Monday, 31 December 2012

New Wheels (Ow Yes)

So almost inevitably, robbing my summer bike of its wheel's would result in me requiring a new set at some point, so what better time than now.

I've been looking for a while and narrowed my choice down to 3 sets of wheels from the same store. I wanted Wheels, rim tape and skewers when buying the wheels, other than that I didn't really have higher expectations, the least you'd expect really.

As my birthday and Christmas fall in the same month I always ask for vouchers to spend on my bikes, apparently I'm "boring" and "annoying" for wanting vouchers for the same retailer 2 years in a row, I on the other hand thought I was making life easier for all with my request. Don't ask, you don't get right? I don't want to break the bank for a wheel set but I do want something half decent for my money, anything up on the standard wheels that came with the bike would do.

Thank god for 'Price match'. I choose this set with the red decals listed at £219.99, as they'd suit the bike nicely, I'd have happily paid the asking price too until I remember what a buddy had told me about the sellers price match promise. I had to at least try it. I then found the same set listed here at £137.50. Jesus thats quite a difference.

Turns out with a bit of pleading and a very helpful member of staff (they don't like to price match under 30%) you can get a bargain. I ordered my new wheels at the knock down price.

What a bloody bargain and they come with Mavic branded tyres fitted, its their new 'tyre system' apparently. Like I should have known! I'm still chuffed I got the wheels at that price. Now I just need this rain to bugger off.....

2012's final blog (thank f**k for that)

1385 miles, now that is a long way.

1385 miles, that's the difference between my 2011 mileage of 3832 and my 2012 mileage of 5217

I started commuting to work on my road bike on the 28th of March 2011. Since then and to this day I have ridden a total of 9049 miles, DAMN that's a long way. Most of my ridden miles have been commuting miles, ironically October was the month I rode the most and August the least, seems I prefer to ride cold than warm. I certainly seem to be consistently faster when the temperature drops.

What of my 2012 goals? Hmmn, didn't really achieve what I set out too, It's the last day of the year and I still haven't ridden a century ride and I certainly ain't doing it now! My longest ride to date, that is in my life ever, is the 84 miles completed at the Meon Valley Riser. For 2013 I again hope to do a 100 mile ride, It's not that I don't believe I can, I know I can it's just the idea of cycling for potentially 7 hours or more, not particularly attractive that idea....maybe just the once then.

I've signed up for the 2013 Wiggle Up and Downs Sportive, ok so again not 100 miles but it's close enough at 96 and more to the point it's not flat, so more of a challenge right? Still not joined a club, I find the schedule of clubs a little hard to adhere too, I wanna ride when I wanna ride, not at 10am every Sunday, although I may have to change that attitude if I want to stop myself going insane over longer distance.

Thank god for having 2 bikes, if I hadn't then I'd have simply stopped riding in September this year when I realised I was riding on a cracked rim, queue a quick cassette/wheel change and I was back on the tarmac. I've gone through 1 set of wheels, 1 set of mudguards, 1 cassette, 1 chain, a handful of tyres and numerous inner tubes, not to mention the consistently snapping plastic tyre levers (really must buy metal levers next time).

I drunk a lot in 2012, not extravagantly but every weekend and in hindsight, probably just enough to keep me away from the bike at weekends. I'll be giving up the booze in the new year so I hope to see more weekend mileage and that ever elusive 100 mile ride come my way soon. Just the one last blow out to go.....Ow and I really must have a go at a club hilly challenge, really fancy that.....

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Fear of the Dark

Why is it, when I'm alone and surrounded by darkness my mind thinks 'ow tell you what we haven't thought about in a while, Ghosts....and maybe Zombies'

                                                           Park entrance.

I've recently changed my route home through Windsor Great Park, previously I rode on the main roads through the park, although unlit, the cars driving past brought enough light to see me through the park. Now I have changed my route, I cycle directly through the park itself. Being a 'park' there is clearly no street lights, no traffic and no movement. I do cycle past a residential community in the park but again there is no artificial lighting other than the houses themselves, I'm fairly certain they don't give a shit who is cycling by and whether that cyclist can see.

                                                         Through gates in to the darkness (thats the entrance to a gated compound lit ahead)

Now I do have a bike light, it works and its actually very bright 300 lumens to be precise, but shit me its dark in that park.....

                                                         My light while moving

But why ow why when alone in the dark does my mind start to wonder.....every noise is magnified, every movement increased, eyes everywhere but I see nothing. Only the beam of light in front of me. I look behind me, see nothing, trees act as a canopy hiding the moon.  I approach a darkened crossroads, I know its there as I've done the route 100 times but I can barely make it out now. I see movement all around me, trees swaying, leaves blowing across the road. I look back again, image someones there, following me, I quicken my pace and a chill goes down my spine. I'm riding in the centre of the road waiting to see something familiar.......fuck I need to get a grip.

Ride through the darkness pussy. It is what it is, safer than riding on the road.

I love this song, Iron Maiden Fear of the Dark, its on loop in my head as I ride through the park.

When the light begins to change
I sometimes feel a little strange
A little anxious when it's dark.

Fear of the dark,fear of the dark
I have constant fear that something's always near
Fear of the dark,fear of the dark
I have a phobia that someone's always there

Have you run your fingers down the wall
And have you felt your neck skin crawl
When you're searching for the light ?
Sometimes when you're scared to take a look
At the corner of the room
You've sensed that something's watching you.

Have you ever been alone at night
Thought you heard footsteps behind
And turned around and no-one's there ?
And as you quicken up your pace
You find it hard to look again
Because you're sure there's someone there

Watching horror films the night before
Debating witches and folklore
The unknown troubles on your mind
Maybe your mind is playing tricks
You sense,and suddenly eyes fix
On dancing shadows from behind.

Time to grow a pair...

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Well, they are generally right.....

Well partially.....

So the logical choice seemed to be to remove the wheels off the summer bike and transfer them to the winter bike. The wife wanted me to use the new bike, I wanted new wheels. You may have seen her comment on my previous post, felt like I may lose this battle but thankfully I wasn't required to sleep in the shed ;-)

This seems like a decent compromise. The wheels from the new bike go on to the old bike and I buy new wheels for the new bike at some point in the future, it's not like it's going to get used this side of Christmas anyway.....

The only obstacle this posed was the removal and replacment of the cassette as the winter bike is a 9 speed (triple) and the summer bike a 10 (double).

I borrowed a cassette removal tool from a mate at work -

Removal of the 9 speed cassette was fairly straight forward once I understood how the chain whip worked, the spikes held tension from the spokes, took me a while and a text message to work that one out. Use 'youtube' he said, literally no video's I found had this tool set in use.

I simply couldn't remove the 10 speed cassette from the wheel of the new bike, I couldn't get the whip to hold tension on the wheel (well, not without ruining it anyway). So I popped along to see the guys at my LBS, met the mechanic who literally took the wheel and bought it back to me a moment later with the cassette in a bag. job done. He used one of these.....

