Thursday 31 May 2012

The rough with the smooth

I ventured off the smooth roads and on to trails near Farnborough for some mountain biking this week.

It was a great change to pounding out the miles on road and, although I forgot to wear my heart rate monitor, I'm convinced my maximum rate got higher during the 11 miles off road  than I normally experience on road rides.

The event was arranged with a group of teammates as an after-work pedal and we all had a lot of fun riding the gravel paths, muddied tree sections and deep water obstacles.  The post-ride beer and burger was a bonus.

Thanks to Nick for arranging.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Cyclists' tan lines

Summer weather is here and I forgot to apply the sun cream for todays' Chinook-O 2nd pedal.  My neck is slightly pink, as are my arms and a white-red line is visible on my thighs; evidence of an excellent pedal out in the sun.

The Wilier Izoard has been neglected recently so I decided to give it a run today rather than the Chinook and to see if it made any difference to my recent average speed.

I passed the Center Parcs building site on the way to the 8:30am meeting point at Marston Vale...

This is going to be the 5th Center Parc.

I announced the ride on a cycle forum but only Rick and myself turned up and we loosely followed a 45 mile route I had planned out to Cranfield, Aspley Guise, Woburn, Milton Bryant, Steppingley, Maulden, Haynes, Cardington, Cople and Willington.

We paused at the excellent Danish Camp again for tea and cake and then followed route 51 to Priory Marina Cycles to pick up some Wilier products I had ordered.

In total I rode about a metric century today with an average speed over 18.5mpg.  The route was a little bumpy with 2,500 feet of climbing and most of the ride was into a 10+mph Easterly headwind.

I think the Wilier gave me an advantage on the climbs but I put my increase in average speed down to riding with someone else.  Rick and I half wheeled each other, constantly raising the tempo and testing ourselves on climbs and technical descents - great fun.

Riding with others is a lot more enjoyable than long solo rides even if you put yourselves so far in the red zone that holding a conversation becomes a challenge.

Superb pedal - thanks Rick.

Sunday 20 May 2012

More solo miles.

I rode to Bedford early this morning with a plan to join the Beds Road Club run and get some miles in my legs whilst sitting in a group and having a chat. Sadly only myself and a beginner turned up so I ushered the other cyclist on to a group from iCycle and went off on my own.

The wind was blowing from the North-North-East and I made the decision to go out towards Grafham Water again, into the 10mph headwind.  I paused in Great Staughton to take a photograph of the espalier trees and Triathletes competing in the Nice Tri event.

The road into Perry was being resurfaced so I turned left and headed to Higham Ferrers in Northamptonshire. From there I began my ride back, with the tailwind, going through Rushden, Sharnbrook, Oakley, Bromham and Kempston.

From Kemptson I took the B530 back towards Ampthill and as I got to the turning for Millbrook I recalled that a Strava segment had been created up Ampthill Hill.  With 70 miles in my legs by this point I was still feeling pretty good so I started recording my time and attacked the hill whilst trying to remember what was the time to beat.  I dropped down to the granny-ring mid way up the climb to keep my cadence high but the Garmin showed my speed had dropped to 9mph which didn't bode well for getting in the top 10 on the league. I crested the hill with my legs burning and freewheeled down into Ampthill.  I stopped outside Waitrose, pulled out my iPhone and uploaded my time - good enough for 3rd in the league!  Not too shabby and I think I should be able to get to 2nd with fresher legs.

Total distance covered 70 solo miles, 18.1mph average, average cadence 80rpm and average heart rate 133bpm.

If anyone cares to join me for a pedal then feel free to comment here or reach out to me via

Saturday 19 May 2012

Chain replacement

I clean and lubricate my chain regularly and occasionally check the chain for wear.  An excessively worn chain will damage the teeth on the chainrings and sprockets so it is a false economy to not replace your chain regularly.

How to check for a worn chain:

This tool is probably the most accurate and shows that my Basso chain should be replaced as it has exceeded 75% wear.

Whereas this tool is more basic and the 75% feeler doesn't quite slot between the chain teeth indicating the chain doesn't need replacing yet.
I bought a new KMC X10-L chain for £26.  Fitting a new chain is simple especially with the connectors you get with the likes of KMC and Wippermann chains.  I have the (£8) tool to remove the chain connector but it is possible to do it by squeezing the connector link together with just your hands.

Then it is just a case of removing a couple of links on the new chain, using a chain splitter tool, to make it the same length as the old and then refitting with the new chain connector.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Wheel sucker claim to fame?

Who is the most famous cyclist or celebrity you've ever ridden directly behind?

My claim to fame is Erik Zabel.  I spent a week in Monaco during the 2009 Tour de France grand depart and followed Erik's wheel for about half a mile on a cycle to Sospel.

Whose wheel have you followed?

Sunday 13 May 2012


I rode to Grafham Water on my Chinook today, on a mission to visit the cycle shop and discuss the repair of my Lezyne CNC track pump.  The route I plotted is here.

I ended up cycling over 75 miles and the outbound ride to the shop, with the wind behind me, was completed with an average speed of 20mph.

I regret not stopping in some of the villages along my route to take photographs, however I did pause on a quiet road beside a very high fence.  A quick surf on the internet revealled it is Littlehey prison.

