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  • Thanks +Sir_Shannonball Good write up and pics. This looks tempting. I don't have a proper gravel bike - do you think its doable on 28mm tyres in present dry conditions. I might give it a go tomorrow.

  • +StephendS I'd recommend 32s as minimum. I was on 42s and pretty comfortable. Where there's a will, there's a way though and everything is doable. I do have a couple of sets of 33mm CX tyres that I could lend you.

  • Thanks. The closest I have to a gravel bike is my Lynskey Sportive Disc; possibly a slightly earlier model than yours. Its supposed to take 32mm without mudguards but when I tried a few years ago I couldn't fit 32mm at the rear. I even measured the tyre and it was bang on. I can fit a 32mm at the front, possibly bigger. In any case, I'm too lazy to change tyres for one ride so I'll see how I do with 28mm.

  • Thanks for the ride +Sir_Shannonball +MikeMC and I rode it on Friday. We went via the Lea Navigation direct to High Beech and did the complete loop from there. A really lovely route and it was (just about) fine on what were actually 27mm tyres (Open Pave). I'm glad it was dry and I'm sure my aching muscles would have appreciated something wider. Anyway, I'd certainly recommend the route and it might be even better if modified to cut out some of the Fairlop bit around the official start.

    And not only did we find lots of bluebells, we even had the deer crossing our path + some lovely views back into London.


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  • 10/05/2022 Every second counts

    I went out to eat with a group of my old school buddies. Nice gastro pub meal, then heading home I was asked “Why aren’t you on your bike, Dave?” Normally I am, pretty much all the time. “I was training hard yesterday and today, so I needed a break,” I explained. Then I got the look. The look that says are you completely mad: “Training? Training for what?” “Erm, I have race on Sunday.” Still I get that look and realise that training and racing is something that only very few people in their late fifties care to do and fewer care to understand. In which case, maybe I am technically completely mad. I change the subject and head off to the Tube.

    That was Thursday. Sunday comes. It’s the VTTA 10 London and Home Counties time trial, to give it its full title. Put more simply, a 10-mile bike race for vets. As you’ll know from my blog, I’m competing with +RichardM on a tandem again and he reliably informs me that the other two pairs entered in the tandem category are superfast and we haven’t got a hope of beating them. Put it out of your mind, David, he urges me.

    But this is the F11/10 course. It’s a fast course and we are both keen to improve our best time at this distance. That’s 23:35 set at the ICC Open 10, in fact, on the F15/10 course at Brogborough. That’s a fast course, but I reckon this one is faster. Still, I mustn’t think about winning. On the way there we go through all the process goals and dedicate our thoughts to a PB. Memories of being stuck on the start line for almost 2 minutes while one of us (not me, by the way) fails to clip in, owing to a worn-out cleat, haunt us. The more he tried, the harder it got. OK, so new cleats all round. Richard talks (chiefly to himself) about how he’ll tackle the roundabouts and we move on from the cleat debacle. We even did a proper warm up on a turbo. Yes, tandem on a turbo (see photo for proof). I wrote out the classic British Cycling 20-minute warm up and then, as I am wont to do, made a schedule:
    9.30am set up turbo
    9.40am warm up
    10.00am take tandem off turbo and put in car
    10.05am ride to start
    10.15am arrive at start
    10.23am start

    Despite what it said in the organiser’s comprehensive 14-page instruction booklet (or should that be novella), it took us half of the 10 mins he states to get to the start from the HQ. Consequently, we have 15 mins on the start line plutzing. Suboptimal. We see the second tandem pair who are riding an elegant blue classic-looking Harry Quinn steel machine. It looks like no slouch with a 65mm front wheel and a disc at the rear. We just get a glimpse of the third pair, dressed in black and looking very pro. Think process, I remind myself. I do, but keep worrying about the strange way the gears keep wanting to shift to the small ring at random moments. It’d done this several times today and clouds my meditation somewhat.

    10.23 and we’re off! I feel like I’m in the groove. It feels like I’m going hard, but not at too destructive a pace. I worry my watts are down five from the TT practice session we did last week. First roundabout and we have to give way. I worry this will set us back and that we’ll hit more traffic at the other roundabouts. When we hit the faster sections I get into a kind of courier position with my hands either side of the stem. I worry I don’t hold this long enough.

