A ride to change my minds focus – a great Saturday

The great ride

So I read on Friday that the Mediterranean blow torch was on its way. Not a result of the Scottish referendum which is another whole blog post which I won’t be writing but rather a band of warm weather that is headed up to the UK from Southern Europe. It is the last blast of an Indian summer and the driest September on record.
So Saturday was a day to hit the pave on the bike. Initially I had planned to take the road bike on the ferry and cycle around Arran which is a great ride but it meant taking up the whole day catching the train down to the ferry at 8:30am and only getting back to glasgow around 5:30pm. So I planned shorter and had a lazy morning in bed and then pulled back the curtains to the torrential rain.

Now here is a plug for an app for the iPhone and iPad called dark sky – it is a paid app but one which I have found to be really accurate. It even tells you where the nearest rain is so you could plan a route according to where the rain is and what direction the wind is blowing.

Well it was 11:15am and although it looked like a monsoon outside it said it was stopping at 11:30am so I got the bike out the cupboard / man shed and got dressed and filled the bidon and bang!!!!! Rain stopped just like that.

I left the flat in blazing sunshine with the rainwater still shining on the roads. I was on my touring bike – it’s hammered stainless mudguards actually being put to work rather that just looking beautiful like they normally are. The plan was to cycle up towards aberfoyle grab some lunch and then head back around 70-80km.

On the bike I was immediately smiling the sun was bright the weather was warmer than I thought and my vest bidon came off and I had to unzip my long sleeve Rapha top nearly to man medallion level to get some airflow. I was cursing that I had packed a full pannier to test the weight distribution of the bike and neglected to pack a short sleeve jersey.

The wind was very light and it seems that every bug and insect in scotland had taken to the air for one last sh*g pre death and I made the conscious decision to stop smiling to avoid having to pick the bugs out of my teeth all night. There was a lot of plant seed being plucked and floating through the air and the light was glorious.

There are so many times when I go out on my faster bike a Lynskey Cooper and a lot of the ride is spent gazing at my HR, cadence average, average speed trying to work out whether there are strava sections worth grabbing or Strava ‘friends’ to overtake on the leaderboard that I sometimes think I am missing the point.

As I neared Aberfoyle there is a section of the national bike network that leads into the town so I turned to go into town and ran smack into a friend who was up in that area for a wedding and who was out for a quick jaunt on his bike with a friend. He is more familiar with the area so i asked him which pub would be good to eat at …. He mentioned the one with the best selection of Ales which isn’t the best idea when cycling. But my appetite whetted I went in for a soup some chips (fries) and a cheeky half pint of Ale. I think that Mediterranean diet of drinking at lunchtime had sunk in along with the air blowing north.



Aberfoyle is at the bottom of the Dukes Pass a small hill climb that I had never been up on the bike. The climb from the North side is pretty easy. But I went up from the south. I have a triple on the tourer but a compact 32/50 and an 11-28 is adequate with most people coping on a 17/19

It’s 2.5 miles at an average of 4.5% from the North, but quite a bit steeper from the South, average 8.5%

Here are the climb profiles on Ride with GPS….
From South: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/2106265
From North: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/2106267


At the top I took a pic of the sign got to the summit and debated whether to turn around. But the sunshine once again called to me and I headed along the loch to aberfoyle and then on to the road south again to Lake of Monteith and pass the monastery.
Wiki to the rescue – The Lake of Menteith (Scottish Gaelic “Lake of Menteith”), is a loch in Scotland, located on the Carse of Stirling, the flood plain of the upper reaches of the rivers Forth and Teith, upstream of Stirling. Until the early 19th century, the more usual Scottish name of Loch of Menteith was used. On the Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654, it is named as Loch Inche mahumo. The only settlement of any size on the Lake of Menteith is Port of Menteith.

There are a number of small islands in the loch. On the largest, Inchmahome, is Inchmahome Priory, an ancient monastery. The priory served as refuge to Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1547. She was only four years old at the time and stayed for three weeks after the disastrous Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in September of that year.

The Loch is not particularly deep and can freeze over completely in exceptionally cold winters. If the ice becomes thick enough — at least 7 inches (18 cm)— an outdoor curling tournament called The Bonspiel or the Grand Match is held on the loch. The event can attract thousands of curlers despite its rarity. The last Grand Match was held in 1979. The planned 2010 Bonspiel was abandoned on health and safety grounds……..

I stopped here to phone home and say my mobile signal would last but that I would be back about 6:40pm …. Got in put the bike away and went down the road to my gym for a steam and to ease the muscles after those 125km …… What a great day….

