Thorn Audax Mk3 size 600 frame set for sale

My size 600 Thorn Audax Mk3 frame set in lovely cobalt pearl blue is for sale. Includes Cane Creek headset, Thorn 100mm 17 deg ahead stem, frame prep and stainless bolts throughout, Thorn seat pin and Shimano Tiagra bottom bracket.

Price £260. Buyer to pay shipping charges and I would prefer not to ship overseas.

This steel frame is extremely comfortable and would make a perfect century bike or winter trainer. It has braze ons for front and rear racks and direct fit mudguards.

While it has been very well cared for, there is the odd chip on the chain stay although not to the bare metal.

Full specs can be found on the Thorn website. Any questions, please email me.

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First look – MPOWERD Luci inflatable solar lantern

Just before I headed to Scotland I had an email from a company in the United States asking about distributors for their inflatable solar lantern. I duly responded and the company sent me a sample to try.

MPowered Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern
The MPOWERD Luci inflatable lantern is intended for outdoor leisure users including hikers, campers, anglers, kayakers, cyclists… you get the picture. It is constructed from soft clear transparent plastic, is waterproof and features a square solar panel in the base charging a slim 3.7V DC lithium polymer battery. This is sealed in the base with no facility for replacement.

Light is provided by 10 led lights arranged in a circle in the base providing a maximum of 65 lumens. In the top of the cylindrical lantern is a flexible reflective disc that helps distribute the light to a claimed area of a square metre. The top disc also features a mouthpiece with stop valve for inflation/deflation while plastic handles are located at the top and base allowing the lantern to be suspended.

A switch at the centre of the solar panel toggles the lantern between ‘bright’, ‘super bright’, and ‘flashing/beacon’ settings and powers the unit down.

The manufacturers claim 12 hours on the bright setting and this seems plausible in summer temperatures. I left the unit on all night on the hearth and it was still emitting good light in the morning after nine hours. Charge time is eight hours and the unit will still provide four hours of light if not used for a year from full charge.

Inflation and deflation can be a little tricky, though. The mouthpiece features a stiff valve making it quite difficult to inflate by blowing straight from the lungs (as if you were inflating a Thermarest). Musicians familiar with the embouchure technique will have an advantage!

I found it easier to inflate the lantern by opening it gently like an accordion (forgive the musical references) while holding the valve open with the point of a pencil or other pointed (but not sharp) implement. The lantern can then be topped up by blowing air in the mouthpiece.

This is a well-designed and well-made lantern that performs well based on early use. It may be a luxury for lightweight backpackers given that it weighs a little over 110g but I will find room for it in my cycle panniers as it illuminates the inner of my Vaude Hogan XT perfectly. It has particular practical benefits for anglers fishing at night and those who love messing around in boats.

If you are interested in finding out more check our MPOWERD’s website. Interested retailers should contact

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Glenfinnan to Inverie – a re-acquaintance

Motoring along the glorious Road to the Isles as we do every year (at least once), my mind always wanders to thoughts of walking in the rough hills that bear down on that ribbon of Tarmac.

Normally, this drive is on the clock. We need to get to Mallaig and negotiate the infuriating Co-op  to stock up for a week at the rental cottage before making the Western Isles.

This year was a little different though. We had more time at the cottage and had arrived in the Highlands early. Everything was less rushed. This gave me three days to amble though the glens to Inverie from Glenfinnan before heading to Tarbet on the ferry.

glenfinnan viaductMy other half dropped me at the visitors’ centre at Glenfinnan on a mizzly Monday morning. The forecast was poor for at least two days of my walk but I didn’t mind. I was relishing a re-acquaintance with this landscape and travel by two feet after the distractions of two wheels.

Given my lack of walking of late – not to mention my lack of walking with a full pack – I felt it important to take my time, to let my body adapt, to see if the muscles indeed had memory. Continue reading

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Mountain Warehouse Adrenaline Cycling Jacket – First Impressions

I think being contacted by Mountain Warehouse to review a couple of items of their clothing is a good omen. Since the email and offer of waterproofs, it has been conspicuously dry in the rainy Northwest. I hope this good fortune extends to my three-day backpack in Scotland next week.

Mountain Warehouse Adrenaline cycling jacketNorth of the border I’ll be using the company’s Brisk Extreme mountain jacket. For this ‘first impressions review’ I’m turning my attention to its Adrenaline cycle shell.

Mountain Warehouse has gained some prominence on the high street but, it’s fair to say, is not the first port of call for the function or fashion conscious outdoor enthusiast.

The company supplies own-brand product at very competitive prices. You won’t find much, if any, evidence of GoreTex of eVent swing tickets in its shops, and you may have to dig around for a more technical garment amid the cags-in-bags and clockwork torches. That said, and based on my extended use of the company’s ‘Shimano Merino top’, its more purposeful gear is well designed and durability is on a par with more recognisable manufacturers.

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Surly ECR XXL four months on – Evading Clichéd Rides?

I’ve had my mahoosive Surly ECR since March.