So I bought one. Makes the job a piece of cake, literally. I must have been in town for 25 minutes max, love it when I don't have to wait for service.

Anyhoo, after sorting the cassette's all I had to do was put the new wheels on the old bike and adjust the brakes to the new rims. This gave me the chance to fit new brake pads on the rear as there was nothing left of the current pads.

So the old bike has new rims and looks all the better for it. Now ready for a full winters commute without me needing to worry if the wheel was going to collapse.

The new bike on the other hand is looking a little sorry for itself, rims with no tyres and wheels with no cassette. It ain't going anywhere, anytime soon.

.....but I WILL be buying some decent wheels at some point before next summer, now I just need to decide which new wheels, ow dilemma's.....

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

When will she learn?

So in my previous post I mentioned how I now have a cracked back wheel and inevitably it will need replacing.

Ok so I have 2 bikes, lucky me. One is older and heavier and one is younger, prettier and lighter, you can see where this is never see's rain, the other comes with me over hill and down dale, we share blood, sweat (literally) and tears. I've fallen off it and I've kicked it over in frustration but it's never missed a beat and will always be the bike I turn to when the weather sets in.

Apparently this is hard for a woman to get her head around. One for rain and one for shine. It really is that simple. Don't fuck with my theory.

So I'm debating on a new rear wheel (like for like), a new budget set of wheels or a better set for the summer bike, that way I can just place the current wheels on the old bike and save a little dosh towards something a little better.

So I go at the wife with my findings and tell her my thoughts. Her initial response is 'why don't you just use the new bike, thats what you brought it for'. (This one sentence explains the chasm in understanding as to exactly why I own 2 bikes). Now I can't put in words all the things wrong with this sentence but I'll name a few....No, just No. It doesn't see rain (unless of course I'm caught in a shower whilst out riding), it's pretty, it's light, I like looking at it and No it doesn't come out in the rain. Did I mention it doesn't come out in the rain?

Now I agree this is a little sad, I am very lucky in that I have a choice in which bike I ride when the weather is crap. My old bike has mudguards, my new bike doesn't even have eyelets for mudguards, why would I choose to ride it in the rain when I have a bike set up for wet weather, JESUS.

It's not rocket science. she'll never understand how I need new wheels. I can't just 'use the new bike' because I'll then still have a broken rear wheel.....not logical thinkers are they.....

Garmin stats (YTD)

Year to date stats. How exciting. I ride daily.

 I'd like to explain how I add base miles and how my I ride within a certain percentage of my heart rate. Truth is I haven't got a clue.  I just ride. I ride to get there and I ride to get back. everything else is just living.

That's that f**ked then....

My winter bike. Well more specifically the rear wheel of my winter bike. I noticed a spoke coming loose a few months back but though nothing of it, I mean its not like there isn't 35 others, can't do that much damage can it?

Not sure I can keep riding on this mind. Look's a bit terminal.

It's cracked either side of the spoke eyelet and the rim itself is cracked on both sides. There's no papering over these cracks. Like Armstong's career, I may not want to admit it but it's coming to an end.

Now I don't race, road or cross on this bike, apparently its capable of both (I on the other hand, am not) but I have ridden it in all weather conditions covering thousand's of miles both on and off road. Its seen 2 (ish) years of hard graft, been a worthy servant and a faithful companion so I guess I should just replace it and move on, though part of me just wants to ride it into the ground and see what happens.

So a Shimano 9 speed compatible rear wheel it is then, can't be too hard to find......

Sunday, 26 August 2012

This is frightening...

Now I don't really want to get involved in this "did he,didn't he" theory regarding Lance Armstrong (that's clearly a lie, I love a bit of drama). It's long since been assumed he did but never been proven. Now USADA are running with what Lance considers a "witch hunt" its certainly looking more likely that he actually did. This next few weeks will be an interesting chapter in the history of cycling. They've taken his decision not to continue fighting as a declaration of guilt, all evidence would have been provided to him prior to the sanction.

Lance has already been stripped of all results circa 1998 but the evidence put forward by the USADA in the weeks to come will establish if that ruling actually stands. If as USADA officials state, they have as many as 10 eye witnesses willing to testify against Armstrong, many of those being fellow professional cyclists from his former team and many of them already being banned riders in the shape of Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton et al. Each one Armstrong's deputy and each one fallen by the wayside on his route to 7 Tours de France. Director sportif's, team doctor's, you name it, all implicated.

Difficult to know the truth without the man coming out and saying "I did it". The sad thing is, (if this is true) being a cancer sufferer he was a real beacon of hope for millions around the world, a real inspiration. I know I own both his books, the first of which almost bought me to tears. A genuine hero. But being a genuine cycling fan, I want answers and I want them from him not some bullshit penned by his highly paid lawyers. We all know the lengths Landis went to too prove he was innocent, it was and is just embarassing and he's a parasite that needs to disappear. The 'Floyd fairness fund' I mean come on, he's just been ordered to pay $475,000 of money obtained by fraud.

Sadly, cycling has no history without doping, it really is that black and white. Tom Simpson was on something when he died on the slopes of mont ventoux. Numerous cyclists have tried and failed without the use of substance. So many riders still do it, I believe 3 were banned from this years tour for doping. I enjoy the riders that have come from nowhere, with no history of winning yet here they are on this given day kicking the arse's of the worlds best "clean" riders, haha. It's only a matter of time.

Anyway the image shown above taken from the NY Times tells you the sad truth about cycling history. Riddled with corrupt c**ts. 2003 is a particularly special year, who do the UCI give the title too, hmm decisions, decisions.

Win at all costs.

NY Times article

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Evans reprieve

If you read an earlier post of mine you'll have read my disappointment at the customer service I recieved at the hands of their Guildford store. Working in customer service myself I appreciate good service on the products I purchase and more importantly good after sales service, buying the product is just the start of the relationship. Things break and thats life, you need to know you're being provided with a level of support when parting with your cash.

I buy a bike, i want to know the seller is going to provide me with a decent level of service, not much to ask is it?

Being lied to by individuals you're lead to trust is just rude, offensive. If you are unable to perform a task, give a reason, provide a solution, don't just lie.

I have lost all faith I ever had with shop staff at Evans, from trying to be sold a bike I didn't want or couldn't afford in Kingston, to being lied to by mechanic's in Guildford. It will take a long time and a grand reason for me to take a bike into that chain of stores for any work. A local bike shop will always be my preference and I know mine, service above and beyond with a passion for bikes.

I can't fault Evans online store, I'll continue to use this service if they offer what i want at the best prices, which only a chain seem to be able to do.

Thankfully the customer service team are better than their counterparts on the shop floor.

Thanks for listening and thanks for the gesture.

