Tuesday, 20 December 2011

SEASONS GREETINGS.....

PROOF - FATHER CHRISTMAS IS A CYCLIST
Well if you needed proof here it is....Father Christmas IS a cyclist as this photograph taken in Bournemouth a few days ago proves.


Due to all the financial problems world wide it would appear that the 'man in red' has had to dispense with his reindeer and sleigh. The cost of feeding all those reindeer had proved to be too expensive and they just had to go. 


All the financial cutbacks have meant that he has had to find an alternative and far cheaper form of transport. After all,  the Prime Minister David Cameron has told us that "we are all in this together" and unfortunately this means Father Christmas too...
Going one better (or one less) than most of us,  Father Christmas has chosen a Uni-Cycle and in doing so is saving the cost of having to buy two tyres. Very cost effective I would say.....




Seasons Greetings to all visitors to this blog whether you are a regular or occasional visitor.


I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


I will be posting again in early January 2012

Friday, 16 December 2011

A TALE OF TWO .....CYCLISTS.

A couple of stories in the Bournemouth local press this week involved two very different cyclists....
One of the stories had the heading...'Left for Dead'. It concerned a cyclist found in the road following a hit and run incident.


The 40 year old experienced cyclist was cycling to work at around 05.30hrs one morning. He was wearing high-visibility clothing and a helmet and he had a number of lights to the front and rear of his machine when a car ploughed into him. 
The impact flipped him over the top of the car and apparently the cyclist landed on his back about 10 metres from the point of impact. The poor guy suffered two broken vertebrae...a broken bone in his hand and plenty of road rash. The car did not stop and just left the cyclist in the road. 


Luckily an off duty fireman saw the incident and went over to assist. He phoned for the emergency services. 
Later, the cyclist said..."There is no way that the driver would not have seen me...I was lit up like a Christmas tree and I'm not a small person. I did a double somersault over the top of the car and he just kept on going...I can remember riding the bike and then looking down and thinking it was going to hurt....I cracked my helmet and the bike is probably a write off". 


After four days in hospital he is now at home but has to spend the day lying very still and is on morphine slow release to ease the pain...apparently he is due to see a spinal specialist but it is not expected that he will have any permanent damage . He really was a very lucky guy not to have been killed. 
As for the driver of the car..well the police are still looking for him.


The next story concerns cycling on the pavement (sidewalk) which is one of my pet hates. 


Apparently the police have been out in the Boscombe area of Bournemouth  to remind cyclists that riding on the pavement and through the precinct is not allowed. 
This follows an incident involving a four year old girl which highlights the dangers that cyclists can pose when riding along the pavement and precinct areas. 


The young girl was left in agony after an irresponsible cyclist slammed into her when riding his bike in the dark on a pavement in Southbourne Grove. In the impact she suffered two breaks in her lower left leg. 
As for the cyclist....well after stopping briefly to get back on his bike he then rode off ....the police have made a public appeal and they have issued CCTV pictures of the man they want to speak to. In the CCTV images I've seen, the man is cycling along no handed....


What do these two stories highlight then ?  Well for me it shows that there can be some pretty nasty people driving cars as well as some pretty nasty people riding bikes.
I do hope that the hit and run motorist and the hit and run cyclist are both caught....it is a good thing that the majority of motorists and cyclists would not behave like these two...but it does the reputation of both groups of road users no good at all when people behave like this.


I trust that both the little girl and the cyclist that was hit by the car make a full and complete recovery and that their Christmas is not spoiled by these incidents. 


  

Sunday, 11 December 2011

A CAUTIONARY TALE.....

COUNTRY LANES
Here is a little tale that had me in fits of laughter when I first heard it.

A couple of weeks ago JD and I had planned on going for a fifty mile ride over the Purbeck hills on the Monday morning.
On the appointed day I woke up to really wet and gloomy conditions and it became obvious that the planned ride was probably going to be doomed.....

The phone rang early and it was JD , "What do you think" he said.  I told him that our best bet was to wait a couple of hours and see if there was any improvement.
Two hours later my phone rang again and JD said  "it's now even worse". And it was....

Since our earlier conversation the weather had deteriorated even further and we made the decision not to bother and I resigned myself to a session on the turbo.

