Monday, 30 June 2014

Standard commute plus strava mystery solved!

Quite pleased today. As it's Monday I had to lug a big old rucksack to work so the PR on Glendon Burn was a pleasant surprise. Even nicer was the beep beep from Andy in the C&DCYCLES van as I got into Kettering.

On the way home I decided to keep going with the 90rpm obsession but only from the roundabout at Glendon Industrial Estate because town traffic is a pain! During that whizz I hap an epiphany. The missing strava segment from last week is probably because it finishes too near my house. That's exactly the problem so I've recreated it outside my 'privacy' zone. I've also created a segment for the bit I was trying on this evening.

So last week I set myself two commuting targets and now I've got four. Numbers, numbers, numbers!

In the world of pro cycle racing it's been a bit interesting. Firstly big kudos to Laura 'the giggle' Trott and Peter Kennaugh on becoming the road race champions of Britain. No shocks really as they represent the big two in a British Cycling of Wiggle Honda and Team Sky. What is a big shock is the number of British riders in this years Tour de France. It's 3! I thought those days were way behind us. British cycling has been on a meteoric rise which I didn't think had peaked with sir Brad but there's the facts. In the year that two out of three grand tours started in the UK it's the lowest number of British riders since 2008. Is this the decline of British cycling or just a blip?

Happy Pedalling

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Hi oh hi oh it's ride to work you know!

So I've managed 3days of bike to work this week, which is nice! Today was just a commute there and back. I have my eye on two segments heading into work, Glendon burn and finish hard. I have a plan to move up the leaderboard. Top of both of them is Mike Cowland who I know of but don't actually know. Also right up there are my friends Jamie, Sinbad and our very own Andy of C&DCYCLES. I'm not going to compete with those titans of two wheels but I think top 20 is a realistic aim. Watch this space for PRs on those segments.

I'm still persisting with this 90rpm malarkey. My legs feel a bit sore so it's definitely doing something. I'm guessing like all forms of exercise it will be a few weeks before it has any impact. Numbers, numbers, numbers.

I'm relieved to see the great tyre debate has concluded with David Tough purchasing 25mm gators. Having been their biggest fan I hope they don't let my Longcliffe 2.0 brother down. I like mine a lot which begs only one question...why am I considering upgrading to the 4000's? Never happy with what we've got are we?

I'm not including the strava because my commute route has been posted many times before. I'm also not riding this weekend because we are on a family camp out. I'm looking forward to a weekend of booze and barbecues but will miss my bike. A guest blog of the Saturday shop ride would be very welcome.

Happy Peddaling 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

It's Wednesday, it's vroom, it's beautiful out!

You may wonder why I started in Burton...actually most of you guessed...forgot to start Strava. This was another great Wednesday with the lads. It started with Martin revealing to all that his favourite Spice Girl was Sporty Spice. We then got support from a lovely lady who said she'd followed us for years and thinks we're great. Bit of a busman's holiday for me, the lady clearly didn't know who we were and it was touch and go that she knew who she was herself. Nod and smile! I wish Andy (mention) was there to see it.

Only two disappointing bits to tonight's ride. It's hard work getting out of town on an evening ride and we rode down the horror road that joins Denford to Thrapston. Oh and Jonesy's bike! The squeak was so bad we couldn't hear cars coming up behind us. Sort it out Andy (mention.)

The group size and content was good. Mostly C&DCYCLES regulars but also nice to meet a newbie in David who is another inhabitant of Rothwell. Also good to hear that some of my blog readers are people I haven't ridden with yet. Plenty of banter, no incidents, pushing ourselves without risks and a beautiful summer evening.

Stuart, who I haven't ridden with for ages has clearly benefitted from a bike fit. In fact I don't know anyone who hasn't. The trend seems to be people have their saddle too high. I definitely need to book mine in at C&DCYCLES with Andy (mention.)

