Friday, 31 August 2012

Getting Uncle John ready for the cyclocross season

Some new Decathlon BTwin Micropore Bar tape fitted to match the Uncle John and my red Samcycling Team kit
September in Nottinghamshire means one thing for many

The Start of the Cyclocross Racing Season

We're lucky to have one of the best local cyclocross leagues in the UK with pretty much a race every weekend through Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire as well as many Lincolnshire cyclo cross races within a relatively short drive.

Therefore i've been getting the cx bike ready for some mud and sweat.

I'll get to try them out at the start of September where I'll be working as mobile support at the Wolverhamton Marathon. Sadly it means I miss the start of the cross season and the first round of the Notts and Derby Serie but i'm putting something back into sport as a result.
New Frogglegs brakes from Empella to replace the weak old Planet X Brakes

White frogglegs on a cross bike look bling

Monday, 18 June 2012

Lezyne Steel Floor Drive- A new love enters my life

A month ago I was in mourning for my poor Joe Blow. It had lost the will and finally run out of puff.

Since then after much deliberation I have found a new love to enter my life
Lezyne Steel Floor Drive Track Pump- my new baby!
The Lezyne Steel Floor Drive Track Pump is a marvel of engineering and simplicity and has a retro edge to it's styling with an awesome wooden handle.
The amazingly scupted wooden handle on the Lezyne Steel Floor Drive Pump
The simplicity is confirmed with a fantastic screw on valve system which means you'll always have a secure connection between valve and inner tube for effective tire inflation. The valve also features a simple push down valve that reasons a few psi of pressure from the tyre each time to allow more accurate tyre pressures.
The valve system on the Lezyne Steel Floor Drive
Want One For Yourself?

Monday, 21 May 2012

The death of Joe Blow

Farewell my old and faithful friend for you have served me well through the last ten years

The death of my Joe Blow Sport Track Pump has hit me badly
You've serviced Peugeot, Ambrosio, Ribble, Langdale, Giant, Planet X and Kinesis bikes in that time and oulived them all. I've relied upon you time and time again. You've hit that magic 120 psi with little excess effort and I've taken you for granted as a result. You've done more than I could give you credit for in any review

Your lungs have now failed and it's time for you to go up to that bicycle shop in the sky

Rest in peace my trusty Joe Blow Sport Track Pump.

If this was a review I'd give you a 10 out of 10 for longevity. 10 years is a long time.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Mallory Park In The Rain 15.05.2012

Awesome race at Mallory Park in the rain 15.05.2012

Cycling in heavy rain has a marmite effect for many cyclists- you either love it or hate it. Personally as long as I can stay relatively warm I love it- especially as you see other riders' faces drop and become despondant.

The heavens opens prior to racing at Mallory Park last night (15.05.2012) in their newly expanded 2/3/4/W format. Coupled with temperatures around 5 degrees celcius it led to the initial battle being keeping warm. We even saw a number of riders racing in Assos winter jackets and about a third of the field raced in rain capes! You definitely needed a set of road bike tires for wet weather riding today!

You also know it's bad when the commisaire offers you your money back for entry if you choose not to race and it seems there were a few riders that made that choice however a big thank you must be sent out to Elaina Kennedy and the team last night for letting the racing go ahead. It must have been nasty for them simply standing on the sidelines.

Around 50-60 riders started although there were a good few that seemed to drop out and the conditions on the Mallory Park Tarmac were wet. If it was a motorbike race it wouldn't be particularly safe however fortunately with a number of 2nd cat riders in the field it tended to calm down some of the hap-hazard riding that you often see in 3/4th cat bike racing events.

Mallory Park Circuit
How did I get on?
After my ill fated last race at Birmingham in the cold, wet and wind I was rather nervous befor ethe start that my form would be ok- especially finding out that the Mallory Park Races were now 2/3/4 cat races so I'd be stepping up a level. In the end I had no need to be worried and felt fine throughout. The legs felt OK too considering i'd riden 220 miles over the previous weekend and felt some soreness still in my quads.

I finished in the main bunch. A break went late on with around 12-15 riders and just didn't seem to be coming back until late in the race. I felt ok helping the chase in some points at the front of the bunch but there wasn't really a full scale effort to catch the break and they subsequently stayed away. It seemed that people were more interested in looking after themselves then the end goal of catching the break so in a sense it was raced like a 3/4 cat race in the end. I did shout at one point when at the front for riders to start going through and off but either it wasn't heard or simply riders chose to ignore it.