Well....a few days later JD told me that a couple of hours after our second call he had got so frustrated having a day off work and not being able to get out for a decent ride, that he decided that he would brave the terrible weather and go out anyway.
He decided to use his touring bike because it has fenders and would help to minimize some of the muck that would obviously be thrown up off the road on such an awful day.
Now as he was setting out much later than he had originally intended getting out with me on the bike, he decided not to head to the Purbecks but to save time by using one of our summer loops north/west of where he lives. The route in question is mainly along country lanes.
FARMYARD
TRACTOR
These country lanes pass by lots of farms and one of the reasons we normally only use this loop during the summer months is because during the winter the lanes can become covered in mud and muck from the farm traffic....tractors to you and I.
Anyway because JD only had a few hours of daylight left he decided to throw caution to the wind and use our summer loop because it was closer to home.....

Oh dear!
Have you ever made a decision and afterwards wished you hadn't?
Well JD has!

Apparently about ten miles into the ride he realized that somehow he had taken a wrong turn and was lost.....not only that, he was soaking wet and also freezing cold.
JD was thinking to himself what a mistake it had been to decide to go out for a ride....after all he could have been nice and warm back at home...things couldn't really be any worse.....or so he thought.

So what happened next?

Still trying to find his way back on to the correct route he took a left turn just as a farmer in his tractor with muck spreader attached was pulling off his field with the muck spreader in full flow.
JD was covered  in....well....muck.
He really was covered from head to toe in slurry. Fenders didn't exactly help with this.
The thing to remember about the slurry that farmers spray over their fields, is that it is not only filthy, it also stinks and not only that it's also pretty sticky and it stuck to JD pretty much like super glue.

He did find his way home ......eventually..... and the first thing he did was to hose the bike and himself down with the garden hose. His wife wouldn't let him in the house until he had cleaned himself up and it took ages apparently to hose it all off.

So let that be a lesson to us all.....If you have a route that is designated a summer route then there is a reason we don't ride it in the winter.........  

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

MINE'S JUST A RIDE IN THE PARK......

Tommy Godwin
TOMMY GODWIN 1912-1975


I have just been reading about the late Tommy Godwin  1912 - 1975. 

He was born in Stoke-on-Trent, England and as a youngster in an effort to help support his family, he took a job as a delivery boy for a greengrocers and with the job came a very heavy iron delivery bike.......this was Tommy's introduction to cycling.

By all accounts Tommy used to ride this bike at breakneck speed on his delivery rounds. At the age of fourteen he hacked the basket off and used that bike to enter his first time trial and actually won the event with a time of 65 mins over 25 miles.

Some years later Tommy left his amateur status with Potteries CC and joined Rickmansworth Cycling Club as a professional.

Now, back in 1911 the weekly magazine -Cycling- began a competition for the greatest distance cycled in a single year. The first holder was Marcel Planes of France with a distance of 34,666 miles (55,790kms). The record has been established nine times. 

Tommy Godwin set out at 5am on the morning of 1st January 1939 to bring the record home. The record had been previously set by Ossie Nicholson of Australia in 1937 and stood at  62,657 miles (100,837kms).

Tommy was sponsored by the Raleigh Bicycle Company and Sturmey Archer. He was riding a Raleigh Ace bike that had a four speed Sturmey Archer hub gear. The bike weighed about 30lbs.

Throughout 1939 for the most part, Tommy would get up at 3am and cover over 200 miles (320kms) a day and he could spend over 18 hours in the saddle. After the first two months his mileage lagged behind Nicholson's schedule by over 922 miles, so Tommy had to increase his daily mileage to claw back the deficit and edge ahead. 
He managed to gain the record with over two months spare and carried on. His total mileage for the year was 75,065 miles. He also continued riding right through until May 1940 when, after 500 days he also secured the 100,000 miles record as well. 

Tommy Godwin dismounted and spent weeks learning how to walk again before setting off to war with the RAF. 
He died at the age of sixty three returning from a ride with friends. 

The record is still open for challenge but not for entry in the Guinness Book of Records, whose editors say further attempts would be too dangerous.

I really love distance cycling, but Tommy Godwins achievements make my annual mileage look like a ride in the park by comparison...............

Friday, 2 December 2011

EURO VELO ROUTE 6


Eurovelo 6
EURO VELO ROUTE 6 
I mentioned in a recent posting that I have had the maps out looking for another route to use for a cycle tour during 2012. 
One of the routes that I rather like the look of is the Euro Velo Route6. 
There are currently 14 Euro Velo routes totalling in excess of 66,000kms of which about 45,000kms is already in place. 

When JD & I were cycling back from Gibraltar on our ROCK2UK RIDE we followed Velo Route1 up the Atlantic coast. I actually posted some images on this blog showing the wonderful traffic free cycle paths that we encountered on that route.

Velo Route 6 crosses 10 countries. It starts (or finishes) at St Nazaire on the Atlantic coast of France and goes through Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria into Romania and ends at Constanta on the Black Sea. 

