Friday, 22 February 2013

Cycling...It's both simple and complex

The Sunday Best...with  training tyres fitted.
It's wasn't until I had to step back from the bike for a bit, that I realized how much time I had spent putting in the miles over the past year....
I seem to have so much spare time at the moment that I have found myself doing all sorts of chores that I normally manage to avoid....

One job I never avoid is making sure that my bikes are clean and polished and are in both cosmetic and mechanical tip top condition..
This past week all three bikes have been subjected to a thorough check and full clean....I even put a set of  Conti Gatorskins on the Felt in anticipation of some decent spring weather over the next couple of months....

As I only use the Felt if the weather is dry and sunny I might end up waiting a while before I use it.....
I hope to use it for the Jurassic Beast Sportive on the 12th May if the weather looks good, but for that I will put the Vittoria Open Corsa CX  tyres back on.... 
I run Conti Gatorskins on the Tifosi all the time and over the past couple of years have completed what must be getting on for 18,000 miles on gatorskins and have found them great for everyday/training rides....but prefer the Corsa's on the Felt during a sportive. 

Being off the bikes has had me considering the different aspects of cycling that I like so much... It's very much a dichotomy....
On the one hand there is the simplicity of cycling....the enjoyment of the simple pleasure of spinning along the road propelled only by my own efforts....the simplicity of a bicycle in it's purest and most basic form...the simple fact that in a general way the bicycle has changed very little since it's invention.... 

Then...on the other hand....there is the complexity of cycling.....such as the different types of bike....the various materials they can be fashioned from. 
Then we have single speed...fixie....various gears....downtube shifters...bar end shifters...hub gears..STI's etc.. 
Looking at  handlebars you can get...classic drop bars...compact drop bars... ergonomic bars....shallow drop..short reach...flat top aero etc etc.. 

Yes once you start looking into it there is a greater complexity to it all than the simplicity there at first appears.... 
But I love it all..the simple...the complex it's all part of the cycling scene...

One of the things that I like, is how items such as the various makes of cycle clothing for instance, can help to create 'tribes' and 'sub cultures' within the cycling fraternity....riders will buy a make of clothing such as Castelli, Shutt, Rapha or Pearl Izumi and wear them almost as a badge of pride...a ticket to an inner sanctum of cycling ... 
It's the same with the manufacturer of the gears...Are you Shimano...Campagnolo..Sram...?  Pedals too.. Look...Time..Shimano...Speedplay.... which tribe do you belong to.....?  
...And when it comes to all the various bike brands..well that is just more tribal affinity.... 
Cycling really can be as simple or complex as you wish it to be....  

Cyclists themselves can be pretty complex and varied too.....some see a ride to work on their bike as a battle...a war against other forms of transport...
Some see every ride as a race... for others the bike is purely an urban means of transport...
Then we have those who see the bike as a good means of escape from their normal routine life, a way to go touring and camping and see places that might not normally be visited... for others it is a means by which they can challenge both themselves and their machine....
Bike brands...cycle styles...cycle clubs..even the helmet you wear..they can all be an opportunity to join a particular cycling tribe.....
Yes cyclists can really be as complex and varied as everything else that comes under the 'cycling' heading... 

I love it all...the simplicity, the complexity, the people and it's history...it really is far more than an interest........it can be so many different things to so many people..................

Regarding cycling as a means of challenging the cyclist and the machine.......
Have you got around to checking out my Ten Countries in Ten Days fundraising page yet?  
Just give it a click and take a look at my own 2013 cycling challenge.....Thanks....

Monday, 18 February 2013

Twitter Riders....

