How to build storage for Wine or Cycle Touring equipment or anything else for that matter.

how to build Cycle kit storageThis was my weekend project. I didn’t just assemble these shelves; I built them with materiel we had kicking about in the loft.

Why should you care?

Well the main thing I got out of it was learning how to use Aluminium C-studs. It is a building material, that is cheaper than wood, and faster ones you know how to work it.

We have renovated our flat and in the future we will probably do another home renovation.  On this home renovation we were able to save money by taking down the old partition walls. Now I have built these shelves and understood this material I feel confident that I could erect partition walls. At some point this could save me loads of money, and help me add value to my property.

Also they fit exactly in the space. We solved a storage problem. Shopping for shelves would have been boring, were as making something is fun.

I have written this up so anyone who has a similar situation i.e. want to store their wine or cycle touring equipment can build a custom storage unit that fits perfectly in their property.

FYI:  These are not detailed instructions. It is my story. I tell it only to give you inspiration for your own projects. If you build shelves like this and they collapse under the weight of your prize bottles of wine, then I accept no responsibility! Your shoddy workmanship is your own. My shoddy workmanship is mine.  Also please feel free to wear gardening gloves, while building these shelves. Before I reached for my gloves I sliced my thumb and ring finger open. I imagine it would be perfectly possible to lose a finger doing this work. If you ever ripped a coke can open when you were a kid, then you will know what kind of material Aluminium is when it has been cut.

Before you start

You may want to use Google sketch up to make sure you understand what you have to build.

This will help you visualise your project in 3d and overcome any unique issues you may have e.g. an irregular shaped location for the shelving unit, non-level surfaces or any other issue that may cause your build to be asymmetrical.

You may also like to do something a bit more complicated than this. Drawing it in Google Sketch up feels more like building than drawing a diagram, It will let you make mistakes quickly in the computer and mean you will spend far less time making mistakes with your materials.

You can down load sketch up here:

Tools: Tin Snips, Dremel Multi tool, Saw, Drill, Screwdriver, Tape measure, spirit level, Pencil, White board marker pen, Leather gloves


Two floor boards, 3 Aluminium C stud (0.55x 50x2700mm), two longish screws


Measure hole for shelving unit

Start by creating the sides. Create two large “picture frame” like rectangular frames.

Use tin snips to cut walls of Aluminium C stud.

Make first cuts 4-5 inches from end of C-stud. This is to form a tab so you can join to bits of aluminium together.

Now make cuts along the length of the C stud so you can roll it up into a box frame.


 diagram 1 wine or cycling kit shelves

One straight cut in the wall of the C stud will enable you to bend the C stud into shape. But cutting out an acute angle will remove more material from the fold. This means the bend will be neater, and when you have done all the folds and are attaching the corners together the will be less material and the frame will fit together better.

Once you have cut the tab you will need to make your bespoke cuts.

Bonus Tip:

diagram 2 wine or cycling kit shelves

I am guessing your cuts should have a pattern to them. You should have a short section, then a long section then a short section etc. The short bits will be the short side of your finished rectangle and the long bits will be the long sides of the rectangle. The pattern will continue until you have all four sides to your rectangle.

In my case one 2700mm length of C-stud was not enough material to create an entire rectangular frame. So I had to join another bit of C-stud on to make the 4th and final corner.

To do that, I created another long side with a 5 inch tab on each end. I then inserted the tabs inside the short sides of the other bit of folded C stud.

diagram 3 wine or cycling kit shelvesOnce these two elements have been joined together, you have built a frame. This frame is one side of the shelving unit.


One method of joining these bits of metal together would be to use a crimper. This would puncture both bits of aluminium and stick them together at the same time. Unfortunately, I have lost my crimper and couldn’t source a new one. So I decided to improvise a solution.

Using my Dremel’s disc cutting bit I cut two small parallel straight lines through both bits of metal I wished to join.

Then, using offcuts, I use the tin snips to create staples.




Making staples:

Cut small pieces of scrap offcuts into 5 cm long pieces of metal that are roughly this shape:

 diagram 4 wine or cycling kit shelves staples

The ends of these bits of metal are slightly pointy, so that they self-guide into the holes you have cut in the frame.

