Earlier this year my wonderful wife surprised me with a Tandem for our 25th Wedding anniversary, which does fit in the back of our people carrier however does not allow us to have anyone else in the car, which would be a bit of a problem when we head to France for our family summer holiday. The solution a tandem roof rack, but which one?
If I am honest I have never really been a fan of bike racks that clamp onto the frame, they often scuff or damage the tube they clamp to and the the thought of only one clamp point with a Tandem did not appeal.
I scoured the marketplace and came up with three main options but the cost of two of the choices really ruled them out, so I finally plumped for the Pendle Tandem Carrier with front fork clamp. It also meant that I would be supporting a British Engineering firm, in my eyes a big bonus.
The prices direct from Pendle where not great so I placed an order via www.roofbox.co.uk a company I have used over the years to buy roof rack items at very reasonable prices and that was certainly true of the Pendle Rack.
I eagerly awaited the arrival of the bike rack, almost like an expectant father. Roofbox did not let me down, rapid delivery to my place of work in plenty of time for my test run for the Great Manchester Cycle a few weeks before our holiday.
The weekend before the ride I decided to fit the rack to our roof bars, as we no longer live in the 70’s flat pack world of missing parts and several trips backwards and forwards for missing screws and nuts, I assumed I did not need to go through the check list provided with the rack. How wrong could I be!!
I quickly and easily assembled the main part of the rack body and got it in place to clamp to the roof bars, but wait there is something missing. No maybe I missed them in the shrink wrapped packaging, surely the bottom plates for clamping to the roof bars are still in the box. After several minutes of vigourusly shaking the box nothing, they where missing, unbelievable! A quick email to Pendle to ask for the parts job sorted, but no joy ‘please contact supplier’. Ok fair enough but surely they will only contact Pendle etc etc. A quick call to Roofbox and a very helpful customer service assistant kept me on hold while she rang Pendle and got the parts shipped directly to me (Roofbox 10, Pendle 0!).
The parts arrived the following day and I fitted the rack to the roof bars, but wait I am two bolts short! A quick hunt through my own spares box and two suitable bolts later rack fitted and set up in time for the Great Manchester Ride.
I contacted Pendle direct about the missing bolts and the over all initial lack of service. I did get an email back from one of the directors offering me bolts but to be fair it was sorted. I really wanted to point out that we are no longer in the era of parts falling off cars and missing bits from self assembly furniture, and that it might be an idea to actually do some quality control on final packaging.
On a positive note the rack does do what is says on the tin and works really well holding the tandem in place very securely, which is all it needs to do. (Pendle 10 out of 10 for functionality). It is not perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing item and maybe not of the highest quality for chroming and powder coating but that does not matter too much.
When we arrived in France I noticed another family with a Pendle rack and asked if they had any problems with supply. They too had bought from Roofbox with excellent service, and yes they too had parts missing for the bike rack, you’ve guessed it bottom plate and bolts. Hmm looks like mine is not an isolated instance. Come on Pendle! Nelson, Lancashire is surely not languishing 30 years behind us all, get your quality control sorted!
Quality of Service/ Customer service attitude (Pendle) 10%
Quality of Service/ Customer service attitude Roofbox 100%
I would recommend Roofbox for bike rack and roof bar supplies, but I might just pay the extra and avoid the hassle of buying a Pendle rack again.
RRP: £162.00 for both versions
Rees rides to dream finish at the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100
A desire to raise money for charity drove Ian Rees to be first across the line at the end of the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 this morning, completing a journey of recovery for the 43-year-old Bristol-based diabetic who was inspired by watching last year’s event.
Twelve months ago the former pro stood leaning on his crutches beside The Mall watching the first ever Prudential RideLondon sportive and promised himself that he would lead the mass riders under the finish gantry in 2014 to raise money and the profile of diabetes research.
After 86 of the hardest rain-drenched miles he’s ever ridden, Rees achieved his dream with the aid of his Bristol Dymag TID clubmates Paul Merryweather and Matthew Franklin, and believes his Herculean efforts will bring in some much-needed funds for the diabetes charity JDRF.
“I couldn’t do it last year because I broke my leg, but I watched it with people from the charity and told them that I would be first across the line this year to raise their profile,” said Rees, his mud-splattered face breaking into a smile of pure relief.
“Here I am a year on, and I did it. I can’t believe it. That was the hardest ride I’ve had since I was a pro in France in the 1990s.”
Rees, who’s never done a sportive before, set up the Dymag club with Merryweather to raise money for diabetes research two years ago after being forced to abandon his pro cycling career when he was diagnosed with the condition.
“This is what we really wanted to do,” said Merryweather, who followed Rees safely across the line at the head of a 60-strong bunch of early-finishing sportive riders.”
