Friday, July 27, 2012

Replica team kits etc.

Recently I've been emulating my heroes by purchasing and wearing some replica cycling team kit. 

I should point out they're not actually my heroes at all. They're people who get paid to ride bicycles for a living. I'm sure it's hard to do but I'd hardly describe it as heroic. Also, I'm not really emulating them; they don't have to pay for the stuff they wear and they use the top quality versions rather than the cheaper facsimiles I've purchased. 

So, in summary, almost everything I wrote in the first sentence is inaccurate. At best I'm an idiot and at worst I'm a filthy liar.

I was telling the truth about buying replica team kit. It's something I've only started doing this year. Well, even that's a bit of a lie. I've got a couple of Liquigas, Rabobank, Caisse d'Epargne, Cofidis, Garmin and CSC jerseys from a year or two ago but I only started buying other matching items this year. Am I confusing? Am I boring? Yes and yes. 

Anyway, it started with my getting 2011 Lampre bib-shorts and a jersey from Dave Kane Cycles in Belfast (which is a very good pair of shops staffed by a lovely helpful, patient with me and my annoying ways, family). That being the case, I may as well start with a bit of a ramble about them...

Manufacturer - Santini
Pros - The gripper on the bib-shorts is good and the items all fit me well (although that might say as much about me as it does about the clothing)
I like the pre-shaped bandana. Even I can't screw up tying that one on
Cons - Although it's better than it looks, the chamois/insert on the bib-shorts is rather basic and might not be particularly suitable for regular long rides
Short zip on the jersey 
White socks get grubby and can't be washed at a hot enough temperature to get them looking spotless again
Overall - For what I paid, I shouldn't complain at all but undoubtedly shall. Santini makes a bit of a fuss about all its items being produced in Italy but I don't think the quality of the items is any better than those made elsewhere. If anything, its quality is around the lower end of replica kit I have. It looks the part and is, at the very least, functional but there are higher quality team replica kits out there at similar prices. It does, however, look great. I love the aesthetic of the Lampre kit.

Right, that's enough of that for now. While writing, I found I was even boring myself. I'll witter about some other replica kit in the future OR maybe I won't because it was pretty darned tedious.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lately it seems almost all of Europe has been subjected to wretched horrid wet weather. Unsurprisingly we haven't avoided any of it here. As a result, my cycling excursions have been limited for the last couple of weeks.

I got complacent during a few hot dry weeks and forgot we normally have cold wet weather. I wasn't the only imbecile. Everybody seemed to be straight out in their shorts, short sleeves etc. Basking in the sun with no memory of the previous weather conditions was de rigueur for a short but glorious period of time.

[Apologies in advance for the boring statistics you're about to read or choose not to read] Beginning on Saturday the 19th of May at 9-41am, I cycled a route I do from time to time. I wore bib-tights and a winter jersey with a baselayer below. The temperature averaged  10.8°C/51.5°F for my excursion with a minimum of 6°C/42.8°F and a maximum of 17°C/62.6°F (which lasted about a minute and was right at the end of my cycle). Setting out at 9-42am on Saturday the 26th of May, I cycled almost exactly the same route, in shorts and a short sleeved jersey, and the average temperature was 25.8°C/78.4°F. The minimum was 21°C/69.8°F and the maximum was a whopping 32°C/89.6°F (again for a very short period right at the end of the cycle). Much as I like it, I'm not sure my Edge 800 is one hundred percent accurate with temperature but, assuming it's vaguely correct, how are such changes in temperature in a mere week even possible?

It's now (as you can tell from the date on this post) the middle of June. I went out for a cycle yesterday and had to wear a long sleeved baselayer below a short sleeved jersey and a pair of 3/4 length bib-knickers to cope with an 11.2°C/53.2°F average temperature. This is all rather discombobulating. I seem to remember there being definite seasons when I was a child. Perhaps it's a rose tinted memory and we've always had crazy temperature changes. Whilst on the subject of weather; Do you know lots of people who obsess over the weather despite not partaking in any activity which the weather affects? It seems loads of people gripe and moan about the terrible weather even though they spend almost their entire lives indoors. If I didn't want to do anything outdoors, I don't think the rain would bother me too much. 