Once you have created these bits of metal fold them in half in the middle and put each of the points into the slots you have cut in your frame. Try and cut them to the width of the holes in the frame you have created. Then bang them in with a hammer.

Wine shelves staples

Note: They do need to be narrower than the holes you have cut in the frame. If they are not, the Staples will bend before they go in. If they are narrower the Staples should selfguide into the holes nicely.

Obviously if they are too narrow, there will be more movement in the frame. Don’t worry about a bit of wobble in these frames. They should be statically loaded when they are finished, so you can tolerate a bit of “play” or ricketyness in the finished product.


The support for the lower shelf

Using the C stud you’re going to create a horizontal platform in the middle of your rectangular frame. The horizontal platform needs to be this shape:

 Cycle shelves bottom bracket

It’s a short section of C-stud, with a vertical tab at each end. Once you have created it slotted inside your metal frame.


 Side complete Frame Cycle kit shelf

(This is a side)

In order to finish this you need to staple this horizontal support to the frame. If you have a crimper use that. Otherwise, use the same method above cut to parallel slots through the rectangular frame and the tab on the horizontal support. Then bang a home-made staple through both the frame and the tab of the horizontal support.

I only stapled one side of the horizontal support at each end. This is because the Dremel’s circular cutting bit is a grinding tool. So cutting the slots quickly wore down two of my circular Dremel bits. I also decided that I only wanted to cut the surfaces of my frames which would not be accessible when the shelving unit was installed and in use.  I don’t want anyone to get scratched when they are putting things on the shelves.

Tip: if you only want to work one side of your frame draw red X’s using the whiteboard marker on the side of the frame you want to work on. That should stop you accidentally making cuts on parts of the frame you didn’t want to.

You have now finished one side of your shelving unit. Repeat the process to build the other side of your shelving unit.

Note: When you install the horizontal platform in the other side of your shelving unit. It is really worth checking that it is at the same height as the horizontal platform on the other side of your shelving unit. I would put them in situ and check with a spirit level that they are actually at the same height before you commit and join the horizontal platform on your second side of your shelf. Doing it in situ will mean that these shelves are level, even if the surface you’re placing your shelving unit on is not exactly level.

FYI: Seriously, if you think you are going to load these with heavy, brittle or expensive items (Wine ticks all three) then think about your method of joining. My priority was to build this quickly and cheaply, so I used homemade staples, you may even want to explore welding.

Building the plat form:

In this instance, my shelves are constrained on three sides. As a result, the sides of my shelves cannot fall over sideways or backwards. This means this build is relatively simple. The only thing I have to worry about is the two sides of the shelving unit falling in on themselves. Solving this issue was simple. I measured the distance between the two sides and cut a piece of floorboard to span the two sides of the shelving unit.

In situ, I drilled a pilot hole through the floorboard. When the drill bit passed through the floorboard, it scratched the top of my metal frame. The marque made by the drill bit showed me where I needed to grind a small hole in my frame. Once I had made a small hole in the metal frame the screw could pass through the floorboard and the frame.

To grind the small hole in the frame I used a Dremel wall tile cutting bit.


Dremel Bit











Tip: hold it near horizontal and press down. You will get a tear drop shaped hole but you can keep your hand steady like this. Don’t hold it vertically and try and “drill” a hole with the very tip of the bit. It will run all over the place. Also you only need a tiny hole, Just enough for the screw to go into. The bigger you make the hole the baggier it will be and the more the shelves will wobble.

Location of screw


Once you have screwed a plank onto the top of the frames the structure is stable.



If you are making a set of free standing shelves then you obviously have more work to do. You will need a bit more skill, and your will have to work to higher degree of accuracy. If they are totally free standing that, does kind of beg the question. Why don’t you just buy them? The materials alone may cost you more than a set of mass produced shelves. However, these could be made free standing by adding X-shaped cross members and vertical cross members and tensioning up the whole thing.

Like so:

diagram 6 wine or cycling kit shelves staples stabalising for free standing

Now all you have to do is cut more planks to create the rest of the platform.

Wooden platform for wine or cycling shelves

 Boom! It’s done. Load it, close the door, don’t worry about it until it becomes so stuffed again, you need to find a new solution.