My favourite route

So I cycle daily from my home in Bracknell to my place of work in Staines, yeah Staines upon Thames, the small town on the south west outskirts of London just inside the M25.

Nothing special as a location and nothing to speak of as a town but god damn the commute is beautiful. I've been cycling to and from now for over a year never really leaving the main road. Initially i took the route through Ascot turning left at Wentworth golf course following the A30 past Virginia water and the stunning Royal Holloway college.

In an attempt to gain more mileage I changed my route and started cycling through Windsor Great park, well the main roads through it anyway, on to Runnymede and beyond to Staines.

A man of routine you see, find a route, follow it, ride it faster (thats a strava thing), thats me, thats what I do.

Well last week I was challenged to change my route again, so I did, it's shorter that the long one and longer than the short one. More importantly, I don't share the road with cars. I share the road with cyclists and deer!

Look no traffic!

None, anywhere, on a commute toward the country's capital!

Look, Windsor Castle...honest guv

Now every cyclist wants to read this surely!

What a route, what a commute, can't wait to ride this covered in snow.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

A letter of complaint

To whom it may concern,
                                            I’d like to advise you of some terrible customer service I received from your Guildford store (Unit 3 Woodbridge House) when taking my bike for its recent 4 week check-up. I took the bike into the Guildford store on Thursday the 21st of June.  Since the purchase of the bike I have been adjusting the height of the stem using the spacers provided, to try and obtain the optimal riding position. When handing the bike over to the Service and Repair desk at Evans I had asked if the Steerer tube could be cut down during the service but I was told this wasn’t covered in the free service due to the amount of work involved. Upon returning home, having left the bike at the store, I decided to call the store again just to clarify the process as I didn’t believe it would be too time consuming or difficult. I spoke to a Tristan initially but was passed to someone who’s name I can’t remember. I was told that because the steerer tube was carbon they would not be happy in cutting the tube length down as I only required it reducing by 10mil and that a 5mil space would need to remain (above the stem) to ensure safety, ‘so what’s the point?’
I asked the individual to confirm the steerer tube material and I was again advised it was carbon, I said ‘are you looking at it now’ and was told ‘yes’.  Now at this point I thought ok fine, if they are looking at it now they can’t be wrong and thought nothing more of it.  Until of course I got the bike home and decided to lower the stem again and realised that the steerer tube is actually aluminium, you can see this by checking the bike spec on the Evans website (the bike is a Cannondale Caad8 C 105 2012 Evans part number EV149845-54-BLK), which clearly stipulates:  Fork: Cannondale Ultra, Carbon Blades, 1-1/8"
So it appears you’re staff lied to me in that when they said they were looking at the bike, when they were clearly not. They also lied to me when advising that the steerer tube was carbon, when it is clearly not.
I would like a formal apology regarding this matter and I’d also like to know why your staff members feel it is ok to lie to new customers. I think it’s disgraceful that I have been lied to on 2 occasion’s by your paid mechanics. Any bike shop would cut down a steerer tube for a small labour fee,  but to lie to avoid the task is a disgrace.
If it wasn’t for my companies Cycle 2 work scheme being with Evans, I simply wouldn’t step foot in your stores due to this type of inadequate and frankly offensive customer service
I look forward to hearing from you soon
Yours Faithfully

Sunday, 1 July 2012

My 1st club run

So screw it, I did it. I've been putting this moment off for so long, simple because I enjoy my lazy Sunday mornings but today I finally got around to riding with a club.

I had a choice of 2, Thames Velo and the rather less fetchingly named Fanborough and Camberley cycling club. From my house it's about the same distance to the clubs ride out points so I thought I'd give the latter a try as I knew the meeting point.

Scheduled meet was 9am @ Speedys on the West Heath Roundabout, could just about manage that on a Sunday morning, I left the house about 8:20am which got me there with 10 mins to spare. (9.9 miles).

I've been wanting to ride out with a club for a while as it's a good way to rack up the miles without having to pay a hefty fee to enter a sportive. Like minded people, good roads, great bikes, can't fault the idea really and as it happens that's just how it turned out. Only 5 of us riding today, all good confident road riders with a nice selection of bling bikes. Now this I could do.

Only now I've uploaded my data to Strava do I actually know where I've been, I recognised certain areas but others were completly unknown to me. Rode at a good pace keeping the ave speed around the 17mph mark, which was great considering the headwind we seemed to be riding into. Got a round of applause at one point as we followed the route of the Phyllis Tuckwell charity ride through Farnham, ok so the applause wasn't meant for me but you take what you can get....One of our riders did try to explain that we were just training on the route but that just made it akward, applause it was.

I really enjoyed getting to ride a route other than my commute, especially on board my new bike. Ok so it rained but thankfully only a shower and most of the ride was complete by that point. I also had a small 'off', nothing damaged other than pride (and a slightly scuffed left brake leaver), very slow off whilst trying to navigate a ridiculously sharp turn when riding up a steep footpath that seemed to continously go back on itself like a zigzag. I seem to forget how to unclip in that situation, I know it's happening and I know what I have to do, I just don't do it and end up lying on the floor like a pleb.

Lost one rider to a mechanical at about 20 miles in but other than that it was a good morning's ride. I had worried how my legs would react as I commute 25 miles daily but they were fine, total ride distance was 62 miles, I guess this next commuting week may turn out to be more difficult.

When seeing groups of cyclist's riding together they always look so fast, I had imagined I'd struggle with the pace in parts but this fear was unfounded and I actually happened to be one of the faster climbers, I was quite shocked at how easy it seemed to distance guys on climbs without really trying and at no point did I feel I was pushing myself, plenty left in the tank.

Anyway, enough of blowing my own trumpet, I'm off to watch the Peter Sagan take stage two of the Tour...

Sunday, 24 June 2012

2012 Target update...

 With 2 months out from the blogging arena, I simply can't get enough, I'm sat here wondering what I should write then I remembered I set myself some goals for 2012, let's see how close I've come to achieving them.

 Ok so my first goal was to continue commuting on my bike which I am doing and I've added a new bike to my stable so my commuting is getting faster and I'm consistently hitting PB's on my Strava segments (fear not, I won't sue).

 My second goal was to ride a 100 mile sportive. Now this I haven't actually done but I will, It's just about the timing and my unwillingness to drive any real distance to a start line. I also have a issue with paying too much for the privilage. I spent £23 to ride the 84 miles of the Meon Valley Riser and was provided with breakfast/feed stations and lunch which was a bargain. Action Medical Research are running the Guildford 100 in September which sounds perfect as its 100 miles and Guildford is round the corner, I'd even consider cycling there its £28 entry fee and a min sponsorship is £30 so a resonable price.

 The route includes the Box Hill zig zag climb of the Olympic route, barely a gradient but a beautiful spot. There are many better climbs covering the Surrey Hills and the South Downs which will hopefully be included.

