Monthly Archives: September 2010

1, 2, 3, 4, cluck cluck!

That’d me counting my chickens then. It looks like (whisper it quietly) that I may be getting a full week of biking to and from work. As it stands at the moment I’m not anticipating any ambushes. But there’s still today to go.

Yesterday’s pedal home was again in a complete torrential downpour. Not too much wind though which is always my main dislike. I had to chuckle to myself pedalling through Northfield, (which without wanting to sound like a complete snob ain’t the greatest place on Earth for examples of outdoorsy type healthy folk), I was being stared at from bus shelters and shop doorways like I was an Alien. You could see them thinking “What the f**k is that fat bloke doing pedalling in this weather?” In all fairness I tend to ask myself that at 0530hrs of an Autumninal morning, but no-one said I was sane.

A beautiful gin clear sky this morning though. A nice bracing temperature as well. Just right for blowing the cobwebs away. I’m still in shorts, absolutely refusing to give way just yet to the elements. Wifey hates this time of year as it’s one of the rare occasions that I put my foot down on a subject. “No! We’re not having the heating on, it’s still bloody September! Wait until October!” To say she can’t wait until tomorrow would be something of an understatement.

But fellers, what are they like for having the house too hot? (Lights blue touch paper and retires).


Spice it up!

I’ve been pounding the same old routes to and from work a lot lately so yesterday I decided to take my own advice (for a change) and cycle a slightly different way home. Nothing too outlandish but just enough to keep me from falling asleep seeing the same old roads and junctions.

On the subject of yesterday’s pedal home, 2 tin boxes were punched for driving too close to me, a Black Ford Focus in Edgbaston and a Silver Jaguar in Weoley Castle. Neither had the decency to stop and question why I had assaulted their vehicles. I hope I dented them!

The route home was via the lanes around Bartley Reservoir which meant I had to pedal up over Frankley Beeches from an even lower point! Am I an idiot or what?

A roadie pulled out of Scotland Lane about 50 yards in front of me just before the climb started. A proper roadie, he looked about 8 stones (112Ibs) dripping wet, on what looked like a Carbon Cannondale. Ok, I should have known better, I knew how quickly he’d fly up the climb, I knew I wouldn’t stand a chance and I knew I’d metaphorically die trying. But what can you do? I’m wired that way.

I got my head down and gained about 25 yards on the remaining flat, he heard me, looked over his shoulder and I’m surprised he didn’t die laughing, nice of him that he didn’t. He was in his mid 20s by the way. “Tough climb this mate” said roadie and he was away out of the saddle. I hung on to him without losing any distance for about 10 yards. That was the last I saw of him. 46 years old, 17 stones (238Ibs), entry level road bike should not be taking on what looked like a mega equipped Club Cyclist.

Lesson learned? I doubt it…

The pedal in this morning was unfortunately a small taste of what’s to come, very wet. Waterproof jacket and socks wet in fact.

I changed the pedal route to Quinton and Bearwood to add variety again. No-one tried to kill me which was nice.

Below is a test film from a MTB ride over the Waseley’s I edited using some free software, Windows Movie doesn’t do MP4, this stuff does.

About the bike?

Pedalling in this morning my mind was off wandering as it does when I’m cycling and I was thinking about motivation, focus and goals.

I know I’ve said it before, but my main aim of weight loss and fitness does get lost in an ever increasing obsession about all things bikey. Occasionally you need someone to give you a huge boot up the arse and on this particular occasion I can thank Emma who you can find here.

I don’t think she’s aware she’s done that, but her Wikki she has created has made me take stock and do a bit of re-evalutation of where I’m at and what I’m doing.

I have been of late getting a bit carefree with the grub and beer, to the extent that I’m dreading my weigh in on Friday. But whatever will be will be. It’s all a bit late now to alter the Friday truth session.

I am getting fitter and fitter though, last nights pedal was I think my first sub 40 minute ride home. So am I meant to be concentrating on improving my pedalling or using my pedalling to lose weight? Or do the two things have to be mutually exclusive?

I have decided that the goal is weight loss, not cycling. Don’t get me wrong, I love cycling, I always have from a very young age. I am a complete bike geek with the usual “ooohh, shiny kit” thing going on. I’m pretty good with the spanners and can completely take apart and reassemble a bike (which works at the end too) so you can see how focus on the aim of weight loss is pretty hard for me.

But the wandering mind and serene state that cycling produces (along with Emma’s wikki) has set me straight.


With the bikes help.

Still not looking forward to Friday though…

Here we go again!

Another week another commute. Rain, wind, dark. Looks like summer is well and truly over. The hardest thing now appears to be dressing correctly. I have now got every item of bike outer layer clothing hanging up in the garage so I can decide what is required when I go in there of a morning rather than take an educated guestimate by looking out of the window.