Despite the weather grumbles, I managed to get out for a cycle last Sunday. Normally Sunday is the day we'd go out with one of the local clubs but I was trying out a new pair of Northwave 'Extreme Tech' shoes and didn't think my stopping constantly to adjust my cleats would be popular on a club run. I bought them because the Diadora 'ProRacer 2.0' shoes I bought a couple of months ago have started to hurt that bony bit on the top-right of my left foot. The Diadoras have got a little plate where the adjustable strap anchors and it has hurt my foot far more than one might imagine. It really is quite close to agony to attempt to wear the shoes. I tried e-mailing Chain Reaction (where I bought them) ten days ago and was told they were going to contact Diadora and get back to me. I'm still waiting. That's not good customer service. Besides, what useful insights are Diadora going to share? Will they send me some magic dust to sprinkle over the problem area and make everything okay?

Anyway, I'm wittering and should get back to my original point... I was out cycling last Sunday. While cycling uphill on a skinny country road, a car was hurtling downhill (toward me) at quite a pace. I did that invisible basketball dribble with my right hand to signal for the driver to slow down a bit. He didn't. Rather than brake, he decided to flip me the bird. Not pleased by this, I returned his bird with one of my own. Apparently it was okay for him to do this to me (and risk my life by nearly driving into me at speed) but my return of his gesture was beyond the pale. The ignoramus (the one in the car, not the one on the bike) stopped his car and began to reverse toward me. I, being a wuss, was rather frightened at the prospect of being punched/beaten/run over and kept cycling on as I had been. Thankfully the Neanderthal only reversed a little and then drove on but it reminded me, when cycling, it pays to have a long fuse and a short memory. 

We're so vulnerable when out on our bikes, compared to those driving large metal machines. If people shout abuse, drive dangerously, gesture in a less than pleasing manner etc. it seems the safest course of action from the cyclist is complete inaction. It's not easy to ignore someone who is being aggressive and bullying toward one but pressing on and trying to forget about it is probably the best thing to do. It's frustrating. People, of course, should not be treating one another in such a manner and people who do treat other likes that certainly shouldn't be behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Unfortunately they are and all we can do is try to make our cycles as enjoyable and safe as possible. As my almost blown rear tyre has shown me, there are enough potential dangers for cyclists outside the actions of others without enraging some idiot stranger too.

Sorry about writing quite so much and thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Blimey! That gave me a start

I got home today, after a cycle with my good lady, and discovered my rear Schwalbe Ultremo R.1 tyre was rather the worse for wear.

I know tyres have to wear at some point in their career but there was absolutely no warning until I got home, went to clean my tyres (which I do after practically every ride) and discovered a kind of wobbly bulge and an area, about half a centimetre by a centimetre and a half, with absolutely no rubber on it.

According to my bike computer, I have done 1921.84 miles on the Schwalbes. Is it normal for a tyre to go kaput around that point? Shouldn't there be some sort of warning it's going to happen? I feel very lucky they didn't cause an accident.

I've ordered a pair of Continental GP4000Ss. Are they likely to last me any longer than the Schwalbes did? I thought the Schwalbes seemed to roll reasonably well (in as much as any tyre does when I'm pedalling) and didn't have a problem with them on that front. I'd simply have liked a safer signal when it came to changing them. If the wear indicator on the Continentals is worth anything, that will be good.

Anyway, the moral of the story is to check your tyres almost constantly and don't get complacent.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

P is for...

As threatened promised, P is for Purchasing. I'm going to write some more ill informed opinion about something I've bought recently. What a treat this must be for you.

Today's subject is Castelli's Fondo bib-tights. Before I go any further, I'll ruin it by telling you, in almost the words of Tony the Tiger, 'They're frickin' great!'.

I'd rather not have to wear bib-tights in the middle of May but, if I've got to, these are great bib-tights to find myself wearing. 

Unlike some other bib-tights I could mention, the Fondo tights are a marvellous fit; they may well be the best fitting cycling item of clothing I own. No flapping or loose crotches with these tights. They're snug and extremely comfortable while allowing full freedom of motion. I don't find myself having to adjust them at all once they're on and the KISS3 chamois  more than does its job. 

At the risk of sounding like a complete pervert, it seems to diminish that awful smell of one's sweaty gusset extremely well. If I give it a quick sniff upon getting home, it's not absolutely rancid. Who even knew that was possible? In addition to being fairly stink free, the KISS3 (despite being fairly thin and unobtrusive) is remarkably good in terms of comfort.