Congratulations to Carl Dyson (2nd Cat) of Clay Cross RT for the win

What I've learnt from Mallory Park in the rain
  • Strength is ok. I felt fine when the pace went hard
  • I'm a little reluctant to attack at the moment. Couple of times I should have had a dig on Tuesday night but decided to play it safe, I need to take a few more chances in future races
  • Fitness seems fine even racing up a level

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Birmingham CC Circuit Races- 2nd race of the season

Waking up this morning bunged up was never going to be a good sign. The weather reports stating that there was due to be more than a months rain in a single day was also not a good omen either. British weather forecasts are often inaccurate- in this case I would consider that there was two months worth of rain in one day.

Normally I have no issues racing in the rain- in fact I rather like it but today at the Birmingham CC Circuit Races it was a different story

The race at Birmingham is around an industrial estate circuit of just over a mile. It's a flat course which while often windy as it's quite open- it's a fast course and usually ends up in a bunch sprint. Not today!!

A break went within the first 5 miles and stayed away for the whole race and the bunch was desecrated due to cold, obscenely wet weather and destructive winds. It seemed that every lap there was a rider going out the back of the bunch and sadly I was one of those riders!

I struggled today. I was absolutely fine early on but mid way through started to struggle and began to feel cold. The up and down nature of the bunch in misguidedly putting the pace down in the bunch then easing up. Why can't 3rd Cats ride a chaingang to chase a break?

After being shelled from the bunch which was at around 12 riders when I went pop I managed about 5 more laps of the circuit before deciding it was time to get changed and get warm.

Am I frustrated- yes, definitely. Do I need to do more work in training- definitely too

What have I learnt today?
I need to work on going hard for short intervals into headwinds. I felt slightly lacking in strength today
Colds and wet weather are never a good combo for a racing cyclist.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Best Coffee in The Vale Of Belvoir for Cyclists

While out training we tend to visit quite a few cafes and coffee shops around the areas we ride. A favoured area out to the South East of Nottingham to The Vale Of Belvoir.

The Vale Of Belvoir is a low lying area which is characterised by picturesque villages, a number of Canals and relatively quiet country roads  favoured by local cyclists.

Personally the best cafe in The Vale of Belvoir is Pizzini in Bottesford as they serve the best Espresso coffee

Pizzini also have a large gated section for storing your bikes around the back too

Definitely worth a trip whether it's Summer or Winter and there's a map below if you're looking for directions.

View Larger Map

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Can a cyclist use a MacDonalds Drive Thru?

For give me father for I have sinned. And i've sinned on a number of occassions. Yes I have eaten at MacDonalds. I know it's not good for me and I know my 'foodie friends' will likely lower their opinions of me. 

But a question arose today in that
Can a cyclist use a MacDonalds Drive Thru?
 I have to admit that yes- I have personally gone through MacDonald's Drive Thru on my bike in the past at the Arnold Branch which is relateively local to me. I've had a few funny looks but effectively I've been through and been served. No problems

Today was a different story however. After a 4 hour Sunday Morning training ride (of which a huge chunk was into a full in head wind!) I bonked and hit the wall big time going along the local ring road. I went from motoring along in the 53-17 with not a care in the world to struggling to even turn the pedals- at which point I saw that might M sign in the distance and saw it as an opportunity to take in some much needed carbohydrate and satisfy an unhealthy MacFlurry fetish I have as well.

I rode along the road for the drive through and stopped at the ordering point waiting for those magic word's- "Can I take your order" but it never came.

I waited

and I waited

and then a member of staff came out and explained that being on the bike I wasn't triggering off their sensors. Not a problems I thought- I'm sure this guy will take my order, sorted...

But it wasn't ok. I was told that cyclists weren't able to use the Drive Thru facilities and that it was a matter of health and safety in case I rolled up to the window to pay and someone drove through the back of me. Therefore they didn't allow cyclists to use the Drive Thru.

I'm a 29 year old man on a road bike. Not a 12 year old on a potentially nicked BMX!

Sadly based on that logic the Highways Agency must be issuing warnings that cyclists can't use the roads in case a driver rides up the back of them!

So there's me in a vegetative state (those of you that have suffered the bonk will know exactly how difficult things can be) not able to get myself some food. Very very unhappy and MacDonald's Basford Nottingham minus about a Fiver as a result!

You may be asking- why not simply go inside?
Realistically why would I leave my bicycle outside the local Maccy D's and join the queue inside only to return and be minus a bike. There's no room inside to leave a bike from personal experience so I would have been taking a chance leaving my brand new bike outside MacDonalds.

