Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Week Of Rollers

I've not been on the bike much in the past month due to sinus problems. I've been running recurring lowgrade sinus infections since last April but at the moment am not taking any medications, just avoiding (to the degree possible) having icy cold air blasted up my nose. This has meant: (a) no cycling when it's windy and (b) even on still days, no cycling outside the village because every road out goes downhill... fast. 

I'm been trying instead to get to grips with riding my bicycle on my new Tacx Antares rollers. In the first 10 seconds of my first attempt, I was confronted with a shocking truth: I don't know how to ride a bike!  No, I didn't fall. But I can hardly pedal. The only strength in my legs seems to be brute downward force through my quads, one leg at a time, which on rollers basically causes my bicycle to behave as it is being ridden by a drunk. 

Glamorous work out location in the garage!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

One Year Time Trial: Steve Abraham's Attempt to Break Tommy Godwin's 1939 Annual Mileage Record (75,065 miles)

Jersey logo
Steve's jersey logo

2015 will see UK Audax legend Steven Abraham attempting to break Tommy Godwin's long-standing record of 75,065 miles cycled in one year. Steve has been planning and preparing this for the past two years.

I am not going to detail here (a) Steve's own record achievements; (b) the sheer magnitude of what this venture involves; (c) how he plans to do it; (d) all the ways people are supporting him, and/or (d) how he needs to finance it. It's all on his website -- just click the links on each topic. 

Do have a look. This is a challenge of epic proportions. Everyone who knows Steve personally and who have followed his cycling exploits believe, if anyone can do it, he can. I have not met him but I am fascinated by his plans, his focus and organisation and his mental aptitude for something like this. 

And he's not the only one having a go at breaking this record -- not one, but TWO, Americans are also apparently having a go in 2015: Kurt Searvoge aka "Tarzan" (another experienced endurance cyclist) and William "Ironox" Pruett (a successful triathlete). Ironox isn't giving much away about his plans but it looks like Tarzan intends to spend his winter months cycling in warm/dry places like Florida. 

Steve will not have such a luxury option here in the UK... and neither did Tommy Godwin. 

So... is this a good time to ask about YOUR cycling goals in 2015? ;-)

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Cycling Highlights 2014

I spend more of my time and energy looking ahead, not back. Cycling plans for 2015 are already shaping up nicely with tickets booked for two Cycle Shows and also TWO cycle tours! Happy days ahead. 

But while dreaming of next year's rides during these dark, cold winter hours, I am also indulging in reflections on the past year -- the rides, the bikes, the weather, the scenery, the people and even some philosophical musings on how cycling as an activity, a process and a lifestyle has changed how I see myself. More on the latter later!

In the meantime, my year awheel featured -- 

Thuds, Floods and Mud!

Serious bike portage required! Story here.

Followed by trail clearance (same story same link)

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Dance Like Nobody's Watching*

Have you ever been "caught out" going about your business, having no idea that anybody's watching? 

Adam caused a bit of a buzz this week -- amongst our friends at least. He was planning a route from St Pancras to my office, as he was meeting me after work to go see Once the Musical (great fun, by the way, but not a patch on the film), and found that a Google StreetView car had captured me on part of my commute. (This is not a route he normally would take so it was serendipitous that he was looking at Bayley Street at all.)

He posted a link to Google on Facebook. In response to all the mock-surprise comments from friends - yes, some cyclists do stop at red lights! And yes, some do indicate before turning! (I sometimes even do it when there's no one behind me!) 

Here are my 10 seconds of "Fame", doing nothing more extraordinary than crossing Tottenham Court Road from Bayley Street into Percy Street at about 9am on an ordinary work day in July 2014. 

Saturday, 20 December 2014

A Mountain and A Ferry to Paradise (#ScotTour Day 8)

Today was sad: our last day on Skye and so it felt the "beginning of the end" of our cycling holiday. However, today's itinerary would see us cover nearly the full length of the Misty Isle and see a corner of it that's well off the beaten track. Lots still to look forward to, then!