    Somewhere around the 6-mile point, I see our average speed is creeping up. By the time we are at 8 miles it’s 28.3mph. I like it, but I worry about what the finishers have all said to us that “the last 2 miles are brutal and into a headwind.” The last 2 miles are always brutal. I worry our 28.3mph will wither away in the headwind. We crack on after the last turn and I see the second pair approaching the turn. I worry they are catching us. They don’t and finish with what looks like 21.48 on my computer. This would certainly be a PB and a club record.

    I’m wrung out. We head back the HQ and I sign back in. I don’t even look at the board. I assume we’ve been beaten. Richard must have looked though, because he comes over beaming and informs me that we’ve won. We’ve won by one second. Wow. In disbelief, I check the board for myself. 21.51 official time and our best rivals 21.52. Now I could start worrying about what could have gone wrong and cost us a few seconds, but I don’t. I grab a cup of tea and slice up some chocolate cake and enjoy the moment. My inner Muttley is thrilled that we’ll be sent medals in the post.

    So, there were three tandems, also there was one trike and 110 solo riders, no less. A huge field. This might be the fastest course in the Home Counties and I’d recommend anyone you looking for a PB. You can get to the HQ in Tring by train from Euston or it’s less than an hour by car. There are three more races on the F11/10 this year. Details on the Cycling Time Trials website, but the dates are 18 June, 17 July, 10 Sept. Why not give it a go?


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  • Great write-up, as usual. It almost makes me want to try TTs. Almost....

  • Thanks for an interesting write up and well done. What's the traffic like on that road? I like the sound of a course that's even faster than the one used for our Open (I've only ridden the proper course once and its still my PB). However, having driven past cyclists doing TTs on dual carriageways I find that side of things a bit scary.

  • Great write up. Congratulations to you both, well deserved medals : )

  • Nice write up, +Sir_Shannonball.

    The structured warm up certainly helped. That said, my first thought when we finished (after "Crikey! 70kmh downhill on a TT tandem certainly tests the nerves.") was how to go faster next time. (I plan to inflict my ideas in that regard on you in due course.) For the first time, sub-21 minutes seems achievable.

    As for your "inner Muttley", well, I recall that your outer Muttley seemed pretty pleased with the result too.

    A special morning. To misquote Casablanca, "We will always have Tring".

  • +MikeMC - Thanks.

    +StephendS - The tandems were last off so we probably got a sense for how busy the traffic tends to get during events of this sort. Other than a couple of cars passing us on the slip road as we waited to start and a slight hold due to one car at the first roundabout it seemed pretty quiet to me. Perhaps as important the main road is relatively wide, straight and the sight lines are good. Having ridden the course a couple of times now my main memories regarding traffic are more "It was a shame we were held up at roundabout xyz", rather than "OMG! That lorry was close!". That probably gives you a sense.

    One unrelated observation on the course. For those minded to make a morning of it Musette Cafe is on the doorstep of the HQ. It would therefore be easy to do an event and then head of for après ride cake. (NB: Which, of course, is the correct TT warm down protocol anyway.)

  • Well done both.

    I bet you two are the best looking couple too.

  • Hi all, just to say I've moved this into the public area of the forum. Just an FYI.

  • 25/05/2022 - 2-4-6-8 Motorway

    I was quite excited about last Sunday’s time trial. The course for the High Wycombe CC 25 looks very fast, so not only was a PB in the offing for myself and +RichardM, but there was no tandem course record listed on the Cycling Time Trials (CTT) website for the H25/2 course. Time trial courses, in case you didn’t know, have code number. There is a brief explanation of these designations on the CTT site.

    Although in our last race we achieved a PB and club record for 10 miles, there were a few mechanical issues. First, the front wheel had a broken spoke, which turned out to be a loose spoke. Second, the rear tyre was rubbing slightly on the frame. Simple solution was swap the 28mm tyre rear tyre for the 25mm front one. Lastly, and more worryingly, the bike seems to drop down to the small chain ring at random moments. Look Mum No Hands! owner and mechanical maestro Sam, identified an unexpected cause – the chainring’s teeth were worn away. Like, really worn away, such that it could not hold the chain. We’d been using an oval carbon set of time trial rings with 56T (T = teeth), but clearly the carbon could not take our combined power, even though we are both of modest club level power. This is one of the ongoing engineering challenges of tandem cycling. These machines are always work in progress in this respect. Sam installed a Specialities T.A. aluminium chainring (this time 58T - see photo below) and that, as they say, should be that. Without a cheese-like chainring or wheel rub and with a properly round front wheel, we should be faster, right?

