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).