First Cycle Training Camp - Now On Wheelsuckers

The social network for road cyclists called Wheelsuckers has picked up and run with an article I wrote about my first cycle training camp.

This happened a couple of years ago with Train In Spain and I first wrote about it on this blog.

I have to thank Dr Garry Palmer, the man behind the excellent Sportstest who, possible after seeing how bad I rode in Spain, helped me get fit enough to tackle the Raid Pyrenean.

He pointed the editor of Wheelsuckers towards my article and he subsequently ran it.  There may be more to come.

The only problem is that damn photo. I was 20lbs overweight at the time and, in my vanity, I hate the shot!

Fancy Making Kayak Videos? Want To Buy The Camera?

Sony HDV A1E on eBay
I say "the" camera because this is the one on which I shot key sections of the Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown series.


It's the perfect size to whip out of a dry deck bag and use from the cockpit of a kayak. 

Almost all the journey in Volume 1, along the wild west coast of Skye was shot on this baby.  I bought the five extra batteries precisely for this shoot.

It was the second camera on Volume 2, travelling with us to St Kilda to shoot the key pieces to camera on the water by Gordon.

In Volume 3 we used it extensively in the Navigation film for Gordon's coaching on the water and during the night navigation sequence as it has excellent 'night shot' capability.

You can see how it performs by looking at the videos on any of those pages.  It has been lovingly cared for and serviced by Sony.

There are a large number of pro-level extras included.  
Rain cover, charger, batteries & wide angle included
  • A Sony professional wide conversion lens  x0.7  VCL-HG0737C which makes all the difference to the shots.
  • Rycote Softie wind baffle for gun mic
  • PortaBrace professional rain/dust cover for A1E
  • Sony professional AC adaptor / charger AC-SQ950 which is a fast, professional stand-alone charger, not the bundled charge-thru-the-camera weedy thing.
  • A fast, professional stand-alone battery charger (not the weedy one which comes with the camera); 
  • Six original Sony batteries - two of which are massive. 

I last used this camera for BBC-2 when filming Cameron McNeish on a via ferrata in Spain.  I had my big camera in my backpack but had this one dangling on a clip from my rucksack strap.

Aquapak case
If that sounds like a lot of use, it's not.  I never used it to capture footage.  
When you look at the drum time which records usage, it's a very modest 11x10hr.


Well, I haven't used it for a while.  Broadcast companies, for who I mainly work, are moving away from HDV even as second cameras.  

Camera not included
Plus I have yet another new camera for which I'd like to buy some new lenses, so I need the cash.

An ideal pairing for the camera would be the Aquapak underwater case which I bought but never used.  

The reason I never used it was I had the chance to
buy an even better waterproof rig.


Video - The Adventure Show, Highland Cross

The Highland Cross is the main event in Tuesday's edition of The Adventure Show, along with some great rock climbing on Shetland.  

The Highland Cross involves a run and bike ride from coast to coast across highland Scotland.  I filmed in the transition from run to bike at the head of the glorious Glen Affric.  

The programme will be broadcast Tuesday 11th November on BBC-2 Scotland and you can find that channel at the top of the electronic programme guide on Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media.  It will also be on the iPlayer for 30 days.

Cut Price Downloads - Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown

You can now buy both Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown series as a download package. 

You still download the files individually but, by buying both volumes together, you'll save money on their individual price on £16.99.

Buying Volume 1 and Volume 2 together costs £30.99.  Buy here.

Buying Volume 1, Volume 2 and Hamish's Kayaking Films costs £32.99.  Buy here.

We've not added any new titles to the Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown series but you can learn more about Volume 1 and Volume 2.

New Podcast - Campbell Semple and the Early Days of Scottish Sea Kayaking

Long before he became a highly respected surgeon, Campbell Semple was a young kayaker.

Together with his friend Ken Taylor he paddled the length of Scotland's west coast, including the fearsome Cape Wrath.