 The other alternative to Sportive fee's is joining a Cycling Club. I've been thinking about this for a while and it is something I really want to do. It's a small yearly fee and the club run's are weekly and cover a good distance, I may even get discounted prices for entering events! I just need to get up earlier enough on a Sunday morning to ride to a local meeting point to join the ride, thats the difficult part...

 God damn, I need to step my goals up...

Friday, 22 June 2012

Evans Six week check up

If I'm honest I've never been a big fan of Evans. They sell decent enough products but the staff in the stores are beyond shit. This is just my expereience, I've only had the pleasure of using the Kingston, Guildford and Woking stores. I don't use Evans by choice, its out of necessity due to my companies cycle to work scheme being exclusively Evans.

  I remeber vividly my first trip to the Kingston store when looking to buy my first Cyclocross bike, the idiot I happened to be lumbered with was only interested in selling me a mountain bike at the very roof of my price range because 'that's what I'd buy mate',twat. He was unable to answer any of the questions I asked, least of all the bike related one's. The moment that really stood out was him commenting on my new road shoes that I just happened to be trying on in his store, 'they're nice mate, where did you get those from?', oddly this was a genuine question.

 Anyway, it is what it is, I use them because I have to. So I bought my new bike early May deciding it would be easier to have the bike delivered to my home address from the Evans warehouse. The last time I bought a bike from the store they just pulled it off the shope floor and handed it to me, which I guess you may not have a problem with but any bike on the shop floor can be test ridden by anyone, if I'm spending 1k on a bike I want to be the first one riding it thanks very much!

 Around comes the time for the 6 week check up, I get an email telling me so. I realise gear/brake cables stretch and require adjustment within the first month or so to keep the bike running smoothly. Nice touch Evans. Perhaps I'm expecting too much. This bike has an RRP of £1049 and so for me is the most I'll ever spend on a push bike and I want it treated like a virgin on prom night, this girl is special. I'm clearly the only one with this mindset, at least that's how I'm made to feel. Nothing like the personal touch, right?

 I realise it's not a big job, a little cable tensioning and prehaps a little gear adjustment, job done. Would a little clean really kill them? A little passion for the trade? A little care for your pride and joy? Wouldn't hurt would it.....My bike came back dirtier than it went, if you're gonna touch it with greasy hands at least then have the decency to clean it. I'm not asking for the world, a once over with a baby wipe would do, it's the little touches that make you think they care. 24 hours they had the bike and they literally did the very minimum. Ok it's free but show me that you care?!?!

Like I said, prehaps I'm expecting too much....

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

A new arrival

What a difference a new bike makes. In my case about 2kilograms. Wow.

Took me an age to decide which bike I wanted to spend my hard earned on and even longer to convince the wife a second bike was exactly what I needed. 'what if the frame cracks', 'what if the chain snaps', these and many others were used in my reasoning. Truth is, I just wanted a new and faster bike. I was fairly keen on keeping below the £1000 Ride2Work Voucher limit as I simply couldn't justify spending any more, it is only a bike after all, at the same time I wanted the best bike I could buy for the money as this will be my last for quite some time.

I spent a fair few months scouting the Evans (My company's voucher scheme is with Evans) website for something that would suit my needs. I already have a Cyclocross bike which is fairly heavy and built to take on anything, this time I wanted a full on road bike, something fast which would only come out in fair weather. For quite some time the bikes availble to me just didn't shout at me, nothing really caught my eye and nothing I was willing to spend 1k on.

Then Evans decided to have a 10% sale on all 2012 bikes, so my search got serious. I read many reviews in many magazine's and cutting a very long story short, I settled on this. Ok so it's £49 more than I wanted to spend but with 10% off, it bought the bike down to £944 (Bargain). There is just no point trying to buy full carbon at this price point as the Aluminium bikes are as light with better components.

Here is the Cannondale link on the bike and I genuinely believe I have one of the best and most eye catching bikes available. Well I'm gonna say that aren't I......

I'm now lucky enough to have a winter bike and a summer bike, bring on the sunshine :)

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Days since last puncture.....0

Well not howabout that, on what felt like the wettest day of the year I suffer my first puncture of the year....

Ironically I was lying in bed this morning listening to the rain and wind and it dawned upon me that I's not suffered a puncture in a while. Typical.

I like to think I have a fairly good puncture protection set up with one of these up front and one of these on the rear, I have an air tube up front and a slime tube in the rear, double protection yay! It was pissing down this morning, absolutly pissing, I could have stolen the wife's car but that would mean she'd have to walk our children too and from school and that wouldn't be fair in this weather. Bike it was.

I never know quite what to wear when dressing for rain as you're gonna get wet regardless of what you have on, if it ain't rain it'll be sweat from the waterproof/windproof jacket keeping all the moisture inside. I went standard set up and set about my ride as per usual.

less than 5 minutes in, yes I should have turned round, and boom I get a punture. I look down and its the rear. My initial response of 'shit' was met with optimism as I have a slime tube in the rear which will re-seale itself If I just keep riding, so on I plod. 2 minutes later and its fairly obvious the tube isn't sealing and the tyre is flat. I pull over to pump up the tyre hoping the slime tube will forfil its actual purpose of 'staying the fuck inflated'. It's not looking good but off I ride again looking for a bus stop, it's still pissing down at this point so I'm very aware of my daugther's birth certificate sat in my slowly soaking rucksack (didn't want it to get wet you see).

I find the closest bus stop, up a slight gradient (wicked with a pucnture, cheers) and turn my (at this point bastard) bike upside down to change the tube. Initially I can't remove the valve nut as it's stuck and my wet hands aren't offering much in the way of traction. 2 mins later that's removed and I attempt to get the tyre off, this proves particularly difficult with a single tyre leaver and a tyre that is intent on not leaving the rim.

5 son of a b***h c**t minutes pass where I'm simply shouting obscenities whilst trying to remove the damn tube. Anyway, I get the tube out FINALLY and launch it in a rage over a fence in to an over priced housing complex overlooking Ascot race course, sorry bout that but fuck me if it had worked I wouldn't have had to. So it's their fault not mine.

I didn't have the time or energy to look for whatever may have been stuck in my tyre before putting my new tube in, with the state of my hands I'd prolly have only added more grit than I'd have removed. New tube in and pumped up with my hand pump, which is actually shit at putting air in innertubes but it's handy enough in this situation.

Back on the road and I cycle off just shouting 'fuck you' over and over until I'm happy enough people may have heard. Of all the poxy days to get a puncture why did it have to be today (it's still pissing down by the way), couldn't of happend on a dry ride could it, ow no that would be far too easy.

I'm still pissed off about it now, it's ruined my day, fucking inconvience. AND 3 fucking cyclists past me saying nothing and offering nothing in assistance, ow no wait one said 'morning', son of a bitch.

