Tuesday, 25 June 2013

I think I might have become a rider of a certain age

I got very excited today as my new carradice barley saddlebag arrived. They are the bags you see on old fashioned steel bikes, ridden by men in woollen cycling gear with beards. The men have beards... I'm not sure their bikes or gear can grow them.

I needed something to take a waterproof, lock, lunch and tools with me on day rides. Something other than Sophie's old rucksack from school. Something waterproof. Something stylish.

It also needed to be small enough to not to look like I was off on holiday. The rack and panniers was overkill for anything but a short tour. 

I looked at several brands that produce similar items before narrowing it down to Carradice. They are made in the UK by hand, by one individual from start to finish. Mine is made by Christine, who features in the included catalogue article about whether the names in each bag are actual members of staff.

I'll put it on the bike tomorrow and update from there...

Monday, 24 June 2013

See thru shorts

So we did Richmond Park again this Sunday.

The outlaws were staying this weekend, which meant that Sophie and I were sleeping in the spare room, on an inflatable mattress. The curtains are not really up to much in the spare room, so by the time I left the house at 07:30 I had been up for 3.5 hours. As had the Sun.

I had left my Chamois Cream in the room that Sophie’s Parents were sleeping in, so I knew I’d just have to manage without on this occasion (This probably meant I would not be cycling come Monday). I also couldn’t find my baselayer  in  the pile I had prepared the night  before so I decided on my long sleeved winter top.

As I zipped up my shorts I heard the zip make a noise that could only mean it had failed to retain the level of integrity normally required of sports clothing. Oh well it’s Richmond Park. I can just wear my cycling shorts. I can however, I notice, now see my cock through the fabric. They have worn so thin over the last 2 years of undershort duty that they are now effectively a screen not a barrier visually. This is indoors, without the light on.Not outside in direct sunlight.

Winter ¾ length Knickers it is then.

None of this proved problematic as the wind and rain continued to be as unpredictably summery as ever.

I arrived a few minutes too late to meet Warren and Dan at the start as they were heading off at 08:15. I got there at 08:25. This meant I was one lap behind all morning. Whilst I waited I marvelled at the different levels of preparedness exhibited by our fellow cycling enthusiasts…
A man in a speed suit on a time trial bike.  
 Dozens of carbon road bikes.
South African talking business deals.
 Amateur teams in full matching kit.
Warren, Dan and I fall into the “mountain bike shoes and sensible tyres/fenders on road bikes with relaxed touring clothing” category. We don’t eat energy gels in lycra… We eat cooked breakfast baguettes on a break between laps.

Anyway. Several people, I noticed out on the ride, had the same problem  I had with the shorts. So many people are out there in semi transparent worn out shorts. Maybe evans could do the world a favour and have an amnesty. Money off new kit if you hand in your worn out shorts. One chap actually had briefs on under his shorts. Whilst I agree with Grant Peterson on many things... The wearing of cotton briefs under cycling shorts is a step too far.

Anyway… 90.7 kms and home  in time for a late lunch. At our current pacing we're on for a 10 hour Dun Run. 12 including breaks.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Apology of sorts

I’d like to start today by apologising to the lady I scared half to death this morning. 

"I didn’t mean to make you jump. I was trying to attract the attention of your husband who was about to crush me between a row of parked cars and the passenger door. I’m not sure that you showing him a picture on your phone, as he tried to overtake me between speed bumps helped, but that doesn’t make it your fault. I do hope your husband calmed down and stopped weaving, revving and cursing in a reasonable time and sorry for any inconvenience."

For the record I just said "oi" loudly and as she turned round I was a lot closer than she was expecting for the reasons stated above.

I think that too many people do not see their car as anything other than a convenient way to get from A to B. It is a privilege that history has granted a few generations. Personal petrol powered transport. It is not a right. Too many wars have been fought to secure cheap prices at the pump.

Things that slow you down are not necessarily put there on purpose to upset you.  In the above instance we were on a quiet residential street opposite a park. The speed bumps are there to stop cars shooting through an area where children cross the road at multiple points. 

Drivers and cyclists have a choice. None of us have to cut through residential roads, but cyclists often choose to for the lower volumes of heavy traffic. Cars choose to use quiet roads to avoid jams and congestion, but then get frustrated by the volume of cyclists and pedestrians. As a driver you do not need to race to overtake me between speed bumps then slam the brakes on to avoid grounding the car. It is neither safe nor economic to drive in this way.

Whilst I was thinking about maybe writing this post at the traffic lights on  tower bridge road (thinking about, not actually writing) a girl on a bike lurched across the gridlocked box junction to swing into a left turn against the lights.

This post could be written from any point of view.  Don’t be selfish and try not to kill people. 

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Insidious acquisition syndrome

One of the key problems with any hobby that involves a specific set of equipment is the Internet. I have spent the last couple of nights looking at kit that will help me achieve the rides I have coming up in the next couple of months.

The thing is I actually have almost all of it, or something very similar that will do, but if you listen to the Internet experts what I have will never get the job done.

In fact all of it is fine. I am not Bradley wiggins. I am not about to undertake an epic voyage.

According to randoneering or audax sites my bike is wrong. It won't take big enough tyres. The wheelbase is too short. It is too racy. Actually I have ridden LEJOG on this bike. I have ridden across the Netherlands on it.

I don't have a dedicated GPS unit, but I do have an iPhone in a weather proof case mounted to the bars.

I don't have a hub generator, but I do have a massively bright front light that lasts for 6 hours.

