Blog - Phil Cox


Do MAMILs dream of electronic shifting?

My first road bike (back in the 80’s) had classic down tube gear levers, not only did you dice with death when changing gear at speed but you also had to fettle each change to avoid that annoying clicking when the gear isn’t quite lined up.

Shimano then introduced the ‘indexed’ system which allowed accurate gear changes with a single click, no messing around moving a tiny lever minute amounts to get the gear in!

But times move on and now electronic shifting is all the rage. Pro’s ride them so a Tour de France full of bikers can’t be wrong? I do wonder how many mechanicals are blamed on shifter failure, it can’t be that many or too detrimental or I suspect natural selection would kick in and a different solution found.

I came across an interesting article on the Cyclist website discussing the future of intelligent shifting based upon data collected from each shift; some predict a world where manual shifting is a thing of the past. As a mediocre rider I remain to be convinced and at this point in time would spend my money on a wheel upgrade to improve my cycling. However, as a technology fan I can’t ignore the ingenious way these shifters work and maybe one lottery win later will see me riding them?

This may just be the preserve of racing and sportives, LEJOG riders will probably want to stick with something they can fix at the roadside!

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Tour de France – Jerseys explained!

People who love cycling will no doubt have been glued to the TV for the last 11 days soaking up the Tour de France spectacle, I know I have. Although I am not a road racer, I can appreciate the sheer effort and physical ability of the riders; some of the hills they climb at speed are simply out of reach for us mere mortals.

Getting to know all the written and unwritten rules has been (and still is) a bit of a chore…then there is racing etiquette and team tactics…it all seems bewildering to the novice. I found the article below to be very helpful, it essentially explains the jersey’s that can be won during the course of the race. Most people know what the Yellow Jersey represents but what about the White or Polka-dot Jerseys?

Let’s hope that there are no more nasty crashes, the one suffered by Ritchie Porte during a steep downhill section on stage 9 was horrendous. Wishing all of those riders that have been injured on the Tour a speedy recovery.


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Kindle Unlimited Trial – How unlimited is Unlimited?

The Kindle Unlimited Trial rolls on…

I’ve now had a chance to test out the trial and all is going well. I have a stack of reading, downloading these books has been very simple but I have started to get the feeling that Kindle Unlimited is not so unlimited.

The Kindle Unlimited Free Trial might not be for everyone

If you were considering doing the Kindle Unlimited free trial in order to download lots of books, cancel the subscription and enjoy your reading at a later date you will be a little disappointed. The limit is set at 10 downloads at any one time; you can return books to free up space for further downloads but be aware that when you cancel the trial, all your Kindle Unlimited books will disappear. They will, of course, remain if you decide to take the paid subscription after the trial period has ended.

Although the books will disappear, any notes, bookmarks or highlights you might have made will be saved to your Amazon account. The theory is that these will be available if you buy the books or take out a Kindle Unlimited subscription and download it at a later date.

Maybe a way to judge whether you want to keep going with the paid subscription (currently at £7.99 – Jan 2016) is perhaps to compare your reading wish list to Kindle Unlimited and see if the titles are offered. Most people sign up to save money I guess, but running a few calculations, I don’t think I can consume a book fast enough to really save a lot of money. The vast majority of books listed in Kindle Unlimited sell at $4.99 or less and there doesn’t seem to be a whole load of best sellers on offer. I tend to read novels at around 1-2 a month (not all are Kindle books) so I would be breaking even at best.

If you are an Amazon Prime customer, you may wish to consider the Kindle On-Line Lending Library as an alternative, it’s part of the Prime Subscription and you don’t have to return books! If I was a Prime customer this might suit my personal circumstances a little better, I could borrow a book and get around to reading it at some point without paying any more for that privilege.

So, I enjoyed browsing what was on offer and discovered a few new authors but I suspect I will not be signing up for Unlimited, it just doesn’t suit my reading habits. I know there are people out there who consume books a lot faster than I can so this might be a good option for them. Amazon are very good at telling you the benefits of a feature if it is positive, I had to hunt around to find out the not so positive stuff e.g. the 10 book limit download.

