Saturday 28 September 2013

Cycling fiction

Joking aside, I'm struggling to think of any cycling related fiction other than Lance Armstrong's books which notoriously got moved shelves in libraries and book shops.

I enjoy reading cyclist's autobiographies, doping confessions,  anthologies and historical biographies but, I have to say, I loved 'Consumed', the cycling novel by Jonathan Budds.

The plot is superb, the writing insightful and it is one of those wonderful books that gives you the impetuous to seek out more good literature. If only there were more cycling-related fictional books.

...and an odd photograph I took of a big Porkie, thrown in just because ;-)

Friday 27 September 2013

Goldilocks gearing

Gearing: sprockets and chainring size is a personal thing. After all, we can't all push a 58 like Tony Martin. And, over time and changes in strength and fitness, what might have been just right is no longer ideal for Goldilocks.

I swapped my 2 speed Brompton for a 6 speed earlier this year and the BWR (Brompton Wide Ratio) hub fitted with the standard 16T and 13T just wasn't right. I have never used the lowest ratio on the 3-speed hub (but I might if I ever decided to ride up Alpe d'Huez on the Brompton); in the middle and on the 16T I pull wheelies accelerating away from traffic lights and the jump from the 13T in the middle to the 16T on the high ratio felt too wide.

What to do? The new Brompton chainset makes it a simple task to swap chainrings, however replacing the worn chain gave me the cheaper opportunity to replace the rear sprockets with something different. So I decided to try out a 15T with a 12T.

The 1, 2 and 6 speed Brompton hubs have the same spline fitting as Shimano. Brompton sell a 12T as a replacement for the single speed but I couldn't find a 15 tooth from them (other than for a 3 speed hub fitting).  But you can buy individual sprockets to replace worn parts to cassettes, so I purchased a Shimano 9-speed XT 15T sprocket.
Fitting both sprockets on the hub was straightforward and the gear change with a new (same length) KMC X8 chain is perfect.

The proof is in the porridge pudding. Today's commute with the new gearing was good; Pulling away from traffic lights on the 15T-middle was fine and didn't need the immediate change up as previous. The ratio between the 12T-middle and the 15T-high feels much closer and, I could be wrong, the Silly Commuter Race pace felt quicker.

Let's see how they wear.

Monday 23 September 2013

A (very, very, very, very) special day

Yesterday was the final stage of the Tour of Britain and a wonderful opportunity to see the riders close-to.

Not only do you get to wander about the area where the team buses park and have a close look at the team bikes but the riders pass by at slow speed on the their way to signing on.


Then you can walk around the route whilst the racers smash around the 10 laps at over 50kmph average. If you are lucky you might manage to get a cast-away bidon (thank you team NetApp Endura).

Then if you are very privileged and you get an invitation to Rapha's Tour of Britain celebration party after the race (as my son and I did) then you get to hold the trophy, mingle with Ian Stannard, Bernie Eisel, Matt Hayman, David Lopez, Kristian House, Mike Cuming, Richard Handley, John Herety, Will Stephenson and Luke Mellor and many more. Star struck :-)

Sunday 15 September 2013

RIP wheels

I have started to give my Basso some TLC. It has been neglected for some while and I shall probably use it throughout the Winter which appears to be approaching rather suddenly.

The Basso had been cannibalised for parts during the Summer; 1" steerer spacers for my son's bike and the saddle for Brompton racing. Whilst re-assembling it I noticed the rear brake calliper had seized, the rear freehub was in a nasty state and there was an obvious cause of the puncture to the front wheel...


The rim is so worn the tyre pressure has made it give way and, what with a kaput rear freehub, I have to admit the wheelset is dead.

They were handbuilt for me by John Poyzer in 2007 and have served me well. I have ridden the cobbles of Flanders on these and up many tour climbs and they have covered thousands of miles. RIP.

What should I replace them with?

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Go Beastie, go!

Follow Graeme Obree's progress as he tries to conquer the human-powered land speed record in Battle Mountain, Nevada.

Monday 9 September 2013

Puzzling prices

I'm unsure whether I bagged a bargain or not in Halfords...

Their website advertises GT85 at £3.00 (apparently saving £3.24) yet in store it is priced at £4.95.  However, in a bargain basket it is marked at £2.49 providing you buy another item.


Sunday 8 September 2013

Feeling flattered

The Tour of Britain starts on the 15th September and I shall be glued to the television watching the highlights each day.  I will be cheering on the MiB whilst also hoping that Wiggo, Dowsett, Stannard and Cav all do well on the various stages.

Had I been able to take the time off work I might have experienced the full race in the Commissaire's car as I was asked if I might consider being the C Comm.  I have no idea what that would entail but it was flattering to be asked.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Post holiday blues pick-me-up

Razor sharp tan lines and thoughts of whether you can retire and live back at your holiday destination - the tell-tale signs of a good holiday.

I have been back at work for a week with some pangs of holiday blues, however I was very privileged to be invited to a medicinal event.  I drove up to Derbyshire at the weekend to join the Rapha Condor JLT cycle team for a pedal and the chance to hear their plans for the forthcoming Tour of Britain.

The day started with breakfast with the team followed by a pedal around a sign posted 28 mile (lumpy) route on the lanes near Flagg and Buxton.  I was tempted to join the fast groups with either Kristian House or Ed Clancy leading but I joined a small group riding with Ed Laverack, one of the team who had raced in the Pearl Izumi tour series this year.  We cycled at a comfortable pace which made it ideal to chat and ask Ed questions.
After the 2 hour cycle we had the chance to ride on one of the many bikes that Condor had brought to the event and to purchase some Rapha products at a reduced price, followed by lunch.
At lunch I was fortunate to be joined at my table by Ed Clancy and he talked openly about all things cycling including Victoria Pendleton's wedding which was the day before.
After lunch, John Herety chaired a Q&A session with the team and announced the names of the riders for the Tour of Britain. 
Bonne chance to Kristian House, Richard Handley, Mike Cuming, Felix English, Luke Mellor &, Hugh Carthy!

Holiday high points

Where did August go, too? 

I can account for two weeks which were spent on holiday in the Alsace, in the forests of the North in the Vosges mountains. The roads and the climbs were beautiful and my son and I cycled each day.

I also travelled further South to explore the tourist wine route and to tick off another Tour de France climb :-)

Shiny Ti

My replacement Chinook frame arrived in time for me to build it up and use for the Prudential Ride London.

I love the new decals and the shiny brushed finish of the titanium.  Sadly, by the time I had finished assembling the bicycle, the frame was covered in grubby finger prints.

I wrote to Van Nicholas to ask them what product to use to keep the frame looking like new and the answer... Pledge furniture oil!