At Alton Towers you will find…

You can leave the kids behind,

There’s a new world just for you,

and all the others in the queue.

Remember the 1980’s advert? Yeah we rewrote it back in the 80’s at school! You know what this means though – yeah my first Alton Towers trip of the new season! A day with all the niceties at my favourite place.

The day was grey. I arrived just after 9 and parked in the premium parking. £12 with my Merlin Card is so worth it to be right by the entrance rather than down at the bottom by the hotels.

We joined the pre-queue queue, which now extends down towards the carpark.

Once we were given the go-ahead we went through the temperature checking and security tents which are now outside the main gates and then were made to wait until they opened the gates proper at 9:30, by which time the queue was really building up.

Once in the park sadly the early ride time isn’t happening at the moment and so all rides open at 10 but it does give me chance to grab my Platinum Fastpass, have a nice walk round and grab a coffee.

So my first ride was my favourite – Wicker Man. I did 3 in a row.

Then – breaking my trend – I went to RITA next – 5 on that; and whilst nearby I got a couple of rides in on Thir13en too. I’m not a massive fan of that one to be honest – I find it a bit boring. So I went back to RITA and rode the twice again.

By 11:30 I was on 12 rides and I headed to Smiler. I did 10 rides down at X Sector – alternating between Smiler and Oblivion because of the one way system operating. I finished the first session at about 1:15 on 22 rides total.

By this point the sky was looking very grey so I headed to the chicken place for dinner. They do a veggie burger. It wasn’t great to be fair and I think I’ll stick with Woodcutters in future.

The next hour was spent watching the rain from under a canopy as what can only be described as the end of the world came down. A few rumbles of thunder accompanied it and the rides did stop briefly whilst the thunder passed.

I then headed back to Dark Forest and took a skyride in the rain across to Forbidden Valley.

I was at this point very pleased I chose to wear my leather jeans! The waterproofing in them from when I used to wear them on my motorbike was still working well and my legs were dry. The Wicker Man coat is also surprisingly still waterproof, although the seams did start giving in after about an hour is deluge.

So down at Forbidden Valley I did 1 Galactica ride and 5 Nemesis. This took me up to 28. Two of the Nemesis rides were in the rain (they closed Galactica when it rained) and riding Nemesis was hurting with the rain in my face so I decided to have a coffee and doughnut. Bad call!

The rain eased and I had a skyride back over to Dark Forest and walked the rest of the way to X-Sector for another few Smiler rides.

This was the point at which I realised the doughnut was a bad call. On my final ride of Smiler I tasted the doughnut 14 times. I decided to abort inverted rides and had another Oblivion ride. Taking me up to 30.

The final two rides of the day were back over in the Dark Forest where RITA dried me out nicely.

On and yes there were ducks. This one was a knobhead.

A good run home too. The reason I love the fast-pass and premium parking combo is that I can leave the park before JCB turns out and causes a huge queue up to the A50.

Well so much for that

Not many countries or areas still have fords, but if you don’t know what one is it’s a place where a road crosses a river without a bridge, so all vehicles have to pass through the water.

Usually there’s a depth marker adjacent so drivers can make a safe judgement as to what their vehicle is capable of when it comes to fording.

Most cars will safely ford 8″; and guidelines say you should never ford a depth of more than half way up your wheel because you risk floating.

Last weekend we went to Rufford. It’s a beautiful country park in Nottinghamshire; part of the ancient Sherwood Forest; and adjacent to the mill entrance is Rufford Ford. Killer of Mercedes and BMW cars. The water was at about 12″ – a figure considered impassable for most cars.

I don’t know what it is with BMW, but their designers insist on putting the air intake right behind the grille (our Jag is the same, hence me refusing to drive through anything deeper than a puddle); but unlike me who knows the limits of my vehicle – BMW drivers don’t seem to understand this.

This was the second BMW killed that day.

Last Sunday there were three blue BMW’s in a row at one point, all dead, all fatally dead with hydrolocked engines. The drivers don’t understand that the bang you hear as the wheels lock up is the con-rods snapping or the crank shearing in two.

Usually it needs a full engine rebuild with at least two new pistons required. More often than not it will cause major damage to the block and require a whole new long block (essentially a new engine). With diesels it is usually even worse as the compression inside the pistons is so much higher (often double).

A fair crowd usually watch the ford.

Last week a blue M5 went through the ford and cut out just as it got to the end. The video is on YouTube and you hear the bang as the engine kills a piston. An £85000 car; and he killed the largest mechanical component because of his stupidity.

When we returned from our walk around the park his car was still there being attended to by the AA. The AA guy told him quite plainly that he needed a new engine. It was a 3 litre diesel and it wasn’t running on all cylinders – you could hear the broken con-rods spinning on the crank.

First the guy thought he’d be able to limp it home – the AA guy told him that wouldn’t be able to happen as sensors would cut it out every time he put a load on the engine; and then he discussed claiming on the insurance – even the AA guy told him that you can’t claim on insurance when you took an avoidable risk.

Your BMW is fucked. You fucked it because you were either an idiot, or showing off. Either way a rebuilt engine is gonna cost you £10000, or a brand new one £35000.

The rest of the trip was glorious though.

The bluebells are fully out in the woods. I love bluebells!

100 miles in May?

The reason I added a question mark is because I think this will be a challenge for me – not just because of my fitness levels, but because of my time commitment – it takes me about an hour to do 7 miles at present, so that’s around a 15 hour commitment – however – I have started cycling to shops and am now planning to keep the folding bike easily accessible.