    And the course was encouraging, too. If you look at the course profile of the H25/2 you will see that the first two miles are all, quite profoundly, downhill. This is a freebie "power up," but let me rewind a little before I get to the exciting moment of setting off down this ski ramp-like start…

    Time trialling is, to some extent, a question of logistics. Get to the HQ with enough time to register, don your race number, set your bike up, warm up and the find the start line in advance of your start time (but not too soon, as you may cool down from your warm up). How did we do on the logistics front? Not bad, but a few small things stack up. Things like an extra trip to the loo, someone else on the loo for a weirdly long time, chatting to another competitor, your head unit updating automatically and deleting your downloaded maps, lending a multitool to another rider, an unexpectedly slow/uphill ride to the start. All these little things stacked up and we arrived at the start 30 seconds before our start time. That might sound pretty pro, but it was pretty stressful for us. As a result, we did not have the course route on either head unit (given the title of this blog, you can see where I’m going).

    OK, we got the countdown 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, go! And despite everything, we were away on time. Wow, what a fast start it was. With the freebie speed from the early descent, we were averaging almost 35mph at the 3-mile point. We were flying. I settled into a groove at my target power, maybe a little higher, and saw we were also above our average speed target at 2, 4, 6, 8 miles. Then, suddenly, disaster. At 8.8 miles we hit traffic lights at a big junction. Traffic lights are something you never get on a time trial course. It could only mean one thing, we had missed a turn and so promptly called a halt. It turns out we’d been riding on the A404(M), a motorway. Oops. A zillion questions pop up, the chief one being “where was the marshal?” Time trials are usually made idiot proof by having at least one marshal at each turn or junction to point you in the right direction. Neither of us saw one, we were just enjoying being rapid.

    With more than a little tooth grinding, we set off in the opposite direction from this mahoosive roundabout and made for the HQ. Of course, we passed what should have been our turning. This slip road had no marshal, but there was an arrowed sign, albeit somewhat behind a bush. Hmm. A few miles later we cruised to a halt at the finish line and questioned the officials. Apparently, that slip road is too dangerous to deploy a marshal and they are not really allowed to have signs. Clearly, the be fully idiot proof you need more in place. Load the GPS route, learn the route by heart of have a list of distances and turns on your top tube were simple solutions we quickly came up with to get us out of the idiot camp. DNF. Did. Not. Finish. If you don’t make any mistakes, you don’t learn anything. I can safely say we learned a few things that day.


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  • Indeed. Comedy of errors +Sir_Shannonball.

    Lots of lessons.

    Arrive early and don't get distracted.

    Assume that any technology won't work, but at the same time don't rely on marshals and signs.

    And finally, recognise just how brutally hard tandems are on any compenents.

    That said, we were shifting! Illegally on a motorway perhaps, but we were shifting. Reasons to be cheerful.

  • 05/06/2022 - The only way is Essex - Part 1

    I’ve been trying to avoid writing this one. I’m writing about the return of RideLondon 100, and both my own participation and the set-up of the event were a bit of a mixed bag. OK, let’s dive in…

    First, let’s look at me and my ride. I’ve done three RideLondon 100s, my tandem partner +RichardM none, so the return after a three-year hiatus of the country’s largest closed road event seemed a good time to get his feet wet. Together, we have done three Great Escapes on his Calfee Design tandem, but that machine has now been converted to a time trial bike. So, his new Bingham Built gravel tandem was pressed into service, shod with 32mm tyres, rather than the 42mm gravel tyres it’s been sporting.

    As we know from the Essex adventures we’ve had on our club's 200km ride, The Great Escape, this part of the country is pretty darn flat and consequently very tandem friendly. Steep climbs and tandems don’t mix. For the watts watchers out there, I had put this down as a C event. One that you do for fun, an extended training ride, if you will. Joe Friel’s Power Meter Handbook recommends 75% of FTP for a 100-mile ride and that was my target. If this was an A ride, I’d set aside all targets, go hell for leather from the off and do everything I could to keep with the fastest groups I could hang with. Taking that approach on a ride like this you can’t get too upset if you lose a group, as like London buses, another is along in a minute or two. You surf the groups, hoping not to burn out completely. That approach was not for me this time, 75% of FTP, flat roads, don’t worry about the fastest groups. A bit of a cruise. Enjoy.

