Month: June 2013

Relish the moment… It might not happen again!!

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Like many cyclists I like to track my rides with GPS mapping software or apps. I have used many in the past, from Google’s My Tracks, Endomondo but found myself

Imagereturning to MapMyRide. I have found these apps are very much a personal choice, however after reviewing my training progress over the weekend I found I had managed to earn a badge in each of the seconds, and was quite frankly “well chuffed”. Others have rated Strava but as yet I have not tried it so an unable to comment. I will however download and try it out soon I’m sure.

From the graphic you could get the impression of an all rounder. I kid you not the climbs are not anything you would find on the UCI tours and probably wouldn’t even get a lump or bumps mention from Carlton Kirby, Brian Smith or Sean Kelly et al on British Eurosport in their excellent cycling coverage. However they are my achievements and that matters to me. One day I will have the confidence and ability to tackle the Cat 1 and HC climbs found in Europe (probably in a car first), but until then I’ll take comfort in my (small) achievements as displayed on MapMyRide. After all its all good preparation for next month and The British Heart Foundation 2nd Night Ride from London to Brighton. Lets hope it all pays off! Talking of paying off I will plug my fundraising page again here.

Talking of the fundraising I have finally reached half way of my target. I have a feeling the second half will be a little easier to achieve than the first half (well hope it is anyway). If you haven’t already I understand why as we are all very busy people but if you could spare a  few minutes and a few quid it will really help me out, but more importantly will help The British Heart Foundation find a cure for heart disease.

Unlike a GPS tracking device I went a little off track there, sorry. I’m sure these features are available in all the different apps out there but I like the fact I can design a route on my PC/laptop and then sync it to my phone and then have my performance monitored and recorded. I do like the fact that when your route goes over a climb or course someone has added your performance is recorded and then points awarded. The fact is acts as a virtual race means you can set yourself targets to improve which give a little more edge and fun to your cycling.

Whatever app or device you use I’m sure it does the job for you, which is the main thing. At the moment I am a MapMyRide convert and whilst I might stray at the moment I’ll stick with what I’ve got.  I just wonder how long I’ll have those badges for, probably not long!

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I just can’t wait…

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For the Tour De France which has its grand depart at the end of June and for my own challenge if London to Brighton at night for the second year running.

Let’s start with my own challenge, London to Brighton. The distance isn’t a problem, 60 miles, it’s can we do it in sub four hours. This involves a moving average of 25kmph. Sounds straight forward enough, especially on a road bike which I an becoming very comfortable on. Stock up with water, gels and a Jaffa cake or two and as long as we don’t need to stop, the target is on. Even with the big hill, Devil’s Dike at about 48 miles the rest of the ride should allow time to be made up before we reach the climb. I know this as I know the route from last year and I know what shape I’m in with my new bike. Plus there is still four weeks left to lose a few more pounds (as he puts the lovely point of Adnams down). Monday will see the serious diet and proper food prep I tell myself. The training ride in the morning will help, as we are going a power hour. This is a short warm up then go hell for leather in one direction for 30 minutes, then turn as around and come back. The plan is to build the power and operating at a high tempo. On another point good luck to all doing the day ride tomorrow. Your doing a great job well done. I can’t wait for my chance to see if I can achieve my goal of sub for hours, as I know I’ll be raising some money for The British Heart Foundation to find a cure for heart failure. You can show your support by sponsoring me a few pounds, Dollars, Euros or whatever your currency is here. Thank you your help is really appreciated.

As I complete my challenge the greatest cycle race will be two weeks old as the Rogers prepare for the final week. Hopefully Chris Froome will be in yellow and with the support of Team Sky will hold off any final attacks from the likes of Contador et al and we can have another British winner of Le Tour. With a bit of good fortune, which you need in cycling, winning The Tour Dr France could be like waiting for a bus. You wait for ages then two come along at once! Come on Froomy make your great form count now! Last year they said the course was perfect for Wiggins, well I said when this course was announced it was suited to Froome. Only time will tell but I hope he does the business.

I know there are many others who are just waiting for the Tour to start. At least we age nearly there. Let’s cross everything and hope for a great double, sub four hours for me (& reaching my target) and a second British winner of The Tour de France.

D2B Rotation Jacket review

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Wind and waterproof, 13 June 2013

 
By InThePeloton 4/5 starsImage

I have had many D2B products in the past and they have always been reliable and did the job. This was my reasoning to returning to the brand for this item.

It is a bright item and helps keep you seen on the road during morning and evening commutes to work. I wore it yesterday in a light shower and was kept very dry. I believe it could cope with more rain as it is made of a good quality material and looks good.

