Changing tyre – no hands

If you’ve every struggled with changing a puncture, try do it without any hands.

The chap is Hector Pickard of don’t stop – puts a bit of road rash into perspective.


Dealing with road rash

In the perennially popular lists like: ‘Top 10 reasons to take up cycling’ –  you don’t usually see –

  1. Learn how to deal with blood and treat your own wounds.

But, unfortunately it does seem to be a bit of a compulsory extra in the cycling curriculum. Cycling is undoubtedly a marvellous thing – good for health, weight, fitness, congestion, carbon neutral e.t.c. but if you do any amount of cycling you will, at some stage, be picking yourself up from the side of the road, with less skin than when you set out. On the positive side, you do learn some elementary elements of first aid.


This would be funny if it happened to anyone else, but yesterday, I fell over for a second time – and I wasn’t even on the bike, just going out of the front door. I managed to hobble around Faro and Gatwick with my suitcases and get home to Oxford. The next morning I was feeling pretty pleased with the progress of my leg so started to clear up the house. Going out to the bins, my trailing left leg, tripped over the lip of the front door and I went tumbling over on to the old injuries and picked up some new ones on my right hand side just for good measure. I now have a symmetry of road rash. I cried out, but the street remained as deserted as a Portuguese mountain. Eventually, after lying on the drive for a while, I realised no one was going to come and help, so I had to pick myself up and go through the tedious process of dressing wounds again. The fall didn’t do my leg any favours – though I still hope it will get better sooner, rather than later.

Dealing with Road Rash

It’s hard to improve on this page here – dealing with road rash But, my tips would include:

  1. Check for signs of breakage and more serious issues. A doctor will check for more serious things and leave skin to the last. Also make sure it is not a deep gash rather than superficial cuts.
  2. Be careful you may be in shock.
  3. Wash out any dirt
  4. Betadine is a good cleanser which doesn’t sting that much. (much better than traditional iodine) (see: Betadine at amazon) Anti bacterial soap is another option.
  5. Have big patches ready. The best are duoderm hydrocolloid types  Road rash tends to be quite big, get some good big strips ready. You can also use non-sticking gauze pads they are cheaper than duoderm. I have a range of sizes in my cupboard.
  6. Change once a day and wash wounds. (duoderm can be left on for longer. (3-7 days – see: link) A warm bath is a good way of loosening bandages before changing and giving wound a good clean.
  7. If you ever fall off, you will really understand why cyclists shave their legs. It’s easier to keep clean and it’s easier to put on and take off bandages. Though, I seem to always fall off in winter, when I can’t be bothered to shave my legs.
  8. It’s an uncomfortable feeling riding with road rash, though it is possible to keep cycling. Often it looks worse than it is. But, the pain of road rash maybe hiding other more serious injuries.
  9. If you do crash, especially with deep cut, be careful about getting a long haul flight. the risk of blood clot is high.
  10. After a few days, try leaving open at night and dress during the day. When it has scabbed over it can be left open.
  11. look out for infection. Signs ill include: increased pain, pus or spreading redness.

Self treating road rash

Often for minor cases, you can treat yourself. It’s easier than finding a nurse. When I fell off in Portugal, it was too extensive and I couldn’t do. When treating yourself, the important thing is not to skimp on the cleaning and applying anti-septic which can be a little painful..


Cycling in the Algarve

The past two weeks I have been cycling in the south of Portugal. It’s been a mixed experience to say the least. Firstly I’m typing with 5 fingers (more of that later) it’s interminably dull writing with one hand and I beg to be excused if there are more typos than usual.


Firstly, I was lucky to make it out if Gatwick at all. 3 hours waiting on runway for a storm to die down was not fun, but better than the 24+ hour waits of other unlucky Gatwick folk who never made it at all.

Once airborne I could begin to feel a little pleased and excited at the prospect of leaving the cold, ice and storms of Britain behind for an ‘idyllic’ winter training camp in the south of Portugal.


‘idyllic was always going to be a little on optimistic side, The weather on the Algarve in winter is a mixed affair. quite a bit if rain, definitely warmer than England but not exactly tropical. It doesn’t stop the English coming to Portugal though – the hotel foyers were full of folk from Barnsley and Sheffield, looking a tad gloomy as they whiled away the hours reading about the English storms on their ipad.

But the weather did clear up and I had quite a few nice rides. If you go along the coastal roads, it’s busy with traffic, even in Dec. But head north and there is a cyclists’ paradise of nice wide roads and hardly any cars; the tarmac is super smooth, which is  a big bonus. There’s something particularly satisfying about climbing long gradual gradients on smooth tarmac.