I do need a saddle bag as I don't get on with single panniers, but I don't need a new brooks saddle to hang it from. I can get an adaptor.

All I need to work out is which of the many cycling outfits will I be wearing and which saddle bag will hold enough sandwiches...

Friday, 14 June 2013

The perfect bike

Everyone is looking for it and nobody finds it. The problem is that all bikes are designed to do a few things well. Wnat to cover 60 miles in three hours? Carbon road bike. Want to be able to walk when you get there? Steel Audax bike (But it'll take you 5 hours). Want to ride trails? A mountain bike. Want to commute as well? Cyclocross bike (But it has no suspension so you can't "Downhill")

With this in mind...

I bought my current bike in the run up to the supported LEJOG ride a couple of years back and for this it was spot on. A lightweight steel road bike with 28mm puncture proof tyres with braze ons for rack and mudguards.

I tried touring on it the following year and found it a little flexi at the back with panniers and a fair old amount of heel strike. This year I fitted smaller tyres and mudguards as I expect to do the Dun Run and I have masses of toe-overlap

For my current needs (in my head) I need this bike here. Although what would be useful on a daily basis is probably my old brompton.

Which brings me to Rule 12. The correct number of bikes to own is N+1 where N is the number of bikes currently owned.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

WNBR London 2013

This year I once again completed the WNBR in London, but after two years of going down to Brighton in a downpour to scoot around a few streets shivering I decided not to do the double. Of course the weather was perfect for both this year. (Weirdly this one post from  last year accounts for 1:8 of the views this blog has garnered)

London  had five separate starts this year so I had no idea of the scale until upon finishing I got dressed, went for a potter, had a sit-down to  check my route home only to discover my way blocked (15 minutes after my finish) by riders in a seemingly never ending parade of toasted and painted flesh still working it's way to the finish.

Of note this year:

  • Even more photographers than usual. At various points we couldn't actually get through at all
  • Even more aggressive stewards and WNBR stalwarts shouting  things like "get off of the road" and "Stay on the pavement"... which is weird when we are running red lights
  • More exhibitionism than usual (Male and Female)
However. It is still a fun day out and we had the privilege of riding through a packed covent garden for the first time!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

A sunday ride in the park

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I was obsessed, but recently I have taken to riding circuits around Richmond Park whenever I think I can spare the time. I’ve posted before that it is effectively a microcosm of the British landscape, although I may not have put it in such eloquent terms, and I guess that is the secret to the joy I find riding it.

I find myself woken by the alarm a mere six hours after retiring. The night before I had gone to Tooting Folk (Which needs a post of its own) I dressed and ate a banana and peanut butter sandwich before hitting the ride to the park. (The actual route I took is largely recorded on the bike to bestival website here)
We met at the cafe nearest  Roehampton Gate. Warren was grinning as usual and Dan had nipped off for a pee in the bushes. These two facts are almost entirely unrelated. Dan’s friend would be possibly joining us later but for now the plan was ... A couple of laps then some (2nd) breakfast.

We set off at a fair old trot as the park wasn’t yet busy and I was mildly disconcerted to hear Dan and Warren abe to keep up a tidy chat behind me on the flats as we covered the first stretch of tarmac. As we hit the “Hill that beat me” for the first time I was surprised to notice that we were about 2/3 of the way up before they stopped chatting to gasp for air. I hit the crest with my heart pounding and my lungs rasping to get in the air I needed to not fall off.

Pleased to have made it I put my foot down a bit to get some speed up while the going was easy. After some gently undulating beautifully flat tarmac I heard my name being called. I panicked. Had something fallen off of my bike? No. Dan explained that halfway round lap 1, Warren had deided to stop for a loo break. This involves a steep descent (and climb back out) towards Ham gate.

The plan had been to ride uninterrupted for  the 20km that 2 laps takes  as living  in the city you very rarely get to ride more than 1 or 2km without a pause for lights or a turning.

We decided to ride the next 1 ½  laps without a break then stop for breakfast.

On the next lap Dan and I decided we did in fact need the loo quite desperately so down we went and back up again. So much for continuous riding.

I waited with the bikes whilst Dan and Warren went in to get breakfast. Ever the Gentlemen they decided to get mine for me and I was tucking into double fried egg baguette and flat white within minutes. At this point we tallied up that we were about 39-40 km into the days riding and it was about 10 O’clock
Dan’s friend arrived at this point, Who I think was called Tim. He was off to Swededn to do a cycle tour the following week and was getting some practice in. This time we set off as a four with Warren and I a little sluggish for having eaten enormous greasy breakfasts. 

This time we got round a whole lap but had to stop to check the front wheel of Dan’s bike and my mudguard. On the next lap we all  needed the loo again. Setting off after the final loo break I marvelled at the way in which the laps got progressively harder, but the steep climb near the start got progressively easier.
At that point a herd of deer rushed over the road in front of Warren. I got there as the second batch were storming across the road, and sailed past him.

I followed dan’s lead on the way home and we pootled through the back of Covent Garden, Bloomsberry and Islington before parting at the edge of Stoke Newington.

I got back to discover that Sophie and friends were all at London Fields about to have a barbeque. I was too tired at that point so I fed and watered myself and watched a triathlon. 

After a bit I got back on the bike and went to join them.


Hackney to Richmond 21.7km
4 laps of Richmond Park 40.4km
Richmond to Hackney 22km
Round trip to London fields 8.4km
92Km over  the day, or just under half the Dun Run distance!

The following day I noticed on facebook that Vera and David had been in Richmond park about the same time we were. Great minds and all that...