- Bradley Wiggins' autobiography
- 3 x DHB thermal socks
- 1 x DHB base layer
- Altura undershorts
- Shimano PD-M520 SPD pedals
- Northface MTB winter gloves
Monday, 31 December 2012
Sunday, 30 December 2012
At the flooded bike shop sale where I picked up my commuter bike, I also managed to get my hands on some Shimano SPD shoes for a bargain £10. They'd been sat in my wardrobe until I got some pedals (as a gift for Christmas). I'd been looking forward to trying these out.
Fast forward to Boxing Day. This is traditionally a day where friends gather to eat, drink and be merry. This Boxing Day was no different.
The next day, 27th, I woke up after a late night. I felt OK, so decided to switch the pedals on my Scott SUB 35 to the SPDs and go for a spin - not too far. By the time I was ready it was 12:50 PM. I'd eaten two clementines and a banana, put another banana in my rear pocket and filled my bottle with isotonic Lucozade. And away I went.
I'm sure by now you're expecting a tale of how I forgot that my feet were clipped in and had some accident. Unfortunately for you, I didn't. I had one stumble but found the whole clipped in experience very good. The feeling and sound of clipping in was secure and reassuring, pedalling was assured.
I'd set off with a view to doing 15-20 miles, or just enough to cover the 10 miles in precipitation challenge in the 12 Days Of Cycling over on Google+.
After a quick stop to take a photo, I took a look at the map on display in the parking bay I'd stopped in. If I carried on a bit from where I originally intended to turn off, I'd be able to make my way to Durham city. This would be great as the day after (28th Dec) I'd arranged our traditional Festive Footy (11-a-side, muddy pitch, great fun). As it had been raining I thought a pitch inspection would be required. The route there took in disused bridleways and would be ideal with no traffic. I was looking forward to getting home, having some tomato soup with buttered bread and tea.
By the time I'd reached the top of Cornsay Colliery bank my legs felt empty. I ate my banana, the sweetest, most tastiest banana I'd ever eaten. I was wishing I'd brought more. On I went through Lanchester and then onto the bridleway to Durham. The pitch was OK; great, let's go home. By now it was getting dark and I'd covered about 27 miles. Soup was calling me.
My light went out. It hadn't been charged in a while. Rear lights were good, I was wearing my reflective jacket so I wasn't to worried. I was very tired. By the time I got to Spennymoor I called home to say I'd be half an hour or so. I carried on. Soup ever closer.
A section of road that is known locally as the "Mad Mile". It's a national speed limit road that I've ridden before. It's wide so I'm not too perturbed by it. Half way up this stretch I had to stop. It's unlit, my light was out. By now, my legs had nothing. My breath was short, vision becoming blurred, cold sweats, shaking uncontrollably. I knelt down on the grass verge, leaning on the bike. I had to resist the very strong urge to lie down. I just wanted to lie down but couldn't out there on that busy road in the dark. I rested, tried to drink from my empty bottle, cursed, then got back on the bike.
A mile or so from where I'd stopped there is a petrol station. I'd get there and be OK I thought. I made it in, staggered up to the pump attendant with my bottle asking for water. I had no money to purchase a snack. I rang my fiancee, there was no answer. I was feeling really desperate at this point. I called my friend Will and asked him to come and meet me with a banana or chocolate. He came with some chocolate and cola. While I was waiting for him, my fiancee Rebecca called. I asked her to come and get me. "Please, I'm cold, shaking, dizzy". I feel bad thinking about it because I'd panicked her. She came with the car and we went home. I was so grateful for Will and Rebecca's help because I'd gone from being a confident and strong cyclist to a desperately isolated gibbering wreck. It was very alarming.
After a hot shower, some pasta and warm tea, I felt much better. Then suddenly I got the most painful cramp in a place I've never had it before - in the back of my thigh. This hurt so much I was nearly in tears.
I know the lessons I learnt this day:
- ALWAYS eat sufficiently before heading out.
- ALWAYS take your mobile phone.
- ALWAYS carry some money.
- ALWAYS ensure your light is fully charged.
Find the route I took here and the result from my heart rate monitor here.
I left work at 11:30 AM, so the commute was in daylight - a rare treat indeed this time of year! I'd noticed that a section of the Auckland Way looked a strange colour in the twilight of dusk and dawn and under my LED front light. My pedalling also seemed to get a bit more laboured, as if the surface was exceptionally muddy. I could tell that some re-surfacing work had been done as I could see small bulldozer tracks at the periphery of the track. Plus it was a few feet wider.
