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)

New Year’s Day ’10’ Stoke Hammond

After a remarkably warm (and wet) December during which I don’t think we had a single frost, there was quite a heavy frost visible on roofs and cars when I got up in the morning. This was a bit of a concern since it had rained quite heavily in the evening before. Indeed, there were quite a few ice patches on my street when I investigated when the sun got up.

Fortunately, everything had thawed by the time I set out to ride over to Stoke Hammond for the first time trial in 2016. That’s not to say it was particularly warm: far from it!

We had an excellent turnout of 24 riders plus a variety of spectators and helpers. My legs had felt pretty weak on the ride out, so I wasn’t particularly optimistic. On the bright side, it didn’t seem to be terribly windy as we waited in the start area (though actually I think that was largely due to shelter.

All too soon I was lined up and waiting for my start. I had the very fast James Fox behind me, and fully expected to be caught at some point in the race. Having said that, I found the entire outward leg a struggle. I seemed to be racing through treacle and I found it difficult to stay on the tribars. Maybe I should use tribars  a bit more while turbo training! James caught and passed me pretty quickly, but after I reached the turn, things improved – I suspect there was now a modest tailwind coupled with a downhill section.

I roared out from the turn and across the next roundabout without having to stop for traffic. My speed didn’t falter until the short rise up to the next roundabout, where again I didn’t have any traffic issues as I turned right and accelerated down the hill. Upon reaching the final roundabout (another right had turn, and the last before the finish) I was more than a little horrified to see a very large puddle hugging the centre of the roundabout and spanning the lane I was in! I braked to a responsible speed and took the roundabout wide, leaving just the last section to the finish line to struggle through from a slower speed than I’d intended.

I finished in 24:43, not a time I was hoping for, but at least I picked up some speed on the fast return leg. The event was won by Marcus Burnett (Ingear RT), with James fox (Luton CC) taking 1st Veteran. I came in 4th, as first NBRC rider. Full results at the NBRC website.


Duo Normand 2015


So, the usual features of Team Grumpy’s preparation for the Duo Normand are generally not conducive to a good performance! This year was no different.

My bike had some real issues with its gear indexing. This was noted in training over in Normandy a month before the Duo, and also back in Blighty. I was optimistic that when he re-jigged the tri-bar extension before the Duo, this might have been rectified – but… Team Grumpy Rule #2 may well be violated again this year!

Then, shortly before leaving for France, Gerry reckoned he’d lost his racing licence.

Or maybe he used it as a bookmark. In Nicole Cooke’s biography.

Anyway, a replacement was ordered via British Cycling, but with a few days to go, it was still somewhere with the privatised Royal Mail.

But then! Moment of genius! Examination of wallet revealed it was there all along! Panics averted! Continue reading

iPod Nano repair

nano6A few years ago, I obtained a 6th Generation iPod Nano by virtue of a product recall (the 1st Gen nano had a battery problem). I’ve used the replacement iPod far more than the 1st Gen version, so I was a bit dismayed when the power button stopped working a month or so ago.

Repair via Apple didn’t seem terribly worthwhile, so I investigated whether it might be possible to sort this out myself. When the 6th Gen iPod Nano was released, iFixit wrote a teardown guide – there’s an astonishing amount of stuff crammed into a tiny case! I found a blog with a description of how to fix the power switch problem, which seems to be relatively common. After a bit of procrastination, I set about attempting the repair.

It’s not quite clear what the malfunction really is – there’s a surface mounted switch (it’s the gold coloured circle mentioned in step 7 of the repair instructions), and I guess that something wears out or gets dislodged making it inoperative.

I didn’t really have the specialised tools needed – I used the plastic lid of a Bic biro pen as a spudger/lever, the tweezers from a Swiss army knife, and the small blade of the knife as a screwdriver. To get in, I used a hairdryer to melt the glue and the knife to lever up the screen. I avoided disconnecting the screen or detaching it completely, and once I had the battery loose, I used a rubber band to hold it to the screen. I noted that of the four screws you remove for the repair, there are three different sizes (all tiny!) – I took a quick photo and labelled it so I knew where they go. I fashioned a small square of plastic to glue to the gold switch with contact adhesive.