For me personally I'm continuing my experiments with cadence. No idea if it will make a difference in the long run it just feels like my legs are getting a good workout. Plenty of cups tonight so not too shabby!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Commuting, cadence and segment chasing

Not a lot to blog about really but I rode so I blog. Those are the rules. Good grief I have a lot of rules! Maybe I should do something about that. This was just a standard commute except now I have the cadence sensor which is the next thing in a long line of things which will turn me into an elite standard cyclist....erm well maybe not! Anyway following another of my rules that some bloke told me to so I should. I am now trying to pedal everywhere at 90rpm. To be more precise I change down under 85rpm and up over 95rpm. It certainly feels like I'm going faster but what's the reality? Well you can't take the averages from this ride because commuting is perilous and caution in urban areas prevents me from being glued to the bike computer. I did however have a crack at Rothwell Rise segment whilst maintaining the holy grail of pedal revolutions. I felt like I absolutely flew down that bit of road so thanks a bunch strava for not recognising that segment on my data! Something to do with inaccurate data at the start and finish points. Numbers, numbers, numbers! Why can't I just enjoy the ride, look at the scenery, do a bit of bird spotting? Who knows? All I know is I can't and I also know if you enjoy this blog you probably can't either!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

major incident free saturday shop ride

The aim of the game today was to have a Saturday shop ride that started and finished safely with no repeat of the disastrous crash of last week. The route selected was the tried and tested Oundle loop and the plan was Big Steve to  lead and me to act as his tailgunner. However at the shop Andy wisely split us into two groups of 9 with Steve and I leading a group each. This decision became even more wise as we picked three more up at Grafton Regis. My tailgunner for the day was the ever reliable Iain Tingle and as soon as I realised this I knew we'd be ok.

Traditional stop at Barratts corner

Another angle

Traditional puncture

I had loads of flats with those tyres

The others caught us at Aldwincle

Steve is the man for fixing stuff - unless its IT

My my Simon that's a beautiful bike!

The ride went well from my perspective and I hope my group felt that way too. With my cateye stealth doing it's job I aimed to keep us at 14-16mph. Inevitably someone got a puncture and it was no surprise to me to see that it was David Tough on an identical longcliffe 2.0 to mine. He's still running the original Kenda tyres that the bikes come with. I ditched mine after a few months because it was just endless flats. Since switching back to my tried and trusted Gatorskins I haven't suffered a flaccid tyre. The drama for the ride wasn't over as we discovered a dog in a car near Twywell. All the windows were open but the poor thing still looked way too hot. It was difficult to know what to do with no owner in sight and especially as the dog was irritated by us being near the car. We didn't feel we could let it out with no lead available because it then ran the risk of being hit by a car. Since we left Iain has been back to check and the car had gone so I hope the dog was OK.

Today as you can imagine I was very safety conscious and did a lot of thinking about how we ride as a group. To me, the group regulars need act as role models for any newbies on our ride. The key to a successful ride is communication. Hazards need to be communicated, as do approaching cars. 

The two conventions here are 'car front-car back,' or 'car down-car up.' It doesn't matter which you use, it does matter that riders are switched on to these calls. It's even more important when someone calls that people don't immediately turn to look because if you do your handlebars tend to follow your eyes and you veer sharply. Trust your fellow riders, if they shout car, there is a car. 

Our accident last week was caused by a rider going through the gap between other riders. I never want to see this again on a group ride. My preferred option is to pass on the right and let others know by announcing 'passing right,' or 'on your right.' Again it's best not to look over your shoulder to check this. Riding two abreast is ok but overlapping wheels with the rider in front isn't. That's how wheels touch and we know how that ends. 

As a leader I want to know what's happening behind me. If we are dropping someone I want to know before we start leaving them behind. 

Most people are familiar with the method for pointing out potholes and this is widely used in. less widely used is the signal for parked cars and other hazards such as dog walkers. For those we should be pointing behind our back to make people behind aware.

I know Andy will be formalizing the rules of group riding for our club and these are not intended as those rules at this stage. There just the ones I'm using at this time based on my experience and the research I did after last week. 

As I said I think we need to role model for others. We have a good club culture already but it doesn't mean we can't improve. My plan is to do the things I want others to do and and avoid things I don't want to see. 

On club culture there was tonnes of other lycra clad groups out today. Most said hello but a few seemed to look down their nose at us lot. I overheard one group (who I won't name because nobody is perfect,) commenting on a rider they were dropping:
"He'll be alright we don't want to bring our averages down!"
Our club isn't like that. The club motto is that no man gets left behind. I hope that never changes.

