Post xmas ‘too much food’ kitesurf today under glorious skies and a decent wind …. tomorrow looks ballistic
Post xmas ‘too much food’ kitesurf today under glorious skies and a decent wind …. tomorrow looks ballistic
Well it was still windy – Saturday Storm Desmond Hit
‘their actions are unforgiveable’
And it was too strong for kiting … but Sunday the forecast looked much better. Packed the car picked up my pal and drove down to the coast.
It looked peachy but cold at 7degrees C. Gimped up in the wetsuit gloves boots and hood and hit the water with my 8m kite. Epic day with the squalls coming through and the strong gusts hitting (sometimes mid jump) meant everything was a bit unpredictable. Think I did some of my highest jumps ever – at one stage going so high that I rapidly ran out of water to land on – traveling a good 70foot before landing in about 1ft of water far too close to the beach … scary stuff and the stories that broken bones come from so a lucky escape. As i was coming down the mantra of stay smooth …. stay smooth was playing in my head.
What a good day.
Interesting when uploading the gps track to Strava – the Fenix has a barometric altitude sensor but if you look closely at the grey track you can see hard downspikes in the last 1/3rd – those are all wipeouts where i smacked the water and the sensor took a hit.
A strange weekend this as Autumn storms lashed the UK. I set out Saturday to go kitesurfing but the wind was quite incredible .
So saturday I had my new (old) Teak Danish dining table delivered and planned for the Sunday. Sunday was worse – I had the car packed with my gear and checked the beach station 47mph with a gust of 71mph …. Crazy weather and my smallest storm kite is not storm enough. So came inside unpacked and did 1hr on the turbo trainer then watched movies and ate chocolate listening to the rain hitting the windows (hard). The screen grab below from the airport – Behind terminal building so protected from true win in a westerly or north west wind
This morning – wind gone 180degrees and not a breath and also no rain so out for run …. 10km first of the month and slow.
Well at least it is better than nothing.
So decided I would kitesurf – took down my smallest kite the 6m Best Cabo (which feels bigger than 6m) and a twin tip board.
The wind was strong but what was worse was the gusts howling in …. I was on max depower of kite with rail buried and one time I was literally lifted sideways and plonked unceremoniously 20ft downwind (sideways) at force.
The jumping was good – even with a wave kite that doesn’t really shine in this area.
could only manage 40min before I was wasted – back to the west end for a quick steam at the club.
years ago I went down to the beach and as i walked to check out the waves I started cracking the ice which was frozen on the beach …. today was pretty similar in that it was also a dismal failure. Drove to the coast on the strength of this forecast
It was sunny for 5 minutes and i walked down and snapped a tree which was washed in with the storms
And then those grey clouds on the left of the picture blew in in the 5min it took to get back to the car and this is what i got to see ….
But i stayed in the car for half an hour ate a sandwich then I came back to town – crappy …
When Alberto Contador visited London earlier this week for a meet and greet at Herne Hill velodrome, he remembered one vital thing: his mudguard. However this isn’t any normal mudguard, look closely and you can clearly see it’s a repurposed water bottle, a Tinkoff-Saxo branded one at that.
We can’t say we’ve ever seen a water bottle mudguard like this before. Correct us if you have. It’s similar in purpose to the Ass Saver mudguards, which fit to the saddle in the same fashion, and have been spotted in some of the wetter professional road races, such as Milan-San Remo last year.
We’re not sure why Contador hasn’t used a purpose built mudguard like an Ass Saver, and instead opted for the homemade approach? We’d speculate it’s the handiwork of one his team mechanics too, and it does look very neatly made, with the team branding central on the mudflap.
You don’t see this sort of homemade tinkering in professional cycling as much as you used to in the old days, but spot a pro cyclist out winter training and you’re quite likely to spot something non-standard like this.
So got some old water bottles going spare? I have and I’m heading out to the shed now to fashion my own mudguard – I’ll let you know how I get on.
I went out fully gimped out on my 6m kite – having the remnants of a cold which didn’t last long as a few litres of sea water flushed neti style through my nostrils …. Nice.
After an hour I was done in ….. February kiting sure makes you feel alive ….
