Thursday, 27 October 2016


I love the attached graphic. The comparison of my year on year totals. Really enjoy looking back to see how I stack up year on year. 2014 was always going to be a big year for me, I cycled to Barcelona that June and it was EPIC. Around 950 miles. Beautiful weather, decent roads, stunning scenery. I'd do it all again tomorrow if only I could.

When I returned from Barca (no, I didn't ride back), the month after the event was fairly non eventful when it comes to mileage. That's when I decided to go for 10,000 miles for the year. I'd trained hard for the event, done a couple of big months prior to the 'Grand Depart' and ended up with a few 1000 mile months and anyhow, I still had to commute to work and back for the rest of the year so I may as well have a new target right.

Need a good target, I remember downloading an App and counting down from over 200 days until the moment I left for Barca. Loved that. Shame it was over so quick.

So the target became 10,000 miles. To be fair, I was single at the time, so it helped that I had nothing better to do, literally.

Not really sure of the benefit of adding 2011 but whatever, progress is progress right!

But once you've completed that target, what next? I'm not single anymore (yay), I've got a 4 month old baby (yay). It's been easy this year to drop miles. Miles I'd have been bothered about in years gone by but due to the new arrival, I'm just not. Priorities right.

But where is the ceiling, if you can do 10,000 then why not 12,000 or 15,000 but what's the point, where does it stop?

It's all about getting to and from work for me now. Its still the best part of my work routine. I freaking LOVE my commute. Always will, I enjoy every element of it, Even in the worst conditions. It can be quite gratifying arriving at work, knowing your work out is what got you there. No need to feel guilty for missing a gym session or eating junk. September, when the kids go back, the roads are crap, I love cycling past all the miserable faces creating traffic, sitting alone in their cars, queue after queue. Nah you can keep that thanks.

As a family we own one car. I feel guilty if I take that car and it sits at work for 8 hours when the wife could be using it to take our son out. Weekend riding is a thing of the past, for the most part. So when I think about it, I'm fairly content with my 6608 miles total to date. Well I'm not but it will do.

Ow, having said all that, I have the 'Devils Punch sportive' coming up this weekend. Doing it with a pal, think we'll be doing the short 50 miler, just because its October and neither of us can be bothered to ride any further!

Friday, 21 October 2016

Sound advice pt I...The safety pin

Hmmn, I've not cycled today.

This makes me partially sad. I need my bike, it's my form of Release. It helps me clear my mind and set the pieces straight in my head. I had allocated lunch time for a short spin, I like to ride 25 miles on each commute. I can ride a shorter route but 50 for the day is a nice number. If I ride 4 days, I want to hit 200, 3 days its 150 you get the picture. I've ridden 3 days this week, 145.7 miles. Not happy about the dropped miles. In the grand scheme of things, it means nothing but it gets on my tits all the same.

...instead I went to Sainsburys and spent too much money on the kids in the half price toy sale. Priorities right.

I wasted my entire lunch break doing this, I didn't even have time for buying food. The wife had to go back for that....

Anyway, so advice. ALWAYS carry a safety pin in your saddle bag.

A friend asked me the other day if I check my tyres before every ride. I said ' I do but it's pointless if you don't because i'll be waiting for you anyway', We were riding together and I was commenting on his lack of checking and potentially avoidable puncture. Neither happened thankfully.

So I thought 'screw it' and didn't bother checking mine. Got to the cross roads about 5 minutes into my commute, stopped for the train and noticed a flint in my tyre. Leant the bike against a wall and out comes the safety pin. Lesson learnt.

I've picked a good number of flints from my tyres before setting off for a ride and always think to myself 'wear that you little bugger' before flicking the flint at a mates parked bike....nah that would be silly. Cause you know he'd be fine, I'd park in his space the following day and, yeah you guessed it, I puncture.

But seriously, very worthy addition to the saddle bag that safety pin, nothing gets flint out quite like it. Just make sure you have a steady hand.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Generic Muck

Generally speaking, the generic tyres that come with any bike/set of wheels are, by default, a touch pants.

Always been the case. Whatever bike, whichever set of wheels, the tyres are always set to a price point. I assume they provide them knowing they'll instantly get replaced with the riders preferred rubber of choice. A bit like pedals, no decent bike comes with pedals nowadays as there is so much choice and each rider has a different preference.

