Outdoor Stuff

Travelling Light(er)

Photo of an iPhone XS next to a Garmin Fēnix 5 Plus

In the never ending quest to reduce the size of my travelling kit I’ve found two new solutions, two reasons to leave the laptop at home more often: a keyboard that lets me type well using my phone, and an app that lets me plan hikes or runs for use with my Garmin fitness watch.

Garmin Fēnix 5 Plus

A selection of Garmin Fenix 5 Plus fitness watches

By no means an in-depth review, this is a page of my experiences after two weeks with Garmin’s new fitness wearable, the Fēnix 5 Plus. I take a look at the device’s performance with particular emphasis on heart rate monitor and GPS, and touch on some of the other observations while walking, hiking, running, and cycling using this £749 premium wearable.

Longest Day, Longest Ride

The LDLR is a charity 24 hour endurance mountain bike race held annually around the time of the Summer Solstice, and as it’s just up the road from us I thought I’d drop in and snap a few pics with my trusty, dusty DSLR.

Garmin Forerunner 920XT

My first foray into the world of fitness watches, I’m counting on this geeky chunk of (ahem) red plastic turning me into a lean, mean running machine. Included are some notes from a true beginner’s point of view and some basic retrospect comparisons to Apple Watch.

Of Fear and Loathing

Vintage photograph of a dude on a yellow folding Brompton bicycle

House of The Rising Sun plays on the radio while I’m sitting in Eat, a down-to-earth yet trendy cafe in downtown North Vegas, wondering what to make of their signature dish: Shrimp and Grits. I ordered it because I have no…

Paddling the Magna Carta

Flooded car park sign

The worst floods in 22 years have transformed historic Runnymede into a giant lake, complete with waterfowl and fools in small yellow kayaks. Many local residents are taking to the open seas in an effort to get the shopping in, and one or two just want to take their minds off the looming clean-up operation. I join the latter set, snatching a chance to paddle some public footpaths and see the area from a new perspective. Quick mooch over to The Runnymede Hotel? Be rude not to.

From Amazon Local to the local Amazon

Yellow canoe edges into perilous looking reeds

I’m standing in a car park with three canoeists comparing folding saws and hatchets. One of them has a scythe. This wasn’t strictly what I expected when I posted a note on a forum, but my new found friends seem to know what they’re doing so I resolve to sit at the back of the class and treat this as a learning opportunity. Within the hour I’m playing limbo with a tree, struggling through 2m tall reeds, and looking at a motorway from underneath. You sure we’re still in Chertsey?

4 Lumps Classic MTB route

Path adjacent to field glows invitingly in the morning sun

The Surrey Hills area is a mecca for mountain bikers, with rich terrain offering something for riders of all abilities. I’ve been riding here on and off for about 5 years now, following a route originally downloaded from a site that’s long since disappeared. It’s a pretty tough tour taking in four of the highest hills in southern England, but includes a bail-out loop if you want to cut out Peaslake and The Hurtwood.

Small Bike, Big Ideas

Folding Brompton bike in front of a construction fence

Another impromptu cycle ride, another cause to wonder if small bikes can be used for touring. Audax fans will tell you that luggage isn’t necessary, so why not extend the minimalist theme to your ride? Temptation to plan a longer trip is fuelled by an ad hoc ride home from my new job. Maybe I’m just eager to get out after being cooped up for a couple of weeks, or maybe it really is possible to go the distance with impossibly small wheels. Either way, this itch needs scratching.