Monthly Archives: December 2012

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 32,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 7 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.


Cannock Chase Loop

A really nice ride today. 35 miles around Cannock Chase.

Including stopping for lunch at the Birch Valley Centre Cafe. Hundreds of very dirty people and mountain bikes there. I, however, stayed nice and clean despite lots of flooding and dirty, gravel covered roads.


As you can see from the photo at the cafe there was nowhere to actually lock up a bike. I used the big bench in the foreground while I had my lunch. I guess nobody wants to steal a mountain bike (too much cleaning to do).

After that I called in at Bridgwater Town Cycles (nice bike shop with quite a lot of stuff).

The ride ended when I joined the family at the Lichfield Cathedral Coffee Shop. I then put the bike in the car and joined the family for a wander around Lichfield and a very nice Italian meal.


A pretty hilly ride but a lovely long descent to Lichfield on mucky minor roads that were mostly streams. I was still dry and clean at the end.

I did have to do a bit of maintenance today. One of the rear mudguard bolts came loose which meant removing the back wheel. Of course the lack of any oil meant I didn’t get too dirty doing this.

Total 35.2 miles over 1,500ft climbed.


Gentle family friendly progress

So I made a little progress on my Rapha Festive 500 challenge on Strava. We needed to collect our eldest son from Birmingham station as he was coming to join us for our short break.

Therefore I cycled from just north of Lichfield to the centre of Birmingham, just 20 miles. Fortunately the heavy rain that greeted us this morning had just about stopped by the end of a late breakfast. With me cycling, Jane driving and Andy coming by train it was a nice co-incidence that we all arrived at the Bullring at almost exactly the same time.

Again the roads were very wet with a number of floods to ride through (although nothing much deeper than about 5cm). However, the route worked out pretty well and it surprised me how easy it was to get to the centre of Birmingham without any very scary roads.

I decided to spend time with the family instead of cycling back again which means I am falling a bit behind my schedule. I do like rides that fit in with actually doing things as a family rather than being just for the sake of it.

Guess what. The bike worked perfectly again and I expect that phrase will be rather over-used during the next 20 years 🙂

Tomorrow the plan is a loop through Cannock Chase, lunch at a visitor centre, calling in at a nice bike shop and dinner in Lichfield. But it will probably change 🙂 Hopefully will add around another 40 miles keeping me not too far off target.


Bike for life shows how it is done

Today was a delight, 47.3 winter miles showing exactly why I made the choices I did for my Bike for Life. Particularly the combination of:

  • Gates belt drive (silent and no need to worry about oil being washed off, or grit wearing it out)
  • Rohloff hub gear (reliable, huge range, smooth, weatherproof)
  • Schmidt dynamo with Schmidt EDelux front light and B&M rear light (very bright, there all the time, reliable, foolproof)
  • Jones loop h-bar (so comfy with options of two more aerodynamic positions for headwinds)
  • Brooks B17 Select saddle (well worn in and so comfy)
  • Hope Ceramic bearings bottom bracket (reliable, silent, smooth)
  • Schwalbe Marathon City Plus tyres (comfy, puncture proof, fast, bullet proof)
  • Hope Tech Evo V4 hydraulic disc brakes (so powerful and smooth)
  • Shand Cycles Stoater frame to hang it all on (looks fantastic, all the right fittings with internal electric cables and beautiful brazing & paint)

Together they mean that the bike copes with rain, floods, potholes, grit all over the road, darkness etc without any problems at all. In fact more accurately with beautiful composure.

This is what I had wanted. A bike you can just get on, that you can rely on for any journey whatever the weather. I maybe one of the slowest riders in the Festive 500 challenge, but I am certainly the one needing to do least maintenance and least worried about British weather. 🙂


First longer ride of the Festive500

Today was my first opportunity to get in a few more miles as part of the Rapha Festive 500 challenge on Strava.

So in total I rode 52.3 miles of which the bulk (47.3 miles) was riding from Syston to the Lichfield Premier Inn by a quiet route.

I have noticed other people have been putting up beautiful photos of snowy landscapes or fantastic scenery. I managed:


which is a stop for a sandwich while hiding from the rain in Newbold Verdun. I had another stop for a coffee at the M42 services near Appleby Magna:




Clearly these sorts of images are likely to win me a big prize!