Thank goodness the local Newsagent down the road was open and allowed me to wheel the bike inside while I purchased and many thanks to them.

Have you been able to go through your local MacDonalds on your bike? Please let me know

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Victoria Park Crits- First race of the season report

Thats's my first race of the 2012 cycling season done. Just finished The Victoria Park Crits down at Leamington Spa- my first race in Race Team kit and C Originals SV888 helmet
planet x rt 57
Myself in Team Kit and C Originals SV888 Helmet, plus riding my Planet X RT 57
The Victoria Park Crits are a fantastic series of short races around Victoria Park on a 800 meter long non technical circuit which means it's ideal for beginners and more experienced riders.

Racing in the two 3rd Category races was a little sketchy to say the least and the first race saw two major incidents (and a large number of minor incidents in the bunch too) on the final lap of the race.
The first incident seemed to be where too many riders had bunched together- sadly one rider as a result went off to the local A+E. The incident isolated alot of riders in the field. I was just behind it but able to put the brakes on and stay safe- although this led to a gap to the front 15 or so riders in the bunch of around 10 meters and despite a spirited chase I finished just at the back of the remnants of the bunch.
The second incident occurred within the group on the last corner and involved a Nottingham Clarion rider going  sideways into a set of bushes and not being close to the rider I couldn't tell exactly what went on. I have to say the rider had been very erratic throughout the race with his riding and hadn't been a good wheel to sit behind.
The first race finish from the first race puts me in 17th place.
Finish line camera photo from victoria park crits, April 2012

The second race was a little less eventful and I rolled in towards the rear of the bunch.

Legs are feeling a bit sore now!

Any regrets from Victoria Park Crits? I wish I'd had a dig or two on the front. My legs felt good but by the time it got to the business end of each race the bunch was so congested it became I real difficulty to get yourself from mid bunch to the front so I was happy using the riding as training and staying safe.

In action at Victoria Parks Crits 2012 in our new Team Kit.
The above photo is from Drews Views Photography. More images are available from the event via their Facebook page.

What I've learnt from the race.

  • My fitness seems pretty good for flat racing
  • Leg speed and strength seem fine
  • 18months off bunch racing and I'm not 100% confident in the bunch- this will develop over the course of the next few races. 
The good news is that a friend of mine was there with the camera too- just awaiting some more photos of the action.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Decathlon BTwin Bottle cages- time to take them back for a refund!

A review of the Decathlon BTwin 5 Water Bottle Holder

BTwin Bottle Holder on Planet X RT 57
I have to admit that despite the numerous pieces of carbon bicycle exotica i've owned over the years I have never actually owned a carbon fibre bottle cage. For their use I cannot see the logic in spending such a large amount of money so here's a short review of the product.
Decathlon  BTwin Bottle Holder 5 in Black on Planet X RT 57
I generally purchase simple thermoplastic or metal bottle cages which I know I have no issues replacing in case of an accident during a race. Usually they last a fair length of time however recently i've purchased a number of such items which i've had issues with and feel that Decathlon need to review.

For my new Planet X RT 57 I decided to pic up a set of pair bottle-cages from Decathlon's BTwin line. You'd think that a multinational sports company like Decathlon and their BTwin brand would be able to get a simple bottle cage right- and you'd be wrong sadly. For £3.99 per cage they're on the lower price range but that shouldn't make a difference as i've had similar products in the past.
Close up of the BTwin 5 bottle holder whih doesn't actually hold a bottle for long. 

So far I've lost 3 waterbottles on sections of roads which weren't exactly rough. If I'd put on of these cages on my cyclo cross bike then I would have lost a lot of money worth of waterbottles over a very short space of time. It seems the reason for the lose is that the cages whilst having the traditional wrap around style do not have a lip at the top of the body as shown below on a Zefal Spring water bottle holder below.
Zefal Spring Water Bottle Cage Showing the 'lip' that the Btwin 5 Bottle Holder is desperately missing
Time to head back to Decathlon for a refund!

Planet X RT 57 with Sram Red and Decathlon Btwin 5 Water Bottle Holders Before they go back to the shop). 

