Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Beer & Bike - 26 July 2014

A day of fun awaits
On Saturday 26 July I finally arranged an event for the guys. I’ve been neglecting them since I started the ladies rides last year. So last Saturday was their turn. Iain & Lizzie who live locally in Dorking led the ride and showed them some new trails.
Carl, from Squirtlube told me about this race, the Iditarod Trail Invitational he did in Alaska a few times at the Skills weekend last year when he kindly joined us. He degreased each of our chains and re-applied/induced our chains with Squirtlube. So I’ve been trying to think of when and where to host an event where he can get the opportunity to talk to us about this extraordinary race which he has completed twice, and even WON.
A group of 11 keen, energetic guys met at Dorking station on Saturday morning. I joined the ride for the first hour just because I didn’t want to miss out and it is more fun to ride with people than on your own.
We did a new trail at Denbies before we hit over to Whitedowns lane. I was in a bit of trouble over here as the last time I rode this area was about 3 months ago with a few of the guys and I threw a proper tantrum as it is very steep and rooty. The long, steady climb on the tar road up Whitedowns Lane to the start of the trails as well as a leaking Camelbak contributed to this bad start. Poor Rich Hemmings got the brunt of my strop and were mocking me on Saturday as suddenly I rode down it and didn’t make as much as a peep about the steepness etc. In my defence, I’m stronger & more confident now than I was back then - might be these rides with the boys, I’d never admit that to them though!
The Pack: Wynie, Carl, Iain, Jono, Willem, Rich, Lizzie, J & Roelof
Photo: Zane Smith
I left the group at route 22 as they were heading back towards Dorking and I went right onto the 22 towards Abinger before I joined Hoe Lane to pick up the key for Peaslake Village Hall. I booked the hall the week before with a lovely lady called Marg who has been living in Peaslake all her life. What a lovely place to grow up in?
Our beautiful playground
Photo: Zane Smith
Jules & Nicole met me at Peaslake where we quickly set up the hall for the afternoon activities. We went for a walk towards the bottom of “Barry Knows Best” to show Nicole where we usually ride. From there we went over to Death Star and turned right at the top down to the graveyard before we got back to the Village Hall to start the fire before the guys got there.
We had cold beers ready for the guys on their return (which they were VERY grateful for) and we all sat round the fire as Louis braaied the boerewors for us. The guys were tired out as Iain & Lizzie dragged them up & down hills and showed them new trails around the North Downs Way and Shere. A few of the guys who know these trails said they felt like they had now conquered every single hill to conquer in the Surrey Hills. It may have been a bit of a shock to the system for some of the newcomers.
We headed inside once had all refuelled ready to listen to Carl from Squirtlube talk about his experiences of the gruelling Iditarod Invitation Trail ride. This ride is an unmarked route covering 1000 miles over the snow covered Alaska. It includes riding your bike over snow, frozen lakes, frozen rivers and even frozen sea. Carl attempted this ride 5 times, completed it twice, won it once where he also set a new course record! This is a no jokes ride. The effort and planning that goes into this race purely on how to survive and move forward in this race is astounding. Things that I would never even think about but what he had to prepare for. Things like: defrosting snow so that you have enough drinking water, blowing the water in your camelbak pipe back once you sipped from it so that it doesn’t freeze in the pipe, not wearing 2 pairs of socks to keep your feet warm, but rather having more movement in your boot.
The Audience
Carl told us afterwards that to do this race it is better to undertrain and be overweight then over train and have no fat on you. It is about being mentally prepared to carry on when the elements are against you.
Carl's Bike & equipment
The talk was really inspiring and made us realise again that if you put your mind to something, you can do it, anybody can attempt something like this.
I would like to thank everybody who joined in on the day. Iain & Lizzie for taking the lead on the ride. Carl for taking the time to join the ride, prepare the presentation and share it with us. Julie, Nicole & Louis for their help in setting up, cleaning up & preparing the food.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

REVIEW: Lezyne Handpump

For some reason whenever I have to pump my tyres on the trails I manage to deflate (user error) them more and then only manage to pump them up after much frustration and a bit of panic. 

Steph & Gerhard both have one of these pumps and their ease of use and my desperation to be able to pump my own tyres convinced me to buy one of them. 

