Long flat stages and Shibden Wall

This year we have the privilege of seeing a full stage in the Tour de France from start to finish – five hours of men pedalling bicycles. It can work both ways – on ‘hilly stages’ the start of a stage can be quite exciting as breaks form, break-up and new riders try to go across. On flat sprint stages, it’s mostly a long procession of castles and vineyards – if you’re lucky. The decision to go

The decision to go into the break on a ‘Marcel Kittel sprint stage’ seems to be about a few reluctant riders pulling the short-straw over breakfast. The main entertainment is seeing the faces of the odd rider who shoots off the front and despairingly looks behind to see if anyone else will come and share the workload for the inevitable doomed 190km breakaway. The Tour de France is the pinnacle of the sport, but there is no cycle race in the world where there is so little interest in going in a breakaway. Continue Reading →

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Cycling to exams in the heat

It is 30 degrees plus here in Oxford. It is also exam season with many students making their way to exams on the High Street. Some cycle in sub-fusc to save a few minutes for extra revision. I always remember cycling to exams. Walking from LMH was too far.

texting on bike

Last minute revision or getting a good luck text?

oxford-professor

Good to see Oxford Professor’s on their bicycles, but I don’t know what Drag2Zero would make of those cycling clothes.

oxford studentyoung, old and students. Continue Reading →

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Trek Speed Concept Aerobars – keep breaking

speed-concept-bar-angle

I like to ride aerobars facing slightly upwards. The Speed concept bars allow a small degree of angle. I would like more, but this is about as far as it will go.

However, when keeping aerobars at this angle, seems to place great stress on one of the bolts.

bontrager-speed-concept-broken

Over time the bolt shears and breaks off. Continue Reading →

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Trek Speed Concept 9 Review

My new time trial bike (Trek Speed Concept 9) arrived at Beeline this week. Ironically, just as my time trial season is coming to an end. Anyway it looks nice. Which is the most important thing in a new bike.

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Trek Speed Concept 9

  • 600 Series OCLV Carbon,
  • KVF (Kammtail Virtual Foil) tube shape,
  • Carbon Fork
  • Weight: frameset, cockpit setup, headset, BB and small frame parts come out to 1,874g
  • Total bike weight (with Bontrager R5 training wheels and tyres) 8.1 kg

fin-tail

Bike with draft box

 Project One

I bought the bike through Project One. You order the bike online (or through Trek dealer) and it gets delivered to bike shop. The great thing about Project One is that you can choose any combination of equipment. This enabled me to keep costs lower by choosing cheap training wheels. I also like to be able to choose the colour of the frame. You can spend quite a bit of time, switching equipment on the website

Another great thing about Project One is that it gets delivered to a good bike shop and experienced mechanics can put it together. The staff at Beeline bikes Oxford have been helpful in getting the bike on the road. Project One combines the best of the internet buying with also using a good bike shop. The best of both worlds really. Definitely adds to the experience to get a bike through a bike shop with enthusiastic workers to look after bike.

Trek Speed Concept at Project One

The main disadvantage of Project One is the time taken for bike to arrive. I ordered in  May. It arrived end of July. I kept waiting to have enough money in the bank before ordering, but if I’d known how long it would take, I could have ordered earlier.

Also, it has proved bad timing on my part. My time trial season is effectively over (I might do one 25 mile TT just to use bike). I should have waited for new model to come out in Autumn and got bike for start of 2015. When buying a bike, it’s always worth planning the best time of the year to buy it.

Clean lines on Trek Speed Concept

This is what you pay your money for. Nice neat lines, everything hidden away. Super aero.

front-brake-

Neat front section. Really clean. Though annoyingly the plastic cover doesn’t fit 100% flush with the fork.

trek-rear-view

Smooth rear view (the black plastic bit for draft box can be removed) The lines of the frame are immaculate.

What’s it like to ride?

