Time trials so far in 2019

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!

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As maintenance-free as possible…

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.

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Bluetooth Squeezebox on the cheap

Detailed instructions for setting up a Raspberry Pi Zero W as a Bluetooth-enabled music player for the Logitech Media Server streaming system.

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A New Bike for 2019 - Shand Stoater

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.

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Remodelling a Cervelo P3

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.

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The 2018 Duo Normand

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.

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Astwood ’20’ 15/9/18

I realise I haven’t blogged too often about time trialling (and cycling in general) this year. That reflects considerable personal and work-related things getting in the way of (a) training, (b) racing, (c) cycle touring and (d) blogging.

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Looking ahead to the 2018 Duo Normand

After a fatality due to a collision between riders and another team's following car a couple of years ago, a change in course was pretty much inevitable. In 2017, the teams' following cars were taken off the course prior to the final out and home section of the course, as it was owing to the design of this part of the course that the accident was able to occur. For 2018, the organisers have announced a new course. This takes in about half of the 'main part' of the old course (but ridden in the other direction), before heading off eastwards.
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Cycling in Normandy 2018

We visited Normandy again this year for about a week and half of riding bikes and eating seafood. I prepared another report in Microsoft Sway, embedded below.  

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Norlond '10' F15/10 5/5/18

So now I've started, I'll continue!

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Astwood '10' 2/5/18

The 2018 season has been pretty awful so far. I had not completed a single one of the NBRC events (which began in early March). Roughly speaking, these fell out as follows:

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A visit to the F. T. Bidlake Memorial

I live and time trial in the London North District, where the flagship course over many years has been the F1, which uses the A1 dual carriageway (formerly the Great North Road). The Great North Road has been significant in the history of English time trialling over the years. Nowadays, events on the A1 in this area are restricted to the stretch of road between the Black Cat roundabout and the Baldock interchange, where the A1 becomes the A1(M) and beyond which bicycles aren't permitted. When I first moved down here, things were different, with time trials reaching thr Alconbury interchange - over the years, I've ridden a variety of course permutations - the majority of which are based on a start point near Tempsford (and usually using the Stuart Memorial Hall in Tempsford.I'd been aware of the F. T. Bidlake memorial near Sandy for some time, but until today hadn't actually visited. There's a brief biography of Frederick Thomas Bidlake (1867-1933) at wikipedia - put briefly, his role in English time trialling was significant.In the 1890s, cycle racing on roads was threatened following an incident between a couple of racing cyclists (Bidlake and a friend, pluse their pacers) and a lady with a horse which, startled by the cyclists, reared causing the cyclists to wind up in the ditch. Despite the fact that most damage was caused to the cyclists, complaints to the polices about cyclists' behaviour led to concerns that cycle riding on roads might be banned - at the time there was some pressure to amend to Highways Act. To forestall this, the National Cyclists Union banned racing on the road and insisted competitive cycling should only take place on tracks (known as 'paths' in those days).Not everyone agreed with the NCU's decision, and a rival organisation was set up - the Road Racing Council - and Bidlake organised a road race on 5th October 1895 which essentially used the time trial formula used to this day. Though it's not true to say Bidlake invented time trialling, he was one of those who codified the sport.Bidlake worked in a number of sports, including the Scheider Trophy for seaplanes in which he was timekeeper. Ultimately, Bidlake died three weeks after a fall on Barnet Hill due to collision with a car. The memorial was erected in 1934 after a public subscription. It's quite a modest affair, with a box hedge enclosing a triangular plot near the A1 at Sandy. Here's a Google Maps link that shows where it is.[caption id="attachment_4097" align="alignnone" width="1000"] The Bidlake memorial garden - in a rather inaccessible location[/caption]There's a stone pedestal that looks to have had something cut off - from the Wikipedia page, I think it formerly supported a sundial - with a legend "He measured time".[caption id="attachment_4096" align="aligncenter" width="563"] The pedestal that formerly held a sundial[/caption]Above a bench, there's a plaque inscribed

THIS GARDEN IS DEDICATED TOFREDERICK THOMAS BIDLAKEA GREAT CYCLISTA MAN OF SINGULAR CHARM & CHARACTERAN UNTIRING WORKER FOR CYCLISTS1867-1933

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Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25' 11/3/18

Team Grumpy assemble for two regular events each season - aside from the Duo Normand in September, the team generally opens the season with a ride at the Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25' in early March. 2018 was no exception. This year (as last year), the event was shifted to the fast R25/3H instead of the more rolling course usually used, owing to roadworks.