The tights themselves are splendid. They seem to give me the most support where needed and allow my blood to flow where it's supposed to be going. Although not of the super warm variety, they definitely keep me snug and happy in the temperatures suggested on the Castelli website. They don't have any special windproofing qualities (or pretend to) so an additional pair of windproof tights might be wise to own for blustery conditions OR maybe looking out the window, saying "It's a bit windy, I think I'll stay inside" would be even more wise.

As an indication of how highly I regard these bib-tights; I've bought six pairs of them. That's not to be taken entirely out of context. I should point out I haven't payed the £109GBP RRP (or close to it) for any of them. I firstly bought two plain black pairs from ProBikeKit for £59-40GBP each and then noticed Evans (as in the bike shop rather than the clothes shop for the medium to larger lady) was selling them for (including a 15% discount offer at the time and some Quidco cashback) less than £50GBP a pair. That being the case, I bought another four pairs from there (one in blue and three in Italian Flag). Smashing! All in all, I got six pairs of Fondo bib-tights for the RRP of three. Hoorah! 

At the time of writing this, Evans is still selling them for £59-99GBP and currently has a 10% discount on top of that. If you're interested, you could do a lot worse.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ranting, cycling and boring

Heed the warning (on your left). I am about to rabbit on, in a completely uninteresting manner, about cycling nothings. 

Today, I find myself sitting indoors as constant rain spatters the world outside me. I'm not grumbling. It could be a lot worse. I've been drinking overly sweet coffees and am currently watching live coverage of the Giro d'Italia (often my favourite annual sporting event) on Eurosport. Life isn't too bad at all. Besides, I got out for a great cycle yesterday and my legs would probably appreciate the rest. They're not as young as they once were. 

I've had the pleasure of getting out on my bicycle a reasonable (for me) amount recently. Unlike a lot of neighbouring countries, it has generally been quite dry here. Sure, we've had strong winds but (as an old man once said to me about hills) you've got to try to look at that as an investment; It might be in your face on the outward leg of your journey but you'll be glad of it on the way home. That's the theory anyway. I'm not sure it works quite like that in reality. Yesterday was extremely calm and I found that considerably preferable.

So, what have I been up to in my unexciting word of cycling excursions? Probably the main event which happened (or almost happened) was last Saturday. I was out cycling on my own in a bright yellow jersey, coming down a little bit of a downhill and about to pass through a crossroads where I had right of way. Yep, we can all see where this is going. As I was coming downhill, I had good visibility and could see a small van (one of the wee vans with a car type front and van rear, if that makes sense) stopped at the end of the road to my right. The driver sat there for maybe five seconds or more and then pulled out, to his right, just as I was about to pass. 

It was so close, I could easily have touched the van and, in retrospect, am a bit sorry I didn't give it a slap to see if the driver thought he'd hit me and would have stopped. I was able to look right in the passenger window at the driver. After he passed, I shook my fist a bit (no rude gestures, which I thought was very reserved of me) and signalled to stop and come back. Unsurprisingly, he didn't. 

Thankfully I got the registration and was able to give it to the police along with a basic description of the driver. I found the police surprisingly helpful. That's not to say I expected them to be deliberately unhelpful. I simply imagined I'd get a 'Sorry, we can't really do anything about it' response. Instead they said it was terrible, I should be able to cycle without fear on the roads and they will try to track down the driver and have a word with him to let him know he's on file and this sort of behaviour is not acceptable. That's better than I imagined. I understand they can't prosecute with nobody else there as an eyewitness or without a confession from the driver himself. It turns out the van is registered to a company. With any luck, the driver will get in trouble with his bosses and possibly face some sort of disciplinary action there. Well, I live in hope. 

Obviously I was able to keep everything together and not get run off the road (just about) but it seems likely the intent of the driver was to try to get me to crash. Especially with my coming downhill at reasonable pace, that could have been pretty nasty. Even if the intent wasn't there and it was merely that the driver didn't notice me, I'm not sure that's any better. If people are driving about who can't see cyclists in bright jerseys, it would be nice to stop them driving around at all.