“I helped Ian set up the team two years ago so this was all about getting him home first and giving JDRF some profile. So it’s mission accomplished; it’s all quite inspirational.”
The group had a plan to stay near the front of the pack, avoiding as far as possible any problems caused by the adverse weather, and were full of praise for the organisers’ decision to shorten the 100-mile route by 14 miles, cutting out the potentially treacherous climbs up and down Box Hill and Leith Hill.
“We worked so well as a team,”
said Rees. “The rain and the speed we were going at the front made it so hard.”
“But it was such a good decision to cut out the hills. I hit a cat’s eye at one point and nearly came off, and there were a few crashes, so I’m really glad they took the hills out because coming down Box Hill or Leith Hill would’ve been deadly.”
“RideLondon have done an absolutely brilliant job. The organisation is as good as a pro race on the continent. I was so impressed, they should do these all over the country. I will do it again next year, definitely.”
Nicola Roberts and Bella Leach were impressed too. The two London friends rode the route together and crossed the line side-by-side, the first women to complete the sportive.
“It was wet but it was great fun,” said Roberts, a member of the Dulwich Paragon club. “It wasn’t too windy so you could still ride. Everyone was just getting on with it really and smiling and chatting.”
“Some of the corners and descents were quite sketchy but people were very considerate, slowing down and talking to each other.”
“I really enjoyed it, it was really good fun to just get out there and stretch the legs,” agreed Leach, a London Phoenix rider. “Nicola and I rode the whole way together so we wanted to cross the line together.”
“I’ve never been up Box Hill or Leith Hill and after today it feels like I’m destined to never ride them!”
Wiggle Honda’s Neil Towns was also among the early finishers, completing his second Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100.
“Riding at the front was really exciting,” he said. “I did the event last year. It was slighty damper than last year but still fantastic, still good riding. It’s a lovely bike ride that isn’t too challenging so you can just get out there and ride for the fun of it.”
“There were fewer supporters than last year but the ones who were out gave it some welly. I’ll definitely be back next year.”
“This event’s like the London Marathon for cyclists – if you can get a place you jump at it. A beautiful bike ride; the spirit of the London Olympics carries on.”
Ben Knapp backed up the other riders’ support for the shortened route, relishing a ride started by three world greats of women’s cycling: world and Olympic road race champion Marianne Vos, double Olympic track champion Laura Trott and multiple Paralympic gold medallist Dame Sarah Storey.
Ian Rees – post race
“It was a bit disappointing to have the route shortened but coming across the top of Newlands was pretty nasty so everyone understood why the organisers did it. It was the right decision,” said the Dulwich Paragon rider.”
“More than a quarter of Dulwich Paragon’s 600 members were riding today so it’s a really great event for everyone.”
“Having Marianne Vos, Sarah Storey and Laura Trott starting the ride was great. We set off feeling really inspired.”
All three women then rode the sportive themselves – Vos delighted to be back on the roads where she won Olympic gold two years ago.
“I’ve never done a ride as big as this; it was really something special,” said the Dutch rider who finished second in yesterday’s Prudential RideLondon Grand Prix.
“Just to ride with all these people and see everyone coming out riding, not caring about the rain was fantastic. It was great fun.”
“It was great to back on the roads of London 2012 and to see more than 20,000 out there too was fabulous. I saw quite a lot of them, I think, and everyone was taking care of themselves and each other.”
Classic Cycling Race Routes
The Toughest 52 European Challenges
by Chris Sidwells
Reviewed by Nick Dey
Published: 15th October 2013
AA Publishing in association with Garmin
An inspiring book to read and then to ride… if you dare!
This inspiring hardback book presents a selection of the most challenging and rewarding routes for road and racing cyclists. From the South Downs Epic and Tour of the Peak in the UK, to Paris-Roubaix in France and Tour of Flanders in Belgium, from Gruyere Cycling Tour in Switzerland and Tour of Lombardy in Italy to the San Sebastian Classic in Spain, this book is the ultimate motivation for cyclists who want to push themselves to the next level.
The fifty-two classic European cycling routes – one ride for each week of the year – selected to appear in this weighty A4 hard backed tome of well over two-hundred pages cater for the aspiring and experienced cyclist as well as those more romantically inclined, inspired as they are by the epic routes raced by the legends of the sport.
Experience an example… The Retro Ronde.The routes have derived their inspiration from the many professional races as well as the ever growing mass-participation events, the cyclosportives. Indeed the twenty-four routes that cover the UK and Ireland are exclusively ‘sportive in scope. I’m ashamed to report that I have ridden only one … but can vouch for the books accuracy; I was indeed Flat Out in the Fens! Several of the European events feature in the World Cycling Tour: an age group series in which participants have the chance to qualify for and compete in an age-group final. You, yes you, could become a World Champion!