(Find your husband another challenge!)

Wine Rides next challange


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What You Should Eat and How to Avoid Bonking on Your Cycling Holiday

what 2 eat and how to avoid bonking on cycling holiday


If you have toured before then you will know that it is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend your time off. But key to keeping it fun is not running out of energy.

This pyramid describes Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs.


maslows pryimid

As you can see food is the first thing mentioned on the foundation of the pyramid. If you have spent a bit of time outside in the cold you may well be aware that f1ood has a “thermic” effect. Digesting food releases heat and that helps maintain your core body temperature so food not only keeps your energy levels up but it also helps to keep you warm.

As warmth is another pillar of the hierarchy of needs, it makes food especially important when you are out on tour.

Now I know what my Dad would say: “Jesus, do you know how to stay warm and well fed? Go on holiday and stay in a hotel!” That is absolutely a great point. Going on holiday and staying in a hotel is undoubtedly one way of fulfilling all the requirements on the bottom of that pyramid. But that in itself isn’t what I would consider to be a good holiday.

I can stay fed, watered, warm and dry by staying at home. I can even remain, safe and feel loved by remaining at home. But what an adventure holiday lets me do is climb up the pyramid to the lofty heights of Achievement, Mastery, Recognition, and Respect. In fact if you find space in your bag for a camera, you might even be lucky enough to get some Creative Fulfilment as well.

Ultimately isn’t that the reason we go traveling? You want novelty. You want to expand your horizons, learn and be challenged.

Some people may say that what they want from their trip is relaxation, but let’s be honest if relaxation was the absolute priority then, none of us would get further than our own sofas. On some level we all want a bit of risk, we all want some novelty, and most of all, we all want a cool story to tell our friends.


So if like me, you are basically a sedentary office worker most of the time, then your energy requirement when you are out on tour will be totally different from your normal day to day energy requirement.

The reason I have written this blog is that I want to flag a few things that I have learned the hard way. In the hope that you are able to avoid some of the mistakes that Hayley and I have made while we have been out and about.

Whether you come on a Wine Ride with us or you are looking to plan your own unsupported cycling trip, if you haven’t been long distance cycling before you will almost certainly fall into the trap of cycling too fast and hard. Even people who do quite a lot of sport riding tend to set off like the clappers. That’s why we ride with our guests for the first day. So we can give them a sense of what a “normal” speed is.

Typically a group of guys that go on multi day rides instantly get competitive and find themselves riding so hard they run down their energy supplies. Or couples find the guy tends to naturally cover the ground faster than the girl. This can lead to the girl trying to keep up with the guy and she will start to deplete her energy levels.

On a single day ride it is very often possible to completely run down your batteries. You get the train home like a zombie, someone feeds you a carby meal and you sleep that fantastic deep sleep that can only be achieve when your muscles are processing lactic acid. But if you are out on tour, unsupported you won’t get that respite. The days will compound and eventually you will start “Bonking”.

In the UK we normally don’t say “Bonking”, we call it “hitting the wall” but in the context of a multi-day bike ride I think the US term “Bonking” is more appropriate. What is happening is that you have been riding too hard. As a result you have started using the glycogen in your liver to power your muscles. This is very bad. The trouble is that that glycogen is not meant for your muscles. It’s the jet fuel we use for our brains and on very special occasions, explosive muscular activity, like running away from a horde of Vikings. You’re “bonking” or bouncing because your liver is giving you energy in lumps.

It can no longer supply a steady stream of glucose for your brain. It is at this point in the trip, that you are most likely to have a real sense of humour crisis. I become obsessed with getting fed. I get Hangry (hungry and angry). I don’t want to talk, I just want to get where we are going, get the tent set up, without any major problems, and get myself in an establishment that serves bloody massive portions as quick as humanly possible. Even the slightest disruption in this path between me and food at that point can result in a full on hissy fit. Clearly this kind of “Bonking” is totally unacceptable when you are on holiday, particularly if you had hoped to do some British “bonking” while you were away.

It’s not easy to avoid, but what you want to do is ride slow enough that you stay aerobic. If you can’t chat while you are on the move then you are going too fast.

