Never underestimate the power of one wheel drive!


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Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Slaying the Dragon and drowned rats

I believe everyone has Dragons that they need to beat- for some it is conquering a fear, for others it is overcoming an adversity and for more, it is simply beating something simple that has been defeating them for some time.

One of my Dragons was a climb- just a simple road that went up further and steeper than I could ride without climbing off and pushing. This Dragon was called Kingston Hill, a road that leads from Kingston Blount in Oxfordshire, up to the A40 just south of Stokenchurch in Buckinghamshire. I rode it twice last year on my Cannondale R800 road bike and on both occasions, about 200 meters or so from the point where it starts to ease off, my lungs and legs gave out and I had to stop.

On Sunday afternoon I rode out of Rafa, my Wilier Izoard XP and decided to take in Kingston hill for the first time on this bike. Well, the Dragon got its arse kicked! I made it to the top without stopping. The fact that I had to utilise MY arse as a supplementary breathing orifice is immaterial. The Dragon has been beaten.

As for drowned rats, that was me on the ride home from work yesterday. I rode out of the car park, just as the light rain turned into a deluge. I could barely see ahead of me. I was still smiling and laughing though. I mean, what else could I do? It did beg the question however- what is easier, riding into a headwind or, riding against the flow? Some of the roads on my way home were flowing like rivers!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Tour de France 2013

Starts tomorow!

Yours truly will be setting up the PVR tonight to record the daily higlight show so that I can sit down in the evening with a beer/ glass of wine/ coffee and snacks to catch up on the days events (if I have been otherwise engaged and unable to watch the stage live).

I love this time of year.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Time Xpresso 2 pedals

Recently I had noticed that I was having trouble engaging with my Shimano SPD SL pedals- fishing around with my left foot trying to get the nose of the cleat to hook into the pedal. This was probably due to the lack of riding my SPD SL equipped bike, a situation brought on by getting the job in the bike shop.

Whilst working at the shop I have also noticed that a number of folk have purchased SPD SL pedals and struggled to get along with clicking in and out of the pedals, even on the lowest resistance setting.

Recently the shop started to carry Time Xpresso 2 pedals as part of their stock. I had a look at these and was immediately struck with the way they coordinated with Rafa, my recently acquired Wilier Izoard XP- they are grey with a red highlight (OK, I'm a tart). What also struck me was their weight. Time quote 220g for a pair- Shimano Dura Ace SPD SL are quoted as average weight 248g. I don't know if this is per pedal or per pair.

I decided to get a pair of the Xpresso 2's and give them a go. I fitted them and took them out for their inaugural ride on Friday evening- only a 13 mile loop but it took in a bit of climbing- some 10% sections of seated and out of the saddle honking with lots of pulling up on the trailing pedal. The pedals were just fitted to the bike as they came out of the box, no adjusting settings or anything. I have got to say that, on initial riding, I am impressed. Easy engagement and almost effortless clicking out. I think my next ride might have to take in Whitepit Lane, about 100m of which is around 20% so lots of stresses in both directions on the pedals.

A pedal worth a thought if you are looking for an alternative to Shimano SPD SL or Look Delta or Keo.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Grand Tour No.1 is over

Well done to Vincenzo Nibali for his victory in the 2013 edition of the Giro d' Italia.

Further congratulations to Mark Cavendish for his victory in the final stage and for clinching the Points Competition jersey. He becomes only the fifth rider to win the points competition in all 3 Grand Tours.

Have you ever wondered how we get to see the great images that we watch on the television from the tours?

Here is a great article from 'Cycling Tips'. It relates to the Tour de France but gives a great explanation of the hoops the production crews have to jump through to facilitate our fix of Grand Tour viewing.

I can't wait for the beginning of July. Vive la Tour!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Fuzzy has a Bike Bunker

Recently, SWMBO and i have been doing some outside space remodelling. As part of this activity, she decided we needed more room in the shed and therefore, i should get somewhere to store my bikes.

After a bit of research, I opted for an Asgard Addition 3 bike storage shed.

When i ordered the shed, i was advised that there was a 5 to 6 week lead time and sure enough, 5 weeks later, the shed was delivered. 8 panels, 3 link pieces, about 150 screws and two hours later this was born-

Bloody marvellous bit of kit.

Monday, 20 May 2013

The difference between trikes and uprights-

- or Upwrongs as some in the 'bent crowd call them.

