Sunday, June 28, 2009

Freewheelin'

Evening on Staple LaneDue to other commitments I will not be posting on the blog for an extended period, although the cycling will continue.

I hope visitors will still enjoy browsing the photos.








Wednesday, April 22, 2009

First evening outing

"Come out to play,
Now the light nights are here..."

Paul Weller

I finally got the first weekday evening ride of the year in today; an excellent two hour spin to Box Hill under clear sunny skies. If things stay like this it's going to be a cracking summer.




Thursday, April 02, 2009

Spot the difference

Now and thenThe good thing about a titanium frame is that it will last for year after year. The bad thing about a titanium frame is that it will last for year after year. UCI officials excluded, not many cyclists can deny they get a buzz from a new piece of technology or gadgetry. So, as the proud owner of a titanium Airborne (now Van Nicholas) Komet for the last few years (and some time to come I'm hope) I am contenting myself with slowly upgrading components and dialling in the position rather than forking out for the thrill of a new steed.

The top image is from 2006 and the bottom one was taken recently. So what's changed?

  1. Gradual replacements of the groupset components from Campag Daytona to Centaur. Carbon shifters :-), new style brakes etc.
  2. Replaced the Easton EA70 Fork with a Ritchey Carbon version after a badly fitted FSA headset damaged the steerer on the Easton.
  3. Move to FSA compact chainset. I am very disappointed with this, the FSA bottom brackets have very poor durability and are a pain to set-up. I will be upgrading to Ultra Torque very shortly.
  4. Replaced gimmicky slimline Elite bottle cages with normal diameter alloy cages.
  5. General wear and tear meant a move from the test Flash-Point FP60's to Mavic Ksyrium Elites which have been, and still are, an excellent all-round pair of wheels.
  6. I have found the most comfortable saddle I have ever used in the form of a Fizik Arione and will stick with this as long as they are still around.
  7. Finally, the yellow and white US Air Force style decals were looking pretty hideous, so I set upon the frame with a bottle of nail polish remover (purer acetone is best for anyone else thinking of trying this at home). It took a lot of soaking and elbow grease but I managed to completely remove the offending stickers and with a bit of a polish the frame has come up a treat. You'd never know the decals were there, all that is left is a tasteful white Airborne logo on the downtube.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cavendish is king!

I am so glad I caught the last 30 minutes of Milan-Sanremo yesterday, a little bit more British cycling history. I couldn't believe Cavendish was looking so comfortable and smooth on the Poggio and then to chase down Haussler like that was outrageous!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Burgess Hill Springtime Classic

Burgess Hill Springtime Classic Cyclosportive 2009 (photo by Phil OConnor)Last weekend saw me taking a trip down to West Sussex to ride the Burgess Hill Springtime Classic, a 71 mile up and down sportive with what I measured to be around 1700 metres of climbing. This was the first "event" of the season for me and chance to see if the winter nights in the turbo-dungeon have helped.

The early morning clear blue skies set the day up nicely, after an hour's drive I was setting the bike up in the car park opposite the school which would be the HQ for the day. Registration was straightforward and well organised, where participants were issued with their timing chips and vouchers for a post-ride bowl of pasta and cup of tea (something to look forward to!).

The start was phased to avoid big crowds of cyclists scaring the locals who were out early on Sunday morning and although we were sent away in bunches of around ten, larger groups formed very quickly on the roads. In hindsight our enthusiasm got the better of us and we started way too fast; a real schoolboy error, and one which I paid for in the latter parts of the ride. We had heard rumours of some nasty hills along the route, anything the locals have nicknamed "The Wall" sounded omninous in my book, and pretty soon we were hitting some consistent undulations in the course. The ups and downs and narrow roads soon broke the field into smaller groups. By around 30km we were on the bigger hills and I was feeling pretty good, although I was constantly expecting to round a corner only to be hit by "The Wall!". The hills weren't that nasty but they were regular and consistent and by the first checkpoint at around halfway I was glad for the chance to stretch and re-fuel. The course was very well signposted and the feedstations were well stocked.