Obviously, there are hills and bends. This means that unavoidably you will go anaerobic many times during the day and start knocking lumps out of your liver’s glycogen supply. But it is really, really important to get back to a slow pace.

To give you an idea, If you are planning your first trip: Hayley and I always aim to do about 50miles per day on a trip and never more than 4000 ft of gain and never more than 80miles in a single day.

Even if you are quite fit, I would make sure your plans for your first trip don’t exceed those parameters. When we designed Wine Rides, we pretty much halved all of that, and our guests don’t carry their own kit, we do.

The other thing to look at is what you are eating. We don’t touch those high sugar energy drinks. They are completely wrong for cycle touring. If you are out for more than three hours you will start to deplete your liver glycogen stores, but the last thing you want to do is take on sugary drinks. You need to keep drinking water. When you replace sugars you have to do it with some slow release form of carbohydrate. Salted cashew nuts are great because they also enable you to replenish the sodium you will have lost in your sweat.

On Wine Rides we give all of our guests homemade flapjacks that have been made with oats and honey or maple syrup. Often the guests tell us “they were an absolute life saver”. On our personal holidays we sometimes carry chocolate with us and have half or a 3rd of a mars bar. But it is really worth noting that if you a breaking into the chocolate for energy then you are probably past the point of no return and you really need to be thinking about where you can stop for the night.

Definitely don’t try and power yourself on chocolates, sugar or energy drinks. If you start the day with that stuff you find yourself on the insulin roller coaster. You will take sugar on board, your insulin levels will spike, this will result in your blood glucose crashing, your liver will dump glucose into your blood to compensate and you will actually end up depleting your livers glycogen stores rather than topping them up.

If you normally have a good diet, which is low in sugar, high in vegetables, fruit and fat, and you ride slow then for the most part you will be able to use your body’s fat reserves as energy. If you have a typical crappy westernised diet that contains a normal amount of sweets, pudding, white bread, white pasta etc. then your metabolism will probably not be used to doing ketosis which is burning fat for energy. That’s no biggy, it just means that you will start depleting the glycogen sooner.

Here’s a graph:

fat burn

Where you want to stay is in the green bit. Using your body’s fat as fuel. Most of us are the guy on the left hand side of the graph. We eat the wrong food all the time ‘cos it tastes good and so our bodies love to burn sugar not fat: which incidentally is why many of us are fat despite doing lots of exercise.

(If you really want to dig into that then please check out this blog: very technical but good)

The main point is, before you ride and during the day think light meals and slow release carbohydrates: porridge, nuts, bananas and other fruit.

After you have finished for the day, think massive portions and fuelling up. While you are out on a tour there is really no reason not to have an evening meal that’s high in carbs or protein or fat and you should also have a desert. By the end of the day, you should just be looking to refill that liver glycogen. You will also be processing loads of lactic acid and replenishing your muscle glycogen supplies, so while you sleep your liver will already be working overtime. You may as well chuck some alcohol in there as well. The chances of you having a hang over the next day are remote.

In fact because you have been working all day as soon as you have a glass of wine you will start falling asleep. It’s a really powerful muscle relaxant and that’s why I enjoy drinking wine after a long day in the saddle. The exercise makes me a light weight, so one good glass of wine goes a long way.

Over eating in the day is a problem because your blood should be in your muscles working not tied up in your gut. But over eating at night is a good thing. The food will digest as you sleep and keep you warm in your tent.

If you find you are going faster than the person you are with, or you suspect that your cycling partner is about to “crack” (run out of energy) then try not to be a dick. Don’t speed off and then cycle back to them, or have a rest and then as soon as they catch up run off again. This is buzzing them. It is very irritating and not much fun for them. If you are slower than your partner don’t worry about it.

It might not mean you are less fit. It could just be that you are a smaller person and have smaller muscle glycogen stores or are less powerful, so have built up more lactic acid. Let them go ahead, if cycling at your speed is uncomfortably slow for them, you guys can catch up and chat when you stop for rests at the top of hills. Go at your own pace and enjoy it.

Hang on; “So why do the Pros use those sugar gels?” Well, they are professional cyclists and capable of incredibly intense levels of activity. As a result they have supressed insulin response when they are engaged in intense activity. They are not carting their kit with them and they are not trying to have a lovely holiday!