This is a route that passes through some fantastic countryside - it even traverses the Jura foothills of the Alps without any appreciable climbing - one of the benefits of using a route that follows rivers -and that is just what the Velo Route 6 does- it follows the course of Europe's largest rivers, the Loire, Rhine and the Danube. 
The total length of the entire route is 3,653kms or in English, 2,270 miles. 

Now I am not planning on riding the entire route, as time and logistics play a part in my plan's as always. I am looking at various options depending whether I end up doing this trip on my own or with another rider. 

If I was riding alone with no time restraints I think that I would do the section from  Nantes at the mouth of the Loire and follow the river to it's source near Basel in Switzerland. 
About 70% of this route is on dedicated traffic free cycle paths similar to those I rode on the Southern Atlantic coast sections of Velo Route1. 

The remainder of the route is on quiet country lanes. 95% of the surfaces are super smooth asphalt- so well within the capabilities of a standard road or touring bike. 
After arriving at Basel I would create a loop back on a different route to my original ferry port, this would give a total distance of about 1800 miles. 

If I decided to ride with someone else the chances are they would have time restrictions due to work -  something I no longer have to worry about. 

In these circumstances I would consider a much shorter route, probably the section from Nantes and then eastwards along the Loire to Orleans  with a loop back to a ferry port such as Cherbourg or St Malo from there. 

This would create a much shorter circular route of about 700/800 miles. Anyway these are all only thoughts at the moment and I have made no decisions and haven't spoken to anyone else about the route possibilities yet..........Just thinking out loud !........Well thinking on this blog anyway!

Monday, 28 November 2011

ACCESSORY & COMPONENT REVIEW

BROOKS SADDLE - BAG & BAR TAPE IN HONEY
 I thought that as we are approaching the month of December I would just look back over some of the accessory and component changes that I have made over this past year and update you on my current feelings now that some considerable miles have been completed.


I will start with the Tifosi Audax/Training Bike because that is the bike that I ride most often. 
I purchased this bike about twenty months ago and the only parts that are original are the frame, stem, bars & seatpost - oh, and the fenders. Everything else has been replaced to either improve it's looks or performance or a mix of both.
The Brooks Swift Saddle with the Bag and Bar Tape, all in a gorgeous honey colour was a good buy.
The saddle has taken a bit longer to break in than the Team Professional that I fitted to the Revolution Tourer, but it is getting there. 
The Bar Tape was easy to fit and went on nice and tight and I really love the way that it is already getting a wonderful used looking patina.If you want a bar tape to fit and forget for thousands of miles this is it. 
As for the Saddle Bag...well that just seems to complete the classic look. 
I really love these Brooks items...I love the way that they look and I love the way that they seem to improve with age both in feel and appearance. A good purchase and I will give it 10/10.
PRO-LITE BRACCIANO WHEELSET
The Pro-Lite Bracciano wheelset has now completed a good few thousand miles. 
These wheels are very stiff with high tension & tight laced spokes. 
I bought these because of all the fantastic reviews that I had read about them in the cycling press. 


These wheels made an immediate improvement to the bike....acceleration improved as did the bikes hill climbing ability.
Descents feel safe and predictable with no nasty surprises through fast bends. 
These wheels have proved to have been every thing that I could have wished for in a wheel upgrade. 
Another great purchase and another 10/10. 


I also fitted a Shimano 105 Groupset on the Tifosi a few weeks ago......still a bit early to make a full review, but the gear changes do seem to be much sharper than the Sora group that was originally fitted to the bike and I must admit to preferring the cosmetic appearance of the 105.
FIZIK DUO BAR TAPE
 Now I will look at the changes made to the Revolution Tourer. 
Like the Tifosi, only the frame, stem, bars, seatpost and fenders remain as original. Everything else has been changed with a top of the range touring groupset having been fitted about 21 months ago. 
This years alterations have been a lot less major but significant never the less. 
The Fizik Duo Bar Tape that I fitted before riding back from Gibraltar has now covered about 2,000 miles. 
It feels nice and thickly padded on the bars which is a pleasure to use on a multi day tour. 
It is starting to show signs of wear on the tops now, but all things considered I would say that it is a good bar tape with a comfortable feel to it and a super colourful appearance 7/10 for the tape then. 


The Ortlieb Front Roller panniers and the Blackburn Custom Low Rider front racks have now been used on two extended cycling tours in France and they match together perfectly. 
As far as the Ortliebs are concerned I would certainly say that these are about the very best panniers that you can buy. My advice to anyone in the market for panniers is 'Buy Ortlieb'. 10/10 for these then. 


