So far this year, my racing has been characterised by lack-lustre performances, where I actually managed to complete a race. On the bright side, the recent change of date for the Duo Normand time trial in September now means that Team Grumpy can once again turn out. This gives a really good late season target for us!
A few months ago, I reviewed the Shand Stoater bike that I’d bought as a problem-free commuter bike / tourer / winter bike - it’s equipped with a Rohloff hub gear and a Gates carbondrive belt rather than derailleur gears and a chain. Since then, I’ve used the bike a couple of times a week as a commuter (the rest of the rides to work are on a tandem), and out twice a weekend for club runs and the like. In that time, the only mechanical problem I’ve had has been a repeated puncture caused by a tiny black thorn in the rear tyre - so small and black my ageing eyes couldn’t spot it. Other than that, it’s been great fun to ride - and even dealing with a rear wheel puncture has been a lot less messy than with a chain.
One of the things about commuting and touring that can be a bit irritating is keeping the transmission running sweetly in the face of sometimes wet and horrible weather. In the past I’ve had rusted and worn chains, clogged derailleurs and so forth. A few years back we bought a new tandem from Thorn, a Raven Twin, which was equipped with a Rohloff 14-speed hub. This has been really great, especially with a set of high quality KMC chains, which do resist rust quite well (recent SRAM chains rusted badly, though I can’t recall the model). I’ve particularly welcomed the ability to change gear when stationary, which seems to me to be important when riding a heavily loaded tandem.
This autumn/winter, I planned to refurbish my 2010 Cervelo P3. Over the last year or two, I’d gone from 9 speed to 11 speed Dura-Ace, so that I could swap wheels with my main time trial bike, a Cervelo P5, which is presently equipped with SRAM eTap kit and concealed Magura RT8 hydraulic brakes.
We approached the 2018 Duo Normand with considerable interest, as there would be a new course used. Grumpy Bob had visited the course on a low intensity tandem trundle round at the end of August. But riding it on the TT bikes would offer a better idea of how the course might play out.
As per usual, as soon as weather forecasts became available on XC weather, we started looking ahead to 23rd September to get some kind of idea of what the conditions would be on the day, bearing in mid the lack of accuracy of longer term weather forecasts.
It was with mounting horror that we saw the predictions for strong winds. By the 17th September, we were looking at 28mph wind with 48mph gusts.