Friday, 30 August 2013

The Colour is Crucial

I’ve always loved bikes and cycling. When I was just a young lad we never had a family car so the bicycle was our only form of independent transport. My Dad would pedal to work on his bright orange Claud Butler road bike and I would set off for school on my shiny new pale blue Kalkhoff racer (with cotter-less cranks).  I had huge saddle bags loaded with packed lunch, P.E. kit, school books etc.

At the weekends my Dad and I would go out on our bikes together. The route would normally follow canal towpaths through the industrial Black Country and we would invariably stop for refreshments at a Banks’s pub (I’d have Vimto and a bag of plane crisps whilst my Dad would have a pint of mild and a bag of scratchings). Magical memories lodged in my brain and probably the foundation for my passion for bicycles.

It was in 2010 when I first saw Rob Penn’s BBC4 documentary “Ride of My Life: The Story of the Bicycle”. I immediately bought Rob’s book “It's All About the Bike” and read it twice (The story of his love affair with cycling and the journey to build his dream bike; a freewheeling pilgrimage taking him from Californian mountain bike inventors to British artisan frame builders – Brian Rourke). In 2011 I went to meet Rob and see his bike at whilst he was giving a talk at Hereford Leisure Centre.
Since then I set myself a goal to have a custom made Rourke dream bike of my own.

So, over two years have passed and still no dream bike as of yet for me. Why not?

Well, although custom built bikes don’t come cheap, the financial aspect of the acquisition hasn’t been the main blocker(I've been saving).  Nor is it selection of components (group set etc.- I already have them).

Unbelievably, the main reason for the delay has been my indecisive pondering over a suitable colour scheme for the frame.  Initially, there was no doubt in my mind – I would simply go for my favourite colour. However, after looking at hundreds of pictures of different colour bikes I became confused and it dawned on me that I had more than one favourite colour.  Some bikes even look good in colours that I don’t like e.g. Pale Green or brown.

A custom built bike is a very special thing and it would be a poor show if after going through the 8 month process of planning (or in my case 3 years) the end result doesn’t produce a thing of beauty. I want the bike to be eye catching with a subtle amount of bling but not so much that it’s overly gaudy.

It's not only one colour to consider. The lower part of the seat tube and down tube can be different to the cross bar. Then there's the bands on the main tubes - how many and what colour? Not forgetting the font style and colour of the famous Rourke decals.

To confuse the issue even more there are now an abundant array of various coloured anodised components (hubs, head sets, bottom brackets…) available of which I am a great fan. Going down the road of fitting extravagantly coloured component’s makes choosing frame colour scheme the more difficult.

I don't want to end up riding a rainbow that will initiate migraines at 10 yards.  


For the last 12 months, I have bubble sorted may way through a collection of about 50 photos of bikes that of which I like the colour in attempt to make a decision. This process has been fruitless. It’s been a different result every time.


As I mentioned earlier, my first proper road bike was a pale blue Kalkhoff. My Dad bought it because it was the best in the shop with the best components but, to be honest, I was never fan of the colour (I never told my Dad).
After a couple of years of commuting to school every day, the bike started to look tatty so my Dad and I agreed that we strip down and repaint the frame.  I repainted by hand with a brush, applying multiple coats and finely rubbing down in-between to guarantee the perfect finish.

The end result was superb and more importantly in a colour that I loved. The fond memories of repainting and rebuilding are what have finally helped me to decide on a colour for my dream Rourke custom bike.  Nostalgia has finally helped me make a decision.

So, after almost 3 years of pondering, I finally have an appointment for a fitting at Rourke’s next week and I’ll be going armed with a chosen colour scheme for my new frame – unless I change my mind in the next 7 days!

BTW, I have applied to the ‘International Committee of Favourite Colours’ to officially have my favourite colour changed.

Ride Report - The #BaconRun

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The Destination

The formula is a simple one….
An early morning alarm call, load up the panniers, and then head for the traditional #BaconRun rendezvous point, otherwise known as the Clocktower in Shifnal. Once my co-conspirator, @ObsessiveJohn has arrived, it’s just a case of pedalling as fast as we can for the next 75 minutes or so.
Sheriffhales passes in a blur, and the totally unnecessary ascent towards the Lillieshall monument is despatched with ease. The Wrekin looms large above us as we cross the Weald Moors toward our destination.
The drudgery of the day job couldn’t be more different from the exhileration of an early morning ride, especially when watching all the poor souls in the cars as they drive to work.
Our final hurdle is Aldi Huez(whoever named this strava segment, I salute you), before passing through Central Park and across the EP.
It’s time for the prize, a Latte and a Bacon Roll at CafĂ© Kix!
Another #BaconRun successfully completed.

Vive la Velo!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

London2Paris Ride Report & Pictures

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We made it!!

Last Sunday(28th July 2013) afternoon, at just gone 5 pm local time we finally made it. After months of planning and careful preparation, not to mention over 350km and 17 hours riding, we rode down the Avenue des Nations Unies and onto the Pont d’lena. Towering above us was our target, La Tour Eiffel. It seemed so much more than three days ago that we’d rolled away from another great icon of another great city, Buckingham Palace.
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Three Days Earlier.....

Trying to describe the ride in any detail is a pointless task, all I can say it that the three days it took us to ride #London2Paris2013 rank right up there as three of the most enjoyable days I’ve ever experienced on a bike.

This wasn’t just about the ride though, it was the culmination of a challenge that my wife had set for herself some 12 months earlier. It was a challenge that was also taken up by the other members of the group, her sister Tori, and friends Julie and Katie. My role was clear; sort the logistics, carry tools, and act as sort of Directeur Sportif for the duration of the ride. I can only congratulate them on a quite awesome performance, well done to you all.
We decided to try and raise a few pounds for the SevernHospice along the way too, and it’s currently looking like we’ve managed to raise well over £1000. It’s not too late to donate either and you can do so here.

Pictures aplenty were taken en route, and I’ve included some of the better ones.

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Crossing the Thames

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End of day 1 drinks

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Anna & Tori on the Pont de Normandie
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The Team in Evreux

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One last beer before the Eiffel Tower

 Vive Le Velo