Sunday, 28 October 2012

My 10,000 Mile Review

My steed for most of the mileage was the Tifosi
 I thought that some of you might be interested in some basic facts and figures relating to my 10,000 miles of cycling so far this year....

First of all I need to point out that I don't participate in Audax rides, although it is possible I might well tackle some of the shorter distances in the future...I also don't race anymore but I do ride a few Sportives now and again if they particularly take my fancy. 

My main interests in cycling are in coming up with my own rides and challenges and then just doing them either on my own or with a few friends.....Sometimes this might be as a supported ride and on other occasions it could be as a full blown touring trip with a bike fully loaded with panniers and camping equipment....I enjoy riding long distances but I like to do it to an itinerary of my own making and not one that has been created by a commercial organization or charity.... This has been my way of doing things ever since I was a youngster and it would apply to my hiking and backpacking as well as my cycling.......Independence is what I enjoy.

This years riding has not included any events organised by others...just my own ideas for a ride. Apart that is, the Edinburgh to Porstmouth ride which I did in June which was something thought up by my cycling buddy JD....

So, first of all the bike. 
Well most of the mileage this year has been completed on the Tifosi. (Just under 2,000 miles was done spread between the Felt and my Tourer.) 
The Tifosi as purchased was not a pricey bike coming in at about £800. I bought it because I had read a number of good reports on the bike in various magazines and I was looking for a 'winter bike' as I did not want to use my Felt through the winter months. 
From the moment I first rode the Tifosi  I liked it and as I put on the miles during my first year of owning the bike I decided to make some changes to turn what was a good bike into a really good bike......Yes, I know that I could have just bought another bike for more money, but that misses the point, which is it's fun to do upgrades and changes to suit your own taste and style.

The wheels were changed to Pro-Lite Bracciano and shod with 25mm Conti Gatorskin tyres (rigid not folding)
The Shimano Sora group was changed for Shimano 105 this included a triple chainset 50/39/30 and a 12-25 cassette (some pretty big hills in these parts)
The chain fitted was a Wipperman Connex Gold. 
The Brake pads were upgraded to SwissStop (green compound)
Saddle was changed to a honey coloured Brooks Swift and the bar tape was also changed to Brooks leather to match.....

The finished bike has proved to be a great bike to ride and I love it's looks...and not just me either, a number of riders that I have met and chatted to during the year have remarked at how smart the bike looks....part of that of course is down to it's nod to the retro which seems to be 'in' at the moment, but is something I have always liked long before it became fashionable...

Lets look at some of the figures so far for the year.....

Two sets of tyres have been fitted...The first set lasted for 3800 miles. 
At about 1800 miles I switched the tyres from back to front/front to back...
The second set have only just been replaced..they too were switched back to front etc after 1850 miles of use. 
Punctures? ...well that is something I hate thinking about let alone dare stating it on the blog, but the whole distance has been covered with no punctures...not one. 
I must point out though, that after EVERY ride each tyre was examined very carefully and any shards of flint etc were carefully removed before they had a chance to work into the tyre too far. Also before EVERY ride the pressures were checked - I  used pressures of 100lbs at the front and 110lbs at the rear.

The wheels have been fine...No broken spokes and no work required on them, although I have had them checked twice just to ensure that all was OK....
Brake pads have been changed only once.

I  am only just on the third chain and I replaced the cassette at that time also... 
Again I would like to point out that I am meticulous in my care of the drivetrain. 
After EVERY ride I check the chain, cassette and chainring and also the derailleurs.. 
Some weeks I have cleaned and lubed the chain three times in my effort to keep everything running sweetly and ensuring that I get the maximum component life I possibly can. 
I would say that I have managed on average 3,600 miles out of the chains and double that from the cassette. Throughout, my lube of choice was 'Purple Extreme'.

So there we have it....the bike is running as nicely as ever and hopefully will continue to do so.....
The 10,000 miles equates to 670 hours in the saddle...Actually I've worked out that's just under 28 days.... Yes...the equal of cycling non-stop for 28 days. 

Put like that it does seem like an awful lot of pedal spinning........Next year a new challenge...!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Done it! 10,000 miles this year!

Looking East - Misty

Looking West - Misty
Well I've done it.....Reached my 10,000 mile target mileage for 2012..

