A birds eye view of traffic

Last year I was teaching in a building from St Clements – it gave a birds eye view of traffic down below. The funny thing is that everything seemed so calm and relaxed viewed from above. A very different perspective to ground level!


The amazing thing about this set of photos is that in nearly every case, cars, taxis and buses were respecting the advanced stop boxes. I’m sure this never happens when I’m at ground level.


Advanced stop signs make it easier for cyclists turning in different directions. Continue Reading →

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Lightest wheels

An evaluation of the lightest wheels available for a road bike.

For several years, I used a pair of  Zipp 404 which are excellent all round wheels, they are also quite light, yet aerodynamic. However, they are not best choice for some of steepest hills.


The combined weight of the Zipp 404 weight pair Tubular front 568g – rear 696g was 1266 grams.

Interestingly the new version of Zipp 404 Firecrest are heavier than my old model. The 2014 Firecrest tubular has a weight of 1470 grams according to Zipp. But, with claims of much better aerodynamics.


AX-Lightness Premium Road

My front wheel is based on a Tune Mig 45 20 hole. Built onto AX-Lightness SRT 22 20 Hole rim superspokes.


This comes in at 365 grams (actual) With a super light track tub, it is only 523 grams.

When I have visitors around, I sometimes give them this wheel to pick up with their little finger. It always elicits an exclamation as the little finger goes shooting through the roof. ‘That’s light!’ comes the cry. – Everybody needs a party piece, mine just happens to be offering a lightweight front wheel to pick up. (maybe I should take up juggling instead?)

Continue Reading →

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Laws about cycling on pavements

Many people ask, but it is illegal to cycle on the pavement, unless there is a sign indicating a shared use cycle path. Cycling on footways (a pavement by side of a carriageway) is prohibited by Section 72 of the Highway Act 1835, amended by Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1888.(Highway Code)


Cycling on the pavement

Continue Reading →

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Time saved from weight loss on bike

I was cycling into town yesterday to sell some books at Blackwells. I must have been carrying 15 kg in my panniers. Cycling felt very different. It was a real effort to accelerate away from the traffic lights! With an extra 15 kg, you start to notice inclines on the road, you had never noticed before.

When the hill climb seasons starts and I get out my racing wheels, you really notice the difference when you swap a training wheel (1.3kg) for a lightweight wheel and tub (0.5kg) There is a noticeable difference.

In the 2010 national hill climb championship I was 0.9 seconds behind finishing on the podium. This was an unfortunate experience as it has always justified to myself spending a lot of money on saving weight….

This is a look at how much time and effort we can save by losing weight from either ourselves or our bike. We all know that saving weight helps us to get up hills, but how much will we save, if we can shave off 1 kg from our bike (or lose 10 kg off our tummy) ?

As a very rough rule of thumb, I was told by hill climb experts that on an ascent of 100 meters, saving 1 kg would give you an extra 2 seconds.

Analytic cycling have this program to calculate approx time saved from losing weight.

I put in figures for the

Rake hill climb


Photo PJ. 2012 National hill climb Championship


  • length: 900 metres.
  • Height gain: 100 metres
  • Average gradient 11%
  • Weight of rider: 61 kg
  • power 500 watts
  • Time saved – 1.7 seconds
  • Rake hill climb

This seems about right from my own unscientific tests with different weights on the bike.

By, the way, in 2005 on the Rake, Ben Greenwood beat Jim Henderson by 0.3 seconds. In other words the winning margin was 0.3 seconds or 170 grams.

However, it depends which way you look at it. If you are a leisure rider. Is it worth spending an extra £2,000 to save 1.7 seconds on a climb like the Rake? If it takes you 4.40, does it matter if it takes you 4.42?

Continue Reading →

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Tips for improving cycle fitness

A few simple tips for more efficient cycle training.

If you are new to cycling or have a very basic level of fitness, the most important thing is to spend more time on the bike. When you are unfit – the good news is that whatever you do, you will see relatively large improvements in fitness. The ‘fitter’ you become, the relatively harder it is to eke out even more fitness gains.


The first tip is simply to cycle more.

1. Cycle more

If you want to do a 100 mile ride, you will need to find more time to cycle. You will want to be doing a few 2-3 hour rides at the very least. Preferably a few 3-4 hour rides to get used to long distances. You could do a 100 mile ride on the back of one hour training rides, but your legs will be sore the next day, and you will struggle towards the end.

The trick is often finding time to be able to cycle more. If you live a busy life, a good solution is commuting by bike. This may be the whole journey or even just part of it. If you have many family commitments, you could try and cycle out to some venue and meet your family there on bike. If you have a roof rack, you can easily bring back the bike on the car. I’m sure your family won’t mind you going to a posh restaurant, whilst you are dressed in lyrca.

