Monday, 16 February 2015

Clay All The Way

Some rides are tough. I don’t mean in a big mountain way, but just a bit of a grind.

I set out to find an all-weather route yesterday, highly optimistically, given the weather and the month. It didn’t start well with traffic all diverted onto the road I wanted as the North Circular was closed. I plodded through and arrived late to start the ride on some decent tracks as planned.

This went well for a while and I cruised along on semi surfaced tracks until the mud caught up with me. Soon I was ploughing through claggy muddy fields which clogged the wheels within seconds. This meant clearing the wheels every few minutes and at times trying to carry the bike through the fields, with the added weight of half the field attached to the bike.

It’s hard to tell if I enjoyed the ride. I did at times and discovered new paths that will be fun in the summer but were an utter slog in these conditions.

On the positive side I raced a sunset to the car, actually met the landowner of a footpath I’d been sneakily using and was told to go right on riding it, and got to ride past here.


Monday, 9 February 2015

Keeping it Underground

Maybe it’s the prospect of Spring not too far in the future, or the inconvenience of bus strikes but cycling in London seems to be everywhere in the news, whether it’s Boris bikes likely to go red with new sponsors, or the agreed new superhighway, or yet more road deaths. The most ridiculous story is perhaps the idea of using disused underground tunnels for bike paths.. Let’s be honest, that isn’t going to solve any problems.

A better underground bike idea is this bike park built in a salt mine in Louisville in Kentucky. Also clearly they have a great PR team as this has been picked up by all sorts of news sites.

Let’s stay in the world of bike parks and look at this 10-year old who will definitely make all adult riders feel highly inadequate.

OK so what else, well more opportunity to feel inferior when you look at this Strava profile.. It’s where you can keep track of Steven Abraham who is shooting to beat the record for the number of miles ridden in a year. This is a massive undertaking, and to add to the fun he’s up against other riders shooting for the same records this year, including an American with a catchy nickname. Read about it all here..

Linking beautifully again to records and champions this story of thieves who broke into Specialized’s HQ, took two one-off bikes and then tried to flog them to a bike shop in the same area for a fraction of their value. They were caught by police and the bikes are back where they belong.


Thursday, 5 February 2015

Little Wheels

As I roundly ignore the Tour of Dubai where Cav managed to rack up a stage one win, and Lance Armstrong being charged over lying about crashing into some parked cars, I’m going to bring you a BMX laden post.

Mike “Hucker” Clark showed what can go wrong when you follow your mates too closely.

Back in Europe this pretty much reaches the pinnacle of wall riding.

On the South Coast of England there’s more BMX.

Lots of little-wheeled fun.


Friday, 30 January 2015

Bikes in the Media

While braving the cold in the real world and hearing about the road pros gearing up for the season with races in warm places, there have been bikes in the news.

I couldn’t quite work out why, but the Guardian commissioned some hipster Lego which inevitably featured bikes. I think it’s safe to say they were not geared and had no brakes, so proper hipster steeds.

Top Gear repeated an old format of racing though a city in a car (or in this case a glorified invalid carriage), in a hovercraft, by public transport and by bike, in St Petersberg. Because it’s Top Gear the car won and the bike did less well, although you were left wondering if Richard Hammond hadn’t crashed and ruined his Pinarello Dogma, whether he would have easily cruised to victory.

More pro-bike I came across this delightful film on one of those channels that turn up on your Freeview and no one ever really watches.

Finally I'm not sure what to make of this:


Monday, 26 January 2015

Trying New Things

A free Sunday and kind-of not-terrible weather for January led to semi ideal conditions to go and get muddy in Hertfordshire. I had a plan, which was to investigate various links between rides I’ve been doing regularly in the area that looked possible on maps but I’d never ventured down. Some were bridleways I’d missed, some were tracks that variously looked to connect or possibly not. Depending on the scale of the map I looked at. All were worth trying to satisfy my curiosity, if nothing else.

The added benefit was to be able to try out a new bit of kit I had. The Garmin Fenix is a fully functional GPS watch that allows you to both track your activity and navigate. I uploaded my route to the watch, stuck a back-up map in my bag and set out to learn how it would work with the support of vaguely knowing where I was going in the area I was riding.

Once I’d sussed the zoom on the map on the watch it started to come into its own – showing me where the route I’d chosen went, even if it lacked more detail to help to navigate. What went less well was the route, which turned out to be littered with deadends and private woodland that split my best laid plans.

As ever, here is the Strava data:

More interesting perhaps is this image which shows my plan (in green) and my ride (in blue)

While it didn’t go as planned I am happy with the ride which allowed me to look at those possible-seeming routes and rule them out mostly. Aside from the exploration it was a hard ride on semi-thawed mud which got harder to make progress on as it got softer, and hitting many of the usual tracks in the opposite direction to the one I usually follow. It’s very easy to get a particular path in your head as one-way without reminding yourself what it’s like the other way and giving a whole new perspective on it.

Elsewhere this weekend it’s been an excellent time for DIY bike business, whether you want to build your own carbon fibre bike around a 3D printed frame, or want to buy a North London bike shop for 99p and get involved in bikes (and in taking on the successful Cycle Surgery branch up the road).