Sunday Dec 21, 2008

2008 Santa run


The ninth Molesey BBT santa run had the very distinct advantage of being ridden on an unseasonably warm day with no rain. 21 Santas followed the usual route through Thames Ditton, Surbiton, Kingston, Richmond & Twickenham.

Once again the whole strange thing was just fantastic.

Tuesday Oct 14, 2008

Bromptons on Eurostar

When taking a Brompton on Eurostar make sure you have a cover for it or they won't let you on the train. Quite why I don't know since I do have a cover and believe it or not could not be bothered to get into an argument with them.

Once covered they have no problem with them. The next gripe would be google maps. It does not offer routes for cyclists and at least in France does not show hills. Specifically the hill between the station and the Sun Office in Velizy.

Tuesday Sep 23, 2008

A first

Today the entire family left the house in the morning by Bike.

It does not get much better than that.

Sunday Sep 21, 2008

More exciting than it should have been

We did a 63 mile round trip via Henfold lakes but out via a strange route taking in Ripley, Newlands Corner and then Cranleigh. When descending what is a very exciting hill towards Cranleigh doing 40mph I had the added thrill of hitting a large stone in the road and having my front tyre deflate instantly. As I braked as hard as I could using my back brake and slowed very slowly I was able to see the tyre not coming off the rim but also not doing much in the way of letting me steer around the bend that was approaching. The odd thing was what went through my mind was the question: ¨Am I using the rear brake?¨, which I was. Thankfully the rear brake was able to overcome the 1:7 hill and bring me to a halt before the tyre came off or I hit anything. A tribute to continental GP4000s ability to be ridden when flat.

When I went to put the wheel back on after fixing the tube the spring on the front brake decided to brake. I can´t really complain since it is 9 years old but it is the first time I have every had a brake spring fail (Campagnolo Record) I should be able to get a new spring if my local bike shop comes good with stocking Campagnolo spares, something they say they are going to do. The failure meant that if I used the front brake I had to manually spring the callipers apart for the rest of the ride. Not hard to do but enough to mean I wont be commuting on the bike again this year. I now have quite a large number of things to fix on my summer bike although not enough to let me upgrade to the new 11 speed Campagnolo group set, alas.

The rest of the ride was uneventful and we were able to take advantage of the Indain Summer we appear to be having.

Sunday Sep 14, 2008

To the Devil's Punchbowl

Six riders good weather and a great cafe. We went out by what is not the usual route, via Old Woking, Normandy, Ash Green and The Sands. The return trip was south of Guildford via Albury, where we managed to loose two riders. One insisted we not wait for him and the other did not see us turn back towards Dorking so we could go up Coombe Bottom and so went up Newlands. Then even on the descent from Coombe bottom we got split up but managed to regroup as it turned out the slower riders were in front so were caught.

Ended up doing 79 miles and No RAIN!!!!!

Wednesday Sep 10, 2008

Why I won't have a career in sporting predictions

This morning I colleague, lets call him Adrian, popped round to ask me an important question:

Will Lance return to professional riding and ride in the Tour?

I said definitely not. He has just signed up of the doping tests so he can compete in the Leadville 100.....

An hour later another colleague sent me a URL via IM: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/cycling/7605378.stm

It is going to be interesting.....but clearly I don't have a career in sports predictions.

Sunday Aug 31, 2008

Laughing in the face of weather forecasters....

There were six in Molesey this morning braving the fog and laughing in the face of the weather forecast. Those six made it to Epsom before the fog cleared to be replaced by the thunder and heavy rain that had been forecast. The idea of climbing and riding over Epsom downs in a Thunder storm did not fill anyone with joy. So after briefly taking shelter in Epsom and failing to find a café open we rode back as fast as our legs would allow. If the people at the Met Office could have seen us they would have been in stitches.

Got home very very wet having ridden 23 miles.

Next weekend we are supposed to be cycling to Yeovil which is about 120 miles, I hope the weather is better.

