The world of cycling according to G – Review

geraint thomas

geraint thomas The world of cycling according to G  at Amazon.co.uk

The world of cycling according to G at Waterstones

I received this book a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed reading it, and it is one of the more interesting insights into professional cycling. You feel a strong sincerity in that this is how Geraint Thomas sees cycling and life, there’s no sense of pretence or writing what a pro cyclist is supposed to say. From those looking from the outside, it is interesting to read.

The story of Geraint Thomas’s career is well-timed because it neatly co-incides with the rise of British cycling. Thomas along with the likes of Ed Clancy, Mark Cavendish were some of the very early members of the British Cycling development squad run by Rod Illingworth, the squad which went on to achieve Olympic success and then perhaps more impressively success on the road.

The book is written in quite a light, easy to read format; (it is written with Tom Fordyce). It is good humoured and generally quite a positive insight into professional cycling.

It is not written like a chronological autobiography. “I won Olympics, then rode for Sky… ” But, focusing on particular aspects of cycling separated into short chapters. For example:

  • The Fringe benefits of being a professional cyclist (e.g. Being brilliant at go-karting racing, getting drunk very cheaply…)

thomas-geraint Geraint Thomas 2015 Ghent-Wevelgem

  • Rain
  • The Perfect Ride
  • Cafes
  • When the Wind Blows
  • I never take the stairs

Read more

Bont zero cycle shoes review

A review of Bont Zero cycle shoes.

Manufacturer Features:

  • Claimed weight: 220 grams per shoe. (I’ve weighed with Speedplay cleats on, and it came to around 580grams. They were 80grams less than my Mavic Tourmalet with same cleats on)
  • “Fully Heat Mouldable Chassis utilizing Epoxy Thermoset Resin”
  • Sole: Unidirectional Carbon to improve aesthetics of sole and further reduce weight of shoe
  • Upper sole: “Durolite Outer Skin for its extremely durable nature and light weight”

I had a pair of Mavic Tourmalet cycling shoes that had lasted since 2009. They were light, comfortable and got good value for money. But, they needed replacing. In terms of cycling shoes, my criteria are:

  • Comfort
  • Weight
  • Aerodynamics
  • Power transfer (hard to measure)
  • Looks

I don’t need cooling vents (my feet are always cold not hot) Nor do I need any thing to tighten shoes before a sprint.

I did toy with the time trial specific Bont Crono TT shoe, but was put off my higher price, non UCI compliance and wondering whether that would be a problem for CTT.

bont-zero-shoes-pair

I chose the Bont Zero because they were lightweight (claimed 540grams a pair) and also claimed to be aerodynamic shape – negating the need for overshoes.

Another selling point was that they had heat moulding capacities so it promised hope of a good fit.

First off, I ordered a pair of 46. I put them on and they were a bit too tight, so I sent them back and got the slightly bigger 46.5 (this was same size as my Mavic’s). When these came they were still a little tight in the width. But, I didn’t really want to get longer shoes than necessary (no point getting bigger and more weight if you don’t need it)

Read more

Yellow Jersey Club – Edward Pickering

yellow-jersey-club

yellow-jersey-club I was reading ‘The Yellow Jersey Club‘ during the Tour de France. Short biographies of those who have won the Tour de France in the past couple of decades. It started off in the post-Merckx era with Bernard Thevenet (1975 – 77).

I don’t think I even knew Bernard Thevenet had won the Tour de France. So I learnt something new for a start. The man who dethroned Merckx was not exactly another Merckx. He had his own idiosyncrasies and perhaps lacked the steely determination and need to win that a Merckx or Hinault had. During his career as a rider he was very popular with the French public, which is surprising given his current relative anonymity. Interesting to compare to say Bernard Hinault who only really won the hearts of the French when he started to be less than invincible, towards the end of his career.

Read more

Nopinz

Sometimes an idea comes along – and everyone thinks – why didn’t I think of that 10 years ago?

In the world of aero-marginal gains, NoPinz is a great simple idea. Reduce the aero drag from a flapping number and use a self-adhesive wallet to stick number to your back.

