Posts Tagged ‘cycling’

Festive Fifty 2019

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019 | Sport

The Festive Fifty has a special place in our hearts because it was the first sportive that Bogdan and I did. It needs that special place because otherwise who else would be mad enough to do a sportive in winter?

Plus, this year we had a super-domestique on the form of Jon. He warned us that he was going to be taking it easy and on his slower winter bike, but we still struggled to hold his wheel. This was also the first year we stepped up to the 80km route (50 miles).

The ride itself was a mixed bag. I’ve switched to an ISM saddle and it is pretty good for being down on the aero bars but terrible for being sat upright. I had to ride a lot of the course on my drops to get my body tilted forward enough to relieve some of the pain. The 40-50km stretch was tough; after that, it started to ease up. The first 50km was almost pan flat. Then we got a few hills, although I use hills in a very loose term.

The photographer came out of nowhere, hence looking at my computer at the time.

My clothing worked well. Under Armour winter base layers with a gabba and rain cape over the top. Pretty quickly I had to take the rain cape off. My toes stayed toasty, too. Unfortunately, my new Sealskinz gloves broke almost immediately.

Our average speed was 26.3 kph: quite a lot faster than we tottered around at 23 kph last year. It was not as busy as last year, which is a shame, especially for the children who now won’t be able to afford heart surgery (the event was a fundraiser for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund).

Nice company, and a nice way to round out the year. Now to wash my bike…

Hyde Park Harriers cycling gear

Friday, December 27th, 2019 | Sport

As Hyde Park Harriers Triathlon continues to grow, we’ve been expanding our club kit.

I was a little worried about ordering because when I ordered my tri suit, it took months to turn up and I missed a lot of races. However, I did get a full apology, and ultimately the club decided to stay with our current provider. It’s a monopoly, so it was either take the chance or not be able to wear the club kit.

This time things have been better: it turned up just before Christmas meaning I had it in time for the Festive 50. And it looks pretty snazzy. Yeah, I’m old, “snazzy” was a word when I was a kid.

I haven’t worn the jersey on a ride yet as I also picked up a Gabba in the Black Friday sales (and Elina has now bought me a long-sleeved jersey for Christmas, too), but I have been wearing the arm warmers which seem to do a good job.

Roll on summer when the club rides start again.

2019 UCI Road World Championships road race

Saturday, October 5th, 2019 | Photos, Sport

The final race of the World Championships was the men’s elite road race. Road races are not always the most exciting because the peloton rides together, so you get one big bunch and it is all over in under a minute. However, as it started from Leeds city centre, walking up to The Headrow at 9am did not seem too big an ask.

2019 UCI Road World Championships

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019 | Sport

As the cycling world championships were just up the road in Harrogate, we hopped on the train to go watch the elite men’s time trial.

Time trials are quite good for spectators because they release the riders at one-minute intervals. In contrast, in standard road races, the peloton rides together, so you have to get there in plenty of time, they all come through at once and then they are gone.

I’m doing this new thing where I try to enjoy my life, rather than create a photographic record of it, which meant I was shotting on a little GoPro, rather than my massive DSLR and f2.8 superlens. The pictures were predictably mediocre, but it taught me to use burst mode on the GoPro.

Spatz Roadman overshoes review

Sunday, September 15th, 2019 | Reviews, Video

In this video, I will review the Spatz Roadman overshoes.

I dislike cycling in winter because my feet get wet. And when my feet get wet, I become miserable. There is a solution: overshoes. Waterproof covers that go over your cycling shoes to keep your feet warm and dry.

Unfortunately, most overshoes fail to do this. They have two problems. The first is that they are not made tough enough to survive going outside in them and thus get holes in the bottom. The second is that your socks and leggings get wet and the water soaks down to your feet.

Spatz tries to solve this by making them knee-high. This completely covers your socks. The Roadman has the additional benefit of 4.5mm neoprene to keep your feet warm and reflective strips so that cars can see you when commuting in the dark.

I do not commute every day but I do get some long rides in over the winter weekends. Results are mostly good. They keep my feet warmer than regular overshoes. Below 5 degrees Celcius my feet still get cold after two hours but it beats what I was getting before. They also keep me dry. After half a dozen rides, they have developed holes in the bottom of the toe box, though.

To put them on, you need to put them on before your shoes, then put your shoes on and pull the overshoes down. I demonstrate that in the video. Spatz says you can wear them over or under your leggings. I recommend putting them under your leggings as that stops the water soaking down.

Tacx ANT+ antenna review

Saturday, September 14th, 2019 | Reviews, Video

The Tacx ANT+ antenna is an ANT+ dongle that connects to your computer via USB. It is designed to allow you to connect your ANT+ sensors such as speed, cadence, heart rate, etc, to your PC or laptop so that you can run Zwift or any other computer-based bike training software.

The problem with most dongles is the drop-outs. This is a disaster for Zwift as it can ruin your intervals or worse when in a group ride, get dropped by the peloton, at which point you have no chance of getting back on again.

The Tacx unit tries to overcome this by providing a long cable so that you can plug it in and move it closer to your bike or smart trainer. It’s a heavy unit with a sturdy base so it will not get knocked around. The unit feels solid and high-quality.