I didn’t have a base layer on underneath just a short sleeved cycling jersey and as a result my arms got a bit sticky. I think with a base layer to wick away sweat this wouldn’t be a problem.

Unlike many reviews I have read for other jackets the sizing of this come up a little bigger in my experience. After looking at the size guide I thought a large would be suitable (6’1″ tall and 90kg) however I’m glad I tried on the jackets first. I have a medium and this is still big enough to allow for extra layers underneath in the winter if required. You have loads of room to move around on the bike on those commutes or leisure rides. You wouldn’t be using this type of jacket in race conditions so I don’t believe this is a problem. However you have the option to size down as per your requirements.

I got my discount form in store and this allowed for the discount price to be awarded straight away, so I have already repaid the cost of my discount card in one visit. I will get the benefit when I need a tent later in the year for camping etc so well worth the £5.

Staff in store were helpful and answered all the questions I had, thank you GO.

Read the review on the GO website here

One month today

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This time next month I’ll be gearing up for the London to Brighton ride raising money for The British Heart Foundation The training is slowly coming together and I have found a comfortable pace on y bike which I feel I can maintain throughout the ride. This should give me the opportunity to gain time on the flatter sections to allow for the inevitable reduction  pace of the category 3 climb over Devils Dyke. It is nothing for the pro riders but for us mortals then its a challenge at the end of a fairly long ride.

 

I am nearly kitted out, now my new jacket has arrived. It is certainly bright and will help meImage be seen. However I hope I don’t have to wear it as the weather will be nice for the duration of the ride! Yes I am being silly to think I could possibly rely on the British weather! As you can see it is certainly bright!

 

I want you all to sleep well on the weekend of 13/14th July. I believe you can achieve this my helping me reach my fundraising target. Just click on my link and help me get to £250. If every reader of this blog, attached Twitter and Facebook account just gave £1 I would achieve my target in minutes. This is nothing to you an me, but vital to those people who are supported by The British Heart Foundation after they have suffered from heart attacks and broken hearts. Please I know this is annoying and you already do loads for charities close to you, but if you could spare a few £ it really will make a difference  to those who have to live with a condition which at the time of writing has no cure. With your help that cure becomes a step closer and one day might just help one of us or our children. Just by clicking on the link to my fundraising page will allow you to sleep a lot easier during mid July whilst I cycle my heart out to help people less fortunate than ourselves.

Thank you for your help. It means a lot! 

You know you’re hooked when ….

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Its still (just) over a month until I complete London to Brighton again Raising money for The British Heart Foundation (you can sponsor me here) and I find myself looking at the next challenge. This happened last year to a degree, but it stopped when I just decided to redo the same ride. However this year it is different. Yes this year I have upped the anti and set myself the challenge of #l2b in sub 4 hours, but i am now thinking of which other rides could be completed.

To date I have briefly looked at the Surrey 100 which includes Box hill as used in the Olympic road race in 2012, but is could be a case of biting off more than I can chew, or a more realistic possibility the 2014 Dunwich Dynamo. Briefly this is a turn up and ride 120 miles from North London to the Suffolk coast. No fundraising involved which might take the pressure off, just a ride for the fun of it and off course the challenge of completing it. However I will do some fundraising for someone, I just know it.

Other possibilities have been incorporating cycling with the love of cricket my friends and I have. There is something appealing about cycling to a test ground, or between test grounds and then getting to watch a days test cricket, or more! I also want to attempt to cycle up Alpe D’Huez just so I can say I have cycled up a famous Tour de France climb. All I know is I certainly have been hooked on cycling and trying to push myself longer, further and possibly higher than I’ve gone before. Mad I may be but I know its going to be fun!

It is all coming together

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Training for a long bike tide for charity or any other reason requires you to put in the long rides. Today was that day to see just what I had in the tank. We (5 which became 4) managed a good 58km in around 2 hours 20 minutes which wasn’t a bad run. We did have a 10 minute stop to catch our breath and up until this we had a moving average speed above 24kph. I’ll take this as its the first long ride with the new kit and it as well as me shaped up well.

So London to Brighton in under 4 hours? I think so. Getting into a rhythm and a steady pace will help plus proper food intake and preparation the week before should help with the sub 4 hour challenge. Just need to hope for no mechanical problems and this is on.

So when you are sleeping on the weekend of 13/14 July I’ll be pacing myself through the Surrey and Sussex countryside guided by the moon and the stars looking forward to a nice relaxing time on the beach and a well deserved full English breakfast.

Product reviews

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From previous entries you will know of the new kit. It has now been tested and I have written some reviews:

All these reviews can be found under the products on the Evans Cycles website

Specialized Allez Sport Compact 2013 allez compact

A great value bike

Yes, I recommend this product.

