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.

PosNoNameClubLap 1 TimeLap 2 TimeCatVets Std.+/-Vets Std
17Robert SaundersNBRC24.4350.14V5554.57.+ 4 431
23Richard GoldingEquipe Velo/NBRC25.0350.16V4653.30.+ 3.142
31Lindz BarralEquipe Velo25.3251.35S
45Alex HornshawTeamMK26.2153.21V4753.39.+ 0.183
56Mike SmithCorley Cycles26.3853.58Sen
64Graham LineNBRC28.2958.38V5054.07.- 4.314
72Darren HaydonNBRC29.3860.12V4453.11.- 7.015

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

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Astwood '10' 21/3/15

Preparing my bike the evening before the event was quite alarming. Several issues: a locked pedal that required considerable grease injection before it would turn; A rather iffy job of cabling the front mech (presumably dating from the pre-race tinkering before the Duo last year); and a severely rusted chain (presumably I didn’t lubricate it well enough after cleaning up the bike on January 1st). However, all quite easily remedied on a beautiful sunny and warm spring evening.Oh how things changed overnight. The day of our “Come and try it” 10 mile time trial on the Astwood circuit was cold and blighted by a strong northerly wind.  And I nearly didn't make it to the start owing to a black cat with suicidal tendencies that dived under my front wheel on the way up to the race! We'd decided to revise the Astwood course for this event: the revision meant the start was close to the BikeBus cafe - convenient for refuelling after the event, plus it offered some shelter from the elements. The downside was that the start point was fully exposed to the chilly north wind - I suspect I wasn't alone in shivering as I set off.This wasn't the first time I'd raced on the Astwood circuit with a start point that differs from that normally used by NBRC, as TeamMK have used a further variant. But our new variant has the climb to Astwood rather soon after the start. personally, I prefer to get that over and done with as soon as possible. Unfortunately it was made a little less pleasant by the cold head wind up the hill. I could see my minute man in the yellow and blue Equipe Velo strip - he didn't seem that far ahead!As I turned left into Astwood High Street, I was annoyed to see a car backing out into the road. I eased back slightly and followed it to the junction with the A422, where it stopped. And waited. And waited some more. I unclipped and put my foot on the tarmac. And still it waited. After what seemed an eternity, the driver finally drove out onto the A422, leaving me somewhat cross - not helped by my club mates Graham and Dave who informed me it had cost me at least 30secs (actually probably a fair bit less!)...Out on the main road I clipped back in and set off. The wind, though cold and slowing me down, wasn't so bad as to make steering difficult. It didn't seem to offer much assistance as I rode off to turn at Chicheley - once round onto the backroads to North Crawley, there were some really quite quick spells. I motored on back to the finish, which is now interestingly placed just after a small dip in the road. I finished in 3rd place and 1st on vets standard, with a long 24 (see results below).Later in the day, I recabled the front mech, so all is now fine with the P3.

PosNoNameClubTimeCatVets Std.+ / -Vets Std
120Richard WoodArbis/Colbert Cycles RT24.10S
211Simon MossEquipe Velo24.27V4126.04.+ 1.372
312Robert SaundersNBRC24.57V5527.09.+ 2.121
415Glenn TearleTeamMK25.04V4926.41.+ 1.372
513Jason LeeTeamMK25.33V4626.27.+ 0.544
610John BuchananTeam Corley Cycles25.38V4526.23.+ 0.455
71Mick AtkinsonTeamMK25.54V4126.04.+ 0.108
89Leigh SmithAlpha Road Club25.58S
94Andy WickhamNBRC26.03V4426.18.+ 0.157
1017Geoff HicksBeds Roads CC26.09S
1114Andy SmithTeamMK26.50V5727.20.+ 0.306
1221Dave GoodhewNBRC27.41V4126.04.- 1.379
138Phill ElvidgeTeamMK28.24V4126.04.- 2.2012
142Ian Stokes45 Road Club29.19V5527.09.- 2.1011
"16Andy SharpeUnattached29.19S
1619Adriana BorowskaNBRC29.31SL
175Wayne ThomasNBRC29.37V6327.59.- 1.3810
1818Darren Carter-MauldenAmpthill Velo30.37V4226.09.- 4.2814
197Luke DaniellsNBRC30.38V4226.09.- 4.2915
206Matt HollandTeam Corley Cycles31.24S
2123Alexandra KnowlesTeamMK31.33LV5028.53.- 2.4013
223Nicole TurAmpthill Velo32.45LV4028.02.- 4.4316
DNF22Finn HansonTeamMK44.44V5026.45
Time Keepers:- Stephanie Cousins & Tony Farmborough NBRC
Pusher Off & Course Marshal :- Bryan Scarborough NBRC