Saturday Aug 30, 2008

Chainrings made of cheese

I rode my blue bike to work this week for two reasons. First I needed to carry more things home than usual and so had a pannier and second to make sure it was all ready for the winter. It turns out that all is not well. Having replaced the chain and cassette at the end of the winter and now I know that the Shimano Ultegra chain rings are only marginally more hard wearing than the 105 rings.

Prior to the bike's last major rebuild the 105 rings had only lasted one winter (3000 miles or so) and were replaced with TA rings. When the whole chain set was replaced it had Ultegra rings on so I left them. The Ultegra rings have lasted three winters (about 10,000 miles), not that bad until you compare the my summer bike. It is 9 years old and has done over 36,000 miles and still has the same chain rings (Campagnolo Record). The maintenance schedule of both bikes is the same, new chain and cassette after 3,500 miles. Yes the summer bike is lighter and does not go out in the winter but I still don't think that explains the drastic difference in the wear. I can't help agree with those that claim Shimano chain rings are made of grey cheese.

Luckily I have a spare set of chain rings, Stronglight ones, that I spent a happy hour fitting.

Sunday Aug 24, 2008

Wet August Ride

Only three riders out due to the weather forecast of rain. Unfortunately the forecast was accurate however when it got really bad we had already made it to the Cafe at Henfold having decided that al fresco breakfast in Peaslake would be a bad plan.

Then on the final run into Esher I got a puncture. That said I was glad I got up and rode.

Thursday Aug 21, 2008

Park Tyre Boot - Product test

While away on vacation I had the “pleasure” to finally product test the Park Tyre Boot I have been carrying in my saddle bag for two or three years. The only problem was getting the backing paper off as the years of sitting in a saddle bag and getting wet seemed to have had a negative effect on the paper. However once removed The managed to cover the 15mm gash in the sidewall such that the inner tube no longer poked out even at 100psi. In fact it did such a good job that it was hard to see where the gash was after applying the boot.

All in all a good result. I will continue to carry one but will try and find a way to keep them dry, not easy in English weather.

Monday Jun 30, 2008

This Sunday's Ride

Eight riders went out becoming nine at Weybridge until just before the main climb to Newlands Corner where we became Eight again. After Newlands we were taken on a “loop”, down into Albury and then out via Guildford Road which takes you over Albury Heath, a wonderful part of the world with views of “typical” English Countryside. It does however involve a steep climb to the top and then a treacherous descent back to the main road again.

The GPS mapped it all out and the ride is here: http://www.mapmyride.com/ride/united-kingdom/walton-on-thames/439119349651 however map my ride continues to misbehave with firefox on Solaris so I have not embedded it.

We had breakfast “Al fresco” in Peaslake before riding back over Leath Hill. The group split at West Humble with the majority taking the flat direct route back and two of us going back via the Polsden Lacey road and the 25% climb that that entails.

Despite this being a hilly ride the stats show just how flat this part of the world is: 429m of climbing over 65 miles. Hardly Ventoux!

Monday Jun 09, 2008

Ventoux

On Saturday I rode “La Ventoux, Beaumes de Venise” which involved riding 170km with more than 3000m of climbing. Now why would you want to do this? Here is why:

This is the second and shorter of the two “big” descents of the day, dropping from Chalet Raynard down to Bedoin. By the time I was descending this I was most certainly in a “saving energy” mode but on the upside this descent did not start in the clouds.

Before the ride there was much talk of how hard climbing Ventoux was going to be. Ventoux has a formidable reputation not least because Tom Simpson died climbing it in the 1967 Tour. It is a strange climb for at least two reasons.

  1. The road was built not for horse and cart but for motor vehicles. So the roads are wide extremely good quality but steep. You can see the quality of the road from the video. Most of that descent was over 40mph and the top speed of 48mph somewhere. All this on a bike with 100psi tyres yet unlike some of the videos in England the film is not vibrating to much.

  2. It goes to the top of the mountain. Most cols go to a pass which is the lowest point in a mountain range.

Then the area is renowned for it's strong winds. We were buffeted the whole day by a strong wind from a North East.

