Stove Shield Bargain from Amazon

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You may have seen my little video a few weeks ago featuring the Alpkit Mytimug and Kraku.

Gratuitous plug of previous blog post and YouTube video.

Well it was a little breezy so i set about looking for a cheap and light shield for the stove.

I eventually found this little one on Amazon. I am sure there are a 101 similar ones available but at £5.99 I figured I couldn’t see the point in shopping around.

It flat-packs down, as small as my iPhone 6 and weighs only 120g.

The 9 detachable aluminium panels are very flimsy but this is what makes it so light. As you can see its the perfect height for the Kraku stove and is ideal for keeping the breeze off and letting the stove do its thing unhindered.

You can detach the panels if you wanted to make it smaller – I could take 2 off to make this a snug fit – and the end pins are longer allowing you to fix the shield to the ground.

So for £5.99, barely any weight and no real space needed to carry this is ideal.

Any questions, comments or if you have an experience with a similar piece of kit please let me know below.

#Microadventure Planning

Alpkit - Airlok XTra 5L
Alpkit – Airlok XTra 5L

If you have been reading my blog recently you will know how much I have been considering a bikepacking trip. I have become a little obsessed with the subject. My twitter feed, facebook likes and web searches have centered around the topic for the last month or two. Brands such as Alpkit have become faves and my wish list of their products is longer than my possible need for most of it! I am also suddenly Alastair Humphreys biggest fan. So I am making small steps in buying kit and putting it to use whenever I can.

Here’s a brief write up of this morning’s dog walk! Yes dog walk…

Breakfast - Kit List
Breakfast – Kit List

Its so easy to just go out and walk around the field with the dog, and don’t get me wrong we do this more than anything else because its convenient and easy and actually Brodie enjoys it as he has a lot of doggy friends in the area. But a couple of times a week we do something a little bigger and more interesting. This morning was one of those times.

I decided to see what I could fit in the Alpkit Airlok bag. At only 5L its not the biggest bag but I was determined to make it work. Here was my kit for breakfast:

  • 650ml MytiMug
  • Kraku Stove
  • 100gm JetBoil Fuel
  • Lighter
  • Tea Spoon
  • Tea Bag
  • Spork
  • Camping Mug
  • SIGG 600ml bottle of water
  • Bag of cereal and some biscuits
  • Milk – in a 250ml Tropicana bottle
  • Travel towel from Mountain Warehouse (I use as a small picnic rug until my Matador Pocket Blanket arrives)

The AirLok is designed for use as a handlebar pack for bikes, but the handy strap means it can be slung over the shoulder duffel bag style.

After an hour or so of walking I picked a spot with a view (and some shelter as it was windy) and unpacked.

I boil enough water for a cup of tea (keeping the tea bag), make that in my mug, then use the MytiMug for cereal. The mug takes up less space than bringing a bowl for cereal and I can’t quite get used to drinking straight from the MytiMug.

Once I have finished my cereal I give the MytiMug a quick rinse and boil the rest of the water. 600ml is just enough so the SIGG is perfect. The Tropicana orange juice bottle holds plenty of milk for two cups of tea and for cereal.

This might seem like a lot of fuss to some, and I have had my share of fun poked at me by a few buddies, but starting the day with a good walk and working up an appetite for breakfast is great. Enjoying that breakfast and fresh cup of tea, while sat on a local hillside away from the TV and the pull of my iPad, email and Facebook is such a great way to start the day.

Calstone Downs
Calstone Downs

Next stop is to purchase a bivvy bag and give it a try over night.

Here’s a quick video of this mornings very microadventure made with footage off my #GoPro Hero using #Magix Video Pro 5.

The Story So Far

How much do we have to walk each day?
How much do we have to walk each day?

On the 1st of July I decided I would get out everyday on my bike for the whole month.

Here’s the post – https://timfromwales.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/10k-a-day-for-july/

I was not going to try and replicate the Tour de France or do anything ridiculous – I just followed suit on the 10000 steps a day challenge and do 10000m (or 10k) everyday also.

Why? Well I am working from home mostly so I don’t walk to the car, walk around the office, go out at lunch time etc and basically I can take the day as it comes. I ride my mountain bike twice a week, and tend to walk a reasonable amount. But could I walk and bike those distances everyday when I didn’t have to leave the house other than a couple of dog walks?

The have been a few close calls so far – A busy day (sitting at my desk) here and there meant I had to make the extra effort with Brodie (the dog) and last night it was 8.30pm and I really wanted to sit down but I made myself get out on the bike and it was totally worth it.

