Cycling

What a (cycling) weekend, in la Tour and elsewhere

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Well on Saturday the 100th Tour de France go under way in Corsica. And the first stage was eventful if nothing else. This was a stage which was targeted by the sprinters as their chance to wear yellow for a day, but chaos marred the stage.

 

As the image shows the team bus of Orica GreenEDGE was stuck under the finish line Imagewhich caused the finish to be moved to the 3km to go stage, but then the bus was successfully removed and the finish was able to be used. However there was still a bit of panic in the peloton and a crash ended the hopes of many of the sprinters of taking the stage including Cavendish who was caught up in the delay rather than the crash. As a result the times were neturalised and the yellow jersey was on position. This meant that David Miller was in fourth on the second stage and his team were working hard to try and put him in yellow for stage three today.

 

A potential nightmare nearly played out in the final stages of stage two with a Scottish Imageterrier lose on the road and it just moved out of the way as the fast approaching peloton came around a corner. Thankfully the riders didn’t crash and as far as I am aware the dog is fine to. However if you take a dog near a sporting event keep it on a lead please, as Carlton Kirby mentioned in commentary.

 

However before the do incident on the final climb Chris Froome send a message to his rivals and it could be a big one. Up the final climb he injected pace which took him out of the wheel of team mate Richie Porte and made an attempt to catch the lone Europcar rider and bridge the gap. The peloton didn’t, chose not to or couldn’t respond. After the stage Froome said it was good to keep people on their toes and he went to make the decent safer as he was alone. This may have been the case but it is a clear message that Sky have the option of the explosion which wasn’t seen in last years tour. We knew Froome was in the form of his life, but this really sent a message.

 

So with the third stage today and the final one on Corsica before the Team Time Trial in Nice tomorrow it will be another interesting stage and who knows what will happen today. It might just be a “boring” day of breakaways and cycling skill, rather than stuck buses and wandering dogs. Lets hope so.

 

Away from the tour on a personal note I was out again on another training ride and with just one more weekend before the London to Brighton Nigh Ride, which will be a long one, I am feeling ready to go. This week I’ll cycle to work, put about  in my legs this week, before tapering off the training in the final week to limit injury and ensure I am in the right place to achieve sub 4 hours. Until then its tour highlights just to keep the cycling juices following.

My fundraising page is still active and I am so close to my target, just £20 required before event day. You can show your support here. Thank you it means a lot to me but even more to The British Heart Foundation.

Images from http://www.metro.co.uk and http://www.telegraph.co.uk

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One of the biggest events in the cycling calendar and…

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no live coverage on the two television channels of the National Road Race Championships. At least there is highlights tomorrow night (Monday 24th June) on ITV4!

Next weekend and for the following three weeks both British Eurosport and ITV4 will show live coverage and highlights of the 100th Tour de France, but today nothing. Please, please get this sorted for 2014! I know there would have been reasons for not covering the race live, but I think a glorious opportunity was lost today.

I ask why that one of the biggest events in the road cycling calendar is not covered live? Later in September they will be coverage if the Tour of Britain which is great but over the weekend we have had many of the worlds top rivers in UK road fighting it or for the honour of wearing the national champions jersey.

I have to say a massive thank you to Twitter for my coverage of the race. It certainly added something, as it was very nerve wracking watching the action unfold in 140 characters or less but annoying I could not watch the action live on TV. After all the south east is along way from Glasgow where the championships took place so couldn’t attend live. @BriSmith (Brian Smith Eurosport &ITV4 commentator) @cyclingweekly and @ BritisjCycling et al kept me and the world updated which the action. Without this fantastic service it works be the old fashioned way of finding our the result in the paper tomorrow or doing A Likely Lads and trying to avoid the result until watching the highlights tomorrow evening.

So the result. Stop reading now if you don’t want to know the result of both the men’s and women’s races. AllI will say before saying who won I’d I might be getting one if the jerseys when they are on sale which I have a feeling will be very soon.

So here it is the result. A big well done to ladies champion Lizzie Armistead who won on Saturday and the men’s champion, yes you guessed it, the Manx missile Mark Cavendish. He will wear his new national champions jersey in the tour next week, well until he gets the yellow one after stage one and the green points jersey for leading the points classification. I think the OPQS jersey in UK champions decorations will be a nice sight to see. We have seen the Sky version with Ian Stannard and Wiggo a few years back, but now its Cav’s.

The top four in the rave will all be of to the tour next week so it easy a strong fiend which you expect for your national championships. Well done to the top riders for their participation. Next year lets hope this key event in the cycling calendar is covered live so we can all enjoy the event. After all isn’t cycling gaining more popularity? It would gain more covering it live!

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

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!

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

What to wear on a night ride?

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This week I’ve been asked by a friend what should be worn on the London to Brighton night ride in July. Also how cold does it get?

Last year the ride was in May on that hot weekend, yes the one we had, the lowest temperature was 18 degrees C if I remember. However part of this ride you body is battling against lack of sleep and this is a factor, therefore 18 degrees can feel like 10-12.

Due to the weather I wore shorts (lycra obviously) and my jersey with my jacket in a back pack/rucksack. At 4am when the sun comes up its a little chilly in the Surrey/Sussex countryside. I remember a cold mist/fog on some of the rolling countryside, it really was a beautiful scene. As we know its also colder in the countryside than urban areas, especially if there is little or no cloud cover. All these will impact on your body and potential to ride.

A jacket is a must, tights optional depending upon the weather & personal choice as is a back pack/rucksack. There are plenty of jackets on the market which fold away into a pouch which reduces the need for a rucksack and you could use leg & arm warmers to keep the limbs comfortable. I used my jacket between the second and third rest stop around dawn just to keep the chill off before the sun worked its magic for a glorious summers day.

One way to find out is to include a training ride in similar conditions. Going for a 4am ride when you are cold will provide some vital experience for anyone who is completing their first night ride. You will get to find out how good your kit is before event day. I suppose a training ride in the rain better be a good idea too! For now let’s not combine the two!

Last year I researched the blogs and experiences of those who completed the Manchester to Blackpool night ride in September 2010. They all had jackets but it was September in the north west. It could well have been raining.

For this year I’m going with the following weather depending:
Base layer
Jersey (not sure which one yet)
Bib shorts (prevents a gap between shorts & jersey)
Jacket (in pouch)
Gels in jersey pockets
Two water bottles on bike (can be topped up en route)
Gloves
Lights
Security lock

Plus something I didn’t have last year a saddle bag. This is ideal for your pump, spare tube, multi tool & depending upon size & how secure its fixed keys, wallet & small first aid kit. This should then reduce the need for a rucksack, but let’s see.

Experience helps. Last year I took on too much sugar and not enough water, resulting in cramp in the calf. Whilst Haribo and Jaffa cakes are very useful water is a key ingredient too. Less sports drinks, instead water and gels (if I can find some which actually taste nice). Suncream! Not just for the beach afterwards, if the weather is good, the sun can be strong in July and the back of your neck can be exposed. Sunburn hurts.

I hope this has been useful to anyone completing their first (or second) night ride. You can show your support at my fundraising page. See you in the saddle soon.