Pipe {stencil} Dream

One day I'll be able to commute to work with a bike...


A Tale of Two Tracks

( Today's top tip - click on the pics to go to the Images album )

Yesterday was a funny old day. In line with every biking Dad I've been keen to get Immy on two wheels. She has shown some good skills on her balance bike and as she is now four ( eeek! ) that means she will soon be moving up to the world of pedaling action. Now I am not about to sell the full susser to get a 'Dad bike',so that means a Fleabay hardtail build...woohoo.

Now as some of you know I am a big Orange supporter, so I did have my eye on a P7 or re-issue Clockwork, but it would seem there are a lot of fellow fans out there so everything I was watching slipped away from the PayPal pennies. Couldn't step too far away from a bike designed in the North, so ended up getting a silly price on a Ragley MmmBop. It's an older burly design, but should do me proud for Dad duties...i.e. towing and teaching.
Back to the tracks... I'll be the first to admit I am pretty useless when it comes to bike maintenance. I can bolt things together, but when it comes to tweaking I am better off leaving it to a shop. So after putting together the bike I needed a place to try to find out what things I need to fix and what things I need someone with more skill to fix.
Roll on the delights of an old Google Earth search and a few random musings on Twitter. It would seem that in 2011 someone built a BMX track 5 minutes from my house...and then they left it? So the first track of yesterday was a cheeky hidden pump track called 'Bridgehall BMX Track'.

Given that it is in wasteground I'm not likely to be riding there late at night, but early morning is a good option for me! Oh and the bike didn't fall apart( but needs some new pads, bottom bracket and some other tweakage ).

The second track you can thank BBC news for.. Basically those lovely chaps at Strider and the National Cycling Centre are now running sessions on the mighty BMX track ( yes the Olympic standard one ) for sprogs. Oh and they also stepped up their marketing, hence why Vicky saw it on BBC news.
So yesterday afternoon I found myself as uber proud dad running around after Immy as she hit the whoops on the track. She is 4...and she rocks it on two wheels ( and was overtaking those smelly boys ). So two tracks...and two times awesomeness.
To see more pics of Bridgehall BMX track click here.
To see more pics of Immy owning the National Cycling Centre's BMX Track click here.


3 weeks and counting.

The electric shock bit is the only obstacle I'm not sure how to deal with? 
MTFU I guess?



Lens Baby Spark Review / Test / First Look

Ok, so I admit it, the title of the post is written just to get some traffic ( I'm cheeky like that, but then again I am a marketing guru....errrr ).
Anyway, a rather nice Aussie chap called Paul, who has been in the photography industry for a fair few years, hooked me up last week with one of these new 'Spark' gizmos from those purveyors of photography fun Lens Baby.
Looks pretty weird doesn't it? Well it's pretty lo-tech, with a couple of lenses and a plastic bendy tunnel of joy between them. It mounts straight onto my old Nikon D90 pretty easily and to quote Lens Baby, it is pretty straight forward to use
  1. Replace your normal lens with a Spark
  2. Set your camera to "M" mode
  3. Squeeze to focus
  4. Shoot away
I suppose it gives a Lomo/tiltshifty/instagram/messy/retro/thingy look? Yes, you could do it in Photoshop ( or run one of those funky lightroom pre-sets ), but where is the fun in that?
Anyway, with a bit of Autumnal sunshine I wacked it on the camera this morning and snapped away at Marple Festival.
Going to need to play with it a lot more, but pretty happy with first set out of the camera ( only some minor curve tweakage...no cropping rule in effect ).
Here is my favorite one from today ( ok, I did drop this one to grayscale, but you can see the effects ).
Oh and this one is pretty cool too...
Check out the rest of the snaps here...more to come, as this is proving to be really fun!


48hrs in Germanville

Snapped away with the little Sony whilst on a work trip to the German office. 
No crops, minor curve tweakage and all shot on the fly.
Back in a couple of weeks and will pack the Nifty.
Click here or the image above to check them out.

Updating Pics

Been Updating the Images page with shots from 2012 ( yes I know I am late ). Some bangers in there, particularly from another trip to SF and a new 50mm Lens.

Click the image above for a quicky.


Topping up the Teva Tan

Something only a kayaker can appreciate...

(Lower Conwy below Miners Bridge...but you should be able to recognise the rock type?)

p.s. loving the new 50mm


A Sweet Beginning..

Got some new kit from the mighty Sweet Protection today. Just in time for a proper thrashing at the No Fuss Endurance DH event at Fort William.

Not had too much time to really play with it ( just enough time to snap some pics with my new 50mm lens and a handful of Joby torches ), but this is some seriously good stuff. Think premium, then think better.

Every detail of the Fixer Full Face is as close to humanly perfect as possible. Matching this up with a set of Bearsuit Body Armour and an Outlaw DH Jersey and the mountain better be worried if I do take a spill off the bike.

It's not cheap, but then again this is a new standard, not mass market replicas.