When we got back to the shop it was good to see Nathan looking fit and well. Hilariously Claire hadn't noticed our club Hagrid. I'm not sure how you miss him. Specsavers might be a good idea. Nathan had brought some cake for us and Heather supplied some too. Andy showed his Ninja cake skills balancing Heather's cake on the box.

New products

Time for some product feedback. I used the cateye stealth 50 for the first time today and I must say my first impression is good. Setting it up would have been a lot easier if I'd read the forums first rather than just diving enthusiastically like a labrador with a new bone. The best piece of advice I found was to chuck away the useless manual and watch the set up video. Once I did this it was all sorted very quickly. 

Clive was a very dirty boy and we can't have that can we. This time my cleaning product of choice was the dirtwash citrus degreaser. This stuff works just as well as the mucoff stuff but has the added advantage of a directional nozzle which I really liked. I lubed back up with TF2 plus+ a dry lubricant with teflon. As I haven't ridden it yet I can't comment on performance, i was suprised by how 'thin' the liquid is and how quickly it comes out.

The last piece of equipment I tested out was this splendid recovery food provided by my lovely wife. For once this was not cake.

Hopefully there's a lot more rides to write up next week!
Happy Pedaling

PS Whilst I've been writing this blog, Lee has knocked up this little beauty for tonight's 100 years of Brownies celebrations.

My wife is a genius

Sunday, 15 June 2014

The ride after the day before

So I went for a little spin. Even smaller than I intended because I chose to ride to C&DCYCLES and have a chat with Andy about our eventful Saturday shop ride. To be honest I'm still shaken up about the crash and I think we need to have a strategy to prevent this from happening again. Those are private discussions that are inappropriate for wider audiences so that's all I'm saying for now.

The other reason for my trip to the shop was to make a purchase and get the cycle computer I've had my eye on. And here it is:

So what do I need that for? Well it's about numbers. As cyclists we are obsessed with numbers. Average pace, cadence, distance, top speed, suffer score, ritmo etc etc etc. I want another bit if kit that gives me yet more numbers and this is the one I've chosen. This excites me. I've not had a cycle computer since getting my current bike, partly because smartphones do the whole tracking thing and partly because I liked the shimano flight deck so much on my steel framed triple I didn't want anything else. So now I want to get out and ride and watch the numbers. It's always about the numbers!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Interesting times

In Terry Pratchett's book interesting times, it says: "may you be fortunate not to live in interesting times." Well that wasn't the case for today's ride. We had good bits, we had bad bits and we had diabolical bits. All this and I'm leading the whole thing.

The route may be familiar because it's one I've used before. For me it's good because it has, ups, downs, flat bits, nice countryside and points of historical interest.

Selfie at Rothwell war memorial

Here comes the first bad bit. Saturday is a beginner ride but today we had someone who was struggling with a gentle pace after just 5 miles. Luckily he was a very reasonable man and was open to the idea that another 30 miles might be too much. We advised him to get some solo miles in and join us again when he's had a few weeks practise. We have other people like this at the club, one of whom, Owen, came past me up a climb today. The key to cycling fitness, is just plenty of cycling! 

Puncture number 1 of 3

The second bad thing was one person having three punctures leading to a split group. Two of these punctures were the same culprit in the old classic of an unfound intrusion. The last was a front tyre where the others were the rear. That's bad luck but it happens.

Sealed Knot selfie


Little boys like playing with guns too

In Naseby there was a sealed knot muster and I have to say I wasn't expecting a Roundhead selfie but hey Northants is stuffed with this kind of thing. Amusingly the house in Naseby that normally displays a Tigers flag has replaced this with a Union Jack. Oh dear, is this because Saints are English Champions? Nope I'm not bored yet!

