Never underestimate the power of one wheel drive!


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Saturday, 29 December 2012

Arise Sir Wiggo and other things

Today saw the release of the New Years Honours List, where The (Other) Boss- Her majesty, bestows honours on The Great and The Good.

One of this years recipients is Bradley Wiggins. The Kid from Kilburn has been Knighted. I can't wait to hear his acceptance. The Queen must be quaking in her boots!

Also receiving a Knighthood is Wiggo's boss Dave Brailsford.

Being made a Dame (Lady Knight) is Sarah Storey, paralympics cyclist and Gold Medal winner, who has also achieved as an able bodied athlete.

Victoria Pendleton is awarded a CBE whilst Jason Kenny and Laura Trott receive OBE's and Joanna Rowsell, Steven Burke, Mark Colbourne, Neil Fachie, Philip Hindes, Peter Kennaugh, Danni King and  Craig Maclean each receive an MBE

Having browsed the list, it appears most medal winners at the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games have been recognised, along with some coaches and federation leaders. Our sport of cycling has done well.

The other thing for me to mention is my own nearly New Year Honour. 28 years ago today The Boss (Mrs Secret Cyclist) stood next to me at the altar, accepted my ring and said "I Do" when the Vicar asked The Question on my behalf. She is a great lass! As we took a stroll around the town after lunch today, we spied  this car outside the local church

Another couple was preparing to share our anniversary day. Congratulations to them, whoever they are.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Christmas is 'a coming,
The Goose is getting nervous.......

Just a quick visit to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous 2013,

Providing the Mayans didn't get their dates wrong!

Get out there and ride folks.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Cycling Equations (or How Many Bikes Do You Need)

I was talking with a friend the other day and the old question of “How many bikes does a cyclist need” came up. Well, we all know the answer to that is expressed as the equation n+1, where n = the number the cyclist currently owns.

We had a bit of laugh about that but he then identified the other equation to answer the same question- s–1, where s = the number of bikes at which point the cyclists significant other kicks them out or leaves.

That posed the conundrum, how do you identify the point where n+1 and s-1 reaches critical mass?

At this moment in time, in my case, n=4 but, until about a month ago, n=5. Now, did n=5 become n=4 because s=5? Or did n=4 arise because the current funds for other projects =0 and I needed to raise some cash?

Only SWMBO will be able to answer that and I ain’t asking.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Bradley Wiggins does it again!

Congratulations to Bradley Wiggins, voted as BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012 last night, taking the mantle from team mate, sprinting loon and the Secret Cyclists adopted pro rider Mark Cavendish. A cyclist winning the award two years on the bounce? We have arrived!

Congrats also to-

Dave Brailsford (Team Sky Manager and British Cycling boss) who won the 2012 SPOTY Coach award to add to his 2008 award after the British Cycling Beijing Olympics success.

Lord Sebastian Coe awarded the 2012 SPOTY Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his Olympic history as a competitor, Host City bid leader and overall man in charge for the success of the 2012 Summer Olympiad and Paralympics Games.

Martine Wright, 7/7 London bombing survivor and 2012 Sitting Volleyball Paralympian, recipient of the 2012 Helen Rollason Award, named in honour of the late BBC sports presenter. Helen fell victim to cancer in 1999 aged 43.

Josef Craig, winner of the 2012 Young SPOTY. Aged 15, James, who suffers from mild cerebral palsy was Team GB's youngest gold medallist at the Paralympics. he took his medal whilst setting a new World Record in the S7 400m freestyle final in the pool.

The Unsung Hero award went to Sue and Jim Houghton, who spent 25 years helping to turn a derelict sports ground into a much loved community facility.

Usain Bolt received the overseas award, mostly for achieving the double treble (Olympic Golds in the 100m individual, 200m individual and 100m sprint relays 2 games in succession) but also I suspect, for being an all round, entertaining Good Egg.

Team GB and Team Paralympics GB were jointly awarded the Team Of The Year award in recognition of their tremendous success at their home games.

The Team award has raised some eyebrows as, the ruls for eligibility for the team award seems to exclude Team GB. I say 'So What!' I know that Team Europe’s Ryder Cup performance during the Miracle at Medinah would, in all likelihood have won the award any other year, their misfortune was that their comeback against the USA happened in the same summer as London hosted a fantastic Olympic and Paralympics Games and our athletes performed so spectacularly. The BBC award the award and, as far as I am concerned, can bend the rules a little when extraordinary circumstances occur.

Bloody Well Done to all.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Cycling Super Powers

I wish I had em!

Or one in particular.

As I prepared to ride to work this morning I did the usual "stick my head out the kitchen door to check the weather" test and established that a) It was a bit chilly and b) it was dry. I therefore got dressed to suit the conditions- lycra shorts, long sleeve base layer, knee warmers, Karrimor bike trousers, Altura Airstream windproof jacket, buff, Sealskinz windproof skull cap, Altura waterproof gloves, Selev Alien lid (nothing additional on my tootsies apart from the usual socks and Shimano shoes).