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Astwood '10' 3/3/18

It's been a while since I updated this blog. After the 2017 season finished, I began my usual winter training programme - after a short break I started a build up towards the New Year's Day '10'. Unfortunately a series of events significantly more important than training impacted on me, and my training suffered, and I did not ride the New Year's Day '10' for the first time in many years.I'd been looking forward to the opening event of the North Bucks Road Club time trial series. This was a Saturday morning event to which we'd hoped to attract newcomers. Unfortunately we have had a modest snowfall, and the event got cancelled. So, not much of a blog entry. Perhaps there will be a bit more action next weekend!In the meantime I discovered that the left hand Speedplay pedal on my main time trial bike (which hasn't been ridden since the Duo Normand) has pretty much seized up. I've tried injecting copious grease but that doesn't seem to have sorted the situation, which is sufficiently serious that I have taken the extraordinary steps of resorting to eBay to buy a set of replacement bearings. Hopefully they will arrive in time to overhaul the pedals before next weekend's time trial (which is the first open event of 2018 for me -  a 25 mile 2-up).

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Summer Tour 2017

This year, we decided to visit some of the southern Hebridean islands that we hadn't ventured to before. This report is written using Microsoft Sway. We used our newest tandem, a Thorn tandem - it behaved impeccably and we continue to have no issues with the Rohloff hub. Or the 32-spoke wheels. Or the S&S couplings.

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Stoke Hammond '10' 31/5/17

After a couple of weeks without racing (and indeed a week off the bike), I turned out for the club '10' on a sunny evening at the end of May. I've been getting a little concerned about the downturn in my form lately, which is partly why I took a bit of a break from training, so I was keen to see how this evening's '10' would go.I was quite a late starter in the field, and it was clearly quite a nice evening for a '10'. The starting stretch was OK, I avoided overcooking it at the start. Sadly, once I turned left up the DC drag, things went a bit pear-shaped. I clipped the edge of a large pothole (the whole course suffers from too many road defects), which bounced out my bottle, and caused me to run into the grassy verge. I was rather exasperated, at this and decided to get off to retrieve the bottle and check the bike was OK. I noticed that the impact had loosened the ratchet on my left shoe! So, by the time I'd got sorted, given the bike a quick once-over, and tightened up my shoe, I'd lost about a minute and 20 seconds. Despite that, and the fact I was having to get going on an uphill stretch, I decided to complete the course.After my altercation with the pothole, I was acutely aware of the remaining numerous potholes, which I managed to avoid. Also, there were no traffic related holdups! I finished with 24:40, not too shabby given the disastrous ride!

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Lea Valley '25' E2/25 8/4/17

Just a brief report here, drafted a month late. This event was run on a lovely spring afternoon, very warm and dry. A bit breezy, but no too bad. I'd travelled over with James, and we were about an warming up with plenty of time. Sadly, while James pulled off a 49:51 (I think he was 23rd, on a day when the third fastest '25' was recorded), all I could manage was 56:35, probably about a minute slower than I'd have expected. I have no idea why my form dipped so much (but I have some worries on that score). On the day, I just couldn't get comfy on the bike, and couldn't keep a steady effort. And getting slowed up at the turn wasn't a great morale-booster either. Oh well, onwards and upwards. I hope! 

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Brogborough '10' 5/4/17

Quite breezy for this morning's time trial on the F15/10. Having "missed out" on the previous weekend's Hardriders event (I marshalled in Woburn Sands), it was good to get the cobwebs blown off. From home it's only a few miles over to the Brogborough course, and about the right distance to make sure the legs are spinning well!Getting down the Brogborough hill was pretty good - not too twitchy as I passed the underpass. I did see one club mate walking back with a puncture near the Marston Moretaine RAB - no such misfortune for me fortunately. The direction of the prevailing breeze was mostly affecting the return leg and as is so common, the last few hundred metres to the line seemed to take an eternity!I finished in 23:11, not too bad, but I had hoped for a quicker ride, I guess.

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