Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Dun Run part two - Ride report

After a brief rest  I have decided to do a ride report proper:

After packing, panicking and forgetting to fill water I set off a little later than planned. We arrived at the pub in the park and tried to locate each other in the massed throng of riders. Warren was out front and Dave out back whilst I was late. Remarkably as I was expressing surprise that I couldn’t hear Glen he turned up.

 There were a surprising number of riders enjoying a pre-start drink. It would seem that the measure of athletic seriousness at this point was whether you went for a half pint of ale or a full pint of lager.

Riders ranged from (my favourite outfit of the night) a blousy shirt duck taped into short sleeves with tight chinos-to the Dulwich Paragons in full matching club kit.

As we prepared to leave one of our number decided for a quick wee stop before the off, which was easier said than done at this point due to there being a couple of hundred riders blocking access to the loo and the early closure of the park toilets.

Dave knew the route out of London, so we set off in the snaking queue of smiling riders into the early evening sun. Riders following GPS units went one way and veterans the other before joining up again on Lee bridge road. As the evening wore on we found ourselves passing through Epping Forest and the surrounding towns. By now light was getting poor and more and more lights came on. I was shocked to notice that some rider’s lights were flashing so brightly that they left a retinal spot between flashes and I started to wonder what that would feel like at 02:00am.

Our first stop was in a small town opposite a pub as we were 55 km in and properly ready for a sarnie. The volume of music coming from the pub was astounding as we tucked into various cheese/pickle/sausage combo sandwiches. Billy Idol blared out and peaked as an absolutely trashed woman tottered out for a fag. Up until that point I had assumed the pub had a window open, but no.

Riding though the dark was vaguely hypnotic and the light dipped between towns to nothing before rising to the sulphurous pools of yellow street lights in villages. At this point I started to notice the late starters passing us at race pace chatting easily while I was starting to have my first tired moment.

The next stop was at the foot of a hill in a charming pub that would warrant a visit during a less strenuous activity. I settled for a pint of light ale and watched the lights stream down the hill to the shouts of “HOLE!” at the bottom.

Setting off again we could no longer see each other at all and my chain came off climbing away from the pub. I texted Dave only get the response “Me too!”

They were waiting for me at the top and we set off following the pattern of each other’s lights in the dark.

Re-inventing the wheel

Surprising amounts of time and energy go into re-inventing the wheel. I have 24 spoke front and rear, but if the various forums and discussion boards are correct then I either have about 12 too many or 12 too few. I am apparently both risking life and limb and riding millstones.

Despite modern materials there is a good argument for a high number of standard spokes. The more you have the stronger the wheel. The more spokes the less likely one breaking will ruin the wheel. The more standard the spoke the easier to find replacements without a manufacturer return.

In theory, the lighter the wheel, the less energy it takes to get up to speed. However this is only a guide. If the weight saving over two wheel sets is in the use of a light hub, then it may take longer to get up to speed as it I the rotational weight in the rim that takes a while to get going.

Once up to speed a heavier wheel retains more inertia and so will keep going longer. A lightweight hub will be more prone to failure.

Unless you routinely ride faster than 20mph (I don’t) then an aero rim doesn’t help at all.

I am wondering about doing a wheel building course as what I think I want is 28/34 standard spokes from 105 or miche hubs onto mavic open pro rims… until I read some more internet forums or product sites…

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The Dun Run part one

I thought about starting this post without giving away the facts (we finished, we survived etc), but as you know I wouldn't type this en-route, the fact that I am writing it at all is proof of  life etc...

On Saturday night/Sunday morning I rode the Dunwich Dynamo. After all the build up I had thought about doing one classic (and long) ride report.

At this point I'll just say it was an amazing and very long experience. We had our ups and downs and the ride is a tougher test of mental toughness than cycling ability. The route is straightforward. There is plenty of places to stop and refuel, it is not massively hilly. It is however at night when your body wants to be asleep and you can't see because of the blinking red lights on the back of the person in front of you.

There were plenty of beautiful moments too.

We followed an irratating man with a soundsystem on his bike for miles in the dark. Not able to put a face to the noise. At the top of a hill where we took a little rest he pulled in behind us and gasped "Has anyone got any water?" He had fitted the soundsystem, charged the batteries, picked the playlist but forgotten his water. It's that kind of event.

I nearly left without filling my water bottles

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Ready for the off part 2

In typical fashion it took about 2 hours to sort out the bike ready for tomorrow. Again in typical fashion, whilst I checked the oversized bidons fitted the cages, they do not fit the frame. I'll take the two Alu ones and a 1 ltr bidon in the saddlebag.

Stuff I've packed

First aid kit
Spare tube
punture repair kit
Swiss army knife
Banana chips
vegan bars
protein snacks
banana chips
coconut water (I'll be carrying 3 ltr of fluid at start)
swimming kit
regular clothes
iphone charger
waterproof jacket

On the bike I have an iPhone mount, Carradice Barley bag, Zefal pump and bidons in Bontrager cages. I also have 2 sets of lights on the bike. My regular ones and a little blinky set as backup. I think that's everything... Just need some fig rolls and tpo make sandwiches...

Friday, 19 July 2013

Ready for the off... and the dangers of a good bike shop

So what with tonight being Thursday and the Dun Run being Saturday I have less than 48 hours before the off. The only real hitch in my training plan has been going away to Cornwall for 11 nights and drinking like a fish/local. Yup that's a pretty big hitch.

To try and fit in any training in the remaining time between now and the ride would be silly.