    Pilot plan: “I think we should be a bit cagey before Woodford.”
    Stoker plan: “I’m keeping it at 75% from the off and if I feel stronger later I’ll up the effort”

    Pilot reality: Went off a bit hard and put out strong numbers for two and a half hours. Followed by, while not exactly cramp, certainly discomfort and a power reduction.
    Stoker reality: Kept to the target for two and a half hours, then power slowly reduced. And reduced. And reduced…

    Did it matter? No. Just a training ride, albeit a 100-mile one. I hadn’t ridden 100 miles since May 2019. Many metric centuries, though. You always have to respect a century ride, I mean the Imperial kind. Whether you ride it easy or hard, it is usually a big deal for the body. Rest, nutrition, recovery, bike prep, what you pack (and later recovery), you have to take it all reasonably seriously.

    For fuel, I’m pretty much set in my ways – a bar after 1 hour, then a gel 30 mins later, then a bar 30 mins later, then a gel after 30 mins and repeat. Recently I switched to gel after 30 mins, then bar after 30 mins and repeat. This works for me, especially if I’m starting off quite hard. I know what bars I like, I know what gels I like. Tickety-boo. But for some strange reason I threw something new into the mix – Lucho Dillitos Bocadillo energy bars. This is something I never do. I hadn’t even tried one of these squares wrapped in leaves before RL100. Actually, it was no problem, because it turns out they are pretty much squares of sugar. At least they were to my palate. And they are perfect for instant energy hit!

    What about the bike? We were on the Bingham tandem. There was one mechanical issue that Richard had alluded to a week or so before the event, but he didn’t mention it again. It’s really good he didn’t, because I would have been more than a little nervous. After the ride, he did share that one of the nuts in one of the bosses, had scored the carbon steerer. Gulp. Since losing control of my front wheel and having a near collision a time trial, problems with cockpit of a thing of my nightmares. Bing is super comfy, but the set up is very much for gravel. There were bottle cages on the forks for. goodness sakes! In particular, the single chain ring for the drive chain (“one by” or “1x” as it’s known) did not have a high enough gear for us to take advantage of both the tandem and our personal strength – gravity. We were definitely starting to spin out at 26-28mph. I should probably look on the bright side and consider that we were getting some useful rest/freewheeling in, but I think two or three groups went away from us because they had regulation road gearing.

    Things learned:

    • Check helmet in mirror at start, 100 miles is a long way to ride with a skew-whiff lid on
    • 100 miles is a long way, however you ride it
    • My sugar cubes were a (useful) kind of South American Kendal Mint Cake

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  • 06/06/2022 - The only way is Essex - Part 2

    What about the new RideLondon 100 as an event? In truth, I am a little underwhelmed. I’m a big fan and have ridden the Surrey RideLondon a few times, so I absolutely don’t want to rubbish it. I think some of the issues are to do with it being the first one for three years and having been planned in a pandemic ad the failure to attract a title sponsor. I’m very sympathetic to the organisers in that respect and grateful they got it on. OK, that’s my disclaimer out of the way.

    Let’s start at the beginning a very good place to start. Now that the nonsense of the speed limited safety car (or fun sponge, as GCN put it), had been canned, I showed up wondering where and how 25,000 cyclists were going to be accommodated and supported pre ride. I’m not sure they were. You just funnelled through to the start line, passing some porta potties on the way. Nothing like the mini festival at Queen Elizabeth Park in previous editions. We edged to the start line and the start was so low key, I missed it. We were cruising along and I hadn’t pressed start on my bike computer! “Have we started?” “Yes.” Oops. Now my Strava ride would not be 100 miles, but 99 point something.

    Having built a route around Essex for The Great Escape with Laura Perret and Richard May, I was interested to see what the organisers had come up with. Without blowing my own horn too much, let’s just say that TGE is a far prettier route and more enjoyable. The RL100 route is somewhat dull in comparison. I even indulged in some closed eyes cycling at one point (please don’t try this at home, unless you’re at the rear end of a tandem). Flat it certainly was, but I felt this route really missed the three climbs that its Surrey predecessor had (Newlands Corner, Leith Hill and Box Hill). They are events along the way. You remember them. This is one of the reasons for putting a farm track in TGE. A little off roading is quite an audax tradition. It breaks things up, wakes you up and I guarantee, every rider will remember that track.