Every bike we saw, of which we saw plenty, had a triple chain set and those with only double chain sets mostly had “compact” chain sets. The small rings had 34 to 36 teeth and there were plenty of 27 tooth rear sprockets in evidence. I therefore got increasingly worried that my 39 tooth small ring and 25 tooth big sprocket were not going to give a low enough bottom gear. Needless to say the riders I was with spotted my concern and played on it (cyclists are like that, it's not personal).

On the day after an initial panic with one of the riders I was with having a split tyre just before the start we were off at about 8:40 and we rode to the base of the main climb at Bedoin. I was still with one of my friends at the bottom of the climb but only briefly as I clicked into my bottom gear and I assume he clicked into his which was lower. As so often happens to me after the first 1km I thought as long as it did not get much steeper I could keep doing this for quite a while. Getting to Chalet Raynard and above the trees the wind started to play it's part which initially allowed me to slip up a few cogs as I was blown up the hill. However on the next bend it was first gear again for the hill and the headwind and the added fun of going into the clouds which completely obscured the view of everything.

We had driven up here on the Thursday when it had been equally cloudy to amongst other things pay our respects at the Memorial to Tom Simpson, so I had some idea that when I reached the Memorial was about 1km to go. Since Cafe Raynard I had been contemplating whether to stop to put on my waterproof jacket for the decent or whether to just tough it out. Going over the top I decided to do the sensible thing and put on the jacket After all I had dragged it all the way up why not use it. This turned out to be a very wise decision.

The start of the descent was quite horrible. The lack of visibility, the damp road, the wind, the cold and the other riders streaming past all made for an unpleasant and quite scary ride. After a while however I was below the cloud and started to feel happier streaming down the wide smooth tarmac. The pangs of hunger though were beginning but the idea of eating while doing 40+mph being buffeted by crosswinds down a road that had tight bends and that I did not know did not seem wise.

On reaching the bottom I could feel that the food situation was more desperate and so ate the banana that I had had stuffed down the front of my jersey almost immediately after eating that I came to a food stop where I got some cake and more drink.

The next section of the ride was according to the profile, flat. However the profile was dominated by ventoux so failed to show that in fact there were a number of short climbs and descents that were sapping my remaining strength. All the while my GPS was forming a double torture by telling me I was less than half way round and the elevation meant I had over 1000m of up hill before I got to back to Cafe Raynard.

Just as I thought it could not get worse the rider who I had last seen at the bottom of the climb called out my name. Now this is not a race but it is competitive. I felt sure that if he had the legs to catch me then he would fly past me and then be able to spin his lower gear up the next climb while I struggled to try and stay in contact. We ended up in a group of six or so riders cycling up the river valley with sitting in second place wondering when the inevitable would happen and I would be spat out the back. When my friend went to the front the pace increased, the other riders all rode past me and I was spat out the back. Then the gap stopped growing with me about 50 yards back.

I decided I may as well make one final effort to bridge the gap as then at least I would get some shelter and to my surprise I managed that quite easily. As the road turned upwards more severely I found myself passing the other riders until as the climb for real started I was off the front and feeling good.

The second climb of Ventoux was very very much easier than the first. The road was much less steep and so when the wind was in my face I was doing 10mph and when it was behind I was doing 18mph. There were some other British Riders with “Elite Cycling” shirts on so in the last 2km I used one as a target to catch which while taking the long view was the wrong thing to do did have a certain pleasure when I got onto the big ring and hit 28mph uphill in the last km of the climb (yes I had a tail wind, but I can dream I'm a cycling god).

Then that descent.

The final section was into the wind and again the profile showed as flat but in fact contained three significant (ie bigger than anything we get in Surrey) climbs which resulted in me crawling up them with the constant fear I was going to be caught again.

The final five km however were both downhill and with the wind behind me so I was able to fly down the road at over 30mph waved through the junctions by the marshals as at all the other junctions.

I managed to finish with a time of 8 hours 4 minutes 13 seconds for the 170km earning me a Silver certificate.

My GPS disagrees about the distance as does MapMy ride. The GPS claimed 105 miles, MapMyRide claims 99.67miles but it also shows that some of the corners were cut. Cutting those corners for real would involve a significant fall!

