Back in July, British Cycling announced their initiative to inspire one million more women to get on their bikes. The Rider Development Sessions for Women and Girls from Go-Ride, aim to build confidence and teach new cycling techniques in a relaxed and informal setting, in closed road venues. Sessions include track, CX, BMX, and road. And over the past 2 weekends I’ve had the opportunity to attend 2 of them….
Last Sunday, the weather a little stormy, I headed over to Burgess Park BMX Track in London, with 10 other fearless ladies for an afternoon of BMXing. As a teen, I had no interest in my brother’s BMX bike, but it seems I wasn’t the only one who’d found a new want to try something different. And different it was!
The session, aimed at women familiar to cycling (most of us road and track cyclists), started with an introduction to ‘what’ a BMX bike is, the difference in handling to our typical 700c bikes and an hour of getting used to being on our toes and using our bodies to control these small rental bikes. Even before we’d put on the smelly helmets, we were all itching to get on the pump-track; and it wasn’t long before we were let loose on sections, slowly building our confidence, speed and pumping action to complete full runs of the track, including use of the start gate and mini races of 3 riders towards the end. We went from being complete novices to race-ready in 2 hours. Not bad going I say!
Today, 50 lady cyclists of different ages and abilities gathered for the first of 4, 4-hour road specific development sessions in the South region. Rather different to an introduction to something completely new, today’s session was with the aim of growing bike handling skills for road cyclists and the main goal of racing; with a Go-Ride race in the final session in December.
Riding round a rather soggy and windy track at Kempton Park, we progressed from group riding, chain-ganging, speedy cornering to finishing with an elimination race, or survival of those with speed and good bike handling skills! (Yes, you read that right. And you’re guessing right too – a questionable decision for road racing with a group of ladies only just getting used to the idea of being bumped and squeezed in a group!). It was great to see so many eager ladies keen to learn and determined not to let the weather ruin it. For me, it wasn’t as fun or exciting as giving something new a go (cycling around a 1 mile course 40 times gets a little tiring), but with intention of racing next season, I hope to build on some skills and if anything, check out what I’m up against.
Having spent the past 2 weekends at two very different events, I can highly recommend giving it a go – whether it’s something completely new, or something you wish to build on. Well done British Cycling for investing the time and money – I’ll be sure to renew my membership next year.
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!
Last month, London Mayor Boris Johnson announced what could be very ambitious changes to London’s cycle infrastructure, pledging nearly £1 billion worth of funding to the scheme.
His plans which includes a Crossrail style cycle route that would run at least 15 miles from West London to East London; a ‘tube network’ for the bike in which cycle lanes would run parallel to tube lines, quiet back streets and dangerous junctions would be improved.
Ambitious as they are, the new plans have been criticized on various points. One issue that has been highlighted in the press is the controversy surrounding painting a proposed cycle lane blue on the Victoria Embankment, which some feel will upset the areas ‘heritage’ feel. Another is that, as Transport for London (TFL) only owns 5% of the London roads, the viability of most of the plans will come down to whether the relevant Boroughs approve them or not.
As a cyclist myself, I congratulate Boris on scaling up his transport ambitions and recognising the benefits of making London a cycle friendly city; if just some of his plans go through, they will be a great victory for cycling in London. The plans however face many obstacles…
I feel that the main stumbling block that is holding people back from hopping on their bikes in the same numbers as our European peers, is the issue of safety on our streets. The threat you face when jumping on your bike for a London commute is immense; it is a chaotic city to fare in whether you’re a cyclist or a motorist, with dangerous conditions caused by poorly constructed, out of date infrastructure and numerous dangerous junctions. Both motorists and cyclists take daily risks, frustrated by each others behaviour. ‘Backwards’ town planning bears the main responsibility for this; it will be really positive to see some forward thinking road planning take place.
Pressure on our roads
Another major issue is the lack of respect that all commuters show for the rules of vehicle ‘cohabitation’ on our busy streets. I agree that it is a major problem that cyclists are forever jumping red lights, but cars, vans and busses do the same thing. Badly sequenced traffic lights, a shortage of road space and the sheer pressure of the number of different vehicles on our roads creates a very tense commuting environment. Creating more and wider segregated cycling paths, separated out from the rest of the traffic by paving or other divisions, is key to tackling this issue. I am absolutely convinced that cycling in the capital would noticeably increase in line with more segregated cycling paths; people would feel safer.
Unequal playing field
A third essential consideration, which which Boris Johnson has not even mentioned, is that in the battle of vehicle hierarchy on London’s roads, cyclists are invariably the lowest common denominator; the opposite to the situation in Amsterdam and Copenhagen where cyclists rights are actually considered higher than those of motorists. In London, if a motorist drives in, parks in or in any other way obstructs a cycle lane causing cyclists to have to take evasive action, the car driver would hardly ever be penalised for their behaviour; the majority of London cycle lanes are near on invisible to most other traffic, they might as well not be there. If a car goes anywhere near a bus lane however, heavy fines generally ensue. Surely the same rules should apply everywhere?
