Saturday 27 September 2014

The build begins.AAARTY.Teeth.Stroud badgers

Last weekend I collected my new frame from Molton Mowbray (and managed to avoid any pies). The chap I got the frame from threw in the brake callipers, pedals and saddle too. All mostly naff gear but I'm sure it may come in handy.
White tape would suit the frame best
Despite the fact I had bar tape already, I ordered some more (£3.99). I figured red and black tape would look awful on this bike frame. White bar tape is obviously the choice colour.

It's educational this bike building lark. Before this project began, I wouldn't have known the difference between a front and rear brake calliper. The front one has a longer mounting bolt length than the shorter rear. On that note, different brake callipers have different mounting bolts too. I recently purchased some lovely Shimano rx100 callipers which came with a recessed allan key fitting. Sadly, my new frame won't allow such callipers to be fitted - it requires the nut and bolt type. Thankfully, my buddy Chris has a set of callipers to swap. Better yet, Chris's callipers are in a near mint condition - bonus! The callipers also have a 'reach', usually inscribed on the back of them. This reach may be menace because too short and they will brake against the tyres and too long and they grip against the spokes. I (and Chris, ha!) won't know if the reach is correct until we place wheels inside and test. Menace! (My purchased callipers have a min. reach of 47mm and max. reach of 57mm. The callipers that came with the bike have '57 C' inscribed on the back of them but I think this is a model number).
The other bit of recent menace was with the rear mech I had purchased. There was nothing wrong with the mech itself - it's just that the frame is old and doesn't have a mech hanger. Essentially I would have needed a rear mech with a built in mech hanger. This problem was overcome by ordering a Shimano rear gear mech derailleur hanger converter / adapter drop out (cost £3.75). Let's hope this overcomes the problem anyway...
A ride with Ron and the Wythalites
First ride of the week was a blast with Ron. We planned to cycle the Deer route, but this didn't quite happen. Queenie, my single-speed road bike was my weapon of choice for this jaunt. As we cycled, we chatted and nature spotted as is our norm. During the course of our ride we spotted a fox, a rabbit, an owl and a deer. In our conversations, we talked about much including our mate Phil and the last cycle adventure we rode with him. This adventure happened to be the Snow Drop audax. There's a hill called 'Pig Hill' in that audax but Ron renamed it 'Phil's Hill'. Now we didn't see a pig on this jaunt, but low and behold, we saw Phil. Phil and a few others from Wythal were cycling this self same night and we just happened to cross paths. We changed our plans a little and cycled a stretch with them. Kinda weird but kinda cool. These 'few others' were dubbed the 'Wythalites' and one of their number was a chap called Rob. Rob (plus Ron and Phil and many others) were cycling with me on that day in the long distant past where I came off my bike and smashed out my teeth. I had not seen Rob since that time. What a weird evening. Stranger still, prior to my last audax event (not so long ago) I was introduced to my niece's 'new' boyfriend (can't remember his name) who was also cycling with me on that afore-mentioned disastrous day. Am hoping all these folk, new and old, will cycle the Snow Drop audax with me next year. I also hope to keep my remaining teeth!
Second ride of the week was another completed Stroud 5 Valleys 50k audax. I have cycled this event so many times now but I guess this may well be the last time I cycle it this season. The highlight was catching up with the last few remaining badgers from the set I had previously encountered.
My mate Jamie also encountered badgers on an audax event he rode. Chris Hodge has never seen a badger. Badgers are everywhere, you just have to look for them!
My parents also had contact with badgers in the week. Whilst they were caravanning in Burnham-on-Sea, badgers broke into their awning and stole a loaf of bread! The badgers in Stroud were not criminally minded. Criminals are trying to cull the poor badgers in the Stroud area though. Not only have I met the complete badger set now, I have also completed my AAARTY award for the 2nd time. To obtain the AAARTY I had to ride an AAA (i.e. hilly) event in each of 12 consecutive calendar months.
In terms of points, I have scored 25.5 AAA points this season. To date, I have scored 91.5 AAA points. This is great, because not only can I claim the new AAA badge...
... I can also claim an AAA Quarter Century award for obtaining 25 AAA points in one season! Reaching the full AAA Century award seems a little bit unlikely. In 4 years I haven't scored a 100 AAA points let alone one season.
My final ride of the week was a commute to work. I didn't cycle back home though. All in all, an ok week on the cycle front.