Tested bike bits and thoughts.
Brooks saddle B17 – this is from my old brompton and had 500miles on it from Iraq so well worn in and very comfy. Weighty but fine for a touring bike where weight is not the issue.
mercian vincintore 631 Reynolds frame – like the saddle very comfortable.
Nitto rando bars – still not convinced as that are quite narrow at the top and I felt that I was gripping harder that I normally do and my arms were a bit sore that evening. Not sure if it is due to width of handlebars or the fact that the steel front fork carries more vibrations through it compared to the carbon fork on the lynskey.
Continental 4seasons 28mm tyres. Comfy and smooth.


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Think British roads are dangerous?


Scary stuff – this video is amazing

Originally posted on CycleStuff:

Think British Roads are dangerous? Well they are, obviously. But spare a thought for cyclists in Buenos Aries. This disturbing footage captured by Canadian tourist Alexander Hennessy, gives you a little taste of what its like to be tracked on a motorbike by a gun wielding bag snatcher. Amazingly, Alexander hung on to his rucksack partly due to his inability to speak Spanish and partly due to being too shocked to think clearly. Argentinian Police collared the suspect a short while later.

I’m not a fan of strapping a camera onto your helmet to film everything on a regular basis – we live in a society that endures enough surveillance as it is – but on this occasion, the Go-Pro led to a positive outcome. I suspect its a very good job that our motorbike bandit had little idea that the small light shaped thingy strapped to Alexander’s helmet was filming…

View original 45 more words

Hour Records 2: How fast can a brompton go

from Telegraph Active


An hour is a mythical measure of time in cycling circles.

Legends of the sport from Eddy Merckx through to Francesco Moser and Miguel Indurain have all cemented their legacies by setting new recordsfor distance travelled after an hour’s ride in the velodrome. It’s a notoriously grisly pursuit: Merckx, who was known in the peloton as the ‘Cannibal’, described his record of 49.431km set at altitude in 1972 as “the hardest ride I have ever done”.

British riders Chris Boardman and Graeme Obree also played an important role in establishing the myth of the hour test in cycling. Obree, whose exploits were immortalised in the film the Flying Scotsman, famously used a bike welded together from washing machine parts and a radical tucked body position to set his hour records, while Boardman set three different history-making times during his career.

The current record, held by Czech cyclist Ondřej Sosenka, stands at 49.700km (just over 30 miles). For most serious club cyclists, however, riding 25 miles in under an hour is deemed to be a rite of passage.

Folded glory: the Brompton can be taken on public transport

I have been fortunate to race almost every type of bicycle, from dual-suspension mountain bikes to specialist aerodynamic track bikes and time trial low-pros, but, before last week, I had never swung a leg over a Brompton. So what better test than Telegraph Men’s 17-mile circuit around Box Hill. Could I complete this circuit in Surrey Hills in under an hour?

To make the challenge a little easier I replaced the standard Bromtpon pedals with my normal clipless pair, but that did little to lighten the bike’s hefty 12.5kg load.

However, I was immediately surprised by the speed and stability of the Brompton, helped by the design’s low centre of gravity and small 16-inch wheels. Unexpectedly, the bike also felt aerodynamic. The upright handlebars allowed me to adopt an Obree-style tuck position and fly along on Surrey’s undulating roads.

The real test for the Brompton came on the ascent of Box Hill. Despite its weight and limited selection of gears, I was impressed by the frame’s overall responsiveness. The trick to riding a Brompton on longer rides is to maintain a smooth and high cadence pedalling stroke. Slow down and you will waste energy getting the bike back up to top speed.

Although the ride had me chewing the Brompton’s handlebars, I managed to complete the Box Hill circuit in a time of 59.58, proving that you don’t need the latest carbon fibre gadgetry to ride at a reasonably fast pace.

Retailing at over £1,200, the version of the S6L Brompton I tested isn’t cheap, but it is bags of fun and without question the most distinctive bike on the road. Just ask the cyclists who saw me racing up Box Hill.

Hour records 1: Jens shuts his legs up to break the hour record


In the final ride of his career, and a day after his 43rd birthday, the hugely popular German rider Jens Voigt has smashed the Hour record, riding 51.115 kilometres at the Velodrome Suisse. He becomes the first man to ride more than 50 kilometres in 60 minutes since Chris Boardman travelled 56.375km using a subsequently banned bike and riding position in 1996. Voigt has also set a benchmark for others – Sir Bradley Wiggins, Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin perhaps among them – to follow.

The Trek Factory Racing rider surpassed the existing record of 49.7 kilometres, set by Ondřej Sosenka in 2005, with a minute and a half seconds remaining. Unlike the previous record holder, Voigt could use up to date equipment following a UCI rule change earlier this year.

That should take nothing away from his achievement. It was an astonishing ride, in which his legs did what they were told and “shut up” for the last time, and one that in all probabilty will usher in a new battle for what has long been the most prestigious record in cycling.

