The last post (of the year)

Well, it probably will be...I doubt I'll be organised enough to do another one this close to the end of the year.

So what have I been upto? For a change we'll start with non-exercise related stuff. I finally finished painting my copy of Space Hulk (images here on BGG ). In the most part really enjoyed doing the painting again...the dipping method is really very effective, and you get very good results for comparatively little time investment. It's inspired me to take on a larger painting project, this time a Warhammer 40K army, and I've decided on the Tau. Many moons ago I used to play Space Marines, so I thought I should go for something a little different. Elves/Eldar are "the ghey", Necrons are just a bit silly, Imperial Guard, though thematically great, are a little shit (possibly my next project though) and Chaos never really appealed to me. Tau as an army have a nice strong theme, and their play style is nicely focused...good strong points and weak points. I also think that they will suit the dipping technique perfectly. I've spent the last few weeks on eBay hoovering up squads, and I'm now at the point of assembling the minis, with a target of commencing an industrial painting operation over Christmas and the New Year...

Speaking of 40K, last weekend was a Fishcon, where we make a pilgrimmage to Norfolk, invade Fish's country house with a selection of PC's, and spend 60 hours beating the crap out of each other virtually. This time we spent a long time playing Dawn of War, an RTS based on Warhammer 40K. It's probably the first RTS I've actually enjoyed, as it delivers on massive firefights, and proper squad-based shenanigans, rather than the normal RTS result I see of snakes of units coming out of a factory... The rather less cerebral Left 4 Dead 2 also got some heavy play-time, being perfectly suited to a 'con (apart from the glaring omission of a LAN-based interface...all set-up has to be done via archaic console commands...). Great weekend, I really enjoyed it...

...however it does bring us back to the ugly spectre of fitness. As I've probably bleated on about before, I'm still training for Ride Across Britain. Normally weekends are taken up with long cycle rides in the rolling hills of West Berkshire, so to appease the guilt of sitting down and having no sleep for 3 days for Fishcon I decided to Yin the Yang, and cycle there. On paper it seemed fairly realistic to accomplish. A fairly simple route around London clocked in at about 170-180 miles, so if I stopped halfway at a B&B that would mean about 80-90 miles a day, which seemed emininently achieveable... what follows is a lesson in planning, and the lack-of therewithin.

I mapped a fairly high-level route, which consisted almost entirely of a list of major towns I had to pass through. For day 1 this read "Reading - Henley - High Wycombe - Hemel Hempstead - Stevenage - Cambridge" I booked a B&B in Cambridge for my overnight stop... Simple! I would simply cycle to one, then using my phone GPS pick a rough trajectory, and repeating this technique pick my way around the north-western corner of London. this looked great in theory, and I set off bright and early on the Thursday morning, well wrapped up against the cold and rain, with a rucksac with spare clothes, a lock and a plentiful supply of Torq bars and gels, while cunningly leaving my water bottles on the windowsill. I knew the route from Reading to High Wycombe, so made good time, even on the outskirts of the Chiltern Hills. I had never cycled to High Wycombe itself before, and very quickly discovered that it is remarkably well-named, though it doesn't mention it's general steepness as well. My average speed nose-dived, and at this point the rain really kicked off, and didn't leave again all day. I struggled through the Chilterns, reached Hemel Hempstead, and then struggled for 20 minutes to re-attach my chain after an impressive double-loop squeezed through the front gear-mech...

...and then I hit the Bedfordshire Downs...more bloody hills, and due to the general weather conditions I couldn't even really enjoy the downhill sections, as they were too steep to free-wheel, and corners were accidents waiting to happen. I continued to plod across the country until reaching the M1/A1, at which point I planned to head northwards to avoid major trunk roads, before crossing over to Cambridge. It was about 2pm at this point, and I reckoned on at least another 2 hours in the saddle, bringing up a concern over remaining daylight hours (mental note...December "days" are only about 7 hours long...). By the time I reached Hitchen I was pretty low on morale. My legs were frozen from the incessant rain and cold, and I had real concerns about a final run into Cambridge in the dark. Then my GPS died... Of course being as well planned as I was there was no backup navigation system, and after a (pretty feeble) attempt to get it working again I turned back to Hitchen, and headed to the train station to grab the next ride to Cambridge. The phone came back to life (it was probably the cold that killed it, though it was running Google Latitude, Nokia Sports Tracker and Google Maps, which in retrospect was not that wise), and I made my way sheepishly to the B&B to recover. I'd covered about 120km (80'ish miles), and reckoned I had about 30 or so to go when I stopped.

