Saturday, 7 April 2012

Just one word.


You can forget your Grand Tours, your mountains, your World Championships, your flat out sprints and so on. Those are for ordinary professional cyclists.

Tomorrow is different. Tomorrow is for the true hard men of the sport. Tomorrow is for the real champions because tomorrow is Paris Roubaix.

I could wax long and lyrical about this race, but its been done far better than I can manage, so all I can add is to turn on the telly, open a Duvel or 3, hope for rain and watch.

At 5 o'clock the season will be over and a new king will be crowned.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Gig of the year 2011

Some while ago I blogged about seeing Stephen Stills with his band at Shepherds Bush Empire. Well, last year we went to see a good many bands, including Peggy Seeger, The Decemberists (Again), Gillian Welch (twice), and BB King not to mention Squeeze among many, but FINALLY got to see the Grandaddy of them all. Yup, you've guessed it David Crosby and Graham Nash at the Royal Albert Hall. Band members included Crosby's son on keys and a very hot guitar player who appears to be able to effectively imitate SS at will! I've longed to see Crosby for years, but he doesn't some to the UK very often. Spellbound, they played ALL the big hits: Eight miles high, Almost cut my hair, Cathedral, 4x20, Teach your Children, Ohio and most of If Only I Could Remember My Name, to recall but a few. The only thing I missed was The Lee Shore.

Crosby may be 71 and have got into more scrapes than the average marauding army including a stint in jail, the ingestion of more drugs than you could imagine, a liver transplant, serious motorbike and car crashes, revelations of sperm donor offspring and the re-uniting with a son he never knew he had after 30 odd years (see above), but he's still the boss and still has the most amazing voice ever. Obviuosly an added bonus was the harmony singing with and overall contribution to the evening of Graham Nash , but it was Crosby we all went to see.

He is apparently still not totally out of the woods financially as it appears that his schooner "Mayan" (pictured) is up for sale. This is the boat featured on the cover of the CSN album and on the headstock of his signature Martin D18C and which he's owned since the '70's, so if you want a boat with real mojo, this has to be it.

The next tour with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash kicks off in Australia next month so watch the space for a return visit by the man himself. Wild horses and all that. . . . .

Saturday, 12 November 2011


I've dug the winter training bikes out of the back of the garage and over the last 2 weeks I've done a ride on my old Claud Butler fixed trainer and another on my Geoffrey Butler geared bike. The Claud is a 56cm frame and is a tad too big while the Geoffrey is a 53 and an even smaller tad too small. However, the saddle is stuck in the frame on the GB and it's got a liberal coating of rust in all sorts of nooks and crannies, so it's time for a new training frame and swap the parts over. A quick browse round the web and the Dolan Preffisio looked about right and a 54cm (you only get 2cm increments) was duly ordered and has now arrived.

Slip the headset in, add the saddle and pin, put in the bottom bracket and its time to measure up for the stem length and height. I've done this hundreds of times to the point I know my measurements without reference. The top and seat tubes measure pretty much to my fit and the amount of seat post showing looks about right but It's taken me nearly an hour to work out why I suddenly have 40mm of spacers under the handlebar stem. Of course - INTEGRATED HEAD SET - no stack height over the top of the top tube so the stem height looks out of proportion. This is hardly the first bike with an integrated HS I've built up, but its the first that's come out like this. Having said that my other road bikes with integrated headsets are all 55cm C to C (and I now note have larger diameter top tubes) and I sure as hell don't want a 56. Theoretically it will all fit but at this stage I need convincing.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

It's been a while

And not without reason. I have a typical corporate lifestyle. I travel a lot. All over the country. I stay in hotels. A lot. It's my job. This means I eat. A lot. For most people there's nothing else to do in the evenings.
I ride in the sumer evenings and run in the winter but in isolation it does little for the waistline. So far this year I've ridden over a thousand more miles than last year and still feel highly unfit. In preparation for next year I'm going to ride fixed all winter. Along with some dietary cutbacks I've been working on, we'll see if this makes a difference. I'm making hunger my friend.
For the last few years I've competed in the SPOCO Southeast timetrial competition and this year I got the Lanterne Rouge in both the main competetion and handicap. Apparently, that's a rare feat and an outstanding testimony to my total lack of fitness and, more importantly speed this year.
My family have a tendency to the overweight, if not obesety: witness my uncles and cousins (on my father's side particularly) - they all have my body shape - or do I have theirs?. We all look like Uncle Bubbles as we get older.
However, I need to get seriously back in the saddle as this weight gain is not doing me any good.

