Posts Tagged ‘cycling’

Festive Fifty

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 | Sport

On New Year’s Eve, I took part in my first sportive. It was a 50km spin around Selby to raise money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fun based at the LGI. Several hundred people turned out for it and the event raised £2,000.

As my first sportive, I didn’t really know what to expect. The race HQ was Squire’s Biker Cafe. It’s basically a pub with food options and seemingly unlimited parking. Both the pub and the organisers, Sportive HQ, did a great job in running everything. It was clear what was going on, there were no big cues and everything ran smoothly.

Plus, the photos they took were available for free. In contrast, you often pay £20-30 at events like Run For All (well, I don’t pay that, obviously, because I’m from Yorkshire).

I made great progress for the first 35km, averaging 24.6kmph. My theories that I was much faster on quiet roads than I was on the canal or the endless traffic lights of inner Leeds was all coming true.

However, for the final 15km, as we headed back to complete the loop, it became clear why I was making such great time: a big headwind, which had presumably been a tailwind on the way out. In the end, my pace clocked in at 22.1kmph, a full .4kmph below where I need to be for triathlon.

It makes you realise just how easy they have it when riding in the peloton in the Tour de France and makes what Thomas De Gendt does even more impossible.

I enjoyed the group riding. My friend Bogdan was riding it, too, and having caught me up at the feed station we rode back together.

I’m looking forward to doing more. Especially once it warms up so that I can take my hat off. I think I lost a few kilometres per hour by having the world’s tallest head.

Parkrun by bike

Sunday, December 24th, 2017 | Sport

I’m still going easy on my ankle so I decided to cycle to Parkrun. It was the first time I have done so, so I thought I would document some of my thoughts.

Padded cycling shorts make a big difference. I went out in my running gear and noticed I felt a little uncomfortable almost as soon as I was on the bike. Then I remembered why: I always wear my cycling shorts on the bike, even for triathlons (no, it doesn’t feel like wearing a nappy, that much). I think investing in some tri shorts for these occasions might be in order.

It’s nice having the bike there because you can carry things like bottled water and a jumper for cold days. Of course, you can’t leave anything valuable on the bike.

My belt makes a better shortage solution than my short pockets, especially for keys. It doesn’t fit my phone in, though, so I need a better solution for that when running off the bike.

Bingley Five Rise Locks

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017 | Sport

If you know what a canal lock is, you can probably work out what Bingley Five Rise is.

It’s quite a climb on a bike. I’m not pretending that it’s long, or it’s anything like what the professional racers are tackling on grand tours (for kilometres at a time). But, compared to the rest of the canal, the 18 metres of climbing is a lot. Wikipedia pegs it at 20%.

Indeed, having done around Eccup and the airport, I would say it’s as short, steep and nasty as anything that Leeds has to offer.

I haven’t been beaten by a climb yet, though, and this one was no exception. A bit of first gear and some riding out of the saddle and bingo, you’re at the top.

Except you’re not at the top. Because, when you get to the top, you run into a gate. Still on the hill, so you can’t just comfortably put your foot down and wheel yourself through. You’re still on the climb, trying to navigate this stupid wooden fence.

And yet, if I were to take a chainsaw to that wooden fence, in the eyes of so-called British justice, I would be the one in the wrong.

Gendered cycling helmets

Sunday, November 12th, 2017 | Sport

Recently, Elina and I bought cycling helmets. You may think that they would just be one design for everyone. After all, men and women have basically the same head. Sure, men have larger heads, on average, but that isn’t a reason to gender them: just make them in a variety of sizes.

But that isn’t how it works. Men, who presumably spend more money on such gear, get a range of sizes. And features. Mine, for example, has MIPS. This is the latest safety standard to protect my head in the event of a crash.

Sounds good.

Elina on the other hand, bought a woman’s helmet. Here is what hers has:

Yep, it has a little hole where you can put your hair through. It’s not even special. I can do that with my helmet.

This is why we can’t have nice things in Leeds

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017 | Photos

I carry around two bike locks so that I can secure my frame and both of my wheels. But how are you supposed to defend your handlebars or your saddle?