Was using the New Cabrinha Tronic board (137cm twin tip) – only used it with the 6m kite so want to have some time with a 8m kite before I review it …. but it’s good
from magic seaweed
Whilst not as vast as Hercules coastal wave heights should exceed anything we’ve seen during the previous three storms. © 2014 Magicseaweed
Strike Four on Saturday is an absolute monster, forecast to be the largest and perhaps most damaging yet with poor surfing prospects. Similar to today’s storm it’s likely to do little but wreak havoc on already hard pressed communities in Northern Europe. It’s hard to maintain unbridled passion for surf in the face of severe coastal destruction. Take a moment to reflect on the damage and, perhaps, hope that enough is enough for this winter at least.
The story of these recent swells is one of coastal destruction. Where Hercules set up prime surfing conditions in much of Europe, these storms which followed have brought little in the way of great surf for most of us. Instead we’ve witnessed the continuing rapid erosion of sand and cliffs, direct damage to structures and buildings, and ongoing coastal flooding. Much of this is attributed only indirectly to the giant waves but much more a function of huge astronomical tides (caused by the alignment of moon and sun and the moon being particularly close to the Earth) and as importantly a large storm surge.
This surge is set up by three main mechanisms associated with the giant storms that have created such large waves and strong winds: the first is simply the low pressure in the storm lifting the surface of the water above its normal level. Secondly the wind (gusting up to 90mph near the coast here) creates a ‘wind set-up’ – simply pushing water in front of it towards the coast. Thirdly the waves themselves generate a rise in the sea level as they break in shallow water. Where the past couple of storms have seen tides near their absolute maximum, today’s storm arrived with a more typical spring range tide. None the less taking these extra effects into consideration we saw coastal defences breached and considerable additional damage.
The only good news for coastal communities already suffering is a return to neap tides almost 1.5m/5ft smaller than we saw at the peak of that last swell which should go some way to mitigating wave action.
Hercules (6th Jan): 28ft@21 seconds
Take Two (1st Feb): 28ft@19 seconds
Brigid (5th Feb): 30ft@18 seconds
Strike Four (8th Feb): 35ft@19 seconds
*Anyone surfing/shooting this storm or interested in press please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Dawlish in Devon the only railway line between London and Devon/Cornwall has given up its long battle with the Atlantic. It really was a picturesque part of the journey.
An empty Spanish cargo ship split in half on a breakwater near Bayonne on the Atlantic coast today. Drifting after its engine failed, the Luno crashed into the breakwater at Anglet, snapping neatly in two.
Ten boats have now sunk following the breach of the inner harbour. Fishermen and the emergency services are battling to remove boats from Porthleven’s inner harbour now the tide has dropped. © 2014 Mike Lacey Photography
Fistral Beach before and after the recent storms. You Can see how the protective layer of sand has been washed away allowing the high tide wave action to undermine the beachside property. That’s Alan Stokes jumping for joy in the summer. © 2014 Jason Feast Photography
Photo by Carlos Almendarez
Riding through the winter can be punishing for your road bike, all that rain, mud and salt can quickly bring it to a grinding halt.
Whether you’re commuting every day or training for an event next year, or just heading out at weekends, it does pay to pay closer attention to your bike if you want it to keep working smoothly through the winter months.
Here are our 10 top tips for looking after your bike this winter.
Washing your bike frequently might seem like a chore, but it’s vital to wash away any dirt and muck accumulated straight after a ride, washing the bike when it’s still wet is far easier than letting the road muck dry onto the frame and components. Horse droppings have a particularly tenacity on a bicycle frame. If riding on gritted and salted roads, it is especially important to wash your bike as soon as possible, otherwise you’ll come back to your bike the next time you ride it to find some rusty parts.
A bucket of hot soapy water and a good sponge or brush is all you need, and doesn’t have to take all that long. You don’t have to be absolutely thorough every time you wash the bike, the main thing is to get the worst of the grime and muck off. There are a raft of specialist bike cleaners and degreasers available that will make a proper job of cleaning your bike and that can make even giving it a quick once over that bit more effective too.
Once you’ve cleaned your bike, a good wet lube is an ideal choice for winter riding. The drive train consists of many expensive parts, and if left un-lubed these will simply wear out more quickly, work less effectively while they do so while making a sound like a load of hungry mice that have just spotted a large lump of cheese.
