Friday, 9 March 2018

An ode to Pee


I've got 2 bud's I ride with regularly, there have been a few over the years, currently it's a particular pair I ride with the most.

One live's around the halfway mark of my route, the other lives in the town next to me. So it works out quite well from a logistical point of view.

We've got meet points and bail points on most of the routes and we can all get back from any point without too much trouble if required or our legs aren't playing ball.

Our initials create the NME crew, we've only recently worked this out and have ridden together less since we decided to name ourselves. Go figure. Might be my doing that as I work a slightly different shift pattern.

Anyway, So one of the guys is lanky and 12 stone, the other is about my height and weighs slightly more, I'm a bit of a runt in comparison. So we each have differing strengths on the bike.

I can hold my own on the flat but I'm not breaking any records, I used to be able to climb but that's gone off the boil a bit lately.

M can climb a bit and go fast on the flat.

E, now E has the ability to destroy the flat with great leg strength, this may or may not hider on the longer climbs. So E can't commit to regular riding as much as he'd like, so he's usually searching for form, fit off the bike, he has the stamina just lacking the mileage in the legs.

Sometimes previously, when E and I ride together, me with my superior cycling ability (cough) would need to stop for a pee, I have a 25 (ish) mile commute and if I drink after 4pm, I need to pee on route. As E was consistently searching for form, we'd agree that he'd go on and I'd catch up. This was fine on a few occasions and worked ok for both of us.

Then something changed.

Not my attitude, obviously, I do this most days so clearly I'm superior, right....... So this one time we were riding our shorter route that is fairly flat in parts, I guess the last 10 miles are flat. Screw it, I need to piss. I shout the words 'I'm stopping to Piss, I'll catch you up' not a problem, we've done this before, it's all good. E would keep the pace we'd been riding at and I'd catch him and all would be well.

That night something switched in E. The word 'Piss' seemed to act as a prompt to drop the hammer. I'd not witnessed anything like this before and I was unsure where it had come from and why this pace hadn't been deployed before. It Honestly took me the best part of 6 miles to get anywhere near being back on his wheel and the next 4 to recover as I limped home after E turned off, thank god.

You never really want to give too much away when you get your ass kicked in this manner. I couldn't let E know his pace was an issue for me. Shiz, I ride this route constantly and should by rights be the master of it. I had to beast myself to get back onto his wheel. I wanted to say 'Jeezz dude, why didn't you wait' but pride wouldn't let me.

It took me a while to admit too this. What with M offering a lead out on climbs and me not being able to hold his wheel. Now E was destroying me on the flats.

I've not pissed on my route since. I can't afford too.


Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Well that passed without a flutter


Man, I was soooo excited about hitting 10,000 miles on one bike. Never before had I achieved such a feet on a single bike. Ever.

Gotten close, yes. I'd covered over 9000 miles on a Single Speed but never the big 10.



It was soo cool working up to 10k. Got taken out, fell off, shiz broke, it felt like a real challenge.

I was really looking forward to it. Thought to myself  'yeah, i'll service the bike as reward' and made plans for banners and a party for all to attend (ha!). Then it happened. I just cycled my 10,000th mile like any other. I didn't even finish a ride on the number, I just cycled straight through it. I think it was a commute home, mile 13 out of 25 or something equally forgettable.

I was going to sync my 10,000th mile ride with a ride out with a couple of buds and stop for a pint on route but that didn't happen for commitment reasons. It was all just a bit meh

So anyway, I did it and it was like any other mile. Same old shiz. Another mile, another commute.

So now my 2016 Allez is my most ridden bike ever. 11,727 miles. It's in dire need of a clean and a gear service. The current cassette has only done 2590 miles so that's good for another 2590 miles but the chain is stretched to the point of concern.

Due to my accident and a wheelset swap, the chain has done a 1000 miles more than the cassette, old cassette stayed on the Ultegra wheel as a spare.

So if it doesn't snow too bloody much, I might get round to swapping the chain in the next few days.....Hooray for 10k!







Saddle Woe


I recently had the nose of my saddle break on me. This upset me a smidge. I've had this particular saddle for about 5 years. It's a 2013 model of the Specialized Toupe Comp gel.

Great saddle, such a personal thing a saddle. £100 for a new one. £100!! Damn that's a lot of money.

It the grand scheme of thing's, its really not. When you work out how long you sit on a saddle. For me it's a 25 mile commute, that's 25 in each direction, 3 time's a week, probably, usually. I recon my now broken saddle has done at least 25,000 miles. I would assume more, it's been on at least 4 different bikes, It literally gets put on every bike I ride. Simple.