Ultimately, if you park in a dangerous place, obstructing the safe passage of other vehicles, you should be penalised; if you jump a red light, you should be penalised regardless of your chosen mode of transport; if you senselessly run onto roads as a pedestrian, you must be penalised. Over time, heavy and consistent fines for rule breaking would without a doubt improve road safety and ease congestion, for everyone.
More accessible high streets
My final plea to the Mayor, is to pedestrianise more high streets in the city and increase 20mph driving zones. Pedestrianised urban shopping areas are common place on the Continent, however have yet to become prevalent in the UK, possibly due to our challenging urban infrastructures. But in this age of debate about the need to re-invent our high streets, perhaps creating a network of car free pedestrianised and cycle zones could be part of the solution to creating more dynamic and accessible shopping areas. There are already several examples of successful semi-pedestrianised areas in the city, one example is Exmouth Market in Farringdon; this vibrant pedestrianised street boasts cafes, restaurants and small independent shops, which during lunch times turns into a mini food market, enjoyed by people of all ages. There is plenty of scope for more such areas in this large city.
My final point is that motorists are not the enemy in this debate, I simply wish to stress the point that could see considerable economic benefits to making our streets more cycle friendly if we do things properly.
How far will Mr Johnson go
Boris Johnson says that we need to reduce congestion in London by getting more people out of their cars and onto their bikes. For this to happen, there needs to be a reason for people to do take that step; a mass investment in the cycling infrastructure would certainly help, but we also need to develop a system whereby it becomes uneconomical, impractical and inefficient to actually use a car. A very radical thought for many. It remains to be seen exactly how far Mr Johnson is willing to take his vision for Londoners.
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Can you ever have too many bikes?
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.
Kinesis Crosslight Evo4 Cyclocross Frame 2010spend on the frame.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
so in for a penny in for a few quid!
Step 2 Brakes
The frameset was set up for cantilevers only but which set to get? Shimano CX50’s, Avid Shorty, Tektro V brakes, Empella Froglegs or Tektro CR 520?
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.
Kinesis Pure CX Cyclocross Fork
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.
Robust construction and a smart design combine to allow for a more comfortable and ergonomic viewing line when riding your racing bike.
Two bolts secure the unit to the bars, adjacent to the stem. A single bolt clamps the adjustable head mount to the unit. All leading to a very secure and well positioned fit.
The simple, and very solid, twist-&-lock mechanism secures the Garmin 800 to the mount.
The positioning in front of the stem allows for a more accessible reading, especially when on the drops and hoods.
Highly recommended. It’s a bit pricey but it’s the most secure mount for your not so cheap Garmin Edge so worth the investment.
You don’t get vibration because it’s not plastic like other mounts, nor is it likely to break, it has a lifetime warranty. What’s not to like? Well some may be unhappy with the price at double the price of models like the Barfly, but I feel it’s more robust. The K-Edge model clamps rigidly around a 31.8mm diameter handlebar with two bolts (unlike other brands), and the length-adjustable arm is solid and flex free. It weighs in at 31g which is about 10g more than the plastic mounts but I feel this design is more streamlined, compact and robust than Garmin’s own mount and the BarFly.
Cycling Shorts Rating: I’d give the mount 96% as its so much better than the one supplied.
Compatible With: Edge: 200, 500, 510, 800 & 810
•Fully adjustable for the different size units
•No plastic parts
•Fits 31.8mm handlebars
•Long-lasting protective anodised two-tone fade finish
•K-Edge products are proudly CNC machined in the USA and have a lifetime warranty: you break it, K-Edge replace it!
•Ensures the security of your Garmin computer with three locking points
•For MTB & Road
•RRP £39.99 (Available from Amazon at a discount)
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.
Dani King- Current Olympic & World Champ!
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.
Scottish Cycling and the Scottish Downhill Association (SDA) are delighted to announce that online entries have now opened for all the 2013 race series.
The season offers great downhill racing on demanding and technical SDA courses, from the south at Ae Forest, Innerleithen in the Borders, Killin and Dunkeld in the Perthshire Hills, via the Rannoch Moor and Glencoe to the World Cup course at Fort William.
Each round offers nine categories of racing to accommodate all ages and abilities and as with all SDA events a friendly and welcoming helping hand from the experienced to the new starts coming to their first race and venue.
Race entries are live and riders can enter by clicking here.
There are also special online pre-entry rates offering a discount on the on-the-day prices.
The dates & venues for the 2013 series are:
Series 1: 20/21st April, Innerleithen
Series 2: 18/19th May, Glencoe
Series 3: 22.23rd June, Killin
Scottish Championships: 13/14th July, Dunkeld
Series 4: 10/11th August, Ae Forest
Series 5: 7/8th September, Fort William
You can also keep up to date and in contact via twitter: @SDA races or Facebook just search “Scottish Downhill Association”