- Races to take place on Sunday 28th September
- Prize of ￡1000 for both men’s and women’s races
- Raleigh, Condor, Hope, Pivot, Ridley and Kinesis in attendance with latest products
One Man And His BikeA life-changing journey all the way around the coast of Britain by Mike Carter
I must confess, I didn’t pick up this book with a great degree of enthusiasm – I’ve read motorcycle-based travel books before and found some can go on long after they run out of interesting things to say. So imagine my surprise when I picked up One Man And His Bike and was almost instantly drawn in – the tagline is simple enough (“what would happen if you were cycling to the office and just kept on pedalling”?), but it’s the execution that makes it fantastic. You can almost see it – a man desperate for escape, for change; he’s cycling to work and reaches a junction. One way – towards work is; traffic jams, road works, blowing horns and exhaust fumes – the other runs alongside the Thames, and onwards out to the sea. Who wouldn’t be intrigued at the possibility, the promise? It’s almost poetic.
Well, Mike Carter was, for one. Instead of heading to Argentina, he decided to load up the bike and follow that road to the sea, and the result is an amazing, epic travelogue, 5000 miles around the coast. It’s not written as a travel guide, or a “how to do your own epic ride”, it’s purely Mike’s story – as a consequence, he doesn’t get bogged down in detail and the narrative fair dances across the page. If you’re looking for his in-depth thoughts on your coastal town, or want a useful guide to an interesting seaside destination, you won’t find it here. But what you WILL find are 350 pages of the most wonderful snapshots, of places, landscapes, history, cycling, beer, cakes, camping, and most of all, people – Mike will clearly speak to anyone, and it’s his encounters with the broadest variety of the populace that really bring the book to life. On almost every page, it seems, there’s an artful vignette of a meeting between any kind of random person you can think of, and some bloke on a bike.
What makes this a stand out book is that Mike is first and foremost a writer, rather than a cycling enthusiast. His prose is wonderfully measured and efficient, a deftly-wielded artist’s brush picking out beautiful detail rather than a housepainter’s roller covering everything in stodge, so it races along, but it still leaves you with strong impressions of the many things he saw and did, so you get a wonderful sense of the country and its people in a nutshell. And it’s funny, too – proper laugh-out-loud-in-public funny, as well as wistful, insightful and informative.
If you’re a hardcore racer who’s only interested on the inside story from the peloton, this may not be the book for you. But if you’ve a love of cycling in general and you’re looking for a good read, whether it’s to pass the time whilst winter rages outside, in a hammock on your summer holidays, or even (dare I suggest) on a cycle tour round the country, I highly recommend it. This is a book that has the power to inspire.
Author: Mike Carter
Published by Ebury Press
Available in Paperback & eBook
RRP £7.99 (Paperback), RRP £7.99 (eBook)
January. Month of the blues. That typically means blue fingers and toes. The misery of missing out on our evening sunset rides, the (blue) icy weekend club rides and avoiding the usual club run route thanks to blue stuff (or brown!) running at pace down the street having spilled it’s banks.
But for me, this January has been 2 different kinds of blue. Cyan and the Blue Run.
This time last year I started my hunt for a CX bike. I didn’t want to spend a huge amount and would be more than happy with a 2nd hand bike. That’s fine for most, but do a search for new CX bikes at my height (that’s 158cm for those of you that haven’t met me) and it’s a struggle, let alone approaching the second hand market. 12 months on and with the help of a friend in Holland, I finally became owner to another Bianchi frame in some very traditional Bianchi colours.
The Bike Build
With the BB fitted by the local bike store, I was determined to build the rest of the bike myself. OK, I say myself, I had some help! But even then, it was easier said than done. Firstly, it’s the little things you don’t think about, resulting in a couple of trips to and forth from the bike shop to pick up ferrules and cable guides that I hadn’t considered when making my list of components (does such a list exist?).
Fitting the rear derailleur I realise I’m missing a bolt. Being Campag it’s not so easy to replace and so onto eBay to buy an old mech for parts. In the meantime, we fit the brakes, some snazzy Planet-X Frog Bolloxs which should be simple but, what I later learn is called the yoke, snaps as we tighten it. Bugger! Bike build on hold again until I can find a replacement.