I've now bought a new version of that saddle. The 2017 version it would seem. The shape seems the same but the foam seems a little deeper with a ridge where there didn't used to be one, that said, the old saddle was 5 years old, so I guess designs change with time, i've just missed the changes.

I do sit on the nose of my saddle, not sure why, just find it more comfortable. Whatever. I did think about buying a different saddle. I want to try a Brooks one day, not one of the older range but one of the new  C17 saddles or perhaps the narrower C15. I generally go for 143mm width with a saddle, My point is, anything new I'd need to test. So I stick with the tried and tested.



This image still makes me sad. When you find something that works, stick with it. Then buy it again. If it's that good and it works, it's worth keeping.


Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Roundabouts and shiz

I ride alone. A lot. It's a commuting thing. I have 2 ride buddies at work that sometimes choose to ride with me. One of them wants me to piss off 50% of the time but that's another story. Mostly it's a commitment thing. I think :) 

Anyway. I ride alone. A lot. So I just get on with it. I like to think I ride in a bold manner. I don't ride in the gutter, I ride so when a car goes to overtake, they have to overtake in to oncoming traffic. As they should. Quite right too. You're not squeezing me.

So I rarely get feedback on my riding style. Aggressive yeah. Ave it. Potentially dangerous. I don't believe so but I've never really thought about it. Yes I do ride aggressively. I do it to hold road position and keep my line. Ride submissively and you'll get taken advantage of. Simple as that. Ride in the gutter, cars won't cross the white line to overtake as they won't deem it necessary and the only one that suffers is you. Ultimately.

I'm a driver too you know. I also have a motorbike license. I am aware what's around me, always. I have to be.

Riding alone I go for gaps that aren't made for two. This was highlighted to me the other day when going for a gap on a roundabout. Done this 1000s of times before. No dramas. This gap was gradually getting smaller as I approached and I had company. The roundabout had 4 entry points, as I was approaching there was a car coming straight on, turning right and one entering from the right to go straight on.

This gave me a small window but one I was happy with. That is, if the cars continued at that constant pace but they didn't. The car turning slowed and the car going straight on quickened.
I was going right and my bud going straight on. He'd seen this and worked out he'd have a better chance of survival by stopping to give way like a decent road user should have.

I kept going. The car turned in front of me. I hit the gap the car behind me went straight on. I'm not sure what evasive action was taken but I assume someone had to break because of me.

So there is bold, clever riding and there is being wreckless. That move fell into the latter category. 

Not one of my finest moments on a bike. One I will surely learn from. Now i'm taking in the feedback of my fellow riders to make myself a better rider. I have 3 kids. Time to stop going for shrinking gaps and start thinking more about my riding. 


Monday, 26 February 2018

Excuses

Man I love this.....This post has been inspired by that GCN video, you know the one.....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nw7HC8z_zZs

I have a HUGE list of excuses, some genuine, some maybe not so much.....Love deploying a good excuse. We all do. Especially when it comes to the commute and one of your riding buddies clearly has better form than you. You can sense it almost immediately as you leave the office. 

Someone injects a bit of pace and you just know your legs aren't having any of it. So they start rolling round your mind. You start questioning what you're wearing, the bike you're riding, their bike, their gear. Your's is defo heavier. 100%. You ok the sitch with the fact you've been riding all week and they've just appeared for this day. 'fresh legs'. 

And so it commences.......My list: 

'I'm using a 52 FFS, who specs a 52, how can I climb with a 52!' (kicked the ass out of this one)

'This jacket is too big, I'm too hot to chase any times' 

'I'm wearing the wrong shoes, these winter boots are too heavy' 

'I'm clearly wearing the wrong kit for the conditions, I'm too *Hot/Cold/wet/dry (*delete as required)

'My chain has stretched, I'm nursing the bike until I swap the chain out' *Currently using this.

'My wheels are too heavy' 

'There is too much traffic today' 

'I have a new bag and it sits higher on my back, I can feel it pulling me back. Must be the wind resistance, ' *this is a new one for me, bigger bag, 4 litres more storage space. This will be deployed soon enough. 

Clearly there are plenty more. 

The best excuse I've heard for actually riding the bike is this, which was used when a mate that seldom rides, rode on a freezing cold morning. 

'I couldn't be arsed to defrost the car' 

Brilliant. 












Monday, 20 November 2017

98 miles and counting.....

98 miles to to till I finally ride through the 10,000 mile barrier on one bike.

Now is this a miles stone? Maybe, Maybe not. Many have done this, many never will.

I've been commuting regularly since 2012 and I've cycled a fair distance in that time, 47,000 ish miles. I cycled 10,000 miles in a year once in that time. Cycled London to Barcelona and a fair few in between but I've never cycled 10,000 miles on a single bike.