    Of course riding on closed roads is a great privilege and makes for a different kind of ride. I don’t know if it was just me, but I’ve never seen so many marshals out on this kind of event. They were everywhere. Even on the entrances to farms, where vehicles might come out once or twice a day. Many appeared to be quite bored, on their phones or distracting each other. I think this was a contributing factor to two issues I witnessed. One was a car that got on the course. We were behind this vehicle for a while. It must have gone a mile (and passed several marshals) before a police officer leapt up and charged after it on foot, to try to control things. I have never seen a car on a closed road event before. The other issue was a dozy so-and-so who wandered onto the course past three or four (equally dozy) marshals. This was somewhere in East London on quite a fast stretch of the course with a ton of cyclist screaming by and could have been quite nasty.

    What about the finish? Again I wondered what they’d do here. Southwark Park is really near Tower Bridge, but instead of using this (or something similar) as Hyde Park was used previously, we crossed Tower Bridge to a quick fanfare and cheer and then were told to dismount. We all shuffled off to the right on a back street and a quarter of a mile later were handed a medal. You could get water and a power bar or make use of a porta potty. That was it. Shuffle along another quarter of a mile and then goodbye. I think of all the missing elements, this was to most profound. Nowhere for riders to set down and recover, meet up with riding mates, meet up with supporters, refuel, be entertained. No big celebration. For people who had come take part from outside London, there was not even a baggage drop. We headed off the Look Mum No Hands for lunch and that was that.

    I hope that there will be more for riders at the start and finish next year. Maybe with Covid fading a little more, it will be easier to plan a proper celebration into proceedings. The event deserves this, as do all the finishers, many who have ridden a 100 miles for the first time.


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  • Nice blog, +Sir_Shannonball. Leaving aside the shotcomings of the event, cruising round on a tandem was certainly a fun, if eccentric, way to do it.

    On gearing, you are probably right (which, it should be noted, is not something I say that often regarding gearing, or more generally). The Calfee's 58t chainring would have been useful.

    That said, R100 does not really strike me as a day for watt watching and stem chewing. If we had done the National 100 instead, which as you know was on the same day, it would have been a different story...

  • The only way is Essex - addendum

    The official RideLondon times show that although Richard crossed the finish line before me in 4:57:13, I was actually the faster rider on the day with an official time of 4:57:12. This is not the first time this has happened when we've ridden a tandem. I have "beaten" Mr May on some Strava segment or other, also by a full second. No bragging to be done, but very a curious phenomena.

  • 14/06/2022 – Lemon to a knife fight

    At the start line of the Surrey Hills Bike & BBQ I say to the starter (before he manually scans my race QR code), that “I’ve brought a lemon to a knife fight.” He doesn’t get it. Maybe he’s not a Wombats fan, but I’m on my Mason Bokeh gravel bike at a mountain bike event. Having taken an early train from Waterloo to Guildford, myself and +RichardM arrive at the HQ moments before a mass of MTB riders funnel through the start gate, including another ICC rider, +AlexSzomboti. Most appear to be starting bang on 9am, so they are clearly very, very keen. Everyone seems to be on a mountain bike, aside from me, Richard and Alex. Hence my referencing the Wombats. I feel like I’m going to get sliced, either by those who are more suitably equipped and have proper skills or by the course, which promises to be reasonably challenging or should I say gnarly.

    https://youtu.be/nNh51G84WZY

    I got lured in to entering by (1) the thought of taking on a more technical riding challenge, (2) seeing a truly beautiful part of the country and, of course, (3) the after-ride BBQ (specifically the chilli). It’s only 30 miles, I reflect, how bad can it get? The first two miles are on tarmac and lull you into a false sense of security. Then you hit a rough-as-feck cobbled farm track that would give Paris-Roubaix a run for its money, whilst passing a genteel game of village cricket. It begins… the next mile throws a great quantity of sand and consequently exposed tree roots at you, whilst you manoeuvre on single track. Oh-oh, 30 miles of this?

    Well, not 30 miles of sand, but we did return to the sandy trails in the last couple of miles. Along the way there were some tough sectors of various kinds and some more mellow ones. One part with “baby head stones” sticks in the mind. They were hard enough going up, but harder going down. Talking about descending, there were a few V-shaped channels (not sure you can call them trails) we went down. I was super cautious on these, but the MTB folk screamed down with their fancy suspension and fancy bike-handling skills, riding high up the banks of the V on the bends. I got suckered into trying this and almost spilt, then got sensible and slowed down, then got caught in two minds about how to proceed and came off. Lucky for me, I was going very slowly at the time and it was more of a gentle unseating than anything spectacular.