Full review ( with hopefully some action pics ) to follow.

More details including a growing dealer base at www.sweetprotection.com



The biggest toys...

I think I need to re-shoot this with a 1Dx versus an iPhone?


Road Users Beware.

I drive a fair few miles during the week ( 142 miles a day is the norm ). So I reckon I have a pretty good understanding of road users. It is no surprise then that whilst stuck once again on the delightful M6 this evening I realised one thing ( ok maybe I have know this for a while ). There are essentially two sets of drivers who you need to avoid. Both of them have no consideration for anyone else on the road and fortunately they like to identify themselves with two stickers ( depending on which side they play for ).

So if you see any cars with these stickers, please point them out to your nearest Apache AH-64 pilot to take out on their next mission.

This has been a blindingly obvious public service announcement.



So I currently have the following Social Media connections:

Now is this too many to manage? Add in Flickr ( which is in theory a social media site as well ) along with this Blog and I am pretty much attached to the Internet in every possible sense.
Does it mean anything? Not really, it's easier than keeping a scrapbook.
Am I am better person for doing it? Not sure, ask me in 10 years time.
Do I control the content? Yes, and I always have ( and that is were most people go wrong )
Shouldn't I have buttons on this blog so you can follow and re-post articles? Errrr yes, but that would mean I would have to start the rebuild of the site and I've been putting that off for ages.
Should I follow you? Why not?


The Bag Man

Not quite the title I thought I would end up with at this stage of my career, but a rather nice article in the latest Wideopen.com magazine.

Click Here and go to Page 115.

Rather chuffed with it would be an understatement.

Oh and here are some links to the people I big up:

Orange bikes  
Geoff Waugh
Grant Robinson
Sim Mainey



Your first rainbow..?

I was working stuck at an event over the weekend and walking back to the car park I managed to get my first ever shot of a rainbow. Nothing special I know, but then I realised I don't think my little 3 year old has seen a proper rainbow yet. Why? Well living in built up Cheshire and being knee high, you simply don't get to see much of the world around us. Everything is in your face, the wider world is hidden, sanitised by the modern world. Why would you want to see the outdoors when you can see it on-line? Why would you want to smell the blossom when you can plug it into the mains?

80 years ago today, some Northern chaps kicked up a fuss in the Peak District which 'paved the way' ( I should be shot for that one ) for all of us to get out there and see rainbows.

Don't waste it.


Commute by Bike...if only.

Superb adverts from Portland ( which strikes me as a nice place to live? ).

I only wish I lived closer to work ( and no I am not going to move to the Midlands ).


The Dee River Festival - a little History lesson.

Just hung the kayaking kit up in the garage to dry after a rather enjoyable day at the Dee River Festival . Nothing much has changed since I left the kayaking industry some six or so years ago. Still a good bunch of river folk just wanting to have a laugh, though I do think that some of the young guns need to cheer up a bit. The days of Jose Cuervo Rodeos seems a long time ago.

On the drive to Llangollen this morning I did start thinking about how pivotal this river spot was to me. Keeping the story relatively short back in '97 or '98 I was bored at University and was keeping my brain active in the early days of the net. Usergroups were all the rage and I managed to find a little website run by a chap in Holland. It was called Playak.com ( and it still exists today ). Back then it was a directory of kayaking playspots around the World and it really was in it's infancy. I started writing guides to UK spots and the first one I wrote was for what was then known as 'Eddylines'....believe it or not it is still in the directory here. It was pretty easy for me as we spent hours there in practically every water level and in lots of different kayaks.

From that little guide I became an editor of the site ( we even won an Playboating Magazine award ), and amongst others things I interviewed World Champions in Sort, covered most events in the UK, wrote sections for Ken Whitings Playboating book and then on one trip to the Dee, I was one of the first paddlers in the world to get some water time in an original Pyranha S:6 190 ( fresh out of the mould without a footrest or seat that fitted ). That was my first time meeting Bob Campbell ( now of Campbell Coaching fame ) and when I decided to sell my shares in Outdoorgarage ( who remembers that! ) and move out of London,  it was Bob who offered me a job in Marketing for Pyranha up in Runcorn.

So in simple terms, this section of the River Dee was the opening line to at least one chapter of my story, probably more.

Oh and if you look at the picture on that Playak guide, I did that move today...and hopefully it was caught on camera!


Spring has Sprung ( and snapped in the process )

After a nice long weekend messing with the girls I squeezed in a solo afternoon blast around the new updated trails at Llandegla. I have to say having not ridden there since last summer I was really rather impressed with the new Red route back to the centre. Lots of good flow on it and some gut busting hill climbs. A winter with very little two wheeled action has had it's toll though and whilst I am match fit ( thanks to a running every week ) I am definitely not bike fit.

Good news is that the clocks change this weekend ( yes a different weekend to the Yankee Doodles who read this blog ) and that means the mid week DH carnage begins at Style Cop ( Cannock Chase ).

