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.....

Thursday, 13 October 2011

ROCK2UK continued.....rest day in.PAMPLONA

ANOTHER CYCLISTS RIG AT THE PAMPLONA CAMPSITE
 After hammering across Spain at some speed and in very hot weather we were glad to get to the campsite at Pamplona. This was to be our first rest day and we planned on being tourists for a day. We had planned on spending the day in Pamplona itself . Neither John or I had been there before and we were both keen to see the streets where they hold the Annual 'Bull Run'.
ART STATUE SHOWING THE BULL RUN
 In the centre of the pedestrianized area of the city we saw this sculpture of the bull run and I can tell you that it looked pretty scary to me......Why anyone would want to run through narrow streets with huge bulls chasing you I just cannot imagine. Having said that it is all part of a very colourful festival that takes place each year and obviously brings in a lot of visitors to Pamplona.
ANOTHER VIEW OF THE BULL RUN SCULPTURE

PAMPLONA  MAIN SQUARE

ANOTHER SHOT OF THE MAIN SQUARE

ONE OF THE STEETS OF THE BULL RUN
The streets down which the Bull Run takes place are pretty narrow and I could see very few places where you could 'hide' from a group of rampaging bulls......seems like madness to me.
We had a really good day in Pamplona visiting a number of places including the bull ring......back at the campsite we managed to complete most of our chores such as washing clothes and stocking up on food and other supplies. The campsite at Pamplona was the best one that we stayed at in Spain. It had a great swimming pool and also a bar and it even had grass on which we could pitch our tents. It really was a good place to stay before our next stage of the trip which would include a traverse of the western end of the Pyrenees.......to be continued....
PAMPLONA BULL RING

PAMPLONA TOWN HALL

ANOTHER NARROW PAMPLONA STREET

ONE OF THE MANY PAMPLONA FOUNTAINS

Sunday, 9 October 2011

ROCK2UK continued......

BOURNEMOUTH BEACH - 7 DAYS AGO
 The above picture shows Bournemouth beach only a week ago....amazing weather for early October. It couldn't last of course and the following day the temperature started to plummet back down to what is considered normal for this time of year.

Mind you....this good weather was nowhere near the kind of heat that we encountered on the Spanish section of our ROCK2UK trip. Once we had made the decision to get as much of Spain covered before Dave had to return home we had a new target to aim for.
We found the roads in Spain fantastic for cycling.....in the main very smooth and very little traffic as can be seen in some of the photos below.
From a distance all the villages appeared to be very similar and some of the views between various mountain ranges appeared vast with the road ahead disappearing into the horizon.....not the kind of views that we are used to in the UK.
WIND TURBINES AND SPANISH LANDSCAPE
We saw lots of wind turbines and also felt the wind that was certainly powerful enough to turn them at some speed. As you can see  in this image the landscape could become a bit boring after a while and the wind turbines did at least create a bit of interest.
WHITE PAINTED TOWNS AND VILLAGES
LONG STRAIGHT ROADS
 We saw lots of white painted villages and towns however from a distance they tended to all look alike. We also came across a good number of olive and orange groves.
In the photo above you can see one of the long straight roads that crossed the plains between mountain ranges.
ANOTHER LONG STRAIGHT ROAD
 Cycling in 40c on these roads needs a fair bit of determination.....mile after mile it all looks the same and you start to question how far you have actually travelled. When you have struggled all day in what seems like an open oven, you then have the wonderful luxury of a Spanish campsite as can be seen in the next photo......
SPANISH CAMPSITE PITCH
 As can be seen in the picture the pitch is more like a wild pitch than a campsite.....after a day of struggling in the heat this is the sort of pitch that we were greeted with.....the ground on this one was so hard that I couldn't get my tent pegs into the ground so in the end I just gave up and didn't bother with the tent.
WHO NEEDS A TENT?
After deciding not to bother with the tent this was my bed for the night....on the face of it not too bad. The only drawback was being bitten by huge ants that decided to crawl all over me during the night...and believe me those things really knew how to bite.
ANOTHER WHITE VILLAGE
.
JUST ANOTHER VIEW

SOLAR PANELS
As well as the wind turbines we saw vast areas of solar panels....hundreds and hundreds of the things. These seem a good idea in Spain because they certainly have plenty of sun to power the things.
TO BE CONTINUED..........

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 ...