Sunday, 29 January 2012

Chalk & Cheese

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Spot the Difference

After a hard weekend of riding I thought these two deserved a clean. The quick post clean picture got me thinking….
On the surface, these two bikes could hardly be more different. One, the epitome of the modern day XC mountainbike, the other a restored steel framed road bike. The Rourke can and has been ridden across counties, and up Alpine Cols, whereas the Orange really is just about the perfect do it all off road machine.

However, once you get beyond the obvious differences, they are surprisingly similar. Both are handmade in the UK by skilled craftsmen, and are full custom builds. I know even the pros ride off the peg stuff nowadays, but to me nothing beats handpicking the components yourself. There’s no others out there the same as either of these two.

They’re both absolutely focused on their intended purpose, and perhaps most importantly are a joy to ride. Oh, and I’m lucky enough to own both.

Monday, 16 January 2012

On the Boards @ Newport Velodrome

Yesterday saw the annual visit to the Newport Velodrome by my local Club Wrekin Sport(I really must get around to joining this year!). It’s the third year that I’ve tagged along, and is something I look forward to. We always tend to go early in the year, and it’s nice to ditch the extra layers that so often define winter riding in the UK.

Before I go on, let me introduce my bike for the day. A very nice Pinarello track bike. I’m not a fan of their current Carbon frames, but the steel bikes that Indurain rode during his dominant years at the tour still rank highly amongst my all time favourites.

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Not bad for £7.20!

After a few laps to warm up we were split into two teams, and Mike, our coach for the 2 hour session, started to explain some of the drills he had planned for us. The first was a 12 lap team pursuit drill. Riding fixed wheel at close quarters really focuses the mind, and you’re all too aware that even a slight touch of wheels could bring the whole team done. Keeping an even pace is key, especially as you go into the bends. I’m truly in awe of the GB Team Pursuit guys who make it look so easy to cycle within inches of one another whilst lapping at 60km/h. Just awesome!

We then tried out a team sprint before the highlight of the session for me, a 40 lap scratch race. I’m not sure how it happened but I lined up as the first man, and led the pack off. I was never going to win this, but I thought I’d have a go at leading for a lap or two. I set off at a pretty quick pace and managed to lead the first two laps, but with some much quicker riders behind me this wasn’t going to last long. The quick guys came past, and it was then a case of trying to find someone at your pace and to stick with them.

The lap counter was soon showing that we were over half way and I was still lapping at a fairly decent pace. As we entered the last half dozen laps, a guy passed me and I decided to try and hang on to him.  He pulled away slightly, but never more than about 4 bike lengths, and as we entered the last lap I was going just about as fast as my legs would take me. By my really crude timing, we managed the 40 laps in under 16mins, which is not far off 38km/h. Suprisingly quick, for me at least.

Our two hours were very nearly over and we spent the last 15 minutes or so warming down, and generally just enjoying a few laps at our own pace.

All in all a great couple of hours, and I’d recommend a session on the track to anyone who enjoys riding a bike.

Thanks to Dave Gos for organising this session for the club.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Aiming High in 2012

I blogged before about targets and what they can do for your riding, but I’ve only ever written about ones that I’ve passed. In 2012 I want to change that, and publish some targets up front. The aim being to keep me honest, and to measure progress against them as we go through the year.

So, here goes. I’ll start with the easy ones, the numbers.

  1. To ride 10,000km in 2012. Slightly shy of my 2011 distance, but still a healthy target to aim for. This year I want to focus on quality and not just quantity
  2. I managed to shed 2 stone in 2011 and there’s still a fair bit to go. My target for the year is to get down to 87kgs.
  3. To ride higher than ever before. This will hinge on our Tour de France trip in July, and our planned ascent of the Col du Galibier(2645m). My legs are hurting just thinking about it…..
  4. I’d like to get at least one really long day in the saddle in this year. 200km at least, maybe more.
  5. Lower my PB for a 10mile TT. I did a 27:30 in 2011, and I’d really like to get into the 25s, but that’s going to require a fair jump in average speed. We’ll see…
  6. Added 15/2/2012 - To complete a Metric Century Ride in every calendar month during 2012. Jan's and Feb's are in the bag, and hopefully i'll be able to keep it going.
  7. Added 15/2/2012 - This one is inspired by an exchange with Mart. It's a tough ask and it perhaps the one that will be the easiest to fail. To ride 100km in under 3hrs 30mins. My quickest so far is just over 3hr 40min, so there's a fair bit to do. Each km will need to be covered 6 secs quicker. Hmmm

Sometimes however it’s the things you can’t measure that give the most pleasure, and I’ve also got some more subjective targets for 2012. The main one being to develop the Shifnal Cycling Society. This is a loose amalgam of people who all share a passion for bikes, and great plans are afoot for 2012. From Sportives, to continental trips to pay homage to the greats of our sport, to multi day tours in England. I’m hoping that there will be something for everyone.