Astwood ’10’ 6/5/15 (Abandoned)

The club had agonised about whether to run this event – 24h beforehand, it was clear that we were heading for some pretty windy conditions, with gusts up to 50mph (and of course the Astwood circuit is pretty much on a hill!). We finally took the decision not to cancel, as the BBC forecast suggested the gales would subside to a mere 24mph by 7pm.

So I rode to work on my P5 as usual on race day. Unfortunately when I can to leave work for the race, I found it so windy that riding a P5 with a front trispoke was alarming at best and downright dangerous at worst! I got a lift home and switched to the P3 with a rear trispoke and a regular road wheel in the front. Unfortunately, this left me only 25 minutes to dash to the start. What the hell, I thought, I’ll go for it! Sadly, the railway crossing barriers were down and I got stuck for several minutes there. It was clearly very gusty as I pressed on. I had a tail wind up the hill to Cranfield and onward to the start point of the race, so I made pretty good time. I arrived a few minutes after 7pm (well warmed up), to find several riders plus timekeepers milling about deciding whether to abandon. By this time, the wind had really whistled in, bearing a nasty shower. A few riders ventured off down the course to evaluate the situation, and an in the end the wise decision was taken to abandon and we retired to the Bikebus cafe for a coffee before returning home.

It did seem as though conditions were better while we were in the cafe, but frankly I think that was an illusion – it was still pretty awful as I rode home, and I had a couple of very alarming gusts.

VTTA ’10’ 4/5/15

This was only my second ride on this fast 10 mile course (F11/10), based on the A41 Tring bypass. It’s a fast course because of the significant hill riders descend, but don’t have to race back up. The last time I rode the course, I got held up by a line of cars at the first turn, which sort of reduced the race to a training ride!

I went out to this event with Katja, who’s been seeing some good performances lately, and who was off about 15 minutes after me. As per usual, I felt a distinct lack of enthusiasm as we drove out to the event and as warmed up. Also as per usual for me, the enthusiasm suddenly surfaced as I was just about to start! Continue reading

Brogborough ’10’ 29/4/15

This was the first time the Brogborough ’10’ course had been used for an NBRC club event. The course was first used a few years ago when the new link road to the Bedford bypass was opened, thereby rendering the old A421 quite quiet. It features a gift start hill that doesn’t need to to raced back up. On the other hand, the road can be quite exposed, and the surface leaves a bit to be desired in places. The Marston Moretaine roundabout needs a bit of care on the outbound leg, because the exit lane doesn’t seem in line with the entry lane!

On the evening, the weather was fairly breezy – what wind there was provided a bit of side and a bit of tail wind going out – though there was enough crosswind to make things a bit twitchy at times. Continue reading

Stony ’10’ 22/4/15

I usually find the events on the club’s Stony Stratford course not to my liking – the course runs out via Beachampton and Nash to turn at a roundabout on the A421. The outward leg therefore has a fair bit of climbing and usually acquires a new set of potholes over each winter. In the event of roadworks or other interference in the course, we revert to a back-up course. In the backup course, riders bear left soon after the start and proceed via Calverton and Whaddon, to turn at the A421 (at a roundabout just along the road from the normal turn). The course retraces and finishes short of a give way junction. This is closer to 10 miles than the usual Stony course. Continue reading

Astwood ’10’ 15/4/15

Having ignored Team Grumpy Rule #2 (Don’t tinker with your bike the evening before the event. It will break, either then or, worse still, during the event) before Sunday’s ’25’, and having paid the price in mechanical up-cocks in the opening few metres of that event it seemed entirely reasonable, I suppose, to similarly disregard Team Grumpy Rule #5 (Never train or race with a bad cough – it will destroy your entire season) and to turn out for this club event on the Astwood sporting course. Continue reading

Bedfordshire Road CC ’25’ 12/4/15

This event was on the F1B/25, the southbound course starting and finishing near Tempsford (the only F1 course remaining now the Black Cat roundabout has been “improved”. The forecast was really not encouraging: cold and breezy – at least it was a (sort of) tail wind from the south. I had chosen to ride the P5 with the Hed wheels (with a Powertap rear hub) that I used for Wednesday’s club event. In fact, I disobeyed Team Grumpy Rule #2, by tinkering with the bike on the day before, fitting normal brake blocks instead of the carbon-specific cork blocks. Continue reading

Stoke Hammond ’10’ 8/4/15

This was the first of our evening events in the calendar, and was on the revised Stoke Hammond ’10’ course, which moves the start away from the Kelly’s Kitchen roundabout. It’s potentially quite a quick course, I think, though the short stretch on the outward leg between the penultimate roundabout and the turn roundabout can be a bit challenging, as it’s uphill. Continue reading

Team Salesengine ’10’ 4/4/15

This event was my first open solo event of 2015, and was an afternoon ’10’ held on the F2D/10, a course based on the A428, turning at the junction with the Madingley Road into Cambridge. The weather was pretty cold, with a bit of a stiff crosswind that may have provided a bit of assistance (but not much) on the outward leg. The event also revealed a bit of an issue with the Kask aero hat! Continue reading

Mini HiFi

I have posted before now about the excellent Squeezebox streaming audio system from Logitech that is sadly now discontinued. Since Logitech knocked their line of Squeezebox players on the head, the system seems to continue flourishing, thanks to the open source nature of the server software. Most recently, the BBC decided to implement a very poorly publicised change to the internet streams of live and listen again radio programmes (see, for example, this blog post).  Within days users of the Logitech Server had access to these streams restored, thanks to the efforts of developers who post on the forums. In contrast, users of just about every internet radio on the market and other streaming systems such as Sonos have to make do with pretty low resolution mp3 streams (and these are not a long term solution).

