away!


Right, so it’s been a mental week.  Cambelt on the Micra failed last weekend, possibly explodificating the engine.  I say ‘possibly’ – the Nissan dealership were quoting £500 just to find out what was wrong, and quoted “£5000 – £6000” as the possible full cost of repair – basically a new engine.  Given that the car was only seven grand when I bought it five years ago…no thank you.  I’ve had nothing but problems with that car, so it got flogged as a non-runner.  Au revoir, you honkering pile of French shite!

Alas, this does mean that we’re without a car – hiring temporarily, definitely wanted to get to the Chase this weekend, for obvious reasons!  And we’ll also be looking for a new, towbar friendly car.

Although in a way it’s a relief to be shot of the Micra, but it came at a bad time.  If we’d known that the car was going to die, we might have spent a bit less on biking products… but on the plus side, I now have my new niche ride!

Name?  Name?

That’s right!  STEEL IS REAL!  This, dear reader, is my commuting touring adventure steed – although predictably enough, once it was built up, I thought, “I’d quite like to take that over the Chase”.   Speaking of built up…

Many have tried to prove that they’re faster, but they never last, and they died as they triiiied

Fortunately it was actually quite cheap to get running – most of the parts are Mr Toast hand-me-downs, mostly from his Stumpjumper HT.  Just need to get a decent saddle on it, and we’ll be sorted!  The Inbred fits really well – I was a bit cautious about the size given it’s a 14″ frame, and obviously the last 14″ frame I had was tiny.  However, Inbreds are a good bit longer, and according to their site 14″is good for riders of a minimum height of 5ft 2!  But yeah – seems to be a perfect fit.

I was initially hoping to get some sort of hideously garish pink monstrosity – I think I might be hitting my midlife crisis.  Sadly, although Scandals and 456s are available in pink, it was white or black with the Inbreds.  I settled for the white, so he matches the Professor – it’s a lovely pearlescent white as well!  Mr Toast said he was quite glad, but he can talk – he has a brown bike.  BROWN.  We do not speak of it…

Anyhoo, when it came to naming, I wasn’t sure what to call the Inbred.  I thought steel – British Steel – Judas Priest.  But I couldn’t call him Judas, that’s just asking for trouble, and I’ve had enough of that lately.  I did toy with ‘Peter’, in tribute to late Type O Negative frontman Peter Steele, but that might have sounded a bit odd – we know people called Peter…

So, I went with what was, in all honesty, my first thought.  He is an Inbred.  I shall call him Cletus.

In other news, my Chase Trails membership pack came through today, including parking pass and car sticker.  Now, if only I had a car! 😆


The coaster this time round is a good ol’ size, and in a rather attractive blue.  It now has pride of place representing Cannock Chase on…THE MAP OF JOY 2010!


Well, I’m off for the evening…MONKEY TOMORROW!