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.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

La Primavera

Spring is sprung,
The grass is riz,
I wonder where the riders is?

Milan San Remo. That's where. The classics season was opened by the longest single day race on the calendar today. Often described as like an opera in 3 acts, it never disappoints. Ozzie Matt Goss got the win with some seriously intelligent riding in a sprint from a small group of riders after the field was split by a seemingly minor shute at about 60k relegated a number of big names to a chase group at more than 2 minutes. My pre race vote was for Phillipe Gilbert who eventually took third after Cancellara, a good indicator for the following classics. Boonen was washed away in the 2k after the Poggio as were a number of the other favourites such as Sagan, Pozzato et al. Rides of the day have to be Scarponi (Leaky Gas), Offredo and Shainel (FDJ) all of whom did more work than was strictly necessary, but who enlived an already exciting race.

Gent Wevelgem next week, then De Ronde, then Roubaix. Holy week is nearly here for the pros.

Tomorrow, though, us mere mortals have the Maldon Hilly TT which is on a new course taking in two ascents of North Hill in particular and avery tricky course in general . Yours truly is off at No.13 and I confess I'll be riding tempo rather than eyes out trying to get fit for objectives later in the year.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Majorca. Been there, done that.

A few statistics. 6 days. 536km. 23hrs 45mins in the saddle. 30,000calories and 30,000m of climbing. OK for a few days relaxing holiday methinks. And I’ve got a tan.

Having hauled two suitcases, two loaded bike bags and hand luggage from home to Palma we were pleasantly surprised to find everything in full working order when we got settled in the hotel. Apartment hotels offer plenty of room and with the bike bags out on the balcony we spread ourselves out like kings. Day 1 was a short shake down ride of about 40km so that the guides, Martin Birney and Alistair Irvine could work out who was strong and who might need a slower group to ride in. Despite it being half term back home there were only 4 clients for the week, myself, Mrs Kipper, Sylvan from Versailles and Cathy (pron Catty) from Paris. It was quickly apparent that the boss was being given special treatment as the two French and myself spent the following week amassing a good bit of condition and the above statistics with Alistair while Mrs. K spent the time one on one with Martin and while doing slightly less distance and time had the benefit of a weeks intensive speed and climbing coaching which already appears to have paid dividends. That with such a small number of riders booked for the week it says something for their organisation that having advertised a welcome for all abilities with no one being left alone or dropped that they actually followed through completely on that promise.

The faster group was an entertainment in itself. Sylvan has been riding for only a year, but having a running background proved a strong rider, especially in the hills. Cathy has 7 Iron Man events behind her but did not appear to be at all able to ride in a group, refusing to follow a wheel, rushing off the front, breaking up the rhythm, yelling everyone’s attention to the slightest twitch of a car moving (in front, behind, to the side or even across the fields, it didn’t seem to matter) and generally talking to herself all day. She was very strong but there’s definitely a screw loose up top somewhere – maybe even several. She wanted to ride over 200km every day and seemed slightly unhappy that we did about half of that, even though she was getting tired towards the end of each days ride. However, every time we stopped for coffee or a snack she immediately started massaging our shoulders and on one occasion legs. A couple of time she even gave the café proprietor or waitress a massage. What the hell they made of it is anyone’s guess!

Having noted that what we as a group all needed was base conditioning the high mountains were taken out of the equation and rolling rides added instead although Tuesday did see us climbing some 600 metres to a café at an average of 7% gradient. Now, 7% may not sound that much, but over 8km it’s pretty taxing. Mrs. Kipper had ridden up about an hour before we got to the bottom of the climb, showing off her new-found climbing ability but I trailed in some 10 minutes behind the rest of the group having only been kept going by dreams of a coffee and something to eat at the top. The way down was a different story and I topped just shy of 70kph on the twisting descent earning the nickname of “Savoldelli” for the week.

The weather for the week held to its promise and despite being rained on Sunday’s ride it improved and we hade 6 more days of faultlessly clear skies and temperatures averaging 17 to 20 degrees, depending upon who you believed at any one time. Appearently the weather for the following week was pretty awful with very few people actually getting out of hotels and onto the roads so we seemed to get the best of the spring so far.

Of the 7 riders (including the guides) there were 7 punctures. Mrs. K had 2, one found on Sunday morning after unpacking and the other during the week while I had the remaining 5, all in the front wheel and apart from the last one which resulted from a displaced rim tape, all from flints, none of which we found! Even putting on a new tyre didn’t make any difference, it was just poor luck I suppose. A full steward’s inquiry will be held once the incriminating equipment is unpacked and checked over.

As to the form books, having spent the winter watching the club run disappear over horizon while they wonder what’s happened to the bloke who normally rips their legs off, all I can say is they’d better not rest on their laurels any more.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The last post

Well, the bikes are packed, suitcases too. Flights confirmed and final ride done. 42 lumpy miles in 3 hours including stops means I should be able to fit into a group in Majorca without getting too dropped, but we'll see. Even climbing is getting a bit easier, if not faster. A couple of runs during the week should do the trick though.