Friday 19 September 2014


It's a strange, complicated, weird world out there. Sometimes you don't know where to turn. Some folk turn their heads right around. Some folk laugh their heads right off. I saw all of the above whilst strolling through Birmingham last weekend on my lunch break...
Birmingham and its undead population
This zombie awakening was not just a phenomena happening in Birmingham. I was led to believe countries overseas were experiencing similar menace. Worse still, cyclist in particular were becoming affected (infected?!)
Didn't cycle at all during the week because I was hit with a shot of the man flu. Real disappointed as I wanted to commute to work by bike. I managed a quick 28k jaunt over the weekend on my single-speed road bike though.
On a brighter note, I managed to source more parts for my retro build. I am saying 'retro' now, rather than 'retroish' because a number of folk are dating the Raleigh Esprit to be an 80's bike. I thought my parents bought me my bike for my 16th birthday but they didn't. I had this bike when I was 16, but the presumption is that I had it for some time. At age 16, I would have been in 1991. So, my best guestimate is still late 80's.
My favourite new part was a set of Shimano Dura-Ace brake levers. I went over budget and spent £20.15 on this pair of beauties. Don't they look amazing?! Aside from some brake pads, this is the only piece of Dura-Ace hardware that I own! Dura-Ace has represented the state of the art in bicycle components since 1973. Ok, these levers aren't state of the art by todays standards (being about 25 years old) but you get the drift. Just need some brake cable and then I'll have a full brake set.
The other component I acquired was a Shimano 600 rear mech. This cost me £10.49 (under budget) so I guess I'm kinda square. Don't know a lot about the Shimano 600 range but my research revealed that a lot of races in the 90's were won using these components. Some have said it's roughly equal to Shimano 105 and others have said Ultegra replaced it.
The photo above is that of the Colombian women's cycling team. Their new designed kit makes them look naked doesn't it?! I can assure they are not, however, Brian Cookson the president of UCI says this kit is unacceptable. What do you think?

Sunday 14 September 2014

A new project, a new challenge..

This week I cycled very little. No commutes and no audax events. However, I cycled my old BG SR 1 route which is a lovely loop to Lowsonford and back. My daughter Lunar is still a wee bit too small to go on the back of a bicycle just yet.
A vision of the future?
My latest bit of irrational excitement came in the form of my next pending project. I plan to build up a retro(ish) bike, myself, and plan to spend less than £150 on this project. When I was 16, I had a lovely Raleigh Esprit, as seen in the photo below.
Sorry for posting this photo so many times, it’s just that it’s the only photo I have of my old Raleigh. I never kept this bike for long. Following  a serious accident where I wrote off my cousin Andrew’s bike, I had to donate him mine. I have no idea what he might have done with that bike since then – it’s been about 25 years! Anyway, the thing is, I have already purchased the self same frame from ebay for £12.50! 
The frame is hardly exceptional but I like it and am excited about what I might be able to create. I think a retro bike has to be from around the 80’s (if not before) – am not sure how old a Raleigh Esprit is but my guess would make it late 80’s or early 90’s. My guess is 1991 but I’d love it if it was older. Anyone know?

In the week I stumbled across this: how to build a retro bike for a grand. It made an interesting read but I thought ‘who honestly has £1,000 to spend on a project like this’. This chap suggested a budget of £200 for frame and forks – well, I’ve spent £12.50! His budget for wheels was £230, I hope to spend no more than £50. A groupset for £450 – no way, I hope to spend significantly less. I have already acquired some lovely Shimano rx100 brake calipers (front and rear) for £22.50. 
A budget of £120 for finishing kit seemed a bit excessive too – I already have some bar tape somewhere and my frame comes with bar stem, handlebars and seat-post attached. Do you think I’m onto a winner? I will keep a tally of costs and post same. To date, I have spent £35.

Am aware that my long distance cycling challenges may decrease over next year. However, the challenger is still in me! My challenge is to build up the afore-mentioned bike and cycle it to work on at least one commute.
The challenger remains!
This blog has discussed merits of wearing helmets in the past. Some have commented that helmets look a 'bit off' or 'strange'. Well, an article in the Metro has put pay to that!
The text might be a little hard to read, but the picture is clear enough. Each of the individuals pictured above are wearing a bicycle helmet. Keep this under your hat!

Tuesday 9 September 2014

New Forest On and Off shore 200

Last week saw me complete the New Forest On and Off shore audax. This was a 200k event organised by W J Ward. I had looked forward to this event for some time.