What else have I been up to? I've been getting a few more miles with those Time pedals I did a fumbling review of recently and continue to be impressed. One tiny niggle (actually less than a niggle but I can't think of a word lighter than niggle) is how I seem to be able to half-clip in from time to time. It doesn't happen terribly often but it would be better if it didn't happen at all. It may well be down to me and my clumsiness. What will happen is, I'll try to clip in and my cleat will get to a point where it's kind of in the pedal but doesn't feel fully engaged. I then seem to have to unclip and clip in again. It's not a big problem and, as I mentioned, may be down to my poor motor skills. Even when it is semi-clipped, I can still pedal happily enough; I just wouldn't like to have to rely on it when standing.

I was lucky recently; my heart rate strap stopped working. That, in and of itself, doesn't sound particularly lucky. However, it stopped working eight days before the warranty would have run out and I was able to get a replacement. Being me, I had (of course) ordered a replacement strap as soon as it stopped working and ended up with a second strap. That wasn't bad news for KG as it means she was able to switch her old heart rate strap for one of the new softer fabric ones. Plus, it means the old strap is there as backup if either of the new ones stops working. It's all good, as I believe I once heard a person say, possibly in a film.

On the subject of KG, I'm sorry to say she's been experiencing a bit of knee pain recently herself. She cut a few (uphill) miles off the end of yesterday's cycle to attempt to save her knee a bit. Here's hoping she doesn't continue to have any bother with it. Some stretching, overuse of Biofreeze and and strengthening exercise should help matters.

I've been reading the book French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France. Have you read it? I initially started reading our copy of it quite a few years ago, decided I didn't like Tim Moore (the author) very much and stopped. I decided to go back to it recently and, while I'm still not overly enamoured with the author, I find parts of the book fairly interesting and amusing. Some of the book, I'd say, should be taken with a pinch of salt. I fear Moore is a fibber at best and outright liar at worst. He's a difficult man to like and gives many reasons not to but it's still reasonably entertaining reading at times, if a little drawn out to fill pages (says Mr. Pot about Mr. Kettle although, with my being merely some unread internet random, I don't feel any guilt about doing so).

Another one of my feeling manly without any good reason about repairing my bike moments happened the other day. I'd been having a spot of bother with my forks jiggling about a little. To explain a bit better; if I had my front brakes on, there was a millimetre or two of motion if I tried to move my bike forward and/or backward. Oh and there was an unpleasant clicking noise too. Well, the noise wasn't unpleasant so much as the reason behind the noise. A nice man in a bike shop told me it was probably due to the headset being a bit loose inside the steerer. He then showed me a couple of different types of headset so I could understand how they gripped the inside of the steerer. Thankfully the headset on my bike was of the easy to adjust yourself with an allen key variety. Despite getting confused twice in a row and letting part of the headset fall down into the tube, I finally managed to understand anti-clockwise turns tightened the unit in place, did that, replaced the stem and spacers and, amazingly, it seems good.I was able to fix it in a matter of a few minutes. Just goes to show what a tiny iota of passed on knowledge can do. It saved me the time and money of having to take the bike to a professional and means I don't have to be without it for a day or two. Hurrah! The world is wonderful. 

I think that's quite enough of my witterations for now. For anyone reading, it must be like receiving a really boring e-mail which wasn't actually intended for you. Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

P is for...

P is for P-P-P-Puppy Power...

...but not in this case.

It's for Purchasing again. As promised/threatened, I'm going to write a blathering load of auld muck about some stuff I've bought in the past couple of months. This time, I'll witter about a couple of pairs of bib-tights.

As their catchy name suggests, these are some windproof bib-tights made by the company Craft. What do I think of them? As I'm lazy, I'll copy and paste the overlong review I did for ProBikeKit and they seem to have chosen not to post.

  • Windstopper type fabric does, as suggested, stop the wind.
  • Tights are generally warmer than the thin material at the back (windstopper at the front) might suggest.
  • Chamois, while not outstanding, is at least 'good enough'. There are superior chamois available but it's definitely comfy enough to go for a few hours on the bicycle without any pain or problems.
  • Stitching etc. seems good and the general quality of the bib-tights is fairly high.

  • A bit of a weird fit. I'm about 5' 10"/1.78m tall and weigh around 152 lbs/69Kg. I bought size medium and they're pretty loose round the legs and a little MC Hammer at the gusset.
    I don't think it's merely my stick-like bird's legs causing problems; they're a snug fit in other bib-tights. I wonder if it's partly to do with the windstopper fabric. It doesn't seem to have the same stretch as the likes of Lycra and might not pull so taught to one's legs. Or, alternatively, I could be completely wrong. Whatever the case, the bib-tights aren't as snug as fit as one might like.
  • Despite also listing it as a pro, I think the chamois could be better on a pair of tights retailing at over £100 GBP. Maybe I'm slightly delusional about what one can expect his/her money.
In summary; I think the RRP (£107 GBP) on these bib-tights was a tad on the high side, given their 'fitting' concerns but the ProBikeKit sale price (£70-20 GBP when I bought them but up to £97-20 GBP at the time of posting this) is considerably better value. 

The looser legs and low slung crotch aren't really a major problem when pedalling (although there is the odd bit of catching on the end of the saddle to annoy one with). It generally takes a bit of 'hiking up' to get into a comfortable position before setting off and never sits quite as one would desire. If one has huge, thick but quite short, legs s/he'll probably find they're an excellent fit. Otherwise, s/he'll probably discover a smaller size would fit the girth of his/her legs better but the usual size will fit the length.

I hope that's of some use. Apologies for wittering.

Monday, April 30, 2012

P is for...

P is for Panda but, in this case, it isn't actually for panda. I merely liked the image of the panda and nabbed it from a Google Images search. P is for Plagiarism. I wish I had a superb panda/cycling related anecdote to share but I don't. If you'd like to write such a tale yourself and share it with me, please do so in the comments section (below). The best answer wins absolutely nothing (as does the worst and all the non-answers).

My P this time is for Purchasing. Yes, I've done that one before but sure this whole blog is nothing but repeated rambling witters about vaguely cycling related bits and bobs. Don't start complaining now. If you weren't moaning right at the start, you're too late.

Being the exciting chap I am, I've recently bought some stuff. Please excuse my technical terminology. I have (as already noted) bought a new bike (albeit for my beloved/other half/'er indoors etc. etc.) and some wheels recently but I'll write about other stuff rather than cover them again.

I decided I'd share my first impressions on some of the stuff I've bought. To call these reviews would be very flattering; they're more gibbering thoughts than anything. Maybe they'll be useful, maybe they won't. Either way, they fill space, give me something to do and prove I'm still alive.

Time I-CLIC Carbon pedals
(NB that link goes to information on this year's version of the pedals. They're not terribly different from the pedals I bought)

I'd been using Look A5.1 pedals for the past while and, although they were fine at the time, they're a tad antiquated and heavy by today's standards. That being the case, I decided to change to something more modern. Would I stay with Look pedals and go Keo, choose Shimano SPD SL, maybe Speedplay  and their zany pedal clips into the cleat craziness (obviously I didn't do any of those and the questions were rhetorical) or possibly the likes of Time? The world was my oxter

So, off I popped to some local bike shops (that could be the start of an awful rhyme) to see what each pedal had to offer. It appears they primarily offered something very similar; a large triangular plastic cleat. Speedplay, of course, was different but we'll mention their twisted perversions no longer. Ultimately my choice of Time hinged on three points:

a) Absolutely lovely guy in shop (and his equally charming brother in their other shop) said he'd been using Time because he suffered knee problems in the past and found Time pedals good for alleviating that. That led me to think "Hmmm. I've had a bit of knee bother myself..." (who hasn't?) "...they might be a suitable choice for me too".
b) I'd tried Look (albeit not Keo) and my good lady has Shimano SPD SL on her bicycle. I wanted to try out a make I had no experience with.
c) This is probably the most important point; I thought they looked good. They're black, pointy and sleek looking. I wanted to see them on my bike. Even if I can't pedal to any level, I want my bike to look as good as I can on the budget I have. It spends the vast majority of its time sitting around hoping I don't get back on it or pleading to be cleaned. Why not let it look as good as it can during those times?

Time it was then. £134GBP later (I know I could have got them for cheaper online but the shop I bought them from was absolutely excellent and I wanted to give them my business) and I was the proud owner of a pair of Time I-CLIC Carbon pedals and their associated cleats. 

This is all leads to the important question; Are they any good? 

So far, I've done four journeys on them for a total of slightly over 170 miles (275 Km if you're a bit more advanced than me and my imperial ways). Of course that's not enough to fully judge any pedals on but, so far, I've noticed them being a bit easier to push than the heavy old Looks were. I'd like to think modern Look (and other brands) pedals would also compare favourable against a close to ten years old pair of Looks with Delta cleats (not to be confused with Delta Goodrem who, it appears, doesn't click into any type of pedal).