Finally with the rear mech fixed and fitted, we attempt the gear routing. Campag specific wire goes through hole A and and comes out hole B….. at least, that’s what the instructions told us to do… did it work? NO! So, a couple of emails to a Campag mechanic friend and some handy tips and tricks shared, the gears are finally working. Rear mech fitted, bike is now working as a fixed gear at least. Just the front mech to complete…. and this is where we hit the wall. The wire is holding perfectly in the shifter, but can we get it to hold at the front mech? Can we heck. Getting a little impatient and really wanting to hit the trails, we give in and I drop the bike into the shop for them to complete the job and check over our work.
So finally, after 4 – 5 weeks of bike building (and a little over budget), I excitedly picked it up yesterday. Bike number 6 took pride of place in the living room for the evening. But there was something significantly wrong – it was looking too new!
Hitting the Trails
Waking up to icy roads this morning, I jacked in the club ride, packed the car and headed over to Swinley Forrest in Bracknell. My little brother spent much of his teens riding his fixed jump bike here, but this was the first time I’d ventured over there. I quickly realise what I’ve been missing out on.
The car park is packed with mtb-ers and walkers. I quickly ask a passer-by what state the trails are in – ‘Good luck on a CX! They’re pretty unridable this morning’. Great. Well, I’m here now, so may as well give it a go. After all, my main intention is to get MUDDY!
I set off following the signs for ‘Mountain Bike Trails’ and soon come across a comprehensive hub detailing the different routes by distance and technical ability. Not much different to ski runs, the trails are set up from Green Run – 1.2km long with gentle dips on a wide track suitable for complete beginners and families, through to Red Run – 13km of extremely technical terrain of single twisty tracks with boardwalk climbs and lumpy descents, all of which are clearly marked in sections throughout.
New to the trails, CX and my bike, I start off on the Green Run and do a couple of warm up laps. It was great to see a 5 year old girl testing out her new bike skills with some expert advice from her MTB Dad, Helen Wyman’s going to have some competition!
Satisfied with the response of my brakes and gears, and slowly getting used to a different kind of cleats, I move onto the Blue Run.
Moderately graded, the complete route is 10.1km long and designed for novice to intermediate Mountain Bikers. It starts out on a pretty wide (although muddy) path, quickly descending into a single track through the pine forest. With some sections of the trail called “Full Nine Yards“, “Devils Highway” and “Stickler“, it’s not hard to imagine why this isn’t suited to the beginner. I also can’t imagine too many new to CX would be so comfortable either, but sticking to my rule of ‘always commit’ and wearing my ‘Fearless’ nick-name on my sleeve, I managed to weave, descend, jump and climb my way down the run.
I very quickly felt comfortable on my bike – trying to keep my pedal stroke smooth, I powered through thick mud; surprisingly managed to climb up over some steep sections stepped with tree roots, put my BMX lessons to use in the pump sections and only once came off track, luckily getting on the brakes to come to a clean stop before heading awol into some trees.
Other riders were extremely friendly, stopping for a quick chat and happy to sit behind until safe to pass or pull up to let you through. I managed 3/4 of the route before I started to get numb hands, even though I was wearing MTB gloves. Each section intersected by the fire-roads, it’s easy to drop off once you’ve had enough (although funnily enough, I found these harder to ride than the trails as they were so deep in mud!).
It may have been 2 degrees when I set out, but I was anything but cold. The blue run was a success and as I came to the end, part of me wanted to go at it all day. But car parking ticket due to expire, I followed the signs back to The Look Out.
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did and at least expected a fall here or there (who knows what the MTBer was on about when he said it was un-ridable!). With a CX sportive coming up in 2 weeks time, I can’t wait to get back on the bike.
What I rode:
Bianchi D2 Cross with Campag Veloce 10sp
FSA Omega Compact Road Bar with Deda Elementi Zero1 Stem
Ambrosio WS 23 Wheels with Schwalbe CX Comp Cyclocross Tyres and Planet X Frogs Bollox Cantilever Brakeset
Shimano Deore XT M780 SPD XC Race Pedals
What I wore:
Not much different to my every day cycling kit – bibs, leg warmers, Helly Hanson long sleeve base layer, Bianchi Winter Jersey, Skoda wind & rain proof jacket and a neck buff.
Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Well I suppose it depends who you ask the question of! In our household I would naturally answer No of course you can never have too many, however my wife might just answer rather differently posing a question of her own. How many bikes can you ride at any one time!