First impressions are good. Pretty stable at high speed. Seems to cut through the wind pretty well. Though disappointingly if you want to go fast, you still have to pedal very hard. It is difficult to make quantitative judgements about how much time it saves from last bike (Trek Equinox SSL) Even when I race it will be difficult. I was more impressed by the electronic gears than new frame. Electronic gears are pretty cool and easy to see the difference. Marginal aero gains, hard to judge. But, it definitely looks Aero! Continue Reading →

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Trapping Hill and Nidderdale

I’m up in Yorkshire, so have been taking the opportunity to cycle up some ‘proper’ hills. I can’t do as much as I would like. Rather like an old man, I seem to take a few days recovery after any effort with ongoing issues. Still, something is better than nothing. After watching the Tour de Yorkshire on tv, I couldn’t resist visiting Lofthouse and Trapping Hill. (I’m not really keen on all this Franglais stuff –  Cote d’flipping steep hill sounds a bit weird). Trapping hill brings back memories of my first bike rides, aged 14 – when I  went camping at How Steen Gorge and being amazed at how difficult Trapping Hill and Greenhow Hill were.

trapping-hill-view

View from top

Trapping Hill isn’t quite as invincible as it felt as a newbie cyclist aged 14. When I visited on Saturday, tather fortuitously there was a tailwind up the climb, and the road had been newly repaved. If this smooth road was due to the Tour de Yorkshire effect, I hope it becomes a three-week grand tour. With a three-week Tour we could even afford to have stages across the border in Lancashire.

Continue Reading →

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Tour de Yorkshire 2017

I enjoyed watching the Tour de Yorkshire – recognising roads often cycled on, huge crowds, familiar climbs and quite a few local riders I have raced against at different times. People say the crowds are as big as Liege-Bastogne-Liege but the last time I watched Liege-Bastogne-Liege, I didn’t see any crowds on the scale of Yorkshire.

I spent more time watching Tour de Yorkshire than the Tour de France. On Saturday I enjoyed seeing Lizzie Deignan and Anne van der Breggen fly up the Cote du Lofthouse, that was a good race. The third stage on Sunday was great because it went past my old school Bradford Grammar, up Hollins Hill and past Menston all the way to Burnsall. Yesterday, there was tremendous interest in the page on Shibden Wall – the 21% cobbled climb.

Watching tv, I thought the Peleton weren’t going at full flight on Shibden Wall – perhaps not but when I saw the times on Strava I knew that looks can be deceptive – it was still pretty quick. I have ridden it once and now want to go back and have another go.

In the end, after 10,000 ft of climbing, it was a good finale to the race with Serge Pauwels hanging onto a slender advantage and taking the first win of his pro career.

I took some shots of my tv, but it doesn’t do justice to some of the crowds in the road.

Shibden Wall Continue Reading →

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Touring in The British Isles

At the moment, it seems all my cycling friends are going off on epic cycle tours around the British Isles. PJ is live blogging from his solo tour from around the abandoned medieval hamlets of Leicestershire and the like.

“Once you get out of the towns and cities, weaving a stitched line along the OS map, it’s quite startling how English everything becomes. The rural landscape, imaginative, physical, demographic and imaginative, is very much middle England, punctuated by the flag of St George, villages in thrall to a vision of the past that is at once bucolic, refreshing, but clearly at odds with the more modern subjectivity of the city dweller.”

Traumradfahren

When I went racing around England, I found a similar observation, in places such as Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire – you came across all these villages which were quintessentially English in a way you felt only existed in 1950s Mrs Marple films. For me, cycling around the countryside was the best education there was more to England than Bradford and the inside of Oxford pubs.

I took this photo driving back from Nat HC 2010. But I have cycled up here a few times.

However, no matter how impressive consecutive days of 91 miles may sound, there’s always someone with a bigger ride. My team-mate Vilas Silverton writes an entertaining account of a 400km ride in the middle of March. – An early season 400km All night Audax rides in freezing winter seem to attract a particular breed of rider. A rider who revels in sleeping in bus shelters with the height of luxury being popping into a petrol station to ‘borrow’ a few plastic bags to try and keep warm. Silverton sets the scene for a frosty night ride. Continue Reading →

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John Woodburn

John Woodburn, who sadly passed away April 15, 2017, was a multiple national cycling champion whose long-running career included several place to place records.

