I'm a double cancer survivor, cyclist and walker who does various challenges for different charities, mainly cancer-related.

In 2016 I climbed every single 'Birkett' in the Lake District - all 542 fells over 1,000' within the National Park, including all 214 Wainwrights. I've also done a three-week cycle tour of Tasmania in February 2015 and amongst other things, I've cycled from Land's End to John o'Groats (2003), Rotterdam to Lemvig (Denmark) (2005), walked the Pennine Way (2008) completed (my first) ascent of all 214 'Wainwrights' in the Lake District in only 55 days (2009), cycled 4,500 miles around the coast of Great Britain (2011), cycled all 42 of the accessible Western Isles of Scotland in under a month (2012), twice abseiled 230 ft from the top of The Big One in Blackpool, cycled the WWI Western Front from London to Compiegne via Ypres and Arras (2014), cycled 750 miles in the Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton (2014), done a bit of sky-diving and cycled Australia's Great Ocean Road - just before lockdown in 2020.

Altogether I've raised over £120,000 for my charities including The Christie, Cancer Research UK, the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, and ABF (The Soldiers' Charity) and I was mightily chuffed to receive the British Empire Medal in the 2014 New Year's Honours List.

I'm a Rotarian and give illustrated talks about my adventures in exchange for a donation to charity, so if you're looking for a speaker leave me a message. I am also Event Organiser for the Ribble Valley Ride Cycle Sportive, to be held this year on Sunday 5 September 2021 - more details at www.ribblevalleyride.org

You can also follow me on Twitter - @CancerBikeMan and on Facebook - just search for Bill Honeywell

Cancer Research UK is the world's leading charity dedicated to beating cancer through research, whilst The Rosemere does fantastic work for patients in Lancashire and South Cumbria.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Cycle Tour of Tasmania – February 2015

Day 2

My room mate, Ken, is a touch on the deaf side.  This came as a relief when someone rang me at 3.20 pm. Because this was 3.20 pm UK time, therefore 2.20 am Tasmania time.  I scrabbled to turn it off without answering (it was a sales call anyhow!) and was about to apologise to Ken for the rude awakening when I realised he was still sleeping soundly.  Jet lag doesn't seem to apply after travelling west-east and I quickly dozed off again.

Deborah finishes re-assembling her Hewitt while the neighbours look on approvingly
Getting up at around 7.30, it seemed amazing that it was Friday already, having left the UK so recently - on Tuesday. Talk at breakfast was of folks going into town to visit the bike shop, but encouraged by my brief outing to Mersey Bluff yesterday afternoon, I thought I'd saunter around the headland and then head back along the creek, doing a bit of bird-watching and generally being lazy.

Small Wattlebird
Setting off alone after applying Factor 50 (in deference to the depleted ozone layer down here), I followed the coast path, looking at birds which were all new to me - Galahs, Masked Lapwings, Small Wattlebirds (not very small but very noisy), Silver Gulls (like our Black-headed Gulls but with white heads), then through mixed woodland, where the narrow trunks of the trees were densely packed and quite spectacular in their own way.  

The path winds through densely packed trees
A passenger train runs on the hour

A few little birds appeared, like native Silvereyes, Grey Fantails, plus some which had obviously been introduced - Blackbirds, Starlings, Sparrows, Greenfinches and Goldfinches.  Past the car park at Coles Beach, over the narrow-gauge railway track and into more mature eucalyptus woodland with a Grey Butcher-bird and then the distinctive (and loud) call of a Laughing Kookaburra.  It felt very Australian.  A Beautiful Firetail (grey and scarlet finch) tried to hide in the higher branches of a path-side bush.

Grey Fantail
Sawdust Bridge
Behind the Aquatic Centre a wooden footbridge (Sawdust Bridge) took me over a small tidal creek where a second view of a large log revealed no crocodile-surprises (I don't think there are any crocs in Tassie). 
Re-entering the outskirts of town a massive, noisy bird in the top of a tree in someone's garden turned out to be a Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo.  

Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo
The railway museum
I turned towards the railway museum and said 'Hello' to a man in a pickup truck.  He said he was the famous 'Bo' the clown (meant nothing to me), and when I told him I was from Lancashire in the UK he said "Well you won't be goin' 'ome mate" - apparently because I would like Devonport so much that - like him - I would settle down there.  I suggested that Mrs Honeywell might have something to say about that, but it didn't seem to register.

Superb Fairy-Wren

Nothing to eat at the railway museum so I set off back towards the Aquatic Centre to rejoin my outward route.  A Superb Fairy Wren bobbed about and looked stunning, with a head of Kingfisher blue and black. Two or three miles later I was back at Mersey Bluff and called at the Surf Club for a bite to eat.  Ordering the Brekkie Burger was perhaps a mistake, as the huge bread roll, two eggs and multiple rashers of bacon dripping fat everywhere was rather more than I'd bargained for.  As I ate it I sat watching the Silver Gulls sorting out their pecking order - literally - with one dominant bird keeping all others away in anticipation of me giving up on the Brekkie Burger before I could finish it. He was neither wrong nor disappointed.

Rainbow Lorikeet - an invasive species native to NE Australia
Back at the Sunrise Comfort Motel, John Hartigan was still waiting for his bike to arrive.  He'd travelled from his home in Omaha, Nebraska, where he is a retired judge, and unfortunately the bike hadn't been able to keep up with him.  He was sceptical of the promises he kept receiving as he rang the airline, but around 4 pm it finally arrived by taxi from the airport, to his great relief.

This time our evening meal was at the Devonport Croquet Club (I'm sure we'll find a proper restaurant some time!), and on our return we looked for the Southern Cross and found it (I think). 

Tomorrow, Saturday, will be a gentle re-introduction to the art of cycling - upside-down of courese - so we all turned in early to get some sleep ready for the off.


If you've any comments to make or questions to ask, feel free to add a comment at the end of this blog, and also feel free to share it with your friends.  It gets more interesting once the cycling starts!

Friday, 27 February 2015

Cycle Tour of Tasmania – February 2015

I've just got back home after another great three-week tour.  I had hoped to produce a blog as I went along in Tasmania, but running lightweight and with only an iPhone, it was just too much trouble to update the blog en route - so I decided to publish the details after I got back home rather than spend all my evening time poking fingers at a tiny screen.  Much better to enjoy the odd James Boag's Draught in the evenings!

So here we go.  Apologies if I start by repeating anything general from the Yellowstone tour last September - but I'll soon get on to the details of Tasmania itself.  But first... 

I guess the first thing to report on is the flight. And before that it may be worth mentioning the packing. The main thing being the bike. If you're just going for a week's cycling holiday from a single base, it's worth hiring a nice road bike from your holiday destination. But if you're going for three weeks, and if you're moving on with panniers every day, then for several reasons it's better to take your own. 

But this results in a whole new range of problems. At least this time the bike and luggage came within the 30kg limit allowed by Emirates. The USA's United Airlines (who we flew with to Yellowstone last year) have a stingy 20kg allowance, and charge an extra $200 for 'sporting goods' - including bikes.  

Nevertheless, some careful preparation is required. Wheels off and stored separately in the bike bag with mudguards cable-tied on; saddle down as far as it will go, pedals off, handlebars loosened and turned at 90 deg; thick cardboard protection for the chainring; dérailleur unbolted and fastened inside the frame; and then the whole lot wrapped in bubble-wrap. Along with a few tools and other items, the whole thing weighed in at 22.0 kg, just under the 23.0 kg max for a single item. 

Then two panniers with all my clothes and other stuff, this time kept as light as possible with only one spare of everything. In fact some items don't need spares. After over a week I hadn't used my spare cycle shorts, top, warmer longs or top, and only used one of my evening shirts - because I'd brought it! I'd also taken the drastic step of not using cycle shoes or clipless pedals. On a recent trip I'd forgotten my shoes (!) and had to change to ordinary pedals and trainers. This time I'd decided to try ordinary pedals again, with really light Hi-Tec Zuuk 'trainers' which weighed much less than cycle shoes. The cons - being able to pull up on the pedals mainly - were in my view more than compensated for by the pros - lighter footwear, lighter luggage, and no problem walking around the different places of interest en route. In fact, the combined weight of two pairs of Zuuks was over a kilogram less than a pair of cycle shoes and a pair of trainers.