I hope next time it's those fuckers in the pissing rain changing a tube, where's my Camaraderie ????

Friday, 20 April 2012

Mindset for Performance

I was riding home on Friday night, it was a rainy day but I'd managed to avoid the rain on both commutes (love it when that happens) but I was riding like a chump, super slow with no energy to stomp on the pedals and no want to even try. It's only been a 4 day week as yet another day off awaited me on friday (am NOT complaining), so in theory my legs should be more energetic than they appeared.

My lack of form and complete and utter abandonment of speed got me thinking, I was literally riding at 13mph where I'd usually ride at 17mph, this shit was dire. I'm very much a confidence rider, if that makes sense, yes I clearly need the energy to push a big gear but for me my mental state really affects my ride. If I've had a great day, or something good has happened I can start my commute absolutly flying and nothing can touch me. Sadly my mental state can be the difference between a pb and pulling over at the road side and weeping.

I can tell within the first 5 minutes of a ride whether or not I'll be pushing for a pb or whether I'll be wishing I was somewhere else, sometimes even sooner. Some of this is down to physical me, not eating enough during the day, not sleeping well or simply being knackered from faster rides on previous days.

Sometimes it's all in my head. A shit day at work can make me ride like a chump. Fucking something up, failing a process or simply having a disagrement with a colleague. This shit really plays on my mind. I think about it constantly over and over in my head, playing out the role of myself until I handle it in the correct manner, happy that were this issue to occur again I'd handle it as it played out in my mind. Chances are, when or if that situation were to actually occur again, I'd have forgotted all about this role play in my mind and the process would start again.

You'd think that if I'd had a bad day, I'd take my frustrations out on the road on the way home, smashing my way to a pb in the process. If only that was the case, I'd love to have that mindset, be able to shut off and just forget but I don't, it plays on my mind sometimes until I sleep.

When I get in this mindset there is nothing I can do to shift it and my physical performance suffers, all I want to do is stop riding. Fridays ride was just such a ride, a situation occured that week that I couldn't shift from my mind, and I played it over in my head again and again. Windsor Great Park is not a great place to be when you're riding badly, it's very open with no protection from the wind and I really suffered. It was the slowest ride I'd ever posted on that route, at the time I just couldn't care less, I wanted off the bike and now, the only thing keeping me going was the fact that if I stopped I'd never start again.

I'd love to be able to break this mental block and learn to keep my mind clear when riding. Until that point, its slow and miserable when an issue plays on my mind.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Well isn't this lovely

God damn it, poxy weather....

So it's gonna be like this all week then, wonderful. Theres nothing better than cycling to work and getting drenched, ow unless your lucky enough to experience a nice headwind. A combination of the two is my favourite.

Ok, so I'm lucky enough to have a shower at work so it doesn't really matter if I get wet or not, but I'd really rather not. The way the weather has been, I may as well ride to work with a bar of soap to save time....and this is England during a fucking drought! a DROUGHT

The commute is no longer enjoyable, its just nessecary. I had driving hail last Thursday through Windsor Great Park. This week I've gotten soaked every day either on route to or from work.

Tip of the Day: scrumple paper into your shoes to draw out the moisture. There are enough free papers milling about, you're bound to have a colleague somewhere that has one. Rob it, it really works.

Theres even a site to track the rain fall, oooww:

Monday, 2 April 2012

My Meon Valley Riser

Been looking forward to this event for months.....88 miles, breakfast, lunch, Torq stocked feed stations, the Meon Valley all for £23, what more could you possibly want?...well nothing as it turns out, except perhaps a little more power.....

I've never ridden this distance before and not even close for the last few years. The furthest I have ridden is 60 miles, which I'd done previously in around 4hrs 30mins, nothing spectacular but I never used to ride regularly back then.

I was riding with my buddy from work 'Coops' who'd recently got back from a training holiday in Majorca. I had a plan in my head of how the ride would pan out and I planned to stick to it as well as I could. My plan was to stick with Coops all the way to 60 miles before his superior stamina and ability showed and off he'd go to claim a good time as I'd struggle to complete the last 20.

As plans rarely go to erm plan, this was no exception to that rule....

On the morning of the 01/04 it was freezing, well -01 in places on the drive down. It was fairly apparent at registration, the hardest part of the morning would be deciding on how many layers to wear. Over the complimentary coffee and porridge and having watched those around me I'd decided to wear everything I'd bought with me, down to the skull cap and the winter boots, it really was that cold. This could have posed a problem later on but it didn't look to be getting warmer any time soon.

There wasn't a huge amount of entrants on the Riser, at a guess I'd assume 300 at best. Looking around at the bikes/riders at registration, the theme of the day was carbon and lycra, this was bound to be a fast ride. I wondered how I'd fare in such company......

Start time was a fairly laid back affair, we were due to be set off in groups of 30 but we seemed to be let go in dribs and drabs, simply roll to the start line and off you go, happy days.

Much to my annoyance it became apparent within the first 5 miles that I wasn't the fittest I could have been and more importantly Coops was riding well and well beyond my capability, I couldn't hold his pace on the flat let alone the ascents. There were a few small climbs in the first 10 miles and I was really suffering, my plan of hanging on for 60 miles was looking particularly bleak. To Coops credit he did offer to lower the pace for my struggling ass. I asked him to keep the pace as was as I realised he wanted a good time and my pride wasn't willing to drop off the pace quite so soon, selfish I know.

The first food stop came as scheduled at the 21 mile point, I murdered a banana, filled my bottle with Torq powered and water and had an energy shot, 'sorted'. Off we went having been stationary for about 5 mins. I was suffering with the pace and a few fast groups had passed us, I could sense Coops wanting to jump on the back to tow a ride but I literally couldn't hold the pace let alone push it. Before the 44 mile point a the route split in two, the shorter 44 mile option and the longer 83, I signed up for the 83 and I would finish it, anything else would be failure....

Thankfully a fast group came past us and we jumped on the back (that energy gel had kicked in at this point), this was all good and well on the flat until the lay of the land pointed skyward.....the bunch split and Coops was gone with the fast guys. Right this was damage limitation mode now, I couldn't hold Coops pace and it was unfair asking him to hold mine, time to ride alone and get in some good miles at my own pace. Thankfully this was a welcome relief as I was really struggling.

Riders came and went, I was faster than some and slower than others, I rode a large part of the course alone at a good steady pace. I was feeling uneasy knowing I'd never ridden the distance and not knowing what pace I could push and for how long. I felt if I could get to 60 miles then I could manage the distance, I split the ride into smaller mileage segments as looking at the Garmin reading 44, 45, 46 miles was killing me.