This morning’s ride to work was the first outing on an upright for a week. I immediately noticed the difference in driver perception.

Every overtake I experienced last week whilst on the trike was accomplished by the driver moving to the other carriageway when room permitted. If it didn't, they were closer to what was on the other side of the road than to me.

As I rode to work this morning, 50% of the passes by motor vehicles were with 2 feet or less between my elbow and the side of the vehicle. I would say 25% were with a distance of about half of what I got last week. The remaining 25% were the same as last week.

I can only assume that I wasn't as scary looking on the upright.....

Well done to Mark Cavendish for reaching (and passing) 100 professional victories!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Of Bats and Bikes (or Trikes)

Well, as promised a few days ago, here is some catch up stuff.

Every spring, SWMBO and I keep a weather eye out for the annual return of the Black Arrows display team- a pair of bats that use the airspace over our back garden for hunting. We were beginning to worry due to their lack of action this year but, it would seem that the cold weather had delayed things. 10 days ago, the advance party made a few passes over the garden. We haven't seen it every evening since but, 4 or 5 appearances have occurred. I think we are very lucky to be able to watch them in action.

Today marks stage 13 of the Giro 'd Italia. This is, I think, my favourite Grand Tour. I have been fortunate enough to attend at least one stage of 4 Tour de France editions but the Giro is by far the better spectacle in my opinion. Absolutely barking stages such as those on the Strade Bianchi (unmade gravel roads) or the climbs and summit finishes up also unmade tracks. The challenge to the riders seems almost extreme at times.

Mark Cavendish has won a couple of stages so far this edition and it was nice to see him dedicating his second stage win to Wouter Weylandt who was killed on the Giro 2 years to the day previously.

Sir Bradley Wiggins was a pre race favourite this year but it would seem that illness has got the better of him. He dropped quite a bit of time over the preceding few days and retired before the start of today’s stage. Rigoberto Uran is likely to take over as Team Sky leader. I wonder if this will have an effect on the plans Team Sky have for the Tour de France. I hope they stick with having Chris Froome as team leader supported by Wiggo.

In 10 months, I will either have the option to retire from my current job OR, if the Home Secretary has her way, I will be compulsorily retired (we find out some time in July). In preparation, I have got myself a part time job at my Local Bike Shop! I spend one day a weekend in the shop as a sales assistant and occasional supervised spanner monkey. I get paid to talk about bikes and fettle them! I am in heaven.

One major plus side of the job is that I get to see and occasionally try out some different stuff. The shop owner has an Inspired Cycle Engineering (ICE) Adventure recumbent trike. As the shop is a dealer for ICE, a bit of product orientation was called for. Boss Man is away for a week so I have been using the trike to get to and from work. Riding it is an absolute blast. It makes a very different use of the leg muscles when ascending but, descending is great fun. The trike doesn't have a rear brake (apart from a 'parking brake') but has independent disc brakes on each front wheel. Hooning down a hill, bleeding the speed off prior to releasing the outside brake, leaning in and clipping the apex of a turn before accelerating out id very exhilarating. I am sure that, with practice, I can get the tail out a bit and negotiate the bends with a bit of opposite lock. I want one! I would go with the Sprint I think with a larger back wheel 26" maybe to promote faster progress on the flat. Pity about my budget though....

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Lack of action

I have continued to be very lax in updating on here haven't I?

In my defence, there has been als sorts going on at hoem and at work- nothing earth shattering, just lots of requirments on my time which ahs meant that, apart from updating the mileage log, I have'nt had the time to write.

These things including home improvements, a part time job at my local bike shop taking one day a weekend out of my time, lots of stuffs at work etc.

Things are happening however, that mean I am busting to write.

The Giro d Italia is on- Grand Tour season has started!

The bats are back!

I have got a part time job at a bike shop!

Watch this space for updates soon.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

I want to ride my bicycle- I want to ride my bike...

On Monday 20th March 2013, as I sat at my desk (yup, hardened desk jockey, me), my colleague at the adjacent desk spent the day coughing and spluttering over everyone as a result of a bug picked up from his young daughter, which she had caught at someone at nursery.

By Wednesday 20th march 2013, as I continued to sit at my desk, my throat was a tad raspy, my nose getting a bit bunged up and my head a bit woolly. I decided to drive home as I felt crappy.