NoPinz

The other advantage of the Nopinz system is that:

  • It means no messing with trying to attach you number with safety pins. (even though I do secretly like the ritual of number pinning; even though I never get it right first time. )
  • Protects skinsuit from getting holes in. Big issue if you’ve spent a lot of money on a skinsuit
  • Organisers should be happy because it means no-one trying to put glue on the number to keep it aero.
  • Avoid safety pins falling out (which can happen)

I used this disposable speed wallet a few times back in April. You have to be careful in putting on. It’s a little fiddly, but about the same time as doing and undoing safety pins. It worked well from what I could experience. It stayed on 100% and definitely felt better from an aero perspective.

The only thing to watch out is that your skinsuit needs to be dry before putting on.

Wattage saving

I’ve heard claims of 3-5 watts saving for a speed wallet. I haven’t tested, but intuitively it does makes sense. You can sometimes feel the sail effect of a number which is held in by safety pins.  Even more watts claimed here

Given it has many advantages and few disadvantages, it definitely makes sense. By comparison to other aero-savings, it is quite affordable.

Read more

Kings of the Road – Review

Crowd come to see Alf Engers finish

Kings of the Road – A journey into the heart of British Cycling – Robert Dineen

Kings of the Road – is a look at some of the characters which helped to form British Cycling in the post-war period, but who have largely remained relatively unknown to the wider public – and even to hardcore cyclists themselves.

The author has chosen to interview quite a motley collection of characters,  I don’t know whether it was a conscious choice or not – but the cyclists involved, invariably seem best be described as ‘outsiders’ – people who did things in their own way and didn’t necessarily get on with the authorities as best they might.

Some of these relatively unknown riders, will be quite well known to the timetrialling community – Beryl Burton and Alf Engers are the Queen and King of British time trialling in the golden age of the sport. Their names stand out in the list of past winners because they are the kind of rider and character who really left their mark on the sport, giving a glamour rarely associated with timetrailling.

Crowd come to see Alf Engers finish
Crowd come to see Alf Engers finish

Certainly they deserve their own chapter; it was particularly interesting to read the interview with the mercurial Alf Engers – who even now after all these years – has a certain mystique – the rebel without a cause who drilled holes in his handlebars and more importantly bestrode the Blue Ribbon event – the 25 mile TT championships like a timetrialling colossus. He also reduced the 25 mile TT record to unheard of levels. (49.24 in pre tribar days)

Another rider who had only briefly flitted across my radar was Colin Sturgees. The super-talented youngster who used to beat Chris Boardman in the individual pursuit. One went on to Olympic gold and British cycling ubiquity, Sturgees path took another, more tortuous and winding road; illustrating the fine line between success and failure – especially in such an ephemeral sport as cycling.

Read more

Aerobar mounted waterbottle

A look at the aerodynamics and convenience of a water bottle between the arms for time trials.

12 months ago – three days before the ECCA 100, I did a post on rear mounted bottle cages. The post wasn’t much use for me because – 5 miles into race, the said waterbottle self-ejected itself onto the road, never to be seen again. I somehow managed to do the 100 mile TT on 1.5 litres, but it was close to being a disaster.

This year I’ve gone for the other end of the bike and spent considerable time looking for a waterbottle which could be mounted on the aerobars. The advantage is that I’ve heard this is a very aerodynamic position for a waterbottle. I know Matt Bottrill uses something here for CTT events.

The good thing about a Speed Concept Bontrager aerobars is that it comes with potential to buy an adaptor to but on tribars making it easy to fit an ordinary bottle cage on. (SC WB Cage)

But, for some reason I bought the profile design Aero HC. This can be fitted to any aerobars – whether a Speed Concept or not.

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 13.52.04

HOwever, it uses a rather unaerodynamic contraption to fit on to bars It’s quite wide and it puts a lot of extra stuff into the wind. Someone tested the Profile Design aerobottle and found it quite unaerodynamic. (review at DCRainmaker)

However, I can ditch this thing and just use with Bontrager bolt cage.

profile-aero

It looks quite aerodynamic. It reminds me of the Japanese bullet train.