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Quick Review: Nopinz number pocket

I’ve had a these retrofitted to two skinsuits, less for the supposed 10W aero benefit and more for the avoidance of pin holes in expensive skinsuits, which inevitably shorten the garment’s lifespan.I rode my club skinsuit in a club event, and had my partner put the number in while I was wearing the skinsuit. This was very difficult, and you certainly wouldn’t want to ask someone you’re not intimate with to do this! On the second occasion I was using a Castelli Bodypaint skinsuit, and pushed the number in before putting the skinsuit on. Even that was a bit of fiddle, but mostly because my hands were cold.In use, the number pockets are great - none of that pricking fingers when putting a number on, or pins coming loose while warming up or racing. While the number is held really snug and with no flapping, I’ve no idea if there’s really a discernible aero benefit, but at least the days of pinholes in cycle clothing are receding!

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Quick Review: Kask Bambino aero helmet

Not new to the market, these stubby aerohats were popularised by Team Sky over the last few seasons. Very expensive, particularly when they were first released, Team Grumpy refer to these as “smurf hats” because of the slightly downturned aero tail!I can’t really comment on the helmet’s aero characteristics, other than to say that I would imagine the Bambino might be superior if you do a lot of looking down or around - this pushes the tail of a ‘normal’ aero helmet into the wind. In terms of fit, the helmet is reassuring in how stable the fit is on the head. The visor didn’t steam up, as per complaints of the early versions of the helmet. In use, I was aware of sweat in the helmet, but it didn’t dribble down onto the visor, which remained clear throughout the ’25’. I don’t know if there will be problems when racing in warmer conditions.Team Grumpy bought matte black Bambini - with the mirrored visor as shown above, they really remind me of the Power Rangers (I will leave you to Google that...). So maybe that’s the new team descriptor for them...

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Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up 25 15th March 2015

The Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25' has been a regular fixture on the Team Grumpy calendar for a number of years. As usual, the two evenings prior to the event were characterised by conspicuous consumption of Leffe and curry. This was an acceptable preparation, since both members of Team Grumpy had seen their pre-season training somewhat derailed by illness. We also avoided any serious bike tinkering on the day before the race. Indeed, the only issues needing dealt with were (a) Gerry's disc wheel needed to be replaced with his trispoke owing to braking issues, and (b) my left shoe wouldn't clip onto my pedal. This turned out to be due to tiny fleck of mud in the shoeplate springs! Pretty quickly all was in order.This year's event was held on the R25/25, which runs down the A465 dual carriageway from Resolven to its first turn at the Tonna roundabout, back up the A465 past the start to turn left down the B4242, turning at Ynysygerwen to finish some way past the Resolven junction. Usually the dual carriageway section is quickest, with the B4242 being quite slow, owing to its hilly nature.The morning of the event was pretty cold and bitter, despite being far from frosty. But with long sleeved thermal vests under the skinsuits and decent gloves, we were pretty much set. New kit this year included new aero hats and the addition of Nopinz number pockets on the back of our skinsuits. The Nopinz pockets seem pretty good, though getting the number in place is a bit fiddly. No pin damage to expensive skinsuits, though!After a brief warmup, we lined up and were off. Though not before an unfortunate wobble made me think we'd collide. The outbound leg to the first turn was very quick, with a stiff tailwind. We'd planned for me to take some long pulls at the front to avoid Gerry's breathing issues in the cold air - as it turned out, I think I took longer turns at the front throughout the race, Gerry still suffering the aftereffects of his recent cold.All too soon, we reached the first turn, which we rode in good style, and set off back up the dual carriageway into the headwind. For most of this leg, this just slowed us down, but for the last two miles or so, I found my Hed Stinger a bit of a handful. No real difficulty or danger, though. Round the second turn and we joined the hilly road southbound. This part of the course features some shocking road surfaces (on at least three occasions, I heard Gerry grumping about some hole or other that he'd cycled through!), and some pretty stiff climbs. We made good progress to the third and final turn before heading back to finish in 1:03:16.We weren't too disappointed with the time - it's a tough course, and anyway, our 2-up technique was pretty well oiled throughout, with both riders making appropriate accommodation to the strengths of the other. In any event, we were 15th team out of a full field of 60 teams (only three teams didn't start), and won third composite team.[caption id="attachment_3385" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Team Grumpy's first ride of 2015                                       Photograph  copyright Pete Hamer[/caption]Results (first 15 teams)