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Planet X RT 57 Bike Problems after a month of use

I previously showed a selection of images of my new Planet X RT-57 and after a months worth of riding I thought it's be a good time to take you through a few negatives to bear in mind if you're considering buying  a Planet X Bike and looking for reviews and feedback

Planet X RT 57 Review and Problems

Planet X RT 57 Bike Problems (A review)

  1. I found that when I collected the bike Planet X's builders hadn't done the best of jobs in tightening the various nuts and bolts. Particularly the bars and stem. The handlebars slipped on their first use and I was rather fortunate I'd bought a set of allen keys for the ride. Therefore I have to mark Planet X down on the bikes build quality
  2. I had to spend time myself setting up the rear brake which hadn't been fitted centrally. I wanted to simply get on the bike and ride- finding that you needed to adjust the brakes before your first ride is a real annoyance
  3. Bottle cage bolt placement is too close together. If you look at the monochrome photo above notice how close the bottle cages are together. It means that water bottles will not fit correctly into the cages i have. I'm currently on the lookout for a set of bottle cages which sit high up and close to the bolt fixing positions
  4. The Planet X CNC Ultralight brakes are pretty weak on stopping power. As someone who previously was used to the strong yet stable breaking of Dura Ace Calipers. The Planet X Ultralight CNC brake set looks good but is relatively weak and in return takes a lot of work to stop- particularly in emergencies. I'm even at the point of considering changing to a set of Sram or Shimano Caliper brakes once I get paid next. 
Planet X CNC Ultralight Calipers offer lightweight and light feeling braking

To be honest most of these are minor issues. The bolt tightness I would recommend anyone to check before they ride a bike anyway but my real worry is the bottle cage bolt fixings being so close together. This is a size large (56cm) RT 57 frameset so I would expect the bolts to be closer together on smaller framesets as well. 

This Planet X bike deep deep is a great bicycle. The frameset is fantastically responsive and I absolutely love it however the above have been a few minor issues I thought best shared with the world and blogosphere. 

Monday, 19 March 2012

Something for a change- A week skiing in Arinsal, Andorra

While the racing season has started in the UK it's a very long season if you're wanting to race all the way through to September. Therefore I couldn't pass up on an opportunity to do something different which has some potential to help my cycling while getting a winter break too.
Atop the Pic Negre, Arinsal Andorra at the Gondola which links Arinsal with Pal. 

Last week I headed off to Arinsal, Andorra a for fun filled week of skiing
Arinsal, Andorra part of Vallnord

The interlinked resorts of Pal and Arinsal are part of the Vallnord (North Valley) ski resort network with the separate Arcalis Resort a short bus ride away.

Looking out on the Pyrenees from Pic Negre
Being within the Pyrenees you get amazing and totally breathtaking views like the one above looking out from the Pic Negre at top of the breathtaking Bordes De Seturia where a gondola links the resorts of Arinsal and Pal as part of the Vallnord network.
 Andorra's mountainous terrain and multiple high peaks create an environment fantastic for downhill skiing. Andorra's tax free status also means you're £'s and Euros go further than in many French and Spanish resorts. Expect to pay around 3 euros for a pint of lager (compared to 6 euros in many French ski resorts). With it's tax exempt status Andorra is a great place to bring back some bargains. If you bring back cigarettes from your holiday in Andorra expect to pay around 25-30 euros for a stick of 200 which is well less than half what you would expect to spend at home.

The value for money can also be seen in Arinsal's abundant options for apres-ski which leads to it being a hit with a younger crowd who come for more than just the skiing.

Having spent a week skiing and enjoying the high life I'm now ready to hit the bike big time. My sponsor has all my kit now ready for the 2012 season as well so I can now really start to get the quality mileage in on the bike after a fantastic active holiday.

I recommend a skiing trip to any cyclist or active person I know and I also thoroughly recommend Restaurant 360, Arinsal

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

February's Training: Aiming for that 2nd Cat Racing License

My plan from January's update on my training status was to start building up the muscular endurance and training volume. I had a fairly steady January and here's my update from February.