So travelling home with a bigger smile on my face than usual, I was intrigued to see what had been done. It turns out that a layer of grey shingle had been spread quite widely over the existing track.
|New surface works|
|Soft section of track|
|Rut caused by rainfall. Notice how narrow the track is in comparison!|
Saturday, 15 December 2012
But in the summer months it would be awesome to be able to ride up and around volcanic craters and across lava fields. I also think it would be a bit dangerous to do that on your own. Maybe I could persuade Sam in a couple of years? Would we bring our own bikes? I don't know, its pretty pricey getting there, but if we did we have our own transportation for the entirety of the stay.
Ideally there'd be a photographer at the top taking a new photo to update the poster and it would be me, still riding to the top and not pushing the bike up absolutely knackered like the man currently is!
Wednesday, 12 December 2012
I'd love to do this but I highly doubt I'd get Rebecca to go along with it!
I've seen quite a few cyclists whilst here, all well wrapped up and some running spiked tyres. Considering there is only 4 hours daylight here, the majority aren't that well illuminated.
Saturday, 8 December 2012
While out walking our dog Melba along my work commute route, I came across this bike; nobody around. Just lying half in the ditch.
Its a kids bike, not particularly expensive. On a closer look I noticed the front brake lever was snapped, as was the rear derailleur.
That damage might occur in a severe crash, but there was no other evidence of this. Another explanation could be it was stolen and vandalised. You would hope the owner wouldn't be so ungrateful.
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Until my mudguards arrive I'm commuting on the roads. Its quicker by around 5-10 minutes depending on how fit I'm feeling and the weather, but the traffic is really busy. Its an A-road all the way whereas the quiet way is a disused railway.
There has been a lot of rain in the north east of England since Sunday although its eased off a bit now. I certainly didn't fancy making my way through the slop of the railway and having to clean up before I go into work. And vice versa tonight. So roads it was and I got wet - not on the inside, I have appropriate clothing. Mudguards, please hurry up!
I'm lucky however as there is a showering facility at my workplace. Its always a great feeling to finish a ride with a hot shower and fresh clothes. The feeling is second to none.
Saturday, 24 November 2012
I just felt that "All Things Bikes" was a little bit generic and it didn't stand a chance in search engines with all the other All Things Bikes sites. The title now is much more specific to what I do and where I am - this makes more sense to me.
Friday, 23 November 2012
Have you ever ridden anything like this? It looks so smooth and flowy - no chance of anything like this in England!
The video is below or head on over to ChopMTB.com for the full post.
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
It's a Scott SUB 35, where SUB stands for (Speed Utility Bike - I like it!) and the spec of said bike can be found as a note in my biking Springpad notebook.
|Low maintenance commuting, here I come!|
|Eccentric bottom bracket for chain tension|
|Option for mech hanger|
|Option for disc brake|
- Full length mudguards will be so handy as the commute is a muddy one and getting home dirty after a day of working is a bit of a chore. Plus the bicycle needs to come into the house at the minute so the less dirty it is, the easier this task will become.
- I need a new mounting bracket for my D-lock. The old one has become distorted from prising it off my other frame due to a woeful design, so I've sourced another one of a different design (I suppose Kryptonite have realised the error of their ways and changed the design). At the minute, the lock is in my backpack, which is very heavy.
- Decide whether to switch to singlespeed. The gears are so smooth and being enclosed in a hub, should be low maintenance.
- Upgrade the brakes to disc? Only the rear is possible.
- Get a rack and panniers for cargo.
Friday, 9 November 2012
One such place was Newburn in Newcastle, where a bike shop succumbed to the deluge. As well as that, thieves broke in and stole £20K worth of bicycles. Its bad enough the owners livelihood had been destroyed by natural causes, but for thieves to make it much, much worse is a real low blow.
The fact the shop reopens on Saturday 10th November with the remaining 200+ bikes cleaned and serviced shows just how much could have been salvaged from the flood - if it had been left to be salvaged in the first place.
I'll be going to the sale in order to find myself a single speed commuter bike to save running my hard tail into the ground over winter. Sam and Stuart will also be there, possibly just browsing but also on the lookout for full suspension trail bikes. The sale will also include clothing and shoes.