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John Woodburn Cycling-Weekly Archive

In 1961, Woodburn became the first person to win national 25 mile champion riding a geared bike. In 1982, at 45 years of age, he also set the cycling record for the 847 miles journey from Lands End to John O Groats. His time was one day, 21 hours, 3 minutes and 16 seconds. (average speed 18.828mph)

In addition, Woodburn’s career included:

  • RTTC British Best All-Rounder in 1978 (first Vet to win BBAR)
  • National 12 hour TT champion
  • Competing in international Peace Run 1963 stage race, where he finished 14th.
  • Currently holds age group records including:
    • 21 minute 10 mile TT at age 73
    • 25 mile TT – 51-minute, at age 63.
  • Several place to place records, including London to Bath and back record – Woodburn was particularly proud of this because it involved beating Les West’s record.

Personal reminiscences

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John Woodburn on Lands-End to John ‘O Groats ride

I met John Woodburn at my second ever open time trial in 2005. At the time, I had no idea who he was or anything about his lengthy and wide-ranging palmeres. Continue Reading →

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Unadventurous cycling in Queens, New York

Recently, I wrote that an attraction of cycling was taking random roads and hoping for the best. The British countryside can encourage an adventurous spirit – if nothing else you can enjoy a new view, new road – even if you later do a u-turn. But, it’s not always the Yorkshire Dales or the Cotswolds – I also spend four weeks a year in Queens, New York. I’ve written about cycling in New York before – rarely with any degree of praise or recommendation. To cut a long story short, it’s a tough place to cycle – you rarely see cyclists on the road and for good reason too. As a result, I ride defensively and with unerring routine. I basically have two rides, which never go beyond 30 miles.

wide-track-velodrome-kissena

One ride is to cycle two miles south to Kissena Boulevard outdoor velodrome. Here I cycle around in 250-metre circles for an hour before I can’t take it anymore – and then cycle the two miles back home. I don’t have a power meter in New York, so just try to make sure I keep an average of over 20mph for the velodrome riding. It’s a bit more fun if there are other cyclists there too. Last week a random cyclist latched onto my wheel for quite a few laps. It encouraged me to very slowly raise the pace from 20 to 21mph then 22mph. After about 10 minutes I reached 25 mph and suddenly my wheel sucker friend went pop and lost contact. I didn’t mind, in fact, I was grateful that he gave me the motivation to ride harder than usual. It was a surprisingly good feeling to just ride someone off your wheel by imperceptibly raising the pace. It also reminds you how hard it can be to motivate yourself when cycling on your own. Continue Reading →

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Riding through injuries and niggles

Last weekend, I spent three days with no bicycle in Germany and my leg problems got worse. When I got back I actually had to take another day off the bike, at that rate I was despairing of ever seeing an end in sight.

But, at the same time, I was hopeful that I could just ride through and keep going. This weekend I’ve been up in Yorkshire, and it’s been great for a few reasons. The weather is excellent. Yorkshire in spring with the sun out takes some beating. But, at least this weekend, the more I cycle the less I’m getting bothered by old injuries and niggles. Saturday I made a visit to Pateley Bridge for one of my favourite climbs – Greenhow Hill. All told it was 50 miles and just short of 2,000m of climbing. After an easy day going to Grassington, (an easy day in the Yorkshire Dales can still mean 1,000m of climbing) I went south-west towards Silsden and some steep hills around there. This year I’ve done relatively little in terms of volume of training (compared to previous years), But, in the past week, I’ve started to feel in good shape. The top end fitness has come back quite quickly. It is also a psychological boost to get the summer bike out of the loft.

descent-sutton-in-craven

Ellers Road looking back towards Sutton-in-Craven near Keighley.

From Sutton-in-Craven, I went up Ellers Road – a tough climb of 1.4 miles at 10%, with a particularly difficult beginning. It’s a very good test. I also found a new climb just to the south of Ellers Road. It is a climb called ‘Dick Lane’ or the ‘Cote de Dick’ if it gets in the Tour de Yorkshire. It is a very nice climb, 1.4 miles at 7% (and unlike its near neighbour Ellers Road – never too steep.) It is a smooth gradient, decent road surface and outstanding views across the valley to the left. I’ve been cycling in Yorkshire for 25 years but it’s still surprising how you can come across a new climb less than 15 miles from your house. Continue Reading →

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