The remaining feed stations seemed very close together to me, but that might just have been me drifting into autopilot as the ride progressed. By just over 90km the last time checkpoint was ticked off and we were on the run home. Then, rounding a tame bend in the trees we were brought to an abrupt halt by a slab of tarmac rising up at 20%. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not comparing this to an Alpine climb, but towards the end of the race this gradient, even only for a short distance, was enough to knock the wind out of a lot of riders and as I eeked my legs over in my smallest gear I swear I counted more people walking up than riding. As is customary at these events they put the steepest climb at the end of the race and plonk the official photographer half-way up to catch everyone at their worst! Thankfully I stayed upright and moving forwards long enough for a snap of the evidence. I was thinking this must be the infamous "Wall" but learnt afterwards that in fact that was around the 30km mark and not nearly an tough as the rumour implied. The last 20km were a mix of flat runs and short climbs. The over-eager start was taking it's toll on me by this point and I was suffering with really nasty cramps in my quads, something I am desperate to avoid for events later in the year so I'll be looking at ways of doing this.

The final few kms were spent starting and stopping through traffic lights and roundabouts so there was no chance of a sprint flourish to finish, but this didn't detract from the satisfaction of arriving at the finish in the Spring sunshine. Once we had checked back in and collected our goodie bags we headed to the canteen for our free pasta and tea. The pasta went down nicely but the grey water served up in cup, although looking like it may at some point have had a teabag waved in it's direction, tasted like it had been strained through the devil's own cycling shorts. However, this didn't tarnish what was a very well organised event and a great early season tester.

Clocks go forward next weekend, so evening rides will start soon. Can't wait, bring on the summertime!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Vote: Who should be the Astana team leader for the Tour de France?

I reckon Contador should be given the support of team, he's proved his talent in the three grand tour wins, he's the future! Vote now here!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Snow no go!

Snow covered carAfter a very productive few weeks of riding the weather has thwarted my efforts to get in a consistent run of long (+4hrs) weekend rides. Although most of this snow has cleared we are due for a few nights of sub-zero temparatures; in the ever-prepared UK that'll mean sheet ice on all but the busiest roads.

I may find myself trying to test the limit of my turbo endurance/tolerance this weekend!!


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Winter-proofed and winter-proven

RainyRainyRainy

My friend and regular training buddy is due to take some time-off and a few weeks recovery for a minor op; so today was going to be the last chance for a Sunday tea run for a while.

Well, the weather did it's best to stop us but armed with some new winter proofing there was no way we were backing out. I've recently invested in some SKS Raceblades, some new Northwave overshoes and a new jacket to protect me from the elements; all of which worked excellently in 3 hours of constant rain.

I was wet and tired when we got home, but not cold or uncomfortable. It's good to have done a ride like this heading into the winter, it'll give me the motivation to get out and ride even if the weather and my body is telling me to crawl back under the duvet.

Riding at the moment consists of two or three 40 minute turbo sessions during the week, followed by one long recreational ride at the weekend. This routine is fitting in nicely around the priorities of family and work, I'll be looking to keep it up over the winter until the days get longer.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Falling leaves

I was out on my own today due to a late withdrawal on account of injury. Luckily I got the message after I was already out of bed and in my kit, so managed to resist the temptation of a lie-in. Haha! As if that is possible with 15 month old!

The route for today was over Newlands Corner to Abinger then Farley Green and then out into Sussex and back via Box Hill, the nasty way. I say nasty, not becasue of the 15% gradient, although it is tougher than the 'Zig-zag' approach, but because it's a much busier road and the cars really scrape past on the steepest section at the top. After the tea stop the run home was via Ranmoor Common Road up to Denbies Farm and across the hills before dropping off via Staple Lane. Around 50 miles in the end.

All through the ride today the lanes were sheltered by trees turning colour and dropping their leaves. I was thinking about yesterday's Giro di Lombardia and the wonderful alternate name "race of the falling leaves". You couldn't have picked a better phrase to describe the mood of the weekend's riding.

Over the weekend I heard the Giro di Lombardia described as a 'Monument' and did a little investigation. The 'Monuments' seems to be generally defined as the 5 major classics:

  • Milan-San Remo - "La Primavera";
  • Ronde van Vlaanderen;
  • Paris-Roubaix - "l'Enfer du Nord";
  • Liège-Bastogne-Liège - "La Doyenne";
  • Giro di Lombardia - "la classica delle foglie morte".

Reading a little more I found this post (The Monuments) that gives very interesting explanation of their history and significance.

Friday, October 17, 2008

So, it's been a while!

I'll not bother with an update on the missing months, suffice to say I have kept riding regulary, if not frequently. I'm slowly finding more time to spend in the saddle and hopefully enough to post more often. More soon...