Route 34, pp148-150, covers the outstanding Retro Ronde*
I rode this in 2013 and am happy to state without hyperbole that it is my absolute favourite cycling experience, second to none – full review coming soon to Cycling Shorts (Ed. I promise!)
Here I am… climbing ‘The Wall’ Retro Ronde 2013
In the book the route distance is correctly stated as 100 km (I managed 112 km but did get myself lost taking in a few extra Heligen!) but the total climbing was very different to my experience. The book states 525 m however I managed 1200 m. To be fair to the author the organisers fine tune their route each year – and I did do the extra cobbled climbs! All the other information is accurate and succeeds in conveying the flavour of the experience. For experience the Retro Ronde certainly is! I shall be back every year – or as long as the old bike, and even older legs will allow. If you do plan on riding try to make a long weekend of it. The ‘Crit’, ahem, racing on the Saturday is wholly authentic yet rather tongue in cheek, and well worth the entry fee of €5!
Posing for the official photo at the start… the atmosphere was the best I have experienced.
So how does this fine book present the information?
The book in a nutshell …
- 52 European cyclosportive and Grand Tour routes
- Full-colour route maps with directions and elevation profiles
- Advice on ride strategies and techniques
- Tips on training, appropriate clothing, nutrition and fitness
- All routes are available to download for your GPS cycling computer
- Routes cover the UK & Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.
The author suggests the reader takes two possible approaches, both of which allow them to make full use of the route information. The first, and Sidwells strongly suggests this as the most preferable avenue, is to take part in the official event for each route (if there is one) as, and I can only concur with him in this respect, …
“…the atmosphere and camaraderie of these events, where thousands of like-minded souls take part, all enjoying doing something they love, is incredible.”
Additionally, there is also more than enough information within the book to allow you to ride each route, or your own variation of it, independently of the official event and at any time of year. Words to the wise… check before you leave that roads are open!
Each route is clearly described and supported with often fascinating background information along with tantalising titbits of history; and who amongst us hasn’t unleashed the inner child and ridden a classic imagining the spectres of the greats; Coppi, Bobbet, Garin, et al, riding alongside?
There are maps and directions for each route, including profiles that clearly indicate where each hill is located along with rather useful yet often unsettling detail on how long and steep they are! The ever useful height gain is also presented.
In the words of the author, Chris Sidwells, “Enjoy the book, use it for planning and setting objectives, but above all get out and ride these routes. They represent some of the finest cycling experiences you could ever have.”
Classic Cycling Routes in a little more detail …
The introduction is extensive and covers three very important pre-ride requisites: Basic equipment – your bike, creating a training plan, and challenge-ride nutrition. There is a lot of very useful information here ranging from how to best use a GPS device (by Garmin) to the basics of creating a training plan.
The two-hundred pages devoted to the fifty two Race Routes traverse Europe through seven countries but with the majority set in the UK and Ireland.
The UK & Ireland section contains twenty-four routes, as listed below:
The Fred Whitton Challenge
The Ryedale Rumble
Etape du Dales
The Cheshire Cat
Tour of the Peak
The Shropshire Mynd
Flat Out in the Fens
Hell of the North Cotswolds
The Ups and Downs
The New Forest Epic
The South Downs Epic
The Tour of Wessex
The Exmoor Beast
The Dartmore Classic
The Dragon Ride
The Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive
Tour of Sligo
Malin to Mizen
Megève Mont Blanc
Cinglés du Ventoux
Etape du Tour 2010
Tour of Flanders
Grand Fondo Eddy Merckx
The Amstell Gold Race
Gruyére Cycling Tour
Alpenbrevet Platinum Tour
Tour of Lombardy
A Stage of the Tour of Italy
La Leggendaria Charly Gaul
Maratona dles Dolomites
La Pinarello Cycling Marathon
San Sebastian Classic
Val d’Aran Cycling Tour
A Stage of the Vuelta
La Pico del Veleta
Don’t forget… all routes in this book can be downloaded to your Garmin (the Edge 800 in my case) from the AA website.
As the book itself says, ‘the classic race routes selected here are not for the faint-hearted. Based on the best cyclosportive events in Europe and on stages of Grand Tours, they are much more than just pretty rides in the country. The fifty-two routes are serious mental and physical challenges (in the case of the Retro Ronde… the liver is called upon to do its bit too!) that require training and preparation. Yet each is accessible and achieved by many thousands of amateur cyclists each year.
Classic Cycling Race Routes allows you to cycle these rides at any time, either as preparation for the race events, or for the sheer joy and exhilaration of the challenge. For those rides that don’t have a dedicated cyclosportive route, the author has designed a ride a ride to reflect the demands and history of the race.
