Category Archives: speed

Derailleur Failleur and insult to injury

Now that's what I call a thorn!

Now that’s what I call a thorn!

Be prepared?

Just a couple of days ago, I was down in my low grandpa gear climbing one of our many steep gradients (this one ramps up to just under 17% according to Strava).

Kerchang, ping kerplunk, aghghghghgh! An abrupt halt.

Inspected the damage. The rear derailleur had catapulted into the rear wheel. One spoke was broken as well.

Luckily, being a cautious sort of chap (except when descending fast) and a boy sprout in my yoof and I’d just been putting up some posters, I had the wherewithal to take off the derailleur via its hanger & jury rig it to the frame with bits of string. To add insult to injury as  was doing all this I noticed a giant thorn in the back tyre (not the one in the photo though!) and heard a faint hissing sound. Second one in a week, off with the wheel, extract the thorn, replace the tube and get ready to rumble. Luckily I was nearish home & managed to scoot the 2 1/2 miles back with some freewheeling down & walking up. So, off to the bike doctor with the poor bike.

So on to the old iron steed the next day out with my compadres. This poor old hybrid has been sadly neglected & climbing up was a nightmare of slipping chain, missed gears, fluffed changes and even the saddle decided to come loose. Ah well serves me right.

So today, fitted new chain & cassette & started a TLC campaign on the poor thing. Alas, I knew I had to change the chainrings as well. Trouble is, they are hard to get, especially at a reasonable price, so the hunt for replacements goes on.

But – and it’s a biggie – life out on the bike still is enjoyable & invigorating even with the hassles. And thanks for the help my cycling mates gave me, overlooking my curses & general grumpiness for 35+ miles.

A 1/2 Naked Lady . . . .

Getting to know the cheetahs with my granddaughter at Nambiti, S Africa

Getting to know the cheetahs with my granddaughter at Nambiti, S Africa

I had been thinking of writing about some my strange meetings on my bike when I read Jean writing about her encounter with storks (http://cyclewriteblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/behold-a-stork-sightings-during-cycling-trip/).

This has nudged me into looking back a bit at some of my wildlife encounters.

I’ve always worked in the outdoors, canoeing, mountaineering, climbing, skiing, sailing, travelling so have had some pretty amazing happenings, including bears in USA, wild boar, monkeys & huge lammergeier in Nepal, foxes high up in the Alps, a field full of hedgehogs sniffing round my bivvy bag in Norway, stroking cheetahs in S Africa, deer, eagles, capercaillie & a shrew running around the snow in Scotland, being ‘buzzed’ by an owl while riding my motorbike at night and more. But I was thinking more of stuff I’ve come across in my bike wanderings.

Some have been sweet & unthreatening – a shrew dashing across the road in front of my wheels, a weasel running across and diving into the hedge beside me, a hare skelping up the road ahead at a vast rate of knots before wheeling into a gap somewhere.

Others have been a bit more hairy, going along at speed then a couple of deer suddenly clattering on to the road in front & very, very close, their hoofs raising sparks on the tarmac as they tried, successfully to wheel round & scamper off, just missing me. Another deer careering through the woods beside me at over 25 mph for 1/2 mile before turning away. What looked like a piece of wood rolling across the road in front of me, till I realised there was no wind and it was an adder, the only poisonous snake we have her in Britain. Bites or stings or just bruises from insects of various sizes pinging in to me.

But what is probably the most memorable and exciting?

One sunset ride I was down in 1st gear slowly climbing up one of our little steep climbs at about 15%, The road was a narrow with steep banks, trees and bushes above. Suddenly a large animal popped out on the way ahead a few metres away. It was a large male badger. I thought ‘Ah, it’s seen me, it’ll just turn away’. I couldn’t stop anyway or turn round – not wide enough. I was also aware that badgers have very powerful teeth. So – committed. The badger turned a bit more & started trundling down the hill towards me. Oh !@£$%&(@!!. What could I do, just carry on, no other real option really. Just a metre in front the brox decided enough was enough, or I just wasn’t very interesting. It wandered up the bank and off into the undergrowth. I grunted past it with a bit of relief and wonder at the magic of it all.

So what about the 1/2 naked lady?

 

I’ll just have to leave it for another time I suppose.

A Rose by Any Other Name . . . . . . . . .

Up in the Lammermuirs, Scotland

Up in the Lammermuirs, Scotland

What’s in a name?