Here is why you need every single cycling accessory

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017 | Sport

Every bike shop is stacked to the rafters with expensive accessories. But, wanting to be frugal, I rejected the idea that you needed them. I bought a bike and nothing else. No accessories at all. I refused to be pulled into this expensive world.

And then the real world hit me, and I realised how wrong I was.

This is my story. A story of how you actually do need a bunch of accessories, and will massively regret it if you don’t get them.

Shorts

True, you don’t really need these. Just like you don’t need a cup even if someone is going to kick you in the genitals over and over again. But any sustained time on the bike and you’re going to start getting sore.

I managed one ride. By the end of the first hour, my bottom was regretting it. Padded shorts are well worth the investment.

Bottle cage

Human beings literally die if they don’t get water on a regular basis. Even by re-using a sports bottle that I already owned, I still had to buy a cage to put it in.

Multitool

Oh, you want to fit that cage to your bike? Too bad, because the Allen key size doesn’t quite match the six different ones you have left over from Ikea. So, you have two options. One is to go cap in hand around to your dad’s every time you want to change your saddle height. Or two is to buy a multitool.

I tried to get away with option one. But my parents go on holiday too often for it to work.

Jersey

Great, so, I’ve now got my water, but nowhere to put an energy bar. Or my wallet or keys, or basically anything. This is because if you have a regular pocket on a bike, things fall out of it. So, you either need to use shorts or trousers will jip pockets (of which I do not have loads), or buy something with pockets.

Like a jersey. Which has three. For things like keys. It’s that or use some kind of elaborate wave system to try and tell your wife you’re home and want to be let back in.

Inner tube, pump

On my fifth bike ride, my back wheel fell off. I don’t know how to change a wheel. But even if I did, it wouldn’t have been much use because I don’t own a pump or a spare inner tube. Useful purchases, then.

Saddle bag

Oh, you want to have those things for when you need them in an emergency? Looks like you will be buying a saddle back to store them in, then.

Lock

Now we’re rocking and rolling. Sure, we’ve had to give in and buy seven accessories, but now we’re set, right?

Well, yes, unless you have any friends. Or want to ride your back to any kind of location. Because if you wanted to do any of that, you’re going to need a bike lock to lock it up at your destination.

Again, you have options.

You could get your friend to use their bike lock to secure both your bikes, for example. In which case, hope you have a generous friend with a suitably flexible bike lock.

Or you could move to Oxford, where nobody really uses them.

Short of that, you will be investing in an expensive lock because even the expensive ones only provide about a minute’s protection from determined thieves. And one lock is pretty much a starting point: you will want to get a second one to try and hang on to your wheels as well.

Cover

Now your bike is covered in expensive things in a country where it rains all of the time. Maybe you have an indoor storage area. We live in a flat, so the bikes have to live on the balcony. That means investing in a rain cover.

Helmet

I don’t bother with a helmet because the evidence for them is mixed. But a lot of people look at my weirdly. And if I want to ride any organised events or competitions, a helmet will be mandatory.

Lights

Lights are optional, unless, of course, you ever plan on commuting on your bike. In which case, you best hope you only work 10 am to 3 pm, otherwise, you’ll be riding to and from work illegally.

Glasses

Glasses aren’t required unless you want to a) see where you are going in the sun and b) ever ride near a canal or river. If you do want to ride by a waterway, you have the choice of either wearing some glasses or repeatedly being hit in the eye by insects until you blindly ride your bike into said waterway.

Gloves

You can live without gloves unless you want to be able to use your hands at the end of the cycle. For example, being able to use a keyboard in the office or operate your keys to unlock your front door when you get home.

In either of these scenarios seem likely, you will want to ensure there is at least some heat left in your hands when you arrive at your destination.

Mud guards

I don’t care about getting muddy when I go cycling. However, if you ever plan on riding when anyone else, you might start to care. And, if you go out with a cycling club, they are likely to be mandatory.

Things you don’t need

There is one thing you genuinely don’t need to buy for your bike, and that is a computer. The one thing that is actually fun and interesting. Which really digs the claw in. If you want to be frugal, you need to buy every single cycling accessory except the one you actually want.