I commenced my ride just before the sun started to lighten the eastern sky and for the first 5 minutes I remained chilled but not too bad. I then launched myself into the ascent of Quarry Wood Road and my central heating kicked in. I was lovely and warm.

For this initial part of the ride, the roads were fine, just a bit damp. As I turned off Quarry Wood Road towards Winter Hill however, I detected the crisp, crunchy sound of frost crackling under wheel. This instantly instilled a case of the Heebie Jeebies.

Now, as you know, I have written about The Fear but, The Fear and the Heebie Jeebies are distinctly different cycling maladies. The fear is the gut feeling of "We're all dooooooooooooooomed!" whereas the Heebie Jeebies are that sudden onset anatomy clenching feeling that it is about to go horribly wrong.

This is where I wish I had a Super Power- in my case levitation. All I wanted to do was close my eyes and think myself 6 inches off the road and floating my way to a nice, safe, frost free road. Just like Dynamo- magician impossible levitated himself in front of the statue of Christ Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.

As I couldn't levitate however, I just had to progress at snails pace ensuring any slowing of the snails pace was done with back brake only. I tried to follow wheel tracks from cars that had driven through the frost but, in places I was the first vehicle of any kind to go that way since late last night.

I got to work in one piece but it took me 5 minutes longer and my maximum speed was only 17.7 mph!

Super Powers, we all need em.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

My Movember

This is what Movember did for me-

I planned to shave it off yesterday but, SWMBO likes it at the moment so i am keeping it for now.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Not Riding with The Fear

Earlier this month I posted about Riding with The Fear. Well, The fear has gone as I fully expected it to.

I have aclimatised to the conditions on my way too and from work.

The problem is, now The Fear has gone, I tend towards Captain Scarlet Mode where a feeling of indestructability creeps back in.

Best I be a bit careful until Spring I think otherwise I will find myself suffering from adhesion again.

I have been warned!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The start of a beautiful relationship

I took Raffa out for his first shakedown this afternoon.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love my Cannondale R800 and will continue to enjoy riding him but, the difference I noticed riding my new Wilier today was unbelieveable.

Simple things like the stopping power of the brakes! I don't know yet what it is that makes the brakes on Raffa so effective but I came close on  ore than one occasion to doing a front wheel bunny hop when grabbing a handful of front.

The stiffness of the frame around the bottom bracket was very noticeable too.

I think the biggest difference however was the wheels. Raffa is fitted with Fulcrum Racing 5's which are a revelation in comparison to the Gipiemme Grecal Parade wheels fitted to my 'Dale. So much stiffer! The anount of wheel rub I suffer when climbing out of the saddle on the 'Dale has to be experienced to be believed. They look the Mutts Nuts but, having 16 spokes front AND rear makes them a bit too flexible in my experience.

It will take a little while to get used to the slight differences in riding position between the Cannondale and Wilier but I think we will have a long and meaningful relationship.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Sexy new bike!

I have got a new bike!

Allow me to introduce you to Raffa-


Racing Division? I think I will be the weak link!
Raffa is a 2013 Wilier Izoard XP with a carbon fibre monocoque frame, Fulcrum racing 5 wheels and a mix of  Simano Ultegra and Wilier componentry.

Wilier Triestina is an Italian company with over 100 years of cycle manufacture history. They currently provide bikes for Team Lampre (easily identifiable with their blue and pink kit) in the pro peleton.

Raffa, being an Italian bike, is named for my wife's favourite Italian, Raffaele De Vita who plays on the wing for our football team, Swindon Town FC.

I picked up Raffa on Saturday morning and have not yet had the opportunity to ride him. Hopefully the weather will hold out this weekend and I can get some miles in to perfect the set up.

I'm so looking forward to it

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Riding with The Fear

What is The Fear?

Well, for me, The fear is that feeling if impending doom you get for no rational reason when you set out on a ride. I get episodes of The Fear on occasions and some of these occasions are as reliable as the seasons. They are this reliable because they coincide with the seasons, or at least the changing of the clocks.

Up to the day the clocks go back to signal the start of Winter, I am riding to work at dawn and home in daylight. The clocks going back an hour generally means that I am riding to work in daylight and home at dusk. It is the dusk bit that brings on The Fear. I might be riding in a hi vis jacket and lit up like a part of a Roy Nearey vision with that classic 70’s 5 note riff playing in the background on a Moog synthesiser but, I know from my driving experience that as the light starts to fail, it takes some time for the car lights to overcome the gloom enough for a driver to see clearly enough.

In addition to the gloom situation is the Weather. As autumn (fall to you left pondians) progresses, the conditions outside result in everything being coated in dew and moisture. This early season slick on the roads can be quite greasy meaning that negotiating routes where I was previously able to throw my bike through bends with abandon, I have to remember to ease off and take it slower else I hit a slick patch causing me to crash and burn. To add insult to injury, the moisture, mixes with the falling leaves which are then macerated by passing vehicles shod with Mr Dunlop or Mr Goodyear’s finest, resulting in a chutney that coats the road and forms a nice, slick carpet to catch two wheelers unaware.