February 2012 Training Diary
1. Day off
2. Steady turbo trainer session working on endurance and muscular endurance. Following a ten minute warm up I performed 30 minutes in 52*21 at a cadence of around 90 rpm. HR 175-180 bpm
3. Day off
4. Cross Bike ride for 3 hours in Sherwood Forest. Lots of ice on the roads so cross-country seemed like a good option. 2 hour ride through Sherwood Forest up to Thieves Wood and through Newstead Abbey with a hot chocloate to try to warm me up at Blidworth Woods Tuck Van follwed by a steady hour home.
5. Overnight snow meant roads were impassable. 2 hours on the cross bike in the snow up Bestwood Country Park. It was exceptionally hard work in the snow which many walkers had diced up but great fun all the same. 
Cyclocross in the snow- Sherwood Forest
6. Day off
7. Turbo 50 mins. 10 min warm up, 30 mins ME session in 52*21 then 10 mins easy recovery. HR 170-180 bpm. Ultra cold night so steady session as in garage
8. Gym- endurance session for whole body and core stability
9. Turbo 50mins, Steady Muscular Endurance session. Warm up then 30 mins in 52-19 HR 170-180 bpm. Very cold night so steady session
10. Day off
11. Turbo 50 mins as roads still treacherous due to compacted ice and snow. 10 min warm up followed by 30 mins in 52*15 gear. Strength element. Lower than usual cadence however cadence began to rise to 80-90 rpm by end of session as fluid trainer warmed up.
12. 80 miles 5 hours riding with Samcycling RT teammate Alex in the the Peak District. Met at Ambergate heading over towards Wirksworth, Up Via Gellia and down the Miner's Standard heading over to Bakewell. Up through Bakewell and through Chatsworth Estate before returning down the A6. Very hard ride as Alex is climbing well. Felt cream crackered on arrival home but a great morning's riding.
13. Easy night- sore legs from Sunday's ride
14. Turbo 50 mins. Strength and ME session. 10 min warm up followed by 30mins in 52*15 gearing. Cadence 80-90 rpm (Rising during session as fluid trainer warmed up) 
15. 1 hour gym session focusing on leg strength and back strength
16. Turbo 50 mins. Strength and ME Session. 10 mine warm up followed by 25 mins in 52*14 gearing with cadence 70-80 rpm although pushing up higher towards the end of the session. Hard work feeling like pushing through sand. Steady 15 mins recovery. Starting to feel much stronger
17. Day off
18. 70 miles- 4.5 hours riding in Derbyshire-heading into the Peak District including the climbs of Holy Lane from Ambergate, Part of the Via Gellia and then up Bonsall and Beeley Moor. Really hard ride. Mainly riden in the Big Ring. Tough conditions as very windy and started raining heavily once got up on the tops of the Moors past Bonsall until home. 
19. 75 miles 5 hours including riding steady with local club Mapperley CC on their Sunday Run. Rode out to Newark- Bottesford climbed up to Belvoir Castle before traversing into the Vale of Belvoir for coffee and cake at Rose Cottage near Plungar village. Nice ride. Steady with hard sections on the front particularly climbing up to Belvoir Castle which was very hard work. 
20. Day Off- sore legs from the weekend.
21. Day off- feeling rough as though virus coming on. Glands swollen and feel bunged up with cold.
22. Day off- feeling rough as though virus coming on. Glands swollen and feel bunged up with cold.
23. Day off- suffering all week but starting to feel much better ready for the weekend
24. Day off
25. 70 miles out through North Nottinghamshire via Newark and Ollerton up to Rufford Coach House Café with Mappperley CC including a chaingang section at pace for around 8-10 miles before the café. Stayed in control for this while coming through occassionally. After cafe the group stayed together until a further ten miles from home and finished with a further chaningang section alond the local dual carriageway/bypass road. A group of four had pushed on while the main bunch had been waiting for dropped riders and it took an almighty chase for the remaining 10 miles for a small group of us to get across to the breakaway group which contained mainly 20 minute Men for a 10 mile TT. Cracking training.
26. 60 miles out towards the Vale of Belvoir and Newark finishing up at a fantastic new café for the Nottinghamshire area- Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour and Café at Hockerton near Southwell. This will undoubtedly become a regular haunt. 
27. Easy day as legs slightly sore from the weekend
28. 30 mile 1.5 hour evening road ride with 8* 30-45 second hard efforts on different sections of road. Rode into Sherwood Forest and hit the climbs of Rigg Lane (known as Tit Hill from childhood) and Bull Hill hard in the big ring. Powered up Bull Hill in the 52*21. Legs starting to feel ok for big ring riding- even on the winter bike
29. Easy 40 mins on the rollers.

My thoughts on the last month
  • Strength is developing well
  • Muscular Endurance greatly improved
  • One midweek off due to virus but no other health issues.
  • Starting to feel stronger in group rides
  • Poor weather and cold temps limited use of interval training- more required in March

Steps Ahead for March

March could be a difficult month training wise as I'm away for 3 weekends of the month. 2 weekends skiing and 1 on my brothers Bachelor Party which will detract from training. Skiing will be great cross training and a good break for me however. 

  • Increase intensity of interval sessions
  • Integrate more race specific training
  • Continue to work on endurance and muscular endurance

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour and Cafe, Hockerton- A great cafe for cyclists in Nottinghamshire

Cycling and coffee go hand in hand. There's an importance on the social side of cycling and most cyclists love to stop for coffee and cake or breakfast. Here's a little review of Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour and Cafe.