Seriously though you do need a bike for each discipline you ride, don’t you. Who in their right mind would use a track bike to ride a BMX course and like wise who would ride downhill on a CX (cyclocross) bike! OK so I have chosen some extremes but I still recon that you need more then one bike.
Unlike some I am not totally mad with the number bikes I have and I have a sensible mix, a road bike (actually two if I am honest), an full suspension XC MTB, a track bike and a BMX.
Over the years the type of riding I have been doing has changed a little and the Full Suspension XC seems a bit of an over kill for riding things like Preston’s Guild Wheel and some of the disused railway lines locally, however a full carbon road bike does not quite fit the bill either! Leaving me with a bit of a conundrum, what to get to fill the gap? A hard tail MTB to replace the Full Sus or a CX bike?
Hmm tricky coz I really do not want to get rid of the Full Sus because it is really useful for those days out in the hills and trail centres. I know I could do these on a hardtail but then just maybe this would be over kill for the local trails.
Yes you guessed it I plumped for a CX bike, as I said you can never have too many bikes!! But I set myself a challenge I had to do this on a budget no more then £300 could be spent. I had a donor bike for most of the drive train and bars etc, so all I needed would be a frame, brakes, wheels and tyres.
My natural port of call for these parts was going to be ebay or discount online stores. First things first find out what is needed for a CX bike and which parts are the most robust for a bit of a hack bike and how much parts typically are. This is key to avoid over spending on eBay. It always amazes me that many buyers on ebay get carried away. The worst I have seen is a set of wheels go for £30 more then the buy now option for the same set from the same seller who had one set on open bid and another set available as buy now!
The donor bike was a Specialized Allez Sport with Shimano Tiagra triple chainset. I pondered long and hard over the triple chainset as my gut instinct was to go for a double CX specific or a double compact until I read this article http://bikehugger.com/post/view/the-rise-of-the-compact-crank which clearly defined the pit falls of a compact and the benefits of the triple. The decision to stick with the triple also meant I had less to buy with my budget, meaning more to spend on the frame.
Step 1 Frameset.
Having trawled eBay and the internet it seemed that the choices boiled down to a selection from:
- Graham Weigh frame and forks £199.99
- Forme Hiver (Paul Milnes) £274.99
- Paul Mines CT Wing £295
- Dolan Multicross £249.99
From these the best value for money seemed to be the Dolan as it included a seat post, headset and front cable hanger. However this did not leave me with much in the budget for wheels. So back to the drawing board and review the second hand options via eBay. Patience and timing had to be the watch word now. As I write there are very few frames on open bid. I missed out on a couple by a few pounds but I had set my target and was sticking to it.
Finally I hit the jackpot with a rather good Kenesis Crosslight EVO4 and BikeRadar’s review seemed to rate the frame
Step 2 Brakes
Cash had to be king here and simplicity had to rule so a big thanks to Paul Milnes eBay store Tektro Colorado’s at £21.99 a full set it was
Step 3 Wheelset.
I struck gold here as a friend who had switched from a CX bike to a 29er still had a set of Shimano wheels that came off his Cannondale CX bike so £40 landed me 5 tyres and tubes and a set of Shimano WH-RS10’s. Not the most amazing wheelset in the world but functional.
Step 4 cable set.
Having used a mix of manufacturers in the past decided to try a new manufacturer for me and bought a set of low friction PTFE-coated stainless steel Goodridge cables from Chainreaction (user reviews 4.1/5).
The first thing to do was to strip down the donor bike a Specialized Allez Sport running a triple Shimano Tigra groupset. I would be using everything from this bike except the caliper brakes and saddle, or at least that was the plan.
As soon as the frame arrived from its original Coleford Gloucestershie home it was time for close inspection. The frame was pretty much as described on eBay except for a very small dent on the downtube and a small gouge hidden under a sticker on the headtube. If I am being really picky the packing of the frameset could have been better and I was rather disappointed that the seller had not used fork and rear end frame spacers to avoid crushing during shipping as I had requested. The good news was the frame was in full alignment and ready to build.
A quick clean down and removal of old cable protectors and it was time to apply helicopter tape to areas which might suffer from scuffing, cable wear or chain slap.