There is also the onset of the early season frosts. This freezes the aforementioned moisture coating on the windscreens and other glass on the cars on the road. Responsible motorists clear this before they drive off to work or to take little Johnny or Jenny to school but, not all motorists are responsible. Sometimes they only have time to take out a credit card, clear a credit card sized slot in the frost before they drive off, barley able to see the end of their bonnet (hood) let alone see me in my Roy Nearey vision mode. This frost also has a habit of turning wet roads into ice rinks.

There are things you can do to combat The Fear though.

Know your routes. My regular route has a section of road, a little dip with a slight turn which has a distinct camber. The apex of this turn is at the bottom of the dip and is regularly wet with runoff from the garden adjacent. I know to be wary when approaching the wet patch.

The best thing you can do about The Fear though is to just ride. I have experienced episodes of The Fear for many a year. I ain’t dead yet!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Movember and DopeGate

A couple of things today.

Today is 1st November. For the last few years, this date has seen the launch of Movember.

I have decided that I will grow a V for Vendetta style Mo and beard as seen on the mask from the film.

Careful shaving starts now.


I have been taking my time and carefully considering the case put forward by USADA against Lance Armstrong.

Prior to the release of their evidence against him, I considered myself a believer, not thinking that he had partaken in any form of doping. I had believed that he had achieved the results he had through hard work and phenomenal athletic ability.

I now find myself feeling duped and deceived. The case against Lance seems to be strong. Not only that he doped, but that he also orchestrated a programme of systematic doping amongst his team in order that they were able to lead him to his results.

To dope or conspire with a team to run a doping programme is inexcusable. It is cheating. Not only has Lance dashed my beliefs in his honesty, he has involved others that I looked up to as sportsmen of character- George Hincapie, Dave Zabriski, Bobby Julich. I was stunned by the revelations.

I should have known better however. The clues were there. Tyler Hamilton. Floyd Landis. I should have seen it coming. I didn't however.

As a result of the revelations I had another consideration to make. My LiveStrong band-

I have been wearing the band since about 2005. I bought it to support the LiveStrong foundation that Lance set up to support the fight against cancer. A very noble cause. I realised however, that my continued wearing of the band was more a sign of my respect for Lance Armstrong and his sporting achievements.

This respect has gone so, with the help of these-

I did this-

Not much of a response I know but, I don't feel quite so dirty now.

Thanks Lance, for nothing.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Fettling is fun!

Recently, as I was riding home, I heard a bit of a twang from the environs of the rear wheel on G G G G Granville as I was riding home. This was soon followed by a regular fluctuation in resistance to my efforts towards forward momentum. I surmised a broken spoke and a glance at the rear wheel as it exhibited a slight ‘Pringle’ effect confirmed my suspicions. I had a spoke at home which I thought would suffice but it turned out the break was on the non drive side. The spoke I had was a drive side spoke so about 4mm too short!

Yesterday I fettled the new, correct length spoke onto G G G G Granville’s rear wheel. After refitting the wheel and doing a bit of truing, I discovered that the rim had split around a different spoke hole to the one I had been fettling- ‘doh!

Moral to this story is check the rim before fannying around with wheel related stuffs.

As a result I had to search the Dungeon Dimensions (the sheds and the garage) until I found a rear wheel that would accept the cassette from G G G G Granville’s dead wheel.

This turned out to be the rear salvaged from Knuckles when he was killet by the delivery van that reversed into me a couple of years ago (G G G G Granville was his replacement).

The dish on the Knuckles wheel is different to that on G G G G Granville’s so I had to do a bit of messing with brakes. It is also a slightly narrower profile (Knuckles was a Saracen road bike with 23mm tyres) so the 32mm Marathon+ took a bit of fitting (no profanity and my thumbs are fine!).

It got me to work this morning.

I love fettling!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Winter is coming- dig out your lights!

This morning 'twas bright and chilly with mist hanging in the air over the meadows as I rode to work.

It was the first morning I arrived at work with a silver sheen on my gloves and the front of my knee warmers. I finished my ride with my glasses perched on the end of my nose as the lenses had covered in dew, there was dew dripping from the front of my helmet and, when I got undressed for my shower, the front of my thighs were Ferrari red.

Summer has gone.  

This means that the nights are drawing in and, the last weekend of the month sees the clocks going back an hour. Accordingly, when I set my clock for 6:00 a.m. the first morning after, it will effectively be 5:00 a.m. and still dark outside when I hit the road.  The time has come to dig out the 'see' lights and make sure they are charged up and serviceable.  

I categorise lights two ways - 'see' lights and 'be seen' lights.

'See' lights are the hi powered retina frying 'Frikkin Lazers' that turn night into day and allow caution to the wind midnight descents of hills.

