Category Archives: Gear

Posts about bikes, equipment, etc.

ECCA 10 mile TT

Yesterday saw my first dual carriageway race of 2015.  Almost a month has passed by since I was comprehensively put to the sword in the King’s Cliffe event.  Hopefully this would be a better race for me, with none of those nasty features I don’t like, such as hills and corners.

The forecast all week was for a strong northerly wind, and around 7-8 degrees.  After the last race, I promised myself that if conditions were adverse, I would simply DNS rather than suffer the poor power I have seen in every cold race I’ve done so far.  In the event, despite the forecast, I’ve been training hard and looking forward to it, so my intentions went right out of the window.  Also, marshals would be braving the elements for a lot longer than I, so it’s a bit poor to enter and then not show.  Not without a good reason, anyway.

Winds were predicted to be above 20mph, gusting to over 30mph.  No matter which forecast I scanned!  I generally find that the actual speeds are well below those forecast – if they weren’t, we’d be going nowhere fast.  It probably takes a couple of hundred watts just to move at all into the face of a true 30mph headwind.

Given the conditions, one of the decisions to make is what to wear?  For my previous races this winter I’ve worn my best Castelli skinsuit, with a Skins thermal compression base layer underneath.  I bought a size small and it’s so tight that I can barely get it on.  The upside is that it is hardly detectable under the suit – it doesn’t create much in the way of wrinkles.  One downside is the tightness.  I can feel it all the time.  I even entertained the idea that it was restricting my breathing – a possible cause for the power loss – but of course that’s almost certainly nonsense.  What I can say that the Castelli suit on it’s own is definitely a summer garment – it’s ridiculously thin in places (more on that below) – but with the Skins layer underneath, I can stand it down to around 5 degrees.  It’s too hot to wear in the house, even on it’s own, though.  A good buy, I think.

I’ve also worn a pair of full length leg warmers previously, but last week on impulse I bought some Castelli Nanoflex leg warmers.  They’re fleece-backed and semi-waterproof.  They did a good job of keeping my knees warm yesterday, so I’d recommend them I think.  In the photo you can see some wrinkling around the knees.  That’s not ideal, but on balance I’d wear them again in a race.

Over my ludicrous Aladdin shoes I wore some of the new Velotoze latex overshoes.  They’re a departure from the usual lycra ones I wear.  They’re made of thick balloon-like material.  They kept my feet pretty warm yesterday, though of course that’s not at all the reason for wearing them.  I don’t know how aerodynamic they are.  They’re very tight, so you’d think they’re good.  During the race, a couple of times I became convinced that the left one had fallen down.  I could feel it flapping and it felt as though my ankle was bare.  But when I looked down, the overshoe was still in place.  Odd.  I think maybe there is some looseness around the ankle at certain foot angles.  I bought XL to go over my size 46 Bonts, I will buy another set in the size down I think.  They’re only £17, so not expensive.

I have some Craft gloves that I’ve been wearing this winter.  They are warm, but light and thin.  They have a windproof mitten piece that covers the inner glove and encases your fingers.  It’s quite tight, and so I decided they’re probably quite aero compared to regular gloves that would be as warm.  No data!  However, in terms of quality, they are dreadful.  I’ve so far sewn up 7 holes that have appeared on the seams.

Photo by Davey Jones

Photo by Davey Jones

I parked at the HQ and planned to ride down to the race, to warm up.  My start time was 14:20.  Getting ready I managed to put my finger through the mesh part of the skinsuit.  Awesome.  A hole the size of a 10 piece appeared.  You can see it on the outside of my left upper arm in the photo above if you look carefully.  That’ one disadvantage of the Castelli suit – it’s very flimsy.

I set off 40 minutes before the start time and I had plenty to spare, too much really.  I ended up retracing some of my steps to while away the minutes.  At the start line I saw a couple of people I know.  Slavik, another member of St. Ives.  And also Chris Rimes, a Peterborough rider that I’ve raced with quite a lot.  He was pushing off.  That means he was starting riders – not just about to leave 🙂

I got chatting and it passed the last few minutes.  I quite like a bit of distraction before the race, helps the nerves.  The time came and off I went.  Outbound there was a tailwind, but it wasn’t the forecast gale.  I wasn’t cracking along at over 35mph with no effort, I was putting out race power for generally low 30s MPH.  This surprised me.  I didn’t know at the time, but my average speed to the turn was just 30.7mph.  Power had been not bad!  After the usual over-enthusiastic start, I’d averaged 299w to the turn.  Given the expected headwind on the way back, that was pretty much bang on what I hoped.  It meant that a good time was totally out of the question, but I didn’t know that at the time.