The Blackburn racks have also performed well... only one moan about these is (the same as  everyone I know that has purchased these has noticed) a slight twist on the right hand side rack....this seems to occur during the manufacturing process but doesn't cause any problems in use other than the 'I know it's there' factor. 8/10 for the racks.
UNIROSS MINI TURBINE
Remember the UniRoss HY mini Windcharger that I had such high hopes for? 


I have now used this over about three thousand miles. 
It does produce power, but just like the massive wind turbines that have sprouted up in lots of our once beautiful wild places -  not enough....! 
You need to cover a lot of miles at some speed to generate enough power with this to make it worth while. 
I found that I could generate more power with the solar panels that I use....This doesn't mean to say that I won't use the UniRoss Windcharger but I would say that it is really only suitable as a backup to other forms of power generation.....A pity..because I really liked the idea of this little turbine. 
I will continue to use it, but as a support/safety backup only. Only 4/10 for this!
PANNIERS...RACKS & THE RSP RACKLIGHT
Then we had the RSP Racklight that my mate Peter Calcutt had told me about. 
What a little winner that has proved to be. 
This is a Very...Very..bright light. It has been proved to be water proof during very heavy rain in France and this little baby only cost £12.95. 
An absolute 10/10 for the RSP. 
I would recommend this with no hesitation at all....if you want a rear light that fits to your rear rack...a light that you don't have to remove whenever you leave your bike locked up to those railings, because it is bolted to the bike.....buy this NOW..!!


Last but not least we come to my FELT Z1 sportive bike. 
Being a high end top of the range machine, this bike has not needed any upgrades at all....indeed there is nowhere you can upgrade it to apart from the Di2 Electronic Gears....but if you are a regular reader of this blog you will know only too well my views on electronic shifting. 


No...the only item that has been changed is the saddle. 
The bike was supplied with a Felt branded saddle....but after a few months it became obvious that my rear end and the Felt own brand perch were going to have to part company. 


I changed it for a Fizik Arione and I found this to be fantastic...a good mix of comfort and long distance support....ideal for the Sportive style of events that I use this bike on. 
However, after my radiotherapy treatment, for some reason this saddle just didn't seem to be comfortable any more. 


I really did persevere with it but it seems that the treatment had affected both the skin and the shape of my rear (this being part of the area that the treatment was aimed at). In the end I had to admit defeat so I sold the Arione on Ebay and obtained a Fizik Aliante Gamma. 
This has proved to be the right decision. 
The treatment had obviously changed me from a 'Snake' to a 'Bull' (check out the Fizik site if you don't understand what I am referring to here). 
The Aliante has been really comfortable on all rides of all distances and it also matches the bike better than the Arione as it is finished in Black & White. 


I would have given the Arione a 10/10 before my treatment but only a 4/10 afterwards. This was the fault of me though and not the saddle. 
The Aliante gets a 10/10 also and has remained so all year. 


So there you have it...a look back on the items bought for my bikes this year. 


I don't think that I will be buying much for the bikes next year as each bike is now perfect for the use I put them to. 
The Tifosi and the Revolution have had major changes in the time that I have had them...not that anything was actually wrong with them in the first place...but the changes have just made these bikes more my own....the Felt was virtually there from day one....


Perhaps next year I will spend the money on more events and tours instead, now that my bikes are spot on for me.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

TIME TO DREAM.......AND PLAN.

A QUIET ROAD IN FRANCE
This time of year for me is very much a time to dream and plan. 
That is dream of the open road on the bike and plan next years touring rides. 
It is only just over eight weeks since I returned from my Rock2UK ride and I am missing the daily routine of being out on the open and quiet roads of France and Spain. 
I do get out on my bike on most day's of the week, but our roads are considerably  more crowded than those that JD and I encountered on our trip back from Gibraltar. 
Just look at the photo above. It was taken in France on a weekday at about midday...not a lot of traffic to be seen  is there. 
When I get back from my daily ride I get the maps out and checkout various routes on the internet. At the moment I have got about six routes on my shortlist but making that final decision is not proving easy. 
First there is the length of a touring ride...it is always nice to ride with companions, but the people I usually ride with still have to go to work so the length of a trip that they can do is dictated to them by their jobs. On top of that any trip has to fit in between other cycling events that I am hoping to do next year....things such as Club rides-Audax and Sportives.
I'm thinking that if I decide to do another ride of about 1500+ miles I might have to ride it solo, but as I have said no final decision has been made yet. 
STEEP HILL IN FRANCE
As soon as I have decided on next years plans I will post it on this blog....I like to have all my plans laid down by the start of the New Year so I need to start making my mind up. 
So many routes to ride and not enough time (or money) to do them all.
The second photo here shows one of the many water towers we saw in France. Although it is difficult to see in the picture, that small road up towards the tower was really steep.....something in the order of 18% was shown on the garmin....always a bit of a challenge on a fully loaded touring bike but I am missing it..!!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

CATCHING THE FERRY AGAIN.......