I’m not sure, but I do enjoy giving my rides a special name rather than ‘Tuesday ride’ or ‘Morning ride”. Sometimes the name is descriptive, sometimes a little poetic and sometimes just plain daft. Not sure if my cycling friends enjoy them (though some do), but it is a wee bit of fun. A local friend who I cycle with has started naming his rides after the shape of the ride on the map, this also leads to a bit of entertainment and banter.

So what are these names? Here’s a wee selection from recent ones, earlier ones first:

‘ Wi’ the B-Spokes – coffee & scones, but still no sprinkles’

‘The best laid lack of plans’

‘Enough gravel for 1,000,000 grouse gizzards’

‘Wild Dunbar & Mike’

‘B-Spokes Tuesday & Jelly Legs’

‘Talks wi ‘pals + thorn and shrew’

‘1/2 century difference and wet, wet, wet’

‘Deluge & 1/2 naked lady’

‘Oer the Hill wi’ Nicky’

‘Blown over the hill – sort of’

So, are you the ‘morning ride’ variety or do you spice up life a little?

Wedding Roses

Wedding Roses

Life’s illusions 2 and pet hates

Shadows on the beach

Shadows on the beach

I finally succumbed. I’ve gone totally metric.

Most of my cycling pals talk in kilometres and metres so I’ve reset my Garmin to do the same.

So do I feel faster cycling at 81.271872 kmph rather than 50.5 mph? Do I feel I’ve climbed less if I wander up the hills for 616 metres rather than 2020 feet 113132 inches? If anything the reverse. I seem to spend my time trying to convert in my head rather than just going with the new. I’m sure that this will pass and I’ll be kilometreing with the best. Gosh, it’s hell being a geek!

Another illusion is the feeling of improving. Having been improving again on the bike, suddenly yesterday it all caved in. My legs became sticks of jelly on the hills, though I was OK on the flats & downhills – as fast as ever. Most of my cycling pals all speed off up the way as I painfully rose up the ascent. And why? Haven’t a clue, maybe it’ll be better today?

Finally pet hates, I have one main one. “To die for”. Why does this irk me so? I’m not really sure. What I am sure is that there may well be things worth dying for but a hat, a pair of cycing shoes, a dress, tickets to see someone perform? The folk using this phrase would certainly not give up their lives for these. Now “To live for”, that’s a different matter altogether.

8th Time lucky?

After numerous repairs, sorting time again

After numerous repairs, sorting time again

Back home from South Africa. Fabulous roads, lots of sun (winter but 25 degrees C in the sun), but on a borrowed mountain bike.

Offroad could have been fun & I managed a couple of dirt roads. So what went wrong?

First of all, bits were hanging off & needed adjusting. Flat tyres and a bit sad altogether. So a quick go-over, trip to the garage to blow up the tyres (no pump available) & then head out on the road. Discovered only a few of the gears were working and the bike weighed a ton. More adjustments but to no avail, not worth spending too much time so I was just grateful to be out on two wheels.

Next ride the rear wheels skewed & hit the frame. So a quick walk back, re-adjust, tighten up & go, with the spanner in my pocket.

Another ride, 2 1/2 miles out and a strange bump, bump, bump from the rear tyre followed by an explosion. The workers on a nearby building site looked up in amazement (fear?). The rear tube had forced it’s way through the back tyre, which was pretty bad having been used for slides & skids, and had not lasted long.

Walked back, then next day off to the bike shop for a new tyre. Because of crazy thorns off-road a ‘tubeless’ solid tube was fitted. Looked like no tubes so no hassle.

After a couple of rides, after 10 miles and 1/2 a mile or so from the house. strange wobbly sensation from the back wheel & rubbing again. Dismounted & found the tyre had dismounted too. A guy walking passed tried to help me ease it on again but no luck, so another walk home.

Back to the bike shop. Discovered the wire had ripped right out of the bead of the tyre. Neither I nor the shop had seen it before (or so they told me). New tyre was then fitted so it should be hassle free.

Out again next day, just got 1/2 mile from home. The new tyre started coming off the rim again. Walked back and gave up as I was coming back home in a couple of days.

Then, back home to Scotland – hurrah a decent bike, no hassles at last. Boy, was I wrong!!!!

First ride out, great going way better than expected, except one of the farmers had put a water hose across the road, with a metal cover on top. The sun was out & I didn’t see it till the last moment. At over 30 mph, managed to jump the front wheel over but smacked it a bit with the rear.Waited for the hiss, but nothing so completed the ride.