The return leg was hard, but not as hard as expected in terms of headwind. Speed dropped down to the low 20s MPH at one point, and I knew then that I wasn’t going to trouble my course PB.  But then later, I was up over 32mph on a downhill section.  If I’m honest, I probably didn’t have that last half percent of desire that’s there for the really important races or when you suspect a PB might be on the cards, but I’m sure it didn’t cost me in terms of placing.

I picked up power by 10w or so for the return, and averaged 305w for the whole race.  That is quite satisfactory.  It’s within 5w of my best performance on that course, set last September when I was at the peak of my powers.  The position I’m riding in now is significantly more aggressive, so I think things are ok on the power front.  I clocked 20:48 for the race, which was a bit of a shock initially.  I didn’t expect it to be that slow.  I hoped it would be reasonably competitive, given I’d made decent power, so I rode the long way round, back to the HQ feeling pretty good.

As I was one of the earlier starters – 20th of 110, I had plenty of time at the HQ to watch the results come in.  I was fastest on the board for a time, but it wouldn’t last, it was just a question of how many would finish above me.  I knew almost for certain who was going to win, and so it came to pass.  Justin Layne won by 50 seconds with 19:30.  I beat Justin once last year, and otherwise was generally a handful of seconds behind.  He has made huge strides and moved himself into the upper echelons, there’s no doubt about that.  Second was Daniel Northover, who I must confess I’d never heard of.  He was off on a 9 – essentially meaning he hadn’t recorded a fast time before – yet clocked 20:20.  Turns out he is also coached by Matt Bottrill.  Adam Atkinson was 3rd with 20:30 and then me, some 22 seconds back with 20:52.  I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been 4th now.  I think it was about half my races in 2014, and now both in 2015.  The overall result is reasonably satisfying.  I beat one or two riders who beat me last year, but was a long way behind Justin.  For my own sanity I’m going to have to let that one go as he goes off chasing the likes of Adam Topham.  I’d say the overall verdict for the race is “par”.

Strava ride is here.

Thanks for reading 🙂

My doorstep

Hi again.  Before I get onto the real subject of the post, a quick note about the title change.  We spent our summer holiday this year in the Limousin, a region of central France.  I took my bike with me and went out most days.  Whilst there I happened to notice that the Tour du Poitou-Charentes was passing reasonably close, and the individual time trial was about an hour’s drive from where we stayed.  Looking at the list of riders taking part, I saw the names of Mark Cavendish and Alex Dowsett.  Dowsett in particular is a hero of mine and so it was an easy decision to make the trip to watch the race.

That’s when I first came across the term Contre-La-Montre.  It’s French for ‘against the watch’ and it’s their term for time trial.  I thought “what a cool-sounding phrase”.  So there you go, that’s why I decided to change the blog title.  It’s taken me a few months to get around to it.  Probably most fans of TTing are well aware of this phrase, but of course I am a Johnny-cum-lately to the sport; I only started paying attention to it when Wiggins won the Olympic TT, so I’m the cycling equivalent of the Manchester City fans who have appeared by magic on high streets up and down the land in recent years.

By the way, Sylvain Chavanel won the TT (or Sylvain-ah Chhhhhaaaaavaneellll as the commentator at the race pronounced it, every 30 flippin’ seconds for 3 hours).  Here’s a terrible photo I took on my iPhone of the victor:

Sylvain Chavanel racing in the individual TT at the

Sylvain Chavanel racing in the individual TT at the Tour du Poitou-Charentes 2014

Nice bike, Scott Plasma Di2.