So this thing is for Prostate Cancer UK. It’s here: https://cyclethemonth.prostatecanceruk.org/fundraising/nomenloonys-100-miles-in-may-challenge so I’d appreciate a sponsorship if you can.

So far I’ve done just over 14 miles – all of it on the folding bike as I currently don’t have the mountain bike and as much as I love the BMX it really isn’t a distance bike as it has one speed.

So far so the rides have all been up the Manvers roads due to be being on a road bike at present. Wee Red can’t really cope with anything too arduous and Frankenbike is currently having a full new derailleur set fitted as the back one is really badly bent and keeps snapping mounting brackets.

I have to say though that I’m really enjoying riding Wee Red. There’s something really funky and quirky about it. The other half says I should ride it in a pinstripe suit in a Blott on the Landscape parody, although his folding bike looks like a Bickerton to me.

So I’m going to keep plodding on and trying to get myself to 100 miles; and I’m gonna look cool as fuck doing it!

New bike!

I was passing a farm sale on Wednesday and something caught my eye… It was a folding bike in bright red – very unusual, and definitely rather cool!

I went and enquired about it, expecting it to be about £100 and the old chap said £20. It had been in his barn for years and was covered in chicken shit; but I saw through the coating and saw there was a really nice condition bike underneath all that grime so I bought it.

On arriving back at my unit I gave it a good wash down, and then a good lubrication. The chain and cables all moved straight away and the Sturmey Archer three speed gear hub engaged all three gears perfectly.

So it turns out it’s a DaHon III; made in 1989. The tyres and brake blocks are actually original articles and the bell is also from the 80’s.

The gears are really what drew me to it though – Sturmey Archer gears fascinate me, and unlike derailleur gears there’s no mechanism hanging down to catch on all matter of things – the gearing is all done inside the hub.

All the metal surfaces have a very slight rust pitting, but no rust is penetrating any metals and a bit of chrome polish and elbow grease will sort that.

The cutest thing is the tiny kickstand attached near the back wheel. It really is so dinky! Again, factory fitted.

The company who sold it no longer exist, and the BS it was made to has since been superceded.

Of course the ultimate thing is the USA Design logo – it looks like something from the late 80’s, because in essence it is!

It folds down to a really neat package too, and although it isn’t quite as light as newer folding bikes it’s still very portable – and having 16″ wheels it’s definitely compact enough to take on a tram.

Antisocial Media

Again I’ve had clear outs on my social media. I run a few Instagram accounts for different groups of friends including one for general stuff, some for music, one for my roller coasters, and finally one for my shiny stuff.

The shiny one is the worst – I’ve made it private (you need to request to follow me) but recently I’ve made a rule that unless you’re an active sharer yourself with regular posts you will not get added.

It’s amazing how effective it’s been both at prompting people who never post to actually start posting, but also in actually making people think about their activities.

I don’t take kindly to stalkers who just create accounts so they can watch others. Now I accept that my WordPress blog (you’re reading it) has quite a lot of followers and that most of those are junky stalker bot accounts – but my WordPress is in the public domain. It’s open to all to view. But my Instagram is a private place and I can set my own rules.

Ergo… They’re outtahere.

On a course

I had to attend a course yesterday afternoon. I decided to suit up as it was that kind of thing, even though it was on Zoom.

Now the ironic thing was that unlike most people “suiting up” for Zoom calls, who will often put a shirt and tie on; I’m in a shared building with a very comprehensive fire plan. I have to remember that I may be called to evacuate at any point should the fire alarm activate.

Ergo… I properly suited up.

I always wear a waistcoat with a suit as I’m rather top heavy and I do find them slimming.

Amazing weather we’ve been having!

We’re definitely having some amazing weather right now. Plenty of opportunity for some great bike rides.

Biking is one of the ways I’m improving my fitness. Considering how unfit I have actually been at some points in my life I’m determined now as I approach 50 to never let myself get like that again.

My uncle died in his 60’s of heart failure caused by a sedentary lifestyle and the inevitable morbid obesity caused by such life choices, and I carry a lot of his genetics.

It seems like such an easy option to lay on the sofa playing Nintendo!

Tattoo finished!

After lockdown eased last week I finally got in to get my tattoo finished.

I’ve had a little more sky added at the top, the arch filled in and a full Twilight Princess Hylian crest added in it, and I’ve had a Boss Key chest added to fill in the last bit of empty space on the back of my arm.

I’ve also had another 8 bit sprite added – this time a Yar up in the sky. The classic game Yars Revenge was my favourite game on the Atari 2600.

This was actually quite a difficult session as all the areas I had tattooed are the extreme “ouch” areas, particularly the bit towards the inside of my elbow.

I’ve decided for now that this is my last tattoo. It has been a great experience, but I need to give my skin a rest now.

I’ve got to say it looks superb completed though. Not too busy, but filling the space very well. It’s hard to believe the old tattoos hidden underneath were ever there.

The newest bike.

It’s been a bit of an unlucky one so far, but I do love it. It’s an Orange frame from the late 90’s I’m led to believe – but it has been chopped around a little.

In one weekend I’ve snapped a derailleur mount, and now today I’ve now got a puncture and had to get a repair kit and spare inner tube from Halfords.

It has to said it looks cool, but not as cool as the BMX, although the lighting was far better today.

My stats are getting much better. I’m getting faster, my distance is increasing, and I’m spending more time in the healthy exercise heart rate areas. This was for a five and a bit mile run.