The course was brilliant and beautiful and riding at my own pace allowed me to enjoy the surroundings and take in the this point finishing was my only goal. I didn't think I be seeing Coops again until the finish. I managed to hook onto the back of 2 riders pushing a decent pace but more importantly a pace I could hold, I followed these guys from around the 50 mile point to the last feed station at 63 miles. To my astonishment Coops was at the feed station, he'd been there 10 mins having hit a wall at the last hill. This made my day, not the fact that he was struggling but more because my solo pace clearly wasn't too bad, seems the commuting fitness had paid off after all. Coops disappeared to chase a time and I sat stuffing flapjacks and gummy bears into my face, heaven.

'Right, I can do this', as I sat there I saw so many fit riders with bikes 3 times the cost of mine, knowing that they'd be struggling and that I was in front on the road made me feel good and gave me a real boost for the ride to the finish. The event organisers mentioned a 'sting in the tail' at 79 miles and this was constantly in the back of my mind, unknown territory for me this mileage, I started counting down from 20 the miles from 63 to 83. As I said before the course was brilliant and beautiful and the marking clear and concise. I rode the last 20 at my own pace and hoped I may just be able to hang on to a 'silver medal time'.

The sting in the tail came, I had to stop at the foot of the hill as both my legs had seized due to cramp, bike in the bushes and 2 minutes of stretching followed and off I went. Parts of the gradient reached 18% which oddly was barely noticable, once at the top the ride to the finish was stunning and fast with views of the ocean from the top of the valley.

My finishing time was 5hr's 33min and Silver (just), I finished 7 minutes behind Coops. Proper chuffed with that. What an event and what a route. I'd recommend this ride to anyone considering doing a larger mileage sportive without the fear of the century ride or in preperation for it.

All that was left now was to grab a coffee from Claud the Butler and sit in the sunshine and reflect on the day.

Event website

Photography website

Monday, 19 March 2012

Well thats nice....

Cycling along on the A332 Windsor Road this morning in a north westerly direction, I noticed a White Audi looking to emerge right from 'broadpool cottages', this would have meant him crossing my lane to continue his journey in the opposite direction.

I was a couple of hundred ft away when I noticed him. As I apporached the traffic was fairly heavy in both directions so I assumed he'd continue to wait until I was long past before pulling out.

I was then around 30ft away, riding at 20mph when I realised he was pulling out. This was a bit of a shock, turns out there wasn't a car immediatly on my side of the road approaching his turning , only me on my bike. On the other side of the road the car passing had flashed to the driver to indicate his willingness to let the white Audi pull out. I assume the Audi had got bored of waiting for a gap as he clearly wasn't interested in waiting for me to pass, instead he pulled out directly in front of me. It was cold this morning and the Audi driver clearly had no experience in these conditions as he was un-intentionally wheel spining his car. (if it was intentional he'd be in a car park doing doughnuts listening to Eminem, surely?)

The funny thing was I could clearly lip read him saying 'sorry mate, sorry mate' repeatedly as he realised I was going faster than he'd initially thought and that I was FUCKING CLOSE as he pulled out, oddly at no point did he try and stop, he just continued to pull directly in front of my path.

This sort of incident leaves me seething with anger as its clearly avoidable. Why would you simply pull out in front of an on coming cyclist? When I drive I wait for 2 lanes of clear traffic before pulling across into one of them. Ow wait a minute, i'm on a push bike so I clearly don't figure in the minds of a driver, after all, his journey is far more important than mine. prick.

Rant over.

Friday, 16 March 2012

The things I hate most....

Approaching a roundabout, you've gauged your speed, got into position on the road (depending on where you're turning, having first looked then indicated, of course), then some twat passes you and pulls in front of you so you have no where to go. The twat leaves no gap so you have no alternative. Ow well, at least he saved 10 seconds on his journey.

Single file traffic, a car in front of you is turning right in the road. No issue with that at all, Until some prick in a Reanult Clio (with roll cage??) driving like he thinks he's on a race track, drives straight up the turning cars backside then goes for a non existent gap causing me to take evasive action and almost end up in a ditch. perhaps his journey was so important that my life is irrelevant.

Not indicating at roundabouts. Now I've done this myself in a car when i'm so self indulged other road users are just an irritation. Not difficult though is it, that little stick on your right, goes up and down, not really much to ask. So frustrating when cycling as I have to alter my speed for your actions. You're approaching a roundabout from my right, you could go straight on, left or right. Why not just let me guess, thats an exciting game you lazy twat.

Why ow Why do you hate me so....Winsdor Great Park, every night I have wind blowing into my riding direction, every poxy night. Nothing I can do about it but it just makes those long winding climbs that little bit harder. Just 1 night with a tail wind, thats all I ask. Unrealistic obvioulsy.

Punctures: Now I know this is clearly tempting fate but as this post is about things I dislike on my commute, puncture's clearly had to figure. You can do you're best to ensure you don't get punctures, I use slime tubes in Schwalbe Durano Plus tyres, which are renowned for their puncture protection, just for peice of mind. I'd happily add weight to the bike if it means I don't need to get off my bike to fix a puncture. During the summer months it's not such a pain but during the winter on the unlit roads I ride its a mare. 1 poxy front light to shine on what you can't see with headlights constantly passing then plunging you back into darkness. Its a simple process littered with potential pitfalls if you can't see what you're doing.

Riders at the side of the road: now this is a real double edged sword. The only reason they are stood their is due to a mechanical or a puncture. I carry tools and a tube, never leave home without them, so i just assume others do the same. I haven't stopped, previously and always regretted not doing so. I was riding a sportive once and punctured twice with not one person offering assistance, just bike after bike flying past me, it really affects moral. Had one person just stopped and offered assistance it would have made all the difference.

Since becoming a commuter I always stop, primarily because I ride the same route so the cyclist I help today may become the cyclist that helps me tomorrow. The last time I stopped I was flying on a Strava segment that I wanted to PB. I cycled straight pass the stricken rider at speed then thought 'fuck it' and slammed on the anchors peddling back to offer my assistance. Turns out he didn't need it as he lived 2 miles down the road and was enjoying the point.

This could go on for ever......

The Star for going so far....part two

So finally it happened.... I have passed 200 commuting days. When I started this blog I hoped to ride 200 consecutive commuting days. I have grown up since then and realised this is nigh on impossible with the Engilsh weather.

I did initially feel guilty when driving the car to work instead of riding the bike. Now my outlook has changed a little. Each has its purpose. I'll always choose the bike over the car if given a choice but sometimes that choice is taken away from you and I've learnt to enjoy the drive. I get to drop my daughter off at nusery when I drive which always makes me happy.

This means 2 stars on my top tube to mark the 'double ton'. I still get ripped for this at work, being likened to a child during potty training. 'well done Nick here's a star for your cross bar'.

I intend to attach a picture of my top tube with 2 stickers on (I can feel the anticipation), well what else are you gonna do with that blank tubing?

Bit of motivation as I look down. I wonder how many stars I have on the bike before I upgrade.....