The main thing I wanted to mention in this post is the Tour of Cambridgeshire, announced today.  It’s taking place on the weekend of the 6th/7th June 2014 and consists of a 16 mile TT on the Saturday, followed by an 82 mile “Gran Fondo” (sportive) on the Sunday.  Both with closed roads.  This is a very big deal for me.  The start and finish of the events is at the East of England Showground, which right in front of where I live.  I can see the arena from my bedroom window.  I have entered both events, but I’m most interested in the TT.  I won’t be competing for the £1500 first prize, or indeed any of the prizes, but I reckon a lot of good riders will show up and I like to race against the best.  I heard this morning that one multiple national champion is planning to ride, so I bet other top riders will too.

I heard about the event a couple of months ago.  I sometimes ride with local legend Malcolm Smith on the Kinetic Velo club rides and he mentioned to me that he was involved in organising the event.  It captured my imagination straight away.  Start and finish in an arena, starting on a proper ramp. Chip timing.  Closed roads, the roads I know well.  A lot of the course runs on a lane called Bullock Road.  That’s where I go to do my hardest training sessions.  So I have plenty of time to prepare and think about how best to ride the course.  I can go into tiny detail as to how hard to ride the climbs, where to recover, search out the sheltered sections, find the best line through corners.  I can’t wait.  I’m going to make it my main season goal for 2015.  I want to be the best I can be on that day.  I’ll probably get a puncture.

In other news, I’ve entered a race this Saturday.  It’s the Farnborough & Camberley Christmas 10.  For some reason I keep reading that as Farnborough & Cranberry.  Anyway, I entered because there was quite a lot of banter on the TT forum about it and I fancied it.  I discussed it with Matt and he said “go for it”.  We’ve made a position change and I would like to test it in a competitive environment at the earliest opportunity before I commit to the work necessary to properly train into it over the winter.  I’ve also made some equipment changes to my bike (ostensibly new bars and tyres) and I’m keen to see how I go with those too.  It’s experimental.  I will be trying as hard as possible of course, but I don’t have any great expectations.  There’s a lot of riders down to race who are faster than me.  So I will write a report on the race probably at the back end of the weekend.

Technology – Wahoo RFLKT+

Wahoo RFLKT+

Shortly after I started TTing, I thought to myself wouldn’t it be good to have metrics from my cycling computer spoken into my ear during races?  I had a think about how it might be done and what would be necessary:

  • Bluetooth earpiece
  • Some app running on a smartphone
  • A way of getting ANT+ signals (power, speed, cadence, HR) to the phone

Most of these seemed to be in place, at least for Android (There are/were Sony handsets that have a built-in ANT+ receiver chip).  I develop software in Java for a living, so I thought maybe I could develop an Android app.  But I had and still have an iPhone, it seemed a little too hard to risk time and money on a project like that when I’d be better off training instead. So it went to the back of my mind.

Moving forward to the past couple of weeks, I read a review of the Wahoo RFLKT+ (pronounced ‘reflect plus’) on the quite fabulous DC Rainmaker site.  I was aware of the original RFLKT (minus the plus) as a head unit to use with fitness apps on the iPhone, via Bluetooth LE.  I already have a Garmin Edge 500, so I never followed up on the RFLKT.  But the RFLT+ has a key feature: it bridges ANT+ signals to Bluetooth so they can be processed on an iPhone.  Now all we need is a suitable app that will speak this stuff soothingly into my shell-like.  Turns out that there’s already a couple – Wahoo’s own Fitness app, and Abvio Cyclemeter.  Both of which I already owned.

I took a quick look at the functionality of each and decided that the Wahoo app was superior, mostly because it is so configurable.  You can setup a number of ‘announcements’ via separate triggers, either every X seconds/minutes/km etc.  That was enough for me to cough up the £110 for the RFLKT+.  Wahoo stuff really is excellent and their customer service I’ve found very responsive in the past.

The RFLKT+ came within a couple of days of ordering and I set about seeing if I could integrate all this stuff together.  I have the ANT+ devices, the RFLKT+, the iPhone (5S) and a couple of apps to test it with.