    The Surrey Hills Bike & BBQ is organised by Trail Break and they did a great job of marking out the route with arrowed signs and ribbons tied to shrubbery, both in matching orange. These were so frequent you felt really reassured you were literally on the right path and I hardly had to look at the GPS on my bars. Trail Break runs a variety of off-road events that range from MTB to gravel. Their South Downs 100 on 2 July looks awesome, as does the Ridgeway 100 on 11 September. Both of these are more of an emphasis on gravel rather than MTB, but, as with this ride, the MTB rides are just fine on a gravel bike.

    I’d go a little further and say there were many sections where being on a gravel bike was better than a mountain bike. Most climbs (on or off-road), I was able to move past MTB riders and on every single bit of tarmac I screamed by the MTBs up, down or flat. However, on the tarmac many roadies climbed past me at pace. This was especially so on Combe Lane. If you don’t know it, this is a really great climb that features in the 100 Great Climbs books. It’s about 0.9 miles long and towards the top it there’s a blind left-hander that reveals a 18% section. Nice. The route, although only 30 miles, is close to the so-called golden ratio (1,000ft of elevation gain per 10 miles), so there are plenty of other rises to test your climbing legs.

    There was a healthy field of 176 and, aside from the three ICC riders (all of us on gravel bikes), I only saw one other entrant on a gravel bike. There should/could be a lot more, as this ride is a lot of fun on a gravel bike - plus there’s a BBQ at the end! Like a sportive there are gold, silver and bronze time bands*. Richard and Alex (2hr 27min!) managed gold, while I was 6 mins outside of the gold cut off and made a "strong silver." This was 8th in my age group, so I’ll take that on an MTB course. Not bad for a lemon.

    *Update with background from Martin Harrison at Trail Break: The Gold, Silver, Bronze system actually came from mountain biking; specifically from our rides! We have been running this format of Trail Rides since the early 1990s and came up with the Gold, Silver, Bronze bands when we started, as a less formal adaptation of the reliability ride format, to provide a legal way of timing a ride on public rights of way (we used to have category called “Pub” below Bronze too!). When we launched the first of our road sportives in 2006, we carried over the same system to keep the rides legal on public roads. None of the few early sportives that existed in the country at the time used anything like that, but others subsequently started to adopt it and it eventually evolved into a standard for the sportive format.

    Things learned:

    • Gravel bikes can handle a lot more than you think (and my off-road skills less than I think)
    • It's worth trying to do something a bit different
    • Some Sunday train services have no toilet. I hear that it can be handy to have a takeaway coffee cup handy, especially when it's a 50-minute journey...

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  • We were very much roadie pilgrims in an unholy mountain biking land but it still huge fun anyway, or perhaps because, of that.

    The coffee cup incident should however be passed over in silence.

    Incidentally, if 42s were a "lemon" for this imagine what it was like for me. I was on 35s...

  • An eBay steel - 16/06/2022

    All three of my bikes are now quite nice. Too nice to leave on the street. It's a good problem to have, as they say. Coming back from hybrid working, I've started commuting again, albeit once or twice a week. We have a bike room at work, so I can ride a nice bike to the office, but I fear the paintwork getting ruined by other cyclists moving their bikes in and out. I must admit, I've started to pack some pipe lagging in my back to protect my tubes. That's when I knew I had to do something. I also want to be able to cycle to a meeting or go out in the evening on my bike and be able to leave it on the street without fear.

    So, I gave myself a brief to find a bike that I wouldn't have a breakdown if it got jacked, but was still fun to ride. And success - I managed to pick up this old steel Peugeot racer from eBay for £60. Not so very much wrong with it. I guess it's from the Eighties, without the decals I can't say which model. It's 7-speed and has eyelets for mudguards. Where the decals had been removed, there was loads of sticky residue left on the frame. A good tip for sticker glue removal is to spray with WD-40 and wipe off.

    The biggest issue for this bike - and probably why I got it for £60 - was that the cranks had been cross-threaded, so it was either repair or replace them. Someone had really gone to town trying to put a pedal in the wrong way and the hole was seriously widened. So, I opted for the latter solution as it was a chance to reduce the 52/42 chainrings to compact (50/36) and soften up the 13-23 cassette for commuting.