OUT ON THE FERRY AGAIN.........
This week we have been having a run of quite mild and mainly dry weather. This has enabled me to catch the ferry every day for a ride in the Purbecks. So far I have completed 180+ miles and if I can get at least one other ride in before the end of the week it will mean that I will be able to complete a reasonable total mileage for this third week of November. 


The bike (Tifosi) has been running really well and after fitting the 105 groupset a couple of weeks ago it has not needed any further adjustments at all. The new gold chain has attracted the interest of a number of other riders, but then that is what good bike bling is all about.


As well as the bike running well ..apparently I am running well too. 
At this time of year I have a number of medical tests. I have just had my six monthly cancer checkout at the hospital and I was told that the cancer has not returned, so I should be OK until the next check in May next year. In a couple of weeks time I will be having an annual scan to measure an aorta aneurysm and assuming that has not got any larger I can just concentrate on continuing to improve my fitness.


I am currently achieving the fastest times over the Purbecks training loop that I have ever done and I feel a lot stronger on the steepest of gradients. I can only put this down to my overall mileage for the year so far.  If I can maintain a consistent weekly mileage over most of the winter period I am hoping that I will be at a good solid level of fitness for the Spring Sportives.


Currently nearly all my riding is being done solo, although I do meet up with various other riders out on the loop. Most of the guys I meet up with tend to be retired the same as myself....I suppose that we are the only ones who have the free time to go out on the bike whenever the weather changes for the better.
If  the weather looks good tomorrow  I will be catching the ferry again..........

Sunday, 13 November 2011

EVERYTHING IS IMPROVED OVER TIME..

TIME FOR AN IMPROVEMENT?
Everything is improved over time....well most things anyway and I suppose that it is only to be expected. Over my lifetime the improvements that we have seen in all manner of things has been staggering to say the least.
Look at the motor trade and just see the advances made with the automobile.The aircraft industry is another area in which we have seen fantastic steps forward.


Like a lot of people I have a number of interests....one of these is photography and again in that area there have been many changes both to systems technique and style.


Now I have no argument with valid improvements, but over the years the frequency of the so called improvements seems to happen at a faster and faster rate. I can remember, say back in the early seventies when I could buy a camera and the model would not be 'updated' for about five plus years. Indeed one model of camera ran for thirteen years before it needed an update.
 When the 'improved' model was introduced it actually had some real improvements that made a positive impact on the ease of use and quality of the photographs that I could produce.


One of my current cameras was only purchased about eighteen months ago and despite having all sorts of accolades lauded on it when it was first released - they are now on model 3. 
Another of my cameras is on model 5 in just over two years. 
Often the improvements are something questionable such as 'touchscreen control'.  I say questionable because I really do dislike touchscreen control, as despite the manufacturers telling me it is quick and easy to use I personally find that it is none of these things. 
I must say that I find the Electronics Industry is one of the worst for the speedy introduction of spurious or at least questionable so called improvements. 


Well, could this now start to happen in the cycle industry? 
One of the 'big' things to happen in the recent past was the introduction of electronic shifting to the enthusiast market place. The Shimano Di2 (the electronic version of DuraAce) and then at a slightly more affordable price we got the Shimano Ultegra Di2 system.
More recently we have seen Campagnolo introduce a Super Record electronic groupset. 


Most people I speak to still seem to be quite sceptical when it comes to electronic shifting ....they are unsure of the value of electronic gear shifting in an activity which after all, is all about personal fitness and physical ability. 
Apparently I can be fit enough to cycle back from Gibraltar (for instance) and strong enough to power my pedals up a 25% hill, but I am now led to believe that I need assistance to just click on a gear lever . Well I am sorry but I just don't buy it....and I won't ....not yet anyway. I will want to see these systems demonstrate more proven performance enhancing capabilities first. 


You do have to question all this when you still see many ProTour- level professional riders choosing to use the mechanical version of DuraAce over the Di2 version. 


Today I even read that a wireless brake system is now upon us. Apparently a University in Germany have come up with a system that replaces the brake cables with a radio signal sender and receiver. Would I want to ride without brake cables? I don't think so.