So invest in a decent lube – don’t skimp now – and keep the chain running smoothly over the cassette and chainset. Wet lubes are good at this time of year because they last a long time and work well in adverse conditions. It’s best to apply lube to a clean degreased chain, so it’s the first thing you want to do after washing the bike.
If you’e bike is running them it’s worth swapping out the sub-200g race tyres for some heavier duty puncture resistant tyres in the winter. There are many available with thicker sidewalls and reinforced breaker belts sandwiched between the rubber tread and carcass.
Some manufacturers make tyres with a rubber compound designed to provide a little more traction on wet roads, generally it will be a softer compound. A softer compound will wear out more quickly however. It’s the rubber compound and not the tread pattern – those sipings and grooves make marginal difference on such narrow tyres – that is key to a tyres traction on wet roads.
Wider tyres are a good choice for the winter, as they can be run at lower pressures so offering extra comfort and grip, from the little increase in contact patch. How wide a tyre you can fit depends on your bicycles. Typically race frames won’t take anything wider than 23mm, or 25mm at a push. Many touring and commuting bikes, and the new breed of endurance bikes, will take up to 28 and 32mm tyres quite happily.
It’s good to keep a regular eye on your tyres. When you’re washing your bike, have a close look at the entire tread of the tyre, and remove any flint, glass or sharp stones that might be buried in the tread.
Buyers guide: The best tyres to get you through the winter.
When the roads are wet, letting a bit of air out of your tyres can increase grip by slightly increasing the size of the contact patch. A little less air will also improve the tyre’s ability to absorb vibrations from riding over rough roads, so you get more comfort too.
I regularly run my tyres at about 90-95psi during the winter, and softer than that if the roads are likely to be really wet. You don’t have to inflate the tyres to the 120psi maximum indicated on the side of the tyre, that’s just a guideline, in fact one school of thought is there is no actual gain from inflating a road tyre above 100psi in any conditions.
During the winter the roads can become coated in glass, flints and debris just lying there waiting for an unsuspecting cyclist to trundle over. Believe me it’s no fun fixing a puncture when it’s lashing down with rain. Slightly more fun maybe than waiting for a friend to fix a puncture in the rain, that is.
Slime-filled inner tubes, or adding some liquid latex to your existing inner tubes, can help to reduce a flat when something sharp cuts through the tyre deep enough to hit the inner tube. You can buy protective strips that go between the tyre and inner tube, acting as a breaker belt in a tyre, which while adding weight and reducing the ride performance a bit, will greatly reduce the potential for a puncture. I’ve heard people to slice up an old inner tube and lay it as a strip between tyre and inner tube.
Going tubeless is another good choice. Alghough it’s an expensive upgrade if you don’t have tubeless-ready wheels, the main benefit of tubeless is that there is no inner tube to puncture, with the space occupied by a small amount of liquid sealant. When something sharp goes through the tyre, not only is there no inner tube to pop, but the sealant will react with oxygen and plug the hole.
One way to prevent a lot of the water and filth being sprayed all over your bike as it’s churned up by the wheels, is to fit some mudguards. Not only do they keep the road spray of your body, but they can help to protect the bicycle, including the brake calipers and front mech, and bearings in the headset.
If your frame is designed for mudguards, then a set of traditional full-length mudguards is a sound investment. They offer the most protection for you and your bike. If you don’t have mudguard eyelets on your frame, fret not, there are many mudguards that simply clip on to the frame. Their advantage is they are very light, and can be easily removed.
Buyer’s guide: Mudguards for keeping you dry this winter
Treating those components likely to rust quickly during harsh, wet conditions with a corrosion preventative such as ACF50 will make sure your bike lasts the winter, and that under the encrusted dirt lies a gleaming, unsullied machine just waiting for the restorative flush of hot, detergent-filled water.
Winter accelerates the wearing process of mechanical components, so it’s worth checking them regularly, monthly at the very minimum, but more frequently if you ride a lot of miles. Brake pads will wear out much more quickly in the poor conditions they’re having to deal with, so keep an eye on the pads. Most brake blocks will have a wear line indicator, so don’t let yourself get caught out with rapidly disappearing brake blocks. It’s also worth checking the condition of the blocks regularly, to make sure they are wearing evenly, and remove any grit that might have lodged in the grooves.