Summary

People sometimes say that you should avoid spending a fortune on cycling accessories.

However, that is a little unrealistic. I tried it. I bought zero accessories for my bike. But, one after another, I was forced to invest in them. Cycling is a tricky thing to do on a budget.

Baby-free day

Saturday, October 7th, 2017 | Life

It’s been a horrible few weeks in the Worfolk household. We had food poisoning, then Venla got a cold, then we got her cold, then Venla got another cold, then we got that cold, then I had to have some dentistry work, the list goes on.

But, as we adapt to our new lifestyle: Venla in daycare, Elina back at work, me studying, we have finally seen some benefit.

For example, if we line up Elina’s holidays with my study days, we can do things without a baby. Like a romantic cycle ride. On two bicycles each made for one.

We made it as far as the Abbey Inn.

Our aim was to have a quiet lunch outside as we enjoyed some autumn sun. This what somewhat foiled by the delivery lorry turning up, and the family that turned up and decided to sit right next to us, but was much brightened by running it to our friend Robin.

The food was poor, but the pub was nice. Given that decided to skip dessert and get a piece of cake from The Stables on the way back, instead.

Yesterday, I cycled past a dead body

Friday, October 6th, 2017 | Life

I regularly cycle up and down the canal towpath and often think to myself “I hope I don’t fall in – all of my stuff would get wet, and I would too, which could be unpleasant or maybe even dangerous, on a cold day.”

But, having lived in Leeds for the past few decades, I should be aware that the real risk is not falling into the two feet of water. It’s not being able to get out because you’re being torn apart by inferi.

Yesterday, Elina had the day off, so I took a break from studying so that we could go for a bike ride. We returned around 3:30 pm. Then, at 4:45 pm, this happened:

It is possible the body went into the canal in the hour between us getting home and someone else spotting it. But, more likely, it was already there when we cycled past it.

It was just around the corner from our house, so the entire street was lined with emergency service vehicles. Who knew Leeds had a CSI? I hope David Caruso is available to play the TV adaptation.

Beyond the jokes, though, it is no doubt a sad occasion. Bodies do turn up with an uncomfortable regularity, but usually, it’s a drunken student far downstream. Let’s hope it’s a high-end sex robot that someone has mistaken for a real human.

City Ride

Monday, September 25th, 2017 | Life

City Ride, previously known as Sky Ride, is where Leeds city centre gets closed down for a Sunday to create a car-free cycle track around the city centre. Having bought bikes recently, we decided to go for a family cycle.

It was a fun event. There was lots going on at Millennium Square, we got a free bib each and it was lovely to cycle around without any cars. There were some bottlenecks due to a number of cyclists, and because there were traffic lights when our track crossed one of the roads that were still open. But, for the most part, you were able to weave through the traffic.

Venla definitely had a lot of fun, waving at everyone as we cycled around.

Bike & Go review

Friday, August 11th, 2017 | Sport

Elina and I are considering getting back into cycling. So, I did what any self-respecting young professional would do, and went out and bought a fancy bike at the cost of nearly £1,000.

Actually, I didn’t do that. What I did do was to spend £3.80 hiring a bike from Leeds CyclePoint to see if we could both still ride a bike.

It turns out that you really do never forget how to ride one. It must be 15 years since I last rode my bike and I was rather cautious about stepping back on. But as soon as your foot goes down you’re back in old habits.

The scheme is called Bike & Go and you cannot really go wrong at £3.80 per day. You can register online and get started straight away: you don’t have to wait for your membership card to turn up.

It has plenty of features, too: a kick stand, an integrated bike lock and easy-to-use hub gears.

That said, as your day-to-day bike, it wouldn’t cut it. It’s incredibly heavy. I struggled to lift it by myself. It barely fits in the lift in our apartments (might be a problem with all bikes). The seat is rock hard: even a few minutes riding leaves you sore. The brakes don’t fill you will too much confidence, either.

But, overall, it does the job. For the price of a cup of coffee.