Monthly Archives: August 2013

Direct Comparison turns out to be good news

Today provided a unique opportunity for me to compare my Bike for Life (a Stoater Plus from Shand Cycles to my previous bike a Trek Pilot 1.2
Last year I cycled from Syston to the Greenbelt Festival at Cheltenham racecourse on the Trek (just weeks after completing Lands End to John o’Groats in 11 days).
Today I did the same ride (but with an improved, slightly longer route), again as a group of 3.
Last year the group was myself, Neil and Ann. This year it was Rachel (married to Neil), Ann and me with both Rachel and Ann were on Giant road bikes.
Ann noticed a huge improvement (obvious to me as well) as last year she was on a heavy hybrid.

So given so many similarities, how does my Shand Stoater Plus, fully equipped with belt drive, Rohloff 14 speed hub gears, hydraulic disk brakes, dynamo lights, full length mudguards, kickstand and 3 racks (rear, front low rider and front randoneer) compare with a lightish audax bike without mudgards and with 27 speed derailleur gears.

I’m not sure about overall speed and that was set by the group anyway. However, I clearly felt less tired when I arrived (despite being on antibiotics and paracetamol and ibuprofen for a problem wisdom tooth). I would have been quite happy to have continued quite a lot further. Despite the  extra weight the Shand climbs much better. The Jones H-Loop handlebar gives great options for headwinds and downhills as well as the times when you need great control. The Hope M4  brakes inspire confidence so I brake later and less. The 32mm Durrano tyres are noticeably more comfortable than the 28mm ones on the Trek.

Not only was I less tired I was also more comfortable on the way with a better view.

These are exactly the sort of things I wanted from my Bike for Life. Not only that but it also comes with far less maintenance. FANTASTIC!!

Direct Comparison turns out to be good news

Today provided a unique opportunity for me to compare my Bike for Life (a Stoater Plus from Shand Cycles to my previous bike a Trek Pilot 1.2
Last year I cycled from Syston to the Greenbelt Festival at Cheltenham racecourse on the Trek (just weeks after completing Lands End to John o’Groats in 11 days).
Today I did the same ride (but with an improved, slightly longer route), again as a group of 3.
Last year the group was myself, Neil and Ann. This year it was Rachel (married to Neil), Ann and me with both Rachel and Ann were on Giant road bikes.
Ann noticed a huge improvement (obvious to me as well) as last year she was on a heavy hybrid.

So given so many similarities, how does my Shand Stoater Plus, fully equipped with belt drive, Rohloff 14 speed hub gears, hydraulic disk brakes, dynamo lights, full length mudguards, kickstand and 3 racks (rear, front low rider and front randoneer) compare with a lightish audax bike without mudgards and with 27 speed derailleur gears.

I’m not sure about overall speed and that was set by the group anyway. However, I clearly felt less tired when I arrived (despite being on antibiotics and paracetamol and ibuprofen for a problem wisdom tooth). I would have been quite happy to have continued quite a lot further. Despite the  extra weight the Shand climbs much better. The Jones H-Loop handlebar gives great options for headwinds and downhills as well as the times when you need great control. The Hope M4  brakes inspire confidence so I brake later and less. The 32mm Durrano tyres are noticeably more comfortable than the 28mm ones on the Trek.

Not only was I less tired I was also more comfortable on the way with a better view.

These are exactly the sort of things I wanted from my Bike for Life. Not only that but it also comes with far less maintenance. FANTASTIC!!

Direct Comparison turns out to be good news

Today provided a unique opportunity for me to compare my Bike for Life (a Stoater Plus from Shand Cycles to my previous bike a Trek Pilot 1.2
Last year I cycled from Syston to the Greenbelt Festival at Cheltenham racecourse on the Trek (just weeks after completing Lands End to John o’Groats in 11 days).
Today I did the same ride (but with an improved, slightly longer route), again as a group of 3.
Last year the group was myself, Neil and Ann. This year it was Rachel (married to Neil), Ann and me with both Rachel and Ann were on Giant road bikes.
Ann noticed a huge improvement (obvious to me as well) as last year she was on a heavy hybrid.

So given so many similarities, how does my Shand Stoater Plus, fully equipped with belt drive, Rohloff 14 speed hub gears, hydraulic disk brakes, dynamo lights, full length mudguards, kickstand and 3 racks (rear, front low rider and front randoneer) compare with a lightish audax bike without mudgards and with 27 speed derailleur gears.

I’m not sure about overall speed and that was set by the group anyway. However, I clearly felt less tired when I arrived (despite being on antibiotics and paracetamol and ibuprofen for a problem wisdom tooth). I would have been quite happy to have continued quite a lot further. Despite the  extra weight the Shand climbs much better. The Jones H-Loop handlebar gives great options for headwinds and downhills as well as the times when you need great control. The Hope M4  brakes inspire confidence so I brake later and less. The 32mm Durrano tyres are noticeably more comfortable than the 28mm ones on the Trek.

Not only was I less tired I was also more comfortable on the way with a better view.

These are exactly the sort of things I wanted from my Bike for Life

Full bike for Life ride preparation in progress

In 7 hours I leave for a nice 85 mile ride with friends.

I am running rather late due to a bit of a hectic week (and still got some work that has to be done tonight).

