Friday, 23 January 2015

Tech Riding

I’m trying to change how this blog is run, to reflect when there is news to write about, not just updating for the sake of doing so. This also gives me time to work on other projects that will be revealed here in due course.

This week the road pros have been in action in Australia in Cadel Evans’ last race, and the usual season-opening Tour down Under.

The highlight of the race for me so far has been this crash, filmed from within the peloton by Jeremy Roy.

The race gave Sky team sponsor Jaguar the perfect opportunity to PR their new car systems that are designed to alert drivers to cyclists and go further than any tech so far to pinpoint them and allow a driver to react.

In other news this is a fun mix of riding styles that will make you want it to be summer again and not a winter full of slippery roads that will leave you sliding across the tarmac on usually tame corner:


Thursday, 15 January 2015

Road Roundup

The road season is just about getting going, as the big teams head to Australia for the Tour Down Under. This seems like a good time to look at the news and changes afoot in the peloton.

Amongst the moves, perhaps the most noteworthy is Sagan’s signing with Tinkoff-Saxo where he gets to wear possibly the least attractive kit in the sport. Elsewhere there has been a lot of interesting news around Sky, as Froome looks to another Tour de France win, which starts to look increasingly possible thanks to big name signings including Nicolas Roche and Leopold Konig. Those big names along with Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte should provide a phenomenal support for an assault on the title again.

The other big Sky news is that Wiggins has signed a contract extension to take him through Paris-Nice to end his time in the team with an attempt at Paris-Roubaix. He’ll follow that up with a tilt at the hour record as planned and then full-time prep for Rio as part of a new, also Sky sponsored, development team named after the riding knight himself.

With this news it seems I’s already time to sum up his career, which the Guardian did with quotes from Brailsford, and strangely a bunch of pictures of Chris Froome.

Talking of the hour record Alex Dowsett was due to have a go at it before Wiggins, but his plans have been potentially set back as he broke his collarbone in a training crash.

He’s still hoping to get the attempt going, but he first has to recover from an operation to put it back together.

Finally some good news as MTN-Qhubeka have been granted a wild-card for the Tour de France and will be the first African-based team to ever join the race.

Expect an exciting season.


Wednesday, 14 January 2015


We’re firmly in that time of year when every trip outside feels like an adventure, as you battle wind and rain and cold and you never really know what the day will throw at you each time you step on the bike to head to work. I tend to get through by a mixture of despair and occasionally managing to imagine I really am on an adventure and that my socks are in fact wet through again in the pursuit of mountains and excitement, not just avoiding the Tube.

To fuel this sort of fantasy I do enjoy a film like this one, of some real exploring.

Definitely don’t listen to articles like this. (and the associated comments about how unlawful/dangerous/etc bikes are)

Keep going.


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Hanging On

Following on from the hit post before Christmas about a second view of the trip to Wales here’s some more thoughts from a mountain biker starting to rediscover the whole world of bikes.

Rear mech hangers - what the hell are they? Hazy memories of the bits of bike maintenance I did in my teens, before the long hiatus, suggest that they may not even have been used at the time. It certainly seemed like a new concept to me when I got halfway up a hill in a glorious part of Wales in hedge-trimming time of year and got a stick caught in my gears that ripped the hanger in half. I freewheeled off the hill with my chain in my bag and my derailleur in my pocket, left my bike at the Welsh Venison Centre and hitchhiked (or, as it’s known in that part of Wales, ‘walked’) the four miles back to the van.

Research yielded the fact that there seems to be not just no standard fitting but no standard at all in derailleur hangers. I expected to be able to look up the specs for the bike and find a little note saying ‘rear mech hanger: M type’ or something. Not so much.

So, after staring blankly at websites devoted entirely to selling hangers, and seeking the advice of a Local Bike Shop, I reasoned that perhaps buying a cheap replacement was the way forward - after all, it’s an intentionally breakable part, what difference could quality make, really?

During the first ride with the new hanger, I managed a comic still-getting-used-to-clipless-pedals fall and the hanger bent. Deciding that perhaps cheap parts were cheap for a reason I replaced the hanger at the trail centre bike shop and rode on.

Shortly afterwards I was riding a clear, flat, entirely unchallenging section of singletrack and something (still no idea what) happened that ripped the hanger in half, bent my derailleur cage, and broke my chain. I limped halfway back to the car park with the bike jury-rigged as a singlespeed, and then the rest of the way freewheeling after the chain broke again.

Sod this, I thought, and took it to a bike shop for repair.

So far, with a new chain, chainset, rear mech, and hanger, so good.

How exactly did I go through four hangers in the space of a month and a half? Was it just ill luck? Am I so bad at maintenance that I mounted the middle two completely wrong? How is that even possible with a part that bolts on securely to the frame at one end and the derailleur at the other? What is there to get wrong? I’m still mystified.

If you like this sort of stuff I suggest you pop over to The Bad Mountain Biker’s Guide where there’s more of the same. Expect more cross-posting this year.


Monday, 12 January 2015

Happy New Year

Hello there, welcome back after an extended Christmas break. I hope you had fun.

I’ve seen you out there last week, working on those new year’s resolutions to get fit. Except on Thursday, when it rained a lot. You weren’t so much out there then were you? I think that shows the sort of lack of commitment that will have you drinking again by the 14th.

Anyway I can hardly talk. While I was away work and Christmas and feeling a bit off colour, as well as the weather meant a distinctly poor amount of riding.

Aside from a potter round central London to experience the quietness of Christmas streets, but which actually involved dodging hordes of tourists trapped in town by a lack of transport, and a quick trip though appalling traffic to Cwm Carn

Followed by a blast to the park where I notched up the fastest (only) time on a lap this year by getting there in the first few days of the year

Otherwise I managed very little. So here’s to a more riding year and those holiday days saved by working through Christmas used to ride in early spring.

Happy New Year.

Oh and here's what we should all be doing: