“First you shave your legs, and now you’re reading romantic fiction? What has happened to you?” My fiancée politely asks. “It’s about cycling really, the romance bit is just… erm a bit of it” I protest. I’m reading Wheeler, a fictitious tale about an elite female cyclist’s racing season. Or more accurately it’s about her life on and off the bike throughout the season. Continue reading →
I had this preconceived idea of what bicycle based adventures would be like before I’d even done one. I dreamt of freedom, 100s of miles of beautiful winding back roads and setting up my wild camp as the sun started to set. Before setting off on my first adventure I channeled my enthusiasm into riding a lot, getting fitter; and spent many evenings making my own tent to spend the night in. I wanted to cycle Lands End (South West England) to John O’groats (North East Scotland), and I wanted to do 100 miles a day with wild camping every night (wild camping is not technically legal in England where most of the journey would take place).
I was not adverse to buying a nice lightweight tent, I just couldn’t afford the ones I wanted. All I wanted was a small lightweight tent, something around 1kg. Less material should mean less money, but we all know that’s not how things work; less is often so much more! So whilst I wouldn’t be able to come up with something of professional quality, making it myself would keep it within my tiny budget and I also had a few ideas about saving excess weight, it all made perfect sense at the time. This is the story of the homemade tent, to act as a warning to many and inspiration to the brave – 900 miles with a homemade tent. Continue reading →
I was fortunate enough to stumble upon one of the Team GB track bike frames used in the Rio Olympics at a recent motorsport engineering show that I was attending for work. Having recently read Chris Boardman’s book and learnt about the “Secret Squirrel” program developing the equipment for the next Olympics and the Team GB medal factory. It was fascinating to see the latest creation, the product of wind tunnel testing and computer based aerodynamic modelling simulations. At this point in time it’s probably the most aerodynamic bike frame in the world, until the next Olympics that is. With aerodynamics being one of the most important factors in performance cycling and the general public having no more insight into the drag coefficients than the sales brochures; it’s fascinating to see the pinnacle of the current development if only as a visual reference point. I wanted to share this as I find not just the engineering, but also the process interesting. Continue reading →
It has become increasingly apparent over the last few years, that Yorkshire is a bit special when it comes to cycling. Having grown up in the North York Moors National Park, I have to say that I did just find the relentless and ridiculously steep hills quite hard work. It is only now, as a passionate and travelled cyclist, that I appreciate how unique the terrain is back in North Yorkshire.
I have put together a little route as a great introduction to North Yorkshire cycling. Download the file for your Garmin (other navigation systems are available) from the links below. Continue reading →
As I approached the blind corner I get out of the saddle, kicking a bit harder to help me up the hill that lay around the bend. With a car tucked in tightly behind me, waiting impatiently for a clear road, I heard a loud ping from behind me. Nowhere to stop and check, I glance down: Garmin and lights, still there; saddle bag, in place. In the light of the car headlights I see my wheel weaving wildly beneath me. Another spoke gone, the third one in 5 weeks. These wheels are done! Damn it, this cheap winter bike is becoming a bit “Triggers Broom”*.
There will be no awards for me saving money. I’ve only just replaced the frame! Now I’m looking at a new set of wheels. It’s a fixed wheel winter hack; nothing to go wrong they tell me. Except so far the frame has snapped, the chain and sprockets have worn out and the rear wheel has had enough. So apart from that, and few punctures; yeah apart from all that it’s been very reliable. And with a list like that, you will be asking the same question as they did about Trigger’s broom: “So how is it the same broom(bike) then?”
The forecast temperature doesn’t always tell the whole story; wind and wind direction, clouds, sun, freezing fog, humidity and rain can all affect the “feels like” temperature on a long ride. Often it’s fingers and toes that suffer in the cold and I lose the ability to brake and change gears, but sometimes I overdress and experience the “boil in the bag” effect. With too few pockets to contain an unwanted layer what am I supposed to do? Eat it? Tie it round my neck like a super hero’s cape? In short it’s a true skill to get the kit right every time, and the more I buy the more choices I have to make. On a short ride I can tolerate the discomfort, but I’ve had an idea about how to “design” longer winter rides to optimise my clothing for the day’s conditions, let me explain… Continue reading →
I first became aware of this book when I was reading Bert Wagendorp’s Ventoux. As the main character describes how his cycling obsession began “The urge to sit on a racing bike again came back later. That was after I had read The Rider by Tim Krabbé. I was 15, read it at one sitting, and knew instantly what I had to do.” With both books being originally written in Dutch I suppose it was inevitable that the later would mention the original Dutch cycling classic. Continue reading →