Wednesday, 31 August 2016

When life gets in the way

"I don't know how I ever found time to work" is a statement commonly heard from retirees and I can really understand why they think that! I work 4 days a week so theoretically have 3 days off but I can't remember the last time I got to relax for a day. I get jealous when I see people at Pitsford just chilling on the grass and lapping up the sun with a picnic. It's not like I need a day off, I prefer to do cool stuff and get outside anyway, but it does mean that the blog has been left on the wayside for the past couple of months!! Fear not though for when my uni work starts again in October I'll be turning my computer on again and looking for ways to procrastinate. This summer has been so busy, it's been brilliant.

Here's a brief picture summary of my summer to date:

L'Eroica Britannia (55 hilly miles on a fixie) with Ria and Alex, here's the famous bacon picture.

Mighty Corinthian with Alex (190 miles on classic bikes in the Lake District)

Wakeboarding experience for my birthday courtesy of my better half.

I took Ben out on his first ever 50 mile ride!

I've painted another helmet

My first ever Cyclocross race with a result I was most pleased with.

15 minute track session at Rockingham to open my throttle and scare myself.

Evening park session with Jack and Ben (damaged my shin....again)

(Week long holiday with Ben in Scotland!!)

Loads of time with Ria

More time with the beauty.

Performing the chief boyfriend roll and supporting her at races.

Then hiding her away in my bed, literally.

I've started training properly

Went to Giant UK with Greg to see the 2017 production bikes

Dressed up as Beauty and the Beast for a friend's 21st birthday.

I've packed and unpacked so many times. My sleeping bag has spent most of the summer airing on my door.

Overnight wild camping in the Forest of Dean with Dad via motorbikes. 

Claire has been home for brief periods of the summer too!!!

There's more yet to come including meals out, days out, more mountain biking, a day at the motoGP and a whole 'nother holiday to Wales with my beloved!!!! :D

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Holiday Photos and Free Advertising

Last summer I sold some Viktor Adventure Wear shorts to a friend and thought nothing of it. Just last week he posted up his holiday photos from Norway and what d'ya know they're littered with product placement pictures! First thing I did was to ask permissions then shared them on my business pages.

Cheers pal! 

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Lifetime Moments

A while later I lay there in the back of my car, feet up on the front seats which were folded forwards. It was dark the other side of the steamed up windows and the only light was an amber glow from the car radio - track 4 from 'The Anthems' was some form of early 2000's Indy music; it was chilled with a youthful vibe.
With the beautiful Ria nestled up against my chest under one arm I simply stared into space smiling, knowing that this was the epitome of youth, one of those moments that I'll remember forever more because it just felt right.

I mentally questioned for a few moments whether to mention this realization, to publicize the feeling and if doing so would ruin it. Some events and thoughts are better kept in your head but this was one to be shared, I knew how I felt and wanted Ria to know that too. It didn't ruin the moment at all. This was a special night.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Scotland Take 2

On Sunday Ben and I will return to Pitlochry for another week of mountain biking and other shenanigans. Our plans so far consist of 'ride bikes, eat meat, drink beer, try to get up early one morning to ride up a mountain before sunrise'. It's going to be great fun.

Here's Ben last time, in the middle of winter.

This will also be my first week away from Ria which'll be hard as we normally talk constantly and see each other 3 or more times a week. More so as I won't have any internet connection at the house so we'll be limited further - I'll actually have to send texts, that's so last decade!

Fads and Motifs

Read through that screen grab, it's a good one.

I've just taken far too long thinking about someone's comment about Strava in a context of proving oneself. He's right, playing with leaderboards is fun but if you want to show what you're made of do it properly.

Interesting thought, and I like what he said about pictures and photographers too! Obviously neither strava or pictures are wrong, it's just good to have a subtle reminder to take things as they are and not believe things to be bigger than that.

Telehex - telescopic multi tool kickstarter

Last year some time I backed a cool project on Kickstarter. This Telehex tool basically answers one of my problems at work when dealing with bike hire or customer bikes. Instead of faffing around trying to find tools and then the right size this tool just has one arm which automatically inserts the right size hex / allen key into the bolt. The pictures show just what I mean.
Size comparison with a Crankbrothers m5 tool, which is already small! All the same hex sizes, less the phillips (cross head) tool.

6mm, 5mm, 4mm and 3mm all in one!

You see what I mean.

Seems really good so far, I'll wait and see whether it's likely to clog up of stick to itself in future.

Bikesafe Road and Track Event - Rockingham Speedway

Last Saturday was super hot, it was a splendid day for a ride and luckily I had booked Dad and I onto an event held by Bike Safe and Northamptonshire Police in which we went out on the roads for an hour to be observed with suggestions on how to improve our riding, then have a blast around Rockingham race track courtesy of California Superbike School.