Clipping in and out seems very easy. I'd say it's more natural than I've found it to be with the Look Deltas. There's less of an almighty click. As is to be expected, it takes me a little while to acclimatise myself with the slightly different pedal position when clipping in but I think I've got used to already. Despite the lack of thunderclap click (I'm getting carried away now), my feet don't seem like they might unclip of their own accord. I'm pretty sure they're solidly held in place when clipped in. Like any new pedal, some cleat microadjustments had to be made to get me comfortable but I'd imagine that's going to be the case with every pedal on the market. The only particular nuance one might wish to be aware of with Times is their more shallow cleat. They clip in about half a centimetre lower than other cleats. I had to lower my saddle a tiny amount to allow for this. Prior to that, I'd experienced a little pain in my right (which is my weaker side) hamstring and think that may have been due to the change in position. Since microadjusting the cleats and the seatpost, I've found them very comfortable.

Without meaning to make a terrible pun, time will tell how the new pedals and I fare as a couple. So far so good. They're light, comfortable (once adjusted, as with any pedal), easy to clip and out of while secure and (most importantly) they look great. They're the Venger of the pedal world. One downside some people might be wary of is Time only makes one type of cleat for their I-CLIC pedals. If you'd like the choice of different amounts of float in your cleat, Time might not be for you. Thankfully it seems (to date) to be for me. I found all the standard adjustments (cleat positioning on the shoe, saddle height etc.) catered for my needs.

Rather than witter on (and I certainly did) about another item I've recently bought, I'll stop here and do that at a later point. That will give you something to look forward to; a reason for living.

Just before I go, I've been out cycling with (the slow group of) a club recently. I've enjoyed it but noticed something which slightly baffles me. A few times, people have said something along the lines of "When you get into cycling you'll find..." or something in a similar vein. There seems to be an assumption a person can't be into cycling without going out cycling with a club. In actual fact, they're one of at least six clubs I've been out cycling with over the course of about the last eight or nine years. I just find it kind of funny and maybe a little patronising the way some people speak to one when s/he is a new member of their club. Mustn't grumble really. Other than that microscopically tiny niggle, they're an excellent bunch and I'm thoroughly enjoying my time cycling with them. I can definitely see many advantages to cycling in a group.

Friday, March 30, 2012


As a tedious (the 'bores' bit of RantingCycleBores isn't there just for looks) update to my earlier post, I eventually decided which wheelset I would buy.

The picture on the left may have slightly given the game away; I chose a pair of Fulcrum Racing 1 wheels.

Initially, my interest in the Fulcrums was piqued by the arrival of a 'buy our stuff' e-mail from Ribble. They were selling Fulcrum Racing 1 wheelsets for £520GBP (delivered) and that seemed like a good deal. Most other stockists appear to be looking for around £675GBP for them, which doesn't necessarily include delivery. So, off I went to investigate them (and another three wheelsets) further and find out if they'd be suitable for me. Thanks to the customary Google Shopping search, I discovered a German shop called H&S Bike-Discount selling them for 539.90€. After a quick currency conversion, that turned out to be (even adding 2€ for DHL/Deutsche Post delivery instead of DPD) around £450GBP.

As a tightwad, I couldn't let an offer like that pass me up and ordered the wheelset on Tuesday morning. On Thursday afternoon, the wheels were on my bike. That's a splendid delivery time. I'm impressed. Plenty of companies within the UK don't deliver as quickly.

Although I'm tempted, I haven't been out on the bike to try the wheels yet. I'd been for cycles the two days prior to receiving the wheels and don't want to risk fatiguing my dodgy knee. It hasn't given me any real bother yet this year but I'm not going to push my luck with it. I'll keep on with the ice pack compression, Biofreeze, stretching, light resistance work etc. and hope to turn it into a beast of a knee.

Fingers crossed (that'll make braking difficult) the wheels will be everything I hope for and more.Link

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

P is for...

P is for Pervert: Before I go any further, I feel the necessity to explain the photo on the left. It's from a film called Pervert! The Horror Channel seemed to keep showing it for a while but now appears to have given up. I tried to watch it once but didn't have the dedication to see it through, giving up quite early on. It's very much in the sub-sub-Russ Meyer mold; like something Meyer might have considered but decided against due to its low quality.

Explanation of that over, Why is P for pervert? Again it's a slightly long winded explanation of something simple...

A couple of weeks ago my good lady and I were round at a house belong to friends of ours [Yes, all these people really do exist outside my imagination] and we were talking about cycling. One of our friends said he thought Lycra wearing cycling was for perverts. I assume he was joking. However, I was rubbing some chamois cream around the general area of my anus today and about to pull up bib-shorts which revealed the outline of my genitals quite plainly and thought 'Joking or not, he has a point'.

Continuing in that theme, last night I did my first cycle leg shave. I'll be honest, I did it as much for something to do and a bit of 'I wonder why people do it. I'll do it and see if it makes any difference' as anything. I'm knee deep in cycling perversion.

So, my question is : Are cyclists little more than a thinly disguised bunch of pervs?

By the way, I've tagged this post with the word boobies. If past experience is anything to go by, I expect it to get many more views than the vast majority of the other posts on this blog.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Wheels damn wheels

Forgive the nabbed stock photo (left) please.

I'm in the market for a new set of wheels. For most, that might not be a big deal but, for me, it's cause for concern. If I pick the wrong set, I'll be raging with myself. I hate spending money on something only to find out it's no better/worse than the item(s) I'm already using.

Annoyingly, with wheels, it's not as if I can buy them, try them out for a couple of weeks and then return them to the shop. Without trying them, my severe lack of knowledge on the subject (and many other subjects) means I don't really know how the pros and cons of each might affect me personally.

I know there's no point in my spending huge amounts on an all-carbon fancy pants wheelset. I'm not racing or even time-trialling. It's all going to be for recreational usage. That written, like most cyclists, I'd like to be able to positively affect my cycling through technology.

'Would deep section wheels be good?' 'Are they bad on the hills because of additional weight in the rims?' 'What about cycling in crosswinds?'. All these questions mill about in my head and I don't have any proper answers to them. Quite simply, I don't know. Not knowing anything about the subject makes it very difficult for me to choose the correct wheels.

I'm not sure the people working in the bike shops necessarily give sound advice on this subject. They're bound to be slightly affected by what makes more money for the shop, which wheels would suit their personal cycling style etc. All I can do is have a look at a few wheelsets in the flesh and try to ascertain what might suit my needs best and give good value. On that front, having Chain Reaction reasonably nearby is a huge bonus. Buying blind online would be even more likely to yield random and potentially disappointing results.

At present, I think I've narrowed my selection down to one of three or four wheelsets made by Fulcrum, Mavic and Shimano. They (all but the Mavics) seem to be available with pretty good offers (particularly from Planet X) at present. I don't like to miss out on a good deal. It gets more tempting and more confusing.

I keep thinking I've ruled out a certain wheelset with thoughts like 'There's too much potential of crosswinds affecting those rims' but then find myself countering with '...but they look great and I'm shallow'.

In summary, buying wheels is a confusing process for an idiot.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

F**k ewe!

I was cycling up Glenariff yesterday. As you'd imagine, I wasn't exactly flying. However, I was going fast enough to be held up by a farmer driving a flock of sheep up the road. Three cars were held up in front of me too. That's not interesting but it is relevant to some other non-interesting gubbins I'll be mentioning soon.

It was a nuisance to me but I understand farmers have to move their sheep between fields at some point and I was just unlucky to chance upon that road at that time.

So, anyway, I had to crawl up the road after this farmer (who was on a quad) and his flock of sheep. It took, what seemed like, ages. I'd estimate the two fields were at least half a mile apart and the poor little bleaters were tootling along at about four miles an hour.

To push toward my grumpy point, eventually the sheep reached their destination and another farmer (who I shall refer to as Farmer 2) guided them into their field. As each of the three cars passed, Farmer 2 smiled or said 'Thank you' and waved in appreciation. Then it was my turn. I nodded an acknowledgement to him as I was nearing Farmer 2 and got a complete fuck you stare in return. Huh? What the hell did I do to merit that?

I was way more obstructed than the motorists; I had to weave through sheep poop and was barely going at a speed where I could keep upright while they were able to sit (admittedly still being held back) in comfort and not have to worry about fresh sheep plops or unsuccessful attempts at track stands.

It's no big deal really but I find that kind of behaviour somewhat baffling. Why be all sweetness and light to the motorists and then glare at a cyclist who is proactively being friendly? That's not to say the motorists weren't being friendly. I simply don't know in their case.