At the moment, I am running a Squeezebox Touch and two Squeezebox Radios in my network, with an old Squeezebox 3 held in reserve. I also have three Raspberry Pi computers set up with piCorePlayer as Squeezebox players, and can stream via several apps on iPads and Android devices. So, all in all, a very versatile system, that Logitech should be ashamed of failing to support properly. Anyway, enough grumbling. Here’s a neat little mini HiFi I’ve just set up – ultimately for use in my office.

A new, and very tiny, Squeezebox based HiFi
A new, and very tiny, Squeezebox based HiFi

This uses a Raspberry Pi model B, fitted with a HiFiBerry Dac, connected to an Amptastic Mini-1 amplifier. The Mini-1  is seriously tiny, with a footprint smaller than a CD jewel case. I’ve just added a pair of QAcoustics bookshelf speakers. The whole shebang sounds pretty good for the price of around £300. In the office, I may well be using an old 1st gen iPad to stream music either from Spotify or via a VPN link from my home music server, rather than the Raspberry Pi.

Hardriders ’20’ 29/3/15

It was clear several days beforehand that the Hardriders 20 mile time trial was going to be ridden in seriously tough conditions. And so it proved. On a hastily relocated course (due to roadworks on the original course) involving two laps of the Astwood circuit, seven hardy souls faced rain (heavy at times) and wind (blustery and increasing in force).

I rolled up already damp (but not too cold) to what seems to be the new HQ for our Astwood circuit events, the Bikebus cafe, to find several windblown and damp riders huddling for shelter. After the usual chat about how wet it was, the seven riders got themselves sorted out. I ended up as #7, and with no others deciding to brave the elements was the last starter.

All too soon, my minute man was off. I took off my jacket, gritted my teeth and listened to the countdown. Then I was off.

It always surprises me how quickly one can shrug off adverse conditions. One minute you’re at the start line just getting wetter and wetter, the next you’re off…and pretty soon you’re not actually too cold. Anyway, this was two laps of the Astwood circuit, and soon I was hurtling down the descent before the Astwood climb. I could see my minute man up ahead of me on the climb. But I couldn’t really give it full effort due to the blustery wind, which tended to buffet me rather too much. I got up to Astwood having taken the climb reasonably conservatively. Out onto the main road with no holdups (unlike last week), and I tried to get into a better rhythm.

The wind was building a bit, but wasn’t too much trouble with the trispoke. I passed my minute man just before Chicheley. The blustery conditions didn’t seem to offer much wind assistance at all, sadly, but did cause some hairy twitches to the steering as I rode past gaps in the hedgerows. As it turned out, I reached the finish line to complete the first lap in about 24:43, a bit quicker than the single lap event the previous weekend – I was oblivious to this, since I couldn’t read the bike computer! As I rode past the Bikebus, I heard a nice cheer from Bryan and some others, which gee’d me up a bit.

The second lap was pretty much the same story as the first – though the wind seemed to have got a bit stronger an the rain stopped halfway through the lap. I finished in 50:14. Despite having passed several riders, I was surprised to find I’d won the event – by 2 seconds from Richard Golding. I repaired to the cafe for a hot cross bun and a double espresso. And some fun banter about “secret training” and comments that I ride a big gear. Usual stuff.

The ride home was pretty grim. I wasn’t feeling cold, despite being quite wet from all the rain in the ride up to the event, and the event itself. But the wind had seriously strengthened, and I was having trouble keeping the bike on the road. All in all, though, this was a pretty good start to the club event series – I think maybe my form is falling back into place after February’s nasty cold – my placings have steadily improved through the three club events I’ve ridden so far.

Pos No Name Club Lap 1 Time Lap 2 Time Cat Vets Std .+/- Vets Std
1 7 Robert Saunders NBRC 24.43 50.14 V55 54.57 .+ 4 43 1
2 3 Richard Golding Equipe Velo/NBRC 25.03 50.16 V46 53.30 .+ 3.14 2
3 1 Lindz Barral Equipe Velo 25.32 51.35 S
4 5 Alex Hornshaw TeamMK 26.21 53.21 V47 53.39 .+ 0.18 3
5 6 Mike Smith Corley Cycles 26.38 53.58 Sen
6 4 Graham Line NBRC 28.29 58.38 V50 54.07 .- 4.31 4
7 2 Darren Haydon NBRC 29.38 60.12 V44 53.11 .- 7.01 5

Time keepers:- Stepanie Cousins & Tony Farmborough (NBRC)

Pusher-off:- Bryan Scarborough (NBRC)