Newfield Dairy Cafe Sign
There's a new cafe on the scene for in Nottinghamshire at Newfield Dairy on the outskirts of Southwell in Nottinghamshire. The cafe only opened back in December 2011 and judging by today's visit has great potential to establish itself with cyclists that visit the Nottingham area especially in summer

Fantastic Ice Cream Cabinet, cakes, drinks and specials board at Newfield Dairy Cafe

Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour and Cafe is situated on Caunton Road just off a 90 degree bend around a mile from the A617. 
Plenty of outside space for leaving bikes at Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour and Cafe, near Southwell. 
Outside are bike racks, a small children's play area and plenty of seating for topping up the cyclists tan lines in summer. Inside is a spacious, modern and very welcoming cafe characterised by a mesmerising selection of ice cream. Yummy. There is also a fantastic logging fire in one corner for those bitter cold rides too so summer and winter is sorted. 
Plenty of bike racking at Newfield Dairy Cafe

When a big group of cyclists walk into a cafe there are a few things they usually consider.
Price- We'd rather spend our money on expensive carbon fibre components although we'll pay out for the right things. The cafe prices we're neither cheap or extremely expensive. Middle of the road pricing is fine by us. £1.75 for two slices of toast and marmalade and £1.90 for a large coffee are acceptable prices. 
Choice- there are generally two schools of cyclists that go to cafes. Those that order toast and those that order desserts like cake. Newfield Dairy offers the exotic opportunity of some amazing ice cream based dessert options. Today I tried a fantastic After Eight Mint Ice Cream Smoothie (pictured below) which I will definitely have to try again in future. 
Speed of Service
We hate to wait ages for food (like everyone) and while a cafe stop is a social experience we don't want to hang around for too long. Service was not a quick as we would have liked and was towards the wrong side of acceptable. We'd have liked to have seen drinks bought out much quicker followed by food instead of orders being bought out together which meant the few that had ordered breakfast that needed cooking waited an extended amount of time. Those people may have had a second drink if they'd received their drink close to time of order so maybe Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour and Cafe needs to consider that option to ensure they maximise revenue in future. 
After Eight Mint Ice Cream Smoothie at Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour and Cafe
Updated- 15.04.2012
Due to training and other non bike related commitments I've not been back to Newfield Dairy Cafe until today and I have to admit it seems to have now become hugely popular with local cyclists. Spotted jerseys there from Mapperley CC, Sherwood CC, Mansfield Road Club, Pedalpower Loughborough, Nottingham Clarion and Sherwood Pines amongst the large numbers of cyclists there today- maybe I should have kept quiet about it's existence and not told the whole local cycling community!

The queue was huge and they had to have two tills in place to manage it as a result. Service was ok yet again rather on the slow side so we avoided a second coffee (as per earlier post Newfield Dairy are losing money as a result of this). Orders of large coffee's came out as small and names were not taken down well which led to a huge amount of confusion. It's a great place but the service needs really to be addressed!. 

Monday, 20 February 2012

New pedals for the new bike; Ritchey WCS Echelon V2 (Keo alternative)

A new bike like my Planet X RT-57 really deserves a new set of pedals to go with it so here's a review of Ritchey's WCS Peloton Pedals which now adorn my new stead. If you're reading this asking the question
"Are Ritchey WCS Echelon V2 Road Pedals compatible with Look Keo Pedals"
Then the answer is all below

I've used Look Keo pedals for a number of years and all of my other bikes have Look Keo Max pedals on them however having looked at prices I can't believe how expensive they are now. Yes, a good pair of pedals don't come cheap if you're looking for performance and obviously I don't really want to have a single pair of compatible shoes that I can only use on one bike as that would really be a little wasteful and expensive too.

Therefore I started researching Look Keo alternatives. I didn't want to change the pedal system on each of my bikes and like the flexibility of being able to use the same set of road shoes on each different bike too. Most companies were selling Look Keo Max 2 Carbon pedals for around £70 which I don't begrudge paying however started to have a look at other options for slightly less money. I came up with 2 options

Exustar E-PR200's
Ritchey WCS Echelon
Ritchey WCS Echelon V2 Road Pedals

Both of these options are Keo cleat compatible and an almost identical product in appearance and specification. Both of these pedals are slightly lighter than the equivalent Look Keo Max 2 Carbon by around 10 grammes per pedal as well.

Despite being priced almost identically to the equivalent Look pedals in the UK- I managed to source some Ritchey WCS Echelon pedals for £50 from a German retailer which I couldn't really turn down.

