WEEKLY BLOG EPISODE 110 | HALFWAY THROUGH THE YEAR

Evening all. Welcome my latest weekly blog episode. It seems to be a long one today, so grab yourself a cup of tea, and maybe a biscuit, and settle in to read.

Splodz Blogz | Weekly Blog Episode 110

It has been one of those weeks where I have had to really concentrate on being productive, and not let procrastination get the better of me. My working week has been a little bit ridiculous, and add to that a bunch of personal commitments that all required some time and energy from me this week, it’s been a little bit full.

In all honesty, the whole of June has been rather full on. Life has been super busy, and I am exhausted – physically and mentally. Nothing bad or worrying, but I’ve been cramming in all the things, and this introvert knows she needs some space to breathe and some time to decompress.

Welcome Weekend at Home

I was meant to be away in Surrey this weekend at a family barbecue, which has been postponed (due to illness) until next month, which means that I had an unexpected weekend at home. I was looking forward to an overdue catchup with people we don’t see very often, but at the same time have rather enjoyed pottering around at home. The time to catch up on a few things and to enjoy some intentional feet-up-on-the-sofa-time has been welcome.

As we head into July, I admit I am looking forward to a month with fewer deadlines, a shorter to do list, more time to write, opportunities to walk slowly, and maybe even some thinking time. Most importantly, here’s to a July full of the sounds and sights of nature. Here’s hoping!

Anyway, you’ve come here for a weekly blog episode, not musings on how busy I have been, sorry. Let me dive in with a super interesting fact…

Halfway Through the Year

I have been reliably informed by my friend Sarah (The Urban Wanderer), and I googled it to check she wasn’t winding me up, that we have now reached the halfway point of 2022. Saturday 2 July, was the 183rd day of this 365-day year – so as of midday yesterday we are closer to 2023 than we are to 2021.

I don’t know why, but this super interesting fact made my mind go into a weird reflective state of panic. Am I halfway through my 2022 goals?! Do I feel like I’ve made the most of the last 183 days? Do I have enough energy to make the most of the second half of the year?! Would I consider 2022 to be “successful” so far?! How is there still so much stuff on my to do list?!

I know, of course, that none of these questions really matter. My 2022 has been pretty decent so far, no complaints. I’ve been away road tripping, have had a handful of little adventures and fun experiences, and generally have had a lovely six months. But there is something about considering the passing of time that makes me feel anxious about running out of it.

I know it’s not just me because I asked, and a few people commented that the passing of time also fuels their worry. For me there is something about time moving quickly when the world seems in such a bad place (we are living in a very selfish political world at the moment), that also makes me uneasy. It’s very easy to see all the bad things filling up your days and not concentrate on the good things. One reason that making sure I spend time outside every day is important, as out in nature time seems to be a bit more settled.

Adventure Bike Rider Festival

Last weekend we were at Adventure Bike Rider Festival, which is held at Ragley Hall in Worcestershire. The festival, which attracts thousands of adventure motorcyclists, is designed to provide heap of adventure and touring inspiration, and to give people opportunity spend time with likeminded riders.

We (my husband and I) packed up our GSs with our camping gear, and headed over on Thursday evening for the VIP night, tickets for which were very kindly gifted by the promoter. The night-before access meant we had priority camping, could attend the first-night party, and could get in line to book test rides before the main crowds arrived on Friday morning.

Splodz Blogz | Weekly Blog 110 - ABR Festival

Fuelling the Wanderlust

Over the weekend we went to interesting talks and presentations, added some new gear to our wish lists (I’ll certainly be ordering the new Peak Design phone case and motorcycle mount as soon as I upgrade my phone), caught up with good friends from Globebusters (who we went to Iceland with) and Cool Covers (fantastic product for anyone looking for a seat cover), and sat on adventure bikes of all shapes and sizes. We also enjoyed wandering around the various camping fields, seeing what rigs the other bikers had, which is always fun.

My two highlights of the weekend are easily the two test rides I went on. Without doubt the biggest pull of the festival, there were so many bikes available to ride – on and off-road – an opportunity which you just don’t get otherwise. My height (and lack of confidence) meant most of the bikes were off the table for me (this year…), but I didn’t let everyone else have all the fun.

Splodz Blogz | Weekly Blog 110 - ABR Festival

From Farm to Trail

There were a handful of electric bikes on display, but this one stood out to me as doing something – and looking – a little bit different.