We were really fortunate with our B&B in Portree, where the landlady was very happy to let us keep our bicycles looked in the rear 'service' yard, out of sight from the street (behind the blue gate). Adam fixed that gate the day we arrived so we were in her "good books" right from the start! 

Last minute fettling before leaving Portree

Setting off from our B&B: starting with a steep bit!
Be careful not to go flying over that wall into the harbour below!

As on Day 5 of our tour when we visited the Talisker Distillery, we left Portree southbound on the A87. Although our bikes were fully loaded this time, again I found this hill not to be the hardship I had originally expected it to be.

A pause to look back towards Portree and the Trotternish Ridge
- the Old Man of Storr on the right

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Puch Princess Reborn: Sacrilege? Or Best Of Both Worlds?

This post comes with a health warning... and an apology. 
Some of you may be offended by what I've done with this vintage bicycle. 
For the offence, I am truly sorry. For what I have done... not so much. 

Because this time I listened to what the bicycle was telling me, what the bicycle wanted. True, I curated this build according to my preferences but at the end of the day, I had a 35 year old frame that wanted to go fast but couldn't due to the limitations of its build and/or its rider. 

The rider, I couldn't change any more than I can for any other bike (those grumpy knees!) but the build, I could. 

This is not a restoration but a rebirth as something else entirely.  

Sunday, 23 November 2014

In London Next Friday Night? Come to Sustrans' Long Distance Cycling Evening

Thinking about cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats, the Coast to Coast cycle route or something further afield in mainland Europe? Want to learn more or hear travellers tales from fellow long distance cyclists?

Sustrans is hosting another edition of its popular Long Distance Cycling Evening. This is an informal evening of discussion, hints and tips on all things cycle touring. Learn from experienced cyclists about planning, logistics and their adventures in the UK and further afield... on journeys lasting from a couple of days to a few weeks and even months. 

Speakers lined up for this week's event will talk about their experiences of cycling in the UK and across Brazil, Russia and Australia, and more. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Crankarms: The Long And The Short Of It

This post is about options for crankarms with lengths outside the "normal" range -- particularly those shorter than 170mm -- available in the UK.

Photo: Highpath Engineering

You may be wondering why this question even comes up. For many of you, crankarms in the most commonly available lengths (e.g. in the 170-175mm range) suit you just fine.

But -- if you: 
(a) are a woman and/or 
(b) are shorter than, say, 5'8" and/or
(c) have proportionately short femurs and/or 
(d) suffer from arthritis or other chronic conditions of the hips, knees or ankles...
then you may just find that slightly shorter cranks fit better, give you more power and efficiency and perhaps cause less pain. 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Review: FASTRIDER Trolley Pannier

I may have found my perfect commuting bag!

A few months ago (after several months of commuting with my two-bikes-plus-train solution), the thought occurred to me, "Wouldn't it be great if I could pull this pannier along through train stations (between bikes) instead of carrying it?"

I seriously began going through my (extensive!) collection of wheeled holdalls, business cases and suitcases, looking for a suitable candidate that could be reinforced and to which I could fit pannier hooks (Klick-fix for preference).

And then I spotted this on ebay: 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

#Coffeeneuring DNF: Down To The Wire

Photo: paulscho/flickr via

So today was the final day of the 2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge

I simply ran out of time to complete seven rides, squeezed between coursework deadlines, relatives coming to visit and a migraine ambush. 

Still, last year I only managed four rides, so I'm pretty pleased with six this year. If I hadn't missed the second weekend altogether and thus found myself playing catchup, I'm sure I could have finished. 

Meanwhile, I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing the photos posted up by other coffeeneurs on the Facebook page. There are some very talented photographers out there, pedalling, sipping and snapping. 

I hope the two other UK bloggers (The Pointless Project and Town Mouse) who I know were participating, have completed in style. 

How did you do? 

Same time next year, then? 

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