Tuesday 24 July 2012


Slaying the Badger - Richard Moore.

Apart from alternative uses for cotton cycling caps, I learned a huge amount from this great book - Look skiing designs applied in the invention of clip-in pedals, why a Mondrian design jersey is better than black, how La Vie Claire sponsored a cycling team and how the battles between LeMond and Hinault panned out.

I have to admit that Look bicycles did nothing for me though - until now. Crap in your cap and throw away your Venge frameset as Look have raised the bar.

Friday 20 July 2012


For the last couple of years I have had a subscription to Cycle Sport magazine and avidly followed all the news on pro tour road racing, but I have found that the reports have been getting a bit repetitive with the same set of cyclist being interviewed, so I have been looking for alternative publications, ideally covering the whole gamut of cycling.

 I was aware of Rouleur magazine but, for some reason never bought a copy and just watched in disbelief at how collectors were paying over £100 for early editions.  I was given the latest edition in the goodie bag from the Smithfield Nocture and I can see the attraction as the photographs and articles are great. However it is a little too specialised to give me a one-hit fix of all things bikes each month.

Sadly I can't find anything which combines all-things-bicycle related in one magazine and so I am probably going to become one of those annoying people you see at WHSmith who appears to be thumbing through every magazine.

Surely there's a publication with what I'm looking for. A combination of:
Where can you read about road, mountain, single speed, downhill, bmx, grasstrack, polo, cyclocross, northshore, 4X, track, touring, folding bikes, commuters' stories and feedback, unbiased reviews of clothing, bikes and kit (including long term usage evaluations), write ups on sportives, racers' own reports... and the best cycle friendly cafes?

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Hay fever cure?

I find that cycling cures my hay fever -well, it delays the symptoms until the pedal ends and the adrenaline wears off.

My hay fever has occurred later this year, probably due to the jet stream position and related climate change and I've recently been suffering with sneezing fits, a nose that turns into a tap, itchy eyes and an itchy roof of my mouth. All the more reason to get out on the bike and continue cycling as much as possible, but this year I have had a new symptom.

At the Smithfield Nocturne I experienced a pain in my throat as though I had swallowed a big fly and I couldn't stop coughing.  I have had recurrences and suprisingly only when cycling.  So far it happens in London on my commute and I guess it might be due to the pollution but I don't remember experiencing similar before this summer.

I suppose one solution is to get a Bane mask, which might also help scare people out of my way on the commute. Now there's an idea...

Another option is to stay out of London and work from home during the Olympics. Like!

Saturday 14 July 2012


Initial impressions are great, especially for the price.

I've tried the Halfords own brand, the Pedros green fizz, Hope sh1t sh1fter and Muc-off and the Kaboom concentrate mixed with 1.1litres of water in an old spray appears to be equally as good.

Thursday 12 July 2012

Buy Brompton bicycle book because...

...it is factual, fascinating, fun and full of useful information on Bromptons.

Ignoring the amateur Andy Warhol-like book cover, David Henshaw has written a great book covering the history of folding bikes, Brompton design, the company history and guidance on maintaining a Brompton. 

I would go as far as to recommend every Brompton owner, or would be owner, should buy a copy as it is a bit like a Haynes manual combined with a Glass's guide.

My own Brompton has a creak which I have warmed to, and assumed it was the springs in my Brooks saddle groaning at my 90kg, but since reading the "Using and Maintaining a Brompton" chapter I've found it is the suspension block bolt.  Apparently it is easily remedied but I'm not sure I want to - I like the creak and I like the effect it has on roadies when (occasionally on my commute) I wheelsuck and they can't figure out where the noise is coming from :-)

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Maximum cadence

Yesterday Cav tweeted that he and the (remaining) Team Sky TdF team had a maximum cadence competition and he won with 227rpm.  His legs must have been a blur as that is close to 4 crank revolutions a second!

I have a Garmin cadence sensor fitted to my Van Nicholas Chinook and part of my turbo interval training involves a high cadence effort. I can sustain 150rpm for a bit but I'll have to see what maximum cadence I can achieve.

Without a cadence sensor it is possible to determine it from speed and gearing.  Sheldon Brown's website has a useful gear calculator I have used whilst investigating gearing improvements on my Brompton 2-speed. 

For example, on Strava it claims that I average 30.2mph on a 0.3mile segment of my Brompton commute. At 100rpm, the 16" wheels, 54 chainring and 12 tooth sprocket will be 21.5mph, so 30.2mph is going to be about 140rpm.

On my fixed wheel, 700c, 42 chainring and 16 sprocket, my maximum speed is 34mph, which is 165rpm.