Surprisingly, I've started to lose a bit of weight too, 4lb in as many weeks, only 1 1/2 stone to go so perhaps a better season is on the cards this year. Lets go to Majorca!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Flying in spring, dying in summer

Things are getting tight. I've started to get the miles in but although I'm still relying on the granny ring too much the fitness is begining to come along. I read on that it can take 3 weeks to regain the fitness lost after one week off the bike so I shouldn't hope for too much too soon.
This weekend saw 102 miles under the wheels as I rode a 106km Audax on Saturday (10256ft of climbing) in the drizzle and a howling gale and our own clubs 40 km reliability trial with Mrs. Kipper on Sunday.... Well, it should have been 40 km, but we took a little detour and it turned into nearly 58km. On her 2nd ride since a quite intrusive operation and on a very pretty and brand new machine, Mrs. Kipper was less than impressed as we struggled back to the HQ against another raging headwind.
Another Reliability Trial and a 40 miles ride home afterwards next weekend and it will be time to pack the bikes and a suitcase for a week in Majorca for our first ever road training camp. I've done track camps before, which can get pretty intensive, but a road camp is a first for both of us. I just hope we survive with legs and lungs intact because March sees two hilly time trials, one with a new course this year which means twice up a serious (for Essex) hill. I don't think I'll bother with the TT bike and disc wheel just yet.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Every cyclist should have one

I've been a "cyclist" since before I went to school, which by now is more than 45 years. In that time I've toyed with most disciplines and excelled at none of them. This has never bothered me, especially since I learned to keep my competitive instincts in a box and just bring them out when required. I've toured over a good part of the UK and Northern Europe, I've done randonees up to 400km, including permanent events on my own, I've done a bit of time trialing, road racing, cyclo cross and mountain biking, but I've never been so surprised as the day I first got a folding bike.

Now, when most people think of a folding bike, they think of that awful Raleigh Shopper they sell in the classified at the back of the Sunday Express, otherwise known as a BSO (Bicycle shaped object) but technology has moved on more than a bit and there is no reason that anyone with more than an ounce of common sense should ever even consider a BSO in this day and age. There are any number of folding bikes on the market that are lighter, better made, more reliable, fold smaller and handle better than that Raleigh, all in one package.

I expect most readers of this blog are familiar with the Brompton and the fact that you can take it almost anywhere but there is still surprise at the answer when non cyclists ask how much it costs. It never ceases to amaze me that people will gladly pay £20-30 thousand for a smog maker (sorry, car) but gasp at £5 or 6 hundred for a machine a versatile and well built as the Brompton.

I’ve had my Brompton L6 for over 7 years and it must have done thousands of miles by now. I used it to cross London daily for a number of years, I’ve taken it to towns and cities across the country but these days I mostly use it for trips to the shops or if I have a distance to ride from the station when going by train.In fact I'm sure my lifestyle would change for the worse if I was without it.

Of my children, two were never really that into cycling. One had a couple of bad crashes early in his racing career which kind put him off and getting the other to ride a bike in the first place was worse than trying to teach a cow to write copperplate with a fountain pen. However, they both have Bromptons and both ride them regularly to and from work which just goes to prove, doesn't it?

If I had to thin out my stable, I think the Brompton would be one of the last to go.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Dateline: 1/1/11
Location: Home
Weather: S***e.

School report for 2010:

This blogger has been somewhat delinquent since April. The standard excuses are wearing a little thin so I've decided to get back on the horse in 2011. Last year I did nearly 1000 miles less than in most previous years and about 2000 short of any of my better totals since records began in 1997. In 2010 I rode 10 races, all 10 mile TTs, in previous years it has normally been about 35 ranging up to 100 miles or 12 hours. In 2010 I rode a single 200km Audax in April and the Paris Roubaix Sportif in June, but since then nothing. Nada. Bugger all. Nowt. Not a sausage. Square root of squit-all. This must change.

Its not that I've been indolent - The new enterprise is going well (so far), I'm keeping existing clients and gaining new ones without any advertising (in fact I've turned a couple down). But I've spent a lot more hours working as I have to work for the clients and operate a business. It's also meant travelling by car a lot more than I'm used to and staying in hotels on a regular basis, which I've got un-used to. As a result, in the last year I've put on about 1 1/2 stones and lost almost all of my fitness so now its time something was done about it.
Sooooooooo........... Over the holiday out came the rollers (new ones too. Yahoo!) out came the running shoes, and out comes a training plan. Just as an added incentive, we have 7 weeks before we go to Majorca on our first ever road training camp so that's pulled things into perspective. I've already run more miles than over previous christmasses and done several hard roller sessions and its all upwards from here.


Targets for the year?

Wait and see.