Cambridge CC ’10’ 30/4/16

This event was on the F2D/10, and had a full field, with 17 women and two mixed tandems. The women all started as a block near the start of the event. NBRC had three riders on the startsheet: David Price and Debbie Vanner had also entered, though David DNS’d due to a bad cold. I went over with Katja, who was to start some 77 minutes before me.

It was a bit breezy with a stiff breeze that made the outbound leg much quicker than the return. To add insult to injury, the middle of the field were caught in a nasty rain squall with significantly tougher wind. I could barely steer the bike while warming up. Fortunately the A428 has decently high embankments either side which offer some shelter. I had a clear run through, particularly at the turn, which is really quite good – you can see it on the Garmin trace. The only traffic issues were right after the start – you head west on the old A428 and turn sharp left at the roundabout to go down the sliproad to the A428. There was a learner driver being quite cautious, with a lorry and another car behind them. I don’t suppose it caused too much delay, but it always feels like it does. And no doubt the learner driver was being a bit anxious about all the TT bikes wobbling around. Continue reading

Stony ‘11.4’ 13/4/16

After the unpleasant conditions for last week’s time trial on the Astwood course, and the ensuing white knuckle ride home, I was a little apprehensive about this evening’s event. It’s a bit of a hike to ride out to Stony from work and then back home, and the forecast showers didn’t enthuse me. In the end, it was a delightful warm spring evening, sunny and with only a light breeze.

The out bound leg was pretty good, marred by my usual selection of too high a gear in the climb to Nash – when will I ever learn? This was despite my change from 57/46 rings to 53/39! I spotted Claire Stanton taking photos on the course (they are here).  Once round the turn, I had a pretty clear run back. Unfortunately, I did get a bit held up by an excessively cautious 4×4 driver (such things do exist, it would seem) who was driving along behind Nathan. This was a bit annoying, as I was at that point gaining on Andy, who’d managed to get past Nathan.

Anyway that soon resolved itself after the driver plucked up the courage to pass Nathan. I finished in 27:31 for fourth place, and in 1st place on veteran standard. Full results at the NBRC website.

Bedfordshire Road CC ’25’ 10/4/16

This event was my first solo ’25’ of 2016, and was run on the F1B/25. I was anxiously looking at the weather forecast, but I was caught out by the hard frost on the morning!

The North Bucks had four riders in this event, including new member Debbie. I travelled over to Tempsford with David, who took this photo showing the frost on the grass:

Frost at Tempsford
Frost at Tempsford

So my warmup consisted mostly of trying not to get too cold! Nevertheless, my full finger gloves weren’t sufficient to prevent my fingers from feeling severely cold by the time I reached the start lines. Fortunately, within a mile or so I was quite warm! As usual, the outbound leg of the F1B/25 was quite hard, even though there was only the slightest of head winds. I got through all the roundabouts without holdups and reached the turn in a little under 30 minutes.

Davey Jones was at the slip road back up to the A1 taking pictures. The return leg was very much quicker, though I did get stopped at the penultimate roundabout. I finished in 57:32 (9th place). Andy  and David recorded 59:30 and 1:0:13 respectively, while Debbie won the ladies competition with 1:08:42.

Astwood ’10’ 6/4/16

Rather a pleasant if somewhat blustery evening for the ride up to the Bike Bus for our first evening event of 2016. It was fully subscribed at 20 riders. Unfortunately, the wind continued to strengthen, so those of us with trispokes and very deep rimmed front wheels found the first half of the race rather difficult. I didn’t really use the aero bars until after Chicheley.

Once through Chicheley, my speed went up considerably, but not enough to avoid being caught for 2 minutes at the halfway point by eventual winner Graham Knight (Equipe Velo). I finished in 25:34 for 7th place (1st on vets standard)

If conditions for the race were bad, I was rather shocked by the white knuckle ride home in the dark as strengthening winds and lashing rain threatened to throw me off the road. Horrid.

Full results at the NBRC website. There’s a gallery of photos taken by Claire Stanton.

Icknield RC 30k sporting course TT 3/4/16

This event has seen a variety of courses over the years I’ve been riding it, and this year was no exception. Faced with a succession of roadworks, the organiser worked hard to keep the event running, to the extent that we received details of three course modifications in the days leading up to the event. It’s to the organiser’s particular credit that not only did the event go ahead, but the replacement course was excellent, and very well marshalled.

I’d ridden out to the event, so was quite cold and shivering by the time I lined up at the start, but by the time I’d passed through Cheddington I was nicely warm. I stayed in the big ring through the climb to Mentmore and back down the other side (pretty poor road surface on the descent) and through Mentmore crossroads, where I barely had to slow, such was the marshalling there. Then it was on up the long drag to Wing before turning left on the Aylesbury road to Wingrave crossroads. From there it was up into Wingrave, then a long fast descent dodging road imperfections and shooting through the Mentmore crossroads before turning sharp right after Ledburn.

The course then rose, gently at first then with a sharp steep section to Mentmore once again (I was thankful of the 39T ring at this point). From Mentmore we descended to the finish just a bit short of Cheddington crossroads.

I finished with 34:24 on a course that measured 13.78 miles on my Garmin. Until I see the full results, I’m not sure of my placing, or indeed who the eventual winner was.