Next day out with the B-Spokes (a group of mainly FOSSILS), so went through to the bike – flat. In double quick time whipped the inner tube out, chucked a new one in and pumped up the tyre. Noticed the rear gear cable was looking a bit frayed. But, no time to wait – sped off to meet the others.

Good ride, good coffee, good scones but 2 miles from home, guess what? Yes, the rear gear cable snapped so I waved the others on ahead and slowly made my way back.

So, the conclusion is – not much really, except to hope for a better few weeks and a wee reminder that checking the bike is a good thing? Maybe all bad things may come to an end?

Your Inner Grandad

Near the top of the 2000 ft climb up Bealach na Ba, Scotland

Near the top of the 2000 ft climb up Bealach na Ba, Scotland

Abbey Dore & Mill Lane, England

Abbey Dore & Mill Lane, England

 

Hills is hard, there’s no denying.

Just outside the village is a 9 percenter, go the other way and it’s 15.7%, a third road out is 8.5% and just a wee bit further out the hills get steep – I think you get the message. A couple of days ago I was down in England and borrowed my nephew’s touring bike. On the ride was a hill which ramped up to just under 20% – aghghghgh it was hard.

I see all my friends & bike acquaintances (young & old) puffing & panting, grinding their way up the hills. I just think – crazy!!! Get some lower gears and start enjoying the climbs. My bike came with a Shimano 105 cassette, but I’ve modified it to with a mountain bike one which has a 34 tooth rear (for the non techies – a big yin!!). What bliss it is to potter up all but the steepest climbs with my wee feet whizzing away. I don’t really understand all this macho stuff, this suffer for your ride business. I much prefer to be able to just let the legs do the stuff and I seem to get up the hills as fast as most and certainly less puffed.

I’ve even noticed that on the steep climbing days the professionals in the Tour de France, Vuelta, Giro etc are using bigger cogs.

So – embrace your inner grandad and make life a wee bit easier, cycling up grades is bad enough sometimes for us mere mortals, so maybe look at making it a tiny bit easier for yourself. You can always aim for harder climbs if you like the suffering!

It’s life’s illusions I recall . . . . . .

With the B-Spokes

With the B-Spokes

It’s a funny thing being out on the bike. While keeping an eye on the road I also like to have a wee neb around me. As it’s usually a quickish glance, sometimes things just aren’t what they seem.

There is a narrow road I normally whizz down  at well in excess of 40 mph from the wind turbines standing at the top, like the Day of the Triffids. It suddenly becomes completely different. Happed in mist, the turbines disappear and even the sound is so muffled I don’t hear them over the slight noise of the bike & road surface. Visibility is so bad I can hardly see the guy in front and we are reduced to crawling down with brakes full on. Suddenly a monster rears up ahead, becomes a huge car with lights full on, going too fast and just missing us. Once beside us, it just appears ordinary again and our heartbeats subside. Then a hundred feet down everything clears and the road becomes normal again.

Another spot I go past, this time climbing up, appears to show an ancient standing stone. I once stopped to have a look – it turned out to be a broken tree stump, though quite high. I still often give it a nod when I pass.

One winter I was just finishing a ride, cold but pleasant and dry. As I turned the corner going slow the road was looking quite wet, almost flooded. I suddenly was on a road width skating rink. Previous snow had solidified to thick ice for about 50 feet along the road with a skim of water on top. I slid to the ground, it was hardly falling, and came gently to a stop no worse for wear but had to skate across with my bike to where the road started.

And then there’s the wildlife, huge birds swooping down to transform into crows, a massive rustling in the undergrowth that becomes a rabbit, a giant dog in a field that is really a hare. Not cycling but ski touring – coming over the top of the hills and wondering how trees could grow this high when the ‘branches’ started to move and a big herd of deer moved off.

Then there’s the illusion of speed or lack of it, sometimes I feel fast and am really pathetic when I see the stats, other times seemingly cruising along and astonished at what I’ve done.

(Added this a day or so later after cycling & thinking: The other thing is the phantom cyclist(s). You spot someone up ahead & start to twitch, ready for action, then you get closer and a fencepost with a sign attached, or a piece of something else suddenly has been morphed from that cyclist you definitely saw.)

So it’s cycling, this strange perception of time, space, weather, fauna, flora, environment etc. that changes every time I click my shoes into my pedals and go.

So, what happens to you?