Matt Rowe & Dani King
N.F.T.O. & Wiggle Honda
1st Composite Team
Daniel Gough & Gethin Llewellyn
Swansea University R.T. & "
1st Club Team
Jeremy Pile & Justin Walters
V.C.Sevale & Wyre Forest C.R.C.
2nd Composite Team
Christopher Jones & Richard Gambling
Ride Bike Wales & "
2nd Club Team
Evan Powell & Wayne Thomas
Pontypool R.C.C. & "
3rd Club Team
Phillip Tucker & Hefin Evans
Bynea C.C. & "
1st Team With A Junior
Andrew Overton & Dave Meacham
Wyre Forest C.R.C. & "
1st Team With A Vet
Dave Brice & Emyr John Griffiths
Bynea C.C. & "
2nd Team With A Vet
Trevor Lloyd & Nicholas Cleave
Swansea Whs. & "
3rd Team With A Vet
Darrel Williams & Craig Jones
Bynea C.C. & "
Kevin Bartlemore & Dan Taylor
Acme Whs & "
David Crowley & Greg Williams
P.T.W.C.C. & "
Alistar James Morgan & Garry Jones
Pontypool R.C.C. & Pontypool R.C.C.
Nigel Taylor & James Manson
Cardiff Tri & "
Gerard Oram & R. Saunders
Bynea C.C. & North Bucks. R.C.
3rd Composite Team

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Stony 11.4 7th March 2015

The first club event for 2015 came around all of a sudden (for some reason, the New Year’s Day ’10’ formally belongs to the previous year’s calendar). It was to be held over at the Stony course, which in the version used by our club is at about 11.4 miles. It’s a tough course, and not one I enjoy, with a lot of climbing in the first half, and as usual, the winter, though mild, has seen further potholes open up, particularly between Beachampton and Nash.Unfortunately, I chose to ride with my deepest section front wheel - a Hed Stinger 90. I say unfortunately because by the time we got out to Stony Stratford, the wind had picked up considerably. The wind also made it feel quite chilly, though actually it was well above freezing. By the time I’d lined up at the start, my thigh muscles were shivering vigorously! Also by the time we were starting, several TeamMK club run groups were coming by, of which more later.Immediately I started, I realised I was going to have problems controlling the bike, at least on the outbound leg. The strong wind was throwing my bike all over the road. As it turned out, I had to keep off the tribars pretty much all the way to the turn. I came up behind the TeamMK club run a bit before Beachampton. Despite a Landrover being held up behind them, they didn’t delay me more than a few seconds. Unfortunately that doesn’t represent much of an excuse! Once out of Beachampton, it was a case of dodging many potholes, whiel gradually reeling in my minute man.I reached the turn after what seemed like an eternity of wrestling with the bike and fighting the headwind. But once round the turn, things were a fair bit different, and I found the going pretty good. There were one or two hairy moments when the wind gusted through gaps in the hedge, but really it was pretty much OK. Well, apart from the moment it felt as though the bike and I got lifted bodily off the tarmac for an instant.Shortly after passing through Beachampton, Jason G. came storming past like an express train, catching me for three minutes. He looks pretty fit, and has already ridden a few event. Gossip has it he’ll be focussing on time trials this year, so we should see some good times from him.Apart from a hairy moment with traffic, that was pretty much it. I finished in a lacklustre 29:42, though frankly I was pleased to just get under 30 minutes! Before the start, I said I was keen to find out if I’d recovered from the hideous cold that derailed my training in February. I have to say that I’m none the wiser given the conditions this morning. Still, at least it blew the cobwebs out of my system before next week’s Port Talbot Wh 2-up ’25’ in South Wales.Equipment note: I rode with a pair of these sunglasses,  complete with reading lens bifocals. These were recommended by Tony P. after the NYD ’10’. I think both Tony and I suffer from age-related problems reading bike computers, and these sort that out quite nicely.Results