Pros: Good value, Good quality, Comfortable, Lightweight
If you are new to road cycling or getting back into it after a while then you may not wish to spend over £1000 on something which could be a fad. For the cycling I do, commuting to work, and charity bike rides the Allez Sport ticks all the boxes.
It is light considering it has the aluminium frame and this helps you get up to a good speed. it is very responsive and its stiff frame installs confidence when descending hills. The compact chainset allows you to get a quick pace on the flat and enables you to get to the climbs so for the area I live in and cycling I do this is perfect for me.
Other reviews have said the saddle is uncomfortable but I have not found this to be a problem. This is an individual choice and the saddle can be easily changed.
I have attached Shimano R540 SPD pedals and use Spiuk ZS11R shoes and these really help you get a shift on. This is the first time I have used clipless pedals and I can say they make a massive difference.
The bike is available in two colours and I opted for the silver, mainly as I wanted the black handlebar tape, but this could be changed if you have the bike build in store. There could be a charge for this so please check. I however like both the colour schemes the Allez Sport is available in.
An excellent feature about this bike is the Sora gears from Shimano. These are seen on more expensive models and allow you to comfortably change gears up and down the cassette whilst in the drop handlebar position. This has been useful when you want to maintain speed on the gentle lumps and bumps in the road.
The only downside to this bike is the weight of the wheels, but you will get this with all bikes in this range as the technology is put in other areas. This is an area I might look into but it’s only a might.
Overall this bike is excellent for the money and will serve me well. I can’t see me needing to upgrade unless I get really serious about the sport.
If you’re looking at a road bike then this certainly ticks all the boxes

Or read the review here

Shimano R540 SPD pedals shimano-oe-r540-spd-sl-road-pedals

My first (clipless) pedals
June 3, 2013
Yes, I recommend this product.
Pros: Good value, Good quality, Lightweight, Looks great
The first set of pedals I have had which use cleats. Had them fitted and adjusted in store which was really useful. They look good with the bike, went for the grey/silver option to match the bike and shoes.
These are really easy to clip in and twist out off and I am quickly getting used to riding with these pedals. They along with the shoes have really helped my efficiency whilst out on the bike.
Very good entry-level pedals and the advice from Evans staff was they should last for ages. A good investment especially at £23.99!
Or read the review here

Spiuk ZS11R Shoes (silver/black) spiuk-zs11r-road-shoe

My first pair
Yes, I recommend this product.
Pros: Good value, Comfortable, Lightweight, Looks great
The decision was made to try proper shoes with the pedals on my new bike. I have had them for a week now and been on a few rides. The difference between shoes and trainers is massive. On the climbs I feel I can attack the climb and gain some speed on the flat.
They are very comfortable, and fit my wide feet very well. I tried on other shoes but these fitted me the best. I do also like the ratchet system as you don’t get any movement which is ideal on any climb. I am getting used to clipping in and out whilst on the move and in time this will become natural.
I opted for silver as these match the bike and helmet, but did contemplate the red or yellow pair. However no 44 in yellow so went with the silver.
The ratchet system is a little bit annoying when putting the shoes on, but I think this is me just not yet used to them get.
Overall a very nice pair of entry shoes and I am happy with them.

Or read the review here

Specialized Align Helmet (silver) specialized algin 2013

Fantastic!
Yes, I recommend this product.
Pros: Lightweight, Good value, Comfortable, Good quality, Looks great
I have had this product for a couple of weeks and much prefer it to my more expensive Bell helmet, which is still nice but doesn’t fit as well as this one. I went for this as it is the same make as my bike, but that is just me. Don’t be put off by the cost. It isn’t the most expensive helmet on the market but it really does do the job. Use the saving on other equipment like a better pair of shoes or pedals etc. It is very light, in fact you hardly notice you are wearing it, as previously mentioned very comfortable and fits very well. It can be easily adjusted to fit different sized heads.
When you are out on your ride in the sunny weather which has finally arrived the helmet keeps your head nice and cool, keeping up the comfort levels.
I would certainly recommend this helmet, great job Specialized thank you.
Louis Garneau 1 Calory Mitts louis-garneau-1-calory-mitts
Excellent! Very Comfortable
Yes, I recommend this product.
Pros: Good value, Good quality, Comfortable, Lightweight, Looks great
You can pay a lot for mitts, and you get (or should) more for your money. However these mitts are very light, extremely comfortable and cushion the hands well. I opted for the black pair as the white pair might look dirty quickly, but this is a personal opinion.
At this price they are a must buy item.
Or read the review here