On Saturday morning I giggled my way around a short section of the off-road trail on the Ubco 2X2 Adventure. Just look at it, I think I love it!  

This electric motorcycle has been borne out of the needs of New Zealand farmers, so it’s rugged, utilitarian, and makes no promises it can’t keep. With two-wheel drive (very unusual for motorcycles), it is designed to go over and through anything, and I can confirm it stuck to that dusty and rutted trail like glue.

At full power it’ll only do 27mph, but it gets there with absolutely no delay, and with that incredible grip, it was so much fun to ride.

Splodz Blogz | Weekly Blog 110 - On the Ubco 2X2 Adventure
Definitely overdressed on the Ubco, but safety first…!

My Next Commuter?

I can genuinely see myself having one of these as a commuter, as the 75-ish mile range and near-30mph top speed would be great for city riding. Given the off-road capabilities it would also make a brilliant toy for local green lanes, and would be much kinder to the environment than a traditional dirt bike.

I mean, I would love to take something like this touring, too – it needs a bit more range before I could do that, but I’m up for an experiment if Ubco are listening?!

I did well not to place an order… maybe next year.

Splodz Blogz | Weekly Blog 110 - On the Ubco 2X2 Adventure

Polaris RZR

Okay, so this might not be a motorbike, but when given the chance to experience a Polaris RZR Side by Side on a ridiculous off-road trail, you’re going to take it, right?!

I rode (or drove – not sure!!) this amazing machine on the “expert” section of the AX41 Adventure Trail at the festival on Saturday afternoon. A section of trail there was no way I’d survive on my GS (!), but one that I’m so glad I got to experience on four wheels.

It was a bit of a wild card, really. Booking for test rides started at 8am on Friday morning, and when we wandered into the main area all the big bike manufacturers had long queues. So, we quickly decided to try something completely different, and ended up with one of the last spots offered by Polaris Britain (and still had time to book other rides too).

Splodz Blogz | Weekly Blog 110 - In the Polaris RZR Side by Side

Muddy Face

It was honestly the best fun. After a short orientation ride on Polaris’ own little track at the show, we headed out onto the AX41 Adventure Trail, an off-road test track set up in the grounds of Ragley Hall especially for the ABR Festival.

My steed and I slid around corners, whizzed up and down steep hills, and splashed through a massive muddy water crossing (apparently titled “the bog”). I know my demo RZR had a limiter on it, but honestly, I didn’t care. It was such an adrenaline rush, and one I hope won’t be a one off – I need more side-by-side action in my life.

I did my best, but there is still mud in my lid vents; cleaning that out is a price I’m willing to pay for that experience. Sadly, I don’t think we have quite the opportunities to run an RZR here in the UK (please correct me if I’m wrong), but if we lived somewhere a bit more buggy friendly, there is no doubt I’d have one of these in my garage.

Splodz Blogz | Weekly Blog 110 - In the Polaris RZR Side by Side

Blog Post Coming Soon

Unfortunately, there are no photos or videos of me actually riding either the Ubco or the RZR, as that was done away from the crowds with no spectators allowed (photos here all posed!), but I can assure you I definitely looked the part…!

I’ve shared much more in this weekly blog than I intended, as there will be a full blog post on the festival coming in the next few days. You’ve had a sneak peak, for sure. If there is anything you specifically want to know about the ABR Festival in that post, please do let me know.

Americana at Pittville

We came home from the ABR Festival late on Saturday night (it continued on the Sunday but we’d done all our rides and there were no talks scheduled), which gave us Sunday available to see what else was on in the area. This was a busy weekend in the local calendar – it was Prescott Bike Fest, there was a Retro Americana Festival at Pittville Park, and the Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival in Montpellier Gardens.

After we’d unpacked the camping gear from the bikes and washed the caked-in-mud clothing we’d worn to ride the side by sides, we decided we’d head to Pittville Park to check out the Americana display. It was the free event of the three on our list, and it was raining (of course it was), so we didn’t expect to be out for long.

Anniversary Celebration

Put on to celebrate 80 years since the GIs used Pittville Pump Room as a military base when the US joined the Second World Way, there was vintage fashion, dancing, live music and classic cars. We only went for a wander around the park, which was free (the evening events in the Pump Room were ticked), but it was interesting to see the American motors that have a home here in this part of England, and to hear some great live music too.