It was straightforward to connect it to the Wahoo Fitness app on my iPhone and I mounted the RFLKT+ on my TT bike on the turbo to see how it worked.  The answer at the moment I’m afraid, is not very well 😦

Wahoo Fitness RLFKT+ Connectivity

I should say first that the version of the app I am running has been updated in the past 24 hours.  I now have 4.0, which I presume is a major release.  I didn’t ever get to test it with the previous version though, so I don’t know if the flaws have been present for a while, or if they are new at version 4.0.  I will say that IF the app worked as I think is intended, it would fulfil my needs and more.  I can imagine using it for all my training, since it seems to support lots of different bike profiles, each of which you can setup custom display screens for.  It’s incredibly well thought-out.  But whilst the app is hugely configurable, there are a number of bugs or missing features that will at worst prevent me from using it, and at best annoy me a little.  In order of importance to me, these are:

  1. Several obvious metrics seem to be missing from the app altogether.  There is no average lap power, or average power over various durations (e.g. 3 seconds, 10 seconds, 30 seconds etc.)  These are the metrics that I find most useful – indeed the whole purpose of this experiment is to get average lap power and 3 second power (5 second would suffice too) into my ear to help me with pacing.  I think this must be an oversight in v4.0 of the app – there are plenty of power metrics, including some quite obscure ones, but the most obvious and useful statistics (to me, at least) are missing.
  2. The Wahoo Fitness app will not read cadence from my power meter.  I have a speed/cadence sensor, but I don’t connect the cadence magnet because I have to position the sensor out of reach of the cranks on my TT bike.  Abvio Cyclemeter does read cadence from the Power2Max via the RFLKT+, so it must be an issue with the Wahoo Fitness app itself.
  3. On the turbo, the auto-pause feature does not kick in until the back wheel has been still for about 15 seconds.  I haven’t tested this outdoors yet, but since it uses the wheel speed sensor rather than GPS, it should behave the same.   This feature is critical for races, because I need the computer to auto-start when I start the race – I can’t be pressing buttons as I’m being held up at the start line.
  4. I need to be able to export data from the app so I can import it into Golden Cheetah running on my mac.  The app supports Dropbox export which is absolutely ideal, except it doesn’t work.  It won’t let me login to Dropbox via the phone, giving the error message ‘Only a limited number of users can get access while this app is in development mode”.  This sounds like it will be an easy fix for Wahoo.
  5. The app frequently crashes when you’re in the configuration pages for external devices (like the power meter).  This isn’t a huge deal, since you don’t need to configure those things very often.  But it is a worry.  If I’m going to use this technology in races, I need to be very confident that it is going to behave.
  6. Sometimes it has taken upto 2 minutes to find my devices.  It sits there spinning searching for them and then after a variable amount of time, it finds them all within a few seconds. Again that can be filed under ‘annoying’, since I am used to having to wait for the Garmin to find a GPS signal before riding.

Most of these seem like solvable problems.  I understand the difficulties in getting all this stuff working properly and talking together.  It’s disappointing that it didn’t work out of the box, but I’m pretty sure that Wahoo will solve the problems and I will update this post as and when progress is made.  I’m quite excited that I seem to be in touching distance of getting this working, and without really lifting a finger myself!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Pinnacle Neon 1 Review

pinnacle-neon-1-2013-hybrid-bike

Something of a departure this, but I recently acquired a new bike to commute on in London and thought I’d share my thoughts on it. Actually it was my mate Dave’s idea – he says people often ask him which bike to buy and suggested I blog about my new purchase.  Here ya go, Dave.

I had been thinking about changing my ‘London bike’ for some time. I’ve been riding on a single gear in London for 5 years. Sometimes fixed, sometimes freewheel and have enjoyed the relatively trouble free nature of rolling round on one gear. This year, however, I started to think about gears. Mainly because my legs are often in a ‘just trained’ state (i.e. knackered and sore) and the effort to get a bike with only one (relatively high) gear off the line at traffic lights has been getting me down. My bike was a converted Claud Butler road bike, the frame dating back to 1971. It was perfectly fine, but then the rear wheel started to play up. The hub would keep coming loose and I had to either replace the wheel or the whole bike. I decided to do the latter because the old Claud had 27 1/4″ wheels – not so easy to source these days, especially converted to single speed. So a new bike was in the offing. I had a very specific set of requirements, which in no particular order are:

  • Cheap, but useable. I wouldn’t spend more than £500 and ideally wanted to spend less. I know some folk might not think £500 and cheap are compatible, but really if you want a bike to use every day and you need to depend on it, a £99 Halfords Apollo really isn’t going to cut the mustard. It will be a false economy.
  • Gears, but simple gears. I just need a few ratios so I can cycle uphill at reasonable cadence, pull away sharply from the lights, and have a reasonable top speed. I’d consider hub gears, but they tend to be expensive. Definitely no front derailleur, no need for that complication. The simpler the better.
  • Relatively lightweight, but sturdy enough to support my rack and pannier, and handle the rough and tumble of London’s roads.
  • Ideally no toe overlap, even with mudguards. If the front wheel is too close to your feet, it can be difficult to manoeuvre in tight spaces.
  • It must not be at all sexy. My London bike sleeps at Kings Cross station. Kings Cross has become a lot more secure since they put in ticket barriers and CCTV, but still, I don’t want a bike that anyone would really covet. Some quite nice bikes have started being left at Kings Cross in recent months, so I felt a little more confident that something new but dull could blend into the scenery and be left in peace.
  • Flat handlebar. I ride drops in Peterborough, but personally prefer a flat bar for London. It makes the bike more accessible, somehow.  The difference between functional transport and a serious bicycle; in London I need the former.

So I started looking around during the summer. Sure enough, hub gears were generally out of my price range. I saw quite a nice bike by Charge that I could get for around £500 in a sale, but it didn’t float my boat and looked quite nickable. The best bike I saw was an Orbea Carpe sold by Cylce Surgery. It ticked all the boxes, but it was really quite a sexy bike. It was also £500. Something told me I might soon be parted from that bike if I bought it.

A little time passed with no joy, all the while my rear wheel was getting worse. Then I was looking on Evans’ website and spotted the Pinnacle Neon 1. It was not at all sexy, had a single chainring at the front and 8 gears at the rear. Flat bar, all the necessary mounts. Looks quite good! And it was in the sale for £295! The next morning I had bought one. No test ride, just sat on it, saw it was the right size. No frills, it would do for me. The price sold it. I asked Evans to transfer the rack and mudguards from my old bike and arranged to pick it up later that day.

not my pizza box, honest!

My Pinnacle Neon 1.  Apologies for the poor photo – not my pizza box, honest!

I’ve had the bike for around a month now. It’s just had its initial (free) service at Evans, so I figured I’ve had it long enough to post an initial review. So what do I think? In a nutshell, it is a brilliant, very usable bike for the money. I cannot believe it only cost £295. It’s without doubt the best value bike I have bought, by a mile.

The frame is good. Seems solid and the bike as a whole is remarkably light for something in this price range. It’s not featherweight, but I think anyone who knows bikes would pick it up and think “that’s actually pretty light”. It’s not flexible though, it handles the bumps no problem. The frame and forks have all the necessary fittings for a commuter bike, and the geometry is such that my feet don’t come anywhere close to fouling the front wheel, even with large mudguards fitted. It’s finished in a smart, dark silver hue, with bright yellow (almost fluoro) graphics. The top tube is quite steeply sloping, which means you can get off and on easily, without having to lift your leg too high. The bike is peppered with reflectors and was supplied with a bell.

The brakes are perfectly adequate Tektro V brakes. There is a bit of play in the lever before they engage, but once clamped on, performance is more than acceptable. The handlebars are too wide for city riding in my opinion, but that is easily sorted.

The wheels are fairly mediocre-spec Alex rims laced to some generic hub (32 spokes). Totally fine so far, completely true. The standard tyres are fairly heavy Kenda wire-bead affairs, 32mm. They seem pretty tough – at least they survived a month’s commuting in Central London. They aren’t made of fromage like a lot of tyres you get on inexpensive bikes.

The gears are 8 speed Shimano Acera. A budget line in Shimano’s range but so far I am very impressed. The range is fine for my needs and the shifting action is positive and immediate. You can also change down upto 3 gears with a single long push of the shifter, too, which is often quite useful. The shifter is a dual-lever affair located at the right hand. Push to change down, pull to change up. Very similar to the mechanism often found on mountain bikes.