Brilliant ride well organised.



Monday Jun 02, 2008

BBT June 1st

Today we were apparently going on a short flat 50 mile ride as a final preparation for our trip to Ventoux next week. The flat bit was true but we ended up doing 85 miles, which I don't describe as "short".

A really nice route though along some new lanes and some lanes we don't often frequent.

I'm still trying to find a good site for uploading my ride GPS data to. mapmyride.com seems to have issues now displaying ride data for long rides to solaris hosts and so far my requests for help have fallen on deaf ears. So I'm now experimenting with http://www.gpsvisualizer.com which appears to work and also allows me to host the data here. However it lacks some of the features of mapmyride.com, distance markers & simple elevation so I'm still looking for a better option.

Friday May 23, 2008

All lockers full

I love getting emails like this:


Date: Fri, 23 May 2008 10:47:56 +0100
From: XXX YYY <XXX.YYY@Sun.COM>
Subject: Guess what guys...?
To:  Chris Gerhard <Chris.Gerhard@Sun.COM>, .......

... We ran out of cycle lockers on Monday! ALL 20 of them!

Clearly the solution is more lockers so as to not suppress demand.

Sunday May 11, 2008

May Flyer

Once again we, Molesey BBT, rode the South Western Road Club's May ride. This year is was called the “May Flyer” the route was identical to last year but the weather was not. Today was glorious sunshine. We started off as a group but one immediately, that is within 10 yards of the start, punctured and the rest of us pushed on. By the time I got over Coombe Bottom all the other BBT riders were no where to be seen. One rider I know from the trips to Italy and France was with me and a few others I did not know. We pushed on.

After about 22 miles we were caught by three riders who had started 3 or 6 minutes behind us and so were clearly going faster than us. I decided to try and catch a wheel and see how far I could hold it for. One of the riders had blistering speed on the “flatter” sections the second I later discovered was doing the ride on the big ring and could clearly have left us all standing. The third seemed like a very good all rounder.

I managed to stay with them until the return climb up Coombe Bottom where the “all rounder” was dropped but the rider on the big ring disappeared. I was only 10 yards off the other rider at the top but He was on a mission and the drop from there to the finish suited his style being able do a fast pace.

My GPS told me I completed the ride in 4:54 for the 86.24miles giving 17.6mph.

Finally on the way home I got to be bicycle repair man to a random Lady whose chain had come off. The whole day was 104 miles and my legs certainly feel that I have had a good workout. I do really need to find out what the problem is with my right foot which became extremely painful during the ride. I was wearing my Sidi shoes. I'll try the Carnacs for a few weeks to see if that makes it better.

Saturday May 10, 2008

Hills while traveliing

While I as in Aberystwyth Clive lent be a bike 12 speed Peugeot “racer” from the late '80s or early '90s marked a route on a map and told me he would meet me at a certain point where he would be running up and down the mountains. I had been forewarned so had shorts and cycling top.




Just a brilliant end to a day a 21 mile route with some real hills. The strangest thing was coping with a bike without either toe clips or “clipless” pedals. Just ordinary pedals which combined with the 42 tooth inner chain ring made the hills just a bit more challenging. The weather was everything. A few spots of rain just to remind me it was Wales but mostly warm evening sun.

Clive met me at the top of the final descent but had the decency to follow me down so I go to to ride the decent on his bike.

I tapped in the route into map my ride by hand as I foolishly did not take my GPS. It is here: http://www.mapmyride.com/ride/united-kingdom/aberystwyth/675627671205

Thanks Clive

Friday May 09, 2008

What is better than not owning a Brompton?

...not owning two Bromptons!


As I mentioned previously there is a rule in the house that you can only own three bikes which thankfully since the Brompton is leased not owned meant I was o.k. However the lease runs out after a year at which point the bike goes back or I can buy it. If I buy it I break the three bikes rule. Hence the problem. Simon suggested that I claim that the Brompton is not a bike, which I thought was an interesting defence but since it clearly has 2 wheels (bi) and can be cycled it would be a bicycle. Although I may yet try that defence in the future, I mean for goodness sake look at the picture. You can't ride them like that!