'Be seen' lights are the flashing LED units that I have switched on as the light fails, even in built up areas with street lighting.  

A pair of 'be seen' lights stay on my commuter bike all year round (one front, one rear) as I never know when I am going to be late off and need to advertise my position. I also find that, in the summer with the routes I use, even after full dark, I can just about see where I am going to make a slow pootle home feasible.

As winter draws in however, the darkness seems to be deeper so 'see' lights are a must.   Another factor to bear in mind as autumn and winter progress is the impact of cruddy weather on your visibility. As a result, I try to make sure that the single front and rear 'be seen' lights that I use in the summer are backed up by at least another front 'be seen' light.

For me, the second front 'be seen' light is an Exposure JoyStick on a helmet mount. I use the high level mount because, as far as I am concerned, this raises a flashing light out of the background noise of car lights and increases the likelihood of being seen.   I also have a Knog Frog permanently fitted to my helmet as a stand by light in case either of my other front 'be seens' fails.

I love Knog stuff as it is well thought out and quirky in design. I saw recently here that they have upgraded their 'Blinder' lights with some quite powerful units. I would love to get my hands on some of these to give them a try.  

So, don't forget, dig out your lights and make sure they are fit for purpose this winter.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Ryder Cup

I am not  golfer and don't really enjoy watching it but do sometimes get a bit engrossed in the Ryder Cup, probably because it is a team game.

The 2012 edition?

Wow! Just Wow!

Well done Europe.

Friday, 28 September 2012

The Marathon Plus has been fitted!

The only issue I had was a minute or two of Laurel and Hardy inspired comedy gold. The tyre I removed was a 700x28 Continental Contact. I replaced it with a 700x32 M+. The carcass on this tyre is quite stiff so, the problem was getting the first bead to stay inside the rim at the start of fitting the second bead. It kept popping out in the manner of the comedy films of old where Stan Laurel would be trying to close drawers of a cabinet and every time he closed one, a second would pop open. In the end I resorted to a couple of toe straps postioned at ten to two around the rim just to cinch the bead in place. The rest of the bead rolled in with little effort and no profanity.

Here's to many miles of trouble free riding on that new baby!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Fitting tight tyres (how not to dislocate your thumbs)

For some reason, certain tyres can be very difficult to fit. Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres have a certain noteriety for this but they are not alone. Sometimes it is not the tyre but the rim that can cuase problems- one particular tyre may fall on and off rim a but will need much heaving and puffing and gnashing of teeth to get the damn thing on rim b.

This is advice from Bryn, my LBS workshop manager (when did workshop managers start looking younger than coppers) on fitting BTFT’s (Bastard Tight Fit Tyres) such as Marathon Plus as a replacement (i.e. when you are at home, not mending visitations at the road side).

Work from the non drive side.

Get the first bead on and insert the tube (partially inflate if you need to but only very partially).

Starting adjacent to the valve, get the second bead started- push the valve deeper into the tyre to give room. Work around the rim, keeping the area you are working on away from you until the bead starts to get tight. Make sure the valve is still pushed deeper into the tyre and then squeeze the inserted beads together so they sit in the middle (deeper part) of the box section.
If you have access to a work bench, place the wheel flat on the bench with the cassette/ QR against the edge of the bench to give you something to lean into and roll the bead into the rim using the heel of your hands/ base of your thumbs.
Job should be a good un’ (I’ll let you know tomorrow after I have fettled a new Marathon Plus on to my commuter steed back wheel tonight).

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Two police officers murderd in Manchester

As I sit here in my nice safe office, officers in Manchester are commencing an investigation into the murder of two apparently unarmed police women.

I cannot begin to guess how they are feeling right now.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Cry Freedom! A boys love for his Raleigh Jeep

Inspired by a thread on my forum YACF here, I got to thinking about my first bikes.

My first bike that I remember was a small wheeled, fat tyred step through unisex thingy in metallic green. I remember neither it’s make or model but, it was this steed upon which I learned the art of riding without stabilisers (training wheels for you furriners).

My first ‘proper’ bike was a Raleigh Jeep, exactly like the one in this thread from my forum.

It was on this bike that I found the freedom of youth. It was this bike that grew as I grew. I received it as a present from my parents when I was 8 or 9 years old and, as is the way with bikes bought for offspring, it was too big for me but who cared. It was new, it was shiny and it was all mine. It went through many incarnations including workhorse after I fitted a rear rack to put my bag on for my paper round, stunt bike in the Evel Knievel hey day after removal of the mudguards (fenders for you furriners) and swapping the handlebars for a set of ‘cow horns’ to combat steed after hand painting the frame a crappy khaki green colour.

Through the years of our partnership my Jeep and I did things that would have curdled my parents blood.

Of a weekend or school holiday I would grab a backpack, fill it with food and pop and hit the roads on the Jeep, meeting my friends and heading for the hills where we would spend hours exploring abandoned chalk quarries and derelict factories. We would be gone all day, arriving home just as it got dark and Mum was about to throw my dinner in the cat.

