Archive for January, 2010
This is a sign no cyclist wants to see. Particularly when your toes are telling you they have turned black and dropped off. Unfortunately this was our fate today on Tony’s Winter Warmer. It is not really that surprising, the deserted Peak District roads on a freezing January Sunday are great for cycling, not so great if you are running a cafe. The obvious time of year to close for a few days. Undeterred we pressed on.
Now some cafes have signs on the door to indicate that they welcome cyclists.
GoPro HD Hero mounted on my helmet and ready to video the commute to work. Well almost. The instructions with the camera are succinct to say the least and don’t explain what the coloured rubber thing is – it is a shock absorber. Anyway, without the benefit of the shock absorber I managed to film my commute to Sheffield station successfully and it looks good my computer. This is despite the fact that it was still relatively dark at 8am on a January morning. The problem now is to work out how to transcode the video so that it can be edited and uploaded to Vimeo. Attempts so far have resulted in files which are far too big.
I was in Tony Butterworths last week and Max showed me a Tout Terrain Boulevard which had been on trial with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service. Currently the bike paramedics in Sheffield are riding Marin Point Reyes. This bike is seriously impressive, available with a Rohloff or Alfine hub, it is the attention to detail which struck me. The bike has an integrated rear rack and the rear light is dynamo driven with the cable routed through the rack. Similar attention to detail is in evidence at the front, with a small brazing for the cable guide on the back of the fork and mudguard eyes up the fork to avoid the disc mechanism. Unfortunately (or rather fortunately for the family budget) the bike wasn’t for sale. Apparently a belt drive version will be available from next month, needing even less maintenance. Could this be the future of commuting?
Although I enjoyed yesterday’s trip out with the CTC and am glad the snow is off the road at least, it was cold and the road was wet and the bike was gloopy at the end of the day. A little video (from Blanche on Vimeo) to warm things up, while I make plans. Roll on spring.
I’m starting to wonder if Campagnolo have lost the plot. I should declare an interest. I am a lifelong fan – well so far anyway.
William Morris said: have nothing in your house you know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. A Campag equipped bike seem to tick both boxes. Twenty years ago I found I could afford a bike in Columbus SLX tubing with a full Campag Chorus groupset. Actually I couldn’t really afford it, but that’s another story. I got it anyway and it was a thing of beauty. The bike has now gone, rust never sleeps. But many of the Chorus parts were still in beautiful condition and made me quite a few quid on eBay. 18 months ago I bought a bike with the 2008 Chorus group. Still beautiful, still worked beautifully. However, it didn’t take long to see that some changes in the equipment market over the period are not necessarily for the better.
Firstly, as anyone who puts the miles in knows, taking care of and replacing the chain regularly is essential to protect the rest of the drivetrain. The Campag ten speed chain needs a special chain link extractor. List price £103. Ker-ching. Second, the original Chorus bottom bracket was effectively fit and forget – certainly I put thousands of miles in before it needed new bearings. The modern Ultra Toque bottom bracket unit may be lighter but certainly wasn’t as well weatherproofed and lasted less than one full season. I was rapidly gaining the impression that the needs of the professional rider was driving everything and the keen amateur was just expected to go with kit which was difficult to service and lacked the earlier robustness.
However the best was yet to come. In a move which was redolent of software industry practice, the 2009 innovation was 11 speeds. A narrower chain, a new chain tool (list price an even more eye watering £137) and no backwards compatibility. I have met no one who wanted this innovation. It might be age, maybe if I hung out with young roadies I would get a different impression, but I rather doubt it.
What Campag have now done, according to their director for the French market Christophe Soenen quoted in Le Cycle, is to stop production of their mid-range 10 speed chains – no Chorus, no Centaur – just a choice between the high end Record and the entry level Veloce. They’ve stopped making the 10 speed Chorus cassette, for the moment they have retained Centaur cassettes – which is good news given a Record 10 speed cassette will set you back two hundred quid.
Oh dear, maybe it is time to consider the rather less beautiful alternatives. That’s me in the corner, losing my religion.
Cycling home on my Tikit on Friday evening in the dark, I thought I had run over something plastic with my back wheel. Daylight revealed it was the front mudguard, which had snapped at the single mounting point. It had fallen off and I had ridden over it none the wiser. This is not particularly upsetting, it is a small piece of the bike and wear and tear is to be expected. At first I thought that I wouldn’t bother replacing it. However given the dirty roads we have at the moment, it is clear that the front mudguard protects the hyperfold cable and its routing through the bearing at the bottom of the head tube and so it might be wise to.
My wife essentially only rides her Tikit in good weather, so I think I know where the mudguard is coming form.
A photo from the streets of New York City from my friend Nick. Typically for a large city the owner has wisely chosen to invest nearly as much in the hefty securing chain as the bike. So far, so commonplace.
However a closer look reveals that there are two chains, a second one encased in inner-tube secures the saddle.
As Nick wryly observed, ‘the advantages of a quick release saddle are not owner specific.’
The January CTC social provided an opportunity to see again Alan Bennett’s first TV play “A Day Out”. Broadcast in 1972 the play tells the story of a Cyclists’ Touring Club run from Halifax to Fountain’s Abbey in 1911. The play captures the pleasures of cycling on quiet country roads in mid-summer and shows the early roots of the CTC as an organisation of the mainly well to do, who ran their rides with military discipline and tolerated (just) the rambunctiousness of the working class members. The play also shows some of the timeless elements of joining a club run, notably the reactions at home – from the wife who asks if two sandwiches will be enough to the son who creeps out of the house fearful of waking his mother.
There is also a reminder that in the days before gears, cycling involved quite a bit of walking – something which tends to be forgotten by the fixerati.
At the poignant heart of the film is a sense of Englishness. Read the rest of this entry »
As feared the thaw yesterday was matched with an overnight freeze and roads covered with black ice. I managed to get all the way to work, only to fall off when trying to stop and dismount. Fortunately it was only my pride which was hurt. Having three pairs of gloves and two pairs of tights on helped. Bored with weather now.
Thanks to John the Scone on Flickr for this fabulous photo of the speed skating championships in Sheffield a few years ago.
It is 8.30 pm and now thawing fast in Sheffield. This means one of two things. It it freezes, it will be an ice rink tomorrow morning. If it doesn’t freeze – all those tons of grit on the road will still be there. I’m off to High Wycombe – vigilante central and home to the John Lewis Hotel and the Chair Museum.
Many thanks to Huzu1959 for posting his photo of the GP-Mistral under a Creative Commons licence.