Monday, 3 February 2014


Yes! I´m entered into L´Éroica Brittania Festival 55 mile route in June this year.
I shall be riding the Koga-Miyata Gents Tourer 1977


From L´ Eroica website:

Only cyclists with "heroic" bicycles will be permitted to participate. 'Heroic' bicycles are road racing bikes, built before 1987 Gear shift levers on the down tube of the frame (exceptionally, only pre-1980 bar-end gear shifts are allowed)   

Heroic Groupset

The bike was designed for flat Dutch roads, built in Holland using Japanese built frame and groupset and I may have to do something about the gearing. The chainrings are something like 50/48 and the  cassette is around 11-17.

I obviously need some vintage kit, and so far have come up with this jersey which has an early eighties look:

Heroic Jersey

At least if something goes wrong the frame is guaranteed for life apparently.

Heroic Frame

Monday, 2 December 2013


They say your first century is an important landmark for any cyclist, so when my friend Nick Von Vader scoffed at my proposed London-Brighton-Train ride, and suggested making the 100 mile round trip without taking the train, I couldn't think of a valid excuse. Well not quickly enough anyway.
We'd been on fairly regular 75 mile rides, to the hills of Kent or Surrey, and I had improved my base fitness from poor to less poor. Nick's training regime of beer, fags and 100 mile rides, combined with his relative youth had left him way ahead of wherever I was.
Now I've read a few articles about century rides in my time and one thing I've learned is that you need to eat porridge. Add grapes and banana and you have enough fuel for half the journey right there. 
Top Tip: When it's 3 degrees and it's rained the night before use your winter bike, or at least use winter tyres. Two punctures on the way to Brighton. Didn't go down well with NVV.

Cresting Ditchling Beacon in reasonable shape
So far so good. I'd eaten one energy gel and a bit of a bar up to this point. Wearing thick gloves made eating awkward, and on reflection, I should have eaten more.

The classic 90 mile bonk. Mitcham Junction.
So after 90 miles, just minutes after I'd claimed to be feeling great, the dreaded bonk.
I sat by the side of the road on the metal barrier pictured on the left, shaking like a leaf (the temperature had dipped further), and ate everything in my pockets. I squeezed enough energy out of the gels and bars to get me home but only just, as the dreaded cramp was threatening to seize my thighs with its vice like grip. As I reached the end of my road I saw the family coming towards me in our car and I managed what I thought was a somewhat heroic wave, only for them to drive past without seeing me.

I couldn't see the speedo that said, as it turned out, 154 kms, just 5 miles short of the century. Cycling time was 7hrs 10mins.
I should have cycled round the park for five miles, but there you go.
But the main aim was to raise finds for the Philippines typhoon appeal. The target was £1000.00 and we've just about reached it:

Monday, 4 November 2013

DISCOVERING 'TRAINING' (or going from slow to a bit less slow)

It was a combination of the tube strikes back in November 2010 and my office's proximity to Condor Cycles in London that fired my initial interest in cycling. My early efforts were feeble, but technology intervened as I went from this:

to this:

via this:                                                    and this:


My first encounters with Richmond Park were in not in the least impressive.
On the Charge Plug single speed I ground to a halt half way up Broomfield Hill and almost fell off. It seemed that gears might be quite useful after all.
Then, having purchased the Ribble (the Plug became the commuting bike) I set off once again to the Park, practising clipping in and out of my new proper pedals on the way.
However, despite this new found professionalism I again ground to a halt, this time semi-voluntarily, after I had wobbled up Sawyer's Hill with its maximum 9% gradient. I pretended to be admiring the view at the top, but passing roadies weren't fooled and they shook their heads in pity (or was it disdain?). It seemed that enthusiasm alone wouldn't make me a decent cyclist, and my relatively high weight (82Kgs) in combination with my puny legs, had me at a distinct disadvantage.

I spent a couple of years 'getting the miles in', entering the occasional (shortish) sportive, cycling to work and generally getting a little bit faster (which wasn't hard from such a low base), even up the hills . But to be honest, my progress was slow and a couple of encounters with cramp almost put me off completely. It seemed you can go a bit faster if you get a lighter bike, but only a bit faster.

And then along came this man:               on this:

Don't be fooled by the smiling face, or the pint, this (Nick Von-Vader) is a beast on a bike. No ride is too long, no hill too steep, no weather too foul. He acquainted me with Rule #5 of the Velominati Rules of Cycling ('Harden the Fuck Up') and dragged me kicking and screaming round Surrey and Kent. The gentle delights of Box Hill were replaced by White Down Lane and Titsey Hill, 40 mile rides with 75 mile ones.
At first it felt like I was dying, then (and I have no idea how this happened) I found I wanted more.
The benefits have become apparent quite quickly. I'm losing weight, the stamina and speed are increasing, and my blood pressure (I'm currently on the pills) is lowering.
Tomorrow I'm attempting my first century (+) as we're apparently going to Brighton and back (from Clapham Common). To be honest I'm fairly sure I'll bonk after 70 or 80 miles, but if I do there's always the train of shame. I'll have a better chance if I can persuade Nick to take it easy. Seems unlikely.
I've nicknamed Nick 'El Hobbito' (for obvious reasons) and he nicknamed me 'Quadzilla'. I've got no idea why.

I've discovered the joys of Strava, another aid to motivation, and around a year ago I'd be around 5,500th out of 6,000 round Richmond Park, whereas now I'm more like 4,000th. Pathetic, but less pathetic than before.

[left] I've no idea how this  occurred. I can only imagine there must have been a strong tail wind that day.

We vetoed Brighton on the grounds that Nick's poor tootsies were cold and wet, but instead he put me through the wringer (again):

He lured me up Chalkpit Lane, Titsey Hill, Crockham Hill and the fearsome White Lane, the setting for the annual Bec CC Hill Climb event. I think it also feature in the 100 Greatest Hill Climbs book.
White Lane was a challenge too far and as the gradient ramped up near the end I made a doomed attempt to get out of the saddle a la Contador/Horner. 
I had to walk the last 50 meters but I remounted in time to fool Nick into thinking I made it. 

He snapped me attempting to look fresh as a daisy:
Note the bulging quads