I've bought a few set's of Mavic rims in my time, the generic tyres are good for about a 1000 miles, as an unwritten rule. When they start to cut and or puncture, get rid.

When I bought the Allez, the bike came with these. The Specialized Espoir Elite.

Specialized's detail here. Specialized class them as an 'Extremely reliable road tyre'. I have the 700x25's on my bike.

Now I changed the wheels on my bike as soon as I bought it, changing out the standard wheels for Shimano Ultegra 6800 road wheels, personal choice but I moved the Specialized tyres on to the new rims. Generally a good tyre with decent puncture protection has stiff sidewalls and fights to get on the rim. Not these, safe to say this was the easiest tyre change I've ever done.

I held out little hope of these tyres lasting any distance. I thought 'well, if i get 500 miles it's a start'.

Now I know this is tempting fate and its Friday and I will bloody curse this blog if I puncture BUT 1976 miles so far without a p******e (if I don't say it, its ok right) is bloody good going.

I keep a safety pin in my saddle bag and I do check my tyres before EVERY ride for any debris that is waiting to take me down. I have pulled shards of flint and glass from the tyres on at least 3 occasions, all credit to Specialized's 'BlackBelt Flat Protection' belt for keeping me rolling.

Honestly, these are a cracking summer tyre. I'm not a delicate rider by any means, British roads don't allow me to be. I will be buying these again.

I do intend to put the standard wheels back on the bike with a set of Gatorskins to see me through the winter but these tyres will adorn my summer wheels for years to come as I've become a real fan. A very dependable tyre, with a great level of grip, low rolling resistance and good puncture protection. Who Knew!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Ow Man....and the weekend

So its that time of year's bloody cold. Ok so its dry but its bloody cold.

My daily commute starts at 6:50am, that might change mind as the showers are always full when I arrive, 10 minutes later and nothing. I swear I'm being watched. If I come in later, the same happens. How can all the showers always be in use when I turn up, yet when I finish, I'm the only one down there???? I'm defo being watched.

Anyway, 6;50am. I had 1.5 degree's on the Garmin before 7am. Ok so I ride through some fairly remote areas which accounts for it but man its cold out there. I assume that's correct. My Garmin is outside, its on my handle bars, it has to be correct, right?

My car driving colleagues always moan it was cold but their car's always state it's about 5 degree's warmer than my Garmin. Come on man there is a FREAKING ENGINE by the sensor, how correct can it actually be. I'm right. My Garmin is right. Jacket wearing, car driving weaklings.

Did this Sunday. Was a nice ride. Decent weather. Cold start. It was interesting seeing what everyone decided to start the ride wearing. A proper mixed bag. Some in full winter gear, some in summer shorts and short sleeve jerseys. Either Brave or Stupid. It got warmer but only about 11 degrees at best.

Do you have to be rotund to wear Rapha? Obviously Rapha wearers can't keep that stuff covered up. I mean, if you're buying Rapha, you need the world to see it. Perhaps its better to to look good and be freezing than dress for the conditions, what do I know!

To Clarify I wore Bibs and a Long sleeve jersey, with under shorts, knee warmers, a gillet, full winter gloves and a skull cap. The majority of my clobber is Dhb but I ride daily so Rapha isn't on my radar. Dhb kit is spot on, great value and hard wearing. I literally look no where else.

Seems there is a trend nowadays to kick off a start up and charge £200 for a long sleeve jersey, well if Rapha can......Not spent £50 on a jersey yet, long sleeved or otherwise. I think my single most expensive piece of kit is my jacket or my bib longs. Both fully justified and both needed, more importantly actually used.

Anyway, The BoxHill original was a lovely ride, a cracking route. Quite climby. Me and a bud did the standard route of 65 (ish) miles. Over 4500ft of climbing in that distance. Some well stocked feed stations along the route. First one was 35 miles in, felt like that should have been at 25-30 to be fair.

A lot more women cycling than I've ever noticed before, which is awesome. I haven't ridden a sportive for a couple of years but I don't ever remember seeing this many girls. Must be the Olympic bug or Laura Kenny smashing up every event she ever enters. Either way, great seeing more girls on bikes.

Yay a medal. My bud got home, showed his nearly 3 yr old daughter his medal, her first reaction upon seeing it was raising her hand to Hi Five her Dad. No words needed. EPIC.