All in all, there’s very little to moan about. The only things that I would change are the tyres, for something narrower and faster, and the bars need to be a little narrower for me. It’s a little difficult to confidently pick your way through narrow gaps with wide bars. As I mentioned above, the bike has just been to Evans St. Paul’s for its free initial service. I asked them to lop 40mm or so off each end of the bars, and also to fit some 25mm Continental Gatorskin folding tyres. The result is a pretty quick bike. I am not allowing myself to be left at the lights by anyone, and the machine is really performing. The change to lighter, faster tyres has improved the bike a great deal. Some comfort has been sacrificed, but it’s more than worth it for the increased speed.

A word about Evans Cycles. In the past I have not generally been impressed with the company, but in this case their St. Paul’s branch have provided great service and a superb bike. When I originally bought it, they transferred my rack and mudguards for no charge. And they didn’t charge me a penny for the tyre fitting or the bar-trimming on the service day. They could have, but they didn’t. So my total outlay including new tyres and tubes is £347. I really think you’d struggle to beat that. If you need a reasonably fast hybrid/commuter and don’t want to spend a fortune, this bike is well worth a look.

Update on my TT bike

Third post today.  You wait for a bus, etc.

Recent weeks and months have seen a few changes to my bike.  I have replaced the Tubular, deep-section Pro-Lite Vicenza wheels with a set of FloCycling clinchers.  Flo are a relatively new company, selling wheels from across the pond.  The wheels are made in Taiwan, shipped to the US and supplied from there.

Having started off my TT career with tubulars, I was keen to switch back to clincher tyres.  For those of you who, quite understandably, don’t know what I’m talking about, clinchers are the bike wheels you know, where you have a separate inner tube and tyre.  Tubular tyres are, well, tubes, where the inner tube is completely encased by the tyre and then glued, or taped, to the wheel.  Historically, tubulars, or tubs, have been the choice of racers.  These days, the pendulum is swinging back towards the centre, with lots of racers choosing clincher wheels.  I wanted to use clinchers because they are what I know.  And you don’t have the mess, or painstaking process of the glueing.  Also it is easier to fix a puncture.  I chose Vittoria Corsa CX tubulars, as they were a good compromise of speed, puncture resistance and price.  There are faster tubulars out there.

Anyway, Flo have caused some ripples in the wheel market, because their wheels are substantially cheaper than the competition.  I really wanted some Zipp wheels, but a Zipp disc and deep section front would cost around £2500.  Flo wheels, taking into account delivery and customs duty, came in at around £1000.  They aren’t exactly comparable – the Zipps are lighter, being all carbon, but the aerodynamic effect might well be the same.  I decided to gamble on the Flo wheels, despite not seeing any UK reviews, because I am a cheapskate and wanted to be a bit different.

So what do I think of them?  Well, they arrived in perfect condition and seem well made.  They are not lightweight.  Instead of a carbon rim, the Flo wheels are effectively a normal, shallow section aluminium wheel with a carbon fairing.  I was less concerned by weight because conventional wisdom says that a wheel’s aerodynamic properties are more important in a time trial than it’s weight, particularly if the course is relatively flat, as most UK TT courses are.  I paired the wheels with Continental GP4000S tyres, because Flo’s wind tunnel tests found them the best performers for the wheel.  This is good because the Contis are pretty ubiquitous, and fairly cheap.

I have ridden a few races on them now.  I think they save me around 15 seconds over 10 miles, versus the Pro-Lite Vicenzas.  I don’t have any real hard data to back them up, because during that period I was improving all the time anyway.  But performance did seem to take an extra jump on switching to the Flo wheels.  I can say almost for certain that they are no slower than the Pro-Lite wheels with tubular tyres.  And I think in fact they are a little faster.

The Flo disc, being a fairing rather than a structural disc, does not make the whoo, whoo sound of a true carbon disc like the Zipp.  This is disappointing.  One day I will probably buy a Zipp disc.  But for now, in trying to keep the expenditure just this side of absolutely ridiculous, the Flo wheels are suiting me just fine.

Shortly after the arrival of the wheels, I bought my self a set of USE Tula bars, second hand from a chap on the TT forum.  Not so long ago, these bars were the state of the art.  Now they have been superceded to some degree, but I still think they look killer, and to the naked eye, they appear more aero for sure.  They allowed me to drop the front end much lower, which I think was responsible for the improvement in time I found in July, as well as the drop in power.  I blame the power loss on the front being so low.  I intend to try and prove this on the turbo during the winter, so for the moment it is only a hunch.  I first ran these bars in the same position as my old ones.  I think they made a few seconds difference, 5, maybe 10.  No more than that.  But it’s finger in the air, of course.