If you have disc brakes you might find it easier to pop the wheel out to have a closer inspection at the brake pads. Sintered brake pads are preferable to organic pads in the winter as they’re harder wearing, so will last longer.
While you’re checking the brakes, pay some attention to the condition of the rims. Are they very concave in shape? That’s the sign the rim is wearing out, and for safety reasons you don’t want to be riding on rims with a dramatically concaved rim wall. I’ve seen the result of a rim wall collapsing because it was so worn out. It wasn’t pretty.
The drivetrain gets a hammering in the winter, and it’s the most expensive collection of parts on your bike. Replacing the chain, cassette and chainset in one go will hit your wallet hard, but an easy way to extend the life of the chainrings and cassette is to regularly replace the chain.
Popping a new £20-40 chain on your bike at regular intervals will save you money in the long run, and is a lot cheaper than buying a new cassette and chainrings when the whole lot wears out at the same time. Some people will replace the chain every couple of thousand miles, if they’re keeping track. Or you could buy a chain check tool that, while seemingly an expensive purchase, will save you money in the long-term.
Water can get into the gear and brake cable housing, and over time will reduce the performance of your gear shifts and braking performance. Changing the cables at regular intervals – cables are relatively cheap – is a good idea. Removing the cables, cleaning them and adding some lube as you insert into the cable housing can bring a tired set of cables back to life.
Lined and coated cables for gears and brakes offer a low maintenance solution. The likes of Jagwire produce cables sets with a proprietary L3 liner and Fibrax make a Pro-formance sealed cable kit, which should keep gears and brakes working smoothly through the winter grind.
A top tip from the British Cycling squad is one that stops mud sticking to the frame and other components as easily. A silicone spray, widely available, can be used on the frame and parts of the transmission with the idea to create a slippery surface that dirt and mud just can’t stick too.
Be sure not to get it anywhere near the braking surface though. You could use a car wax polish instead for a heavier duty coating on the frame.
A short Documentary film made for University following indivduals taking part in the 2013 24 Hour Strathpuffer Mountain Race in the Highlands of Scotland.
Shirt State ‘Computer’
Donald Macdonald and the Islands ‘Blown away’
Jose Gonzales ‘Crosses’
Frightened Rabbit ‘Loneliness’
You want a real winter tyre? Check out this studded wonder from Schwalbe – perfect if we ever get snow again.
With 304 tungsten steel studs putting an ice bite in each of the chunky alternating tread blocks on the centre and shoulder tread this is definitely a serious Arctic tyre.
Nothing else comes close for icy trail grip and the tall, firm shoulder knobs mean traction right over into the turns or the deepest slush and snow too and wide-spaced tapered tread means it clears sludge really well too.
As you’d expect though it clatters and roars on firmer surfaces and it’ll chew woodwork and roots to ribbons. All those metal studs make it heavy and it’ll slide wildly (and even spark sometimes) if you’re anything less than super careful with it on tarmac or rock sections too.
It’s expensive for what is a very rare use tyre anywhere in the UK south of the Cairngorms too. But it will probably last you a lifetime and of course if ice and snow are part of your usual winter riding diet it could be an essential bit of kit.
It is always down to preparation. Rarely will you do well at a race unless you are fully prepared.
For the Strathpuffer my intentions had been good but then some things came up that messed with my plans a bit.
1. I started work on a documentary series on Syria that saw me filming away from home. Istanbul life was hectic enough and although I tried to hit the gym – those horrible gym bikes never feel like real training.
2. I came back to do one last long ride – before my taper – but whether it was the 2 degree weather, my pathetic wet gloves and freezing feet. The bugs i probably breathed in flying in the day before … but I got man flu sick. I spent Tuesday,Wednesday and thursday going to bed at 8pm and trying to sleep it out and get healthy.
3. I had the equipment sorted. Great bike lights, new cleats on my winter boots, toasty Sealskin mtb gloves and spare discs for the bike.
I spent Friday driving up past Inverness to the race location at Strathpeffer. I was swigging calpol and cough medicine and downing cold and flu tablets and treating myself to throat lozenges …. I wasn’t pretty. But then out the front of the window the view was a tad scary.
Got there and saw the accommodation for the night …. we were hardly roughing it.