PosNoNameClubTimeCatVets Std.+ / -Vets Std
Result of the Medium Gear Event
11John BuchananCorley Cycles32.17V4430.02.- 2.151
Result of the Un-restricted Gear Event
15Jason GurneyArbis/ Colbert Cycles26.32V4530.07.+ 3.351
211Richard WoodArbis/ Colbert Cycles27.31S
38Mark EllisTeamMK28.16V5030.33.+ 2.172
415Rob FletcherArbis/ Colbert Cycles28.30V4430.02.+ 1.323
514Steve TorleyTeamMK28.31S
612James FoxCC Luton28.56S
710Matt WoottonTeamMK29.16S
82Robert SaundersNBRC29.42V5531.00.+ 1.184
97Jason LeeTeamMK30.17V4530.07.- 0.105
106Andy WickhamNBRC30.20V4430.02.- 0.186
114Chris MasonA5 Rangers30.57V4129.45.- 1.127
123Ant SmithTeamMK31.51S
139Wayne ThomasNBRC34.18V6331.57.- 2.218
1413Neill BoddingtonNBRC34.56V4029.39.- 5.179
1516Mike FitsellTeamMK38.01V5230.33.- 7.2810
Time Keepers:- Steph Cousins & Tony Farmborough NBRC
Pusher Off:- Bryan Scarborough NBRC

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Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 - the return of the stylus

So far, I have owned and used iPads (first generation iPad, third generation iPad and a first generation iPad mini for work). I posted previously about my search for a usable stylus for iPad (Smartphones, tablets and styli). This was pretty much unsuccessful: iPad styli were always inadequately precise, either because they had a rubber blob of a tip that mimicked a fingertip, or because the bluetooth system used wasn't precise enough.A couple of years ago, I made my belated entry to the smartphone market, with a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (I recently updated to a Galaxy Note 4). This device comes with the S Pen, an interesting device that gives a really good screen response when writing. Coupled with excellent handwriting conversion, this meant that text entry by scribbling on the screen was a realistic proposition. Here's a good description of how the S Pen works. Essentially, from that site:

An electromagnetic field is generated from a circuit behind the screen. The S Pen picks this up and uses it to power itself and figure out its position relative to the screen. It sends this, along with information from the S Pen button and the nib at the end, back to the Note.
At that point, it was abundantly clear that my next tablet purchase was likely to be a Samsung Note device. And on a recent visit to a department store I had a little play with a Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 tablet - and my partner bought one. After a weekend of seeing this device in action, I bought one too - reduced in price to £324. Anyway, for me (and the work I do) this is an iPad killer - for example:
  • Bigger screen, at a very decent resolution
  • Android 4.4.2 (this is like climbing over the wall of the Apple prison)
  • The S pen, which offers realistic sketch pad and handwriting recognition
  • Easier file transfer to and from the device than iTunes allows
  • Ability to add to the 32Gb onboard memory - I added a 64Gb card
  • Most of the apps I use on the iPad are also available on the Galaxy, and those that aren't have perfectly good alternatives
  • You can run up to 4 apps simultaneously onscreen.
This is basically a power user's tablet, and I really can't fault it. But it's the S Pen that really sells it to me. Here's a very detailed review dating from March last year, when the beast retailed at about £649. I think it's a pretty accurate review. I doubt I'd have been keen to cough up £649, but at £324 this seemed a great deal - I presume the discounted price means it's either discontinued or a new model is due shortly.

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Bizarre design flaw in the Cowon X7 media player?

After Apple replaced my 2 gigabyte first generation iPod Nano with a nifty little 8Gb sixth generation model (due to a product recall), I found myself using that in preference to my Cowon X7, even though the latter has 160Gb storage. The consequence of this is that I allowed the X7 to completely discharge.