Sunday, 12 June 2011


Just for a change, yesterday we took a trip to Bristol to visit the opening day of Bespoked - the UK Hand made and bespoke bicycle show. Held in The Paintworks, an old factory complex which houses a number of businesses and exhibition space near the city centre, this is the first year the show has run and I don't think anyone really knew what to expect. Not surprisingly for a new venture, the show was quite small with about 35 exhibitors. These ranged from the established - Condor, Brian Rourke & Enigma to the newly started - Feather, Paulus Quinos etc. through the slightly left field - Il Soigneur, Pete's Bikes, Paper bikes and the more traditional racing end of the market - Guru, Strada etc.
In all a very eclectic mix representing frame and wheel builders, clothing and accessory sellers and publishers, a mix I sincerely hope the organisers do not dilute when the 2nd edition takes place in March 2012. We arrived quite early to find the hall buzzing and left shortly after lunch, by which point it was getting pretty rammed, a good pointer for the future.
This is all a very welcome development from the situation about 10 years ago when you could name UK custom frame builders almost on the fingers of one hand and outside of these all you could find were mass produced alluminium and plastic bikes from the manufacturers who rule the pro peloton to this day. But, as one exhibitor noted, there is no such thing as the wrong material to make a frame out of, it all depends what you want to do with it. For an increasing number of people a reversion back to an artisan, bespoke building industry making predominantly steel frames (with a few titanium specialists such as Burls and Enigma it must be added) individually to order and specification is exactly what they want. It is also clear that recent cultural changes like Sustrans, city centre cycle routes, cycle polo and the present "Fixie" craze, not to mention the more traditional touring/audax types such as Mrs. Kipper and I are starting to exert an effect on this return to more traditional values, albeit with a bit more "street cred" than in the past - long may it continue.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

As the dust settles

I've deliberately avoided blogging about the tragic events in the Giro as I think enough is being said far more eloquently than I can manage.

However, Leopard Trek has announced the creation of a fund to help Weylandt’s partner, An-Sophie, who is due to give birth in September:

Dexia Banque International a Luxembourg,
69, route d'Esch,
L-2953 Luxembourg.
Account name:is Leopard SA ‘Wouter Weylandt’
Bank IBAN code is LU93 0020 6100 0904 0500, BIC: BILLLULL.

Alternatively you can donate via paypal using this link

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Its early season here too

Well, So far so good. Until Good Friday (yesterday). Usually we go to Herne Hill for the track meeting, but this year it was transferred to Manchester, which is a bit of a hop from here, especially since I've been working in Wales for the last 3 weeks and was not very interested in driving half way across the country yet again.
Instead I entered a 25 mile TT on Good Friday with a 50 on Easter Sunday and our own club 10 on the Monday. This was my second 25 of the year as I did another on the same course (well, nearly the same - same route, just different start and finish points) last week. In the recent past on these courses, which are fairly sporting, I have managed anything between 1hr 6min to 1 hr 10min and expected to do something simillar this time. I dug deep and did a 1:14 which was all very well considering I've allocated this year to getting fitness back and times down. Now to Good Friday..... After riding the hardest part of the course in reasonable style I started getting sharp pains down my left leg. Every time I pushed - nothing happened so at the halfway point I sat up and pootled home nice and slowly to record a rare DNF. When I rode slowly, the pain went but as soon as I got onto the tri-bars and gave it a bit of stick, same thing happened. Its now the eve of the 50 and Mrs. Kipper and self have just done a gentle 30 miles round some local villages, just to make sure they are still there. The legs feel fine after that, so I've dropped the saddle 3mm, changed the gears and tomorrow I'll be using my Carbon Cosmic on the back and a normal hard hat on my head, dropping the disc wheel and pointy hat. Both for comfort. We'll see how it goes. Or doesn't.
What I don't get about this is that since Majorca, we've been doing more miles than in recent years including, in my case, the Dorset Coast 200 again. This ride on 10th April, I did on my Flying Gate Tourer and although my overall time was the same as 2010, rode in better style - without walking hills - than last year. I think I'll always be a flat earther but the up bits hold less terror than they used to. But its still early in the season yet.

Photo's courtesy of Mike Street. Top - Mrs Kipper riding round the course, Bottom - A bit of a gurn.