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

Stoke Hammond ’10’ 12/8/15

This was rather a nice and warm evening with only a gentle breeze to disturb the riders tonight. I was out riding my Cervelo P3 newly fitted with Powertap P1 power meter pedals – I wanted to road test the bike before taking it to France next week for a holiday (in which I’d be practicing 2-up technique with Gerry), and at the end of September (when I’ll be racing the Duo Normand with Gerry).

Unfortunately I was floundering a bit, and rarely felt good, I finished well down the field and was  third NBRC rider behind Andy and David, who both did fine rides on the evening. Whether this was just down to me having an off day, or not feeling too comfortable of the P3 is moot. Suffice it to say that my dismay at my performance was somewhat allayed by being pleased at other good NBRC performances! The other high point was witnessing the Equipe Velo boys trying to stuff their numbers into their NoPinz number pockets.

Jez Honour won the event, setting a new course record of 21:04.

Results at the NBRC website.

Bedfordshire Road CC Charity ’25’ 9/8/15

We had a really rather nice morning for the Befordshire Road CC Charity ’25’. This was particularly welcome after a couple of frankly rather soggy and cold events. The sun was shining, and there was only a gentle (but rising) head wind to the turn, and a fast trip back.

The North Bucks fielded three riders at this event – it was nice to have a bit of company from the NBRC at the HQ! I was the last of three to start, and had a decent run to the turn, though I did get delayed at the Sandy roundabout. I made it to the turn in about 30 minutes.

As usual, the return leg was a bit quicker, assisted by the gentle tail wind. I got delayed once again at the Biggleswade North RAB, but was able to fly through the Sandy roundabout in good style! My speed picked up for the last 5 miles, and I think I came past Tempsford looking OK!

I finished with 57:22. David P. finished in 1:00:03 (frustratingly close to getting under the hour), while Andy W. punctured at 15 miles. I think he was rescued and brought back to the HQ – he was certainly there when I finished.



Position Rider No Title Name Club Time
1 60 Mr Matt Sinclair Lutterworth Cycle Centre Racing Team 00:52:27
2 10 Mr Luke Hattersley St Ives CC 00:52:43
3 40 Mr Ross Clarke TMG Horizon Cycling Team 00:52:44
4 20 Mr Carl Whitwell St Ives CC 00:54:02
5 17 Mr William Wallace CC London 00:55:28
6 30 Mr Paul Tomkins Lutterworth Cycle Centre Racing Team 00:56:29
7 57 Mr Gavin Ashfield Hitchin Nomads CC 00:57:03
8 5 Mr Jon Friend Bedfordshire Road CC 00:57:13
9 25 Mr Richard Tully Elite Cycling 00:57:21
10 41 Dr Robert Saunders North Bucks RC 00:57:22
11 26 Mr Michael Naulls Velo Club Venta 00:57:49
12 31 Mr Richard Hutt Harp RC 00:57:55
13 32 Mr Jason Stuart CC Ashwell 00:58:01
14 12 Mr Iain Boardman Dulwich Paragon CC 00:58:04
15 24 Mr John Mitcalf Bedfordshire Road CC 00:58:06
16 56 Mr Steve Torley Team Milton Keynes 00:58:07
17 35 Mr Ian Markham Chronos RT 00:58:32
18 43 Mr Keith Stockwell Welwyn Whs 00:58:34
19 27 Mr Chris Ford High Wycombe CC 00:58:43
20 55 Mr Nicholas Pitt Chronos RT 00:58:43
21 52 Mr Tom Sykes Ely & District CC 00:58:47
22 36 Mr Nick Hickman Hitchin Nomads CC 00:59:04
23 11 Mr Julian Pegg Hitchin Nomads CC 00:59:07
24 15 Mr Alan Crane Chronos RT 00:59:15
25 37 Mr Mark Greenhow St Neots CC 00:59:30
26 8 Mr David Price North Bucks RC 01:00:03
27 6 Mr Richard Moule Bossard Whs 01:00:07
28 13 Mr Paul French Bedfordshire Road CC 01:00:10
29 34 Mr Stephen Butterworth St Ives CC 01:00:19
30 42 Mr Phillip Jenkins Bedfordshire Road CC 01:00:37
31 51 Mr Mark Gray Bedfordshire Road CC 01:00:38
32 53 Mr Neil Allonby Icknield RC 01:00:48
33 9 Mr Graham Pepperdine Verulam CC 01:01:02
34 54 Mr Andrew Martin LBRCC 01:01:19
35 38 Mr David Cook Bedfordshire Road CC 01:01:42
36 16 Mr Anthony Newland Bossard Whs 01:02:43
37 49 Mrs Dena Ford High Wycombe CC 01:02:45
38 44 Mr Steve Jones Hemel Hempstead CC 01:02:50
39 59 Mr James Spence Hitchin Nomads CC 01:02:58
40 58 Mr Mick Case Bedfordshire Road CC 01:03:23
41 14 Mr Peter Anstey Welwyn Whs 01:06:15
42 47 Mrs Berenice Curtis St Ives CC 01:07:30
43 7 Mr David Rogers Hemel Hempstead CC 01:07:34
44 39 Mr Trevor Parish A5 Rangers 01:08:18
45 19 Mr Bernard Lamb Hemel Hempstead CC (Trike entry) 01:08:25
46 29 Mr Trevor Watson Bossard Whs 01:09:23
47 48 Miss Esther Hamill Stevenage CC 01:09:50
48 50 Miss Joanna Spragg Bossard Whs 01:10:04
49 45 Miss Kay Burgess Kings Lynn CC 01:10:39
50 46 Miss Aimee Canham Plomesgate CC 01:10:50
22 Mr Andy Wickham North Bucks RC DNF Pun
18 Mr Matt Donovan Bedfordshire Road CC DNS Apol
21 Mr Neal Cannell Bedfordshire Road CC DNS Apol
23 Mr John Watson Hitchin Nomads CC DNS Apol
28 Mr Daniel Sibley Bedfordshire Road CC DNS
33 Mr Nigel Smith Southborough & Dist. Whs DNS