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New Year's Day '10'

Fortunately, the icy conditions we'd seen since Christmas had warmed a bit, so there wasn't any danger of slipping on ice. But on the other hand, the roads were distinctly damp and there was a very strong and blustery wind from the south. As Steve Abraham was calling in on the time trial (and riding it) as part of the first day of his attempt to beat Tommy Godwin's mileage record (follow his progress here), we had the presence of CNN and BBC Local News together with a large number of cyclists, many of whom decided to take part in the race. The new course devised by Tony Farmborough and Bryan Scarborough was being used for the first time, and this turned out to be something of a blessing, as there was much more space for people to meet and park near the start than at the assembly point for the earlier version. We'd scheduled Steve to start as #1, with NBRC riders starting behind him, though the #2 spot was left vacant. Out on the road, the starting section was really quick, with a stiff tailwind. Of course once we turned left at the first RAB, things got a bit twitchy in the wind, particularly for those riding with aero wheels (such as my H3).It got a little bit more twitchy after the second roundabout where riders turn left to join the main Stoke Hammond bypass, indeed at that point I not only had to dodge a sizeable diesel spill, but found my front wheel being wrenched violently from side to side. This soon passed, but really one needed to pay close attention and try to predict when the gusts might be worst. The new course's turn is one RAB further along that the earlier version of the course, and while this additional section is quite short, it's uphill and (today at least) into the teeth of the wind. After the event, riders were complaining about how slowly they completed that section!Round the turn, and we had a nice tail wind along the bypass before turning right to retrace to the finish. The final RAB sees riders doing a right turn. This did concern some people on safety grounds, but in practice it seemed fine - riders just need to keep an eye out for traffic and move into the right hand lane in good time. The final stretch was tough, into the wind to the finish.All in all a tough morning for a time trial. I think most of the riders felt for Steve, who by the time he started the time trial had already covered 116 or so miles.I finished in 24:55, a measly 1 second behind the winner, Richard Wood. As one wag observed, that probably corresponds to one wobble too many out there in the head wind! Still, I was fastest NBRC rider on the day.

PosNoNameClubTimeCatVets Std.+ / -
126Richard WoodArbis/Colbert24.54Sen
25Robert SaundersNBRC24.55V5527.09.+ 2.14
325James FoxCCLuton25.42Sen
47Lindz BarralUnattached25.51Sen
515Geoff BunyanBossard Wheelers25.52V5427.04.+ 1.12
618Jason LeeTeamMK26.46V4526.23.- 0.23
714Ant NewlandBossard Wheelers26.55V4926.41.- 0.14
84Andy WickhamNBRC27.14V4426.18.- 0.56
920Andy SmithTeamMK27.34V5727.20.- 0.14
108Julian ThrasherLBRCC27.46V4025.59.- 1.47
1121Matt ExleyCorley Cycles Drops RT27.52Sen
1222Chris HopkinsonAPI - Metrow28.04V4726.32.- 1.32
1328Richard GoldingUnattached28.21V4326.13.- 2.08
1411James BarlowLBRCC28.37Sen
159Miles WalkerLBRCC28.59V5226.54.- 2.05
1627Rimas GrigenasUnattached29.10Sen
1716Tom KrauseUnattached29.32Sen
1812Andy MartinLBRCC29.37V4326.13.- 3.24
1913Trevor WatsonBossard Wheelers29.43V5527.09.- 2.34
2010Tom DeprezLBRCC29.58Sen
2124Katja ReitdorfTeamMK30.05LV4428.24.- 1.41
2223David GoodhewNBRC30.07V4126.04.- 4.03
233David PriceNBRC30.12V4726.32.- 3.40
246Neill BoddingtonNBRC31.30V4025.59.- 5.31
2519Darren WinfieldLBRCC32.40V4926.41.- 5.59
2617Clive FaineTeamMK32.46V6828.42.- 4.04
271Steve AbrahamNBRC33.27V4025.59.- 7.28
Timekeepers: Bryan Scarborough & Tony 'Desperado' Farmborough (NBRC)Pusher off: Dick Selley (NBRC)Route Signs: David Price (NBRC) 

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Rune Audio media player

I’m always interested in tinkering with alternative audio usage of my Raspberry Pi devices. As standard, I’m using them as Squeezebox substitutes, running the minimalist OS piCorePlayer, though I’ve also tried Squeezeplug and Raspbian for this. Rune Audio, which I think is derived from RaspyFi as a fork at the time RaspyFi became Volumio (though I may have that the wrong way round), recently released a version 0.3 beta for the Raspberry Pi, so (being naturally curious) I decided to try it out.

