Sunday 25 November 2012

1 month to Christmas

The UK has been struck by more gales and heavy rain, however the forecast for today was good and at 9am the rain had stopped.  I hadn't planned a cycle route although I needed to check some of the lanes ahead of the London Brompton Club pedal I have arranged for next week.

9:15am, I rode out towards Old Warden conscious I had a 27mph tailwind and knowing it was going to be hardwork on the return leg.

There was a lot of debris on the road; fallen rotten branches, twigs and autumnal leaves and some puddles but not too much flooding around C.Bedfordshire.

The tree nursery at Southhill was preparing a delivery of trees which I thought looked very Christmas-like with their blue and green strapping...

Whilst enjoying the blue sky and beautiful country views I started to think about what routes I would cycle for this year's Rapha Festive 500.  Rapha recently announced that they were going ahead with it this year and the challenge is to ride 500km between Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. I think it is inclusive of the two Mondays, so 8 days to ride over 310 miles.

I began to wonder whether I could complete the challenge and ride a different bicycle from my collection on each day.  Then I started to think more seriously, in particular about what I'd wear.

I guess it is pretty obvious why Rapha set a challenge like the Festive 500 - their marketing department want cyclists to consider their wardrobe requirements for up to 8 consecutive days of cycling, panic and then add Rapha winter goodies to their Christmas list..."Dear Santa, I've been a good cyclist".

I think I've got sufficient clothing to cope but the washing machine may well be in action throughout the holidays ;-)

Thursday 22 November 2012

Tyler Hamilton

In 2008, at the Tour of Britain I booed Tyler Hamilton and the other ex-dopers in the Rock Racing team.

Then, earlier this year I read the newspaper article where Pat McQuaid labelled Hamilton a 'scumbag' and went on to criticise him for writing a book as a personal mission to raise money for himself.

I made the decision not to buy the book.

...until two cycling friends (including the British Cycling Commissaire) urged me to read it.

OMG! I haven't been able to put it down. In fact I searched out slow running trains on my commute just so that I could continue reading.  And when I finished I wanted to read it all over again.

I decided to let my wife read it first and we've had several debates regarding the revelations in the book.

I urge you to read it. You can borrow my copy (if you don't want Hamilton to have your cash) - as soon as I have read it once more.

Sunday 18 November 2012


Another 100km+ ride today.  My 3rd for November, so my Metric Century Challenge is looking good.

A crisp, winter morning and I caught the train to West Hampstead to ride some different roads. I climbed up to Hampstead and rode around the Heath to get to Highgate. I followed the Great North Road through Finchley, Oakleigh Park, Barnet, Potters Bar, Brookmans Park, Welham Green, Hatfield and on to Welwyn Garden City.

I had a quick stop in Welwyn Garden City to look at the outdoor cycle track at Gosling Stadium, the home of Welwyn Wheelers.

From WGC I rode through Lemsford village, past Brocket Hall and on to Wheathampstead. From there I climbed to Harpenden and then over to Redbourn.

I wanted to visit the cyclists' cafe that a friend of mine had opened - 'The HUB'
I met Simon Barnes a few years back, when he was CEO of Plowman Craven and the company sponsored a pro cycle team.  My family and I cheered for the Plowman Craven team at the Halfords tour series and other races and Simon very kindly gave me the team kit and invited me to a corporate hospitality event at the Manchester Revolution series.  Sadly the team were disbanded during the recession after initially moving to Madison as the sponsor.
Now Simon runs his own small coffee shop which is clearly a mecca for local cyclists.  The coffee is superb and the latte with a double shot (that Simon recommended) is the ideal get-you-home cyclists drink.  The cake selection is fantastic and Simon mentioned that some of them are baked locally by a person who was on the Great British Bake Off television program. The lemon cake that I sampled was very, very nice :-)
Simon shared some of his big plans - he has a 'Christmas Cracker Ride' organised for 16th December, he is having evening Do's with pro riders and fun events with Tacx turbo training races. He has also had approval from the local council to schedule a closed road criterium race around Redbourn common.
I suspect I shall be exploring the lanes to find good routes to Simon's cafe in future.

Thursday 15 November 2012

Metric century challenge

You're fired!

I've set myself the 100km challenge.  At the very minimum I have to ride one metric century (100 km, 62.18 miles) in every month to succesfully complete the full challenge. Only single continuous rides of at least 100km qualify, not a daily or weekly total of several shorter rides that exceed 100km. Tea stops are allowed.

My target is to comfortably exceed the minimum of one century ride per month, starting November and finishing October 2013.

So far I've completed two over the last weekends.

Saturday 10 November 2012

Don't tar me with the same brush

I introduced a colleague, the London Cycle Campaign photographer, to one of the founder members of the London Brompton Club (LBC). The pictures and article are going to appear in a forthcoming edition of LCC.