Voigt went out quickly, and rapidly hit the sub-18 second laps he needed if the record were to be his. In the first 20 minutes or so, he was logging around 17.75 seconds per lap, well ahead of schedule, but that drifted out during the second third of his ride, though never exceeding the 18 second average.

Adjusting his position on the bike at times, and even the back of his skinsuit at one point, some might have worried that he had gone out too quickly and was going to pay the price. Such fears were groundless. During the final 20 minutes, his lap times got faster and faster, finally dropping below 17 seconds as the crowd cheered him on.

It remains for others to beat the new record, and it’s certain some will have a crack. It’s likely that anyone able to finish in the top ten of a time trial at the World Championships would be able to beat it, and easily.

None, though, would be as popular as Voigt, and in making him the first man to attempt it following the rule change, and moreover in the final ride of a career that has won him legions of fans, Trek have pulled off a huge marketing coup.

Next stop for Voigt is the UK – he’ll be riding a sportive for charity in the New Forest on Saturday, then appearing at the Cycle Show next week. He – and his record-breaking bike – are bound to be the star attractions.

“I started as usual too fast, but that is just me I can’t control myself, and I realised that I was a second faster on the first lap than on the timetable so I tried to pace myself a little,” said Voigt afterwards. “But I was in good shape, just right.

“I am perfectly fit for this moment, I am in very good shape, and after 20 minutes I had gained one lap but I was still feeling in control.  Then from 20-40 minutes I had a comfortable lead and I paced myself and was still gaining a little time.

“Then in the last 20 I sped up a little and gained another lap.  The last 10 minutes were flat out – all-in.

“My only thoughts were to not over pace, to focus on holding the black line and to stay aero – no side thoughts. 51.1- yah I am pretty happy.

“The first 10 minutes I could not feel the pedals and thought, ‘oh this is easy!’  Then I went, ‘oooooh, maybe you’d better pace yourself a little bit here.’ Then I went on cruising speed from 20-40 mins.”

“But, he added, “I could feel at that speed I was good, I could hold on to this speed, I am not going to break down or slow down.  So I felt in control, and yes indeed I had a little bit of time to enjoy it.”

Trek Factory Racing’s general manager, Luca Guercilena, followed the record-breaking ride from Spain, where the team is preparing for Sunday’s team time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Ponferrada.

He said: “At the start I was pretty worried because I knew the time schedule and he was fast, but then I was happy when I saw him balancing. I knew that at 40 minutes it was the line where he would either increase or go down and I was super happy to see him increase.  It was really impressive to see him do this at the age of 43 – but Jens is Jens.

“It was a really nice way to finish his career with a good performance, and we gave him all our support and this is what he deserved.  I am really happy the event went well. We all watched [the Hour Record] from a computer in Spain and I can say it was inspirational, and has given us a boost for Sunday.”

At the trackside to watch Voigt’s historic ride was UCI president Brian Cookson, who said: “It’s absolutely what we thought would happen, to bring the Hour Record back to status in a new era.

“It was pointless to continue the old system, we needed to allow the technology and bring back the magic. It was wonderful! Congratulations to Jens and all the Trek Factory Racing team.”

Yesterday pootle meant I struck gold (or how not to let a creak spoil the ride)

Blue skies – a break in work and the dilemma about whether to go road cycling or mtb’ing (some dilemma)

Well it was fab … well apart from the niggle you get when something on the bike is not in perfect synchronous perfection with the rest. Those that read this blog will know I love my ti brides (titanium lynskey bikes – a Cooper road bike and a Ridgeline SL 29’er) but the 29er is being a bit naughty.

Well the crank/bottom bracket needs some timeout on the naughty step (not the owner of course)/ The chain side crank keeps on working loose and then there is the slight creak whenever I stand up and give it some torque. Eeeek Nnnnnnk Eeeeeek Nnnnnnnk. I have taken to carrying the large allen key with me to do a mid ride tighten but what I need to do is go into my LBS and get some lock grease.

But I put the noise out of my mind – the rohloff is particularly sweet in terms of little transmission noise – and rode. The only moment i stopped was to strip off a layer and then to stop at the end of a descent to scoff down a wee bar of flapjack goodness. When i got back i loaded up the gps and bang 

2 x KOM and a smattering of places

Screenshot 2014-09-10 20.30.14

Now most people don’t care about these things but i felt a small tinkle of happiness being a competitive over 40 has been of an athlete. But i don’t expect this to last long as the person I scuppered is a Strava KOM poacher of renown – I expect my glorified basking in the sun victorious feat to last at least 10 hours.

Screenshot 2014-09-10 14.54.17

this descent is a nice fire road/trail mix that was actually feeling quite tough in the dry – it feels smoother when slightly damp but I guess that is the friction.

Off for a ride tomorrow – might just make it a roadie day as playing 5 a side tonight and my legs probably won’t be working.