Leicestershire flunk design implementation again

6 months later than promised and Leicestershire Council Council have at last put in the last section of the shared cycle/pedestrian route along Newark Road (A607 bypass at Thurmaston). This is to avoid a very narrow a twisty route under the steps of a footbridge.

However, they can’t even do something this simple well. Look at these two photos.



Why have they put that sharp and narrow turn at the end of the extra bit of path. There is plenty of room and I am pretty sure that is what I saw on the plans.

Now when two people approach this from different directions one is probably going to have to stop to wait for the other. Already you can see tracks in the mud where someone has taken the short cut straight on.

So disappointing that new stuff is still being done so carelessly and thoughtlessly.


Finished Stoater Handlebars

Finished Stoater Handlebars by Dave 42
Finished Stoater Handlebars, a photo by Dave 42 on Flickr.

After just over a month of use I have now completed the set-up of the handlebars on my Bike for Life. This is in preparation for getting some more miles in over the next few days as I am to reach both my target for the year of 5,500 miles and also complete a 500km challenge on Strava.

I really like the Jones Loop H-Bar along with the Ergon GP1 bio-Cork Grips. I have already found that the handlebars do provide really useful extra handholds on the loop with 2 positions that considerably improve the aerodynamics. So now I have managed to implement the changes I had planned.

The (very bad, sorry about that) photo shows the result. Nice cushioned handlebar tape on both sides of the loop. I have moved the Garmin 800 to between the loops using a Raceware mount. This is much better than mounting on the stem as it allows the angle to set so that hopefully rain will run off. It also increased the space for my hands on the further part of the loop where they had been a bit squashed between bell and the Garmin.

Anyway, this now created a place to mount the Contour+2 camera as have not been able to use it with my Stoater yet (I’m not desperate enough to start wearing a helmet in order to mount the camera on it).

All in all very nice indeed, I will now be shockingly fast when piling on the miles, not! 🙂

Only remaining challenge is to sort out suitable cables for on the road charging of the camera and garmin from the Plug 11 I really need a very compact right angle mini usb connector for the Garmin as there is not a lot of space. Anyway that can wait for another day.


Flood Planning

So I have planned a route from Syston to Lichfield tomorrow (part of my rides to achieve 5,500 miles in the year plus the Strava Rapha 500 Festive Challenge).

I have been checking the Live Flood Map and it looks like I may need to divert onto more major roads near the end. Around here routes are quite restricted with all the parts along the Canal and River Soar completely flooded.

As preparation I have updated the handlebar layout by adding handlebar tape to both middle sections of the Jones Loop h-bar and relocating the Garmin to the middle of the loop which allows me to fit the Contour+2 camera to the front of the handlebar all while making more space on those inner bits for my hands. 🙂


Last minute rush

The pressure is piling on. Only 8 more riding days in 2012 and I am still 311 miles short of my target of 5,500 miles for the year.

Tomorrow is not likely to add many. I have 3 services but because of the floods it looks like I need to drive to Rothley for the 4pm service as otherwise I won’t make it back in time for the 5pm kickoff at Syston. With the road between Cossington and Rothley completely flooded it means using the A6 and A46 which adds hills and distance.

As for Christmas Day there will be a few few miles but only for the service I am taking at Claremont St in the morning.

That probably means I’ll need to find time for 50 miles a day for the last 6 days of the year. H’mm tricky.


Preparing for a time critical day

For the last 2.5 years I have been used to relying on my bikes for reliable transport for time critical journeys.

So the last week has unsettled me a little as I have had both a front and a rear puncture on my Bike for Life.

Tomorrow is a typical day with 4 events in different places.

  • Birstall at 9:30am
  • Syston at 1:30pm
  • City Centre at 4:30pm
  • Rothley at 7pm

Probably about 30 miles in total.

So tonight I am preparing by fitting two Schwalbe Marathon Plus Smartguard City 700 x 38mm Tyres. Plus I now have a Vittoria Pit Stop Tyre Sealant to carry around with me.

For a while I’ll probably carry enough tools to repair punctures in case this trend continues, but I prefer to concentrate on making the bike more reliably rather than being ready to repair it.


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