One year my Mum, who was a toy shop manageress got complimentary tickets to see Evel Knievel try to jump 13 London busses at Wembley Stadium (proper Twin Towers Wembley, not the pale shadow of a replacement). On my return to home, That is when the cow horns were fitted. Ramps were built from whatever bit of discarded timber we could find propped on bricks, boxes- anything. Flying on my Jeep was awesome. Occasionally it went a bit wrong. I don’t think I ever got killed though.

Through the years of our partnership, my Jeep and I became many things. One day I would be Jesse James fleeing the law on horseback, the next I was a Battle of Britain pilot swooping through the skies. Another day I might be Luke Skywalker fighting the evils of the Empire or I could be Giacomo Agostini or Barry Sheen getting my knee down at Brands Hatch. One thing was unchanging though. My Jeep and I were inseparable.

One day however, fate caught up with us. In it’s Combat Bike guise, I was leading a raid against the enemy and had to leap into their stronghold launching off a dirt mound. Mid takeoff the handlebars snapped and we crashed and burned. Being young and pliable I bounced. My Jeep didn’t. It was the end of a beautiful friendship.

A little while later I progressed to my first multi geared bike, a red Carlton 5 speed road bike which saw me from childhood to adulthood. This is the first form of transport I used to get to work in the grown up world and it lasted me until a) a colleague borrowed it and put the rear mech into the spokes shearing off the integral gear hanger and b) I passed my driving test and got a car.

My Carlton was a great bike but it is my Raleigh Jeep that holds all the good memories.

Marc Bolan may have been a ‘Jeepster for your love’ but I had a Love for my Jeep.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


Last night I was reminded of a very important lesson-

Whilst loading the washing machine I had to go commando as I needed my underwear to complete the load.

The lesson was that I need to take more care when in commando mode, when undoing my fly.

Ouch indeed!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Vive la Tour, Faster Higher Stronger To Infinity and Beyond.

Well folks, the end of August approaches and I have had time to digest and cogitate recent sporting activities. I have needed this time due to spending a couple of weeks in a darkened room looking after the Olympics.

I will start with the first of the recent sporting events, the 2012 version of the Tour de France.

Way to go Team Sky! 5 years you said. A five year plan to get a Brit to the end of the race in the Malliot Jaune. 3 years was none too shabby was it?

I was absolutely glued to the TV coverage, revelling in the performance of Bradley Wiggins and his crew. Mark Cavendish, the worlds premier sprinter, current road race world champion and all round good egg gets 3 more stage wins under his belt including another Champs Elysees victory whilst doing his bit as part of the team, protecting Wiggo, bidon runs to the team car etc. Chris Froome acting as the best Lieutenant Wiggo could have asked for, sticking with him through thick and thin and getting a stage win of his own in the process. Edvald Boasson hagen, Christian Knees, Richin Porte, Bernhard Eisel, Michael Rogers, Kanstantsin Sivtsov- they all paled an important part in what was for me, a fantastic Tour. Wiggo nailing both the time trials was awesome to watch.

Outside of Team Sky, there were other ace displays of cycling. Peter Sagan hamming it up as he claimed stage victories brought a smile to my face. David Millar bagging a stage win for Garmin Sharp, the ‘encouragement’ being given to Thibaut Pinot of FDJ Bigmat as he rode to his stage victory- brilliant.

Vive la Tour and roll on 2013!

Next on the list is the Olympic Games.

I spent just over two weeks working in a back office function looking after the games so didn’t get to see anything up close and personal. All of my Olympic experience was gained through TV coverage and what awesome coverage it was. From the Danny Boyle produced opening ceremony to the party atmosphere of the closing ceremony I was hooked. This was despite my typically British mood of doom, gloom and despondency (probably fuelled by not getting tickets). How wrong could I be. I think that we Brits should step back, take a good look at the show we put on and then give ourselves a bloody good pat on the back. It went almost flawlessly which isn’t a bad thing to be able to say for such and grand scale event.

Not only did the organisation go well, the athletes of the world did us proud too. Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger) is the motto and athletes went faster, they went higher and they were stronger.

Well done to all the athletes that took part and did their best. I am going to be a bit partisan here and pile particular praise on the home team. Team GB did us proud I I thank you all.

Finally, I want to say farewell to a hero of my childhood. Neil Alden Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon passed away on Saturday 25th August aged 82.

I am a child of the Apollo years and lived and breathed the space programme. I remember my Dad getting me out of bed as a near 7 year old to watch the live coverage of Neil’s ‘One small step’. A true hero in my eyes.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Agent Picolax thread

In July 2007 a contributor to Singletrack Forum started a thread explaining that he had been scheduled for an endoscopy procedure and that he had been provided with 2 sachets of Picolax and instructions on what to do with them in preperation for the procedure.

Other contributors to the forum then started to enter their advice etc. in relation to the original posters predicament.