Those of you who know a little of how the modern design of sea kayaks came to Scotland will recognise Ken Taylor's name.  

You'll have heard his name mentioned if you've listened to the podcasts with Duncan Winning (right side and lower down this page).

I'm still trying to get an interview with Ken.  While the technicalities are proving troublesome I've not given up hope.

In the meantime, for a fascinating glimpse of what sea kayaking was like in a different era, download and listen to Campbell Semple.  It wasn't really all that long ago.

The podcast is at SeaKayakPodcasts.com on iTunes or you can listen to the streaming version below.

Is It Goodbye GoLite?

GoLite Website
The US company which pioneered ultra-light hiking equipment, and with which I did some work a decade ago, has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy according to this Outdoor Industry news source.

It is moving to terminate the business unless a competing bid surfaces.  Is it goodbye GoLite?  I sincerely hope not.

However, the Denver Business Journal says GoLite is preparing for liquidation.

Reading these articles shows how hard the owners have tried to keep the business going.

They sold the trademark 'GoLite' to Timberland in 2006 and licenced back its use.  Timberland has now withdrawn that licence from 31 March 2015.  All this makes me disappointed because I was among the first to use GoLite in the UK and I sort-of know the people behind it.

Way back in 2001 I was planning to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and became aware of GoLite which had just started up and was expanding into Europe.

PCT in Oregon
It had bought the rights to manufacture Ray Jardine's for hiking equipment, specifically packs, shelters and sleeping 'systems'.

Jardine had earlier published the patterns in the The Pacific Crest Trail Hiker's Handbook
expecting people would make their own.  GoLite did it for them.

I used the original GoLite / Jardine designs in a big test for TGO Magazine, which saw the editor Cameron McNeish, the deputy editor John Manning, the equipment editor Chris Townsend and me all tramping around Ben Alder area for a weekend.

People had used, bivi bags, minimal gear and had cut the handles off toothbrushes for years but this was the first time American west coast ultra-light kit had received such a pubic test in Scotland.

My girlfriend (now wife) and I subsequently went on to test a variation of the equipment in winter, crossing the Fisherfield Forest one New Year.

On Corsica GR20
In 2001 we took it down the Costa Blanca Mountain Way, the Corsica GR20 and parts of the desert around Santa Fe, New Mexico.

All that was training for 'the big one', our 2568ml five month hike from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Everything we had we carried in GoLite packs (the Gust) which we still use when kayaking.

We had GoLite waterproof trousers (again, still in use), and shirts and wind/waterproof jackets which are long gone.

Before embarking on the trail we collected all these goodies at the Boulder headquarters of GoLite.  Demitri ("Coup") and Kim Coupounas took us out to dinner and there are two things I remember from that meal.

Testing winter ulralight in Fisherfield forest
One was the astronomic price of wine.  Second was a humorous remark by Coup which I've used myself, adapting it to different situations.

"You want to know how to make a small fortune in the outdoor gear business", he confided?  "Start with a large fortune".

I did a telephone interview with Coup a few years ago for a profile in TGO magazine and he was as upbeat as ever.

He was into raw food and had just completed his mission to climb the highest point in every US state.  We haven't kept in touch and we're not in any way close, but this news is still very disappointing.

I can only hope something good will come from it, eventually.

Kim recently gave a TEDx talk in Boulder which I've posted below - it's well worth watching.  The title - The Joy Of Less.

Promo Video - Sunart Hydro Project

Last week I wrote about the hydro electric project that's taking shape up behind our house in the west highlands of Scotland.  It's a community project and my contribution is this promotional video.

The aim of the wee video is to make you want to find out more about this rather interesting investment opportunity which offers a return that's equivalent to 10%pa over five years.  If you are interested then SunartCommunityRenewables.org.uk is the place to find out more.  The video is made to be embedded on that website.

Incidentally, I used a mixture of Canon XF305, GoPro and my new Canon 5D to shoot the video.