It’s not lost on me how potentially odd it was to celebrate Americana given that it was also the day that the Supreme Court reversed Roe vs Wade. I hope and pray that the powers that be in the (so called) West start to seriously work towards equality and inclusion rather than harping back to old-fashioned views in the very near future.

The café, which had been turned into an American Diner for the occasion, was rammed, so we didn’t go in for pancakes. Instead, we walked from Pittville down to the Suffolks to get brunch at Baker and Graze, an old favourite bakery in Cheltenham (and not just because of the amazing doughnuts).

I do feel fortunate to live so close to Cheltenham, where there is always something to see or do. I miss Lincoln and its beauty sometimes, but what Cheltenham doesn’t have in medieval history, it makes up for in festivals.

Two Mini Book Reviews

It’s been a while since I included a mini book review in my weekly blog – and this episode you are getting two. As you know, I almost always choose audiobooks these days, these have really opened up reading to me after years of struggling to read books in the traditional sense, and so here are two books I’ve enjoyed listening to recently.

Failure is an Option

Failure is an Option

Failure is an Option by Matt Wayman is a new Vertebrate Publishing title. The publisher kindly sent me a code to listen to it on Audible, and it accompanied me on my journey to Pembrokeshire a couple of weeks ago (read Weekly Blog Episode 109).

Narrated by Matt himself, Failure is an Option is the story of an “average runner” who sets out to discover just how far he can go. Aware that his quickest years are probably behind him, Matt leaves the Saturday morning 5K to push towards 100-mile ultramarathons and beyond. By slowing things down to run a very long way, he joins a growing number of people striving to do something extraordinary on two legs.

As with all good adventure stories, this is not a book just about the activity being undertaken. Which is a good job really, I’m not a runner and don’t pick up books like this to learn about technique. This is a super interesting story about human endeavour, pushing limits, and learning important lessons through adventure.

I enjoyed it, very much. The book is full of amusing and honest anecdotes, each with a nod back to the important idea that adventure is powerful (have you read Belinda Kirk’s Adventure Revolution – reviewed in this weekly blog post). Well worth a listen if you like stories about ordinary people who find a passion for something big. It also makes a pleasant change to hear a story from someone who doesn’t always succeed… a lesson in itself.

Mud, Rocks, Blazes

Mud, Rocks, Blazes

My second mini book review is for Mud, Rocks, Blazes by Heather Anderson. This is the story of the author’s attempt to set a self-supported Fastest Known Time record on the Appalachian Trail. She’s already got the FKT for the Pacific Crest Trail at this point in her life, and is back out on the trail to prove to herself that it wasn’t a fluke.

I haven’t read her first book, Thirst, but this one came up in my recommendations for books included in Audible’s Plus Catalogue (a library of free for members), so I thought I’d give it a go.

Heather “Anish” Anderson tells a story of striving to crush her constant self-doubt and seek the true source of her strength and purpose. Hiking the Appalachian Trail – super quickly – is more than just a physical endeavour, it’s a mental one, too. During the 54 days of her FKT attempt, Heather deals with rain, humidity, insects, steep gradients, running out of food, falling over, and plenty of other challenges. The book is incredibly detailed with interesting anecdotes, I really got a sense of this hiker’s obsession and determination.

Most importantly, there is much talk in this tale of how Heather learns to love her herself and her body. A worthy listen, especially if you like hiking.

Adventure Story Suggestions

I always love to hear what your favourite audiobook adventure stories are – those that tell great tales and that are narrated well – so I can add them to my Audible wish list. My current listen is Anna McNuff’s 50 Shades of the USA (recently retitled to The United States of Adventure, but Audible hasn’t caught up yet). Let me know what you recommend in the comments below.  

I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode in my weekly blog series. I’ll be back next week with another instalment. See you next time!

Splodz Blogz | Weekly Blog Episode 110

Buy Me a Cuppa?

If you enjoyed this weekly blog episode and fancy supporting me and my mini adventures in 2022, you can “buy me a coffee” (well, tea, if that’s okay). If you enjoyed this post and would like to support what I’m doing, please head over to Ko-fi to find out more. Thank you.

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  1. ABR FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS > SPLODZ BLOGZ

    […] to see what a road trip and motorcycle camping loving GS rider made of the weekend. If you read Weekly Blog Episode 110 you’ll have had a sneak peek at which bikes I got to ride at the event. In this post, I want to […]

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