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Deadlines and Dead lines.....

So I've been checking out a few other cyclists blogs and I have to admit most seem easier on the eye than mine. Its not the content but the lack of images I blame for this...

Saturday morning (10/03) I decided to go out for a ride, I was due to go on a training ride with a friend but prior engagements put paid to that idea, I was in the mood for a ride so off I went. Being a commuter I don't generally cycle at weekends, I ride 130 plus miles a week so I prefer to spend my weekend time with the family. (I had friday off this week which kinda gave me the excuse I needed).

                                         Ascot Racecourse (it doesnt actually look this good when empty)

Whilst riding I started to take in all that was around me, the quiet roads, the natural noises and the views, wow the views. Its been a long time since I rode my bike simply for the sake of it, just to get some miles in the legs.

This got me into thinking, this is exactly why my blog posts generally dont contain pictures. When I ride I have a dead line to meet, I'm cycling to or from work in rush hour traffic so I don't get to dick about and stop to take in the scenery or take a picture, I've been dying to take a pic of the surrey border sign which reads 'welcome to surrey, the host county of the olympic road race' as I pass this daily and think its very cool, i'm guessing that will come down next year. Thing is I just don't have the time or the balls to stop and get my phone out of my bag to take a pic as cars are passing at 50mph.

                                         Royal Holloway College (Beautiful)

Up until very recently my commute has been in darkness, I cycle through some nice towns and past some nice scenery but I rarely even look, I have a time to keep and the view away from the asphalt simply blends into a selection of dead lines outside of my line of vision. Ascot race course, Ascot Heath golf course, Windsor Great Park, Old Windsor, Wentworth, Virginia Water, Royal Holloway College, the River Thames some truely great landmarks of English heritage but I'm generally only ever interested in the 2 ft in front of my wheel.

                                         Windsor Great Park (I've not once seen a deer)

So I have added images in this post of places I cycle past daily but barely look at, shame on me.

                                         Virginia waters.

Friday, 9 March 2012

I have a need...

Ok so my best endeavours have failed, well not so much failed but fallen aside somewhat. I had hoped to ride over 1000 miles before the end of Feb. Not happened. I've ridden 857 miles, which is good but not what I wanted. I have a viral infection which I just cannot seem to shift, I've been coughing for weeks, I've seen a doctor and been told its not bacterial and will eventually pass 'within 6 weeks', wicked I never enjoyed sleeping horizontally anyway....

I wanna be fit, I wanna be healthy and I want to stop F**king coughing. I've been avoiding the bike in a vain attempt to ditch the virus.

I feel like I want to replace my bike now, riding so frequently requires certain needs from your steed. I've recently changed my chain and cassette on the bike just prior to the UK being showered in snow and ice, not the end of the world I know just a bit of an inconvienence.

The bike looks shit, everything has a layer of rust, I'm not a cleaner, I know I should wash the road debris of my bike when I get home each night especially when rock salt has been laid down but I simply can't be bothered as its still dark when I arrive home.

Genesis Flyer thats what I want. What a beautiful peice of kit. I recon I have 2 choices, Alfine hub gears or a single speed. Riding derailleur's in all weathers just means maintenance. Genesis do 2 bikes I want to own, I intend to own one before the year is out. Whether that is the 'day one' or the 'Flyer' I don't know. I really am pining for a single speed right now after all, its all the bike I'll ever need.

Who needs gears anyway?

HHhhhmmmnmnn Maybe this is just a phase, my bike went back to my LBS recently to have the gear cables tightened. The front mech had seized. With a little love and a lot of lubrication she came good in the end (ahem)...but seeing my bike sat around all the lovely new bikes in the store made her look sad and old........and rusty. Signing up to another ride to work scheme really appeals. The Tricross has been a god send and never misses a beat but I want something lighter and needing less maintenance.  Steel, single speed, light, fast gotta be done......

Friday, 2 March 2012

Well, that was a good start

Well that lasted long then. Already I have sacrificed 5 commuting days in 2012, one more than 2011 and it's only March, just.

I blogged on Sunday the 26th that I needed to ride every working day to match my 2011 stats, the very next day I drove to work, then stayed home for a further 2 days with a chest infection. 830 miles ridden YTD, could well have been somewhere closer to 980.

Ow well, shit happens. This time last year I was still driving daily so all the crap weather was missed. This year I seem to be catching everything possible, cycling through illness seemed like a good idea initially but as it turns out thats probably exactly what made it worse. My legs are certainly feeling the missed miles tonight, they ache like a wednesday morning. I need to be hitting 5 days regularly to get my fitness back.

Bring on April the 1st.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

2012 goals, a step in the right direction

Hmmn....Goals for 2012. As a cycle commuter I guess my initial goals where fairly simple. Continue to cycle to work, avoid snow, stay safe and drive as little as possible. This hasn't gone brilliantly with the recent cold/snow. From March the 28th last year I worked 169 days and of those days I cycled 165 days, so 4 days lost to convenience/sickness. In 2012 I have already lost 4 days of cycling to well 'crap' weather.

I realise there is nothing I can do about this and at the end of the day safety comes first, that said in order to match 2011's days 'ridden' I have to now ride everyday I work for the remainder of the year. yay.

So I have posted previously (you're forgiven if you missed it) that I wanted to ride a 100 mile sportive and I hope to do this later in the year. It's not the distance I fear but doing 100 miles on a Sunday probably won't fare me too well for the following weeks commute, which by the way I have extended from 12.5 miles each way to 14.8. Primarily due to an 'in house mileage war'.

Yesterday looking through the cyclosport site I found this event. Its in Hampshire (close), its on the 1st of April (i'm free) and its 88 miles for £23, if you know sportives you know this is a good price. They supply Breakfast and lunch and the event is sponsored by Torq, so I'll be getting some serious nutrition at the availble stops on route. Its not 100 miles but its close enough as a start, my next sportive will be, I promise. This ride just seems too good to pass up. I can't wait for the 18% gradient 3 miles from the finish, no really (cough).

Anyway, My right leg has gone completly dead writing this so I'm off. Enjoy your Sunday.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

F**k my life

F**k my life it's cold....Last night, Tesday the 7th of Feb was the coldest evening which I have ever ridden. Period. Not sure of the actual temp but I recall seeing a 'realfeel' of -6 showing on my HTC display. It was the wind chill, damn.

I have enough warm weather clothing and was wearing enough layers for the temprature but never before whilst riding have I felt so cold. Riding through Windsor Great Park there was a biting head wind and my hands felt like ice blocks, when usually my winter gloves do the job. One of those nights that almost burn the hairs in your nostiles its that cold.

I look forward to snow and the almost balmy conditions the cloud cover brings.

God damn it's cold out there.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

So, how did it go?

So I got my bike back from my Local bike shop (LBS) in Staines......