I must admit I'm looking forward to picking up a bargain, but a little part of me feels like I'm taking advantage of people whose hand has been forced to sell their stock at really low prices. If the get rid of the flood damaged stock, they can rebuild the business, which I suppose is the redeeming element of helping the business out.
You can read a full news article by following the link below.
Newburn cycle shop is back in saddle after floods - Chronicle News - News - ChronicleLive
Wednesday, 7 November 2012
First off, you need a good quality D-lock, the smaller the better. The smaller it is, the harder it is to prise the lock apart. This is because it is harder to get a crowbar or car jack into the open space in the lock, especially when the secure bike rack and frame of the bike is also in there.
A secondary lock is probably also needed to secure the front wheel and/or saddle if it's easily removable. A lighter duty cable lock is all I use, and is admittedly the weakest link. The way I see it is that it's cheaper to replace a front wheel or saddle than it is the whole bike.
Let's see how to secure the bike with a D-lock
|D-lock securing rear wheel and frame|
Now let's look at the front of the bike
|Securing the front wheel and saddle|
The whole picture
|A fully secured bike|
One last thing...
View Secure Bike Parking in a larger map
Sunday, 4 November 2012
Last Friday/Saturday I went up to Kirroughtree with 5 friends. This is the first time I've been to this trail centre, hotly tipped as one of the best of the 7 Stanes, vying for position with Glentress. We've been to Glentress twice before, so it was only fair that we give this one a shot.
We stayed at the Galloway Activity Centre, with a view to stay in the big cabin. 6 men needs a bit of space. Sam however, decided to mix things up by changing the booking for us to stay in a Mongolian yurt. He actually arrived there first as he was working in Scotland that day. After viewing the yurt, he then decided that it was too small and rearranged the cabin booking. It was probably a good thing that the centre was quiet (it was October and the weather is getting colder) and the cabin was available for us.
|The less than comfortable bed|
Although to be fair, I was glad that I didn't draw the short straw and have to sleep on the fold out sofa bed. Poor Alec and Stuart didn't sleep too well. How the centre could advertise the cabin as "comfortably" sleeping 6 adults, I don't know. A complaint was made in the morning.
The view in the morning was stunning though.
|A beautiful day for riding.|
We got going and the trails were in great condition. Nice and dry and feeling quite fast. There is some nice climbing through the trees and some quite technical descents. I felt that the single track sections were quite short and finished really quickly and spat us back out onto the fire roads too often This meant frequent saddle height adjustments which got a bit annoying. Not annoying enough for me to fork out £300-ish on a remote dropper seat post though. Still, it was nice to be able to regroup often for a bit of chat and Jaffa Cakes. We were taking it reasonably easy along the red route and would decide whether to do the black route when we made it that far. The first black route trail feature we came across was a really steep rolling drop, about 2m high and caught me off guard. After some discussion, I attempted it and cleared it well. That set the adrenalin going and after that the black route would be getting ridden!
After a couple of hours, Colin decided to call it a day as he had to be home for a party and it was a good 3+ hour drive home. We bade him farewell and continued on.
Colin left us at the top of the climb called "Stairway To Heaven". This was one of the two climbs I could recall the names of after studying the map, the other being "Heartbreak Hill". I was recording my ride with Strava, so I decided to really attack the climb. I'm glad I did because I recorded my first King Of The Mountain achievement! I was very pleased with myself.
It was at this point that I had to stop recording as my battery was just about flat and I wanted to see how I had done on the climb. I'm glad I did. Because of that, I had to estimate the rest of the route (16.7 miles):
View Kirroughtree - estimated in a larger map
It was a good ride, but I don't think it's the best trail centre in the 7 Stanes. It loses out on being a much longer drive to get there and facilities are nowhere near on a par with Glentress. The trails are relatively similar too. The only thing that Kirroughtree has over Glentress is "McMoab". This was by far the hardest part of the ride, even with the best route indicated with arrows painted to the surface.
|Stuart in the distance, taking on McMoab. McMoab won, Stuart's saddle rails almost snapped!|
A whole load of photos of the ride can be seen here.