I did very little cycling the week before, in fact, I don't think I cycled at all. My preparation for this event was poor - in my haste to leave home and get further South, I had forgotten some of my kit. My camera and my gillet was amongst the stuff I forgot.

I stayed over at my sister Jane's the night before as I had to start the event at silly o'clock. Indeed, I left Jane's at about 5 a.m. to get to Lymington for about 7 a.m. Once in a long stay car park in Lymington, I met up with my partner-in-crime 'Chris' and we readied our steeds for the adventure that lay ahead. We had to cycle about 2k to get to the official start in Lymington - the ferry port.

This event was quite strange in that it had 2 official starts - the other start was in Yarmouth where Isle of Wight cyclists started from. Chris and I departed at 7.15 a.m. on the ferry from Lymington and arrived at Yarmouth at 8.55 a.m. There were a whole bunch of cyclists cycling this event and there were a whole bunch more cycling smaller versions of 150 and 100k respectively. About 54 cyclists had opted for the full 200k version. Such was the mist/fog we had like no visibility on the ferry crossing and once in Yarmouth we had minimal visibility. The first stage was considered a warm up and took us to a checkpoint in the Needles. Only 8k in and my chest was hurting with all the huffing and puffing.
The mist/fog hid this sight from our eyes
The second stage descended from the Needles and it was hands on brake levers as the mist had not yet lifted and cyclists still making there way to the first control had to be avoided. It was good for Chris and I to reminisce on our past adventure around the Isle of Wight as we passed many familiar landmarks. As we cycled through the mist, I was covered in a light film of water. As we passed through Freshwater and on to Bembridge the mist finally dissipated and the bright sun shone. The first proper control was a cafe situated next to the shore. A couple of girls were swimming in the sea and a new lifeboat station graced the shoreline too. We couldn't be bothered to queue for food in the cafe so we went next door and consumed some ice creams. Delicious.
Stage 3 took us through Ryde. We really did ride in Ryde despite there being no fresh water in Freshwater. Groan. This stage involved another ferry crossing. This crossing was on a chain ferry and hence a short crossing. The crossing took us to Cowes. Cows that we couldn't milk. Groan again. We then had to race to get to the main ferry as it departed only once every hour. Only we didn't race because I wanted to stop and eat some sarnies first. Chris would have groaned and moaned if we missed the ferry due to my eating habits. However, please note, if we were not to cross on the ferry it was because Chris had lost his ticket! With a bit of 'gift of the gob' we managed to get Chris on board. Am sure this was the first time I had been on a ferry with a stow-away! After a good hour and half we were back at Lymington. This felt strange - it felt like we had finished yet we had another 100k to go.
The organiser stated that the 2nd 100k was much easier than the first 100k and said the last 50k was fast and flat. Not sure I totally agree. Both Chris and I started stage 4 racing around the New Forest but both feeling pretty drained. Despite the fact we were zoomy, we were knackered. I think the lack of 'real' food and/or decent controls had meant that we were cycling on empty. The views were nice here and the roads pretty fine. We had talked about the possibility of cycling this event single-speed (as some others had) but at this stage we were pleased we hadn't. About half-way through this second 100k we reached the control. Yay, food we thought! Sadly the pub was only serving chips - oh and pickled eggs. We ate both, downed with some coke and soon felt much better! I also took some ibuprofen as my right knee had started niggling again (it did this on my previous 600k event). This stop was nice as we chatted with some folk that we had previously chatted with on other cycling events.
Hilliness profile
The last stage was relatively flat and fast. I very much liked cycling along the coast again. The smell of sea air often pleases my olfactory senses. We managed to finish whilst it was still day light and were awarded with pasta, tea and cake for so doing.
GPX track log
All in all, a great ride and am pleased this event completed my RRtY award (also completed in 2011 and 2013). Nice having ferry crossings on a 200k ride and quite scenic too. I liked this ride but think the Dorset Coast 200 is a better event that has ferry crossings and lots of coast side cycling too.

During the course of the week, I received an email from the MadeGood folk about the LEL documentary/film they are creating. They inform the film is about 90% complete now and are attempting to get funding for music and audio mastering. Apparently they are waiting for somebody to finish the music for a trailer. How exciting.

Happy New Year 2022

Happy New Year folks. I wonder what's in store for 2022,  - something crazy, something new? It's a shame Covid is still here and I&#...