30 January 2012

Since I've been gone...

Right, here goes. After being away from blogging for almost two years this update could well be hard going - both the writing of it and for anyone who reads it! I will try and keep the past 20 months brief, but I’ve said that before on many an update!


Updating things on the birding front is going to be very easy... I’ve more or less given up on it since the middle of 2010. What used to take up most of my spare time for the past 20 odd years now fails to grab me in the way it once did. The interest hasn’t left me completely, I still make a mental note of the birds around me at all times, but the binoculars and ‘scope rarely get an outing now.

Maybe this break will see me return to the “sport” with renewed vigour at some point in the future. And that could be the reason for the move away from birding - it was becoming too much like a “sport”! Year-on-year it had become a case of trying to see more species; see more species than someone else; see more species in a set time. Blah, blah, blah. You get my point. Oh, and then there’s the politics of birding these days...

Now that the pressure of the “sport” has been lifted I can relax again - I heard a Little Owl whilst cycling home from work the other night, and was rather pleased by it!


What can I say? Cycling is the new birding! Almost all the time that birding used to take up is now spent on one of my three bikes. I also ride to and from work each day. Wind, rain, snow, ice, even sunshine. I commute by bike. And, even though I only live just under 3 miles from work, I tend to ride a route of between 10 and 15 miles to get there! Committed? Or should be committed? I’m still trying to work that one out!

In much the same way as I used to list all my bird sightings, I have been logging the miles of each and every cycle ride and setting myself mileage targets for the year. In 2009, I wanted to ride a total of 3000 miles. I reached 3573. In 2010, my target was 4000 miles. I managed to ride 4211. Last year, I upped my game a little and wanted to ride 5000 miles. By the end of the year I’d covered 5364 miles.

Ready for another Sunday morning ride.

A brief stop for food and water.

May 31 2010. A lovely day with lots of warm sunshine and very little in the way of a breeze. I rode my best bike for just under 6hrs and covered 100 miles! My first, and so far, only 100 mile ride! There have been many rides since that have been up around the 80 mile mark but a second century ride is yet to happen. Maybe this summer I’ll have a crack at it again.

The Bad Boy, outside Derby Cathedral.


After years of racing in autograss, my mate Gary has moved away from the sport. He even cut up the old MG that he had won so many races in. Gary says it was because the car was so battered and twisted after all the hard racing. I think it was so no one else could get their hands on his “back yard technology”! There’s still not been another MG ZR that has done as well in the sport.

2011, and Gary was back behind the wheel of another MG. This time though, it was a little bit more advanced. The number 219 was now to be seen in the world of Rallycross. The old 1800cc engine, from the grasser, had been reworked and fitted to an ex rally car shell. Many people questioned his choice of car and engine - in a sport where an 1800 engine is a little small - but it’s a combination Gary knows and his budget isn’t huge compared to some in the sport.

All ready to go, at the first meeting of the season.

After the first meeting of the season things didn’t look too promising. The car was underpowered, didn’t handle too well and had developed an annoying fuel pressure problem that we couldn’t trace and had never experienced before. We left the track in 16th position in the championship, out of 23 cars that raced. Not what we were used to.

Ready to do battle.

Up and running.

We all know we have a problem, but who has the answer?

Round two of the championship and, after a number of changes to the car, Gary took 2nd place in the “A Final”. Things were starting to come together. At the 4th round of the championship Gary took his first outright “A Final” win. Not only was the car now running as it should but it was proving to be capable of running with the best. Or at least Gary had learnt how to make the car run with the best!

An “A Final” 2nd place in the next round, followed by a 3rd place in the “A Final” at the penultimate round of the season saw Gary with a one point lead in the championship! What should have been a season of learning the sport, and trying to develop a competitive car, had turned into a season that could, possibly, see Gary become the Super Modified Champion in his rookie year! No pressure then!

The final meeting of the year was at Knockhill in Scotland. Due to the distance, and also work, I couldn’t attend this meeting so had to rely on text updates and “live” internet timing to keep a track on how the day was going. Luckily, Gary handled the stress of the day better than I did.

The meeting was hit by heavy rain for much of the time and track conditions were poor to say the least. A combination of the rain and also a lack of track knowledge saw Gary struggle in qualifying. Heat one saw him down in 3rd place, heat two he finished 6th and in heat three could only manage 5th place. If there was any chance of taking the championship he had to win the “A Final”.

On the way to victory!

In the end, it all came down to a rain shortened, re-run, final race of the season. Gary came out on top, took the win when it mattered most, and was crowned “Super Modified Champion of 2011”! Well done, mate! You deserved that one!

New window decals for the 2012 season.

On show at Autosport International.

There you have it - a very quick re-cap of the past couple of years. Sort of!

I’ll be back again soon, unless enough of you post comments below promising me large amounts of cash if I stay away!

Ta ta!

28 January 2012

A return?

It's been almost two years since I last posted here but... I MAY be about to return with a new, compacted version of my Blog.