Ubiquitous phone box shot

Waiting for the puncture crew at Sobbertoft

Sibbertoft war memorial-Claire practising her wistful look

We reformed as one group in Sibbertoft and headed off for some great riding. We headed down my favourite hill and then back up the short sharp climb to East Farndon. Everyone was riding well, we were having a great time then SMASH STOP STOP STOP. Nathan and Darren were down, Darren got up and hobbled off but Nathan didn't move. I got there immediately tried to get a response, I got a grunt, I asked him where it hurts and he said hip. He was talking, thank god. No obvious bleeding, no way I was moving him, my phone was out and I was calling for an ambulance. Whilst I did that bit the lads set about blocking the road, someone had a good idea to pile our jackets on him and Claire took over as first aider in chief and what a job she did. The ambulance seemed to take ages to arrive, not helped by not understanding my directions. The contact room struggled to pinpoint 'the road between Great Oxendon and East Farndon,' I had no way if being more precise. Anyway they got there and then did a thorough and careful job of getting Hightower into the van. Most of us thought Nathan was proper smashed up with definite broken bones. He was in bags of pain but still responding to gentle teasing, oh all right it was abuse but hey it was necessary for morale. Anyway the news is good. There are no broken bones just so e very deep tissue bruising and a shed load of road rash. Darren was also hurt. His elbow was badly cut but because he felt responsible for the crash he was very quiet and reluctant to get help. I don't envy him that.

The ride back was a bit of a blur. I felt sick. There was a high point though. I had a chat with one of our newer riders, Stuart who can still more than keep up at 74 years young. I really hope I'm like that.

We all need cheering up after all that so here's SuperSam in the t-shirt he chose to wear today. As you will see it's relevant!

Good boy Sam

Friday, 13 June 2014

Standard Pitsford Friday Stuff

Friday evenings Joe plays football at Moulton and I go for a quick spin. To mix things up I tend to do a bit of off road and the track of choice is the loop around Pitsford resevoir. Tonight I rode this on my own on the budget hybrid I usually save for family rides with the kids.

The reason for this is that I'm selling my Orange P7. That's not a decision I've take lightly because I love that bike. The truth is though that it's never been the right bike for me. I bought it when I was clueless, well more clueless than I am now! First of all, I put slicks on it and used it to commute. Then I rode a 75 miler with my friend who was doing the last leg of a tour of Britain from Spalding to Leicester via Grantham which should have told me that wasn't this bike's purpose in life but oh no I also did the 87 mile Oxford to Cambridge BHF charity ride on it. My goodness I got cramp that day! Finally I got a road bike and put the off road boots back on my P7. That was when I realised how wasted this bike is on me. Off road the P7 is just agile. However it's a bit small for me, has rigid forks and calliper brakes. I took her round Cannock Chase and much as the show stopping attention I got from being on this MTB icon I got shook to bits. So in September I want to get a hardtail 29er with disc brakes. I need to make space and I want funds for other bike bits so Orange is on Ebay as I type. I'll miss her but she doesn't owe me a thing!

The hybrid, a Falcon Nomad is noticeably a lower quality of bike. I may have set PRs round Pitsford but to be fair I was shattered after this tiny ride. It has no 'feel' like the Orange P7 and is spongey rather than responsive. September and my bike to work scheme renewal can't come quick enough. That's also going to be my lift, because when I get back from Australia at the end of August I imagine I'm going to be sulky whining whinge-bag!

Anyway, shop ride tomorrow and I'm leading!

Happy Pedaling

The library phone box in Pitsford village

Orange P7

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Commute, segment chase and the long way home

Two very different rides on the same day. This morning I just rode the 5 miles to work the most direct way I can. A little later than I normally ride I found it uncomfortably busy on the roads. Cars passed rather close, stuck out at junctions and there were several obstacles in the cycle lanes. Then once in Kettering Town Centre the problem was pedestrians who just don't look unless they can hear something coming. I had a fair old smack of road rage by the time I arrived.

The ride home, once out of Kettering was far more pleasant. For starters it's been a beautiful day, about as good as it gets for the English Summer. Better still today's weather has been the average for August in Brisbane, now if that's a normal day we're going to have a great month in Queensland. Did I mention that yet? Sorry if I haven't....we're having a family holiday in Australia for the whole of August.

One of my aims was a bit of segment chasing and a crack at reclaiming my KOM crown into Cransley. I didn't manage it this time but as this will be a regular route home there will be more opportunities. I was a bit knackered after the attempt so ambled the rest of the way home. On the way I took in the beautiful scenery and marvelled at pretty songbirds such as the goldfinches who inhabit our hedgerows. Life is good!

