Friday, 21 July 2017

The tale of the 52 tooth chain ring

So I bought a Specialized Allez, a 2016 one. An Aluminium one. To basically be my one and only bike.

On paper, I've had better bikes, faster bikes, carbon bikes. Man that Giant TCR, a white one. Every pissing stone chip and paint was missing, that god awful seat post. I mean yeah aerodynamic teardrop seat posts look cool but not once you've over tightened the poxy thing and cracked the paint. Could never get a rear light to sit right on that post either.....PAIN.IN.THE.ASS

I wanted something I could just ride, every day, in every weather that would look good doing it. I don't want disk brakes, at least not until lower end road bikes have hydraulics that don't weigh a kilo each. Plus, I can service rim brakes, yes, even I can service rim brakes.

So the Allez was perfect, this one in fact. That frame finish is a thing of beauty.

Great bike, love it. BUT, Look at the front chain ring, its HUGE. It's a 'Semi Compact' apparently, not quite a standard at 52 teeth but close enough. Initially I thought this would be fine, I could handle it, I'll just smash the flats.

Ow, how wrong I was. Ok, I am a year older than last year but basically, I blame the 52 tooth chain ring for my getting slower. I blame it completely. Rightly or wrongly, I tend to climb in the big ring on all but the steepest climbs, its clearly not that hilly near me. So my climbing has suffered. My legs refuse to commit to climbing pace now, they just instantly start to hurt. My best times on my local segments are 3 years old and I'm not even remotely close to touching them.

So the granny ring is too small and the 52 tooth chain ring is too big. FFS. Why Specialized, Why?

Today, this arrives:

And look at these numbers:

Hooray! A 50 tooth chain ring! I am so excited about having this on my bike. I'm not even near my bike, nor is the new chain ring and still, I'm excited. Even the mission that was finding it, buying it, having it delivered couldn't dampen my excitement. It was close though....

Bit of a double edged sword this one though. I've been using the chain ring as an excuse for a couple of months now, what if I fit it and I still can't climb! No more excuses.

Maybe I'll keep it in the cupboard for a bit, make out I haven't had time to fit it. We'll see.......

Friday, 23 June 2017

Budget (sc)Rubber

My cycling budget has never been large. In fact, some times it's barely even a budget, its non existent.

I'm constantly on the look out for a cycling bargain. I'm not great with maintenance of my kit, especially components and when it comes to clothing, i want function because its basically going to get rinsed by me. I don't want lovely gear because i'll ruin it and that would make me sad.

I buy DHB, I shop in Decathlon, great prices for great functional kit. Wiggle have bought out more incredible kit under the Lifeline brand. Some really good kit at great prices. Cleats for less than £6 is mental!

So I need some new rubber for the bike. I've had a set of Gatorskin's for far too long. Well over 5k miles to this point, they just keep on going....I don't want to mention the number of puncture's i've had on this set of tyres cause i'll instantly get one the next time i ride but the total is countable on less than 2 fingers.

Such an incredible tyre, I could just buy more and i probably will at some point. I get that some people use lighter rubber in the summer but lets be honest, no one can actually tell the difference between summer and winter tyres unless they ride 'Marathons' during the colder months. I simply want puncture protection.

Nothing worse than being stood at the side of the road fixing a puncture. It'll always happen in the dark, on an unlit road, probably when its pissing down.

And then I found these The Lifeline Prime Armour Road they have some cracking reviews and for £13.20 (I'm a Wiggle Platinum customer) a tyre, what's not to love.

If I get 2000 miles out of them for that price, its an absolute bargain.

Check this review from its the review that made me give em a punt.

All this said, i haven't actually fitted them yet but i will, at some point. I'd like to imagine i'd give some handy feedback on the tyres, like how they handle in different conditions but truth be told, I'll just smash them in to the ground and not be able to tell a blind bit of difference over the current tyres i have. Just as long as they work, that's fine by me.