    I got a new chainset from SJS Cycles for £40 and added some Deda bar tape for £8. There really wasn't that much to do on it. The tyres, brake pads, bottom bracket are all good, cables good and chain not stretched, nor the cassette worn. The wheel bearings are good, just a very slight kink in the rear wheel, which I can address later. I had a spare Brooks Cambrian saddle and a frame pump hanging about in my bike shed to finish it off.

    Thanks and praise to the ever-useful The Bike Book from Haynes, which I am always referring back to for various jobs on the bike. I especially look for things I don't do that often, such as the crank removal I've just done, bottom bracket and front mech readjustment.

    Now, I must remember not to get too attached this bike (or upgrade it further) and remind myself its purpose is to be left on the street and not worried about...


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  • 30/06/2022 – Inbetweeners

    What do you do in between your races and events? Whether you take part in challenging long-distance rides, hammer around a circuit for ranking points or prefer to go bikepacking, these are the high points of our cycling calendar. This is what makes us tick, what we aim for and our celebration of the joy of cycling. But what do you do in the gaps between? Here are 10 suggestions:

    1. Let’s get this out of the way first and then move on. Yes, you could always do something not related to cycling. Really. You could. Walk the dog, spend time with friends or family, do some baking (see homemade scones below). Why not do something for others? Volunteer for something, read a book, get another interest. Get some perspective. There are other things in life apart from riding your bike. Honestly.
    2. OK, enough. Meanwhile back in reality, why not talk about cycling? You may not have a race to take part in, but you could talk about racing. There are a lot of pro races to catch up on and get inspired by. Whether it’s track, crits, grand tours, cyclo-cross, mountain biking or even BMX, it’s the safest way to take part in our sport - from the armchair. Except you don’t burn any calories that way.
    3. Which leads me to the next thing to think about between events, your diet. This really is an everyday endeavour. You may or you may not want to lose weight, but you certainly need to fuel your rides, you need to recover, you need to reward yourself for all the hard work. And food, well it’s so darn tasty. Actually, working out your fuelling strategy is a good thing to do in the between times. When I say strategy, I mean find out what gels and bars don’t give you an upset stomach and yet are reasonably enjoyable to eat. What do you eat first, gel or bar? How often? Or do you prefer something homemade? Maybe some rice balls?
    4. And then there’s retail therapy. Perfect to while away the time. This can be fun, but it can get dangerous, because there is always a ton of new products out there and a lot of push to get you part with your hard-earned cash. Why not window shop? That’s what I aim to do most of the time. That’s what I tell myself. Go shopping, but try not to buy anything. Easier said than done with the world of online sales a click away. Must resist, must resist. Cold shower. If you have to have something, make it a reward for an event or achievement. (No, David, waking up does not count).
    5. Closely related to shopping (and window shopping) is upgrading your bike. There can be an actual need to do this - maybe your wheels are worn, your frame is knackered or your tyres getting shabby. But if we’re honest with ourselves, often it’s our egos that are knackered and getting today’s new tech would make us feel so much better. Mind you, a new bike would definitely make me feel so much better. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
    6. You could use your time to do something useful. Like, clean and repair your bike(s). There’s always some small job that gets put off or maybe you just never really clean your bike and get it back to a showroom shine. Now’s the time. You don’t want to turn up to an event with a filthy bike and risk that niggling issue becoming a critical one. See it, service it, sort it!
    7. I’m getting more sensible by the minute here – you could (wait for it) – do some training. Yes. Focus on what your upcoming event needs from you and do sessions that build the right skills and fitness. There are loads of plans out there, books, apps with plans or you could work with a coach. I work with Tim Ramsden of Black Cat Coaching. Why not mix it up and reverse one of your usual routes, try some hill repeats (I’ve been saying that for year and I will eventually get round to it) or aim to keep with a faster group than usual. Or you could practice your leadership and lead a slower, more comfortable group. Give a little back.
    8. While you’re at it, you need to make sure you look after yourself. Do you get the rest you need? Service your machine. Do you have any injuries to attend to? If so, you could book a relevant therapy session. Have you had a bike fit? Small difference from a fitting session can have a huge effect. Breathe in and out. Relax…
    9. …and while relaxing you can dream about your next event. Or better plan your next race. Events are full of logistics. When do you need to leave? Have you got enough time for a warm up? What warm up will you do? Do you have a check list of everything you need for your event? Make one. Nothing worse than being on the start line and realising something’s missing. Like when I recently omitted to pack any gels.
    10. And lastly, you could always write a blog. About cycling, naturally.


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