Race day rolled around and Dr Heart was going first – I had cycled 50m up the road from the camper to realise the whole fire road was iced. So after the bunch went past i started to put on the Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro’s
I didn’t get them both on in time for my turn to lap – the tubeless was not going to work so Heart did a second lap and in the confusion so did I sans dibber …. Dr Heart said a few cross words (naughty C and F words) and headed out on the 3rd lap. The Ice Spikers were amazing I couldn’t stand on the trail but i could cycle it which I find quite mind-blowing.
The course was great – fireroad climb technical rock section singletrack across the top then a sweet descent back to the start – all just 10km long
… our camper was halfway up the fireroad so the laps on strava always include our off lap.
Robbie and Huw were another team of pairs and they sped off on their laps – after a few laps they were running 4th and we were 15th …. out of 50 pair teams. Huw was bashing out laps of 37min within a few seconds of that (and all night stayed in the 45-47 mark) and Robbie was steady at 42min (which he did for the whole race) Da Automaton
My breathing was sketchy post cold and I had my HRM beep me if it went over 145bpm so my laps were a slow 45min – 52min. After 6 laps i had to ask Tom to do a double as my coughing now had an iron after taste. Huw and Robbie were now tying for 2nd and we were up to 7th although 1.5 laps behind. Dr Heart, Huw and Robbie were also all on 29er’s which got me thinking …. (but for another post)
But after my 8th lap I said I couldn’t do anymore (well I couldn’t afford to get sick all week). My legs felt great and if it wasn’t for my cough I am sure I would have lasted. Dr Heart pulled on some more impressive distance but then got shut eye for 5.5 hours. When we were both up again Huw and Robbie were winning by 10min and we were back in 15th although Thom did a last lap flyer and he clawed us up to a 14th.
The winners won their prizes … then it was a 4hr drive home …. YAWN
There is a Strathpuffer LITE (in SUMMER) …. Mmmmmmm maybe
And YES of course there were FAT BIKES there
I can hear the wind howling through the trees in the central gardens which means …..
December Winter kitesurf Madness …
Maximise your contact patch. Road bike tyres have a larger contact patch on the road than a more knobbly mountain bike tyre, and you can maximise that precious contact further by fitting a wider tyre, and/or not running it at quite such a high pressure. That said, in snow or looser conditions a treaded tyre or even a lightly knobbed MTB or cyclocross tyre will give extra grip.
Flat pedals – okay you may be sacrificing some pedalling efficiency but you are buying some get out of jail extra control if things go wrong.
Ever thought about a fixed? This is the time of year when continuous drive really does come into its own – a fact known to old school roadies through the ages. You can slow a fixed bike down on ice without using the brakes and while maintaining traction and power to the back wheel. That’s a very good thing when its slippery.
Get down! Some people suggest that you lower your saddle slightly, so lowering your centre of gravity. The other advantages of dropping the saddle are that it’s easier to get your feet down flat on the road should you suddenly need to use God’s stabilisers, and less dramatically but just as usefully it makes it easier to start off sitting in the saddle when things are really slippy. That extra weight can the be difference between the getting the traction needed to move and having your back wheel slip with potential painful top tube consequences.
Did we mention it’s cold? An extra layer on top of what you would normally wear in winter is a good idea. Not only is it much colder than most of us are used to but the state of the roads means you are likely to be riding slower than your normal pace, so you may not be generating the same levels of heat.
Pay particular attention to your hands and feet
Feet: overshoes, thermal socks and winter boots are all a good idea. Cold feet make for a miserable ride.
Hands: It’s even more important to keep these warm than your feet – trying to control your bike with two blocks of ice on the ends of your arms is not pleasant on any level. Good gloves are a must and glove liners – even inside thermal gloves if you feel the cold – are a good idea too, as are covers over the brake levers and grips (if your bike has flat bars). The benefit here is twofold: not only do they reduce the windchill to your hands but they also reduce the chilling effect on metal brake levers and bars with thin grips. Metal conducts the cold very efficiently, an argument if ever you needed one for upgrading to carbon levers or taking the budget option with some plastic ones.
Choose your road. You may normally keep to the quieter back roads, but they aren’t usually treated when the ice and snow hits so in terms of keeping upright they are going to be the most difficult. The main roads will be clearer, even so you still need to take care.