If you do sign up for the free trial, Amazon will assume that you want to continue with Unlimited and pay the subscription, it’s down to you to cancel the trial before its end date. This date is made very clear by Amazon as is the need for you to cancel if you do not wish to continue with a paid subscription.

My own Kindle publication is currently priced at $3.99 which equates to £2.80, I do offer it on Kindle Unlimited and have been pleased with the income generated, I donate all royalties to Although the download is ‘free’, I get paid per page read for the first time. Additionally, it gets my book out into the readers’ hands, with luck they will like it and talk about it to other people. The more people who recommend it, the more paid downloads will result (fingers crossed).

But don’t take my word for it, have a look and see what you think, just click the cover image!

If you fancy having a look at the trial, click here.

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What’s involved in signing up for the free Kindle Unlimited trial?

Every time I log into Amazon, I’m constantly reminded that I have not signed up for Kindle Unlimited yet so I thought I would give the free trial a go and see what it was all about. The usual monthly cost comes in at £7.99 so the free trial was definitely worth a go.

As a Kindle author, I benefit from people choosing my book through the Kindle Lending Library/Kindle Unlimited. Subscribers to Kindle Unlimited have a huge choice of books to borrow/download for free. Royalties are calculated on the number of pages read for the first time only.

The free trial for Kindle Unlimited looked enticing and straightforward to set up, I thought it might be useful to blog my experience. I tend to be the kind of reader who has a pile of books waiting to be read as well as a few on Kindle that I have picked up when browsing (usually impulse purchases). I always have a book on the go and there just never seems enough time hence why I haven’t signed up previously.

I logged into my Amazon account, clicked ‘Your Account’ (top right) and selected ‘Your Kindle Unlimited’. The next screen presented me with a few details about what I would get during my free trial, basically a choice of over a million free Kindle books and thousands of audio books – sounds great so I clicked the big button marked ‘Start your 30-day free trial’, straightforward so far!

The word ‘free’ is mentioned a lot, which is why I was a little surprised when the next screen to appear was asking for payment card details. I read through the text and was reassured that this information was required in advance of any billing after the free period had expired. I noticed that Amazon gift cards cannot off-set any future subscription fees but there was still a box to complete the gift card reference. I’m guessing this was just part of a generic screen used for purchasing so paid it little attention. I clicked the ‘Place your order’ button and moved on….

The next screen asked me to click on my billing address for future invoices, the format looked like a normal Amazon purchase screen so no surprises there. That was it, the welcome screen appeared and I was ready to browse through all those tempting books, downloading what I wanted for free! Happy days!

I made a note of the trial period expiry date so I wouldn’t run into the charging period.  I wanted to see if Amazon where as good as their word around the ease of cancelling your Unlimited subscription when the time came.

The welcome screen looked intuitive but I thought I would give that a test drive another time. I was eager to try out the process of looking for something in Amazon and downloading it through Unlimited. Worked a treat, I clicked the ‘Buy now with 1 click’ and that was it, a confirmation screen appeared and I received an e-mail to boot – standard Amazon stuff. I then had a look at Point North & Pedal to see how the screen had changed; it was slightly different, the button was marked ‘Read for £0.00’, apart from that it was clear that the book featured in the Kindle Unlimited section of Amazon.

Check back for part 2 of this blog where I will have a nose around the Unlimited menus, the final part will look at cancelling the free subscription. I tend to post new blog notifications on my Facebook Page and my Twitter account, please connect with me, there may be something of interest in all the white noise! Every ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ helps with raising funds and awareness for Cri Du Chat Syndrome Support Group.

If you would like to check out Point North & Pedal, please click here. All profit to It’s a great resource for anyone considering the UK End to End ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats (or vice versa or ‘There and Back Again’!), lots of anecdotes to help you plan your trip as well as good information about kit and training etc.

Thanks for dropping by.

Further reading…..

If you liked this blog please take a moment to check out my book describing the solo Land’s End to John O’Groats ride in 2012, all profit from sales to

Please click the cover image for the Kindle version or click here to order a paperback copy. Thank you!

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