Priest in the Church of England. Trustee SPCK. Father, husband, son. "Small acts of Good change the world."

Category: General (Page 3 of 6)

Raising money for charity

When we started this whole thing we did wonder if we should do something ‘worthy’ to try and off-set the blatant fun we were going to have blasting around old Europe and Russia on our bikes. But when it came to choosing what to do the ‘charidee’ thing seemed a little… well, done and ‘old’.

In fact we had quite a long discussion about if we should do it at all. It got quite cynical – would it help us get sponsorship? Would it help us get a foot in the door with people who could help us? Looking back now that seems absolutely dreadful, how could we possibly use a charity to further our aims of getting money out of large companies to pay for our summer holiday!? But those thoughts did cross our minds, in part I think because of the current explosion of Adventure Travel shows on the TV that do exactly that.

But thankfully in the end we got talking to some fantastic people over at Everyman – part of the Institute of Cancer Research – apart from the fact male cancers get very little air-time in the media we felt really strongly that men don’t take enough notice of this kind of thing, it’s something very close to all three of our hearts – for various reasons – and if we can raise even a little cash through this site and this adventure, well, we’ve done something to help out.

Today I’ve been humbled again by another £50 donation through our justgiving page – it always leaves me with my mouth open as I see people parting with their hard earned cash to help out a charity like Everyman.

So to everyone that’s dug deep, to everyone who’s given what they can afford…. Thank you.

New video show page

Given we’re now filming in wide-screen and that it would be nice to watch all the review shows in one place we’ve built a new page to allow you to do just that!

It sounds more exciting than it really is, but bookmark this link

or subscribe to the RSS feed at

Shows in the pipeline include a guide to which tents will serve you best on the road, and the first of what I hope will be many cooking themed shows, with recipes that will keep you healthy using local food and the simplest of tools.

If there’s something you’d like to see us film drop us a note 🙂

Out at the Daily Telegraph Adventure Show

A new episode in the Review Show… They’ve let me out of the garage – goodness knows why – but Patrick, Stace and I headed down to the London Business Centre over the weekend and met up with some great people who are there to make planning your trip nice and easy – but in the main we just liked to play with the kit and mess around with the camera!

New interactive map

I’ve been playing with google maps again and we now have a very flash new map. It’s a bit basic at the moment but over the next few months Stace and I will be adding more detail and try to map the actual lines to our actual route as closley as possible.

We’ll also be using the map to display our photos and videos whilst we’re on the road. You’ll be able to access the map on the Route page.

View Larger Map

Paris Dakar cancelled

News has filtered into the journeytorussia news room that the Paris Dakar has been cancelled. This is huge news, the rally involving trucks and cars as well as hundreds of motorbikes, has run un-interupted since 1979; although stages have been canceled in the past.

The guys who run the rally are not faint of heart, in fact they’re pretty damn brave most of the time with reports of locals taking pot shots at competitors quite common (not to mention the hundreds of injuries and the tragic deaths). But this year the organisers have announced that they are calling off the event because of, “direct threats against the race issued by terrorist groups”.

This has serious repercussions for the future of the race, it’s not clear yet what the financial issues will be, but I’m sure they’re not going to be able to sort this lot out in a month.

There’s still no official announcement on the Dakar site, but the ASO have said, “Following several consultations with the French government – in particular the ministry of foreign affairs – and taking into account its firm recommendations, the organisers of the Dakar have taken the decision to cancel the 2008 edition of the rally”.

Latest news direct from the rally camp via Rally RAIDio

EXPED Downmat 7 dlx

I started to write a review for the EXPED Downmat… but discovered the best way to get my point across would be in a badly filmed and encoded video uploaded to YouTube.

And so it was done.

It may not be cheap, but £115 for total sleeping comfort is worth every penny. I love camping, there’s nothing I’d rather do that get way out into the countryside in the middle of no-where and sit staring at the stars. But when I crawl into my little tent I do actually want to sleep.

There’s a glut of cheap ’simple’ sleeping mats on the market – in fact there are also some pretty expensive ones – things like the thermarest – but does anyone else think that they’re just the biggest things ever!? I mean… who is going to pack one of those on the back of their bike?

Sure, the small one is tiny, but it’s so thin that even my little 10 month old kitten would find it uncomfortable. So enter the king of sleeping mats – the Exped 7 DLX!

The thing you have to understand of course is that this is no ordinary mat – oh no – it’s actually filled with down – and because down compresses so damn well it packs up really really tiny – much smaller in fact than the smallest thermarest. Having said all that when you inflate it – it’s wonderfully comfortable – even my large frame doesn’t touch the floor and it’s toasty warm on the coldest of nights.

It’s also quite clever – none of this just leave it inflate and then top up with your breath (which actually puts water into your mat and shortens it’s life) no! You use bag it comes in to inflate it! Amazing!