 And going back to the electronic gear shifting....will we be seeing model 1-2-3-4-etc? Well it is electronic so I think we probably will.  What do you think?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

MORE BIKE BLING............

THE LATEST BIKE BLING
A post or two ago I told you about my decision to upgrade the basic Sora groupset on my Tifosi audax/training bike. The plan was to replace the Sora with a 105 group. 


Well the moment that the 105 was fitted I just could not help myself. I looked at the bike and thought to myself  "what does it need now to finish the job properly?"


It came to me in a flash - A GOLD CHAIN- well not real gold of course but definitely a nice gold colour. My thinking was that it would blend in nicely with the Brooks honey coloured saddle and bar tape.
Just listen to what it say's on the box the chain was supplied in.....


'The gold colour of this chain makes it the ultimate fashion product, it's high grade brass coating offers a reliable protection against corrosion'.


I mean how could I resist?  The ultimate fashion product...!!   I just had to have one.


I don't know when I will be able to try out my ultimate fashion product equipped bike...the weather has been fithy again, with heavy rain and strong winds. This really is not my favourite time of year.


At the start of the year I had hoped that I would be able to reach a total cycling mileage this year of  10,000 miles. With all this bad weather it is becoming more and more obvious to me that I am going to fail to reach this target. With the few weeks that we have left this year I estimate that I will miss my goal by about 500+ miles.........Oh well...there is always next year!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

CAMPING LUXURY.

TWO ITEMS OF CAMPING LUXURY
 It's odd how in certain circumstances some things seem to adopt an increased value.
Water in a desert could be an extreme example , another is the humble chair when you are camping.

During our recent ride back from Gibraltar, chairs became a vital part of camping luxury.
Whenever we arrived at a new campsite JD and I would cruise around the site on our bikes looking for something to sit on.
A log- or something similar would be the very basic requirement - a patio chair would be luxury and a picnic table and chairs.....well that was camping nirvana.

It's funny  how important something to sit on actually became - it made such a difference to us if we found a proper chair to use. If we saw some chairs that we could 'borrow' from outside an unoccupied caravan for instance, we knew that our comfort levels would be vastly improved  for our stay at the site.

Luxury was sitting on a chair with a table to have our evening meal and breakfast on.....we could sit on a chair at a patio or picnic table drinking wine and chatting all evening......so much more comfortable than sitting on the ground.

I have been camping all my life and manage perfectly well sitting on the ground...but...what a huge difference a chair makes.
I have included with this post some photographs of just some of the various 'sitting implements' that we managed to find during our journey.
PATIO TABLE AND CHAIRS

PICNIC TABLE AND BENCHES

ANOTHER PICNIC TABLE

PATIO TABLE AND CHAIRS BORROWED FROM AN UNOCCUPIED CARAVAN

JD ON ANOTHER PICNIC TABLE

JD's BIKE WITH CHAIR
JD actually tried to fit a patio chair on his bike at one site.....he told me that he couldn't bear the thought of not finding a seat at the next nights campsite. I never did establish if he was joking or not..!!
The plan fell apart when during testing, the chair kept dopping off the bike.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

THE TIFOSI GETS ANOTHER UPGRADE.........

SHIMANO 105 GROUPSET
This past week the postman has called a number of times at 'Purple Towers' with packages to be signed for.
Yes- I have been spending time on the dreaded internet buying more bicycle confection from an ebay shop.

This time my purchases amount to a Shimano 105 Groupset (minus brakes and shifters) for the Tifosi.

Now when I bought this bike about eighteen months ago I arranged for it to be fitted with the fairly basic
Sora groupset- (apart from the Miche brakes).
My thinking behind this was that as I would be using the bike as a winter trainer, the basic kit would suffice. On top of this ...the bike had received lots of very favourable reviews with both Shimano Sora or Campagnolo Veloce kit fitted, so it appeared that it would be a good bike to purchase with that level of kit for the purpose I intended to use the bike for.

From the moment I first rode this bike I loved it.....I loved the way it looked and I also loved the way it felt to ride.The frame feels fantastic considering that it is fashioned from now out of vogue aluminium. OK- I will be the first to admit that it does not feel as plush on the road as my Felt....but hey....this Tifosi cost an eighth of the price of the Felt and on that basis alone it actually represents better value for money.

Those readers that subject themselves to the pain of reading this blog on a regular basis, will be aware that the first upgrade I gave the bike was a new set of wheels... The Pro-Lite Bracianno wheelset I fitted have proved to be a good decision making a tremendous improvement to climbing..descending and acceleration.
I then changed the saddle and bar tape, fitting a Brooks Swift in honey colour with the tape to match. I felt that this really emphasized the modern retro paint job the bike was finished in....