I had dinner at 8:00 that evening and, by 8:30 p.m. I was tucked up in bed. I stayed there until 10:30 a.m. Friday 22nd March. I did not rise for anything. No food, no fluids, no trips to the facilities. I just laid there, alternating between dead to the world and hazy consciousness, overheating or shivering cold. I almost, though not quite, wished I was dead.

On recovering, I had to spend my spare time outside in the sub zero temperatures, demolishing a wall, brick by brick and reclaiming the bricks for re-use on a new garden wall. Several days of hammering and scrubbing with a wire brush plus a day with a rented heavy duty breaker to break up a 1.5 m X 3 m concrete slab and disposing of all the waste.

This catalogue of woes meant that my steeds and I were becoming strangers.

All was remedied however on Monday 8th April 2013 when, as a result of having no bricks to polish, no concrete to break and no real symptoms of illness beyond the nagging post stinking cold cough, I could ride home from work! 7.75 miles of mostly flat but sometimes upwardly mobile roads were negotiated in 34 minutes and 27 seconds. No record and, to be honest, it hurt but hey, I'm back in the saddle.

Cue Queen to fade....

Friday, 8 March 2013

Yesterday, as a result of my little part time job at the bike shop, I got to attend ICE Bike, Madison's trade show in Milton Keynes.

Now, apart from the usual bling, there were some interesting thaings to see.

Park Tools had a good display, complete with their new, all singing, all dancing, powered workshop stand. It has the usual clamp system to hold a bike whilst it is being built/ repaired BUT, this stand has an electric motor to lift the bike to work height.

Chariot make a cracking Stroller which is quickly interchangeable to a bike trailer/ ski trailer/ jogger trailer etc. Very pricey but I reckon It has potential.

I got a few little freebies including Parks mini bottle-opener bottle opener and a Shimano chain checker.

I am in trouble again though.

I am in trouble already because I have recognised that I need a recumbent trike like what we have on display in the shop. I therefore am in trouble to the tune of the £2500 I need to make my life complete.

Having gone to ICE Bike, I now realise that my life is far from complete. Not only do I need the trike, I also now understand that I NEED the Genesis Caribou fat bike they had on display. That is another £1500 I am in trouble to the tune of.

Ho hum.

Maybe if I speak to the right rep, they will realise that what they need is exposure. If they lend me a fat bike for a couple of months, I can use it to commute to work at my full time job, just for shits and giggles you understand. Folk in this fat bike free zone will see what they are missing and will want to buy a fat bike of their own.  

Just a thought like, if the right rep is out there reading......

Monday, 4 February 2013

I have been slacking!

Hi folks!

I have just realised that it has been over a months since I posted on here (apart from mileage that is) which is very lapse of me. I do apologise.

What have I been up to in the meantime? Well, we had a visitor, a friend of SWMBO came and stayed for a week as part of her vacation from Chicago. Whilst she was here, we made a couple of trips out. These included a trip to Avebury where we walked around the stone circle. Our visit coincided with some very cold weather which meant that we had the place to ourselves. No hardship though because the hard frost and looming cloud made for a fantastic atmosphere and awesome light-

Avebury really is a lovely place to see.

Our friend is a bit of a Harry Potter fan, as am I, so we also spent a day at the Harry Potter Studio Tour at Leavesden, Watford. Now, this really was a treat. Some of the sets that were used have been rebuilt in the tour venue including The Great hall, Griffindor Common Room, the kitchen at the Weasley house, Snapes potions classroom etc. Also on display are costumes from throughout the film series, props, special effects models, production models, external sets, the list goes on. The day we went was the day the snows descended so, after four hours or so, we decided to cut it short and drive home. Apparently the record is over eight hours! before we left however, we did sink a glass of Butterbeer. Yum!

Griffindor Common Room with a Harry and Hermione costume

Snapes classroom

The Weasley family kitchen

The Black family tree at Grimauld Place (not a tapestry but a painting on canvas)

 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey

A Creature in the Kreacher Shop

Olivanders wand shop on Diagon Alley

Part of the MASSIVE Hogwarts model used for some of the exterior shots.

If you get the chance to do the tour, take it. Some think it is expensive (£27 I think) but it would be easy to spend a whole day wandering round the sets and exhibitions.

Finally, I have got myself a little part time job, in preparation for my possible enforced retirement from my current full time job. I now do one day a weekend as a sales droid and sometime spanner monkey at my local bike shop! I get paid to talk about bikes, sell bikes, repair bikes and generally have a good time!