I was introduced to thsi gem last night and found myself crying with laughter at time so, Ladies and Gentlemen, I submit for your delight- Agent Picolax

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Half Century

Today I are mostly be celebrating my 50th Birthday.

Hippo Burpday to me
Hippo Burpday to me
Hippo Burpday Secret Cyclist
Hippo Burpday to me

That is all.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Now THAT is what I'm talking about!

Well done to Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavandish and the rest of Team Sky Pro Cycling for what you have achieved.

Today, Wiggo became the first British rider to win the Tour de France and Cav became the most successful sprinter in the history of the Tour with his 23rd win (and 4th succesive Champs Elysee victory). I do believe that Cav is also the first wearer of the Rainbow jersey to win on the Champs.

Please excuse me whilst I go and work off the celbratory BBQ and Belgian beer I have just honoured them with!

P.S. Dear Your Majesty, I think Mr Dave Brailsford deserves a Knighthood.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Tour de France 2012 a week in

Well, that is the first week well and truly done. What a week!

I can't believe how tense and nervy the proceedings have been. Crashes are common place as the first week progresses due to nerves and tension but this week has been remarkable. A number of genuine contenders for the GC have suffered and lost time. It is now clear to see why keeping your GC contender near the front of the race is so important. keeping close the the front of the peleton keeps him ahead of where most crashes occur and, in the event a crash happens near the front, everyone else who is a GC prospect is going to be in the mix as well and there is less chance of loosing time aginst your main rivals.

A couple of high points for me. The way Sky bossed the race and kept cadel in their sights on stage 7 with Chris Froome getting ahead of the charging Aussie and taking the stage was awesome. This was topped off nicely by Bradley wiggins taking the Yellow Jersey which Fabian Cancellara had done a grand job of parading up till then. The second high point for me was the antics of FDJ Bigmat Team Manager Marc Madiot as he was encouraging stage leader Pinot Thibaut to his stage victory was awesome-n true passion!

The first big Time Trial today. Lets see how it pans out.

Vive La Tour!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Tour de France 2012- SWMBO and I go to Liege

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I returned from our trip to Liege on Sunday evening and I have just uploaded my photos from the expedition. Once again we (or at least I) had a great time. Liege is a nice City to visit with lots of cafes and taverns to allow the continental street culture to bloom. We ate and drank and were generally very merry.
Here are a few pictures for your consideration-

Team Sky Pro Cycling at the team presentation on Thursday evening

A stroll around the City led us here-

373 steps to the top! Here is the post ascent view-

and I was thinking about the hoot it would be descending on my old bike patrol steed.

SWMBO needed a short rest before continuing-

Fuel was available at the Expo that ran from Wednesday evining to Friday evening. A rumour has it that Belgians produce some of the best beer in the world-
We agree!

We did a recce of the prologue route and picked our spot on the exit to the roundabout on Quai Paul van Hoegaerden between Pont John F Kennedy and Pont Albert 1er. We left the hotel at 8:30 a.m. and were on plot by 9:00 a.m. where we sat and waited. After a while other spectators started to arrive and riders started to do the route to warm up and get a feel for the route-





Vino (SWMBO has a soft spot for him)

Graham Watson turned up and doubtless did a far superior job of capturing the moment than I did

A little while later a retired French bloke showed up as well-

They then got down to doing the route for proper-

Though not everyone had luck on their side

Cav on his timed run

Yukia Arashiro (for whom SWMBO has another soft spot)

Some folk seemed to be having a ball

Though I don't think I saw Dave Zabriski smile all weekend (love the Captain America look!)

Vino again

Not sure who (open to suggestions) poss Valverde?

Cadel going for it

SWMBO soaking up the atmosphere

Me doing the same

We then took a walk to where the pit lane had set up earlier. Team Sky have gorgeous vehicles

and if you look carefully, at least one comes with a factory fitted Bradley Wiggins

I'm not posing for this one, honest

Elsewhere, I found a car with Scarponi's bike on the roof (lovely looking machine)

I noticed a nasty gouge on the bottom bracket. I expect it will buff out

There was also a stand set up by a Brussels bike museum which included this beautiful Pederssen (sp?)

It was then back to the hotel to nurse our sunburn.

Next morning we set out at 8:30 again and located ourselves on Boulevard d' Avroy on the outside of the turn where the route entered Rue Pont d' Avroy. We waited for a couple of hours, collecting caravan schwag until the peleton arrived-

After they had disappeared down the route we relocated a few yards away still on Boulevard d' Avroy as they made their way back along the other side of the road and out of the City

Jens contemplating the pain he is doubtless going to cause after uttering the immortal words "Shut up legs!"

Cadel in relaxed mood

but not as relaxed as Tommy V

SWMBO is a diamond for organising the travel etc. I must keep telling her I love her!

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Tour is looming

Traditionally commencing on the first Saturday in July, the Tour de France is doing its thing for International cooperation by starting a weekend early due to the looming Olympics.