Yay cat on a unicorn. obvs.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Drafting or should that be 'dafting'

I like drafting. It makes my life easier. It's also nice to share the responsibilities for breaking the air and in turn making the ride seem effortlessly faster.

But I'm not talking about drafting with another bike. I'm talking about drafting like Guy Martin, Drafting something big.

It's bloody dangerous and something I've never done before.

I recall being at a sportive in the New Forest on a quiet road and my ride buddy jumping in the slipstream of a passing lorry. I didn't as I took the moral high ground, never saw him again until the next feed station. His instance pace was EPIC.

This morning, on one of the busiest roads on my commute, I did the unthinkable. It just seemed too good to turn down.

Just to clarify, there was very little traffic, due to the Easter holidays. This thing was crazy big. One of those movable crane things, yeah one of these:

I just couldn't help myself. It seemed effortless, I maxed at a mental 39.8mph behind that thing. I was too close to comfort and constantly staring at the break lights so I never intended to do it for long.

Got a Freaking KOM . Though, it's a joint one at an average of 29.6mph, so I'm feeling perhaps i'm not the first to do this on this section of road. It's not a climb, why do Strava offer KOM's for flat and downhill segments? Surely they could use a different term.....

A couple of miles drafting max, if that. It felt silly and I shouldn't recommend it but like everything you shouldn't do, it seemed right at the time. Like a good drink up on a Sunday when you've been off all week and have to work on the Monday. You've had all week to do this but no, Sunday is the day.

So wrong, its right. Just this once.

Made me feel like Wiggins, if just for a moment.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Cornering like a beast

I'm not sure I've ever paid attention to my cornering speed before, not overly anyway. Not that I can re-call.

Just today I rode an errand to my local collect+ petrol station to collect some new tyres (ironically) and it dawned on me that I seem to be hitting round abouts and corners really quite fast.

I don't really know what this is all about, is it the frame, the tyres, confidence, the conditions?

I noticed it the other day too, just on a random commute, really feeling the corners, getting a good lean and carrying some good pace.

So I ride a 2016 Allez, shed with Conti Gatorskins. Nothing out of the ordinary there. The Gators have done over 3000 miles and will be swapped out very shortly. Am I missing a trick here, surely this is false confidence on a heavily warn tyre.

Those two little holes which are tread checkers on Conti's are barely there, I can see them but only just.

I did read an article about the 2016 Allez having the same geometry as the Tarmac, perhaps this is the connection with the road I'm feeling. I've never ridden a Tarmac so can't clarify.

I like this comment:

'Although 2mm shorter between the wheels, this bike shares much of its geometry with Specialized’s more readily raced S-Works Tarmac, with identical head tube, chainstay and fork dimensions.'

So a short wheelbase and a racy geometry. I used to ride a Giant TCR and I'm sure I never noticed cornering like this, honestly that bike might actually have been to small for me so potentially not a fair comparison. That said at some point, it was ridden with Gatorskins.

I do recall falling on ice when cornering a few years back which murdered my confidence to the point of slowing for a corner in all but the driest of conditions, perhaps I'm just now finding my cornering nads again.

Anyway, whatever, never cared about the science of things. I'm just really loving this bike and its ability to be thrown into corners at will.

I wonder if changing the tyres will make a difference.....

Monday, 13 March 2017

5000 miles and running. LBS Save.

I love this bike.

5000 miles done, since I bought it in July of last year. It's been my only bike. I've ridden it through all conditions. Rain, wind, -7 temps and it's been spot on every time. It's not had many upgrades, just efficient ones. 1 set of Ultegra wheels, one set of Swiss Stop brake pads. That's literally it.

I rode through winter on the original wheels that the bike came with, upon hitting 3k and a spoke pinging off, leading to another spoke pinging off and my LBS telling me 'You've got like 3 weeks on these' the Ultegra wheels are now a permanent fixture.