This morning I knew that I had just 64 miles to do to achieve my goal...I was so pleased that it wasn't pouring down with rain as it seems to have done for so much of this year..However it was pretty misty as the two pictures above taken at the end of my road show....
Looking East or West it was the same, very misty with a sort of mizzle in the air... 

During most of the ride my mind was busy thinking about new challenges for next year.....I knew exactly which route to do today in order to capture the required mileage...it was a route that I've ridden many times this year.  
Four hours would be roughly how long the ride should take and I had started a bit earlier that I normally do, because once this was done a visit to the pub as a form of celebration was certainly on the cards.

It remained dull throughout the ride and then when I was just three miles from home the sky seemed to become a bit brighter...
No, the sun didn't break out but it certainly seemed a lot brighter than it had been when I had set out just over four hours earlier... and then after another mile I had done it!
No choirs bursting into song....no champagne reception....just the knowledge that I had done it.....done what I had set out to do at the beginning of the year....

Just two years ago I had only just finished treatment for cancer....since then I have cycled from Gibraltar back to the UK as well as various other long distance challenges..and now managed to complete 10,000 miles in 2012....No doping either!! 
I really am so happy to have done this....

I will not be pushing to reach 12,000 miles, but I will continue to get out most days on the bike but without the pressure to complete a set mileage. 
It will be interesting though to see where my mileage ends up.... 

And the future..? 
Well I do have various projects in the planning stages and with continued health and a bit of luck I hope to achieve those too...but more on those projects in another blog post...
Also in a later post I will give you some details on component wear ... punctures...and other points concerning this years mileage.....I'm glad it's done!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Wind Sand and Sea

Wind Sand and Sea
This past week the weather has been pretty variable for my rides..but as I mentioned in my last post it's been OK for my search for a minimum traffic northerly escape route out of the town. 

In the past, one of the routes I have chosen if I wanted to go north was to travel east....Yes I know it sounds stupid but the plan works....
What I have done is followed the promenade east for about seven miles almost to Hengisbury Head and then headed north from there...by taking this route you tend to avoid all the traffic that you would pick up in the Bournemouth area if you just headed north from my home at Alum Chine...

However there are a number of problems with this route...
One of those is that during the summer period you are not allowed to ride along the promenade between 10.00hrs & 18.00hrs. 
Of course I could always get up earlier and get the promenade part of the route completed before the magic hour of 10.00hrs...it is an option I suppose, but that would mean starting the ride tied to a timetable and as I would only use this route when setting off on a touring ride on which I am trying to escape from clocks and watches it is not ideal....

Another problem can be seen in the picture above....on many occasions the sand on the beach looks as if it is trying to take over the promenade....the wind blows it up off the beach and in places it can be six inches deep or more spread across the entire width. 
Now this would be no problem at all if I was riding a wide tyre mountain bike or better still a fat bike but on the narrow tyres that I ride on, hitting a ridge of this deep sand stops all forward motion in an instant. 

On top of that of course is the way that all that sand gets blown into the running gear on the bike. 
I used this route when doing a backpackers weekend last spring and when I got home I was staggered at how much sand had been blown into the chain, cassette and the chainset...
It took me ages to strip down and clean everything properly...

Now I know that on the right bike riding on sand and beach can be lots of fun- you only have to look at the blog http://coastkid.blogspot.co.uk/  to see that...but as I said my bikes are not built for it and I like to try and get maximum life out of my bike components any way......

The search for my minimum traffic northerly escape route will continue........

Friday, 19 October 2012

Looking Forward to the Ride....


I look forward to my rides....even after all the miles that I have ridden this year I don't get bored with getting on one of my bikes and going for a ride. 
It makes no difference whether it's a short 30 mile spin around the Purbeck hills or a more complete ride further afield taking in both the coast as well as some of the great routes we have further inland...

I am positive that if I had to drive around my favourite routes everyday instead of cycling them I would soon get fed up with the whole thing and yet that is effectively what so many people do each day as they drive to work. 
In my view one of the reasons for this is the way that when you are cycling you see everything from a different and more relaxed perspective.....Riding along you actually seem to become part of the  scenery that you are passing through and not just a person on a journey looking out at the scenery through a window......
There is also a real joy in searching out and discovering new areas and routes that you haven't tried before. 

This past week on a couple of my rides I have been trying to search out a new route north out of town.....If I just want to go for a ride I will normally just head west for the Studland ferry and then out to the Purbeck hills....
My route for that is the quickest way that I can escape from the town and traffic and out into the countryside...but whenever I wish to attend a Backpackers club weekend,  it normally seems to take place north of Bournemouth and that means about 8 miles of car saturated local roads to negotiate before I hit the country lanes.