Today was my Helle Hansen base layer, Hi Vis T shirt and full fingered gloves. I’m still persisiting with shorts though, a last futile gesture of defiance against the oncoming winter.

Pretty soon it’ll be full cycling tights, waterproof jacket, waterproof socks, wooly hat under the helmet and overshoes. How bloody depressing!

The other f*****g annoying thing is that my beautifully fettled and polished Giant Defy is now gopping again after just one pedal! ARRRRGGGHHHH!!!!!!

Enough of the doom and gloom.

Yesterday at coaching I had a nice ego boost, one of the coaches who I hadn’t seen since the end of last season which was in April actually did a double take and was hesitant in speaking to me because he wasn’t sure it was me! He said “I thought it was your slim twin brother!”

My weigh in is the end of the week. Got to get back in the saddle as I had a bad couple of days food wise over the weekend. My bad…

No bike just Rugby today.

Rugby coaching this morning, a week of bike commuting awaits.

Bike shop visit

Yesterday, in amongst work meetings and other stuff I flew by Red Kite Cycles in Solihull. I wanted a chat with Craig about my idea for a really good bombproof commuter as I discussed yesteray.

All this came about because I reminded my Financial Director at work about my request for the cycle to work scheme that I asked to be set up back in the summer. Sometimes my mind reading skills aren’t up to much because he told that they’d set the scheme up weeks ago. Pity they forgot to tell me!

So I’m up for a new commuter then. My choices apart from my dream handbuilt bike really narrow down to the Charge Mixer 8

 or the On One Pompetamine

Those 2 bikes are the only hub geared disc braked bikes I can find.

It turns out the On One has cable discs plus their colour schemes are not really for me so I’ve decided to have the Charge Mixer. It’ll certainly do for winter streets and tow path commutes. Just got wait for all the annoying bureaucracy now and for Craig to get back to me to tell me he can organise a Charge bike via Red Kite.

Bombproof commuter and Towpath bike.

Yesterday I mentioned my Ridgeback was on its last legs and I was looking at a bombproof urban commuter and I mentioned this: Charge Mixer 8 and Jon at Redbikes was good enough to mention the On One Pompetamine Alfine 11spd.

As you can see if you click on the links, they’re both pretty similar, steel framed, hub gears, disc brakes etc.

This got me thinking. The object I’m trying to achieve is a very low maintenance very tough winter commuter/towpath bike. What would something like that look like?

I’m no bike designer but to start with my frame material of choice would be Titanium. Not holding back then am I?

Why Titanium? Robustness mainly, it doesn’t corrode, it doesn’t need a paint job and to clean it just needs a good hose down and a wipe over. I happen to love a bare ti frame as well! The ride quality is pretty near steel, which if you’ve ever ridden a very good steel framed bike you’ll know just how good that is!

Type of frame would be a 29er MTB type frame. Loads of dirt clearance and I like MTB geometry anyway, very comfortable. Forks would be carbon straight leggers for direct steering and who needs suspension on the road or towpath?

Wheels, obviously 29ers, a good Mavic MTB wheel, very strong, light enough and at 29” rolls really well. The tyres would be a puncture resistant Schwalbe. The rear wheel would have a Alfine 11 speed hub, with Shimano XTR hub up front.

Actually on the bits’n’pieces, headset, bottom bracket, crank and hydraulic disc brakes all would be Shimano XTR. All light, all hard wearing (low maintenance) and all good quality.

Here’s the left field bit though, I’d go for belt drive. I’m sure it is not beyond the wit of TI frame builders to put together a frame where the right hand chainstay has a bracket for the dropout that screws/bolts onto the frame to create a gap when it’s removed to fit and replace a belt.

Belts are quiet, maintenance free, no lube required and last 3 times longer than your average chain. I especially like the maintenance free bit.

Onto ancilliaries, carbon seat post and riser bars, any alloy machined stem of quality would suffice and obviously mudguards are a must. If only to keep the crap off a new Brooks Saddle.

Pedals would be Shimano XTR SPDs.

In summary:

Hub gears – Check.

Hydraulic Disc brakes – Check.

Ti Frame – Check.

Carbon forks – Check.

Belt drive – Check.

Brooks saddle – Check.

29” Wheels – Check.

Schwalbe tyres – Check.

Carbon seat post – Check.

Carbon riser bars – Check.

Shimano XTR whatever is left – Check.

That’s now my dream bike. The only problem is to afford it I’ll need a lottery win, and if I get a  lottery win I’ll be giving up work so I won’t need it anyway! Doh!

Anyone care to give me about 3k so I can have it? Tell you what, just to be on the safe side, can I have 5k?

I’m wondering how long it’ll be before MTBs get hub gears and a belt drive. It seems the logical way forward to me for the environment they operate in.

What form would your money no object, I can get it built to my spec dream bike take?