I don’t think Portuguese drivers are any better or worse than English drivers. I couldn’t really tell because there  were so few. 1 thing about heading north – it was very hilly. climb after epic climb. there are not particularly high – up to 580 metres max, but there seems to be  ridge after ridge. On one day, I’d done 1,000m of climbing with only 20 miles on the clock.

I like climbing as much as any cyclist but even me, the hill climbing addict was starting to wish for something flat. It’s not exactly steady base miles country. The gradient of many climbs was also quite steep 12-16% – though mostly more manageable.


Continue Reading →


Cycling uphill awards for 2013

It’s the time of the year for goodwill and to be merry. I’m not quite sure what that involves. Perhaps to fill the cup of merriment, you’re drink of choice is a six hour winter training ride through wind, rain and sleet. Or perhaps it involves going to Poundland and getting a Santa outfit for £1 to distribute loads of crap presents you’ve just brought for a pound. (no offence Dad, I do like all those presents from the Poundshop, especially the novelty Santa Hat which makes a good ear warmer on a cold day.

Or, perhaps we could jump on the interminable-end-of-the-year-fill-a-newspaper-with-award-ceremonies.

Cycling uphill awards 2013

1. How to descend like a girl and still win the Tour of Britain – Bradley Wiggins. Every cyclist can have bad moments descending, but not every cyclists can time trial like Bradley Wiggins.

2. Tate prize for Cycling modern art


– London’s Blue painted cycle superhighway. Admirably fulfilling the criteria for modern art – cheap, gaudy and without any point.

3. Moral leader of our time. No not Nelson Mandela, instead I’d like to nominate Hein Verbruggen for services to humanity, in pointing out Lance Armstrong is a really bad lad, and if anyone injected EPO into Lance, it really wasn’t good old upstanding Hein.

4. Descending backwards down a 25% hairpin pass whilst doing a wheeley.


No this isn’t a joke prize, it really happened and I’m glad to say he’s alive to tell the tale. (don’t worry Mum, I can’t do backwards wheelies downhill and anyway it’s much faster descending when you can look where you’re going.)

5. Peace and reconciliation award. No not Nelson Mandela. But, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome for burying the hatchet and showing the real meaning of teamwork, especially at the World road race championship in September. Continue Reading →


Cycling in Leeds


Recently I was in Leeds during the rush hour. I took a few photos of cyclists and the basic cycle infrastructure.

Leeds has a fairly low % of residents who cycle once a month. According to the Department of transport just 11% of residents cycle at least once a month. It’s not the lowest rate in the UK, but it lags behind other cities.


Leeds cycle facilities

In the city centre there are some dedicated cycle facilities. It’s not much, but they seemed to be well used during rush hour.


Dedicated cycle pathcyclist-path

A temporary brake in the cycle path. The cyclists I saw used their common sense and were cycling at low speed to avoid any problems with pedestrians. But, it does seem to sum up the patchy cycle lane provision.

Leeds cycling campaign.

The Leeds cycling campaign is working with the city council to try and improve facilities for cyclists and make the city more attractive place for cycling. (Leeds Cycling Campaign)


Proposals for better cycling facilities.  Cycle vision for Leeds

Continue Reading →


Assos T.607 F.I Mille S5 – long term review

A review of Assos T607 F1 Mile shorts after a year of using them.

Summary They are very expensive for a pair of shorts – around £160. But, they are probably one of the best cycling products I have bought in recent years. They have really made long 5-7 hour winter training rides much more comfortable. I used to get all kinds of pain and discomfort, but these shorts mean I don’t even think about that aspect of cycling.


Admittedly I have worn some pretty cheap and unconvincing shorts in the past. This was a big step forward from a pair of shorts costing £40 to nearly four times the value. But, I couldn’t go back to the older shorts now.


A year ago, I also bought some F1 Assos Uno cycle shorts for £117.  They are also excellent, But, I find I tend to wear these T607 more often because I prefer the insulation and they are slightly more comfortable than even the F1 Uno.

The problem with cycling is that there is always a temptation to spend lots of money – weight saving carbon fibre, cool clothing, new bike e.t.c. It’s always hard to know whether spending these great sums is justified.

Firstly, it’s not often you buy a pair of shorts, and with it you get an owners manual. There’s some rather discouraging warnings.

  • Do not machine wash
  • Do not wash with other clothes.
  • Do not ride near brambles
  • Do not get caught in velcro
  • (Do not get pushed into barbed wire by TV motorbike) (youtube)

Overall, there seems to be a strong warning emanating from this owners manual – Assos shorts are not designed to last. Not the most reassuring thing to read about something just costing shy of £160. Because of this I have taken care of these shorts more than any other piece of clothing I have owned.