2. The pyramid of training intensity

Something that has served me well for the past 20 years is paying a rough attention to this pyramid of training intensity.


This is my rough training pyramid – recovery rides come under base / endurance. The division between categories are not strict. An endurance ride may merge into a ‘sweat spot’ training. If you’re not doing hill climbs, you might want to not do any level 4 max intervals at all. The point is that generally you spend more time at a lower intensity. Continue Reading →

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Is it OK to walk up hills?

PJ wrote an interesting post – Taking the bike for a walk

In response to a Guardian article – Is it OK to get off your bike and walk up a hill?

Since hill climbs are close to my heart – I can’t resist chipping in.

The truth is I’m torn between conflicting emotions.


The Rake – Photo Bob Muir

On the one hand is the hill climb chimp, with a thought process like:

> “It’s better to die on a hill than surrender and walk up. The modern generation is too soft with its compact chain sets and granny gears. We should recreate the hill climbs of old – 12kg steel bike, fixed gears and the one who gets furthest up the hill without falling off – wins. That’s proper cycling – not this modern, get off and walk if you feel like it nonsense.

The other chimp in me is the more reasonable, rational, politically correct version. Continue Reading →

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Winter cycling clothes and accessories

Recently a reader asked for any tips on good value winter cycle clothing. Over the years I’ve tested and used a huge variety of winter clothes – not always the best quality. These are some of the good options for staying relatively dry and warm in winter, without breaking the bank. I’ve never been inspired to spend a lot on winter clothing ( I waste my money on 70 gram saddles instead.) Though at this time of the year, I do often look rather wistfully at the well made winter jackets you can get these days.


Skull Cap
I’ve heard 50% of heat is lost through the head – I’m not sure if it’s this much. But, if it is less than 8 degrees I like to wear something under helmet, such as a thin skull cap to keep the heat in. I also like a skull cap that covers the ears. These can burn with cold otherwise. I have a Craft skull cap, which is very warm and breathable. (Craft at Wiggle) I also have a neoprene hat, but this had a tendency to be sweaty when not really cold. Some people tape up holes in their helmet – a cheap way of keeping more heat in.

Continue Reading →

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Fleet Moss

Fleet Moss is a long exposed climb between Buckden and Hawes. At it’s peak it climbs to just over 600 metres in altitude, with a maximum gradient of 20% (from Hawes).


Fleet Moss looking north in direction of Hawes. Photo by Ben Freeman.


When I first got into cycling, Fleet Moss felt like an insurmountable barrier. I frequently cycled to the foot of Fleet Moss, but to go over the top would mean turning a 60 mile ride into a 90 mile ride. It meant leaving the security of the Wharfedale valley and climbing up this beast of a hill. I remember when I first went over Fleet Moss, with Otley CC, it was an epic 100 mile ride, and a big achievement to make it ‘over the top’.

Fleet moss from Hubberholme (from the south) is slightly easier than from the north side. The gradient isn’t too steep – 17% at its maximum. However, it is long and persistently hard and is preceded by a long drag from Hubberholme. From Hubberholme to the top of Fleet Moss is 12 km, with total elevation gain of 400 metres. (net gain 240m to 602 metres). Those 12 km are at an average of 3%, but with some downhill thrown into the mix. Continue Reading →

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Correct saddle height and knee pain

It is important to get the correct saddle height, otherwise you will be more prone to injury. Also if the saddle height is wrong your cycling will be less efficient.


When making adjustments to the saddle position it is best to make small adjustments at a time.

When you have found the correct saddle height and you are happy with it, make sure you keep this same saddle height for all your bikes. This is especially important if you do a lot of cycling and have different bikes for racing and training.

One difficulty I have when measuring the saddle height is – what actually is the top of the saddle? It depends where you take the measurement on the saddle. – e.g. saddle is unlikely to be perfectly flat I try to take the measurement of the saddle in line with the down tube and the heighest part of the saddle (i.e. in the centre of the saddle). Continue Reading →

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Is it ever worth arguing with drivers?

When you have been on the receiving end of bad driving, it can leave you shaken. A cyclist has nothing to protect himself with. It really does matter if a car cuts you up or pays no attention to other road users. When this happens, there is a natural inclination to want to educate the driver – e.g. passing with 10cm to spare is actually very dangerous and could lead to a bad accident.


Is it worth it?


The problem is that the worse people’s behaviour is – the more unreasonably they are likely to be. The worse their driving – the more they are likely to irrationally blame it on someone else.

If someone cuts you up or passes far too close, only in about 10% of cases would they actually feel at fault and be willing to apologise. It does happen, but I’ve had people drive very badly and a red mist descends. It is always someone else’s fault! This is the human mind. Continue Reading →

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