Archive for June, 2012

Freshly made mountain bike video shot entirely with iphone in HD

We had our first attempt at making a mountain bike action video this week. It was a lot of work setting up each shot but we are very pleased with the final result and will be making more in the future.

We shot the whole sequence with an iphone in HD using a tripod and tripod mount for the phone. It took around 5 hours to gather enough footage and another couple of hours editing to get the sequence right. The soundtrack is from the You Tube library as they are now getting tight on allowing copyright soundtracks from well known artists, but I think it works well enough.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video, keep a look out for more or check out our YouTube channel DuffbagTV


Biodegradable Packaging

As our sales have steadily grown over the last 18 months we have become more conscious of the amount of packaging we use. We try and keep our packaging to the minimum and generally use polythene mailing bags, which by their design, are once only use, i.e. they are not resealable once sealed.

We have now sourced a new supplier of mailing bags which are completely biodegradable which while making a very small difference to the environment makes us feel better!

Racing down at Fowlmead near Deal, Kent

The main entrance to Fowlmead

Cyclists in our little part of East Kent will probably be familiar with the facilities at Fowlmead Country Park near Deal Kent. Fowlmead is a fabulous cycling facility (described by British Cycling as the best in the country) that has a two mile tarmac circuit as well as an off road course and a really fun pump track (much to the embarrassment of my children who for some reason don’t like seeing their middle aged father mixing it with the kids!) . There is a thriving race series for road cyclists and XC racers with regular events hosted throughout the year. The  road circuit is fast and smooth, it is used by families and leisure cyclists but there is a “red” lane for use for faster riders. Obviously when a race event is on the circuit is closed to the public.

The back of the circuit, can get a bit blowy out there if the wind is against you

Most weekends a group of us will spin down there on roadbikes, it is around a 45 mile round trip from my home through the Kentish lanes. There is a nice, friendly café in the visitors centre where you can grab a sandwich and a coffee and there are usually riders in there from most of the local clubs to chat to. Some of my riding group have been foolish enough to enter the XC winter race series, needless to say their trophy cabinet is still just as empty, maybe next year eh?

Human powered racing at Fowlmead

We have seen all kinds of events there, from XC races to time trials, even on one memorable event a human powered kind of recumbent kind of thing which seemed very popular with a group of riders from the Netherlands. If you are in our part of the world in the near future, why not drop in? The racing is optional!

The pump track – great fun but my kids find it embarrassing to see their middle aged father getting amongst the BMXers and 4cross bikes!


Crazy MTB ride across Romney Marsh Kent

As well as working on duffbag I enjoy frequent mountain bike and Road rides with a group of like minded friends from my base down in Kent. I thought I would start sharing some of my experiences with you on my blog.

One of our group suggested “doing something different”, this was distinctly out of character as he is one of those types that loves meticulous planning and organisation. When he added “we will just have a rough plan and see what happens” we knew it was going to be a great ride.

I took my fully rigid singlespeed for a spin – nichetastic!

The rough plan was to follow the Military Canal from Hythe in Kent and see where it takes us, that was it, how much trouble could we get into by following a canal?

Four of us arrived at Hythe in the stealthy black van with bikes and gear on board, the atmosphere was of a distinct military nature as not only were we following a military canal but we had parked alongside the live firing range of the British Army with a backing group of high velocity snipers practicing shooting things.

We span along to the start of the route with a cheerful toot, toot from the little steam train (Romney Hythe and Dymchurch line) that chugs across the marsh. Within five minutes we were being berated by a local for daring to share the same piece of the planet as her at the same time she wanted to use it. We cheerfully greeted her and left her raging and bewildered and probably writing to the local paper as we speak.

The cycle path here is the standard issue of gritty shale type paths so beloved by local authorities with a bit of lottery cash to spend. What was not standard issue was the Emu on the right. Yes, I did say Emu, a full size, live Emu pecking about in the Kent countryside, something to do with the Port Lympne zoo we figured out, still an Emu!