The Grand depart this year is being hosted by Liege in Belgium with the Prologue on Saturday 30th June and the first road stage leaving the City on Sunday 1st July,

Mrs Secret Cyclist has done me proud again and we are driving down to Dover on Wednesday to catch a ferry to Dunkirk, from where we are driving to Liege to soak up the pre Tour atmosphere and take in the first two stages.

Apparently there is a serious Brit challenge for the General Classification this year. I'm not going to tempt fate by going into it yet. I will wait to see how things develop.

Vive la Tour!

Monday, 28 May 2012

On the Right Track

On Saturday morning I joined a group of Marlow Riders for a track taster session at Calshot Velodrome, part of the Calshot Activity Centre down on the South coast, just outside Southampton.

Marlow Riders is a club formed as the cycling wing of Marlow Runners. The club was born out of an idea where one fo the Runners decided to invite his friends to join him for dinner to celebrate his 60th birthday. The only catch was that dinner was in Paris and his guests had to cycle to the venue. After a number of months of training, the group did the ride to Paris in 3 days. Marlow Riders  was born.

The taster session was organised by Marlow Rider Willi Moore, a cyclist with years of experience including being a Team Pursuit Bronze medallist at the Munich Olympics.

On arrival we booked in and signed the usual waivers etc. then made our way to the centre of the track. Calshot is the second shortest velodrome in the world apparently at 142 meters (ish) on the racing line. A sort track howver doesn't diminish the angle of the banking. Standing at the foot of one of the bends, looking up the steep banking was enough to make more than a few sphincters start to twitch.

Not to worry though. We were fitted for our Dolan track bikes and then lined up track centre facing our instructor who talked thorugh the foibles of riding fixed. He then got us riding round the flat track infield so that those who had never ridden fixed could get a feel for it.

As the session progressed we were put through a series of exercises that got us up to speed and up to the top of the banking in a controlled manner.

The feeling of riding round the velodrome at speed was exhilerating and the experience of being at speed at the top of the banking then diving down towards the exit of the bend and the racing line has to be experienced to be understood. 8 grown men and women smiling like children at a toy shop.

If you get the chance to try track cycling, give it a go. I don't think you will regret it.

Monday, 14 May 2012

A rant

A little while ago, Nick herbert MP wrote this letter to Police Officers in England and Wales.

I am fuming! He has the temerity to address me as a colleague! Unless he is a sworn Officer, Special Constable, PCSO or Civillian employee of one of the Police Forces in England and Wales, he is no colleague of mine, he is a The Managment.

Herbert- stop patronising me and the folk I work with. I am not your colleague. I am a minion. Thats right, a minion. One of the thousands of folk who work for the Police Service who are being shafted- no cancel that, Right Royaly Shafted, by this Government under the auspices of the Puppet that is Tom Winsor. It has to be a Royal Shafting as we are under a Coservative/ Liberal Democrat coalition govenment. A Labour governmet wouldn't dare go in for all that Royal stuff. Too un SocialistThey would just shaft us but with all the skill and vigour that can be applied by a strong manual labourer.

In just under two years, I qualify for a full pension. Until this shafting business started, it was my intentionn to continue working as a Police Officer. Well, you have gone and completely screwed that up. Come the day of my qulification, I might take my in excess of 25 years loyal service and experience and jump like a rat leaving a sinking ship, for that is how I see it. The good ship British Policing is going down. God have mercy on her soul.

Catching up with stuff

Hi Folks!

As you may have noticed by a) the lack of anything new to read below and b) the absolute rubbish mileage returns I have logged, my cycling based life has not been what it should recently. This is mainly due to what I do to earn a crust. I am currently involved in a job which, if I were to tell you about it, I would have to find you all and kill you (or at least put you across my knee and give you a damn good spanking). Lets just say that the job has been taking up a lot of my time- both scheduled and unscheduled work time. Hopefully, over the next 6 weeks or so, this time commitment will reduce, allowing me to get back into my former lifestyle and riding more frequently again.

So, what has been happening out there in the meantime? Well, it is Giro d' Italia time again. Some good stages so far, a poignant moment of silence prior to the start of the stage on 9th May to mark the tragic death of Wouter Weylandt last year  and a couple of good stage wins by Mark Cavendish (and a bloody painful looking crash where he was brought down by another sprinter recklessly changing his line). Needless to say, my satellite TV decoder box record function is getting good use.

The annual return of bats to our garden has taken place. The 'Black Arrows' display team are on fine form doing their thing around the airspace over my lawn. If it isn't the bats in the evening, it is the Red Kite during the day. Sometimes the numbers I can see from my garden are in double figures. Sometimes a pair of kite will put on a display by playing tag in the sky overhead, diving at each other, barrel rolling to avoid one another. Great stuff to watch.

She Who Must be Obeyed (Mrs Secret Cyclist) has done me proud again. Ferry crossing and hotel booked in Liege for the depart of the Tour de France. Top Bird my Wife.