I have hand washed them, I have taken a pee, according to the users manual, I have even avoided jumping through bramble whilst wearing them

One year on, I have got considerable use out of them, and they are still going strong. The padding is starting to be slightly worn, but it doesn’t look like it needs replacing. I’m hopefully of getting another couple of years use out of them.


Assos warn that proper sizing is very important. Get a size too big and it won’t stay still and move around. Get a size too small and it will stretch the seams and over time disintegrate (there’s a lot of talk about the shorts disintegrating). Rather worryingly, they say most professionals usually start in size L, and later in the season move down to size M. All very well for professionals who don’t have to pay £150 to change sizes. But, I want to get size right first time. I choose size L because it fitted my height 180-185cm, (but not the weight of 80kg).

I have worn the large sizes for over a year, and it still fits fine. There is no need of wanting to move down a size. But, for obvious reasons, you want to take care with getting the right size. Importantly, there should be a stretching of shorts when you stand up in them. The important thing is that they fit you whilst in the cycling position.

Comfort of Ride

The fabric is amazingly comfortable, the shorts are comfortable everywhere. As Assos states, when you stand up, it feels tight because it’s designed to be worn in the cycle posture. And I don’t think you need a Swiss owners manual to tell you these shorts are not designed for ‘social use’ (though the ever-thorough Swiss do actually tell you that they don’t recommend wearing these shorts in a ‘social situation’)

The manual tells you to not pull the shorts into place, but merely let the shorts do the work. I oblige and let the fabric move into position, as I set off down the road. The dimpled padded insert is considerable and really well designed. Not like some old shorts where the rather feeble padding seems to stop at an inappropriate point.

After two hours into the ride, you realise you’ve hardly noticed your saddle or seating position. It’s very comfortable. After five hours in the saddle, the first signs of hardness start to appear. But, this is relatively mild. At the end of the ride, I was really praising the design of the saddle. It’s done a lot to improve the ride quality over other cycle shorts. It is a big step up from any other cycle shorts that I have experienced. This winter I have been doing rides of up to seven hours. I’ve never experienced any real discomfort. I used to suffer from a lot of the dreaded saddle sore. But, this past year, I have rarely suffered, apart from after a few time trials (where I wear skinsuit and not these shorts) Continue Reading →


Trapping hill

Trapping hill

  • Length 1.7 miles
  • Height gain = 248 metres
  • Average gradient = 9%
  • Max gradient = 17%
  • KOM time: 8.47
  • 100 climbs: #145


It’s a real tough hill. The gradient doesn’t get ridiculously steep; the max is about 17%. But, it stays close to this 16% gradient for quite a long time at the start of the climb. After a mile, the gradient eases off and there is a long drag to the finish. It is quite exposed near the top, so wind direction can make a difference.

It was used in the Tour de Yorkshire 2017. In the women’s race, Anna Van der Breggen and Lizzie Deignan used it as springboard for race winning move

Blog from 2012

For a change, my lowest gear of 39*25 didn’t feel too bad. But, I stayed in it for a long time, and it did get really hard work towards the end of the steep section because of the unremitting gradient – but it didn’t nearly kill me like last week’s Bushcombe Lane.

Apart from winning the Menston Cricket Club under 13 fielder of the year award (1989), my main claim to fame is suggesting Trapping Hill (Lofthouse to Masham ) as hill number 145 for Another 100 hill climbs.

Trapping Hill

I didn’t stop to take photos today. This is from a few years ago.

Trapping Hill has a personal significance because it was my first major climb that I conquered, aged about 13. (perhaps even the same glorious sporting year as winning that prestigious fielding award). In those days, I hadn’t even joined Otley CC or started a weekly club run. But every year, I’d go with a friend camping to How Stean Gorge in Nidderdale. We would take our bikes, and completely untrained, we would go out for 50-70 mile rides on the bike. When we came back, we were absolutely wasted and couldn’t walk for 3 days. It was all tremendous fun, though I think the illicit bottles of Belgian beer hidden in the sleeping bags helped quite a lot.

As a youngster, I never thought I had any natural talent for sport, but looking back, I did always manage to cycle to the top of these epic hills (like Trapping hill and Greenhow hill) – even if completely untrained; my friend Peter Joanes, poor chap, was soon reduced to walking. He really suffered. I used to have to either wait for 10 minutes at the top or go back down the hill and go up a second time.

In those days, Trapping Hill seemed an almost impossibly steep and long hill; it was a major adventure to tackle it.

Today, it’s not quite as difficult as I remembered, but it was still good to go back and relieve those early cycling holidays.

Guise edge

From Guise edge looking towards Pateley Bridge. I raced up here earlier in the year. today it was just a nice descent.

