Showing posts from June, 2013

Ride Stats: June 2013

More hours this month on the bike than in any other that I have recorded; helped in no small part by the South Downs Way Challenge I am sure.Mileage is just slightly below my all time record that I set last December (with the help of the Festive 500). However, a significant number of my rides this month have been off-road, which obviously reduces the number of miles compared to on-road; considering this fact I reckon this has probably been my biggest month on the bike to date.Racing results have been rather mixed; all my races have been at an E.1.2. level in June, and I have had two top ten results, this is satisfying in itself. I also managed to race competitively in an 86 mile E.1.2 road race this week, though I didn't produce a commendable result from the event.Average speed is fairly high, especially considering the off-road ridesAverage heart rate is fairly similar to most months, although it should be noted that this average derives from a mix of normal rides, some very high…

Race Report: Redhill E.1.2. Road Race

Yesterday I travelled to Leigh in Surrey to do the Redhill E.1.2 road race. I knew it was going to be tough. It was.

I was the only Wightlink-LCM Systems rider in the race, lining up against big teams such as Felt-Colbournes, Pedal Heaven and Orbea Twenty3c. Looking at the start list I was a little bit nervous; this was set to be a quick race, and with temperatures close to 27°C it was going to be pretty damn hot too. Adding to my nerves was the fact that for the last week I really haven't been feeling on top form; The South Downs Way Challenge last weekend seemed to take it out of me; partly because of the long day, but also the sheer amount of time in the saddle. Leading up to the South Downs Way ride I had also been focussing my attention on endurance rides, not high intensity, and in the last week I have largely been doing recovery rides rather than hard sessions. The result was that I both felt tired, and knew that I didn't have great top-end power at all; proven by a rat…

Review: Swrve WWR Lightweight Skinny Trousers

Back in the Spring I reviewed the rather awesome pair of Swrve Indigo Jeans, and it would be fair to say I was rather impressed by them (they've had a good bit of use!). However, with the summer months approaching, and the temperatures increasing, jeans are no longer on the top of the pile of trousers in my wardrobe; instead you want something that is lighter weight in the summer heat.

Enter the Swrve WWR Lightweight trousers; a cycling specific set of slacks that are comfortable both on and off the bike in the summer sun.

The WWR fabric is a lightweight yet durable, wind and water resistant material. It's highly breathable and stretchy; making it the ideal fabric for active pursuits including cycling. The Swrve trousers have a cycling specific cut; low around the waist, and high around the back, with a seamless crotch to avoid uncomfortable abrasion when seated on the saddle. In addition, they have articulated knees, a rear pocket that will fit a mini U-lock, and a skinny fi…

Review: Garmin Edge 510 GPS Cycle Computer

The Garmin Edge 500 was on my shopping list for a long time; its compact size, long battery life, accurate GPS tracking and power meter compatibility make it the chosen GPS for most road cyclists on the circuit. It provides all the data that you could need for tailored training, without the mapping capability of its bigger brother the Edge 800.

This year however Garmin introduced the 510; predictably it is slightly larger than the Edge 500, it uses a colour display, and a touch-screen interface. Much of the data display is similar to the Edge 500, but it also has many new and interesting feature, such as smartphone tracking, a higher level of adaptability and profiling, and a 'Virtual Partner' training programme.

This review takes an in-depth look at the Edge 510 unit, and is the first in a series of blogs that I will be writing over the coming months, explaining the benefits of training with GPS cycling computers and the programmes that accompany them.

The Unit
As mentioned, …

Review: Santini BCool Mig 3 Cycling Bib Shorts

Summer is finally getting here, and with it the weather is warming up. I would choose bib shorts over non-bibs any day for cycling; they are more comfortable, they stay up better, and they avoid that chilly gap between your shorts and your jersey when it rides up. However, bibs can be rather hot in the summer to say the least; I rode in 35°C for five century days during the France and Spain trip in 2011, and I found my bibs to be uncomfortable, and far too effective at keeping the heat in, even with an unzipped jersey.

Santini have come up with a solution; the BCool Mig 3 bib shorts still hold the virtues of a traditional bib short in terms of comfort and design, however the bibs have been made as minimalist as possible to avoid the insulating effect that the bib material has on the body. The shorts have also been modified in other ways to increase comfort in extra warm conditions. The bibs are not cheap, retailing around £120 in most online stores, but I can safely say they are one …

Ride Report: The South Downs Way Challenge

On Saturday I rode the full length of the South Downs Way; a historic bridleway that runs down the spine of the South Downs National Park from Winchester to Eastbourne. It was certainly the longest day I have ever done in the saddle, with 13.5 hours of elapsed riding time. It was a very enjoyable day though; I rode with some great guys that I've met through twitter and the blog, and they were fantastic company to help tick through the miles.

In a slightly different style "Ride Report", here's a timeline of the day's events:
02:45 - Alarm sounds, stumble out of bed03:15 - Leave the house, bike in boot of car, drive to ferry04:00 - Board Wightlink ferry at Fishbourne04:40 - Arrive Portsmouth05:48 - Board train for Winchester06:50 - Arrive Winchester RIDE BEGINS07:30 - After a few wrong turns I'm on the South Downs Way, pursuing the others who left Winchester twenty minutes earlier. Drizzle and cross winds. Hard Going.08:30 - Meet up with the other seven out on …

Weekend Watch: Danny MacAskill's 'Imaginate'


A Different Weekend Challenge: The South Downs Way Epic

This Saturday I'm not racing around a car park, I'm not racing on the road either. I'm hanging up the skinny tyres for the weekend and getting the mountain bike out... to ride the full length of the South Downs Way in one day, from Winchester to Eastbourne.