This done it was in with the bottom bracket, crankset and front mech, quickly followed by rear mech, handlebar stem, seat post, handlebars and finally cantilever brakes and wheels. Time to check the fit. First hop on and it was immediately obvious that the handlebar stem was going to be a tad too short. So out with the tape measure and size up the fit vs my road bike. It was very obvious that the 100mm stem going to be too short. 110 mm might just work but even this might leave me a little hunched up, so it would need to be 115 or 120mm. I plumped for the longer of the two a quick trawl on the internet and a 120mm Deda Zero 1 was acquired and fitted. Perfect sizing and hey presto one bike ready for setting up with cables.
The Goodridge cables where new to me and I was itching to find out how good they really where. Unlike normal brake cables which have flat spiral wound metal the Goodridge set are the same set up as a gear cable outer, with steel strands in the sheath orientated in the same direction as the cable (along the length of the outer). For gear cables this reduces compression of the outer and improves reliability of indexing.
I will be interested to see the effect on braking. I suspect that it will improve modulation and feel reducing any sponginess caused by the outer compressing during braking. The brake cables certainly proved to be very stiff and somewhat tricky to cut.
With careful measuring and cutting (measure twice cut once) all was well with both gear cables and brake cables. A really nice touch with the Goodridge set is the long leadin tails on the cable ferrules allowing for improved
water and grit protection. With careful fitting of the blue plastic outer it is possible to run the cables fully water and grit proof.
All finished time to ride.
WOW this is a quick bike. From the first turn of the pedals it is clear that this is a race bike with a real eagerness to move forwards quickly. To quote What Mountain Bike’s review
“The Kinesis Crosslight Evo is a highly evolved racer that proves even hardcore cyclo-crossers can be a fun and versatile trail/tarmac crossover option on non-race days.”
Very true and great fun was had on the first few rides proving that it was a very good choice to go CX and not Hardtail. However as time went on a couple of limitations started to show through and once again these confirmed the finding of Guy Kesteven
‘A major – but surprisingly common – technical terrain limitation soon becomes clear though. While the Tektro cantilever brakes on the Kinesis are usefully powerful – at least in the dry – the brake judder caused by fork flex on rough terrain makes the front wheel skip alarmingly.’
front wheel skip was the least of the problems the fact was that the amount of front brake judder, especially during descents, made the front brake totally redundant. Solution simples, fit a fork crown cable stop to replace the headset one. Cost £8.99 from Paul Milnes. Fitted cable recut and off we go again. Amazing the front brake is a different beast no judder at all even under the most powerful braking, bringing a high level of confidence to tackle technical descents with ease. Does make you think as to why Kenesis do not fit this simple device to the OEM bike in the first place. £8.99 is not a major cost to transform the ride.
MTB or CX well this being my first CX ride ever I am totally sold. This has to be the perfect tool for riding the local disused railway lines and simpler off road tracks, where to be honest even a hard tail MTB would be overkill.
What is even better is that I have managed to build a CX worth over £1000 for £300, result! Will I get rid of my Full Sus MTB? No it is horses for courses and to attack trails like Gisburn, Winlatter, Grizedale etc this will still be the machine to use but for a qucik blast along many of the SUSTRANS off road routes the CX EVO 4 will be perfect.
If you have never tried a CX bike and want to venture offroad but do not want to wreck your best road bike then find a frame on eBay and switch all your winter hardware onto a CX frame.
For me the Cyclocross season ended in January. With my road form, of which I had desperately been trying to cling on to, long gone and little time to train around racing I finished the season a detrained, demoralised poor excuse of a bike racer. After a few days (or could of been a week) of eating every bit of cake, chocolate, biscuit or any variation of baked goods I could get my hands on, I gave myself a metaphoric slap and decided to buck my ideas up and look ahead to the 2013 road/mtb season. After perusing the Racing Calendar I had put together a tidy competition plan for the year, gave myself a pat on the back, had some celebratory cake, then looked at the dates….Panic immediately set in. My first race was NOT that far away and with new shiny kit and even shinier bikes I really did need to pull my finger out and get fit quick. Like most people I have limited time as I am in Uni 5 days a week, but sadly it’s not doss (undergraduate) Uni anymore I have been there done that, no now it’s a time consuming Masters degree with an added 20 hour per week Nutrition Internship.
And so here I bring you the Annie Simpson Guide to get Fit Quick! It is none scientific, not wholly sensible and at times very painful but as I sit here a week out from my first race of the season…I think/hope it worked.