Thursday, 25 October 2012
The point of Strava is to better your performance, time-trialling against others but more importantly yourself. So far in the 6 commutes I've gone for it, I've really gone for it. After the first day I left my hefty D-lock and work clothes at work. I then dropped the hydration pack out and used a bottle, all to save weight. It worked; my times got better. The past 3 days the weather in northern England in October has been unsurprisingly awful - foggy, drizzly and dark. The track is wet and muddy, leaves falling from the trees make it slippy and I could barely see 5 meters in front of me. So there's my excuse: the weather is slowing me down! Wait until I get decent conditions and I'll try again!
I don't know what the conditions were like when the fastest time was set. It could be that he's just faster than me.
The conditions do take their toll though. Today my legs were heavy and I was labouring. Tonight I decided to just do a normal ride home, sticking to my low heart rate zones. However, this in itself is not without its problems. As the weather has turned for the worse, its thicker longer gloves and a waterproof jacket. This ensures I can't quickly look at my HRM wristwatch to check my zones. Although it does have an audible alert (slow beep telling me to up the pace, fast beep telling me to slow down and quiet when everything is just right). However under the layers of clothing and layers of tyre, traffic and wind noise its difficult hear it beeping. I could wear the watch over the jacket, restricting movement or fasten it to the bars somehow. This would allow me to hear it but maybe not see the screen as its behind my headlight and definitely too dark under the trees. This of course would require some kind of custom mount too.
What would you do?
Tuesday, 23 October 2012
First real goes using Strava
Second and third on the way to and from work respectively! Pretty pleased with that. Only 52 seconds off top spot in the southbound direction. I was behind a bloke all the way along the railway section tonight too, I couldn't get past him. It is pretty narrow and to be fair I didn't ask to be past as he was going at a canny pace. Maybe if I had gone past him I'd be sitting at the top of the leader board right now?
Tuesday, 16 October 2012
|Number of football sessions (y-axis) in a 17 week period from July 1st to 16th October|
Also during this time period, the number of weekly bicycle commutes was dropping. I was regularly doing at least 4 per week until around the 15th August, which was the Lakes trip. My thinking here was "Don't go out and wear your legs out unnecessarily". And then after the trip, my bike was damaged and so were my legs!
|Number of weekly commutes (y-axis) in a 17 week period from July 1st to 16th October|
So in between all this period of stop-start football and bicycling, I decided to break out the EA Sports Active 2 kit on the PS3 to keep on top of my fitness. I worked through the 9 week program (4 sessions per week, 36 total), starting on the 3rd August. I'd record my results in polarpersonaltrainer.com so I could keep track of how I was going.
|Number of EA Sports Active sessions in an 11 week period from August 1st to 16th October|
As you can see the program overran due to weekends away biking, stag party and weddings. In the program you can do any missed workouts and alter your schedule to accommodate things like this. Unfortunately, in PS3 terms, I did not actually complete the full program; I missed the end date by two workouts. This meant I didn't get the "gold trophy" (NOOOO!) but I was able to do a custom workout and select the two I had missed #35 & #36. So in real life terms, I did complete the program.
So let's have a look at some figures from doing this 9 week program:
|Weight monitored over the 9 week program|
Average Heart Rate
|Average heart rate monitored by the EA Sports Active kit|
- Sleep deprivation
- How generally motivated you are
Average recovery time
|Every new week a I was made to perform a "fitness test". Heart rate recovery time is in seconds|
Thursday, 11 October 2012
|View from almost the top of Hardknott Pass|
|Sam making his way up the pass|
|Sam at the top of Stake Pass. Sweat or mist?|
|That's me descending Stake Pass. The trail was 30cm wide and quite the drop on the right hand side!|
Friday, 21 September 2012
Yes, there were mountains. And yes, there were bikes. But was there any kind of trail riding? Maybe. Take a look below at Sam making his way on the ascent up Scarth Gap Pass:
|How exactly do you ride up this?!|
|Sam preparing our mid-ride meal|
The descending on the other hand, was insane. So steep and rocky that our hardtail XC bikes couldn't really handle it, brake discs boiling water as we rode through it due to the brakes being held on otherwise you would accelerate into warp speed nearly instantly. Punctures were a bain of my life in the first day, the first coming from a "Puncture Wizard" as we christened him - a probably irate hiker who asked "Have you had any punctures yet?" just as I rolled down a rocky outcrop just after Honnister Pass. It was inevitable that I got a huge pinch flat, the rim slamming down with a jarring thud. Probably bad technique on my part, but most likely the Puncture Wizard. The second was failing to lift my rear wheel high/far enough as I crossed one of the numerous drainage ditches scything across the path. Pictured below is Sam on a section of really rare, rideable, fairly tame descent.
|Sections such as this were really enjoyable|
We made it to our hostel in Eskdale. After around 9 hours, we were ready for some food. Quick! To the pub! The pub stopped serving at 9pm, we made it in to order at 9:03pm and were told we could only order a pizza. RUBBISH! So faced with no other option, we had 3 pizzas between the two of us. Couldn't quite believe how strict they were on this policy. At least it was some sustenance. Finished these quickly and back to bed, ready to face day 2.
