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  1. Kindle Unlimited Trial – How unlimited is Unlimited?

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    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.

    Kindle 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.

    speed readIf 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 www.criduchat.org.uk. 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.

  2. Re-Launch of Point North & Pedal – Get your FREE Kindle copy now!

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    Download FREE from 3/1/16 – 00:15

    I’ve learned a lot about self-publication since launching Point North & Pedal in 2013, a book about my experience of riding nearly 1,000 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Sales have been OK but I thought I would apply some of this new-found knowledge to re-launching the book. I’ve read a lot of blogs and listened to countless videos about the best way to promote a book, hopefully some of it has rubbed off!

    JOG Signpost

    So, what’s it all about and what’s the point?

    I rode the UK End to End in 12 days, a solo effort on a heavy mountain bike but it had a clear purpose, raise lots of money for the Cri Du Chat Syndrome Support Group. I was a fairly new to riding a bike at the time but made sure I practiced everything I would need to ride an average of 80 miles a day for nearly two weeks. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, I can’t recommend it enough.


    The book is an amusing look at the physical and mental side of taking on such a ride. It’s supposed to be funny but also inspirational, something I hope comes across to the reader. I have been honest about how I felt, especially regarding the severe homesickness, something I have never suffered from in the past. I have also resurrected the word ‘wassock’, a very satisfying term when applied to people who wind me up.

    I originally wrote up my notes purely as a personal project, as I got into the detail, it became steadily more fascinating. I had always planned to write something when I got back so I maintained a meticulous journal during the ride. It was a positive way to spend the evenings once all the ‘housekeeping’ had been sorted out. I had a lot of thinking time, usually in a freezing tent and isolated from the rest of my life.


    The book also developed into a ‘top tips’ guide for those looking to research the ride, I made plenty of mistakes so I hope prospective LEJOGers will find some useful information. Check out the About section of this web site for further tips and kit reviews etc.

    The end result should have something for everyone, it’s not just for cyclists or those interested in touring on a bike, it’s a story too.

    I have received some nice reviews on Amazon, I think this one sums them all up well:

    ‘A truly amazing book for cyclists and non-cyclist (like myself!) everywhere. This book tells the story of one man, one bike and a 1000 miles for charity. The planning, the physical and emotional endurance and pressure of cycling one end of the country to the other without a support vehicle all for the selfless goal of giving some financial support and help to this wonderful charity. The funny bits made me laugh out loud and the sad bits made me remember those that have gone before. A truly remarkable read written by a man and his family who are an inspiration to us all. Please, please buy this book you will not regret your purchase.’

    All the above sounds very self-indulgent but there was a point to the exercise, I sell the book to profit the Cri Du Chat Syndrome Support Group. They are a great (small) charity that supports families of those with CDC Syndrome, they also fund research into this rare chromosomal disorder. I have a personal connection with the charity so raising money for them seemed a natural thing to do. To date, the figure stands at over £7,600 but I can and must do better!

    So, moving into 2016, I am offering the book for FREE for a limited period of 5 days only! A little counter intuitive but I hope to improve future sales as a result; more people see what I have done and talk about it to their friends etc.

    Please help me to make this a success, there are several things you can do:


    • If you have a Kindle, please DOWNLOAD the book – after all, it’s FREE!


    • If you don’t have a Kindle, you can down load reading apps for most devices.


    • Share this post with your friends on Social Media


    • Like my Facebook Page (there is also a ‘Like’ button in this blog, under the Twitter feed on the right).


    • If you read/have read the book, write a review on Amazon, this really helps to drive sales.


    • If you don’t have a Kindle, buy a paperback copy (they make great presents too!).


    You may own a copy already, if that’s the case, thank you for helping to raise a little more cash for the charity. It all adds up and makes a difference. More information about the charity can be found here.

    Here’s to a great 2016, whatever you are doing.

  3. What’s your approach to riding in blustery conditions?

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    Finally, winter appears to have arrived in no uncertain terms after a gloriously mild autumn. All of a sudden there is water on the ground messing up my nice clean bike and the winds have picked up. I thought I was reasonably well prepared for the winter commutes to work but I had forgotten about the effect of higher winds when riding on the road, being reminded has not been very pleasant!


    Riding to work is one thing, but how do winds affect a long distance rider and what can be done to mitigate the effect of a stiff breeze in your face?

    There is a classic belief (at least it feels like that) amongst those planning to ride the UK End to End, that the start should be Land’s End to take advantage of the south westerlies that we more often than not get. The argument for this, I suspect, becomes much stronger in winter when wind speeds are higher and the logic is sound given that the average direction does indeed appear to be from the south west. However, this doesn’t help you much when you are riding from south to north and the wind decides to be a northerly!

    Winds, like hills, come and go so there is always the positive to be had in the knowledge that the wind will drop eventually and you can crack on. But what can you do in the meantime when each pedal stroke feels like an effort? Let’s assume that you have the optimum touring bike without deep dish aero wheels that capture the wind like a sale and look at what you can do to make life easier.

    Prepare in advance

    Most people will take a smart phone with them, it makes sense to stay in touch with people if you are out on your own, especially as some of the Cumbrian and Scottish roads are very remote. Have a look at the weather forecast for the next day and get an idea of what you might be in for, knowing takes a lot of the fear out of things.