I'd also thrown out the heavy bar bag with all kinds of heavy stuff in it, and replaced it with a modified rear saddlepack which took only my camera, money and spare toilet roll.  Overall I think my luggage weighed at least 8 kg less than it did in Yellowstone.  Note to self: cut back even more next time. 

One pannier went in the hold with the bike. The other stayed with me as cabin luggage.  Because I have a stoma, this bag includes medical provisions, which, if they were to be lost in transit, would be a disaster, so I kept this pannier close to me all the time. 

Having done the preparation, check-in was a doddle, apart from the sheer awkwardness of manhandling the bike bag. Arriving at the airport with tour leader Richard Dugdale, we met up with old friends Helen, Tony and Deborah, and new friends Ken, Steve and Irene, then went to wait for our departure time. 

The Airbus A380 is huge. There's no way it should be able to fly. Even on Economy Class it's luxurious, with 10 seats per row after row after row.  I never even got to see the huge upper floor with first- and business class - it wouldn't surprise me if there were an Olympic-size swimming pool up there!

The flight to Dubai took seven hours.  Next came the flight to Melbourne on a Boeing 777, a smaller plane perhaps, but still big, with ten seats across the width of the fuselage.  A fourteen-hour flight, broken halfway by a refuelling /change of passenger stop at Singapore's Changi Airport.  I was on my own now, having booked my flights separately from the main group.  Because I was flying in an easterly direction, I had to keep turning my watch forward, so that by the time I arrived at Melbourne I'd been flying over 21 hours and added another 11 hours on the watch - so Wednesday just disappeared.  It was now Thursday morning, time for the last plane, a Dash, with propellers - what a contrast!

At Melbourne I had to go through immigration and then collect my hold luggage - i.e. the bike - before going through to the domestic terminal.  Long queues at immigration with officials who weren't all the most welcoming. The automatic passport reader failed to recognise me so I had to join another queue.  With bike on trolley, I headed for the uphill travelator only to find it not working - and worked up quite a sweat pushing the loaded trolley uphill with the brakes insisting on coming on at every other step!  Finally I rejoined the rest of the group at our last departure gate, and met John, Sue, and John Hartigan for the first time.

Bass Strait isn't like the English Channel - it's 150 miles wide and takes over an hour to cross in a plane.  We were travelling not to Hobart but to Devonport on the north coast, and it made a nice change to be in a smaller plane with only just enough time for a light lunch on board before we reached our final destination.  Devonport may be a small airport but they still have sniffer dogs.

Local bus driver Greg was there to take us and the bikes to the Sunrise Comfort Motel on the outskirts of town, just a few yards from the beach.  The rooming arrangements were a bit odd! - Family rooms with, in our case, one married couple in the main part, and two others in another room to the rear. We were sharing the bathroom and had to walk through the main bedroom to get in and out or go to the bathroom.  And we'd only just met - hardly been properly introduced!

The rest of the afternoon was spent putting the bikes back together (no problems there), followed by a walk to the beach and Mersey Bluff, where there's a lighthouse.  I got an introduction to the birds of Tasmania including Galahs (a noisy grey and pink parrot), Wattle-birds, Sooty Oystercatchers, Pied Cormorants and the incredibly common Masked Lapwings.

Finally we went for an evening meal in town at the RSL (Returned Servicemen's League) - a bit unusual but our bus driver Greg was keen for us to go there.  At least I was quickly introduced to the local brew - James Boag's Draught from Launceston.  On the way back we commented on the upside-down moon and stars, and then I was baffled at the fact that Orion was the right way up. How could that be?  Well, the answer is, it's the same shape either way up, but of course Betelgeuse and Rigel swap places, and Sirius is in the direction of 2 o'clock from the belt, not 8 o'clock!

Off to bed.  Don't expect any cycling in tomorrow's tale - we'll be having the usual settling-in rest day - but there'll be plenty to report about Devonport, its people and its wildlife.