From Menston, it’s quite hilly to get to Nidderdale. I went over Norwood Edge and up the back of Greenhow hill before dropping into Pateley Bridge, down Guise Edge. From Pateley Bridge, there is a nice 7 mile road towards Lofthouse, before you turn right up Trapping Hill, towards Masham.


At the top of Trapping Hill, the plan was to do a u-turn and head back. But, it was a beautiful day, and a rush of blood inspired me to end on towards Masham. I don’t really know these roads too well, but I got an idea to head over towards Masham and Middleham before coming back through Coverdale and Park Rash. Continue Reading →


Bontrager RXL waterproof overshoes


Review of the The Bontrager RXL waterproof overshoe.

I’m always on the lookout for warm footwear and accessories. These Bontrager RXL overshoes looked very warm with a generous fleece lining. They also came recommended from Steve, the bike mechanic in BikeZone. Despite already having a pair of overshoes, I bought these. They cost £36, so I was hoping they would give an impressive performance to justify the price tag. Steve gave me a tip that he recommended erring on the side of getting a bigger size.

He said the first pair he had were tight, restricting the blood flow and defeating the purpose of overshoes. I take shoe size 46.5, so I chose the XL size which says it fits 47-48. It proved a good fit for my Mavic cycling shoes – size 46.5. I’m sure it would be fine also for shoe size 47, but 48 might be a little on the tight side. Despite getting XL, it was a snug fit, and once on didn’t move. There is a good strong zip and it is well made.



Underneath the shoe is designed for durability, with generous holes and no insulation. It means it won’t deteriorate walking around, but it doesn’t offer any insulation from the underneath. A complement to this shoe may be a lining of your shoe pad.



The main selling point for this overshoe was the generous fleece lining. It is warmer that most overshoes. My feet were quite warm at 10 degrees without the usual hotpads. These over shoes are ideal for really cold days.


If you’re feet aren’t prone to the cold, these might even be a bit warm during spring and autumn, where it is a close call on whether to wear overshoes or not. If you don’t often get cold feet, you might be better off with a cheaper and slightly thinner overshoe. At £40, it really is quite an expensive overshoe.


If you want maximum insulation for an overshoe, it is hard to beat this.

Despite warmth and the layers of insulation, I find it perfectly breathable. It’s not sweaty. I sometimes find the neoprene overshoes to be a bit on the sweaty side. Continue Reading →


Cleeve Hill and Bushcombe Lane

After a few days in Yorkshire, I was back down south. After getting a taste for a few winter hills, I was looking for something to aim for down south. Bushcombe Lane  looked suitably menacing on the OS map, plenty of double arrows. Checking up Another 100 Climbs, (no. 105) and I saw it gets a rare 10/10 rating. Lots of 20 and 25%. gradients.

buschcombe lane

Quite often I like to amble around the Cotswolds with no particular target, just taking whichever road appeals. But, this was a ride with a clear target – get to Woodmancote and then climb Bushcombe Lane. It’s quite a trek from Oxford – perhaps 50 miles taking the back lanes of the Cotswolds. The 50 miles out west were quite pleasant. The roads weren’t quite as isolated as Yorkshire, but they were quiet enough. Another balmy December day – 10 degrees and the odd bit of sun, made it quite an enjoyable ride. Despite trying to get there by the shortest route, I took a few wrong turns and added another 7 miles on to the outward journey. I was starting to worry I might not have enough daylight, but I was quite committed to checking out the climb.

First from Winchcombe, I had to climb Cleeve hill. Cleeve hill is a substantial climb itself; though from Winchcombe it is more of a long drag – nothing too steep. Cleeve hill from Cheltenham is much more of a hard test. I enjoyed doing that last winter.


The top of Cleeve hill affords a great view; it was a little on the murky side but still worth the climb. I then took the descent down Bushcombe Lane to see what I would be climbing. I kept stopping to take photos – I wouldn’t be stopping on way up – and you can’t help but notice – this is really steep!

buschcombe lane

In Woodmancote, I did a u-turn and with a certain degree of trepidation began the climb. It starts off innocuously enough, but seems to get steeper and steeper as you go. The middle section is really testing. After a prolonged 20% section, it got even steeper and the gradient hits 25%. As you can see the road surface was wet and muddy. I was wheel spinning quite vigorously which made it even more difficult. I think I put 95psi in rear tyre Continue Reading →


Views from Burnsall and Wharfedale

It’s the third time in three days, I’ve cycled through Burnsall; with views like this it doesn’t take much encouragement. It was just one of those days where you have to keep pinching yourself to remember it’s the middle of December.


Bolton Abbey


Bolton Abbey Crossroadsclimbing-barden

2 Cyclists climb up the Strid, lower Wharfedale.2-mtbs-wharfedale-2

Looking towards Burnsall Continue Reading →