This is my fault. I am the most indecisive person on earth, maybe. I've had more bikes in that 5 years than I care to remember. Now this, in part is the reason I've never passed the 10,000 mile mark. Perhaps the size of my garden too. We've tried to make the garden look bigger to sell the house, this meant reducing the size of our outside storage space.

The wife has a bike (she never uses) and the boy has a trike. I therefore have space for 1 bike. I totally would have bought another bike before this point had space allowed it. That in itself is half a reason for the 10k bike.

I do love this bike. My 2016 Specialized Allez. It's just a great bike. It's comfortable, fast enough, strong, light, durable, you name it. If I had the money, I'd own a winter bike, a summer bike, a cross bike, a mountain bike. Ow no, wait, I don't have the storage space or the cash. So there it is.

I got this bike in July 2016 and if I'm honest, this has been my least miley year since 2013. So on previous form, I could have done this sooner. Injury, Holidays, new baby, illness, LIFE has gotten in the way and I'm honestly ok with that. I used to chase mileage but I'm not that bothered anymore, it's not like I'm training for anything.

So what is the reward for 10,000 miles? I did think a good full service. I may still do that but the bike has recently had new chain, cassette, brake shoes, jockey wheels, headset bearings and re-grease and a new set of wheels. So that's nearly it, right? The way I see it only the BB and the cables would need repairing/replacing?

I might get smashed by way of a celebration but that's not really a gift for the bike. Funny, I want to celebrate it. It'll come and go just like the rest of the miles I've ridden. I feel like I want some kind of fanfare. Maybe a banner at the side of the road, with some peeps cheering me on as I pass this magnificent milestone.

Sadly, it'll just be another mile, on another commute, probably windy, probably raining, probably too dark, probably solo and to be fair, I wouldn't have it any other way.


Here's to another 10,000 miles.


Friday, 6 October 2017

Hit by a car, for the first time.....


I seem to be getting most of my 'firsts' on this Allez. Maybe its jinxed, who knows but I got knocked off my bike for the very first time yesterday.

Wasn't too bad to be fair, all things considered I got off quite lightly. I was turning right at a small roundabout in Frimley Green, following a car which was also turning right. A driver was sat in her car, waiting to go straight on, she saw the car but not me.

She was accelerating from a standing start, so the impact wasn't fast but it was still impact. It's made me think what I could have done to make myself more visible to her, I'm not really sure, my front light would have been flashing directly into her line of vision, I can only assume she wasn't looking in front of her at the time, its hard to say. She saw the car.

The accident seemed to play out in slow motion in front of my eyes. Normal route for me, normal process, following a car round a round about. I saw she started moving and I thought 'she'll see me, she'll stop, she'll defo stop OMG SHE'S NOT STOPING' and then contact.

Too many drivers nowadays don't wait for other drivers to leave the roundabout before entering, the new trend seems to be to enter the roundabout while the other driver is still exiting, this was a classic example of this, she simply didn't wait to see what was behind the car, in this instance, me.

Was I too close to the car I was following? I didn't think so. A few factors to take into consideration here, it was 7am (ish), in October, so low light, possibly low sun breaking through the clouds, I just hope she wasn't starring at a phone.

There was no CCTV in the area but I ride with a rear facing camera/light combo on the bike, yeah that Aldi one actually, its literally 2 days old and its already caught me being knocked off my bike. Ok it was rear facing, as luck would have it, my bike landed facing the opposite way to the impact, so I have the driver getting out of the car and the car registration. Happy days.

In fairness, she did stop and we did exchange details. She seemed nice enough, cried a couple of times, said her husband cycles. I like this idea, if you have a family member to relate this incident to, its all the more real.

As a result of the accident, I've bought a new helmet. My head hit the road pretty hard, the lid was 3 years old and now compromised, silly not too. I bought the same lid, Specialized Echelon II. Previous was black, new one is red. It has a 'hair port' too, for my pony tail, being a bald man, this sold the deal for me. It's unisex, honestly.

I also needed a new front wheel, I currently ride Shimano Ultegra 6800 wheels, my LBS quoted me £250 for a replacement front wheel. 'Don't be silly' was my reply. £270 a pair on Wiggle. I like to spend in my LBS if I can but don't take the piss out of me. I did buy my lid there mind. Wasn't cheaper elsewhere.

Didn't see the point in buying the same wheelset if a slow accident can write off a wheel. Mavic Aksiums have been ordered. Nice wheelset, nice price.

Anyway, the bike will ride on as will I. Thankfully no broken bones. I'm still chasing 10,000 miles on this bike. Currently I'm sat at 9137.7 and I WILL get there.

No more drama please.