The road ride was quite interesting but the biggest comment I had to make about it at the time was that I spent far too much time looking in my (tiny) mirrors for the copper behind me to find out where we were going, and thus I wasn't able to ride to the best of my ability or even normally! I told him this when we stopped and he understood but still gave me solid feedback anyway of which I'll incorporate into my everyday riding.

The track session was of course the highlight; we may have only had 15 minutes but it was my first time on a track so it was a superb introduction and a good way to push that bit harder than you can on the roads. The safe environment, perfect tarmac and one way traffic mean you can brake later, lean it over so much more in the corners, then boot it out again all without having to shoulder check or be wary of other traffic. The marshals were zipping around the track keeping an eye on us which was very much appreciated, especially considering the wide variety of bikes and skill levels on at once.

There was a bit of a show to it as well with various manufacturers and businesses showing their wares and even offering free demo rides for an hour. Had I had more time I would have loved to go out on one of the Ducati bikes but I'll just wait for another day.

My tire immediately after the session. I'm not sure whether you'll see it but the rubber was getting burnt up so quickly as it was hot out. I may not have hit the edges of my tires (I was only 1cm away!) but I feel like I made so much progress just in 15 minutes. I can't wait to see what I can do with a full day or even half day on a track.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Self assessment

I've been metaphorically staring into the mirror a lot lately, and I'm not sure if I like the contorted and strained reflection. I feel a bit like I've been concentrating too much on what monopoly square I've landed on and not looking up to see the board in front of me.

The blog has been quiet lately because I've been so busy loving/living my daily life. I've been out almost constantly so haven't even turned my computer on. This will be a trend for the rest of summer - y'know that period I've been lusting for for the past 2 years. Speaking of which I'm kind of keen to crack on and get the degree finished regardless of summer, just so I can tick that box, close the case, and then finally look to my next task. I really need to plan out my future better but I've not found much inspiration since the Welbeck drama. Nothing I can feel my heart burning for.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Helmet project #2

So the mountain bike helmet painting has begun!! I won't delve into details yet so here are some pictures of it so far.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Bad neighbour

No idea about the film, I've never seen it.
My neighbour gave up trying to bully me because I give as good as I get. Now that my sister has a new car he's tried the same strategic bin positioning with her. I won't have anyone trying to hassle my sister so I fixed it...

If it helps, the bin will still get emptied in the morning :')

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Mighty Corinthian, the longest classic road ride in the world

Yeah, that's a thing. This year was the inaugural Mighty Corinthian event and credit where credit is due, it was absolutely bloody fantastic, whilst simultaneously being the hardest bike ride I've ever done.

My hat goes off to Allan, Ali and everyone else involved with organising the event. What they do so well is make it personal, they're the ones that meet and greet you at every point and make it feel more of a family ride in comparison to the corporate, greedy approach from L'Eroica that we have seen recently.

So you start in Ulverston, in the Lake District (UK) at about 0330h and begin your all day epic with excited wide eyes and lights on your vintage road bike. I had also started with pockets full of food but the event was so well catered that I didn't really need them - we had 5 food stops over the 300 kilometers (186 miles) and they were all superb.

Major climbs on the event include Hartside at 100 miles, and Kirkstone pass  at 160 miles. You pass major tourist attractions such as Conniston Water early in the morning (one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen), Keswick town, a brewery castle thing later on? (can't really remember what it was, I was too tired) and then kirkstone pass is itself quite an attraction.

As I said earlier, it was without a doubt the toughest ride I've ever done. If you didn't think 190 miles is far enough (including the run to/from the campsite) just remember it was on vintage bikes and in the Lake District - total climbing for the event was about 4500 meters!!

If you're reading this and are into your vintage rides or long distances then make sure that you look up the event and enter it for next year. I paid just shy of £100 to enter and it was worth every penny. There's such a good buzz around the ride and it's all very welcoming too. We had 16 riders including ones from Belgium and from France, so it's already got a bit of a name for itself. I guarantee it can only grow to be bigger and better.

Foolish fixie fifty

Before L'Eroica Britannia the weekend before last I'd only ridden a maximum of 30 miles on my fixie, and that was on local roads which are just undulating.
So this time it was a bit of a mission getting up those bit hills in the Peak District with my 47x17 tooth ratio (big gear!!). At some points I was pedalling extremely slowly, wrenching up on the handlebars while pushing as hard as I could on the pedal, then only to do the same on the other side immediately. Equally as challenging were the downhills; a rule of fixed wheel riding is that you should make every effort to avoid using the brakes so I never actually had the opportunity to rest my legs, the downs were just as hard as the ups.

By the end I'd gotten into a bit of a rhythm but was still knackered. More exciting though was that I had my two classic bikes out at the same time - Ria was riding my Holdsworth!  She's not used to classic road bikes at all so the gearing made it a tough day for her, and the weight of the bike was a shock as she's used to welterweight carbon race bikes. It was superb to be out together on my classic bikes :)