Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wall of Death by Barry Slevin

I know this chap. He's a good chap. By heck he can draw too.
This is his latest commissioned piece, titled Wall of Death

and some detail from it-

You can find him on that nasty place, f**ebook as Barry Slevin Original Artworks

Friday, January 25, 2013

Stir crazy

I am now fed up of snow.
As the cars disappear under it and blend into the landscape the white stuff keeps falling.
I can safely say that it's the most I've seen fall in the 7 years here.
I got busy with the shovel last night and got a path clear and was able to get the bike from the shed. Of course then it froze overnight.
Nevermind, and steady does it.

Man it was good to be back on two (motorised) wheels.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Snow days and singlespeeds

It's been snowing. I doubt you've missed it. First off walking back from the pub there was a family of snowmen, great to see although judging from the relative amount of snow on their lawn they must have been gathering snow from everywhere.
I thought they were brilliant.
Today dawned and although there no more snow had fallen none of it had really gone away. I really wanted to go for a pedal so got the time late this afternoon and got the singlespeed out.
Only went out for an hour and a half but it was good to do.
The bridleways were a mix of mud and snow were bikes had already been down and back up them. I'll be honest, I had to push part of this going back up after it came to a dead end. The biggest bugbear of the whole ride was the clips getting frozen with ice and then being unable to clip back in. Grr.
Back up from that bridleway and the road was a mix of snow, compacted snow and ice. Predictably just as I was thinking how well it was going...
Slip, slide and roll...
Ah well. Pick up and carry on.
The view from the top was rather lovely, the mountain (it's not really a mountain) was shrouded in clouds.
Back on. Along the road a little and then into another section of woodland before climbing back up into the final section. The light was coming back in there was still some pedalling to be done. After a last hurtle downhill that was it for the woods.
A steep climb back up to the village and job done. It was good to get out.


I was given a pair of Bayonets today and was told they were WW I British. A bit of digging and they seem to be 1907 RSAF. They are quite worn and I can't see any makers stampings on them. The frogs are missing from both as well.

There's something quite spooky about holding them. I'm not sure on whether I'll clean them up or not. More likely not, just give them a waxing.
They would have clipped into the Lee Enfield .303, we used to use them as training rifles in Cadets. I remember them being massively heavy.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tales from behind

I'm trying to find the perfect saddle at the moment. In order to keep myself reminded of what's gone before I thought I'd post about where I am now and what has cosseted (or not) my behind. This isn't going to be one of those reviews where I compare weights etc.

So first up the most comfortable to date is probably the CSN Superleggera K10 which I guess would come in at the budget end of the spectrum. This came with my Ribble Gran Fondo and I've done around a 1000 miles on it.
Pros- minimal numb wang and a reasonable amount of flex.
Cons- I did get some saddle soreness from it on longer days, and the shape seems to just snag a little on my thighs at the back wing.

Next up I think is the Specialized Toupe Plus. Twice the price of the K10 above but is it twice the saddle? Well it certainly hasn't resulted in any numb wang. It is quite hard though.

Pros- Lightweight, no numb wang at all.
Cons- quite stiff, and the flat shape puts pressure on the insides of my legs, more so than the K10.

Lurking in the middle so far, and also on my MTB is the Selle Italia XR XC Flow. It should be noted this is a narrow model.

I've done around 800 miles on it and find it comfy to start off with but then the narrowness begins to put pressure on my perineum. It is light, and it wasn't expensive. I used it during the cyclocross races with no problems.
Pros- short distance comfy, light, cheap.
Cons- no good over 30 miles

A friend, Pete (cheers Pete) very kindly lent me a Charge Spoon to try. I've no picture of it, so here's a stock pic from online-

I was really hoping it would be the right saddle. Not least as Pete confirmed he suffered in similar ways to me with comfort and pressure. Also I could get a brown leather one with titanium rails. This pleased me.
It was not to be. It was comfy to start with but then I found the old numb wang creeping in. Even adjusting the saddle to have more nose down didn't allay the pressure and pain. Real shame.
Pros- cheap (for non-leather), range of colours. Sit bone comfy.
Con- numb wang!