Sunday 8 July 2012


Rule #9 and all that.  I could hear the rain as I chose what to wear this morning, so out came the Rapha softshell and the new super lightweight jersey that my wife bought me recently as an anniversary present.

The Met Office claimed it was 70% chance of rain all day and the Basso won the coin toss as it is still fitted with the Crud mudguards. A quick check of the tyre pressures, swap the Lezyne seat bag over and I ventured out in the rain and puddles for the third Chinook-O pedal (without my Chinook again). I hadn't gone a mile and my shoes were full of water but when I arrived at the ride start point at Marston Vale I was shamed by Rick who was wearing a short sleeved jersey and shrugged off the foul weather like a true Badass. Respect.

It was Rick's turn to decide today's Chinook-O route and we set off into the headwind to explore the lanes around Northamptonshire.  We passed through many beautiful villages with homes built in the local sandstone, skirted Castle Ashby and ended up in Salcey Forest cafe for cake and coffee.

A 70+ mile pedal, with a reasonable 16.5mph average showing on my Garmin Edge 705.  Great route - thank you Rick :-)

Stats for the week:
  • 3 Brompton commutes = 33 miles, with an attempt at the Lower Thames Dash on Strava matching my 6th place time
  • Weight = a bit heavier, possibly due to the 14 (of the 18) bottles of wine I brought back from France being consumed in the last 3 weeks ;-)
  • Bike upgrades = the hydraulic, braided brake hoses have been replaced on one of my mountain bikes
  • Shopping list = I must remember to get a Dura Ace bottom bracket for my Van Nicholas as the Ultegra version I fitted just last year is clicking loudly.

Saturday 7 July 2012

Obey the rules

Whilst arranging for the next Chinook-O pedal, I was reminded of the 'rules' in particular rules 5 and 9 in the context of riding in this on-going foul weather.

The Velominati keepers maintain the essential rules and I'd like to emphasise rule 53 with a recommendation...

I recommend that you remain observant whilst cycling. It might save your life. It could help you avoid the Tour de France-like crashes we've seen this week and, if you find yourself in a lonely place on a long sportive, you might feel less negative if you look around and appreciate the beautiful scenery you have paid to cycle through.

On the recent l'Ardechoise the views over the Rhone, the Puys, the Loire gorges and the wildlife were superb. 

I spotted a black kite and two snakes whilst suffering on the climbs and on some fast riding in groups I spotted some 'ugly gorges'.  When I'm sat on another cyclists' wheel I cover my brakes and concentrate on what is immediately in front of me. On two occasions during the l'Ardechoise I could not believe how thin some riders will let their lycra shorts become and still think they can wear them. 

Rule 53: Keep your kit clean and new!  Lycra has a tendency to become almost translucent after many wash cycles and the crack of your arse is not a pleasant view.  You'd feel pretty embarrassed if you were riding in torn shorts with your arse on display so please check your shorts haven't turned into tracing paper.

Monday 2 July 2012

"Welcome to the fold"

I joined the very welcoming London Brompton Club on Facebook.  The club members are great and have already been able to offer me advice and I have tried to share my own experiences.  The members are also arranging group pedals and meet-ups at other events.

My own Brompton continues to be bearing up to the punishing daily commute over the cobbles of Wapping and in the occasional races.  It is now approaching 2 years old and has covered approximately 3,500 miles.

  • It is still on the original front tyre, but is on the third rear
  • It is on the 2nd rear wheel
  • I have replaced the chain and sprockets four times
  • I'm on the 3rd set of brake pads
  • The brake cables have been replaced
  • The lower stop disc has just been replaced
  • The rear hinge has been overhauled
  • Both pedals have been changed to another folding variety

Sunday 1 July 2012

Can you ride a tandem?

I thought I'd dig out my tandem, give it a bit of a clean and maybe use it for some distance training with my son.

My wife and I bought it new over 15 years ago and we rode it for a bit on country lanes and off-road (which is a laugh) but it has sat in the garage since having kids.

I have ordered a pair of Schwalbe City tyres and three Lezyne white bottle cages for some longer road rides.  Who knows, my son and I might end up doing the 100km sportive on it :-)

Guided pedals around C.Bedfordshire

I like to think I'm qualified for this given the amount of miles I have ridden on my local lanes.  So I organised a 35 mile pedal for some of my work colleagues with a scenic route on quiet roads, taking in a few of the area's attractions and with a stop for coffee and cake.

We stopped at Nonna's cafe in Woburn Sands.  This was the first time I'd been there but can highly recommend it.

I also added in Ampthill hill as a bit of a leg tester near the end.  It is 0.4 miles with a maximum 10% gradient.

Hopefully everyone enjoyed it ;-)