  • It is small and light
  • Easy to carry in back pocket or camelbak (Road & MTB)
  • Dual connection gauge without having to unscrew and swap bits to change from  Presta to Scraeder valves and the other way round
  • Screws onto valve so secure fastening that won't let the air out
  • Risk of unscrewing the core of your valve and losing all your air on tubeless tyres

Monday, 7 July 2014

Volunteering at Le Tour 2014

Months ago I had to go through the application process to become a Tour Maker which then lead to online training once I got accepted. This was followed by a co-ordination day at Copper Box, Olympic Stadium where I had the privilege to get an autograph from Ian Stannard on one of my business cards. (I think I managed to hand that one out to someone without knowing it) On 25 June 2014 I had to go to Allianz Park, home of the Saracens Rugby Club for some role specific training. I was going to be on route.
Finally on Monday, 7 July 2014 the day arrived that Le Tour came to London. The riders started Stage 3 in Cambridge, passing the 2012 London Olympic Stadium over Tower Bridge with the finish stretch down The Mall.

I was based in the East End at the entrance to a park with a thousand kids running around. My nerves were hanging on a string the closer the riders got to our location. With boys kicking balls around and dogs on leashes the safety of the peloton felt like my responsibility.  
The riders were about 20 minutes behind schedule and arrived with us as the heavens opened. 
The 2-man breakaway came past first and then the peloton followed not to long after them.

Team Astana hitting it hard with Vincenzo Nibali in the yellow jersey on the forefront of the peloton.


A whole day of standing around was over in 5 seconds! The thousands of people disappeared within 3 minutes and the roads were opened again. Back to normal.

We were just in time to watch how Marcel Kittel crossed the finish line in a pub near Plaistow station as we walked back from our location.
I asked the man at the bar who won the stage?
His answer: Boris Johnson

It was fun being involved with Le Tour in this way and made me desperate to pop over to France and watch more of the stages like last year and 2011. Viva Le Tour!

My work buddies for the day, Gavin & Steve

Gavin will be riding a tandem with his 12-year old daughter from the border of France to Paris to watch the last stage of Le Tour.

Steve is an eager cyclist, religious studies teacher and father of four including 3-year old twin boys.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

REVIEW: Squirt Chain lube

The Winner: Pierre Le Roux
In November 2013 I ran the first Tango Cycling Competition via Strava. The aim of the competition was to see who can ride the most kilometers over a period of 2 weeks. 

Pierre le Roux was the worthy winner with more than 700km on the clock beating the nearest competitor with over 300km. 
The generous first prize was a year's worth of Squirt products from Carl at Squirtlube UK. Pierre has put Squirt to the test over the past 6 months and has written this very useful and honest review for us. 

"Squirt lube is a very good lube ideal for about 95% of trail conditions you will experience.
Squirt lube in all shapes & sizes

It works at its best in dry to damp conditions. Squirt is wax-based, this means it is a very clean lube.

You don't really get much build-up of gunk on jockey wheels and cassettes as with most other lubes, dirt just doesn't stick to it easily.

The lube dries into a semi-transparent waxy coating on the chain. This layer tends to make muck slide off rather than stick.

A typical Squirt application lasts quite a while.

In dry conditions I got about 120km of riding before needing to apply some more. 

In wet conditions I tend to re-lube after each ride, regardless of what the chain looks like. (This is more a personal preference than the chain actually needing it.)

That said, Squirt lube doesn't like getting too wet - it doesn't like overly muddy and wet conditions. Nor do I, actually. 
This is true of just about all lubes - against lots of mud and water no lube will last very long. 

Squirt has a very big advantage here though - over any wet-lube.

While using Squirt, when you want to clean your drive train after a messy ride, cleaning will simply consist of rinsing off the mud.

You don't need to degrease anything. There won't be any build-up of muck or gunk or nasties.

You only need to rinse off the mud. Thats it! 

With most other lubes you'll spend ages trying to degrease the chain - which will probably look like somebody coated it in tar.
Next, you'll spend ages cleaning your carpet...I mean clean the rest of the bike...where this tar-like substance will have mysteriously appeared.
With Squirt, cleaning your bike takes all of 5 minutes.
There are a couple of things which are important, to get the best out of Squirt:
  1. Squirt should be applied to a clean chain. Clean as in all other lubes should be completely removed.
  2. Squirt should be allowed to dry completely before going riding. It works best when dried completely, so apply it the evening before. Yep, it will still work if you apply it right before the ride but it won't be nearly as effective as when you allow it to dry.
  3. Apply generously. There is no such thing as too much Squirt.
Also, Squirt lube doesn't make stains on carpets or floors. Which is a rather important feature, in my opinion.

On a completely unrelated note - the guys that make Squirt makes a very good degreaser as well, which is rather good at getting tar-like stains out of carpets..." Pierre le Roux

Squirtlube can be purchased via http://in2dust.co.uk/