Keep away from the kerb. Riding too close to the kerb is not a good idea at the best of times, it limits your room for manouvre and it’s where all the crap from the roads tends to accumulate. Add to that the hazard of ice and snow – even on main roads it’s the one bit of the road that doesn’t tend to be cleared – and it becomes a real no-no. Also, where main roads cross minor ones the ice and snow often fans out from the side road in to the carriageway – best keep away from it. Plus, if you are going to fall off you don’t want to be doing it within head cracking range of a kerbstone.
Give yourself longer to stop. It takes longer to stop safely or even to slow down on icy surfaces. Factor that in to your calculations when approaching junctions or making any other manoeuvre that is going to involve slowing down or stopping. It’s amazing how quickly most people’s brain’s make this adjustment. Oh, and remember it’s going to take other people longer to slow down too.
Choose your line… If you can. The simplest way of avoiding problems when riding on ice roads is to choose the dry line where possible. Last year in many parts of the country the weather was very cold but also dry, so the roads weren’t uniformly covered in ice; rather it was lying in patches on the road or in gutters, or if you were really unlucky where some run off water had frozen so the dry line wasn’t always a straight one. Of course sticking to the dry line is not always possible, such as now where in much of the country compacted snow on untreated roads has simply frozen… so what do you do then?
Lay off the front brake. Most of us know the old mantra “your front brake is for slowing down, your back brake is for stopping” but the bit that usually gets missed out is “except on ice where you really don’t want to be losing any of your front wheel’s traction. At all.” Haul on the front brake going over ice and any loss of control at the front is going to be sudden and very hard to recover from.
The ideal thing to do if you find yourself riding across a stretch of icy road is to smoothly pedal through it. If you need to slow down… the ideal thing is to be on a fixed. If you’re not on a fixed then gentle braking on the back is your best bet – in countries where ice is more the norm some cyclists practice making the back step out under hard braking so that they will know what to do when it happens on ice. If you do feel the need to use the front brake do it with the back and do it so lightly that the front wheel never stops rolling, we’re talking gently scrubbing off speed, as we’ve already said you really don’t want to lose traction at the front.
If the back does step out under braking the first thing to do is stop braking, you also need to make an instant decision to either pedal, or get a foot or even both feet down.
Choose your line. Again. Yes we already said that, but there’s more. If there is a worn or dry line through the ice try to use it, but you may need to make a call here because the dry line may not be in the place you want to be on the road so you will need to proceed with caution. This situation is more likely to apply on minor roads or ones with a steep camber on which heavier vehicles have worn away the ice and snow more on one side – on these roads you would hope that other road users would also be proceeding with extreme caution too. Don’t let your natural desire to stay on your bike at all costs cloud your judgement.
The other thing to consider when choosing your line is the camber of the road. Many of the roads around road.cc towers have a steep off camber that’s fine under normal conditions but when it’s icy means that not only is the ice against you but so is gravity – you are trying to ride across a slope and your tyre’s contact patch is on the side rather than directly underneath you. The best place to be from a traction point of view is on top of the camber which is right in the middle of the road, it may actually be the only place that’s rideable. If it is, use your common sense. On quiet straight roads where you can see and be seen it may be doable, otherwise get off and walk to the next section where you can ride. There’s no dishonour in dismounting.
Keep it smooth. Avoiding sudden changes of direction and maintain a smooth pedalling action – it really pays off. Many experienced ice riders also say that you shouldn’t ride in too low a gear mainly because it’s harder to keep things smooth if you are really spinning the pedals – and potentially the back wheel.
Keep pedalling. Try keeping both feet on the pedals while you are moving – however, you may want to be able to get your feet off quickly to dab the ground and help in correcting any slides. The suggested method of dealing with your front wheel sliding is to relax your ankle on the opposite side to the slide and either dip your knee out or dab your foot to drag the bike out of the slide. In our experience though though this is only going to work at lower speeds… so you might want to keep it down.
Don’t panic! This should probably be first on the list. Keep your head, neck and shoulders relaxed – what you don’t want to do is to stiffen up and get twitchy… twitchiness can cause problems.
If you’re properly equipped riding in the ice and snow is good fun, no honestly it is, but it’s not compulsory. You won’t get a medal for it so if you think conditions are too tough give yourself a break and get the bus/tube/walk or stay at home and noodle about on your favourite road cycling website… is hopefully that’s this one.