Each route contains a map with directions and an elevations and an elevation profile, and Chris Sidwells provides an overview combining ride strategy and techniques with the history of the race.
Practical and aspirational, Classic Cycling Race Routes will inspire a new generation of cyclists to push themselves to the extreme. You never know, the next Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish or Sir Bradley Wiggins may well be among them!
One for the rider as well as the reader + GPS routes = 100% Awarded our Star Buy Rating!
Reviewed by: Nichiless ‘Nicky’ Dey.
About the author
Chris Sidwells is an internationally-respected British cycling journalist and author, with nine books on cycling, ranging from biography through fitness and training to bike repair. His Complete Bike Book has been translated into twenty-four languages, and his Bike Repair Manual is about to reach its fifth edition. Tour Climbs and Race for Madmen were best sellers in their genre. His ‘The Official Tour de France Records’ has the backing of Le Tour Itself. Most recently he has published The Long Race for Glory: How the British Came to Rule the Cycling World… the next book to be reviewed on Cycling Shorts. Chris’s words and photographs have graced the pages of Britain’s best-selling cycling magazine Cycling Weekly (indeed he seems to appear in every issue,) and in all issues of Cycle Sport and Cycling Active, along with Cycling Fitness. He has also been published in Men’s Fitness, Cycling Plus, GQ, Running Fitness and the Sunday Times. Phew!
Eurobike 2013 – Press & Industry Demo Day
Tuesday 27th August 2013 – 10.30 AM
The risks and sacrifices one makes for you, good readers of CyclingShorts. With aching joints, running nose and hacking cough – after a night of synchronised-snoring in a double bed with my esteemed PezCyclingNews colleague (our hosts, nice folk all, were confused as to the meaning of ‘friend’ when booking!) Somewhat optimistically I packed my cycling kit and drove to the demo day location. The decision was made to wander, get my bearings and a general feel of the place. Ten minutes later, looking like a giant pumpkin, I was, er, resplendent in X-Bionic bibshorts and jersey – biomimetic sports clothing no less, and more, much more, about them later – and about to leap aboard my first bike. Tern folding bikes captured my interest as the MD was great company and seemed to genuinely love his product and all things bike… just like us.
Mark Bickerton, MD Tern Folding Bikes with his top of the range Tern Verge X20. SRAM 20 speed. 8.6 kg. ©NickDey/CyclingShorts.cc
My chosen question of the Eurobike 2013, ‘Why should I buy …. Insert specific product?’ was met with a smile and good cheer by Mark Bickerton – whose father invented a folding bike about 45 years ago.
Mark told me a delightful story of riding his father’s prototype at the age of eight. He’s now in his fifties and has been around folding bikes for pretty much his entire life – a true devote of the genre.
Anyway, back to my question. Mark’s response of ‘A Tern fulfils all requirements, allowing you to use it in places where a full size is not possible” seemed fair but also hinted at the demonic hand of the marketing exec’! Mark then offered a mid-conversation quote that, coupled with the benefit of post-test ride hindsight, is spot on. I asked, with charming twinkle in my eye, why a Tern and not a Brompton?
“Brompton’s are good for storage, Tern’s are great for riding.”
Folding: The Tern folds quickly, in my hands quicker than the Brompton, but not as a compact. It does seem though to be small enough to hop on and off public transport though and it will sit unobtrusively in your office or home when not in use.
TEST RIDES: I tested two of their models as I wanted to try and get a relative feel for the difference over a price and specification range. My first ride was to be a low price Tern Link D17 (D for deluxe) with 16 gears and a mass of approximately 12 kg. It is coming to the UK soon and will be retailing for around £600.
The D17 proved very manoeuvrable and confidently stable as I stuttered my way through the crowds. The Link D17 traversed the short, steep cobbled ramp smoothly. On the road I found the stem to flex a little but not so much as to cause me any worry. I took it up to speed, both on and off road and found myself smiling… yes me… on a folder… smiling!
I wanted more…
The next bike. Tern’s top of the range Verge X20 (X for extreme) will not be available in the UK for a few months, possibly not until the New Year. It comes equipped with SRAM 20 speed as standard and with a mass of approximately 8.5 kg is incredibly light and comfortable to carry when folded or not…
Tern Verge X20. Price tbc. ©Nick Dey (also the, ahem, model!) / CyclingShorts.cc
The VergeX20 is fast, very fast. Smooth, balanced and stops on a sixpence. I loved it. No flex, no judder, just confidence and the largest smile of the day.
Should you be on the lookout for a folding bike – and who these days isn’t – then Tern will almost definitely have a model for you.
August 27-31, Friedrichshafen, Germany.