Thursday, 28 June 2012

Allez Wiggo!

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad App
Are you watching Cav?

Could we really be on the verge of the finest ever performance by a British cyclist? I for one think we can. On Saturday, Bradley Wiggins CBE will roll off the start ramp in Liege, and it will be time to see if all the training and preparation has paid off. I can’t begin to imagine what he must be feeling like right now. The 3 Olympic Gold Medals, the 7 rainbow jerseys, winning the Dauphine and Paris Nice, all will count for nothing. The next 3497 kilometres could potentially define his entire career. This might sound like an exaggeration, but if you’d have suggested only 5 years ago that Britain would have a realistic contender for the Maillot Jaune, no one would have taken you seriously.

We’re off to watch the Tour again this year, and will be amongst the millions who line the route each year.  It’s the Alps for us, and we’ll be there for stages 11 and 12 as the riders tackle the Glandon and Croix de Fer. As well as watching we’ll be aiming to ride a few of the Cols ourselves.

But back to Wiggo. I’m sure like many thousands of British cycling fans, I just want to wish Brad the best of luck, and will have everything crossed for the next three weeks that he stays upright and realises his dream.

Allez Wiggo!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Summer Solstice Metric Century Ride Report

As mentioned in an earlier blog entry, the plan was a simple one involving two of the Society’s favourite pastimes, riding bikes and drinking beer. It was important that the ride was a something out of the ordinary; long enough to ensure that the post ride beer was well earned. A metric century was the obvious choice, striking the perfect balance between kilometres covered and pints consumed.

For a variety of reasons we couldn’t actually ride on the Solstice itself, so we settled for Tuesday 19th. Initially it was looking like a strong turn out, but the small matter of England Vs Ukraine put paid to that, so at V minutes to six, three of us rolled away from my place. 

I’ve always found it a good tactic to split longer rides into sections, usually based on distances or places. But with an eye on the clock I decided to split this ride into hours. The main reason being that it would be a good way to monitor our progress, and to make sure we remained on track for being in the pub for 10.

The first hour passed without too much drama as we headed North from Shifnal and out towards Newport. Progress was reasonably swift but we were slightly behind schedule at the hour mark. Hour two saw us climb up towards Cheswardine before turning west toward what would be the halfway(ish) point of the ride, Wem. Some flatter roads meant that pace picked up and we passed 50km in just under 2 hours. We were back on target!

The third hour saw us enjoy the fast and flat roads that make riding in north Shropshire such a pleasurable experience, and we were well ahead of schedule as the light began to fade. Into the final hour and with less than 25 km to do things were looking good. However, as we passed through Lilleshall and onto the horribly draggy Abbey Road, Scott announced that he thought someone has fitted square chainrings to his Bianchi. One last withdrawal from the V-Bank was required. The pace dropped as we dragged ourselves up the final climb of the night, but once at the top, it was ‘sur la plaque’ for the final run into Shifnal.

10 o’clock passed as we went under the M54, and it was time for one last sprint for the imaginary finish line marked by the 30 speed limit sign as you enter Shifnal. Mart made full use of my slipstream and nipped by to steal the points by a wheel.

It was about 5 past ten as we sat down to enjoy a well earned beer. I really can’t think of a better way to mark the Solstice.

Big thanks to Mart and Scott for such an enjoyable evening!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Summer Social Ride - Sunday July 22nd 2012

As the giants of our sport awake in the town of Rambouillet to the south west of Paris and look forward to the final 120km of the 2012 Tour de France, we’ll be contemplating an altogether more relaxed affair. With any luck we’ll be riding to celebrate the finest ever performance of an English cyclist.

Our social rides are relaxed affairs aimed at everyone, and the testosterone is left at home. The only objective being to enjoy the ride, and no-one will be left behind. We’ll work in a refreshment stop midway round the route, and aim to be back at base in time to catch the end of the Tour on the Champs Elysees.

Full details of the ride can be found on the ‘News & Events’ tab above.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

More Than I'd Ever Dared Hope For

The wait's finally over!
Sunday 10th June 2012 saw the culmination of a long process which began back at the end of 2011.  A minor tweak to the saddle height was all that was required, and at just after midday, and minutes after the picture above was taken, I clipped into the pedals and rolled away from Rourke’s shop in Burslem.

A few hours earlier I awoke slightly nervous. Would I like the colour scheme in the flesh? Would all the hours I’d spent pouring over the minutia of the final build spec be worth it? Nearly 8 months since I first spoke to Gareth about a custom frame I was only hours away from collection.

As I walked into the bar area in the shop, there he was, Brian II, in the exact same spot that Brian Rourke himself had used when he measured me up in December 2011. My nervousness was gone in an instant, and I was staring at, what to my eyes at least, was the finest looking bicycle I’d ever had the pleasure of looking at. What’s more it was mine, well at least it would be once I’d payed for it!

The colours worked perfectly together, but it was the small details that really stood out. There are too many to list, but two in particular are noteworthy. The first was a very special custom headbadge that a chap call Geoff Moorhouse had made for me which sets the bike off beautifully, and also perfectly compliments the frame’s second, and perhaps finest feature. I’d chosen to have the trademark Rourke wrap over seatstays finished in the raw, and they’re a real testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the man who built the frame, Brian’s son, Jason.

One Very Special Headbadge

Signature Wrapover Seatstays

I’d decided long ago that I wanted to ride Brian II home from the shop, and so once @ASL191 had taken a few pictures, I was off. As I rode through the streets of Stoke it took some time to take it all in.  I really was riding along on a truly unique machine, one that had been built especially for me. The next two and a half hours were a real joy, riding south towards Rugeley before crossing Cannock Chase and turning east towards Shifnal. Brian II handled beautifully, super stable on fast downhills, and perfectly balanced on climbs. He really was everything I’d hoped for and much more besides.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the ‘team’ from Brian Rourke cycles. From the man himself who measured me up, to Gareth who played such a large part in making the whole experience such a pleasure. Lastly and not least, a massive thanks to Jason Rourke for building me my perfect frame.

Here's one last pic, just for the sake of it....

Brian II