SRAM eTap Aero

I’ve been something of a retro-Luddite when it comes to gear-shifting technology. Party this is because I had several 9 speed race wheels, and I wanted to maintain interchangeability between bikes, and (I am embarrassed to admit) I found it difficult to figure out which parts I’d need to buy to set up a TT bike with Shimano Di2.
Enter SRAM’s new electronic gear system, eTap. For road bikes, this is a pretty straightforward system. Each brake lever has one gear change switch, and it operates the derailleurs wirelessly. Satellite shifting switches (the ‘’blips”) allow shifting from the top of the bars or clip-on aero bars. The right hand control shifts the rear mech up, the left control down. Pressing both controls at the same time changes the front mech either down or up, depending on which position the mech is currently in.

This spring, SRAM released the eTap Aero, intended for use on TT and triathlon bikes. I decided it was time to (a) get modern, and (b) get 11 speed. So I set my Wiggle profile to email me when the eTap aero was available. Ages later, I got an email saying it was in stock. I popped over to the Wiggle website to find four sets were available. I ordered one, along with an 11-speed Dura-Ace cassette and an 11-speed SRAM chain. Continue reading

NBRC Hardriders ’20’ 27/3/16

A cold and blustery morning greeted the riders who showed up for the annual NBRC Hardriders club event. There was an interesting mix of road bikes and TT bikes, possibly reflecting the confidence (or not) in muscling a TT bike up the Bow Brickhill climb not once, but twice. Some, myself included, felt the advantages elsewhere on the course merited a potentially slower ride up the hill on a TT bike.

As it happened I found the second trip up the hill a bit easier than the first – though I had to get off at the bottom to make the chain seat properly on the small chainring (I think due to operator error). At the steepest part of the climb, Richard Wood came scooting past, with David Price not far behind.

Just been caught!
Just been caught! I think this picture conveys something of the gradient. Photo – Nathan Gallavan

The wind wasn’t too bad, though there were some quite alarming high speed twitches of my front trispoke. Notably, the fast section just before Woburn was a bit iffy – I thought I was going to take off.

This isn’t a course I’m keen on – dubious road surfaces, other road users and horses. I was caught for three minutes by number 12 in Woburn Sands, and he executed an impressive pavement manoeuvre to avoid a car that backed out across the road!

At least the rain held off until just before I got home.

Full results at the NBRC website.

Stoke Hammond ’10’ 19/3/16

I rode out to this event knowing full well that I was flouting two rules of time trialling, enshrined in Team Grumpy’ short rule book:

#2 – Don’t tinker with your bike the evening before the event. It will break, either then or, worse still, during the event.


#5 – Never train or race with a bad cough – it will destroy your entire season.

Flouting Rule #2 was down to the fact I took delivery of a SRAM eTap aero set on Tuesday, and I’d spent several evenings fitting the kit, but had no opportunity to road test it before this morning’s time trial. I’ll probably review the eTap system in another post, but I can say that fitting is really easy (biggest hassle was feeding the blip switch wire through the base bar on my bike), and that the single switch controls are not only intuitive but work well. As as for rule #5 – I had been suffering a not particularly bad cold all week.

Anyway, after a minor hitch when my Garmin Edge 520 refused to turn on, and I found out I couldn’t quite remember how to use the hastily attached Edge 500! Anyway, I rode over to Stoke Hammond, running the chain up and down the cassette and checking the front mech worked OK. The shifts were very accurate and smooth, though I do miss the distinct click from the 9-speed Dura-Ace set that preceded it.

Weather for the race wasn’t particularly bad, but it was a bit cold and clammy, with on-off drizzle throughout. I regretted not bringing full finger gloves. There was a bit of a breeze that made the going a bit heavy to the first roundabout, but it didn’t really trouble me again until I came to turn off the dual carriageway at about 8 miles. In the end, I finished in first place with 24:09, which I was quite pleased with – this was also good enough for 1st Veteran on standard, and second place handicap. Full results over at the NBRC website.

Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up ’25’ 13/3/16

I went down to South Wales for the weekend and to reunite with long-time 2-up partner Gerry Oram (Bynea CC, and ex-NBRC) as usual at this time of year, to ride the Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up 25. The R25/24 course is based at Resolven, with the first half heading down a dual carriageway down the Neath valley before returning for a second trip down the valley and back on a hilly back road. It’s quite a challenging course.

The weather this year was quite pleasant, sunny but with a stiff breeze that made the return leg on the dual carriageway quite hard. We rode pretty well, with slick changeovers, and neither under any real difficulty in matching the other’s pace. The second half featured some pretty poor road surfaces, which always offers uncomfortable bumps for the second rider! We finished in 11th place with 1:1:14 – enough to earn us 2nd composite team (the 1st placed composite team actually recorded the fastest time on the day, 55:14).

Astwood ’10’ 5/3/16

After several months confined to the garage on the turbo trainer, I was raring to ride the first club event in the 2016 series. It had been designated a ‘Come and Try It’ event, and I’d spread the word around local cycling groups, and we’d planned to use the BikeBus cafe as an HQ. As it turned out, things didn’t go according to plan!

I was all ready to ride up to Astwood when the snow came on with a vengeance – big fluffy snowflakes falling on to a heavy frost. A quick telephone conference with Tony and it seemed likely we’d call the event off. Certainly, I wasn’t keen to ride up to the course in those conditions, but I did feel as club chairman that I ought to be there for those riders who did show up.

As it turned out, the event went ahead though it was a bit cold and wet and there were only three riders. Tony, Bryan and Dave dealt with the start, while Katja and I went out to marshal a couple of the turns. It was certainly cold and exposed out there on the roadside.

Back home, it was another back to back turbo session. Next week sees the annual Team Grumpy reunion for the Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up ’25’, so I’ll be giving the next club event a miss.

Results (over at the NBRC website)