This isn't so much a problem if I am just out on a ride,  but if I am on my touring bike loaded with panniers and kit for a camping trip, the vehicle jammed and often narrow roads around town don't make for a smooth and enjoyable ride, hence my search for alternative routes.

Cycling around the area has allowed me to connect with parts of the locality that I didn't even know existed. 
I have found buildings and places of real interest that if I had been in a car or even a bus I would never have found. 

I have still not found my perfect northerly escape route yet, but just riding my bike along routes not ridden before has made for a really enjoyable week of local exploration and I have still managed to ride my favourite Purbeck routes as well.....

Monday, 15 October 2012

First class stoppers...

Swissstop Green are first class stoppers
When I  bought the Tifosi I initially thought that the original brake pads fitted by the manufacturer were OK...that is until I tried them on a really fast descent. 
The brakes faded really badly and as I hurtled at speed towards a T-junction at the bottom of the hill I promised myself that if I eventually managed to stop and survive I would do something to improve the braking.  

I did manage to stop but only just and those brakes had done nothing at all to give me confidence in trusting  them again. 
Perhaps I had been spoiled by the great stopping ability that I get on the Felt with it's DuraAce set up but one thing that I knew for sure...the standard pads on the Tifosi had to go. 

Now of course it was always possible that the fault was with the Miche brakes themselves rather than the pads, but it seemed a sensible idea to start with the pads as they would be the cheapest way of making an improvement.. 
I spent a fair bit of time checking out the various pads that were available and the reviews that had been written about them. 
Two pads stood out from the rest because of the great reviews and their obvious popularity.. These were the Swissstop Green High Performance and the KoolStop Salmon and Black. 

The Swisstop were the more expensive of the two at about double the price of the KoolStop. 
They were appprox £48.00 for a full set for the bike (2x pairs) including the polished holders. Swisstop produce a number of different compounds for various applications including..... 
Black which is ideal for everyday use...
Yellow for carbon wheels..... 
and of course the Green High Performance which are the ones that I decided to purchase. 
These are described as a high performance all weather compound for aluminium wheels....the manufacturers describe them as having great braking power with smooth modulation. 

I must say that after fitting these to the bike the improvement to the braking was stunning...the braking power has improved no end with really smooth modulation and no fade on those steep and fast descents..just what I wanted. 

Since I purchased these I have done over 10,000 miles and have replaced the pads only once (although the second set will need replacing shortly)  ...the wear rate on these pads has proved to be pretty amazing. 
The second set were obviously purchased on their own without the pad holders as I now had those. Purchasing the pads without the holders works out at half the price (£24.00 2x pairs). 

I have been down that hill with the T-junction at the end on many occasions since that first plummet to the bottom with me having a death grip on the levers, but now I have every confidence in the stopping power of the brakes...

Based on my experience of these pads I can certainly recommend them and although the initial cost seems high, when you take into account the compound's superb wear rate and the peace of mind that they give I would say they are good value... 

As a point of interest - I purchased a set of the other pads- the KoolStop Salmon/Black- for my touring bike. 
These seem pretty good also and manage to pull up my fully loaded tourer very well - they are a vast improvement on the Tektro pads that were the original pads fitted. 

Comparing the two sets of pads I would say for the type of riding I do on the Tifosi I will continue to fit the Swisstop Green as I feel that they have the edge for fast riding.

Friday, 12 October 2012

There is not much more to say..



Well...there is not much more to say really...It's all been said!! 
This week twitter has been full of  the Lance Armstrong doping story...and the papers have been full of it too... We always knew that doping had cast a cloud over our sport but this week that cloud turned black....When you read the evidence that USADA has published the full extent of the cheating is quite astonishing.

How do I feel..?
As a cyclist....
I suppose I am not really surprised...this has been building up for some time, but I am staggered at LA's arrogance....I am staggered at the amount of money that he (and of course others) have made from cheating the sport,.the fans and the clean riders.....I am saddened by the whole affair..

As a cancer survivor....
I feel very badly let down...I believed in the LA myth...When I was fighting my own cancer the LA story gave me hope...it helped give me the strength to carry on with my own personal battle, after all if Lance could do it why not me. I am grateful for that, but still feel let down by the man.... 
I am also grateful for the LIVESTRONG Foundation and the good work it has done for cancer sufferers but I am concerned over the damage this black cloud will now do to that organization..