    Eat well and ensure good hydration to prepare for the next day, we all know that horrible feeling when your energy reserve is exhausted, commonly known as the ‘bonk’. Riding in winds will use more energy compared to a still day.


    A big, flappy coat won’t help your cause much, over an 8 hour day the cumulative effect of it catching the wind will sap your strength and lesson the pleasure of the days riding (it is supposed to be fun, right?).

    Dress in layers to insulate against the cold and ensure that there are no exposed bits of skin where the wind can get in. Bib shorts are less than flattering for most of us but they do have a nice, high back which helps to keep that area warm even if your shirt rides up. Being warm gives you something less to worry about.

    Don’t let the wind chill make your hands and feet painfully cold. A decent pair of winter gloves and overshoes do a sterling job to keep extremities nice and warm. The only issue you will have is drying out your gloves when arriving at your destination, most are very waterproof on the outside but easily get wet on the inside with sweat.

    On a serious note regarding apparel, how visible are you to other road users? Cyclists are the first to complain about drivers who don’t give them enough space etc., etc. but was the cyclist giving the driver best chance to see them and their bike? Lights/hi viz/light coloured clothing?

    Manage your energy as you ride

    Eating well the night before won’t matter a jot if you shoot your bolt in the first hour. Take your time and accept that, for the same given amount of effort through the pedals, you will be slower on average overall on a windy day. Maybe drop a gear from your usual cruising ring and increase your pedal cadence, take regular breaks out of the wind and continue to eat and drink. Think about riding at a slower speed that can be sustained over the whole day.

    Mental Approach

    Break things down, think about riding to the next village or the next coffee shop, try not to think about the overall trip or your final destination for the day, it just makes things drag. Look around and enjoy the countryside you are riding through, this can take your mind off things and before you know where you are, it’s the last hill before the next stop.

    Try to avoid the temptation to keep an eye on your computer, time seems to go quicker that way and you won’t be continually disappointed by the speed data!

    If you are riding with other people, morale can suffer a bit on days like these. Try and remain cheerful, almost laugh in the face of adversity but remember that some might be suffering more than others. Work as a team and take turns at the front so people get a rest on those really breezy days.


    Yes, have a good look around at the countryside and enjoy but try not to zone out so much that you end up playing chicken with a 38 tonner. Gusty winds can push you out into the road or into the ditch at the side; riding in conditions like this takes concentration, especially if your panniers are carrying extra weight. Be aware of natural wind breaks like hedges ending suddenly and subjecting you to a strong gust. If it’s really bad, consider canning the day and live to fight another, you won’t get a posthumous medal for pushing on regardless.

    Be as fit as you can be

    This is not just for cycling but for anything in life. There is no such thing as too fit. Your core muscles do a lot of work on the bike, their workload spirals upwards when you are trying to balance a laden tourer in strong winds. Everyone is different and fitness is a whole different blog, I’m just saying it’s good idea to consider exercise to supplement all of your riding.

    People adopt their own approach to cycling, the above isn’t meant to be prescriptive, just fuel the debate; I hope there is something useful in there somewhere! Feel free to comment constructively below and share for others to comment. The best thing about windy days in my opinion, is getting to your destination, sitting down with a pint or cup of tea and recounting that arduous day in the saddle with your mates. It’s a mid-life crisis thing?

    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 www.criduchat.org.uk

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


  4. One more donation for Team 14!

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    It seems like an age since the Team 14 Ironman at the end of August, a few more donations have come in and the event seems to have come to a natural end. However, there was one more donation received last week, a rather large and unexpected amount!

    We are lucky in Wantage, there are a lot of people who give their time to raising funds for local and national causes. As with all small towns, most people know most people and word gets about quickly whether you want it to or not.  Only last week I was asked to set up a turbo trainer in the Cancer Research shop to do an all-day spin in December, I’m not sure they realise just how sweaty it will get but I’m happy to help! We have a good network of people with all sorts of different skill sets.

    There is one stand-out fundraiser in the town; he has perfected the knack of relieving people of their cash for good causes and getting word out about deserving charities and events. If he’s not doing a personal challenge, he is arranging events such as a dinner for the old folk at Christmas or reviving the town’s carnival. Ray Collins will stop at nothing when it comes to fund raising; he works tirelessly giving up weekends and holidays to get things done.

    Ray was keen to ensure local charities benefitted from funds raised at this year’s Wantage Carnival: The Beatbox, Yellow Submarine and the Churchill Hospital all received donations.

    Ray knew of the Team 14 Ironman and had also heard of the 14 Club, he called me and announced that he was donating some money from the carnival to my cause. More than happy with this, I popped in the shop where he works to ‘collect a small cheque’. Well, the cheque was small in size but the amount printed on it was £800 – an unbelievable figure and one which took our fund raising to £3,500.


    Ray 14 Club


    I am very grateful to Ray for his donation, it means that the 14 Club can cover costs for a whole year and continue with their work benefitting local people with a learning disability. Check out their website at www.14club.org.uk

    If you ever fancied doing an Ironman, have a look at the planning and preparation that went into the Team 14 event here.

    photo 1

    Lastly, if you have a few quid spare, please consider donating to the 14 Club via my Make-a-Donation page, it will make a difference to those that need it.

    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 www.criduchat.org.uk

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