Too much of the original glue was lost, so I reattached the screen with a contact adhesive using a bulldog clip to hold the screen down while the glue set. The result was a bit messy, and I doubt the unit is waterproof any more. But hey, once I had reassembled the iPod, the switch was working again. Who knows how long for…

Brogborough ’10’ 12/9/15

This event had been scheduled for the Stagsden course, but we moved it as we felt the roundabout turn on that course might be a bit busy on a Saturday morning. I chose to ride the Cervelo P3 with the kit I’ll use on the Duo Normand in a fortnight’s time: Hed 3 front and rear, with Powertap P1 pedals.

Once again, we had windy and wet conditions for this event. It was a kind of tail wind to the turn, with a bit of side in it. The descent from the start was pretty good, not really as twitchy as it could be. I held a decent speed for a bit, but took the intermediate roundabout at Marston Moretaine easy – it’s a peculiar one, plus I noted a diesel spill which gave me some concern. During the outbound leg, I was in a kind of a bubble – the tail wind plus the aero hat had me riding in near silence!

More diesel spill at the turn, but I always take that cautiously. The return leg was pretty tough in places, but at least it wasn’t difficult to steer! I finished with 22:47, which was a little disappointing, but good enough for 4th place.

Results at the NBRC website.

Stoke Hammond ’10’ 5/9/15

Freshly returned from my holiday jaunt to Normandy, I was somewhat dismayed so see the heavy rain that greeted me as I rode over to the Stoke Hammond course. It did stop by the time we raced, but by then I was really quite cold. Indeed it took me until I got onto the dual carriageway before my legs felt like they were limbering up.

As I was off number 1 of 5 riders, I didn’t have a rider to chase. As I rounded the turn, I could see other riders apparently going rather better than I was! I duly buckled down and made a bit more of an effort. Tom Krause later said I looked good at that point, so appearances can clearly be deceptive!

I came in with 23:58, a rather poor time I think, for third place.

One amusing point was on the rise up to the dual carriageway, there have been some road repairs (I think using the council’s new velocity patching) that have resulted in some pronounced lumps in the road. I noted that some wag had been out thare painting the white triangles associated with speed bumps on it!

Results at the NBRC website.

Photos by John Buchanan.

Finsbury Park CC ’25’ 16/8/15

It was back to the F1B/25 for this event, a week after the Beds Road CC ’25’. David and I travelled over together  – he was off a little earlier than I was. It was a really rather nice morning – not too warm, but with only the gentlest of northerly breezes to trouble us.

I’d had to take both wheel off to fit in the van, and after David had ridden over to start, I thought I’d better shift into a more responsible gear. At this point my bike made an awfully loud twang, and I lost all cable tension to the rear mech. I had a quick look (as best I could without my reading specs), and figured out that the washer that, with the allen key bolt, secures the cable to the rear mech had broken. I quickly borrowed a 5mm Allen key from another rider and bodged a repair. After all if it didn’t work, what was the worst that could happen? Riding the event in 57×12, that’s what! Fortunately the gears behaved themselves for the race although the indexing wasn’t great.

I had a good race in many ways – clear runs through all the roundabouts – though while I was keeping a decent pace most of the time I did find my concentration lapsing at times. I felt pretty good and as I passed the Sandy roundabout I had hopes of a finishing with a 56. Inevitably the strange telescoping of time in time trials started happening – while time crawls while you’re out on the course, it seems to accelerate as you near the finish! I eventually squeaked a 56, recording 56:59. Still, it was an improvement on last week’s 57:22.

The other mechanical mishap was the tyre on the van that went flat on the way home. David and I displayed questionable skills while replacing the wheel. We felt kind of exposed on a sliproad on the Bedford bypass with fast traffic whizzing by. Still, we got sorted eventually!

Results to follow