Thursday, 31 July 2008


I took my 'spare' bike out of the third floor gent's toilet where it has been living since I lent it to Tom, and cycled it home yesterday.

It was almost an absolute joy to zip through the traffic in the sun, and taking it easy and I did the 14 miles in about an hour.

My only gripe is the casual summer city cyclist who deems it necessary to cycle in traffic plugged into an ipod.


Joggers and ipods are everywhere and why not. I run plugged into the the Guypod to break up the pavement tedium. Occasionally, I will have an overtaking problem on the bike with a podded jogger on the towpath. This is okay - provided the jogger does not freak out and act surprised when they are overtaken. Which they often do.

However, cycling on the road with an ipod is just stupid.

Traffic in London is mental at the best of times. Bus and cycle lanes do not offer total safety from other users (buses and motorcycles - wide loads and my top trump annoyance the urban 4x4 that takes up all the road space). An ipod only reduces your spatial awareness in the melee of commuters, the stressed at the wheel, those using their mobile handsets, white van men, buses and coaches, idiots badly parked for 'just a second' in cycle lanes, people opening their car doors without looking, light jumpers, pavement hoppers and pedestrians who see cars but never spot bikes.

I could go on. But I won't. The article below articulates this whole phenomenon far better than I will be able to.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

I Need More Teeth

I have set myself a target of doing 100 miles a week on the bike by the week after next.

This would be easy if I just commuted into work(14 miles each way). However, recovery form the ankle injury means I need to build the mileage back up steadily and sensibly.

Luckily I managed a flyer from work last night - so got out on the singlespeed for an hour when I got home.

I did the Richmond Park circuit - which is 11.5 miles door to door - and at about 75 - 80% effort got around and back in 63 mins. Which is quite good.

I keep forgetting that I am running 32/17 - which is nice on the rolling / hilly North Downs, but totally impractical for flat South West London, as I keep spinning out. I might change up to an 18 when I replace the chain (which by the way was very slack last night - and as there was no more space to move the wheel back any further I can see shed time on the weekend).

The 17 also explains why I was so tired after Saturday's sprint.

More Numbers -

I measured Saturdays ride - and it was more than I thought - 22 Miles (dead) so the scores on the doors this week are:

Sat - 22 Miles (singlespeed)
Sun - 2 miles (Run)
Monday - 11.5 Miles (singlespeed)

It is likely that I am away over this weekend - so that will keep the total down this week - but another couple of after work cheeky 10s by Friday will set me up for more of a concerted effort next week.

Monday, 28 July 2008

The Greek approach to fitness

Mixed bag this weekend.

Got out on the singlespeed on Saturday morning with a 10 mile sprint along the river to Putney with Hayden – followed (after a pit stop to watch the rugby) by a tootle around Richmond Park on my way home.

A not too challenging 20 or so miles – except for when I managed to throw the chain – and it wedged between the spokes and the free wheel, temporarily turning the bike fixed wheel, until I managed to come to a stop. A quick bodge later and all was (un) fixed - but I have stretched another chain.

I am now questioning my adherence to thrift – i.e. fitting a cheap BMX chains – and I have thought about splashing out for a track chain (guaranteed not to stretch). This is all faff and I really could do without spending more time in the shed getting things to work.

Brining me nicely to the repair job on Kelly’s Specialized.

The Local Bike shop has come good again.

They ordered the correct brake lever in a week from Avid. Evan’s would not do this favouring to sell us new brakes. So that’s a winner – proving again that service at Evan’s is patchy at best.

The LBS has agreed to fit the lever and trim the brake hoses for £30. The lever cost £20. All in £50 – which is still £20 cheaper than buying a new brake set. The fixing cost seemed a little steep – but there is not going to be any margin on a £20 lever – and I was sure to bungle bleeding the brakes and trimming the hoses.

Considering the comparative damage to both the metal and Kelly’s face from THAT fall in Scotland – I will be very glad to get the bike fixed and safe to ride again. Brakes are important, and me not fixing them on the cheap is the best move. Peace of mind is required.

Hayden blew out on Sunday's ride on the North Downs (drinking related rain check) – so I went for a run instead. The ankle is still sore and very stiff – and running was a bit of struggle. James thinks that I will be able to run a bit more freely in a week or so if I keep up the exercises. This is good, as all this relative inactivity has seen my 'svelte' (ahem) profile develop front row chunkiness over the last month.

Indeed Lee took a photo of me in the pool last week – and I looked like I was going to displace a lot of water.

Archimedes I am not – but I clearly need to take a leaf out of his book and run about a bit more.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Give us a fiver

The good news is that we have got into the BHF London to South Coast Off Road Bike Ride.

It was a bit of faff signing up on Friday - we all had to sign up separately. Anyhow the 'team' by the time I left work was Tom (racing snake), Hayden (I think I have broken it), Kelly (heart rate now at 210) and myself.

I will check with Hayden to see if Ruth and Pickup got their entries in. If so, that is quite a number and will make for a great time.

So that's part one completed.

Now for the next bit - which is fund raising. I have set a target for myself of £150, and I have set up a just giving page at to facilitate getting the readies in.

I think Hayden, Tom and I need to agree how we tap up the office - and how we get work to match the sums we raise (as per the CSR policy).

I have also made the bold step of offering this blog as window on my training effort for the big day.

So my first training update is that I have not done any today. This evening Kelly and I have been tidying up in advance of a some more punters coming round tomorrow night to look at the flat. However, tomorrow..........[Guy is going fishing]

Tom has already been on a kit offensive (sterling work), and has a provisional 'yes' from marketing for the supply of some kit with the company logo on. From a sketch I have seen the shirts look smart - and will help promote the business a bit (all good on the pound matching vs PR front).