Arriving for coffee
 Not being able to ride my beloved bikes for a while has not stopped me wanting to get out and enjoy a bit of 'cycling culture'. 
Yesterday I managed to meet up with both Simon Chapman and Jon Joynes for a coffee in Wimborne.....They were in the middle of a Sunday 50 mile spin from Sixpenny Handley where Simon lives, stopping off at Wimborne for a coffee before completing the ride via Fordingbridge and Cranborne. 
Jon Joynes... 10in10 Team Member
All three of us have met up originally via the wonders of Twitter...In fact it was due to a comment that Jon made on my twitter page in the Autumn last year, that the idea of the Ten Countries in Ten Days ride came about....Jon and I met up...discussed the idea... and the rest is history as they say. 
Simon made a comment last week that his regular ride buddy didn't want to do more than about twenty miles but he really wanted to do a fifty plus...Jon made contact with him and the lads arranged to do Sunday's ride.... 
The Lads setting off on the return leg...
 Jon rides a Giant Defy 3 and Simon rides a Felt F95.... 
It was the first time that Jon had managed to get out on his bike for about two weeks....bad weather and a really bad cold managing to keep him off the bike for the past 14 days... 

Although he is a big guy..Simon is obviously a pretty fit and powerful rider and I gather that Jon really enjoyed his 50 miler even though he did slow a little during the final 10 to 15 miles.. On the return approach to Sixpenny Handley though, Jon did manage to rally his energies and attack the climb back up to the village....
Starting to wind up the tempo...
Both Simon and Jon have signed up for the Jurassic Beast Sportive has have I, in fact we could have a good little crowd meeting up at the start of the Beast...... 
I am really looking forward to getting out and riding with both these guy's throughout the coming months. 
Jon as a 10in10 team member will be riding with me on numerous group training rides as well as riding through the ten countries on route to Lake Como in June.....

The more observant of you can't fail to have noticed that I now have a Justgiving button installed on the right hand side of the blog.....
Please give it a click and take a look at our fundraising page for the TEAM 10in10... Ten Countries in Ten Days ride.....
All the information about our ride is there and also details about CYCLISTS FIGHTING CANCER which is the charity we are raising funds for.... 

I know times are hard  for most of us these days....however any amount no matter how small will help us to help children affected by cancer... The Guy's and I in the Team are paying all our own costs for this ride which includes ferry costs...accommodation and camping costs as well as fuel for the support vehicle and this amounts to quite a hefty amount as you can imagine.....

This is not a big professionally organized charity ride with the route planned by the organizers and minimum sponsorship required to help underwrite the costs...This is entirely our own ride and our own plans....... Every donation that is made goes direct to the charity....
Give that button a click  and please help us to help children whose lives have been affected by cancer.....

Thursday, 14 February 2013

I'm just giving the others a chance to catch up !

Bikes and Boats-Bournemouth Seafront
Although I have had to step back from the bike for a few weeks, it hasn't stopped me getting out and about.....I have had plenty of time to walk along the seafront here in Bournemouth as well as further along the coast....
Trying to maintain the fitness levels that I have acquired so far this year is of paramount importance so keeping active is vital....it would be so easy to fall into a sedentary lifestyle and wake up one morning and realize that I had become overweight and over the hill !! 

On the subject of hills....
One of the best ways to improve your cycling hill climbing ability is to lose weight and improve your power to weight ratio, so putting on weight is the thing I always try to avoid like the plague.... The problem is, that if you have to cut back for a while on a calorie burning exercise like cycling, you need to keep a close watch on the balance between the activity levels that you are managing to achieve and your calorie intake...(as well as the right quality of food)
I don't normally count calories as such...but I must admit that I am doing so currently.....

If nothing else, my time off the bike will give the other guy's in Team 10in10 a bit of a chance to catch me up on the power to weight front.....
JD is trying to lose weight...
Since we completed our ride back from Edinburgh last year, he seems to have put on a lot of weight...probably caused by all the official dinners he finds himself attending....

Hills always cause JD a problem...don't get me wrong, 99% of the time he gets to the top but loses a lot of time in doing so... He tells me that he would like to reduce his weight by about 42lbs before we get to the Alp's on our ten countries ride... so he really does have a big mountain to climb in more ways than one between now and then.