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Duo Normand 2014

This was my second trip over to Normandy in 2014. Along with my Team Grumpy team-mate Gerry, I had a long weekend away to make another assault on the Corporatif category of the Duo Normand.

As something of a prologue to this year’s event, I’d decided to modify my P3’s set up. For the last few years, I’d had flat handlebar extensions fitted to the USE Tula bars, but since getting a Cervelo P5, I’d decided that returning to extensions with upturned ends would be beneficial. I ordered the required replacement parts and set about fitting them. It was soon apparent that I had a problem on my hands - I just couldn’t persuade the left hand extension to go through the base bar. After several days effort, I gave up and reverted to Plan B: to buy a new base bar and use some old Deda GCB extensions I had previously used on a fixed wheel TT bike.

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Team MK 25 14/9/14

The organiser of this event had a bit of a torrid time. The original course was an interesting one, seemingly two and a half laps of the Astwood circuit (as features frequently in this blog). Sadly, roadworks on that course necessitated a course switch to a course based on the Brogborough course*. There was also a second event, a 10 mile one. I had entered because the Astwood course would be good preparation for the upcoming Duo Normand, so I was disappointed in this turn of events. It also meant that the startsheet was the longest and most complicated I can recall, seeing as it was prepared with both courses in mind, and had to describe the route to and from each course from the HQ (Cranfield Village Hall). It ran to an alarming 15 pages!

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Stagsden 10 13/9/14

This was the last time trial in the North Bucks TT series (the remaining event is the Hill Clib championship). Three North Bucks riders turned up, to be joined by three others, who must have detected our crestfallen faces! Still, there was a race to be ridden.The Stagsden course is quite interesting, with significant undulations that can be quite disruptive to the riders' rhythm variably depending on the wind direction. This morning, there was pretty much no wind, and the only issues were the drags up to Astwood and Chicheley, which affected both legs equally.I just tried to buckle down and go as hard as I could. I finished in 23:17 to take second place behind Richard Wood. Mind you, the three non-NBRC riders were on road bikes!


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VTTA Championship 25 24/8/14

This event was a re-run of the VTTA men's '25' championship originally run earlier in the season. the event had to be abandoned due to extraordinarily heavy rain mid-way through the event. Talking to riders, it sounds like conditions hd been truly foul with standing water many inches deep in places.  For some reason, the rescheduled event was being held as a morning event - most E2/25 races are afternoon events. This brought with it transport issues. I travelled over with Katja, leaving at about 5am. I thought it prudent to set the alarm on my watch, but unfortunately messed up the watch's setting, so I was woken at 4am, but French time. I found myself awake an hour earlier than I needed to be. Oh well.It was a pretty cold morning, around 8 degrees when we started, and there was a rising wind from the west. Westerly winds aren't usually the best thing for events on the E2/25, so while I remained a bit optimistic about the event, I wasn't really sure how it would go. The E2/25 isn't a course I ride terribly frequently. It uses major dual carriageways, the A14 and the A11, but actually feels pretty safe because there aren't many slip roads, and the roads are pretty wide.I confess to not warming up well - this was mostly due to the fact it was so cold. However, I shot down the slip road onto the A14 and find myself going well at about 29mph. Alas, this wasn't to last as I soon found myself exposed to the breeze. I felt really pretty awful on the outward leg, with my speed dropping each time the road sloped gently up. Bearing in mind the undulations on the course are not exactly steep, this was rather disappointing, and I began to worry about the outcome. By the time I reached the turn, I was feeling quite despondent. I'd tried dropping my gears to find a higher cadence, but each time I did this, my speed fell further so I kept the gears high.[caption id="attachment_3286" align="alignnone" width="474"] At the E2/25 turn. Photo: Davey Jones[/caption]At the turn, I spotted Davey Jones out there photographing riders - I think he was sat in a position to grab photos as riders approached the slip road back down to the dual carriageway.The return leg was (thankfully) quite a bit quicker, as the wind was assisting us. I found myself clocking along at more than 30mph at times. Sadly this didn't compensate for the toughness of the outbound leg, and I finished with 56:40. This was good enough for 30th place out of 118 finishers on actual time, though as I'm not a VTTA member, no result on standard for me!I think it says something about my late season build up of form that I was disappointed with 56:40, back in May this would have seemed an unlikely performance. Perhaps this is a good sign!