The interesting stats from my Garmin show my average cadence is 80rpm.  I stayed on the big Q-ring for the entire journey and consciously kept the crank revolutions fast.  I have noticed that when I start off and am warming up my muscles I tend to push a bigger gear and occasionally the Q-rings give me a niggling pain above the knee. I don't get the same niggle on a regular chainring. Anyway, I am making an effort to use the gears more and change frequently to keep the cadence higher, which must be working as I previously used to average 74rpm.

Today's weather was great; dry, 16 degrees, blue skies and a steady 14mph wind from the West.  I wore a Rapha ensemble - shorts, jersey, arm warmers, knee warmers and socks, and my scalp became a target for other cyclists.  Two caught me on the road from Great Barford to Willington but as soon as they passed me they slowed to a pace which was less than I was travelling and I re-took my scalp easily before they diverted to Danish Camp.  Another cyclist (Taylor Phinney?) riding a team BMC and wearing the USA national champion kit passed me on my final mile but I sat on his wheel until the turning for home.

Statistics for the week:
  • Miles completed 125
  • Weight loss 6lbs
  • Strava Lower Thames St dash league position 53

Thursday 10 May 2012

“Me brüsa el cü”

I learnt this Italian phrase from the book Maglia ROSA - Triumph and tradegy at the Giro d'Italia, by Herbie Sykes.  The book was a gift from a friend and it is a fascinating read, made more special by the fact that the Giro is underway.

And so back to the phrase.  It translates to "I've got a sore arse" and sprung to mind when I saw Mark Cavendish's photo on Facebook from his crash on Monday's stage. Ouch.

Wednesday 9 May 2012


I noticed that many of the participants in the Silly Commuting Racing were using Strava so I downloaded it to my smartphone and tried it out this evening.

It claims my route is 5.1miles and I averaged 14mph with a maximum speed of nearly 36mph.

There is a nice feature which shows the times of other riders on recognised segments.  On my route I completed the Lower Thames St Dash and this evening's pedal puts me 137th out of a total of 219. Not bad on a Brompton.

I always stop at red traffic lights and ride cautiously and considerately, so the average speed isn't representative but I'll try to remember to record some more commutes and aim to improve on the Dash leaderboard.

Monday 7 May 2012

Chinook owners' club inaugural ride

A small gathering (two of us) got together for a metric century pedal today.  The organised ride started at the Marston Vale visitors' centre and ended at the Priory Marina in Bedford, stitched together with a scenic route around the mid-Bedfordshire country lanes.

We paused enroute at the Millbrook test track to watch the start of the women's timetrial and stopped at Danish Camp in Willington for tea and cakes.  The weather was true to the forecast - 80% chance of rain between 10am and 1pm, but the route and company made up for getting my feet wet.

Thank you to Rick for joining me and in ensuring the pace stayed brisk. I'm looking forward to the next Chinook-O club event; a tour of the lanes of North Bedforshire. Date TBD.

Sunday 6 May 2012

Ritch Mitch style

My daughter drew a superb Ritch Mitch style cartoon of me in my Gentlemen's racing attire...


The saucepan bike

Graeme Obree's latest bike was bound to have a component from his kitchen.  His record holding, hour bike had bottom bracket bearings from his washing machine and today's Telegraph reports that his latest land speed bike includes shoulder rests made from a saucepan.

I really hope that Graeme is able to complete the bicycle and get to Nevada in September to become the World's Fastest Indian Scotsman.

Saturday 5 May 2012

More Chinookery

I've finished fitting the upgrades to my Van Nicholas Chinook.

The 60cm frame now has the following components:
  • Dura Ace C24 wheelset with Michelin Pro Race 3 tyres
  • Easton EC90SLX fork
  • Easton EC90SLX3 compact bars
  • Lizardskin Race bar tape
  • Van Nicholas 130mm titanium bar stem
  • Van Nicholas titanium seatpost and collar
  • Van Nicholas titanium bottle cages
  • Fizik Arione Versus saddle
  • Nokon brake cables
  • Jagwire Racer gear cables
  • Jagwire J2 in-line cable adjuster for the front derailleur
  • TRP970SL brake calipers with TRP Swissstop yellow cartridges
  • Rotor 175mm crankset with compact Q-rings
  • KMC X10SL chain
  • Shimano Dura Ace 7900 levers
  • Shimano Dura Ace 7900 front derailleur
  • Shimano Dura Ace 7900 rear derailleur
The bicycle weighs 17lbs 4oz.

The upgrades went on satisfactorily apart from the front derailleur which took some head scratching and internet searching to get it adjusted properly.  I couldn't get rid of the chain rub regardless of adjustment and any slight change to the tow-in/out until I spotted a fitting diagram on the Shimano Tech website - the cable needs to be wound clockwise around the grubscrew.  Incredibly this made the difference.

I'm looking forward to giving it a test ride on Monday - weather permitting.

Thursday 3 May 2012

T-rain harder

6 weeks to go before l'Ardechoise and I'm trying to get as many training miles in as possible.

The weather isn't helping though and today's lunchtime road ride was in the rain and through flooded roads.  But it has to be done and even the Pro's suffer too, as evidenced by this photo of Cav

My Basso is fairing well in the weather although I have had two component/accessories failures.  My Crud Roadracer rear mudguard broke beyond repair and my rear Blackburn Mars light doesn't click off anymore.  I have bought a replacement Roadracer mudguard, this time a mk2, but I'm unsure whether to buy the same light again. 

As I seem to be getting dropped on the hills more frequently, I'm going to need a Lantern Rouge. Any suggestions on something more robust?