Read more

DHB race cape

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking – how to do a race when very heavy rain is forecast. For example, this years Circuit of the Dales was running off in torrential rain. Fortunately I was on holiday in New York so I missed this edition, but I think I would have really struggled. I get cold when it’s dry – when it’s wet, there’s only so long I can stay warm.

The problem with time trials is that you need your race number showing, so you could put a waterproof cape under your skinsuit. Whether this would work I don’t know. But, I’ve got a race cape for the eventuality.

This DHB Race cape is only £24.99 (I got sent free for review)

race-cape I chose a size small because I’m thinking of wearing under skin suit. It is quite short, and a little bit baggy given that it is size small (though I do have ultra thin 30″ waist. If I was wearing over top of jersey, like most riders, it would be a little short on the tail. But, that for me is not a problem, I’m not too worried about getting wet lower down. In reviews which are generally good, many others seem to say it is a little on short side

Read more

Alpe d’Huez – Peter Cossins review

alpe-d-huez-

alpe-d-huez Alpe d’Huez by Peter Cossins is a cycling history of the famous Alpine climb. The book looks at the dramatic moments on Alpe D’Huez which have featured in the Tour de France. It also looks at some of the winners and the factors that make Alpe d’Huez such an iconic climb. It also examines the combination of myth and reality behind the great climb and examines some of the criticisms of the climb and whether it has become a victim of its own success.

I received a copy of Alpe d’Huez by Peter Cossins on my way to the Pyrenees a few weeks ago. It was good timing because riding up the Pyrenees gave a much more vivid understanding of the attraction behind real mountains. As Cossins mentions towards the end of the book – a succession of doping scandals in cycling has caused a shift from a focus away from riders to the actual climbs. Modern day magazines place less emphasis on just the cycling personalities – the climbs themselves have become much more central to the interest in cycling. Witness the explosion in books about climbs and mountains. Riders come and go, but mountains are always there. Mountains are 100% reliable – they don’t have skeletons in the cupboard, but are a permanent feature on the landscape – tantalising any cyclist in the world to ‘come and have a go.’ As it is often said, it’s hard to have a knock around on Center Court, but anyone with a bike can ride up Alpe d’Huez and compare their times.

Read more

DHB Waterproof trousers

For any commuter cyclist, waterproof trousers are essential. I remember the first two years of working in town, I was too tight to buy any waterproof trousers. When it rained I would teach by standing by the radiator waiting for trousers to dry. Happy days!

Then I got a pay rise and bought a pair of waterproof trousers from an outdoor shop. They weren’t very good. Firstly they were too short and so your ankles got very wet. So I bought a pair of walking garters to fill the gap and stop the trouser getting stuck in the chain. I’ve been meaning to buy a proper pair of cycling waterproof trousers for several years, but I never seem to get round to it. There’s always a new deep section front wheel to buy.

sun-raind-close-up
waterproof trousers

For the past two years, the elastic waist broke on my  old trouser. So it meant when I got off the bike, the waterproof trousers would start to fall down. A bit embarrassing, even if there was another pair of trousers underneath. Anyway when I was offered a pair of DHB waterproof trousers to review, I was pretty happy. Anything was going to be a big improvement…

I got them a couple of months ago, and to be honest there haven’t been that many wet days. But, when it has rained, I’ve put them on and they have done a good job in keeping my dry.

waterproof-3
Perhaps there is a second career as a cycling model.

Read more

DHB Aeron Shorts review

DHB Aeron shorts are a ‘mid range’ cycling shorts from DHB (Wiggle) that were sent to me free for review. I’ve now used them for a few weeks, and they are a decent pair of shorts, which offer good comfort whilst in the saddle (whether TT or road bike)

dhb-Aeron-Pro-Cycling-Bib-Short-Lycra-Cycling-Shorts-Black-White-SS15-0 Chamois

dhb-aeron-chamois

The chamois is made by an Italian firm CyTech, who over the years have produced pads for brands such as Assos, Gore, De Marchi, Rapha and others. This padding is one of the higher end ones. It has up to 10mm foam in areas where it is needed most with air pockets to enable the shorts to breathe. I’ve only used for 3 and half hour rides, but it is quite comfortable even with wafer thin saddle.

Read more