A hot shower, some junk food and half an hour leaning on a radiator watching crap TV and I was able to re-assess the situation. Physically I was fine. No aches or pains, plenty of energy and no injuries. I had simply been beaten by the weather, lack of daylight, and a lack of planning. I spent most of the evening working out a turn-by-turn route for the next day across Suffolk and Norfolk, as well as turning off most of the toys on my phone to preserve battery life, before collapsing asleep.

The next day, in comaprison to the first, was a complete doddle. I left the B&B at first light, and headed out of Cambridge on it's wide and generous cycle paths towards Newmarket. Half of the route was on cycle paths, the other half on a quiet A-road. Once past Newmarket I had proper country lanes and National Cycle Network routes all the way to the Norfolk Broads. The weather, as if in apology for Thursday, was dry, calm and sunny (though not especially warm far better than the day before...). The hills were behind me, and while it wasn't flat they were rollers, not cliffs. Having the planned route meant I never hit another A-Road, and very rarely even saw cars. Instead I had really rather pleasant roads around farmland, and small villages with 3 houses... I ended up racking up 130km, arriving at the Mill about 2.30pm, feeling rather cheerful.

I'd decided Thursday night that the return journey was probably not achieveable...given I ran out of time the "easy" way (with a tailwind), heading back would be even slower, and there was a 10-mile section between Henley and High Wycombe which was a major trunk road...scary enough in daylight, but terminal in the dark, and during a rush hour. With the aid of Gill I worked out a route using trains that would be fairly pain-free, however Mr.Dr. (though it's not like he could actually help you if you were bleeding to death...) Rob Lang went above and beyond all calls of duty, and drove halfway across the country to pick me and my bike up, before taxi'ing me back to Reading. Sterling work, and much appreciated, especially in the torrential downpour that occured.

All in all it was a good experience, and I'm glad I gave it a go. Perhaps next time I won't try such idiocy in December in the UK, and perhaps I may plan my route a little more thoroughly. It makes me very glad that when I go down the country in June someone else is doing the navigation and logistics, and there will be dedicated bike engineers with us. I'm also glad I won't be alone, as if the roads are not with you there is nothing worse than having no-one to pull you along. Other people may not be able to help you, but at least they can suffer with you!

My next blog post will probably be the New Years Resolutions one...expect it to include a lot of cycling, swimming, running and triathlon-related hijinks...


Great blog post. Your figures are simply superb. Didn't see the BGG ones before. Can't wait to see them in the flesh. need to engineer a reason to come over and see them.

There is no such thing as beyond the call of duty with life long mates. We're pretty much family. Oh, and it's Dr Lang. kthxbye. :)

brainwipe's picture

You know, I've just been looking through the GW site and I must admit it gives me a taste for painting up some 40k. Never knew about Demonhunters, Chaos Demons, Necrons, Tau, Witch hunters. Crikey! So many these days. Very cool models.

brainwipe's picture

The quality of the models has improved out of sight as well, especially the plastics... Unfortunately the price has also gone up a load.

I can't decide if I like the Necron or not. On one hand they have the "Terminator" look going for them, which is good, but then they have the "Undead" stuff as well, which is all a bit shit. If they had just gone "machine army" (effectively a massive rip-off of "Terminator") I reckon they would have been a lot better...

The Daemon Hunters and Witch Hunters have been round as auxillary for Space Marines and Imperial Guard for a while... The Grey Knights in particular have been around for donkeys years.

I'm getting to the end of minature assembly for the a couple of more models in the post, and a couple more to build up, then I can begin the massive amount of painting...

babychaos's picture

What colours are you going for? Your Space Hulk terminators HAD to be Blood Angel, really but I imagine Tau are more open season.

brainwipe's picture

Go Orange! :D

Nibbles's picture

Not orange...well not bright orange anyway. Typical Tau colours are a desert yellow for most squads and vehicles. I'll do steath units in green khaki stylee, and Kroot (beasties) in browns and greens. Individual squads will have a single highlight colour for coherency.

The plan is a base of Army Painter Desert Yellow base coat, then black/silver metal detail (same as the terminators), strong primary unit colour, and for vehicles shades of orange patternation, followed by dip, then base up, then matt layer. I have a load of water-slide transfers that will be divided up to add in specific detail, and individual model detail will be done in light colours, to keep a brightness to the colour scheme...

For steath units the base will be Army Green, and for the Kroot Leather brown.

Leader may get a different colour scheme entirely, not decided yet. The blue on the genestealers came out quite well, I may look at that as an option...

babychaos's picture

I was hoping you'd say pink. ;-)

brainwipe's picture

I should do the stealth units pink...the enemy won't see that out of embarassment... "if we ignore them, maybe they'll go away...". Also, they would get confused with the space marines!

Pink is actually a git of a colour to work with, and I don't think it would work well with the quickshade, as it will show up as a muddy colour...

babychaos's picture