The Specialized Rival 143 was OE on my Tricross back in 2010. I did close to 1200 miles on it before changing.  It's ok up to around 10 miles and then gets rather uncomfortable indeed. Numb wang a go go.
That said it is pretty tough although the cover bubbled up a little at some point along the central groove. Although there isn't a cut out in the foam or cover, there is in the plastic base. Not that it made any difference.
Pros- came with bike, durable
Cons- numb wang.

So to round off so far is the SDG Bel-Air Ti, and I have a snazzy Palomino version.

I really wanted this to be spot on, one because I had it, but also because I liked the idea of fitting it to the road bike. So for testing I took it from the MTB and fitted it to the road bike. First thoughts were good; there's plenty of padding in the saddle and it wasn't snagging my legs at all. As the miles wore on though things became very painful down below, and then numb. The reason it's down below the Rival, despite similar characteristics of pain infliction is that it's the only saddle where I've actually felt bruised the next day or two. Back on the shelf then...
Pros- awesome style
Cons- gives me such a beating.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

London to Paris Day 4

So this is the last part I think. It's strange, or rather endemic of my winter lethargy that it's just over three months since I got back. Three months. That's the time I trained for the ride. Could I do it again three months on? Maybe.
For reasons of departure we had to be in Paris for midday. This meant an early start. 6am to be precise.
It was dark at that time. Dark and cold. My optimistic clothing of short sleeved jersey and shorts were proven to be after about five minutes outside and I soon pulled a woolly long sleeve on over the top.
With six o'clock occurring we were on the road. The route took us out through woods and the cold really froze my head. I was having problems working out which junctions we were approaching. Them being dark meant that signs weren't visible until we were on them. A couple of stops were needed but the gaps between when we were cutting a silent swathe through the cold misty tree-lined landscape was wonderful.

The warm pool of light emanating from an open boulangerie as we came through a village was so welcoming. Pull up, lean the bikes up and get into the warmth. Three black coffees and two with milk please. Oh and a pile of pain au raisin. Merci. So welcome and wanted.
Au revoir and we're away into the night. It's half past seven and there's still no sun light. The road is opening up and the cooling mist is left back in the woods. Sunrise is supposed to be at 8am and sure enough the day breaks across the fields around us.
It doesn't get any warmer though. The countryside is still just that and there's no hint of our ever Southward journey finishing in Paris. Cars pass by with commuters heading to work on another Monday morning. We're just five guys riding. Just part of the tarmac scenery.
I feel satisfied. We're not there yet but the riding today is feeling good. We're gelling nicely and rolling along at a good pace. The early start means that although we think the day is still early hours the distance done is mounting up.
Satisfied, yes.
The villages come and go, the architecture old and worthy of the place. We rattle through. Multicoloured blurs of mechanism.

Another stop for cake and a chance to smile at pretty ladies serving. I love cake.
The next part is the crap part of the day. It was always going to be. We're onto a bit of dual carriageway and past Le Bourget airport. Pretty sure we were ok to cycle there. Pretty sure. Soon enough that part is gone and we're into the outskirts of Paris. With still fifteen miles to go the traffic is queueing. Is it going to be like this all the way? There's roadworks and for a brief moment I worry that we are going to be diverted and all the route planning will go out the window.
The feared diversion doesn't happen and we push on. Traffic lights mean finding something to lean on to save unclipping from the pedals. Whether this is each other, railings, cars or buses doesn't matter.

See that dome looming in the distance. That's not the Notre Dame. Although I thought it was.
Still a good looking building.
More pedalling.
Stop and have a look at the map. Hmm we're getting close. How about cutting through this road, that should bring us onto the Champs.
All of a sudden. Pow.
Well bugger me, we're only pedalling up the Champs Elysée. After a lap of the Arc we shoot back down and off George V avenue towards our destination of the Eiffel tower.
We can see it. It's useful having a finish point that's 300m tall.
We congregate beneath. It's just approaching midday. Somewhere near us should be the ladies.
Sure enough they appear moments after taking that photo.
Much hugs, kisses, smiles and eating is had. Then it's time to have some posed shots for the albums.
The much appreciated support ladies-
and the riders-
 And then that was it. Gordon got a puncture. The first and only of the trip. We fixed it and headed back to the van to get changed and load bikes up. Goodbyes were said and then it was over. We had done it and it was done.