Tuesday, 29 November 2016

-5 and counting.....

So I needed a test for the new winter boots. 

I had to wait 2 days. Literally my second day of riding in them and its -5. great. 

I mean, 0 would have been ok. I'd have been ok with 0. 0 is cold enough.

It was a cracking morning, my ride didn't get above -4 until I reached the outskirts of Staines where it maxed out at a balmy -2.5

Honestly, the boots were good. It was below freezing and my toes knew that but they were cool with it :) . I could have ridden all day in those temps and my toes wouldn't be uncomfortable. 

So yeah, a decent addition, bought just in time. 

Monday, 28 November 2016

Defrosters and the box of bargains!

I ride a lot. Well, a decent amount. In all weather conditions and I'm partial to a good bit of kit.

I don't have a lot of spare cash especially at this time of year. So when I see a bargain, I've got to take advantage.

I rarely spend money on myself, my clothing cupboard is in serious need of an upgrade but when it comes to bike stuff, I can usually make ends meet.

Now I live in Fleet, not by choice but that's where I live. As luck would have it, Fleet happens to be the home of a Kick Ass bike shop called Pedal Heaven It's a Specialized Elite store. They do a cracking bike service and the shop is dripping with beautiful stuff.

Black Friday is usually a painful experience, I want no part of. 300 emails in the space of 48 hours about utter crap you don't need at prices you think you can afford. Whatever, delete, delete, trash, unsubscribe.

So I am currently rocking a set of DHB R1 road shoes and some DBB Shoe covers, which doesn't make sense at this time of year. I need me some winter shoes. Badly. I'll use them, I have no qualms about paying the required price as I hope these will last me 3-5 years and they'll be worn November through to March/April.

So Pedal Heaven had a Black Friday sale. I had a quick peruse for a boot I wanted made by their brand of choice. I bought this lot for £156!!! The Defrosters, some DeFeet Merino socks and a set of SPD SL cleats. What a Bargain. I couldn't say no, honestly, I just couldn't.

Check of the reflectivness of the Defrosters. I mean WOW how cool are these boots! Those pics below are simply taken one with the flash off, the other with the flash on.

The temps round my way will be in the minus figures these next couple of days so It'll be a great test of the boots warmth. Testing of their waterproofness will need to wait for another week. I'm bedding them in for now and have skinny ankles, so just as well really.

Properly made up with the box of bargains above though. Winter feet sorted for many a year to come.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The Missing Bridge

Who thought you'd actually miss a Bridge.

I asked m fiance to marry me on a small bridge in a location special to us. I'd miss that bridge if it was to be removed. I chose it because I assumed it wouldn't move. EVER.

I like to re-visit that bridge.

So, a bridge over the M3, Woodlands lane bridge to be precise, went missing this last weekend. I mean, it wasn't stolen, it was planned, it didn't just vanish overnight, look here is the video of them blowing it up....I love blowing stuff up, well I would if I was allowed and fire, Love fire.

The Missing Bridge

I hadn't really thought about the implications. I didn't live near it, ok I'd ridden over it a fair few times but it didn't really bother me.

Or so I thought.

Turns out, in winter, this is one of my best and the quietest routes I can ride. Keeps me away from the traffic and runs adjacent to the A30 from Staines to Camberley. Bit dark but nothing a decent light won't sort. I had a KOM down that way too, not over the bridge, kinda wish I had now, would have stood the test of time, unlike the structure....

My KOM got stolen by 1 second. A guy liked my ride on Strava, then buggered off and stole it. Good skills. I won't get it back now because I would only ride that route if the bridge was there, damn bridge.

Apparently the bridge will be replaced at some point but this could take years. Hopefully something like this one. It is going over a 'Smart Motorway' so it can't be crap.

So if you've read my previous blog post you'll know I'm (we, cyclists, scourge of the masses) not allowed to cycle though Windsor Great Park at night, cause we create so much hassle.

This is a picture of the park at night. It's not accurate as there is no warden and no green flashing lights.

So the fact of the matter is, my two best routes home in the dark are no longer available to me. Which sucks. So I need to ride up the A30, partially at least. I know there is a lot of traffic (boo) but the roads are wide and lit, So at least there is a better chance of being seen and safe.

Now I miss a bridge.

He had flashing lights!

It was a wet and damp night, the wind was picking up, I needed to make a decision on the best route home and fast. History told me the park would be dark, REALLY dark. I remember riding it before and my mind wondering on to Ghosts and Zombies. Cause that's what I need to think about in the dark, when i'm alone.

I have a handful of options but this year it seem's drivers are getting closer and driving faster. I'm not sure why. I didn't want to ride on my best lit route because the roads are crap and the traffic always heavy. The M3 bridge has been taken out on my alternate route so that has now become more dodgy as a result of it. More traffic, less options, brilliant.

That left a solo ride through WGP (Windsor Great Park) as my best option.

Wicked, I got this.

Off I went. As I approached the park from Bishops gate, the road leading to the access gate was dark, I could see the faint light of the guard station on the right and not much else until the large white gates loomed. I knew it was going to be dark but this was bleak. Pitch black beyond those gates. It was a terrible day, so the natural light was very limited.

You know those postcard's you used to get at seaside towns with 'Devon at night' and just a black card. Yeah that Dark.