The gritty trail soon petered out as no one expects people to ride more than about six miles so from here it was a bit of cheeky freestyle through the countryside aided by Garmin hi tech satellites.

What did we spot in the distance? Obelisk. A big one. Right up on the hill. Be rude not to go and have a look. A quick detour had us at the foot of a very impressive column of stone with a gold pointy bit at the top. It was literally in the middle of nowhere, just sitting there obelisking at no one in particular. It was erected in 1834 in memory of Sir William Cosway and has a pretty impressive view of the surrounding countryside.

Onwards and weaving through a gaggle of ramblers without incident we pick up the canal once more and push on through fields of skinhead sheep, long grass and errr sheep waste, which sticks to tyres like errrr sheep waste does.

Then… Portaloo. In the middle of a field near an old church. No houses. No people, Just a field, a church and a Portaloo. Unusual. Then… a Marquee. Something must be up, we are miles from anywhere in the most open and desolate spot deep on Romney Marsh, Why is there a Portaloo and a Marquee here? A bit further on we find enlightenment in the form of a charming old gentlemen who is wearing a cravat and cordoning off a portion of field. A quick conversation reveals  that this is the site of the annual raft race at Bonnington and this is the preparation for the big event taking place tomorrow. It is quite a star studded event by local standards as Julian Clarey and Paul O’Grady live nearby and both are due to attend. The day just gets more surreal.

With some helpful directions from our new found friend with the cravat we carry on alongside the canal, crossing fields of wheat instead of skinhead sheep.

From here we encounter the ever popular right of way that goes through someones garden. You know the type that buys a house with a right of way passing through their garden and then spends the ensuing decades making it look private and forbidding stressing themselves into a frenzy if anyone merely looks in the direction of the path. We crossed the garden past the beware of the dog signs, through 14 gates and chains (slight exaggeration) and safely out the other side.

Then we found the church… It looked like it was abandoned, the weeds outside were shoulder height and the gravestones had been absorbed by a mini New Romney rain forest. An abandoned church in the middle of nowhere, who would not want a bit of an explore?

The first door was locked, as was the second and third. A small door on the North side was worth a try. The handle turned and the door opened. I expected a flock of bats to fly out followed by a wide eyed wild haired woman with bony fingers and a scythe. What we found was a perfectly preserved, beautiful little church, complete with altar, pews and organ. Really, really unexpected, we respectfully had a quick look around and left, quite in awe of what we had just found. A quick bit of research revealed this to be the church at Snave, known as “the remote church” dating from the 13th century and declared redundant in 1984. It has since been maintained by the Romney Marsh Historic Churches Trust. Awesome church, just need to cut the grass a bit more.

A bit more Garmin assisted navigation led us across some bumpy wheat fields and onto some little lanes, where we caught and passed a guy riding what looked like his twelve year old daughter’s bike. The surprising thing was he sped up and kept on our tail for about 2 or 3 miles. They breed them fit out there on the Marsh, must be all that fresh air and high winds or nuclear spider bites or something.

With the ride almost over it was a quick stop in Dymchurch for a bite to eat and a drink and then a fast spin back to the van and civilisation. What more can you ask of a ride that gives you, live military target practice, angry woman, Emu, Obelisk, man with cravat, abandoned churches and a high speed pursuit by a man on a girl’s bike – you could not make this stuff up!

The travels of a Duffbag Stealth bag

Two of our more adventurous customers took a trip in the summer of 2011 starting out in Venice and cycling along the length of the Dalamtaion coast in Croatia. They specifically wanted to travel light as they were traveling by a mix of bikes, trains and ferries and simply wanted to stash their bikes in bags during transfers and simply folding up their bike bags into panniers or rucksacks and simply cycling away from the terminal. Anyway here are some pictures of the intrepid two and some duffbag Stealth bags in exotic locations…

Leaving home in London

On board a ferry- Venice awaits

Careful packing on the fly

On board a sleeper car

Another departure lounge

Cycling away from the station duffbag in rucksack

Duffbag by the sea on the Dalmation Coast Croatia

Packing again- must be getting good at it by now!

Another boat ride coming up