Here's what to expect:
96 miles (155km) (All Off-road)
12,700 feet of Climbing (3,870 meters)
Approximately 8-9hrs Riding Time
Approximately 5500 Calories Expended

I've walked most of the route before during training for events like the Ten Tors, I've also run sections of it at night during the Charlton Chase events. However, this will be the first time I've ridden a bike along the route, and I'm really looking forward to it. It was one of my "Objectives for 2012" and got carried over to be an "Objective for 2013", time to tick it off!

I'm doing the route with some great guys that I've met through Twitter and the blog, it should be an awesome day out, and I'm sure the …

Race Report: Winchester Omega Crit #2 - Hard Graft

This afternoon we were back in Winchester for the second Omega circuits Criterium race at the Winchester Park and Ride. I came away with a similar result to last week, with a provisional 7th or 8th place; a result which I was reasonably satisfied with, but left me looking forward to doing more road races and less Crit's.

Once again the race started at a brutal pace, with the first few laps averaging well over 27mph. Starts like this were always something I struggled with when I was mountain bike racing, and things don't seem to have changed; I was flagging a bit for the first few laps to say the least.

As things settled down I managed to get myself back up to the main peloton with a few hard efforts. Unfortunately, I paid for those efforts, because as soon as I caught onto the back of the peloton a group of three went off the front, and with it the pace of the peloton itself accelerated to chase them. The acceleration spat me back out the back of the main field, which was quic…

Review: OdPod Portable Bike Stand

Servicing a bike at an event, or when you go on holiday, can be a real headache; a proper work stand is too big to fit in the boot of most cars (at least when it's full of other kit), which leaves you with the option of turning the bike upside down, or getting someone to hold it, if you need to run through the gears to check indexing etc.

The OdPod bike stand provides a unique, simple and clever solution to the problem. It is a tripod design, made of aluminium tubing, which folds completely flat when not in use; allowing you to store it in a bike bag, car boot, or tucked away in the workshop.

The stand holds the bike with a soft plastic cup, that fits around the bottom bracket shell. The bike then rests on the front wheel, with the rear wheel suspended, so you can freely rotate the cranks.

The bracket has fitted all the bikes I've tried it with; including the BB90 on the Whippet, the external BB on the Planet X, and the cartridge bearing BB on my winter bike. On all of the bi…

Review: Scicon Compact 430 Saddle Bag

Last winter saddle bag straps for some reason became the bane of my riding life; I had three fail on me within the space of a few months! They were going on the seatpost tie, and on the saddle rail loops, and these weren't cheap packs either; mostly Topeak bags, which I have always been fairly impressed with. As a result of my misfortune, and the fact that I was increasingly getting annoyed with the tatty piece of tape that I had to put on my seatpost to save the carbon from the saddle bag strap (I think I'm getting cycling OCD), I was on the lookout for a "no-strap" "click-and-fix" design bag that I could use on my road bikes...

Enter the Scicon 430 Compact. It's not a cheap offering, I got mine from ProBikeKit at a discounted, if still fairly weighty £26.99. However, after using the bag for a few weeks I have decided it's worth the cash; there's a reason this is the chosen saddle bag of almost all the pro teams that are supported by Scicon (a…

NEWS FLASH! Get £10 to spend on SportPursuit for nothing!

SportPursuit has been very kind to the blog, even when I was starting up at a grass-roots level. They've offered continued support through advice, and they've helped out with prizes for competitions that I've run.

Because of their great support, I'm keen to give a shout out for the awesome promo offer that they've got running at the moment...

If you sign up to SportPursuit (which is free, and simply allows you to hear about the great flash sales that are going on at the moment), you will currently get £10 added to your account immediately to get you started in the sales!

The sales that SportPursuit have are great; offering discounts of up to 70% on brands such as HighFive, Nectar, Sugoi, Dare2B and Skins, as well as many many more. I've reviewed a number of the brands that sell on SportPursuit, and they've all been very impressive. If you're looking for some serious discount kit, it's a great place to take a look.

To sign up, and get your £10 starte…

Race Report: Winchester Car Park Crit... Guess Who's Back

This afternoon the Wightlink-LCM Systems race team travelled to a car park in Winchester to race...
Yes, we literally were racing round the South Winchester Park and Ride; on a tight, short and wind-swept course.
After finishing exams this week I've had a few nights of celebrations and it would be fair to say that "some" alcohol was consumed. That, plus the fact that I haven't raced for 6 weeks, meant I was slightly unsure how my body was going to function in a short, sharp E.1.2. Criterium race. Anyway, here's how it panned out...
The race was composed of one hour plus five laps of the short circuit that took just two minutes to complete a loop. That adds up to a lot of laps. 
The race started incredibly quickly. Too quick for me. The first three laps were the fastest of the whole race, and I missed the break that went off the front in the second of those laps. Partly it was because my legs just weren't ready for that shock after 6 weeks of no racing, partly…

New Horizons...

Yesterday I turned a corner. A corner that I have been anticipating for a long time; the end of my time at university, the end of my exams, the end of 17 years of education. To those that say that university life is an easy life, perhaps yours was, mine certainly wasn't. Trying to juggle attaining the highest possible grade, training, racing, a social life and looking after yourself was a struggle at times. At times elements suffered, at times, I felt like it wasn't worth it, but I'm pleased I've finished... it's been a journey.
Turning the corner brings new horizons for me. When I left school I was fairly sure that my horizons were set; my grades and position in the school meant the mounting expectation from family and friends was that I would go into the City with my economics degree; make "the dollar" and live the "high-life". A lot has changed since then. I still have high expectations of myself, and I'll always aim higher, but those pa…