1) There are no 2- ways about it, you need to tolerate the Turbo! Even if you don’t want to turbo, you should probably just man up and get on the turbo. I found even grabbing as little as 45 minutes here and there is better than nothing. But NEVER just ride, because a) that’s boring and b) it needs to feel worthwhile i.e Hurt. So just come up with some crazy pyramid session that requires a lot of clock watching, so much that you start willing time to slow down for the recovery sections. I never really have any rhyme or reason to what session I do, I just do what I feel like to increase the odds of actually getting on the dreaded thing.
2) When you do have time to ride outside for a decent period of time, ride with people who are infinitely better than you. This will give you the harsh wake up call/ kick up the bum you need to just get better!! My personal example of this comes in the form of one day me deciding it was a good idea to go for a long ride with current Olympic and World Champion Miss Dani King. Needless to say, I got an absolute kicking. And just for good measure, Laura Trott also made an appearance on said ride and proceeded to drop me as she rode easily up a climb. To cut a long and torturous story short, I blew so bad, so so bad that Dani had to physically push me home! No word of lie, I had blown so bad I had lost my sight and my legs would no longer turn, I even threatened to end our friendship! Thankfully she took me out for a posh burger in Hale and huge serving of Fro Yo and we can now remain friends. Moral of that story: It was a rude awakening and actually gave me a whole load of motivation to continue to get fit quick, in a sadistic kind of way.
3) Do not be afraid of riding in the Dark! It actually is surprisingly motivating as it gives you the sensation that you are riding very fast, that is until you look down at your speedo and see your not, therefore remove said speedo and morale will be considerably higher as you still think you are riding very fast! Good lights help, it’s worth the investment (Shameless plug: Hope Tech lights are the best). Especially if you are going MTBing in the dark, I have found you end up hurling yourself down stuff that if you could fully assess in the daylight then you might not attempt, therefore it doubles up as technical training too, Bonus!
4) I don’t have the time or the money to go get all buff in a gym, or also known as S&C. Don’t get me wrong I would like too, but it just doesn’t fit. So I have developed the Living room Gym! Ever get the urge to break into a lunge or squat? No me either, but if you just force yourself to do it 2-3 times a week I have found its better than nothing. Just using your own bodyweight is a good place to start, but then as you progress start holding household objects such as big books, bags of sugar or the less weird option of mini dumbbells. Do planks & push ups and if you’re really getting into it do some stretching at the end and there you have a little step into being a little bit better. It’s a bit like that Tesco advert ‘Every Little Helps’ a budget workout!
5) During this cold weather we have been having… then not having… then having again, I have made some huge kit misjudgments which I now believe may have worked to my advantage. For example, wearing less kit makes you cold and therefore to warm up you must ride faster. When you get 70km from home on the club run, you are frozen, you reach into your back pocket to put on your cape, the cape zip does not work, you remain frozen! The club run sets off back at a blistering pace, due to having less kit on I found I was more inclined to chew my stem, dig in and not get dropped as a) I was actually starting to warm up & b) I would get home and out of this god awful weather a hell of a lot faster.
There you have it! I must stress these are by no means recommendations, if I had the a bit more free time I would do things a lot differently, but you have to play the cards you are dealt. It remains to be seen what my season holds off the back of ‘that’, but thankfully I have an up and coming training camp in Majorca to do some proper training. I will let you know how it all goes.
Entries open for 2013 Scottish Cross Country MTB Series
Scottish Cycling and the Scottish Cross Country Association (SXC) are delighted to announce that online entries have now opened for the 2013 race series.
The season offers great racing opportunities on exciting courses, including the Highlands, Dumfries-shire and the newly developed Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games course at Cathkin Braes.
Each round will offer a variety of racing categories to accommodate all ages and abilities. For new racers there are several choices, Open or Beginner category to gain some experience or enter the age-appropriate category.
Race entries are live and riders can enter by clicking this link
There are also special online pre-entry rates offering a discount on the on-the-day prices. And by entering all five races online now, you will get one round completely free! *
The dates & venues for the 2013 series are:
Round 1: 17th March – Forfar, Angus
Round 2: 14th April – Fyrish, Highlands
Round 3: 12th May – Cathkin Braes, Glasgow
Round 4: 9th June – Drumlanrig, Dumfries & Galloway
Round 5: 1st September – Round combining with Scottish Champs at Kirroughtree Forest, Dumfries & Galloway
You can also keep up to date via the SXC facebook page
*with regards to the five for the price of four offer, enter all five in the usual way and you will be reimbursed for round 1