So, 6 days in and I have been doing well here are the first 6 days of July:

  1. Bike 11.6km, 11,841 steps
  2. Bike 34.8km, 11,961 steps
  3. Bike 13km, 15,321 steps
  4. Bike 12.5km, 14,162 steps
  5. Bike 16.1km,  10,691 steps
  6. Bike 11.7km,  12,345 steps

That’s an on target, 100km by bike and 76,321 steps (or approximately 70km on foot also).

I know there will be those that commute further each day and ride much more each week – this is a personal thing and not me stating this is anything special. I want to see if there is an improvement on my fitness or sleep or health in anyway for me.

How do I feel?  I think I need to start to stretch my legs a little, even the 45-60 mins a day has an impact and I noticed last night my legs felt heavy and lacking a little bit of energy – could be diet related?

25 days to go including a very difficult day tomorrow where I am spending most of the day in the car – I need a plan!

Scouting new MTB routes

One of the many benefits of getting a dog has been the additional exercise and fresh air that we collectively as a family have been getting. For me, a nice long dog walk also provides opportunities to check out new riding spots. Taking the gamble on the bike of hoping over a fence or into some woods can be fruitless and a bit of a drag if there is nothing to ride there. But with the dog its never a waste of time as we get to explore and just walk somewhere different.

We have explored a few spots this way and I have been able to add some extra loops to my local riding routes.

View this post on Instagram

Cool tree #lonelytree #wiltshire

A post shared by Tim(FromWales) (@_timfromwales) on

I also like riding alone to scout out new spots – nobody else to let down if you hike up a hill or through some woods to find nothing. The days are getting longer and a little drier (though not today) so there will be more opportunity to ride and dog walk in the light soon and more hidden gems to find on my doorstep.

Right now I am planning a route for tomorrow’s group ride that will take my fellow riders to new spots and show them new sections to link up our usual trails.

What have I been up to?

It’s been a while since I wrote what I would consider a proper blog post, I have thought about it, just not found the time. So I thought I would fill you in on what’s been going on, mostly from my biking perspective.

Winter is coming (yes I have finally started watching Game of Thrones)… Oh wait no winter has gone, though it keeps dropping in every now and again to say hello, seemingly every time I plan a ride! Since December and the Winter SPAM my riding slowed (who’s doesn’t?), the cold, the wet, the mud and the darkness are not the most helpful of ingredients to encourage you out on your bike.

Winter did linger a bit longer this year and the result is a much less fitter Tim. Memories of last years visit to Mudtrek come back and two recent trips to Wales, one to Cwmcarn and the other to Machen made me realise just how poor my bike fitness is.

I don’t feel too bad, long rides and my general fitness seems ok, but months of short rides with little climbing have certainly weakened my climbing ability and both recent trips to Wales were tough on the legs. My new job has also had an impact.

I know park around 20m from my desk and I’m in an office with no stairs. It might not sound like much but I think that my new job has reduced my walking and stair climbing by enough for me to gain an inch on my waist in 3 months. Add this to the business park environment, rather than high street and the lunch walks have also been on the decline. Oh and they do like tea and biscuits…

So something needs to change as in 2 months time I’m off to Bike Village again.

This will be a week of 50k rides with a minimum of 1000m climbing each day – this year we are also Cycling for Autism – a charity that is very close to the heart of my good friend John as his eldest son has autism. The challenge is to cycle/climb the height of Everest in a week and to raise awareness and money for the charity. Good cause aside for the moment, the trip to Bike Village is going to be tough and I want to be fit enough to enjoy it!

So what am I doing? Well I bought a fancy fitness band / watch from Garmin that is basically a fancy pedometer with a red bar to prompts me to get up and go for a walk. The result is a walk at lunch time, and two short efforts mid morning and afternoon to get away from the desk.

I have also started the occasional run. I tried this a few years ago and rapidly got bored but my basic fitness has made it easier this time round and I have set some small goals to aim towards.

A benefit of the new job and office location is its a little closer making a bike commute require less planning and effort – last week I rode 3 days.

I’ve started to waffle on a bit, so I think it’s time to wrap up with some details and goals:

2 months til Bike Village
I need to lose about 8lbs and get fitter
Watch my food and walk 4-5k every lunch time
Need to ride the bike three times a week (once or more to work)
My 5k target for running is 25mins
My end of April target is to run 10k, and in under an hour by end of May