Back to Work

I’ve been lying low for a bit and the other two have been out and about on their bikes so all in all a busy period where not much has changed as far as my Africa Twin is concerned. I’ll say sorry in advance as this bike has turned into an obsession.

I’ve spent the entire summer spending every weekend at college which has meant only being able to look and think about the work required on the bike. Until now that is…

So the panels have gone off to the paint shop, new fork internals have been ordered and are on the way and I have one remaining part to find and it’s the front brake master cylinder. The cost of replacement parts has shocked me. At a rough guess if I’d looked to replace all the parts with new Honda OEM stuff I’d have spent more than the trip itself will cost me (and probably us a group too).

Thankfully I have been inundated with help from all quarters. From free parts to tip offs about parts for sale I’ve got the lot bar the one outstanding. It’s out there somewhere (it’s probably on German ebay – everything else is…) and I will find it.

Going to take my front wheel to be sorted at college – new term has started and hopefully this will save me at least £40.

So stay tuned for photos and more details of the rebuild. At this rate I’ll be finished in time for winter – nice!

Summer Holiday

Well as you all know the Russian Bear will have to wait. I have a bike to rebuild once my body is rebuilt (thankfully unlike bikes there’ll never be bits left over when it’s fully back together) and to be honest I’m more or less there. With the trip on hold for a bit Matt and Stace are off on their travels leaving me with a garage full of bike bits…Thanks guys!

Stace is off to Cornwall and France for a bit of R&R he’s off soon and no doubt will have some breathtaking pictures upon his return. Having learnt much from the prep for this trip he found he didn’t have to worry about the Cornish leg and the Foreign Office assured him that Cornwall was indeed part of the UK and the terror threat was low(ish).

Matt seems to have drawn the short straw again though. As with Russia he seems to have engaged mouth before brain and a throw away remark now seems to be sending him somewhere warm and sandy. I suspect when he mentioned he wanted to go to Morocco to Mrs Cashmore and later to Stace and I he at least hoped for some worry over his plan…Not so!

Indeed ‘Ooooo great idea’ was one of Catherine’s comments and ‘How soon can you leave’ was mine… Joking aside this is a big trip for the Big Boyo. He’s taking on a monster run down through France and Spain and then dipping his toe in the sands of Africa (who needs to be a journo to write this stuff….) is a big undertaking – especially for the solo rider.

However it’s also a fantastic oppurtunity to test some of the bits we’re planning for Journey To Russia. So hats off to Matt and like us you can follow progress at

Taken a knock.

Last Monday the JTR team huddled at our now infamous HQ at Borough Market. Small talk was made and sausages in a bap ordered as we politely sipped our tea and ignored the rather obvious reason for us being there.

As readers of this blog will know, we’ve all had some nasty offs over the last month or so, Patrick in particular is still in a pretty bad state – as he puts it;

“Thinking back to the accident one of the first things that hit me, other than the bike, was the notion that a September departure for Russia was slipping away from me.”

A truth that we’ve simply had to accept. Whilst JTR may have started out as one persons dream, it has never been about any one of us. JTR would not exist and does not exist without us being a team, unless all three of us can make this journey then it’s not Journey To Russia.

With that in mind we’ve decided to postpone our departure. We’ll now leave the UK July next year, with a fit team and bikes that are not in several parts in several garages.

This is a huge blow to us as a team, not least because it means losing a lot of momentum that we’d built up, and a lot of the work that has already gone in is now going to have to be re-done – but it’s the right decision – it’s the sensible decision.

We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and head for Russia in 2008!


How arrogant is it for us to thing that we should be able to write to companies and ask them to give us money so that we can ride to Russia and back? It’s not like it’s a particularly special journey – it’s out of the ordinary certainly – it’s not something very many people do – but it’s not really HUGE.

Essentially we’re getting quite a lot of coverage – in fact in the last few days we’ve secured a series of articles on the BBC. Which it has to be said is pretty cool – we’ve also go other stuff which is coming up, so from a sponsors point of view there’s a lot of readers or viewers that would see their brand. I guess what I’m getting at is that there’s something in it for everyone.

Our major sponsor – – have been amazing, they really have, and as we move forward over the next year we hope they’ll see a real return for the trust they’ve placed in us. But the interesting thing is how many people have sent us essentially the same letter… it goes something like this.

“Thank you very much for your letter concerning Journey To Russia we regret to inform you that we wont be able to help you with your trip.

As you can imagine we get many requests for help each year and we have decided that we are concentrating on just one charity this year.

We do a lot of charity work… etc etc etc…”

But then we got a letter from Blacks that appeared to be from an actual person rather than automatically generated (some of which were not even signed), that was a nice enough change that it made us feel quite good – but on top of that they also sent us three 10% off vouchers – a really nice touch as we genuinly felt that when they wished us luck for our trip that they meant it.

So as a thank you to Blacks we’re going to add a little advert to our site and buy as much of our kit as we can from their stores – and you should do the same!

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