As I say, it doesn't matter much but wouldn't life be more pleasant if people could show more appreciation to one another and at least feign being positive.

I'd like to add that I bear the sheep no malice whatsoever. They did their utmost to accommodate me and were very polite, other than the public defecation.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New shoes?

Many years ago (when I was young and at school) if someone wore new shoes it was a great jape to shout 'New shoes!' and stamp on and kick the shoes (and therefore feet contained within) to scuff them up. How our parents must have laughed when we came home with bruised feet and shoes barely fit for wear after one day of use. My own parents got their revenge on such actions by making me wear shoes with a little metal strip on the heel 'to stop them wearing out'. I would clickety clack down the corridors of the school like some kind of reverse tap dancer. In a way, I suppose it's not that different from the noise cleated cycle shoes make. The more things change etc. etc.

Why mention all this? Erm, I'm not sure. I kind of know. Bear with me while I witter please. There's a link in my head somewhere.

The other day, my beloved Kirby Girl purchased some new cycle shoes. Despite temptation, I didn't jump all over them and scuff them up. So, new shoes for the woman; what's the big deal about that? It's because KG has also got a new bike to go with her new shoes. Actually, that's not entirely true; the bike was ordered before the shoes.

Anyway, the Moser (with Shimano 105 groupset)arrived this morning and, after a couple of hours (no, I don't know why it took me that long either) to set it up, out we went for a spin. I don't know if it was the new bicycle or a new lease of life in the woman herself but KG was tough to keep up with today, particularly as I tired and she seemed to become stronger. My ego may not be able to tolerate this. To add to the me being easily surpassed concern, this was only about the second time KG has tried clipless pedals. I fear I shall soon be completely obsolete; a millstone round the neck of a speedy woman.

Well, I would fear all that but for my secret weapon; KG relies on me to fix any punctures (which she had one of today due to, I think, a dodgy tube). Once she does that for herself, I'll be melted down and made into glue and soap.

EDIT: I meant to mention but forgot; When KG had her puncture, I used a Topeak 'RaceRocket' mini-pump to inflate the tyre. Normally I find mini-pumps a bit awkward and can only get tyres to a bare minimum inflation but the RaceRocket did a good job and got the tyre pressure up to around 100 PSI (according to our track pump when we got home).

The combination of being able to securely thread the pump onto the valve and having a pliable hose (allowing me to put a bit of welly behind it without fearing damage to the valve/rim) seems to be a good one. As you'd expect, it takes a fair bit of effort to get up to 100 PSI or so but it's way more than I've managed with other mini-pumps. Normally I can't seem to get them above about 75 PSI, despite their manufacturer's claims.

Unfortunately, Topeak pays me nothing for this glowing endorsement.

EDIT 2: Yeah, I realise I should have put the crank in line with the chainstay and the chain into the big ring in the photo above. Quit yer griping! If I'd been doing it properly, I shouldn't have had a dirty wall with a copper pipe in the photo either and probably should have used a camera with higher definition than my antiquated phone.LinkLink

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Club Cycling

Today I went out with a cycle club for the first time in a few years. It wasn't the Belgian Beer Cafe Cycling Club; they're at the other side of the Earth. I just liked their wee picture and thought I'd nab it.

Anyway, yeppers, I went out with a cycle club today and, lo and behold, it was great. I (and my good lady) both enjoyed it. Despite my fears of 'Eek! I'll not be able to keep up' etc. I've returned, am still alive and didn't keep anyone back to the point where s/he hit or swore at me. I call that a resounding success.

It's looking very much like we might go club cycling again. This could be the start of something beautiful (as long as one completely misuses the word beautiful). Prior to this, my idea of a cycle club was eating a chocolate biscuit or drinking fizzy orange with bits in it while I'm on my bike.

In other news, er' indoors (or some other similar seventies, slightly misogynistic, term for a lady) is getting a new bike. All being well, that should be here within the next week or so and I'll be able to coerce her into more and more cycling. The downside of that is she's a bit fitter (a lot fitter if one means it in terms of attractiveness) than me at the moment anyway. I don't want her leaving me in a cloud of dust.

Friday, March 09, 2012

I wrote a joke

I wrote a joke:

Q. What do you call a transvestite who rides a bike off-road?

A. A cyclocross-dresser

(I didn't say it was a good joke)