Throughout this past year the bike has proved to be my ride of choice...every time I ride it I love it even more and it has received lots of nice comments from fellow riders wherever I have ridden it.

The Sora kit has been fine...it has behaved faultlessly over the thousands of miles that I have ridden the bike...however compared to the Dura Ace gruppo that the Felt is fitted with I suppose it can be a bit 'clunky'.....certainly not in the super silky feel category that the DA has.
Obviously no one would expect these two groupsets to perform as equals as there is a HUGE difference in cost. At one level you could well ask why anyone would want or need anything more than Sora.......indeed on the value for money stakes it beats the DA hands down.

However.............
Having completed many many miles on the bike I just felt that maybe a replacement of a number of drivetrain items might be called for soon.....and.....if I am going to make a number of replacements I thought that I might as well go one stage further and bridge the gap between the Sora and the Dura Ace. Hence the decision to go with the popular mid range 105.

Now I don't expect to notice any mind blowing improvements.....but what the upgrade will do is just add the finishing touch to what has turned out to be a great bike.
The frame has proved to be worth the upgrades......it really is that good..!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

THE ONION SELLER

ONION JOHNNY
 This is a sight that you don't see too often these days. This Guy with his bike and onions is a French Onion Seller commonly called an 'Onion Johnny'.
This picture was taken last weekend at the Wimborne Food Festival.
When I was a youngster we used to see these guys quite often along the south coast. Onion Johnny is the nickname given to Breton farmers and agricultural labourers who used to visit the UK selling their distinctive pink onions door to door.
As I said, they were once very common but their numbers declined from the 1950s. By 1973 the number of Onion Johnnies had to dropped to 160 people and by the end of the twentieth century the number of regular sellers had dropped still further to around 20. Apparently the numbers of these guys has started to increase again.
They used to travel out of Roscoff in North Western France and right up to the present day a 2 day onion festival (Fete de l'Oignon) is held every summer in the town. They even have a museum in Roscoff dedicated to the onion..!
I am given to understand that each bundle of onions would weigh approx 3.5kilos and a Johnny would carry about 20 strings on his bike...
It was a real 'blast from the past' for me to see this guy.


MORE PICTURES FROM ROCK2UK
BEACH NEAR BIARRITZ

ANOTHER SHOT NEAR BIARRITZ


GREAT SUNSHINE...GREAT CYCLE PATHS 
When we were in Southern France we still had brilliant sunshine but it was a bit cooler than Spain. The route we chose followed the coast along fantastic purpose built cycle paths. In my opinion riding on these paths so close to the coast was the best cycling of the whole trip....It was idyllic with fantastic coastal scenery and no concerns regarding traffic. Every so often we would come across a little cafe or bar where we could stop for a drink and a bite to eat and take time to just sit and look....I loved it and would recommend this area for both a cycling and beach holiday.
There were pine trees everywhere and the smell of these just hung in the air constantly........
GREAT CYCLE PATHS

BIKE SHOP ACROSS THE ROAD
 There is never a problem finding a bike shop in France...Even in the South of France we found bike shops.
John went across the road to the bike shop that you can see in this photo while I stayed at the cafe this side of the road drinking a nice coffee with a large slice of cake. John actually bought a couple of very nice blue water bottles from this shop. This was because I had been pulling his leg about the bottles he was using because they didn't match his bike(or anything else come to that). In the end John decided that I WAS right and he needed to get a couple of new ones that matched his bike........
MORE CYCLE PATH

VIEW THROUGH THE PINE TREES TO THE BEACH

MORE PINE TREES...MORE CYCLE PATH...

GREAT CYCLING....CYCLE PATH & PINE TREES...WONDERFUL.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

OH DEAR....THE INFECTION IS SPREADING..!

MY SON-IN-LAW WITH RECENT PURCHASE
 Oh dear....Oh dear....It looks like I am in some serious trouble with my daughter. It seems that I am blamed for infecting her husband Scott with a serious dose of  'Road Bikeitus'. Yes....after years of riding a mountain bike, since I have got back from my ROCK2UK ride Scott has been going down with this very serious malaise and it is all my fault apparently..!!

My road bike enthusiasm has rubbed off on him...for weeks now he has been desperate to experience the thrill of flying down a 20% at nigh on 50 mph (I didn't tell him about the agony of grinding up it in the first place) and whipping around hairpins at almost take off speed.
He couldn't live any longer without some drops in his hands and the 'tinkle' of a well tuned derailleur as he rides around the Dorset countryside. Then there is the fun of placing his rear end on a saddle so narrow it looks as if it will cut you in half.
He has been talking about Sportives and other events....even challenging me to do a 24hr London to Paris event with him.