I have never used those gels, but people who do, report stomach cramps, vomiting or even diarrhoea. If you know what you are doing with those gels, or any of that sounds like something you want to be part of your holiday then sure go ahead use the sugar gels.

Personally I prefer to eat real food, and just shift the quantities around a bit to fit around the activity.

Oh one last tip. Caffeine is a performance enhancing substance. Pro athletes actually dose themselves with it before an event and most of those sugar gells have it. But when you are on holiday it is much more fun to consume it in the form of an espresso, or macchiato.

Hope that helps: If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to e-mail and ask using the contact widgety-bob right at the bottom of the page and we will try and find you answers.

You need clean Air!


Information is power. But sometimes if you are actually powerless information isn’t necessarily wanted.

About a year ago, some friends of mine told me that over 4000 people in London died a year as a result of the air pollution in London. We are now getting back to where we were in 1956 when London last had smogs. As a result the NHS is spending 2 billion pounds a year dealing with the damage coursed by air pollution.

You might read that and think what I did at first. “Ok, great thanks for that, but as air pollution is all around me and I can’t get away from it then, there is really little I can do? So I am going to ignore that.”

But Wait. Things aren’t quite as bad as that. The fantastic news is that there a few steps you can take, if you want to avoid this menace. Jenny Jones, Green Party Member of the London Assembly and her team have done some really excellent work and produced this helpful website.

It is not the most sophisticated tool in the world. I don’t think they had any funding to do it. It is just cobbled together from information they obtained using freedom of information requests. (I apologies if I am not giving credit where credit is due but) I believe the map was built by my friend Tom Chance, who did the maps on the Wine Rides website.

You may be pleased to learn that you can view this Map: and have a quick look to see if your route to work takes you through any of the black sections of road. These are the places in London were your exposure to pollution is dangerous. If you currently, regularly spend time on the sections of road that are black you might think about changing your route to work, or adjusting your habits slightly to avoid these areas.  If you are unlucky enough to work in an office that is in one of these black areas, then you are well within your rights to ask your employer to make sure they have the correct flitters on any Air conditioning system.

The issue with air pollution at the moment is that modern vehicle engines are producing very tiny particles that are not visible to the naked eye. These tiny particles get deep into our lungs and are coated with some really strange metallic compounds. Because they are so small they pass easily into the blood resulting in breathing and heart difficulties as well as cancers.

These things are not easy to put together, I couldn’t do it but they have also taken the time to look at which schools, are within 150m of a road that carries 10,000 vehicles a day about 7 per minuet. All other things being equal, if two schools are the same, then you should probably try and get your kids into a school that is not close to one of these roads.

However in London that doesn’t look that easy to me? Just looking at the bit of London I live in Crystal Palace, these schools seem to be effected buy unhealthy levels of pollution: St. Josephs Rc Junior School, Virgo Fidelis Convent Senior School, St. Josephs Infant School, Norwood School, All Saints School, Cypress Junior School, St. Anthony Rc School, Malcolm Primary School, Sydenham High School, Kelvin Grove Primary & Nursery School, Royston Primary School.

As far as I can tell near me the only school that doesn’t appear to be affected and is more the 150m from a road carrying more than 10, 000 cars a day is Harris City Academy Crystal Palace. I am not a parent yet so I don’t know much about the academic success of these schools, but Harris looks like the place to get your kids in if you don’t want them exposed to too much pollution.

To be honest, I was totally in two minds about writing this blog. I may live to regret it. My Blog is only supposed to contain things that interest and attract people who may be potential customers for Wine Rides. As my trips are over 18’s only and at the moment we are not open to family’s I probably should have stuck with the one I was going to write about the pros and cons of cycling in lycra. But I suppose in the end I couldn’t reconcile my feelings about this matter. I hope I can make a small contribution and help the London Green party and spread their important message.

I am not one for bashing the Mayor. I don’t like to be politically partisan, but it has been alleged that the current administration in London is spraying particle suppressing compounds near the air pollution monitoring stations. If this is true they are trying to artificially reduce the measurement of pollution in London without actually reducing particle emissions. If that turns out to be true, it could be quite a damaging fraud. Particularly as the EU rules on pollution are there to protect our health. They are not trivial.