Beautiful Summer Scenes

Goldfinch- probably a favourite of Andy of C&DCYCLES 

Now I need. To plan Saturday's shop ride.

Happy Pedaling

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Vroom Wednesday on a beautiful summer's evening

Ok so tonight we have a tale of misfortune and surprising preparedness which frankly was a bit of a surprise. Numbers were short this evening as the three musketeers; Frank, Jonesy and Beans left the shop to meet Matthew and I in Rothwell. I had a quick spin to warm up as I discovered before that joining others 'cold' is a bad plan.

We rode well up to Harrington and then on the Lamport straight Jonesy noticed that Darren had an issue with a very buckled wheel. We stopped and as I had one I handed the beans my spoke key. I asked if there was an obvious loose spoke but he can't have heard me because five minutes of spoke nipple twiddling ensued. I then enquired again if there was an obvious loose spoke and Darren was suddenly holding a broken spoke. Oh yeah there's one, it's a tad obvious! What happened next is just brilliant. Moments earlier I remarked "that's lovely new yellow bar tape, it would be a shame if something were to happen to it!" Beans looked at his now oily hands in horror. Oh dear Darren looks like that tapes about to get grimy...

Nipple twiddling plus look at that pristine canary yellow bar tape

Oh contraire mes Amis! Darren produced some vinyl gloves, which he carries for je ne sais quois! He popped them on and announced they'd be all the rage for the tour, just watch Chris Froome apparently. So Darren limped off and the four of us forged on. 

Like all good manservants Beans carries a gentleman's essentials

I enjoyed the rest of the ride, great blokes, good cycling. The average was ok and if you look at the segments we tore it up in places. Lots of PRs this evening which is always a good sign.

Another issue this evening is that I once again am guilty of listening to other cyclists. This time it was a comment on road cc about typical sportive riders with their arms held straight and rigid, sitting upright. Apparently real cyclists bend their elbows and and backs into their work. So guess what? I gave it a go, bending my elbows and back at every opportunity. What difference did it make? Jack all probably but hey I'm easily influenced.

The last mention of the night goes to Matthew who joined us to help his training for the Nottingham marathon. In six weeks he will attempt a 2.5 mile swim, 112 mile cycle and a marathon, al of which needs to be completed in under 17 hours. I'm knackered just thinking about it. Anyway good luck Matthew and 'Kia Kaha' - be strong!

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Saturday C&DCYCLES shop ride cut short...storm coming!

Well the weather forecast for today is dire and as a consequence, Mrs Lindsley, the cake maker extraordinaire and all round splendid wife, who is the chair-lady of Friends of Rothwell Junior School decided to cancel family camp out. The last two have been lovely as around 20 families camped out on the school field and the kids were able to run wild for 24 hours. The other thing that made them great was that the FORJ committee managed to cleverly pick the right weekend.

The silver lining  to that cloud was that I didn't have to miss the Saturday shop ride for the second week running. Not that I minded missing last week's ride, I was busy, as you know roaring home the Champions of England. The weather forecast had improved and it was almost bright first thing this morning. It was then a race against time whether we could avoid the oncoming storm which was already wreaking havoc in the South West of England.
The view across our garden at 8am

So I set out to the shop where I met many of the special friends I've met through our great club. Of course everyone inquired had I recovered from last weekend yet? The answer is of course no. Andy (there's your mention,) was in a bad mood though. He put this down to hayfever. I know how he feels, I've taken loratidine and certirizine today but still present a snotty risk to anyone riding behind me.

Boughton House, home of the Buccleuch's (Buck-loo) pretty much the view from the A43

The route was lovely. heading out to Geddington past the impressive Boughton House and then following a significant chunk of the women's tour route through to the QOM climb at Harrington. Making it the second time in three days I've done that hill. Others in the group were obviously segment chasing here but I decided to save my legs and take it easy. I wish I'd gone for it now though as we approached Foxhall on the Mawsley road the rain started. At this point I dismissed rule 9 "if you ride in bad weather you are badass," as folly and decide dto head home rather than back to the shop. The rain wasn't bad at that point I just didn't see the point of getting caught out in the heavy stuff. I did miss the banter, tea and cake back at the shop and for that I'm sorry BUT it's hosing it down now. As the geezer in 'The Mummy,' says:
"Live today, ride tomorrow!"