Ritchey WCS Echelon V2 Pedal for use with Look Keo Cleats

A quick review. In use the pedal feels similar to a Look Keo with that reassuring snap into place that has always been in place with a look pedal. The Ritchey's own cleats look very similar from the exterior however feature alternate plastics. The grey sections provide slightly more grip when walking around. However the downside is a quicker wear rate to these sections which fortunately are not part of the main coupling mechanism. Look Cleats have never been known for their own longevity however.
Ritchey WCS Echlelon V2 Pedals looking great attached to Sram Red Cranks on my Planet X RT-57 bike

Tension can be adjusted to high levels which means you're not going to slide around in the pedal due to lack of tension meaning when you come to a steep climb or sprint your pedals won't let you down.  Would I have another pair- yes definitely! I personally use the pedals with around 2/3rds of the available tension which I feel is ample for a 76 kg sprinter/ rouleur's level of control and is the same amount as I would proviously use for a set of Keo's
Ritcheys own cleats feature alternate plastic sections for additional grip while walking which is an improvement when compared to Look Keo cleats

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The new bike is here- Planet X RT-57 with Sram Red

After a trip up to Rotherham I now have my new bike ready for the 2012 racing season. A new Planet X RT-57

Here are a few images on arrival. More to follow and a full review on the rt-57 coming in future,

As I hope you can see from the photos this bike looks fantastic and should be a fantastic race bike.
Fantastic looking Planet X RT 57 with Sram Red Group 

This bike looks fantastic although I had to have a slight change to the spec offered by Planet X as they had run out of 172.5 cranks and had to subsequently order me in a Sram Red Chainset instead of the Sram Red Aero chainset they were originally offering. However I actually prefer this chainset option.
Sram Red Chainset on Planet X RT-57
The only deviation from a full Sram Groupset is that the bike comes fitted with Planet X's own brand CNC Ultralight brakeset. I've heard mixed views of some CNC brakesets so will see what they're like in terms of performance in relation to my old ultegra and dura-ace brakesets
Planet X CNC Brakes fitted with Swisstop Brake Pads on Planet X RT 57
One thing that strikes you upon initial viewing is the sheer magnitude of the seat-stays and chainstays which are pretty bulky so should provide fantastic power transfer.
Rear end of the Planet X RT 57 featuring Sram Red and Ultralight CNC brakes

It's now time for a ride on the new bike me thinks! Hope you like the photos
Read a full review of the Planet X RT57

Monday, 6 February 2012

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Diary of a wannabe second cat cyclist is a dofollow blog so if you're looking for backlinks for a sports or cycling related blog.

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Good luck in raising your google pagerank through do follow blog commenting.

Looking for a do-follow sports or cycling blog?

Friday, 3 February 2012

January 2012- My Cycling Training Diary (Honest)

Training for a cyclist starts to get serious when January hits so I've decided to publish my honest training diary from January.

January for me is base training and subsequently reflects that emphasis. In the past I've often been hit down by viruses around January/ February time so I'm taking a slightly different approach this year to ensure I do not perform too much riding too early in the season and get hit down by illness. To help with that I'll be using my training rollers throughout January instead of the turbo trainer I've used in the past and I will also be more aware on group rides that I do not need to always be competitive at the front of group rides when the pace goes down.

After the traditional Christmas binge on food and alcohol it's time to add a little more structure into my training and riding with the emphasis on Endurance, Leg Speed and some aspects of Muscular Endurance