As for the other riders Jon and Lorenzo,  well they are working hard at improving their fitness levels with plenty of good solid base mileage.....
It will be interesting to see where each of the guy's are in respect of their individual fitness levels when we get out for our first proper ride together which I am hoping (fingers crossed) will be in early March.... 
At that time I also hope to get a proper team photo taken and I will also be doing an introduction to each team member on this blog with a brief resume' of each riders cycling history.....

Talking about the Team Photo..I have now set up our Team Fundraising Page and I have installed a button from this blog that will take you direct to our page....as soon as I have the team photo taken I will obviously add it to the team site..... 

Please click on the button and check out the page and read our 'Team Story'.
...clicking on the button does not commit you to a donation today, although I would hope that at some point between now and the ride, you would support our efforts with a 'splash of the cash'.... 

Cyclists Fighting Cancer is a fantastic charity doing really good work and one of the reasons for our 10in10 ride is to draw attention to the good work that they do.... 
I would just like to finish this post with my comment that is featured in our Team Story on the site....

"As a cancer survivor myself I am only too aware of the difficulties faced by a diagnosis of cancer....for a child affected by cancer it can be devastating" Trevor Woodford (Team Member)

Thursday, 7 February 2013

My Most Popular Post....Apparently!

Due to a bit of a medical blip I have been forced to ease right back on my training and general bike riding for the time being....
Just when things are buzzing along quite nicely something always seems to come along and try to knock you off course...It's almost as if it is actually trying to test your resolve and commitment to the task in hand.....

Unfortunately it has chosen the wrong person with me, because I look at it from the perspective of it just adding to the challenge.... 
I won't bore you with all the gloomy details here, but have no doubt that I do intend to be back on the bike again as soon as possible.... 

Because of not being on the bike I have been checking various things on the internet...
Everything from various routes for our Ten Countries in Ten Days Ride planned for June...
Some new routes that I would also like to ride in the future....
In one desperate moment looking for something to occupy my mind I decided to checkout the stats for the blog....not something that I can admit to doing all that often...but needs must when you have all the extra time in hand that not riding the bike seems to give you.... 

Anyway one thing that I found really interesting was concerning the post with the most page views.... 
Up to about ten days ago that particular award would have been given to a post that I wrote on the blog about fourteen months ago...
It was an item reviewing some of the new bike accessories and components etc that I had fitted to the bikes over the previous year and how well or otherwise those items had been doing...

You can see it HERE if you haven't read it before. 
Just as a matter of interest, my opinions regarding all the items in that review have not changed in anyway since I wrote that. 
For some reason that particular post had received more views than any other since I first started the blog...

But...we have a new kid on the block..
In the past ten days a piece that I wrote way back in 2009 has been receiving huge numbers of page views every day...so many in fact that it has shot straight past the previous leading post by a vast margin. 
It was an item about the trouble I was experiencing trying to replace a tent for cycle touring....

Take a look at it HERE . 
Now why this post has suddenly become a popular 'view' I have absolutely no idea...
Indeed since I wrote that piece Robert Saunders has sadly died... 
However what I will say is that the Hilleberg Nallo 3GT has been a really superb buy...
It has become my favourite tent of all time and although it is now even more expensive (RRP 900€) than it was back then I would still recommend this as a first class tent for Cycle Touring. 

Yes it's expensive....
Yes it is probably slightly too heavy for a solo rider (although hardly noticed on the bike)...
BUT it has a huge amount of room inside and you can even get your bike in the porch with no difficulties at all...
It is an all seasons tent and can easily accommodate two riders with no problem at all. 
I have noticed that a number of other Cycle Touring Bloggers have also put it at the top of their tent recommendation lists so this is obviously not just my opinion.... 

I can honestly say that if I was looking to buy a tent for cycle touring right now this is most definitely the tent that I would be buying. 
Interested? 
Then take a look at the HILLEBERG NALLO 3GT  

Oh! if someone could let me know about the wonders of google and why a fairly obscure blog post would suddenly receive all the interest that it has, then I will be pleased for you to explain it all to me, computer and internet illiterate as I am.

Cabin Fever .......

 Sorry for this week's posting being three days late but like the rest of the UK last weekend saw the arrival of storm Ciara and our in...