As you can see, life goes on. Roll on resumption of normal service is all I can say.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Where the chuffing heck did my legs go?

To paraphrase Mr Vader, I find my lack of miles disturbing. In fact, this year to date, I have less than 300 miles under my belt.

This morning I managed to find time to get the 'Dale out and get some miles in. I decided to amend a frequent loop and take in a couple of hills, one for the first time. The new one, Kingston Hill from the vicinity of Chinnor up to Stokenchurch turned out to be a killer. I hit the mid section where it ramps up and after about 200 yards of toil and noticing a heart rate of 185, In had to bail out and walk.

If you look closely, you will see that I am hanging my head in shame.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

It's good to ride again

Sunday morning saw my first half way decent ride since my crash. Just under 33 miles up and down the hills that litter the area around where I live. very nice it was too. I am still missing out a lot of my commuting miles due to the need to drive too and from a distant location for a job I am working on but the legs and the lungs are coming back. all I need to do now is get the fundament back. Saddle sore or what!

On another topic- The Manx Missile strikes again. Mark Cavandish has emerged vistorious from his first European race of the season- the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. Apparently he was not feeling too well but still nailed it due to the way Team Sky controlled te race and delivered him to the launch pad. Well done Cav and well done Team Sky!

On another topic again, the Saturday before last, Mrs Secret Cyclist and I spent the day at the Olympic Velodrome for the UCI track World Cup event being hosted as part of the London prepares series. Awesome! The venue is fantastic and the noise as Team GB riders did their thing had to be heard to be believed. Jo Rowsell being followed around the velodrome by an acoustic Mexican Wave as she rode to the Individual Pursuit gold was spine tingling and the roars as Sir Chris Hoy launched himself from close the the back of the line to take his heat and the final in the keirin was something to behold. I think Team GB is on for a good selection of medals in the Olympics if this keeps up.

Photos will follow when time allows.

Update on previous post.

Towards the end of last year I told about helping out at an accident where an elderly gent had been knocked down- here. Sadly I learned recently that the old guy didn't recover and has passed away. Gutted.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

20,000 miles under my belt

Last Sunday I went out on my 'Dale for a short blast to get some shape back into my lungs. I only managed a measley 14.59 mile loop and felt knackered afterwards (it doesn't take long to loose condition does it?). One positive from this however is that it took my total mileage since records began to 20,001.85.

I'm slightly chuffed with that.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Yay! I'm back in the saddle (and so is Cav!)

Last night saw me ride home from work, my first ride since I crashed on 20th January. It wasn't quick and it wasn't pretty but I got home in one piece! My arm and shoulder ached quite a bit as a result of the pulling on the bars and also my riding position, but you know what they say- No Pain, No Gain.

This morning I rode in to work. Again, neither quick nor pretty. We had about 2" of fresh snow overnight so progress was careful. I had to remain seated and adopt the granny gear combo to get up Quarry Wood Road- standing and honking had my back wheel spinning out on the slush and packed snow. Once again, I will remind the world- When there is snow on the ground, never underestimate the power of one wheel drive. I bet all you lucky gits that own and run Pugsleys are haveing a whale of a time! (Tommy and Coastkid, I'm talking about you).

Next weekend (well, Thursday evening through to Sunday evening) sees the UCI running a track World Cup event at the Olympiv Velodrome in London and part of the venue preperations programme. SWMBO and I tried to get tickets tothe Olympic events but failed so we tried for the preparedness event instead. We failed originally but, yesterday SWMBO managed to get a pair of tickets to both Saturday sessions! A right result. a full day of track cycling to enjoy.

To cap off a good week, Mark Cavandish is at it again. Riding his first event for Team Sky, he has taken stages 3 and 5 of the Tour of Quatar. The Manx Missile is flying again!

Saturday, 4 February 2012


On Friday 20th January, whilst cycling home from work, it all went wrong for me.

I was descending Quarry Wood Road and negotiating the mid point hairpin, a right turn on the way down. I had scrubbed off all my speed and was just apexing the bend when my front wheel decided to go AWOL. I was riding then I wasn't, no warning, no chance of recovery, just me laying in the middle of the road feeling sorry for myself and identifying bits that hurt- knee and elbow well scuffed by the shell grip surface.

I looked back the way I had come and saw car lights approaching so grabbeed G G G G Granville and shuffled out of the way. A couple of cars stopped to make sure I was OK and I assured them I was. I collected up all the bits that had fallen out or off the bike then started to ride again. After a few hundred yards I had to sit up as my shoulder and upper arm hurt like a wossname. I got home and showered to run some hot water over my shoulder which made a difference.

Next morning adhesion had set in and I had to unglue myself from the sheets!

The scuffed bits are now at the picking scabs stage but the shoulder and arm still hurt, particularly when they get a bit of a jolt. As a result, I haven't ridden for two weeks.

Withdrawal is a bummer.

P.S. Have a squint to the left and click on the Cities Fit For Cycling logo. Another ally in the fight to make cycling safer for all.