During the interview, the LBC member mentioned he drove a bus for a living and commuted to work on his Brompton, which probably gives a great perspective on road users.  His view was that there are good and bad bus drivers as much as there are good and bad cyclists.

I acknowledge there are bad cyclists but I get annoyed when I read about misleading statistics depicting all cyclists in a bad light, such as those that trigger articles stating the majority of cyclists jump red traffic lights.  I witness RLJing every day and there are a lot of cyclists that do, but I don't. I welcome a red traffic light as the opportunity to stop and bring my heart rate down, to rest my legs or to loosen my jacket to cool down.

On Friday though, I waited at a red traffic light and another cyclist collided with me - coming from the opposite direction!  I watched it all in slow motion as he came from the opposite side of a busy London junction jumped the red light, then realised the traffic to his left was approaching quicker than he anticipated so he accelerated and moved to his right to gain some distance. By doing so (and still trying to go straight over the junction) he found himself on the wrong side of the road. He narrowly avoided hitting a pedestrian crossing in front of me (observing the green man symbol) and then he tried to bunny-hop onto the central reservation to cross to the correct side of the road. He lost his balance executing the bunny-hop and fell onto me and my bike.  Unbelievable and I was speechless (for a change).

I looked around afterwards and I could see drivers shaking their heads in disbelief, mouthing 'f-ing cyclists'.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Central or peripheral physiology limits?

Heart or Legs?

I attribute my level of fitness to having to commute by bike. My short cycle on the Brompton at least four times a week is the equivalent of interval training.

Racing between traffic lights, I push myself as hard as possible until either my legs or my heart rate scream at me to stop and only when I reach a red traffic light do I give myself time to recover.

Early in the week, after an endurance pedal on the Sunday, my legs are normally the first to scream loudest.  But by the end of the week my legs tend to have recovered and I then find I reach my maximum heart rate, like bouncing off a rev limiter in a car.

This week, my legs are grumbling more than usual even though I only rode 70+ miles on Sunday.  I suspect that when they begin to recover I will hit a different limit - over heating!

The English temperature has fallen and my merino wool jumper now adds another layer beneath my high-viz, (no longer) waterproof jacket. If it gets colder I have a BaaBaa merino beenie and full finger gloves but at the moment the jumper is proving fine for the mornings and a tad hot in the evenings.

Changing the subject - I stopped behind a wide vehicle whilst recovering (from hitting my periphal physiological limit) at a set of traffic lights and photographed the haulage operator's attempts to mitigate the risk of cyclists undertaking at junctions...

Effective deterrent?

Sunday 4 November 2012

Total saturation

I rode the Leighton Buzzard reliability ride today. Well I think I did.

I set off in the rain at 7am to ride the 13miles to the start and it was pouring down.  I rode my Basso, still fitted with the clip-on rear mudguard so my bum stayed dry (but nothing else did).

The rain never stopped and it was like deja vu from the spring Evans Ride-It Hatfield event. I peered out beneath the peak of my cap and over the top of my misted up prescription Oakleys trying to navigate around the route.

True to form, I got off-route. I climbed Mentmore hill twice, recall riding up the Crong and spent the wet and very windy morning riding through flooded roads navigating by arrows at the road junctions.

I got soaked through and I soon realised I was following black arrows on yellow signs from other sportives.  The Chilterns is clearly a popular place for cycle events and, quite possibly, organisers are a tad lazy when it comes to clearing up their signage.  I spotted four different types of event signs, not including the LBRCC arrows.

Have cycle sportives/reliability rides reached saturation point?

Unusual bike spotting

A friend of mine has got a great idea involving classic bicycles. I won't go into details as it is his intellectual property, however I have been looking at old bikes with a lot more interest since he mentioned it.

I spotted this superb Hetchins on a family day trip to London. I love the Moustache handle bars.
This Holdsworth also caught my eye.  The frameset and original groupset, brakes, saddle and finishing kit still looking good after 30+ years.

Friday 2 November 2012

Winter creeps up on you

A week off work and my plans to fit in a few pedals were optimistic.  The weather has turned cold and excuses were easily found, especially without target events to train for.

Every year I say to myself that I will try to keep fit throughout the winter and emerge race ready in the spring.  It never happens.

2012-2013 will be different and this week's break and the diet indiscretion at Toby's carvery is behind me.  I need to plan for some ongoing challenges whilst I consider my target(s).

* Leighton Buzzard cycle club reliability ride
* 100km training ride with the Flitwick Tri club
* London Brompton Club tour of central Beds
* Peterborough pilgrimage
* Rapha festive 500

* Chiltern classics