Actually, all cyclists like kit - and Tom's road bike DNA predisposes him to require a shirt with a logo on it. I think it makes him ride faster (joke - I know he is just faster and fitter than all of us).

Just checked my just giving page. No cash in the bank yet. Time to give the virtual tin a rattle.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Driving Cheese

I forgot that Kelly and I are booked in to attend a christening on Saturday. Some place in the New Forest. Which will be okay – except that this means forgoing some cycling this weekend.

The ankle is feeling much better (80%) - so I had quite fancied the idea of a few hilly miles in the North Downs – especially as it has not rained this week and it will have dried out into a whippy and fast set of trails on and around Leith Hill.

I’m sure Hayden will eat my share of pastry products in the Peaslake bus shelter – and give Barry Knows Best a beating.

Never mind.

The plus side is that after the Christening we will go to Bath and see my brother (a rare event) and Lee is in town - and by coincidence he will also be decamping to Bath for the weekend. Kelly and I also want to catch up with Jo and Paul – and have a coo over the baby, who looks very cute in the photos Paul has sent on email. I think the last time we saw Jo and Paul was before Christmas –which included bump starting their car outside the wine factory.

On the Lee front, the BMW finally left our care yesterday. A contractor I know agreed to take it away and deliver it to the dealership I agreed the sale with, which is based in Chichester.

Even to the end that car proved to be trouble.

The battery was flat again and the contractor’s booster pack would not jump it from the points in the front. So we un-hinged the tray in the boot and tried to jump direct to the battery (little known fact - BMW batteries are under the back seat and you can’t get to them – so there is a jump point in the boot).

It was at this point that I noticed the spare wheel and the BMW tool kit had been removed.

Lee assures me these items were with the vehicle. Ergo when we replaced the tyres last year and / or had the MOT they were pinched. We never thought to look when we got the car back – so that’s another lesson learnt.

It has been really hard to get that car sold. The average private sale price for a 323 CI has plunged in these credit-crunching times to £2,600 – so the price I managed to get for Lee was a result. As was finding two Baby Bell cheeses in the ashtray and a t-shirt in the glove box.

The other thing to remember is that if you don’t drive a car very often, and it has a car alarm, there is a very good chance the alarm will drain your battery. This is a total arse.

Anyway the only BMW I have responsibility for now is Babylon by Bus.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Stig of the Jump

Sunday was an excellent day for cycling.

Cool, clear and not a drop of rain. Encouraged by my nurofen powered trial on Saturday (to the shops and back on the singlespeed) I took the plunge and arranged a quick one in Swinley with Hayden.

Southwest Trains usual habit of making straightforward journeys less so meant Kelly and I had to go via Wimbledon - which is not a cycle friendly station. Met Hayden and Jude on the train and away we went to Martin's Heron via Virginia water twice (mad signal issue and reversing the train to change direction).

Anyway - got into Swinley and we basically rode the best bits of single track we could string together in a two hour loop after a quick warm up.

The place had drained well - and there were not too many other people out and about.

Except for The Stig.

At the top of the Jump spot was a guy dressed in full body armour, full face helmet and ski goggles astride some monster DH bike. He just stood there. Motionless. Visualising his run. He looked a bit ridiculous. After all this is Swinley. Berkshire. Not a well regarded alpine freeride venue involving ski lifts.

Anyway he did not give it a go when we were there - so we moved on.

I am all for people giving it a go - and saftey is a must - but I did wonder on my way home if that guy was enjoying himself. He was tooled up for more than Swinley could throw at him. I had the thought that with a reasonable travel bike, and bit less armour he could have moved freely around the woods and riden loads of drops, switchbacks, jumps and general woodland nuttyness. Roots and steepness prevail in the forest - and although that's not everyone's thing - it's the thing Swinley is best at producing a grin on.

When we went to the Quashqui challenge there were lads (all be it pro) going nuts over the jumps in jeans and a helmet. Serious injury possibility - 30 foot drop in and huge gaps. So having seen this, I did take the Stig's cautionary approach to personal protection as a little bit over the top.

I Know it's not really my business to have a go at The Stig - but it did make me focus on being proud of Kelly giving some of the rooty drops and more technical stuff ago yesterday. As Kelly pointed out it's only a few weeks since she busted her cheek at Dalbeattie. And that's a place one could make a case for getting your Stig out.

As predicted my ankle is sore - and the bikes are not covered in mud. So all in all a great day in the woods.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Cabin fever

Been a bit tardy in updating the blog.

Actually I have done no cycling for the best part of three weeks - as I have twisted my ankle and I have been unable to put any pressure on it. Massive annoyance in that I am not getting the best of the summer nights.

Some consolation has been the rain.

Cycling in the rain in the winter is okay, as well it's the winter. Summer cycling in the rain just sucks. It's the summer. You are suposed to be able to knock the dust off your bike after a ride - a bit of lube - then chuck everything in the shed until next time. Not so in the rain. And it has been raining hard. So it has been no great hardship watching the Tour De France in the dry of the living room.

With that in mind I am going to aim to get out on Sunday (irrespective of the weather forecast). Swinley is the best bet as it drains well, so there is a good chance of not coming back with a sore ankle and caked in mud. Just likely a sore ankle.

Who am I kidding - I am itching to get out on the bike - rain or no rain. I've got to get out of town and into the trees. I'll freewheel if I have to - or only peddle with my right foot.......

I got an update email from the BHF off road LDN to B'ton ride, informing me that registration will open on Friday the 18th July - but that the ride is limited to 400 places. I am sure we will get in - and I am looking forward to the challenge - but I'll be annoyed if we don't get in.