At 5000 miles ridden, I felt like the chain and cassette were long overdue for replacement. I'm fairly sure the manufacturer would recommend less miles before swap out but I wanted to hit that 5k mile stone. So I did.

So new 105 chain and cassette. Like for like replacements. A good clean up was had too. I hate cleaning, I really do but this Muc-off kit really did the job. Esp that drive chain cleaner, spot on that stuff.

This is my idea of giving the bike a service prior to the summer months. A good clean and a chain and cassette replacement. That'll do. 

Now I don't really like doing this type of stuff, I know its not difficult, I'd just rather someone else did it for me. So I had 2 spare pins, just in case I ruined one whilst fitting the pin on my chain. Or did I. seems Shimano have gone all Apple on us. 10s pins are not compatible with 11s chains. Yay. Obviously I buggered the one pin I had and my worst fears came true. I couldn't fit the chain. Such a simple procedure......

I have a couple of bike shops near me, both cracking shops with exceptional product. It's the little things though right. I call both because I need a replacement pin, a 2 minute job at best. I do realise this isn't the mount Everest of problems or a high priority but do you want my custom? One is too busy, the mechanic has work booked up til 9pm, apparently. The other said 'yeah bring it in', so I did. 

'I'll do it now bud, it'll take me longer to book it in than it will to do the work'. 5 mins later and £2 for a replaceable link. JOB DONE. Now that's what I'm talking about. 

It's not even about the chain, it's about where I'll now take my bike for servicing. It's about where I'll now go as my first port of call. It's further away but it's worth it because it feel's like they gave a sh*t. Nicely done. 

So the bike is ready for the ever improving weather and its next 5000 miles. Let's go!

Monday, 20 February 2017

My First of 2017

I've completely forgotten about this blog. I guess life just gets in the way.

I'm only commuting now, which doesn't really seem like it's exciting enough to talk about, perhaps I'm missing the point.

3 days a week has been this years norm. Not done a 200 mile week yet, the shame......

Over 100 miles off my yearly target progress, although I feel that may suffer more as the year progresses. On a more positive note, tonight I'll pass my first 1000 miles for the year, no mean feat in itself.

I've been out for one weekend ride. With my new next door neighbour. I knew we'd get on when I saw him pull up for the first time, entire contents of his house in a lorry, bar his 3 bikes, lovingly packed into his car. He has a garage, the bikes don't live in there, he has a bike room. Too cool

Anyway, think I managed about 13 miles in total. Spoke snapped at about 7 miles, the remaining miles were me limping home at a pathetic pace with the wheel rubbing the frame and no rear brake.

So that's that. A very uneventful first 1000 miles.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

God Damn Winter.....

Part of me feels like this is some kind of badge of Honour.

Another part of me think's I'm just a lazy bum that doesn't like cleaning his bike. 

There is some Red on that rear Triangle. Fairly sure of it.
This is my better bike. It's a testament to it's capabilities that it doesn't find itself in the shed. I freaking LOVE this bike. In my defence, its wet, cold, dark and crap outside and this thing just keeps on killing it. Everything just works and it's lovely to ride. The only thing I check regularly are the tyres for flints and lube the chain. It will get a wash, at some point.

The weather for tomorrow is actually wall to wall rain, which is perfect as it should wash off most of the muck, so I'm looking forward to riding tomorrow, ironically.

My Allez will get a full Service come March, new chain, cassette, new tyres (onto my currently in the shed, Ultegra wheels). It has the original Axis 2.0 wheel on the rear and some Giant PSL wheel on the front with Gatorskins on both. I'll lose the guards come spring too. Will be like a new bike. Actually its only 5 months old now.

Luckily I don't use the granny ring when I ride, fairly sure with the amount of cack on the front mech, it's not changing.....

I get annoyed at my kids for not respecting their things, perhaps they actually get it from me. Balls.

It should look like this, one day.