Before I went off to the race this morning, I took some (rather poor) photos of my bike in it’s current configuration.  They are below.  Eagle eyed readers will notice the cabling and fork steerer issues.  The cables are currently cut to allow me to raise and lower the front end quite a bit.  And the fork steerer remains uncut.  Until I know what the best compromise position is between power release and aerodynamics, I am not going to make any changes to the front end that would be necessarily permanent.

Please feel free to comment or ask questions.  As ever, happy to discuss my experiences 🙂

BMC TM02 11 BMC TM02 10 BMC TM02 09 BMC TM02 08 BMC TM02 07 BMC TM02 06 BMC TM02 05 BMC TM02 04 BMC TM02 03 BMC TM02 02 BMC TM02 01

Photos from the VTTA National 10

I was emailed earlier this evening by a nice chap who had taken some photos at the event.  And, with some reservations, here they are!

Things you learn about your bike…

Last week I bought some wheels on eBay.  Used, 90mm carbon tubulars.  In case you don’t know, tubular wheels are different from those we’re used to.  The tubular tyres are just that:  tubes.  A latex innertube with the tyre carcass sewn around it.  You attach the tyre to the wheel using glue, or sticky tape.  I chose glue.  Lesson number 1.  Stress.  Mess.

I noticed that the rear wheel is slightly out of true.  Of course I didn’t spot it until after I’d glued the tyre.  The spoke nipples are internal, you have to remove the tyre to true the wheel.  The tyre I’ve just glued.  Lesson number 2.  It stays wobbly for the foreseeable.

I also bought some carbon-specific brake pads.  Carbon wheels require a different brake compound to aluminium wheels.  When I was selecting the bike, I read some stuff about the rear brake being difficult to access, but I ignored all that.  Lesson 3.  The rear brake is a V-type brake, mounted behind the bottom bracket.  Here’s a link to a photo of a similar bike to mine:

http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/photos/giro-ditalia-time-trial-tech/224748

It’s a PITA to adjust, it doesn’t have any adjusters, you either have to move the cable clamp point, or else use some elaborate mechanism of spacers.  All well and good.  I found that in order to actually change the brake pads, something you might want to do reasonably frequently, especially if you’re swapping wheel sets, you have to remove the cranks!  This is quite a serious job, involving a lot of swearing and a rubber mallet.

I managed it, eventually.  I just took a photo for posterity, forgive the crappy iPhone 4 pic…

Image

I had quite a good turbo ride yesterday.  I wanted to ride the TT bike on the road, but it’s cold.  I bought a new Sufferfest video, A Very Dark Place, it’s good!  Very useful intervals for time trials.  Here’s the link to the ride:

http://www.trainerroad.com/cycling/rides/227127

I also like the way trainerrooad tracks your ‘career’.  Maintaining your record wattages for different lengths of time.  See here:

http://www.trainerroad.com/career/Carlos13

Don’t read too much into the actual figures, I reckon they’re horses_t.  I might find out soon enough, I’m going to order a power meter.  More on that next week.

Cheers!

First post

Today I bought a time trial bike. It’s a 2012 BMC TM02 105. The base model BMC time machine, last year’s model. Bought in the sale, 15% off list. I am a skinflint when it comes to these things. I always want more for less. I bought it from Evans Cycles at London Bridge. It’s the closest Evans to my workplace. Anyway it looks like this:

BMC TM02 105 2012 model

BMC TM02 105 2012 model

The spec is pretty basic, especially the wheels. I will be upgrading to some deeper aero wheels in the not too distant future, probably Planet X carbon-faired clinchers (see comment above about me being ‘value-conscious’)

I rode it from London Bridge to Kings Cross and put it on the train. I only used the bullhorns, aero extensions on busy London streets when you’ve never ridden a bike like this before might not be such a good idea. Good job really, as I’ve noticed that Evans hadn’t tightened the left extension properly, it can be turned by hand. Cheers, Evans! I did know I wasn’t going to get a fantastic buying experience compared to a specialist, but still, at least tighten things up properly.