The other problem is that is just seems wrong not to take advantage of the bike scheme. A Tax free bike to ride, where is the downside?

So I signed on for a second year and ordered an identical model\* having found a suitable home for the first one (my sister needs a brommy). When the lease runs out I'll buy the first Brompton and on the same day sell it to her so at close of business I still don't own one.

I think I may never need to have a Brompton that is more than a year old......


\* It is not completely identical as the new model now has a clip that will stop the rear wheel dropping if you lift the saddle. Useful if you are man handling a bike down station steps. I can confirm it is both useful and easy to use.

Sunday May 04, 2008

Walton to Brighton

As part of the preparation for what is increasingly looking like a day of great pain when I will be riding up Ventoux, twice, well one and a half times. At 190km or 118 miles with the small matter of Ventoux stuck in the middle of it I'm beginning to get worried.

Back to todays ride. As part of the preparation I'm trying to “get some miles in” so I pre-announced that I would be going to Brighton today which if you go the direct route is almost exactly 100 miles round trip. Ie 18 less than the ride I'm training for and the only lumps being the north and south downs. The north downs can be avioded but that won't be much preparation!

No one else was game for the ride but they did escort me to the top of Pebble Coombe before going their own way. This left me with a lonely 90 mile ride where I spent the first 20 miles after they left thinking I must start to feel good some time soon and then after that dealing with the increasing fatigue. I struggled over the downs, something you can see in the early bit of the video I got of the Sea coming into view

The return leg was every bit as slow and tired as the outward leg. The only upside being that I managed to be back home at 14:05 with the GPS showing 108 miles, having left at 7:00 that is not exactly a blistering pace but at one point I was concerned I would not be back until after 15:00.

All in all unless something changes I'm going to just be pleased to finish the Ventoux ride.

Next week is the South Western Road Club's “May Flyer” which the BBT are riding however I doubt I will be “flying”! Although with a light cycling week on the calendar due the Bank Holiday and a visit I have to make may be I will be feeling top. I can dream

Update: The gps track is here: http://www.mapmyride.com/ride/united-kingdom/walton-on-thames/491796244155

Sunday Apr 27, 2008

Devils punch bowl

Today I had preempted the decision on where to go by emailing the BBT to say I was going to the Devils Punch Bowl so that I could be sure to get some proper miles in. Six riders were at Molesey for the start with two agreeing they were not going to do the whole ride.

As I have mentioned before I love this ride. The route out is not spectacular or at least not until after Tongham, but from then on as you climb to the Devils Punch bowl it is great. Then the ride home is wonderful. The short stretch along the A3 is a bit of a pain but once the road narrows as long as you claim the lane is not bad at all.

From then on though the route is great. Even the rain and the puncture I picked up in Albury could not dampen my enthusiasm.

My speedometer claims 78.69 miles and 17.33mph average. Top speed was 40.6mph, not sure when that happened!

Wednesday Apr 23, 2008

A Long Way to Work

Since I do really need to get fit for the Ventoux ride in June I took the long route to work today. After a few miles it began to rain but since it is not unknown for the weather on Ventoux to be inclement even in June turning back did not seem very good preparation. The rain howerver persisted for the whole ride, so much so my normal cycle computer stopped working1. The route is essentially the same as the long route I used to ride prior to the Office Move until the turn into Christmas Pie which I don't take. Oddly only 3 miles longer however now the home run is 21 miles rather than 14 so I ended up with a 57 mile day.

The route is not especially pleasant during rush hour as there was quite heavy traffic for large sections, particularly from Chilworth onwards. There was some relief on the road through Ash Vale to Frimley as the bridge over the canal is closed to traffic but by becoming a pedestrian a cyclist can get through so there was almost no traffic up that section.




1The failure mode was once again very strange in that when I returned to my bike to ride home in the evening the computer had clearly stored a number of miles worth of pulses so that the distance suddenly moved forward three miles while I was putting my shoes on. Most odd.

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This is the old blog of Chris Gerhard. It has mostly moved to http://chrisgerhard.wordpress.com

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