Friday, 17 August 2012
Thursday, 16 August 2012
- Still persevering with heart rate training on my commutes
- Have included some additional work outs with EA Sports Active 2 on my PS3. I'm doing a 9 week program and I'm onto the 10th session so far.
- The weekend riding in the Lakes is scheduled to take place this weekend!
- I've got some maintenance to perform on my bike before then; puncture, clean, lube, slightly bent middle chain ring.
Wednesday, 1 August 2012
Wednesday, 25 July 2012
Tonight I needed to replace 2 cracked cup washers on my rear brake caliper mount. I removed the caliper, sorted out the washers and then looked at the gap between the pads, checking it over which isn't a bad thing. One piston was extended further than the other and for some reason, I don't know why, but I pulled the lever so the gap closed and I couldn't get the rotor back in between the pads!
So I had to loosen the bleed screw, let some fluid out and then prise the pads back. Now I'll have to do a full bleed, maybe overhaul the whole system over the weekend as I can't ride it now.
I'm blaming tiredness!
Monday, 23 July 2012
So as of today, 23/7/2012:
- Age: 29
- Height: 1.87m
- Weight: 85Kg
- BMI: 24.31
- VO2 max: 51*
- Resting heart rate: 42 (averaged over the last couple of mornings. I have seen my heart rate drop to 39 before, which was a little freaky)
- Maximum heart rate: 170 (I tested this tonight by sprinting up a hill out of Durham Chare on my commute home and then checked my Polar training diary over June and July and then averaged the maximum readings out.)
I'm pleased that my BMI and VO2 max are in the right areas of the table, although I have put on around 4Kg. I don't know when, it's been that long since I checked.
VO2 max table
|excellent||> 60||> 56||> 51||> 45||> 41||> 37|
|very poor||< 30||< 30||< 26||< 25||< 22||< 20|
|classification||BMI (kg/m2)||sub-classification||BMI (kg/m2)|
|underweight||< 18.50||Severe thinness||< 16.00|
|Moderate thinness||16.00 - 16.99|
|Mild thinness||17.00 - 18.49|
|normal range||18.5 - 24.99||normal||18.5 - 24.99|
|overweight||≥ 25.00||pre-obese||25.00 - 29.99|
|obese class I||30.00 - 34.99|
|obese class II||35.00 - 39.99|
|obese class II||≥ 40.00|
Thursday, 19 July 2012
Heart rate monitor
There isn't a great deal of information here regarding the zones: just how long I was in it and what the limits were. I have to know what the zone was, or work it out from your maximum heart rate. It would be handy to know how much time was spent above and below the zone too, but I think this is just a limitation with the F6. I've asked Polar and I'm waiting for a response.
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
And the same with football, only the HRM is set to 80-90% and anything over 20 mins in the hour of playing was a tough game, with the following benefits:
"Increases muscles' tolerance to lactic acid and improves hard, short effort ability"
However, this isn't the right way to go about it. So tonight I went for the 60-70% light intensity zone - you can find it from the links above - with the key being that I tried to keep my heart rate in the zone, between 112 and 128 BPM.
- I found this really difficult. The pace was much slower and although it took me 34 minutes to get home, which is fairly average, I thought it was longer. I was 20 minutes in the zone, which isn't very good.
- I found it difficult to not keep staring at the watch, which I'd strapped to the handle bar stem. The zone is quite tight and the limits were frequently broken with ease.
- Taking into account that there are points where you have to slow down (stiles, road crossings, traffic lights etc) it might be better to do HRM training inside on an exercise bike, or go somewhere very remote where there will be no obstacles.
- I think the battery may be low in my chest strap transmitter as sometimes the signal would be lost, reading "00 BPM" on the display, despite being only 30-40cm away.