They need to ban diesel cars on certain roads where the invisible smog hangs around as these are emitting the most pollution. But who knows how long it will take them to summon the political will to do that. I would like them to turn many of the grid locked 4 lane trunk roads into leafy urban parks and vastly accelerate the development of public transport in the capital, but the least the mayor could do for now, is give Londoners smog warnings on days when it is particularly bad. I would even say they have a moral obligation to develop SatNav plugins for smart phones that will enable us to navigate, around these particularly bad areas as we travel around London.

The responsible thing to do is make the information more accessible to people on the move so we can try and stay healthy while we wait for real change.

If you want to help then please spread the word by sharing this blog, or tweet at the Mayor and tell him to get his act together on this.

E.g. @mayoroflondon what are you doing to sort this the air pollution out?

More on this:

How do you tear yourself away from the screen?


Fact: We are social animals.

I like facebook, It’s good to see what my 300 “Friends” are doing. I have recently started using twitter. It took me a while to get into it. I don’t think I was using it properly for a while but now I see what it is for, I find it hard to ignore. There are over a thousand people on stream all vying for my attention, everyone trying to generate witty comments for me to enjoy.

In minutes my kindle lets me have the thoughts of the greatest thinkers the world has ever seen in front of my eyes. I have the entirety of human knowledge at my fingertips.

Working in TV I would spend 3 months researching to produce 30mins of top quality entertainment.

Why do we find it so hard to drag ourselves away from our devices? Is it because they are like the crack cocaine of social interaction? I think it is impossible to resist these knew toys because as an intelligent and gregarious species we crave social interaction.

It is awful to be ignored by someone using one of these gadgets, but if all you are doing is talking, using your own ideas, based on your own experience, then you are totally out gunned and outnumbered.

If you want to be more present, and tear yourself away from the screens. Or you want someone to be more present for you, then I recon you have to do something the screens can’t. You have to do something physical. (Like a Wine Ride)

Go for a walk and have a talk, dance, play a game. If we are going to beat the machines then I suspect we have to fight back on a field of battle the teck can’t or at least a present human has a chance of winning. We can’t just hope you are going to be more interesting than the most interesting people who have ever lived, ever.

It seems to me that if we want our lives back we need to get physical.

What’s your trick? How do you break free from the screen, why not (ironically) post your suggestion on our Face book page? We would love to hear your suggestions :-)

Last Chance for your First Adventure

wine cycling.png


I just wanted to send a quick note out to say that the first fantastic season of Wine Rides is coming to a close, and that there is only one more opportunity remaining this year to book a place on this fantastic adventure.

It’s a funny thing to say, but one of the best parts of running Wine Rides this year has been learning what we are for! A number of our guests have been keen cyclists, who use the bike as a way of getting to and from work and really like the idea of pedalling out over the horizon on a fun and adventurous holiday.

What we have been able to do is give them that first touring experience, with none of the uncertainty or hassle of planning an unsupported trip.

Our routes are planned and documented in detail so it is virtually impossible to get lost. We also have a vehicle and tools, so rescue is possible if you get into any trouble.

The distances and difficulty have been researched and planned so the days are full but manageable, taking you through some of the UK’s most beautiful scenery and past national monuments like Bodiam Castle.

You can rent a bike from us if you need one, or you can bring your own.

We provide the right kind of food, in the right amounts, at the right times of day. Our trips include wine tasting, the perfect reward after a day’s cycling.

Our all-inclusive packages mean you don’t have to pitch your tent at the end of the day, you just arrive and enjoy award winning British wine and food in the landscape in which it was grown.

Wine Rides is the perfect way to ease yourself into the world of cycle touring. What you learn with us you can take anywhere.

What’s more, this last weekend (20th – 22nd September) is particularly special. England has had one of the hottest summers for years and the vines are full to bursting. The exact date of the harvest is not yet known but it is very likely that this ride will be just before the grapes are picked and as the leaves start to turn to a kaleidoscope of green, red, and russet, there really isn’t a more beautiful time of year to make the trip.

If you have had a long year so far and just need a short, sharp get away, where you can do something totally different, hassle free and relaxing, then book on this last Wine Ride adventure. I promise you won’t regret it.