In that time, it’s been on numerous trips over the trails near home, took part in a celebratory ride for the bike shop that supplied it (and was greeted with nods of approval from the Surly dudes), lugged bikepacking gear on an epic trip from Settle to home along the Pennine Bridleway and ferried me out for coffee on a hill when I just couldn’t take it any more.

Surly ECR in the Pennines

A sunny day on the trails. An ECR day.

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Cycle touring Morocco days 8 and 9 – Next stop: the Sahara (kind of) to Take Your Time

I was reluctant to leave the Palmeraie given another difficult night but I really wanted to get back o the road and salvage something from the final few days on the bike.

We decided to follow the main N9 route south, slowly. This was by no means an original or adventurous route but I still felt very weak, despite shaking off the fever. Pushing off and through the streets of Quazazate, my legs had no power. Tom seemed refreshed after a couple of days rest and powered ahead, pushing a big gear.

Heading south from Quazazate on the  N9

Heading south from Quazazate on the N9

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Cycle touring Morocco days six and seven – let the bad times roll

We found a restaurant with wifi in Quazazate and reconnected after our days in the mountains. Our pizzas were, in some respects, a welcome change from tagine but beer remained elusive.

SSkoura Morocco

Bike fettling at Skoura

We’d read there was a campsite on the edge of town and were keen to spend a night under canvas… well I was. I had this romantic notion of a quiet pitch amid palm groves with water boiling on my Honey Stove fuelled by a fistful dry bamboo.

This idea seemed all the more appealing given the choked urban tableau before us. As five pm approached and the heat of the day receded, the road before us reawakened accompanied by the all-too-familiar discord of Moroccan traffic.

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Cycle touring Morocco days four and five – Let’s get haute

Pedalling towards the foot of the Col du Tichka through the high Atlas was heaven after our night on the roof. The air was fresh and we travelled slowly, a fair distance apart, enjoying some personal time with the mountains.

We gazed down upon houses near Taddert sitting in a tightly hewn valley where the adobe-walled homes made economical use of dusty terraces. On the road, restaurant owners beckoned us to stop but we were full from our excellent entrée to the day.

We reached what looked to be the foot of the climb, ate oranges and discussed the toil ahead. The road snaked across a mountain wall ahead of us and much was hard to trace although occasionally the sun caught a car windscreen and the glint betrayed the precipitous lie of our route.

The start of the climb proper

The start of the climb proper

I felt animated by the climb… a childlike excitement felt on Christmas morning. Sure, I have plenty of climbs in the Pennines back home, but nothing compared to this: 20km of delightful suffering amid towering peaks to a summit pass of some 2,200 metres.

Stocking up with water again, we hit the hairpins and settled into our respective rhythms – my cadence fast as always, spinning my way slowly to the heavens. Drivers on the twisting mountain route were considerate in the main, and many were encouraging. Horns were honked, and clapping was accompanied by cries of ‘Allez Allez Allez!’

Lining the route were lookouts and the lookouts were lined with hawkers. I stopped to take in the scene… the road was a sinuous ribbon of tarmac clinging to the dusty slopes way below me. I just had time to take a photograph of sorts before the hard sell started. I was in no mood for haggling and pressed on to a thankfully deserted lay-by where I waited for Tom and searched for anything sugary in my panniers.  Continue reading

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Bowmore Small Batch Reserve – now for something a bit different

Forgive the brief departure from regaling you with more tales of derring-do in Morocco – it was just about to get really good too, particularly the part when I became really sick…

small batch

Bowmore Small Batch Reserve (Pic: Bowmore)

While I was away, those fine folk at Bowmore sent me a sample of their Small Batch Reserve to try alongside some chocolate goodies (more of the latter later).

I realise I‘ve been a little slack in my whisky tasting of late. This is partly because I‘ve been stuck in a very pleasurable rut drinking Talikser… lost in resonant memories of Skye and the West Coast while shutting out damp evenings in Mancunia.

The shipment from Bowmore was a welcome distraction then.

The Small Batch is in some ways a curious expression of this famous Islay tipple. For those familiar with more ‘regular’ Bowmores such the 12 year old, Darkest or the simply sublime 18 year old, this lighter dram may come as a disappointment.

Small Batch Reserve is matured in first and second fill ex-bourbon casks. This process imbues the younger spirit with a sweetness and creaminess that cuts quite a contrast to its peat smoked brethren.

So how does it fly?

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Cycle touring Morocco day three – Up on the roof

It must have been 2am when DJ FX and MC Yabba called it a night. I did manage to sleep during their extended mega-mix, but it was slumber filled with beats (international).

We both awoke with what campers will understand as ‘tent face’… hefty baggage under the eyes and frowns. Coffee needed, and lots of it please.

Our leisurely breakfast by the pool set a tone for the trip. There was an intention of sorts to start early and enjoy the best part of the day for riding, but our resolve weakened in the face of café au lait, juice, pancakes, pastries, bread and jam.

Eventually, the bikes were packed and we pushed off slowly into the foothills of the Atlas. It was already warm and I drank little-and-often from the bidon perched helpfully on my handlebars thanks to a £3 bracket I’d bought on a whim before departure.

The N9 followed lush farmland for much of the day

The N9 followed lush farmland for much of the day

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