I got that call, the one I feared from having been a Kwik Fit customer, the one that tells you whats also wrong with your car that you hadn't accounted for... but it was a good call, I was called by the mechanic (Dean) at 1pm to confirm the price and tell me I should replace the rear gear cable as it was frayed, I was quoted at £25 for replacing the chain and cassette and cleaning up the rear derailleur, which was long overdue due to my complete lack of anything close to maintenance. The gear cable was £3 so I asked Dean to also replace the front derailleur cable as this one was toast too. £31 all in, I'll take that. Bargain.

I got a call roughly 1 hr 15 mins later saying the bike was ready for collection, Dean said 'ask for me and I'll show you how to maintain the gears'. This may not be rocket science but I don't do it, my maintenance schedule is literally to oil the chain and pump up the tyres, damn I've only cleaned it once in 16 months and that was prior to having the gears done as you'd need a shower having to just touch a wheel. In my defence, I've done over 4000 miles on the bike and when it comes to the weekend I just don't want to look at it.

Anyway, I went to collect the bike and asked for Dean, he then talked me through how to clean and oil the chain properly without caking the entire rear wheel/mud guard in excess oil. The work looked mint, the whole gear set-up looked like new, I couldn't stop staring. Proper chuffed. Shiny again.

The thing that got me the most was how pleased Dean looked about the work he'd done and how much detail he'd gone into about keeping it looking good for as long as possible. You could see the man takes pride in what he does. The work looks immaculate and the bike feels great. I even posted a Pb last night on my route home.

There was a few guys in the shop yesterday only I can't recall the names of the other 2 but all providing great customer service and passionate about bikes.

I think I've found the only bike shop I'll ever need.

The enemy within...cont.

So, it's very nearly upon us, the changing of the order. Its so close I can taste it. 8.1 miles and thats it.

Tomorrow I'll do another 26.9 miles which will put me ahead by 18.8 and with a further 26.9 on friday by the weekend the gap will be 45.7 miles. That is as long as Coops doesn't ride between now and Monday.

He's on leave today concentrating on the books, there is potential for a short ride but its cold and he's a fair weather rider.....we'll see.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Its about time

So I've bought the parts and the bike is in the shop.....

This shop to be precise. No real reason for using these guys over the likes of Evans, their just within walking distance, which is uber handy.

Rear Cassette (12-25) and chain purchased, I guess the bike will need new gear cables too, after 4000 plus miles a bit of TLC is probably deserved. When I took the bike in, the mechanic on his knee's at the rear wheel, instantly said 'damn, you've got good use out of this'. Never done this distance, don't want my chain to snap but at the same time, if it ain't broke....

Anyhoo, this update is for me to make note of when I next need to change the chain/cassette. The mechanic did mention the middle ring may need replacing but the 'Outer' and the 'Granny' (never used), were fine. I spend most the time in the big ring so found this slightly odd.

Will be interesting to see what lube I'm advised to buy upon collection. For some reason I seem to be waiting for a call telling me numerous parts are 'screwed' and need replacing....must come from being a 'kwik fit' customer.

Friday, 27 January 2012

The Enemy within....

Great friend, great foe....

You know that one person in the office, the one you share experience's with, buying tips, hardware advise, you both love cycling and your both passionate about it. You're cool (in your own mind), you pretend it doesn't matter, the speed, the stats but in truth when your on the bike, its all that fucking matters.

I don't have to finish 'fastest' according to strava i just have to 'win'. Now this guy I class as a friend, someone I'll always have time for and someone I'll always look to share stories with.

Thing is he's winning, you pretend it doesn't matter and in the grand scheme of things it doesn't but as a pride thing, its nice to be on top.

I have a funny feeling this could take all year. Coopster the 1st, I'm coming for ya.....can't be behind.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

An Ode to thee....

Cycling home tonight in the dark I noticed my front light wasn't flashing, I always ride with the light flashing to distinguish myself from car drivers, its the third setting on my light, I flicked through the lights settings to try to find the flicking mode, not happening. Very odd. I continued to ride and the light flickered hmmmn. The light then dimmed automatically, confused I again try to flick through the settings to make the light brighter.

'I charge this thing daily, shouldn't die on me, hope its not goosed'. Then the ligh flicked again and seemed to dim further, 'shit I haven't charged this for days' oops. Ow man, this is not good. With over half my journey left it dawned on me that I hadn't charged the light since the new year. I rode through the unlit part of my route with a dimmed light, not easy but manageable.

I got to Ascot and the light died completely 'fuck', then I saw my saviour. A few hundred yards in front of me was another cyclist lit up like a christmas tree 'bingo'. I rode my ass off up to about 10 ft back hoping to just sit behind him without him noticing. Not good road manner's to draft another rider without taking a turn at the front, wasn't really up for that on this occasion!

The rider clocked me behind him when looking back to file through traffic, I hoped (partially) that he'd go the other way before I needed to explain myself. He didn't and I stuck behind him, it soon became apparent that he was going the same way as me, more to the point he kept looking back as if to say 'well come on then, take your turn'. At this point he started to slow, time to make my move. I rode alongside him and apologized for riding in his wheel but hoped to continue to do so as my front light was dead. The chap said 'no problem fella where are you headed?', I stuck to his wheel for the next mile or so until I reached the roundabout at the end of my road. I thanked him gratefully and we went our seperate ways.

I'll probably never see the guy again as I've never seen him on this route before, shame, I'd hope to one day repay the favour.

Fucking love cycling, real cycling and the people that do it. Special breed indeed.

Funny when a stranger carries out and act of kindness, it could have been so different.

So here's to the guy on the red road bike wearing the very same shoes as me 'cheers'

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Mileage reset....

So 2011 is over and 2012 has started, my startfarm (yeah, you'd think it would be statfarm right?) stats have been reset and its back to zero.

Over 3800 miles covered in 2011 but this is a new year so a new challenge awaits. I want to achieve 5000 miles in the saddle this year, which by my calculations should be do-able. Riding my commute distance 5 days a week over 52 weeks is roughly 6500miles, take into account holidays and potential sickness and I should be ok. Anything above 5000 would be a bonus.

Realising that only ever riding 12.5 miles at any time I really want to achieve distance. I'm happy in the knowledge that I'm fitter at 34 than I've probably ever been with cycle specific conditioning, I hope to ride a 100 mile sportive at some point this year. I've been riding all winter so I'm in no rush to do it, only the weather will make me faster but I do want to do it before the year is out.

Also possibly a hill climb, I'm a fairly strong climber at the moment so it would be a good test for the legs. I love climbing, its the one part of a ride I really cherish, the one moment where you can really set a marker and leave your mates for dead. I do enjoy the feeling of riding away from other riders, especially ones on carbon machines worth twice as much and weighing half that of my machine. After all, its not about the bike....

First things first, some attention to my running gear before my chain snaps

Time to step it up in 2012.