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Astwood 10 20/8/14

This was rather a cool evening, cooler than we’d experienced for a while now. Not bad conditions, with only a fairly light breeze. I was hoping for continued good form, though after a couple of hard days at work I wasn’t so sure things would pan out OK. We had a good turnout of 22 riders for this club event.

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Stoke Hammond 10 13/8/14

As the season moves on, we reached the penultimate evening event in the NBRC time trial series with another event on the Stoke Hammond bypass course. A field of 16 riders turned out on a slightly blustery evening of sunny spells and pleasant temperatures. Not too bad for the ride, though I expected a head wind up to the DC section (and I was concerned that my Hed Stinger 90 might be slightly twitchy).

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Bedfordshire Roads CC 25 10/8/14

The weather forecast for this event was pretty dire and led to quite a few riders not starting. As it turned out, the early starters got a dry ride, whereas us later starters had a pretty soggy time of it. The pretty cool and damp conditions kept my HR down (one might say dampened it).The event was on the F1B/25, which runs from Tempsford to the Baldock interchange and back, and which is rather more severely undulating than the F1/25 (see the reports on the Verulam CC and Finsbury Park CC time trials). There was an irritating 9mph wind from the SE (according the the weather reports - but it felt stiffer), which made the outbound leg quite tough. More annoyingly, the rain had started by the time I reached the Sandy roundabout, and just got heavier as the race progressed. The motor traffic was on the whole not excessive, and kept a good distance, for which I was glad, given the conditions I was racing in.The Biggleswade South roundabout has had a major makeover - extra lanes and a spanking new tarmac has been laid. Scorching across obviously greasy new tarmac in the rain seemed a bit risky, so I took this carefully. By the time I rounded the turn, the rain was absolutely throwing itself down. I felt quite sorry for the marshals having to stand out in the elements![caption id="attachment_3260" align="alignnone" width="474"] Exiting the F1B/25 turn in heavy rain - Photo: Davey Jones[/caption]The photo above is another fine one from Davey Jones, who commented

I think I would close my eyes if I took a wet RAB at that angle!!

Actually, I was having  a bit of trouble with the rain getting in my eyes! Despite the rain (which had my shoes squelching water out with every pedal revolution), the return leg was pretty quick. The F1B/25 turn is higher than the finish, so on the whole the return can be quite quick, assuming one can deal with the climbs. I finished with 58:06, which was quite a respectable time. My mate Tony finished with 58:01, though he’d been fannying around with his Garmin computer on the outward leg.Here are the top 20 finishers - 42 riders finished out of around 78 on the start sheet.
1Simon NormanBedfordshire Road CC00:53:39
2Dave LazenbySilverstone Cycle-Baines Racing00:54:29
3Jason StuartCC Ashwell00:56:00
4Carl WhitwellSt Ives CC00:56:02
5Neil WoodLichfield City CC00:56:29
6Mathilde MatthijsseBonito Squadra Corse00:57:01
7Richard HuttHarp RC00:57:16
8Nick HitchensPeterborough CC00:57:58
9Tony ParksNorth Bucks RC00:58:01
10Robert SaundersNorth Bucks RC00:58:05
11Tom SykesEly & District CC00:58:15
12Ben WilsonHitchin Nomads CC00:58:22
13Geoff BunyanBossard Whs00:58:50
14Peter GellBedfordshire Road CC00:59:07
15Alan CraneChronos RT00:59:16
16Andrew DigbyVerulam CC00:59:16
17Ian BashfordOld Portlians CC00:59:19
18Tom SharpeVC Norwich00:59:30
19Ian MarkhamChronos RT00:59:46
20Richard MouleBossard Whs01:00:02

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Stony 10.6 6/8/14

Another occasion on which the alternative Stony course was required - due to the same roadworks issues as before. Mind you, no one had repaired the dodgy road surfaces on this course! On a muggy and hot evening, a stellar field of 10 veterans turned out to contest the event.

