Friday, 30 September 2016
So the Giant's gone and I'm pondering a new purchase.
Now I don't have bag's of money to spend. I can't justify anything above £1300 to be fair as I'll just ruin it. I have no real concept of maintenance, I'm more of a break fix man. Even then, I'd rather buy lunch for one of my bike club buddies to fit new shiz or fix my bike for me. Even a bike shop, its nice to have someone else to blame. No, I'm not currently a people manager.
So the cycle to work scheme it is. I'll use Evans this time cause its just easy. I know what I want. For what i'm willing to spend, it's not carbon. I want a Cannondale Caad 8. Alu frame, Carbon forks, race geometry. Happy days. 105 is fine for me. Lots bleat about Ultegra but as long as it works when I need it to, I couldn't care less.
So I looked at the new Caad 8 but the colour scheme was uninspiring. Do you ever go back. It wouldn't be the same. Can we ever love again? I loved my previous 2012 version as it was perfect for me then.
But the 2016 colour is some kind of burnt red, almost burgundy. No. Not happening.
So to this
My 2016 Allez SL Comp.
Look at that finish. What a thing of beauty.
Possibly with a cheeky wheel upgrade. (depending on who is reading this, they may or may not have come with the bike)
So full aluminium frame and a carbon fork. In that respect it is similar to my Caad but this is a cracking bike for the money. 25% off at Evans to make it £900 then using the scheme, I think I calculated £620 over the year. Which is ridiculous.
Needed the Ultegra wheels though, the standard wheels weigh 2.9KG! (with tyres) In comparison, the Ultegra wheels are 1.6kg without tyres. So a saving of 1kg in rolling weight at least.
So unashamedly metal. I love the look of it. Mixed bag of kit. Specialized class it as 105 but the brakes are Axis 2.0 (whatever that means) and the cranks are FSA. Brakes are decent though so no need to replace so too the cranks. Break fix at best there.
Chain ring is a 52 tooth, this is classed as Semi-compact. Took a bit of getting used too but I like to think it's added power to my straight line speed. It hasn't but everyone try's harder on a new bike right, to justify its existence.
34 days in and the bike has done 1660 miles. No sign of the Giant and I don't care. I hope its gone to a good home but other than that. I prefer the Allez. 100%.
Not washed it yet mind. Need to do that before it goes away for the winter. Man I hate maintenance.
And the thought process that goes with it.
Now, I am seldom happy with my lot.
Since I've started this blog I've owned a fair few road bikes. Only ever 2 at a time but very rarely the same 2. I've had a couple of Langsters as winter bikes and 3 separate summer bikes.
Spring this year I thought I'd buck my recent trend of riding winters on a Single Speed and buy a Cross bike. I saw a nice Raleigh RX Comp on ebay and paid £400 for it. Ironically I've never ridden it with knobbly tyres on, only ever the 28mm Durano's it came with. I hope to change that this winter as I can't help but look on envious at others riding cross bikes with disks when the weather really sets in.
This Raleigh is a real mixed bag when it comes to components. Its got Dura Ace levers, ok old but still, Ultegra rear mech and SRAM cranks. Very odd but it all works well enough. Previous owner used to be a mechanic, so when stuff broke, it got replaced with whatever was laying about.
Not overly convinced by the bottom bracket mind, lots of bad reviews of those on Wiggle. They don't really seem to like getting wet, so a good winter on them might be a bit testing. I've already had to change it out once.
So that's my winter choice. Now I started off the year with a Giant TCR composite 1 as my summer bike. Now I never really fell in love with this bike, which I guess is an odd thing to say because, it's a bike, who cares but there does need to be an affection to the machine to get the best from it.
Ok, so it looks pretty cool in this image. But in fairness, it was probably always too small for me. Tell you what my biggest issue with this bike was, it's inability to live up to its promises or my expectations. Full carbon (ok, not a great weave but still) I wanted my money to provide me with lightness unequaled by aluminium. I expected too much.
My Giant was replacing my beloved Cannondale Caad 8. Still wish I'd kept the Cannondale. Honestly, side by side, weight wise, there was little difference. Both were 8kg's (ish) so instantly I was a little disappointed.
The Giant was my Barca bike, I rode it from London (well Staines) to Barcelona, in 9 wonderful days in 2014. Still it wasn't what I wanted. The frame got a nice chip on it in transit on the way home. That did it for me. Lost all interest. Still wanted my Cannondale back.
At one point I only had one bike.....The Horror! It was the Raleigh. The Raleigh felt awesome and bullet proof and sturdy. I thought it was all i'd ever need in a bike. Man was I off point. Turns out, its fine to have a barge like bike when you can pull something lighter out of the garage when you start getting passed by weekend warriors. Having your only steed be 11kg's was soul destroying. It played on my mind constantly....
Christ, I've not even mentioned the new bike yet.
I LOVE my commute, always have.
Whatever the weather, which ever route I take, it's always the best part of my working day. Without doubt.
I'm fairly sure I couldn't drive my commute with a better average speed than I get on the bike. 19+ mph average on my better days, which also depends massively on traffic and traffic lights.
But its not simply about that. Speed. It's more the freedom of it. Of Not being sat in a car, of Not being traffic, of not sitting behind some clown, of not being stuck in road works. The list is endless.
This is this morning's route, a perfect 25 miles. It's Friday morning so I wasn't going for it, it was just a lovely crisp bright morning. Perfect for cycling.
The best part about the ride is always Windsor Great Park, for me, about an hour into the ride. 3-4 miles with no traffic and nothing but beautiful surroundings and wildlife.