Screw it, I'm here, I got this. I ventured in. My Lezyne Power Drive was EPIC...., I'd gotten about 500 meters into the park and a warden drove up next to me......he tried to talk to me so I slowed but couldn't hear him, I'm not sure if he thought I was ignoring him or not but he drove faster and then......PUT ON HIS FLASHING GREEN LIGHTS....I mean come on man, WHY does a park warden need flashing lights of any colour?! What kind of power trip are these people on!.

I thought flashing lights were saved for the emergency services, road side assistance and the like, not a poxy park ranger.

This picture says it all. I'm sure cyclists are a big threat to the park......haha erm.

The guy was nice enough, told me I couldn't cycle through the park after dark but he'd allow me to this one time. This did kick off a little panic in my mind thinking 'why can't I be here after dark, what is so bad in here that a cyclist can't witness it', nah I'm so not afraid of the dark.

Ah rules is rules but its so nice to have a route which isn't accessible to public traffic, having it taken away just seems unfair. Honestly, what harm would a cyclist do after dark? I just want to get to the other side.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

This week, I've mostly been doing......nothing

It's Thursday. It's raining and its blowing a gale.

I'm not missing much I know.

I've not ridden my bike since......wait, I need to check Strava....WOW last Thursday. It's been exactly a week and nothing.

I'd usually be climbing the walls by now, the fact I'm not means I'm injured. Not a lot, just a little but enough to keep me off the bike. A recurrence of an old injury, well actually just a niggle to that injury but I really don't want to go back there again. So a week off the bike it is.

I could ride and just use pain killers but whats the point, I'd rather be pain free. Damn it, I've got no goals, so I may as well let it heal.

Odd things back injuries, I think this latest niggle was caused be me bending over and swinging my 5 month old son about in an impromptu game of balloon football with his 7 month old friend at the weekend. It was fun while it lasted.

Actually, last Friday I fitted a Gatorskin onto a narrow rimmed wheel in what seemed like seconds. It was like an out of body experience, like I was outside of my own body watching a master fit this tyre.... It was unworldly.

Look, its there, in all its glory. The mudguards cost £13.49 yeah, don't be judging my install prowess....

I realise that is just a picture of a tyre on a wheel but it really was a thing of beauty. Ask the wife. I'd set aside 2 hours to do this just in case it all went wrong and I used the usual 3 tubes, 4 tyre levers, drawn blood and stamped on something. That's the normal process.

4 years of commuting and it never gets easier, changing tyres. It will always suck. It is nicer in a warm house though as punctures generally happen for me on unlit roads in the pissing rain.

I'm losing about 150 miles sitting here, working from home. I'll make up for it, maybe. Might not even bother. Might. Next week I'll ride 4 days. 200 miles. To make up for it. Couple of cheeky weekend rides, I'll get it back.

Now I want to be riding my bike....

I'm off too eat cheese.

Friday, 11 November 2016

I need some of those.....

Man it's getting cold.

And wet.

When it's both, it sucks. Period.

Tuesday morning was one of those days. I was stood waiting for a ride bud and all was well. It was 3-4 degrees but seemed ok. My ride bud didn't show. Recons he 'overslept'. Hmmn, I recon he looked out the window and thought 'errrrmmmmm, nah I'll stay in bed'. I'd happily have done the same had I of had the choice :)

Then came the rain and it didn't stop. I don't have winter shoes, currently. I have summer road shoes, shoe covers and 2 pairs of socks. One pair of socks are 'SealSkins'. That said, I've worn them for a few winters now, just the one pair. So they both have holes in. A cracking sock though, worn everyday through last winter and since about October this year. They've had better days.

I did plan on replacing the socks but now I've decided I need a proper pair of winter boots. So I'm holding out on the socks. I'm hoping the efficiency of the new boots will mean I'll only need wool socks, which are widely available, as opposed to SealSkins. We'll see.

I did own winter boots. Up until spring. Done me a good few winters but were never quite what i'd hoped for from a winter boot. Dry feet. Ok so I know water will always come through the ankle at some point, it's bound to. Fairly sure my old MTB winter boots leaked through the sole. Took an AGE to dry them out too.

But these look freaking awesome. Esp when a headlight shines upon them. Ok so £160 is a lot of money for a winter boot, actually its not, it's completely justifiable but perhaps it is from a non cycling point of view.

I've ridden 7019 miles this year now. I'm aiming for 8000. I think. Although I'm not sure I'll be too bothered if I don't get there. Lets be honest, no one is going to send me a medal for hitting the 8k mark. Maybe we should get letters from the Queen.....

'Hey Chap, it's HRH, just a quick note to say 'Well Done' for not contributing to our tiny islands ever growing traffic problems. God only knows, there are enough twats on the road without you adding to it'.

I'd take that. She'd make a valid point. Cycling has made me a very impatient driver. So much more aware of whats going on around me than simply looking in the direction I'm driving in. You really do become aware of what people aren't doing, like indicating, or stopping to give way. I'm not sure when it became ok for everyone to ignore the Highway code, perhaps everyone's journey simply is as important as they make out. I doubt it.

Anyway, I need dry feet. 2 freaking days it took to get my shoes dry and my gloves coming to think of it. 2 days of me riding in cold and damp kit. So Defrosters WILL be added to the cycling wardrobe come December. Will be soooo nice not to have to worry about poxy shoe covers and 2 pairs of socks.

I'm excited.