Oh...just to keep with a current theme of fellow bikers breaking bits, I managed to snap the gear hanger on the final climb back to the centre. Lucky really, it could have been on one of the cheeky sections and that would have resulted in a rather more painful situation. Hopefully not much damage done, though can clearly see that I need a new chainset ( and the frame has looked a lot healthier.. can I have an Alpine 160 please? ).
I didn't take too many pictures...though did try to get a new Danger Panda shot by using a Joby Gorilla Pod on the handlebars. I really need to use the old Vholdr this season, though it is not HD and that just doesn't cut it these days :-(
 Sorry...used the Polardroid app again...
So Spring has Sprung and the biking has begun!


Building a home in the woods...

Got to admit I wasn't to impressed to see Health & Safety signs explaining how to have fun building a den, but then to make sure you take it down so nobody gets hurt up at Delamere Forest. However, it was nice to have a nice pile of branches ready for Immy.

Health & Safety gone mad? Nah, just ignore it ( it didn't do us any harm and we had to find our own building materials ).


Red Bull Chopper

OK, I don't really have access to the Photographers Friend, but still managed to knock out this shot of the GG Bridge from seat 52B on a 747 ( that's the secret seat with extra legroom if you didn't know ). Not bad when you consider that BA don't seem to like cleaning their windows ( and it was the trusty Sony HX9V ). Must try more like this!


The Y.O.C., yeah you know me?

Many many years ago ( actually more than 20! ), I used to be a member of the YOC, or the 'Young Ornathologists Club'. It was basically the kiddy-winks version of the RSPB and it was just another way of me getting out of the house and into the countryside. As I grew a little older and found the delights of skateboarding and biking I stopped going along and the binoculars ended up somewhere in the loft.
Fast Forward a couple of decades and not only have I found myself working on specific products ranges for birdwatchers but also finding that it is another great excuse to get out of the house with the family. So to get some practice in for the Big Garden Birdwatch next weekend, Immy and I headed over to our local Country Park ( we can walk there from our house ). Not only did everyone want to talk to us as we had telescope to play with ( maybe we can blame Stargazing Live for that? ), but we also found out that the local Ranger is building a Hide for a large area of wetlands off one of the trails.
 Ok, it's not an adrenaline sport, but you know what, it's still pretty awesome ( though call me a 'Birder', 'Twitcher' or 'Spotter' and I'll shove this telescope somewhere that birds don't nest...).


One Cup

I do need to cut down on how many re-fills I have....

Trail Jabber

I wonder if my famous English Teacher would be proud hearing me talk like this? ( and yes he really was my English Teacher and one day I might tell you about the time I let him be God as I just couldn't be doing with it. )




Half way through January already and I haven't really quite started the year yet. My excuse is there has been a lot going on with Vicky storming ahead with her awesome new venture , lot of stuff going on at work and of course a couple of cheeky girls to deal with. So maybe it is time for one of those list things that others seem to be so successful with?

So what goes on it....

1. Sort out the 365 - Yep I need to actually make sure that I did indeed finish last years 365 project. I might even print out a little photo book to keep in a draw somewhere. Either way I actually need to make sure there are 365 images in the Flickr Folder.

2. Re-build the blog - Vicky has also been playing with this Social Media malarkey and is starting to put me to shame with her blog . To be fair, I did build this Vic-Tim site on the original Blogger format and pretty much the whole thing is hand coded ( you couldn't have extra pages back then so I had to build in multiple 'mirror' sites...bet you never noticed did you? ).

3. Leave the Audi Club - Yes the time has come for the kick-ass A4, which has driven the Sadler clan over 100k miles, to be moved on in favour of....don't laugh now.... a Skoda. Blame a company car policy which supports green cars and of course Jeremy Clarkson.

4. Run a Marathon of Sorts - I am not a runner by any means, but I do find myself wanting to enter a silly event this year. So who is up for booking onto Hellrunner?

5. Sort out 2012 Steed - Not quite sure how I am going to do it yet, but I reckon I need to get my kit ( and ass ) onto an Alpine 160 as soon as possible.

6. Cook More - Got Hugh's latest offering for Chrimbo and so far it has proved a winner. I just need to turn the occasional Tim-Made Meal© into a regular thing.

7. Book some Mountain and Beach Time - We may be in times of austerity ( did anyone actually use that word before 2010? ), but that doesn't mean we should get playtime. After all both Immy and Eva need to see more of the world and less of the (concrete) jungle.

8. Fix the Garden - Easy to forget with everything else going on, but Spring is the time to clean up and drop in some stuff to grow. Also need to make sure that the lawn which I planted last year has actually survived.

9. Catch up with Friends - I don't want to learn about what my friends have been up to on Facebook, I want to hear it from them over a nice cup of tea and some homemade biscuits. Old Fashioned is good sometimes.

10. Blog more or blog less...?


Tablet Time

It's taken at least four times as long to write this as suprise suprise this Blackberry Playbook is still no replacement for a good laptop.

Do I even attempt to add an image?