No much to report really - it was tough all the way round, though I’m getting closer to being able to correctly down-gear for that nasty nip after the lengthy descent from Whaddon on the return leg. I finished in 26:48 to take the win - also good enough to win on veteran standard. It was a close thing - the top four places were withing 25 seconds.I rode the event on the P3 - mostly because it’s set up with H3 trispokes with alloy braking surfaces - the weather forecast suggested it might be wet (though it wasn’t at all wet for the race as it turned out).
PosNoNameClubTimeCatVets Std.+ / -Vets Std
15Robert SaundersNBRC26.48V5428.43.+ 1.551
26Ant NewlandBossard Wheelers CC26.53V4828.13.+ 1.202
38Mark EllisTeamMK27.05V5028.23.+ 1.183
49Jason LeeTeamMK27.13V4527.59.+ 0.465
510Andy WickhamNBRC27.47V4427.54.+ 0.077
62Andy SmithTeamMK27.50V5729.00.+1.104
71Graham LineNBRC28.04V4928.18.+ 0.146
83Geoff PerryTeamMK28.53V5428.43.- 0.108
97Trevor WatsonBossard Wheelers CC31.10V5528.48.- 2.229
104Luke DaniellsNBRC32.16V4127.39.- 4.3710

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Finsbury Park CC 25 3/8/14

A sunny but breezy morning saw a field of around 80 riders signed up for this event, possibly the last that will be held on the F1/25, owing to the impending installation of traffic lights at the famous Black Cat roundabout.It was pretty clear while warming up that the southbound legs of the event were going to be the most challenging, and so it proved.Just after starting, as I was riding up the drag to the Tempsford flyover, someone (evidently warming up and with a later number then me) pulled out of a side road, causing me to have to deviate from my path. This was a bit annoying, and also a bit uncalled for! But no serious damage caused. Once over the flyover, I raced down the slip road to the A1, and found the going quite tough, due to the headwind. There was some unfortunate on the roadside who’d evidently had a mechanical - he was wiping his hands on grass as I passed. I circled the Sandy roundabout, and as soon as I set out northbound, things felt pretty good. The bloke on the roadside was still fiddling with his bike, so presumably it was race over for him. For the northbound leg, I was cruising along faster than 30 mph a lot of the time, with serious doubts about how easy the return leg would be.Once round the Buckden turn, things got a bit more interesting, with the nagging headwind threatening to derail my efforts. Bizarrely, my speed seemed to fluctuate quite a bit, with some sections being quite quick (probably a combination of descent and shelter from the headwind), while others were a bit slower. Unfortunately, the latter predominated.[caption id="attachment_3253" align="alignnone" width="640"] Just after the Buckden turn. Photo: Davey Jones[/caption]At the Black Cat, the road surface leaves a lot to be desired - I dodged the curved tarmac trench that threatened to dictate my passage through the roundabout, and emerged in good style on the other side, with rather less than two miles to go. I grit my teeth and tried my damnedest to keep some speed up until I reached the line.I finished in 56:34, good enough for 12th place. With the 2014 Duo Normand in less than two months from now, it seems my form is finally beginning to surface.Here are the top 12 finishers (full results can be found at the CTT website):

1Mark ArnoldCC Desiragear00:52:43V
2Luke ClarkeTMG Horizon Cycling Team00:53:48
3Nigel HaleHertfordshire Whs00:54:32V (LN)
4Carl WhitwellSt Ives CC00:54:48V
5Martin ReynoldsCambridge CC00:55:16V
6Ian PikeFenland RC00:55:29V
7Tim DaviesIcknield RC00:55:55V
8Jason GreenBedfordshire Road CC00:56:06
9Julian KingWelwyn Whs00:56:21V (LN)
10Neil DowieShorter Rochford00:56:25V
11Paul SmithCatford CC00:56:28V
12Robert SaundersNorth Bucks RC00:56:34V (LN)

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Stagsden 10 30/7/14 (NBRC Championship)

Another glorious evening brought out 15 riders, including six North Bucks members, to this event on the Stagsden course. There was only a gentle breeze which, while it did make the outward leg a bit harder than the return, was rather nice as it was bearing the summery scent of wheat harvesting from the the nearby fields. OK, poetic bit over, how did the race go?

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