Stagsden ’10’ 29/7/15

This event, as well as contributing to the NBRC club time trial league, was also the NBRC Championship ’10’. Accordingly I was pretty keen to ride. I ignored comments from work colleagues that rain was forecast, and rode up to Stagsden without a rain jacket, which turned out to be a bad move.

On the road up to Astwood, a startlingly heavy rain shower came over, so heavy that at times I could barely see where I was going. This had the effect of completely soaking me (and others riding to the event), so I was shaking with cold by the time I signed on. A second shower while we were ‘warming up’ meant most of us were shivering when lined up at the start.

For the first mile or so, my legs just felt cold and heavy but soon I warmed up and felt quite good. The Stagsden course is quite strongly undulating, and after an initial burst of speed, there’s a bit of a drag up to Astwood. From there, speed picks up until the rise to Chicheley. The roads were initially very wet, with some rather large pools of standing water, but dry at the turn. As usual on this course, the return leg was quite a bit quicker. I was unable to judge how well I was going relative to the others, and just put in as much effort as I felt able to.

In the end, I took second place with 23:17, 10 seconds behind Richard Golding, but first NBRC rider. I was really quite pleased with this evening’s ride. Overall, we had a good turnout of NBRC riders on the evening.

Results (at the NBRC website)

VTTA ’25’ Championship 26/7/15

When I heard the 2015 VTTA Championship was to be held of the famous ‘cheatie’ course in South Wales in July 2015, I was obviously interested. Not only was this an opportunity to ride on what may well be the fastest ‘25’ course in the country, but it would be an opportunity to visit ‘Grumpy’ Art Vanderlay (aka Gerry) in the summer, with the attendant good weather not usually seen when I usually race 2-up in March.

Oh, how well-laid plans fail. The drive over on Friday was horrid, with masses of traffic, really bad weather and it took 6 hours. Saturday was some kind or compensation – we had nice weather for a jaunt out to the Welsh National Botanic Gardens followed by watching the Alpe d’Huez stage of the Tour de France.

Unfortunately the weather for the R25/3L on Sunday morning was completely awful. In the end Gerry decided not to ride, and of 150 on the start sheet (plus reserves), only 57 finished the event. It was very windy – 22mph plus 35mph gusts –  but also very wet and cold. Quite ridiculous for an event in the last weekend in July.

Gerry, having decided not to ride, kindly took me round for a second recce of Neath Bank before returning me to the start. Somewhat dubiously I rode to the start. Off I went, and almost immediately got blown so suddenly I felt my bike was moving sideways. Composing myself after that burst of adrenalin, I carried on across the industrial estate roundabout. I managed to miss the subtle left pointing arrow at the next roundabout and almost didn’t make the turn onto the A465 (there wasn’t a marshal).

Then it was on to the famous Neath Bank. I have to confess I took this cautiously, maxing at about 43mph. But I thought this was sensible. The rid out to the next turn was reasonably quick. I saw Gerry on the roadside trying to take a picture with his phone. Fortunately I’m quite familiar with the turn, as the Port Talbot Wheelers’ 2-up event turns there – it’s quite a confusing turn, and there was a multitude of signage but only a single marshal.

We’d expected the wind to provide a bit of assistance after the Aberdulais turn. Sadly, this turned out not to be the case, and I had a bit of a grind to the finish with a nagging headwind for most of it.

I finished with 56:15 (+12:50), and I was reasonably happy with that, given the conditions.

We then dashed back to get cleaned up and drive out to our favourite local restaurant, Y Polyn, for a slap up feed that pretty much made me soporific for the rest of the day!

Result at the VTTA website.