Yes, he has a very bad case of 'Road Bikeitus' one of the worst I have seen at this early stage....

Thankfully my daughter Verity put a nice low limit on the amount he was allowed to spend on the first road bike (just in case he decided when he had tried it, that it wasn't for him). Anyway for the last few weeks he has been logged in to the dreaded ebay almost 24/7 searching for a cheapo bike that he could start of with...

Two days ago he managed to get one. Ebay did it again..!!

Yesterday I went over to their home to view the bike. Now I must admit I really wasn't expecting much at all. Lets face it we all know how much a decent bike can cost.

Well I am pleased to report that I was pleasantly surprised. The bike is a Carrera TDF  which is an own brand bike of Halfords. Now this bike was not expensive in bike terms when new and Scott managed to get it for quite silly money. It is in pretty good condition for a secondhand bike and seems ideal to start off with. I reckon one of two things will happen and both involve him selling the bike.

1) He will decide the thrill of road riding is not for him and he sells the bike.
or
2) He decides he loves road riding and wants to upgrade and he sells the bike.
I will keep you all posted whichever way it goes.....

After the hour spent viewing and playing with the bike we all set off for Wimborne Town where a Food Festival was taking place.
We saw lots of the sorts of food I love but have to try to avoid in order to maintain a reasonable weight.
I took a few pictures at the festival to share with you....It really was a very well attended event and the main square was absolutely heaving with people..
IDEAL CAKES FOR THAT TEA OR COFFEE SHOP STOP WHEN ON THE BIKE

YOU COULD ALWAYS CHEW ON A TOFFEE WHEN DESCENDING AT SPEED

MORE OF THOSE LOVELY CUP CAKES

WHAT ABOUT A SUPERSIZE STICKY BUN..?

THEY EVEN HAD SOME HEALTHIER OPTIONS...

VEGETABLES INCLUDED.....

GREAT CHOICE OF BEERS......IF YOU DARE..!

COULD BE ALL 'BULLSHIT' OF COURSE

MY DAUGHTER SAID THIS ONE WOULD SUIT ME BEST.........!!

VIEW OF THE PACKED TOWN CENTRE

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

TIME FOR A CHANGE......

BACK OUT AGAIN - TIFOSI WINTER TRAINING BIKE
 The weather is certainly on the change now. The Indian summer that we experienced just over a week ago is now well and truly gone. Instead we now have colder mornings and nights and the leaves are falling everywhere helped along by the brisk winds that we have had.

After I got back from the ROCK2UK ride I was getting out on the Felt Z1 for my daily rides but I was finding that although the weather was dry I was coming across a lot of water on the roads and lanes in the Purbeck hills where it was draining off the fields. The Felt doesn't have room for fenders so I was ending up with the inevitable muddy streak down my back and also the bike would require a good clean after every ride. Time for a change I thought, so now I am back out on the Tifosi winter trainer/audax bike with it's fitted fenders. So much nicer getting home without a filthy bike and filthy kit.

Nowadays fenders are not seen as a 'cool' thing to have on a bike but I think that fenders are great........they help to keep the bike clean and also stop all the muck being thrown up all over me. Thermoplastic fenders from manufacturers such as SKS are very light and they really don't make any real difference to my speed.
Over a fifty mile training route last week my average speed was only 1mph average slower on the Tifosi compared to the same route the day before on the Felt. The Tifosi weighs 7lbs more than the Felt so I think that probably accounts for the 1mph.
I suppose what it all boils down to is that I would rather be clean than cool...!!!


MORE PHOTOS FROM OUR ROCK2UK RIDE.......
THE LAST VILLAGE ON THE SPANISH SIDE OF THE PYRENEES

ANOTHER PHOTO IN THE VILLAGE

ROUTE TAKES US HIGHER

ROAD CONTINUES  UPWARDS

WE SAW SOME GREAT VIEWS

LONE FEMALE CYCLIST
 We saw a number of other cyclists on the day we went over the Pyrenees....most of them were riding in small groups, but we did see this lone female cyclist as we approached the final pass of the day. She was making great time on her bike and didn't seem bothered at all cycling in the mountains on her own. There was no way that John and I would be able to keep up with her with are fully loaded tourers, not that we tried to keep up with her.

APPROACHING THE TOP

THE ROAD HEADING DOWN.....

A step closer to what is normal........

Over this past week our campsite has taken a step closer to what we think of as normality...  The sign that was put out at the entrance to ...