I needed to pick up a few things for the bike, from several different bike shops, so I decided to do it all by bike. A nice neat 35km in 28C. I say several. The original plan was a 25 km round trip to Decathlon... However as I was about to set off I thought I'd drop into the LBS

It started to unravel at Two Wheels Good . I live on the same road. I started with bottle cages. I have a red alu coyote front cage and a cheap plastic (also red) back cage on at the moment. The plastic one is dreadful so I was going to just get one red metal cage.

I was in luck. They had Bontrager cages in red, black or plain. I went up to the counter one red cage.

"Do you know what I'm thinking?" I said after a little small talk of who was doing what rides.
"You're thinking that the red one you've got is pretty chipped and that if you've got to buy two you might as well get plain. It won't go with the bike, but it's a bottle cage. You'll live with it?" said the assistant.
"Pretty much. Yeah." I replied, before going off to swap one red cage for two plain silver ones.
"Have you got a bagman for the Carradice Barley?"
"Sorry. We don't do anything by Carradice... But if you can't find one come back and we'll work out something to help."

This is the way bicycle shopping escalates.

On the way to Decathlon I was overtaken by a lady on a vintage sports bike who had the same saddle bag as mine. The one that is rubbing on the mudguard that I plan to take off. Hers was in black and also supported. By a bagman saddlebag rack

"That's it!" I thought "What I need to do is find where 'On your bike' has relocated to and ask them if they have one.

Half an hour it took. Between a poor signal for the iPhone and it being hidden in a courtyard under a bridge I found them.

"Have you got a bagman for the Carradice Barley?"
"We have several options for that particular bag..." I'll spare you the details, but needless to say they came up trumps again.  Great shop. I also bought some Argyll socks...

At Decathlon I had merely perused the wetsuits (after my attempts of sea swimming in cornwall) when I bumped into Warren. Much talking and I decided to buy the same front bag he has and some new shorts.

In Decathlon I intended to get new shorts and some 1ltr bidons. I would never normally use ones this big but the difference between being able to carry 2ltrs of water instead of 1.5ltrs may be important when everywhere but 24hr garages are shut.

I not only found some... in a disgusting colour scheme... but I also found some Alu ones with red and black caps that go with both the new cages and the bike...

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Distance and relativity

I've just totted up the distances I've logged on the MWA app since I changed my tyres at the end of april. From the 28th of April to the 4th July I logged 701.8km.

It's all relative...

When I started riding in preperation for the LEJOG ride a couple of years back I would have been astounded at the volume of kms stated above... In fact I was as that was the sort of distances I had scheduled in for training. In reality 300km of the above is training rides. The rest is transportation.

When I got the brompton I was doing about 16 km a day as my round trip commute and found it exhausting at first and exhilerating after that.

By the time I started on the Kona the commute was 32-34km each day as a round trip but I didn't do it every day.

I saw both these as training rides. Now it's just transport.

In the end I thought of the ride to Brighton more as a fun day out than a training exercise. I don't know about you but I think that's a good thing.

Monday, 1 July 2013

London to Brighton with Vera

Variety is the spice of life, and so instead of cycling to Richmond at the crack of dawn before riding circuits with Dan and Warren, I cycled to Brighton with Vera.

We agreed on a slightly later start of 10:00 a.m. thinking that we could easily cover the 95km from our meeting point in 5 hours riding, with an hour or so off the bike, we’d be in Brighton by 16:00. OK so we may take until a little later but not much. An ice cream and a quick dip than back home for tea.

Vera was on  her new Surly Long Haul Trucker (in a 46cm frame) with mountain bike wheels and gearing. Last time I'd ridden with Vera she was on  a junior Fuji track bike so the Surly might manage the hills with a little more ease.

We set off using the route we both knew down from Tower Bridge down Tooley Street, following the river down through south London before heading towards Catford and on to Bromley. From  there we wiggled about a bit (yes this is the actual technical term for it). 

The aim was to head for Turners Hill and follow the largely downhill and straight route from there… Up the Ditchling Beacon and descend into Brighton.

I’ve checked the route we used on the magic that is google maps and it is between 101-106km in total and not 95 like we thought. So what’s 10km? Well we went a little off message and added a bit more onto the total journey. Even now though google maps reckons 6 hours or so so we should have been there by 17:00.
The route went well (apart from us not being able to locate the biggest hill on the whole route and accidentally joining the A23 for a 5 mile stretch) and with minimal checking of maps and GPS we made it to Brighton in  one piece.

It was however incredibly hot with a sun baking down onto Vera’s cumulative sunburn and my head-to-toe covering of cycling gear to ward off the rays. Mmmmm Toasty! The photo below shows the effect of the sun through the holes in  my gloves!)

We got to Brighton in a weird bank of fog (which was obviously hiding the beacon from us) and sat drinking coffee on the beach. Not the refreshing dip we had packed our swimwear for. In fact the sea was too rough for even a paddle. We were exhausted. It had taken nearly 7.5 hours including breaks in the baking sun. We had only eaten a couple of sandwiches and some heat remodeled chocolate bars (Tip: “breakaways” don’t travel well in direct sunlight… Who knew) and flapricots… the result of flapjacks melting into apricots.

The chat was mostly cycling related with time enough to discuss starting a religion of sorts (Motto: You die that’s it deal with it… Have a stick on beard) and Class war in relation to Mumford and sons. All in all a lovely day out.

I got back home at 21:00 to find Sophie had run me a bath and prepared dinner. I was so grateful for that.