Cows, Sheep, Pheasants, Deer to name a few. So privileged to be able to ride here daily. A small piece of heaven lurking just outside the M25.
I never really stop to take pictures on my rides, I should do it more to capture the moment but most the time, I can't really be bothered and then there is the average speed to keep up....
Anyway, that rocked.
Was a bit chilly at 7am though. 8 degrees in parts. Its coming. Its defo coming.
Thursday, 22 September 2016
People come and go, in all walks of life. Friends, Family, colleagues. Especially Colleagues.
My Cycle club at work seems to have its groups ie. its Fast, medium and slow riders. We're not a 'club' so to speak, only a handful of us ride together but we all post our rides into a 'club' on Strava.
You've got your newbies that flirt with the idea of cycling when the sun shines never to be seen again as soon as there is a cloud in the sky. There tend to be quite a few of these as the office headcount changes fairly frequently. You offer advice, which is barely listened too and they end up back down the gym because its what they know and its dry. Possibly slightly less terrifying than cycling through Staines in rush hour traffic for the first time. Stick with what you know.
Actually, forget that, there isn't fast, medium and slow groups at all, there is 'the committed' and the 'not so committed'. Everyone has the potential to be fast, whether its on the flat or in the hills, its what you put into it and your build and maybe your diet (or lack there of ).
I seem to be decent at climbing, sometimes. I like it, no doubt and I appear to be faster than my group at it. Ok I'm light but I have no real finesse about me, no technique to speak of. For me, no one actually likes hills. It's just about how long you want the pain to last and I want the pain to last for as little an amount of time as possible. It's that simple. Ride hard, it's over sooner. Nothing more to it.
Only a couple of the riders to pass through have come close. So, a couple of the guys I ride with can smash me on the flat, to the point I am literally holding on (not dropped, I never said dropped). We had an age group British champion with us for a while, thankfully, I never had the chance to ride with him (cough) and he rarely posts his data to Strava for obvious reason (phew). I'm fairly confident he'd have kicked my ass up any chosen rise, so as this never happened, my pride is still in tack, partially.
I say partially because there is always someone just around the corner waiting to ride away from you at that very point when there is nothing left in the tank. That exact point where the usual suspects are no where to be seen and you allow yourself to back off. Which brings me on to the Protégé. Now this isn't a term I used, I heard it as a reference point for a buddy I work and cycle with. One of those guys that actually enjoys cycling, to the point where I can see him becoming stronger than me. (over my dead body). Someone who takes the advice and actually listens. Becoming all the better for it.
It's great to see someones progress over time, from an occasional cyclist, to the second strongest rider you know ;)
Also seeing others acknowledge it too, is pretty cool. Not that i'm taking any credit for it but it is nice to think that maybe just a little bit of what you do has rubbed off.
We ride a similar route, so it's good company and add's an element of competitiveness to the ride's. Now this chap started riding a couple of days here and there, so I thought i'd take him under my wing, riding the same direction from work, it seemed rude not too. No real mileage in the last couple of years, with the exception of a few summer sportives meant initially we'd just ride and chat to manage the pace. You add a little, you get a response, you add a little more. And this is where it all starts. 4-5 months later, I lead him out on flat segments (3 KOM's to date) and he'll lead me out on climbs (again, 3 KOM's to date).
So far, So good. Until a recent recce of a certain hill. I rode my best time up this hill about 2 years ago and haven't touched it since, can't really remember why, possibly because it was a b**ch. Now I have a lead out man, we can smash this right. hmmm. We attempt the lead out and I can't even hold his wheel! Ok so he has a great kick but I'm fairly sure I can outpace him on any climb, so we try it again, the same thing happens. Now, he is clearly faster than me on these given days on this particular climb but isn't close to my PB.
So it must be me, right? I've built this climb up now, so much so, I avoid it. Haha. need to grow a pair and get back up there. Or the order has changed, we shall see......
This has been my single lowest mileage year for 3 years, as Strava keeps telling me. I do like the graphic of the year on year comparison but it does bother me a little, all those lost miles. Not to mention the fact that it sporadically disappears from my page, as it has in this instance.
I had made a conscious decision at the start 2016 that I wouldn't be chasing mileage having done 10, 000 in 2014 and 9,000 in 2015. What with a new baby due in June (now with me and 14 weeks old) there didn't seem the need to chase distance.
I've only ridden over 800 miles in a month, on 2 occasions this year, ow the shame. Life does get in the way, priorities too. Going down to three days in the office per week has helped keep my legs fresh and my mileage total down.
At 38, perhaps its not a bad thing. That's clearly no age for a recreational cyclist mind but all this talk of 5 figure totals, meh, who cares anyway. I'm still enjoying the cycling and the lack of 5 day riding weeks has allowed me to cycle further when I do ride. My commute has become 25 miles each way so 150 miles a week with 3 days in the office. I have actually ridden 4 day weeks in the last 2 weeks for about a 420 mile total. It's reminded me that the 4th day was always the day my legs suffered.
The additional miles on the daily ride has let me find new routes and with new route, comes new opportunity. That opportunity coming in the way of KOM's. Is it shallow to change a route to gain a KOM? This got me thinking, I gained a KOM recently on a segment in which I posted my fastest time over 2 years ago. So I'm either in form now or I couldn't be arsed back then. Could it even be outside influence?! More on that later.
I started the year with A Giant TCR Composite 1 and a Specialized Langster, both of which I no longer own. I now own a Specialized Allez and a Raleigh CX Comp. Fancied a cross bike and never really appreciated the Giant. So here we are, all change for 2016.