I'd listen to the warrior geezer

I have only one compalint about today's rout and that's: "what flipwit in a planning department took the decision to surface dress the road between Geddington and the A6003 going through Newton?" A few months ago a proper tarmac surface had been laid here for the Women's Tour and it was a delight to ride on. With so many potholes and roads in disrepair why oh why did they decide to ruin this one? It's usually horrible riding on a road that has been recently surface dressed, it was even worse knowing this was an unnecessary piece of vandalism using tax payers money!

Not the actual road, just to give the idea

The garden looked a bit different on my return

Getting moist!

So was I justified in coming home early? Yes, yes I was. It's raining cats and dogs now, visibility is reduced and cars are all driving with lights on. I'm safe at home with a cup of tea. Some ride is still better than no ride!

Ok so that's not really what it looks like

This is!

No riding for me tomorrow as Niamh has an athletics meeting and frankly it's a massive proud Dad moment for me to watch her compete. I do know that there is a C&DCYCLES Sunday ride, to be led by Iain Tingle. The route looks great and I like the artistic genius with which it's advertised. So I'm kind of sad to miss it but it's for a good reason.

Very Good!

Happy Pedaling

Friday, 6 June 2014

Beautiful sunny evening with SuperSam at Pitsford Res

What a stunning day. Possibly the perfect English summer's day and definitely a good evening for a ride. Sam and I took advantage of big brother Joe playing football at Moulton and with bikes in the back of the S-Max headed to the fantastic resource that is Pitsford. Sam and I share an opinion on the bike circuit here and it's our love of the noise the track makes on the tyres. It's a very satisfying crunch especially if you corner at speed. Now speed was an issue for SuperSam tonight because his gears have gone qwerky, as is typical with a new bike. So that's a trip to see Andy at C&DCYCLES for the 6 week free service. The pictures tell the story so I'll let them do just that. I'm hoping the forecast for tomorrow is either wrong or we at least get away with it until lunch time because I'm looking forward to the shop ride. If not I'll have to settle for watching England v the All Blacks minus the players from those premiership champions Saints. Obviously they'll have a better chance next week!

Enjoy the pics

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Nice sunny evening so time for a spin!

Bizarrely I haven't ridden for nearly a week. The weather has been a factor and I was a bit busy last weekend, celebrating with the Aviva Premiership Champions. I've actually ridden less so far in June than I had by this time in January. So on a rare dry night I decided that it was time for a quick spin.

Only a little route tonight with the most obvious feature being the Women's Tour Queen of the Mountains climb into Harrington. Now my time was woeful compared to the super fit ladies but sits about midway in both the full leaderboard and the people I follow on a Strava so I'll settle for that. Lots of PRs too so the reduced riding hasn't ruined me yet! As ever one benefit of less riding is you remember more just how much fun cycling is. Whizzing down the leafy lanes really does float my boat and as the forecast looks ropey for the weekend I think I better get out again tomorrow.

Clive was looking a bit shabby by the time I got home. Being too excited about other things, you know like Saints v Saracens, I'd neglected to clean him after my last ride. As that ride included both cow and sheep poo along with debris from damp roads that really is a disgrace. Anyway you'll note from below that I've done the right thing now.

clean Clive

On Tuesday night Andy really did earn his blog mention by coming to SuperSam's cub pack to help them attain their cycling badge. This was the maintenance part having completed the ride requirements at Rockingham. Andy in his official capacity as the C&DCYCLES manager did a first rate job. A very informative presentation that held the attention of even the most day dreamy cubs. I was proud of the boys and girls too, they can be a rowdy bunch but when required they really are a credit to scouting.
Andy at the Scout Hut

Ay carumba! How does this keep happening?

Oh ok you didn't think I'd only mention the Saints a couple of times did you? What a weekend! I don't think I'll stop smiling for months and the Saints cycling jersey will get plenty of ride time. The season's over now and I'm not disappointed because there's now more time to ride!

Happy Peddaling