That said, I was still getting drop-outs. If anything, they were worse than when I was connecting my gear with Bluetooth. The Garmin head unit on my bike receives the signal the whole time, so it only seems to be the computer connectivity that is the problem.

Getting started with clip-on aero bars

Sunday, August 18th, 2019 | Video

If you are an age-group triathlete or amateur time-trialist, nothing will give you free speed like aero bars. In this video, I will discuss the pros and cons, show you how to get some onto your bike and give you some tips on how to get started with them.

Aero bars, also known as tri bars, allow you to get into a much lower, aerodynamic position. The downside is that your hands are miles away from my brakes, and closer together, so it can be a little intimidating to lose some control. They also take up a lot of space on your handlebars.

Comfort is a mixed bag. Most people struggle to cycle in the aero position. However, I found it about as comfortable as sitting up. If anything, it was slightly easier on my back.

Performance gains

The speed gain is substantial. Between Alltherorpe Classic standard distance triathlon in 2018 and 2019, I improved my bike split by 11:28. Of course, it could be that I was fitter. But comparing Allerthorpe sprint triathlon a month earlier, my power was 20 Watts lower, and yet my average speed was up 5%. So, more speed for less power.

Getting them on your road bike

You can buy clip-on aero bars for around £30. These bolt onto your handlebars so you can turn a standard road bike into a time trial bike. It is best to use a torque wrench if you can, as clamping them on to the recommended 8-10 Nm can be scary without one. It also helps to wrap some electrical tape around your handlebars to protect them.

Depending on your bars, they will be adjustable in different ways. Typically, you can adjust them by changing the angle and gap between them on the handlebars, by moving the bars themselves backwards and forwards and by changing the rotation of the armrests.

When you are getting started, you want to keep them fairly flat, as having them diagonally upwards in the praying mantis position will make you slightly more aero but will also make it more difficult to control the bike.

Riding on aero bars for the first time

When riding, there are several things you can do to get comfortable cycling with them. One option is to keep one hand on the hoods and put the other on the bars, then gradually lift the hand off the hoods. I am not a big fan of this because it is harder to control with only one point of contact than it is when you have both hands on the bars.

Another option is to find a small hill, say a 1-2% gradient, and go up it. This will allow you to put a lot of power through the bike while still going at a relatively slow speed.

You can also spend some time moving your hands between the hoods and the bars to get used to getting in and out of the aero position. As you get used to them, you will get used to having a little less control: this means sacrificing some of the small adjustments you would normally make in favour of a wider berth and leaning the bike a little more.

Ultimately, though, once I got comfortable, it just clicked. Like learning to ride a bike in the first place, once you “get it”, you should be away. Good luck!

Critérium du Dauphiné 2019

Thursday, June 20th, 2019 | Distractions

The Critérium du Dauphiné is considered the main warm-up event for the Tour de France. This was a write-off from start to finish for Team Chris.

I misread the stages. It looked like there were lots of mountains and not much for the sprinters. So, I didn’t even take a sprinter. Turns out this was not correct. The hilly days were not hilly enough to drop the sprinters and there were only a handful of mountain days, all of which were mopped up by the breakaway.

Froom suffered a horrendous crash, for which he is still in hospital. Kruijswijk also dropped out due to illness. That left Fuglsang, Pinot and Quintana. They managed the overall win, 5th and 9th between them that did a lot to boost my points, but the gap was way too big. Froome being out meant that Woet Poels would then race for himself, which helped the other teams.

Congratulations to Bogdan, who takes his first win in the de Mezzanine

Women’s Tour of Britain 2019

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019 | Distractions

The Women’s Tour of Britain is a 6-day stage race. It doesn’t receive the same level of coverage as the men’s events: you can’t watch it live on TV, for example, but it’s growing rapidly. Superstar Marianne Vos lead out my fantasy team.

It was all going so well. D’Hoore took the early sprint stages and Vos and Deignan were mopping up the GC points. After the first couple of stages, Team Chris had an 800 point lead, that at the time seemed unassailable.

Alas, it was not to be. Vos crashed, and despite Deignan taking the overall win, Team Chris was eventually relegated to last place.

Giro d’Italia 2019

Thursday, June 13th, 2019 | Distractions

For cycling fans, May marks the arrival of the first two grand tours of the season: the Tour de Yorkshire and the Giro d’Italia.

It was a polarised race this year. The first week and a half had no hills in it. The route was made up of flat sprinter stage after sprinter stage. Then it went uphill and almost never stopped going uphill. It also had three time trials.

John thought his race was over when Dumoulin had to abandon early on. However, an amazing ride by Masnada kept him competitive for the entire race. Bogdan took the early lead scoring big points with Viviani. Viviani never won any stages, but as the only sprinter any of us had brought, some high-placed finishes did the job. Like many of the sprinters, though, Viviani then went home as soon as the race went uphill.

Team Chris was not without its troubles, either. López continued to have bad luck, including getting knocked off his bike by a spectator. The UCI concluded that the punch he threw at the guy was a “human reaction” and cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Mostly, it was plain-sailing though, as Carapaz spun to victory, becoming the first Ecuadorian to win a grand tour. It was so important in Equador that the government paid for the final stage to be moved from paid satellite TV onto a free-to-air channel.