January Training
1. 50 miles on bike- steady ride on my own in the little ring on the flat out towards Newark on Trent. Total riding 3 hours
2. Day Off
3. 50 Min's/ 20 miles on Training Rollers- Technique work on quarters of the pedal stroke
4. Day Off
5. 50 Min's/ 20 miles on Rollers- Technique working on quarters of the pedal stroke
6. Day Off
7. 70 miles into the Vale of Belvoir including 30m with local club Mapperley CC. Total 4 hours of riding
8. 80 miles/ 5 hours in the Peak District on my own. A steady ride with great weather. Including climbing the challenging Winster Climb from Darley Dale
9. Well earned day off after a big mileage weekend
10. 50 Min's- 20 miles on rollers. Muscular Endurance for 30 Min's in 53x17 at low level aerobic HR +- 160 bpm followed by 10 Min's technique work
11. 1 hour in the gym working on muscular endurance and core stability
12. 50 min on rollers. 10 Min's warm up followed by 4*5 min tabata intervals 6-8 secs hard 52*15 followed by 6-8 secs easy with 5 Min's recovery between sets.
13. Day Off
14. 70 miles out in North Notts. Minus temperatures should have meant a steady ride however joined up with Mapperley CC and turned into quite a hard ride with the group splintering on a long rolling road (I was on the front for most of it pushing 52*19/17 and then all carnage broke loose once I'd pulled off the front and it ended up single file with others pushing the pace) Maybe a little too hard for the time of year but nice to test the legs out.
15. Day Off- the minus temperatures of the previous day meant I felt pretty rough and felt like I needed a day off to ward against infection
16. Gym Night- 1 hour. Concentrating on Core stability and working the back + legs. Sets of >20 reps
17. 50 Min's on rollers. Easy day concentrating on technique
18. Gym session- circuit training. Really hurt. Not done circuit training for a number of years. Really blitzed ab's and leg muscles
19. 30 Min's easy session on rollers to speed recovery as legs very sore after circuit training.
20. Day Off.
21. Turbo Trainer Muscular endurance/ threshold session 20 Min's 53-21 15 Min's 53-19 90+ revs HR 180s total 60 Min's session.
22. Day off- feeling unwell. Bunged up.. Best to take day off than a week
23. Day off- feeling unwell. Bunged up.. Best to take day off than a week
24. Day off- Starting to feel better.
25. Rollers 45mins easy. Nice and easy session to get the legs back to being used to spinning.
26. Gym Legs and Core including some plyometrics. 1 hour
27. Day Off
28. 3.5 hours on road with Mapperley and rode through from cafe instead of stopping. Group broke up due to size so a lot of chasing back on required including the whole of the section between Averham and Newark Island involving a pro style chase back amongst the cars before drafting off a horsebox. When pace picked up became extremely hard. Need to improve strength still however still only January so pace was maybe a little too hard.
29. 3 Hours on my cyclocross bike in Sherwood Forest for a change of scenery. Freezing temperatures overnight meant lots of icy patches on the road meant it was a safe option to get in some mileage. Hadn't realised how much fun I was missing out on and got a fantastic workout too.

30. Day Off
31.Turbo Trainer session. 50 Min's Muscular endurance 
including 3*6 Min's at and slightly below threshold heart rate (187 bpm) 
1st interval 52*19 and 2* intervals at 52*17.

My thoughts on the last month

  • I've steadily built up my training
  • Legs feeling stronger
  • I've been enjoying riding 
  • I've managed to stay relatively healthy. 
  • A few days off due to feeling unwell but no full blown virus.

Next month- start building up the muscular endurance and training volume.  

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Riding Rollers is really affecting my muscles

Having spent a lot of time recently riding rollers I've started to realise that they really are developing my pedal stroke

What I've learnt- My pedal action is weak over the top half of the pedalling action.

  • Previously my pedal stroke was weak on the initial activation phase of the power phase. Ranging from 12 to 3 on the clock face. 
How I know this- I'm finding a lot of extra effect on my backside (gluteus maximus) which is the muscle responsible. I've found significant muscle soreness to this area post workout on the rollers
  • Weakness in the hip flexors
The hip flexors are responsible from between 9 and 12 on the clock face and the dragging forward of the foot over the top of the pedal stroke

Hopefully continued riding on the rollers will continue to help myself develop strength in these areas and I've also started more glute and hip flexor targeted gym work too

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

I'll be riding for the Samcycling Race Team in 2012

Way back last year I was offered the opportunity to ride for a new team due to set up within the East Midlands for 2012 through the Internet cycling retailer Samcycling.

The team will feature 5 riders initially and is a great step forward for myself and has given me renewed emphasis to progress within my cycling.

The Team will be sponsored by

Oxyburn Base layers (part of the Worik) group of companies
C Originals Cycling Helmets

See more details of the team at the Samcycling Race Team Blog and view my personal bio on theire too

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Why all cyclists should use a set of rollers

I got myself a set of rollers a couple of years ago and have to admit I've hardly used them up until this winter. Having had 18 months away from serious cycling I needed something to help me work on my pedalling technique and I've found the rollers are fantastic for just that

I've found that the key benefits of using a set of rollers are

  1. Improved balance whilst cycling.
  2. Improved pedal stroke efficiency and more even power output throughout the pedal stroke.
  3. Improvement in bike handling due to the need to ride consistently in a straight line.
  4. Kinaesthetic feedback to help detect weaknesses in your pedalling technique.
  5. Low resistance of the rollers means I find I have less likelihood of pushing myself too hard- Maybe this is just a mental effect as you get a great workout on the rollers.
If you're looking for a great article on how to ride rollers I recommend

How To Ride Indoor Bicycling Training Rollers

Good luck with your training.