There was a time when I was proud to wear the Livestrong wrist band..I was glad of the association with LA.... 
Sadly that is no longer the case...... 

Monday, 8 October 2012

Early Hibernation

The Tifosi- The all year round bike.
Today I put the Felt into early hibernation.....
I don't normally pack it away for about another month, but with the bad weather we are currently having (and seem to have had all year) I have removed the wheels and zipped everything away in the bike and wheel bags that are reserved especially for it. 

I have mentioned on this blog before, how the Felt is my 'fine weather only' bike.  
This year I have only ridden about 1,000 miles on it mainly due to the wet weather that seems to have blighted most of the year. 
I have completed just under a further 1,000 miles on my touring bike and everything else has been ridden on the Tifosi.. 

The Tifosi really has proved to be a good all year round bike....
I use it for most of my training and social rides and this year it was also my bike of choice for the Edinburgh to Portsmouth ride that I rode with JD. 
Apart from the frame everything else on the bike has been changed to suit my own taste and preference and I get so much enjoyment from riding it.....

Although I describe it as an all year round bike I always feel that at this time of the year it really comes into it's own....even the honey coloured saddle and bar tape seems to blend in so well with the colour of the autumn leaves as I zip along the Dorset lanes......
Yes...Autumn is the Tifosi's time of year.

On the past couple of rides I have to admit to being just a little chilly on the bike so I have also sorted out some of my warmer cycling kit including winter style tights and long sleeved jerseys...
I have even dug out the skull cap that fits under my helmet to keep my head warm, although I must admit that it does need to be really very cold  before I can wear that for an entire ride. 

Now that I have packed the summer bike away and sorted the winter kit,  I wouldn't be surprised if we have a nice dry autumn spell in a week or two's time.!!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

My Mileage Target....

A five minute break at the golf course
As today's ride was sandwiched between the morning rain and the rain that was promised for later in the afternoon I had to make a decision....which bike to ride. 
Should I go for the Felt or the Tifosi which has the the added benefit of mudguards just in case I got caught in a heavy downpour. 
As it was I elected to ride the Felt and luck must have been on my side because I got away with it, no rain and no streaky line up my back. 

On the route I rode today, one of my favourite places to stop is at a golf course, just where a small stile takes a footpath across the links. 
I stood by the gap in the hedge chewing on an energy bar and watching a couple of golfers chipping in on the nearest green. 
As I did so it crossed my mind that I must be fairly close to the 9,000 mile mark for the year. 
I checked the Garmin, did a quick mental calculation and yes...I had just passed the 9k for the year so far. 

It was only a few months ago that I posted on this blog how I was getting a bit fed up with all the bad weather and the effect it was having on my silly attempt to reach 10,000 miles total for 2012. 
I told you how I was fed up with riding in the rain and was seriously considering if I should continue with the commitment, to what is after all only a number. 
Well I am really glad that I managed to stick with it. 
It's now just under three months to go till the end of the year and I now have less than one thousand miles to ride in order to achieve the magic 10k. 

When I was ill and undergoing radiotherapy treatment I made a list of things that I would like to do if I managed to get over the cancer....
A ride back from Gibraltar was one of the things on the list and I achieved that last year. 
I had hoped that I would have achieved the ten thousand miles in the same year but unfortunately I missed it by about six hundred and fifty miles. 
This year with a bit of luck I hope to tick this one off too. 

After the two golfers had tapped their little white balls down the hole I climbed back on my bike and continued with my ride. 
My brain was still in calculation mode because I couldn't help but keep thinking about the three months left and my average mileage so far this year. 
I kept calculating on the possibility of reaching an additional 2,000 miles making 12,000 miles by the year end...

Why am I like this?....Why can't I just be satisfied?...Why do I have to keep thinking of resetting the target?... I really was getting annoyed with myself....

I got back home, put the Felt away and had a shower. 
I made myself a cup of coffee and looked out of my window across to the Isle of Wight and as I did so the heavens opened...
The rain came down hard and I do mean hard!! 
As I looked at the rain I was reminded in no uncertain terms why 10,000 miles will be a perfectly good enough figure for my mileage target...........Who needs the extra 2,000 miles?....
In this rain I don't!

(NB:My mileage counter will be updated as usual at the weekend)

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 ...