Yet I wanted to properly prepare my Bike for Life for tomorrow as both Ann and Rachel are riding nice road bikes (and I know that Ann has just had hers fully serviced with new chain and cassette).

Fortunately, the only things I can think of doing to prepare it are:

  • pump up the tyres (it is at least a month since I last put any air in them)
  • charge the battery on my Garmin 800
  • charge the battery on my Contour+ camera
  • fill my water bottles

Yes in an ideal world I might have given it a quick wash so it would look it’s best but probably 11:30pm is a bit late for that.

I haven’t had to do anything more than this for months despite daily use and that is exactly what I wanted when I specified it 🙂

 

To Greenbelt again

On Friday we are off to Greenbelt again. A big one this year as it is the 40th Anniversary of Greenbelt.

Like last year I am cycling there, this time with Ann and Rachel.

For the first time I have planned the route using Strava which has just added route planning. Actually I had already planned it in Garmin Connect first but have now done it in Strava as well, even in beta the route planning is nicer to use,

The route is here.

This year we are not following the Fosse Way because the traffic was so dangerous last year. Instead we go via Coventry, there are a couple of short urban dual carriageway sections but hopefully overall it will be better.

So just over 85 miles on my Shand Stoater Plus, my Bike for Life, with a rather busy short week between our summer holiday and Greenbelt it is helpful that my Bike for Life is always ready to go anywhere.

On the other hand it should be a challenge, it is a while since I rode 85 miles and I am riding with two very competitive people who are both on stripped down road bikes. I on the other hand have a fully equipped bike with 14 speed Rohloff hub gears, hydraulic disk brakes, full mudguards with mud flaps, 3 sets of racks, a big Dutch bell and of course a Brooks B17 Special saddle. I think my bike ways a fair bit more than their two bikes added together. Lucky for me then that it rolls so well 🙂

Note that we are all cheating slightly as all our spouses are driving to Greenbelt with all the home comfort needs in our cars so this is no environmental bonus, simply a lovely day of riding 🙂

 

Travelling with bikes

We have spent 1 1/2 days travelling home from Alkmaar in the Netherlands to Leicester in the UK.

Yesterday we left the campsite just after noon Dutch time and arrived at a Travelodge near the Dartford Thames Crossing at 10:30pm UK time. The start worked particularly well. We had a full afternoon and evening out on Thursday so didn’t start packing anything until after breakfast on Friday. We were off the pitch before noon and then had time for a shower before leaving the site (much nicer to start a long journey not feeling all sweaty).

Today we left the travelodge just after 9 and got home around noon.

With a folding camper (a Dandy Designer) there is very little storage inside the folded camper and the our fridge (gas/mains or 12V) takes a big chunk of space in the car boot. We see many others with similar configurations and for the most part they have their bikes on the car roof or sometimes on top of the camper (usually laying flat).

As there were only 3 of us my much preferred option is to remove all the seats we don’t need from the car (with the Berlingo Multispace this is very easy and needed as they don’t fold flat into the floor). We can then fit 3 bikes and the fridge into the car (along with a fair bit of other stuff such as duvets, pillows, 24 bottles of wine, tools). The rest of the clothes I put in a folding Thule roofbox on top of the Dandy camper.

This has big advantages:

  • much better aerodynamics (we averaged 40mpg and that was with only one short day trip when we were not towing). The roofbox is still a lot lower than our car so has much less effect when on the trailer.
  • better security. Yes they could steal our dirty washing on the way home if they untied the roofbox or cut it with a sharp tool. But the bikes are worth a lot more than our holiday clothes!
  • better in the rain. The bikes stay dry 🙂
  • less damage. The bikes get wrapped in rugs and there is no rubbing or scraping or wind damage
  • height barriers have only the normal restrictions for the roof of the car. Having seen someone drive under a building with bikes on we don’t want to risk the same (we once nearly forgot and nearly tried to drive through a car park height barrier with bikes on.

In the past with a 6 berth, twin axle caravan I could just about fit 5 bikes into it, again a pretty good option (although a bit of pain at overnight stops in motorway services).

The next best option is to put the bikes on the roof of the camper, we did that a couple of years ago with 6 bikes to France because with 6 people in the car there was only room in the car for us, the fridge and a little stuff. Since then we have had the suspension on the Dandy upgraded and I do have plans for a Mark II version one day.

Meantime since getting home I have at last started work on a new lighting board for the Dandy. Some of the lights are persistently unreliable so I am creating an LED lighting board that will be quick to fit (I don’t want to drill the frame at the moment so this will hang on top). I am also going to fit some boards to the bottom of the roof box which will make it quicker and easier to fit.

Last day riding in the Netherlands this holiday

So sad, today was our last full day in the Netherlands, in the morning we pack up to head back to cycling carnage in the UK.

It also rained all morning but by mid afternoon it had cleared up and we went for a beautiful ride.

You can see a map of the route here on Strava.

As with every ride in the Netherlands this holiday there was not a single dangerous or scary moment.

I got caught a bit as piggy in the middle between a son wanting to rush onto the next place where we might buy him food and a wife who wanted to enjoy the scenery 🙂

The ride to Camperduin included some lovely off road bits with some amazing sand mountains to see at Schoorl. Then we stopped for a drink at the cafe on top of the dunes at Camperduin, so windy the froth was being blown off the drinks as the staff brought them to the tables (despite the glass screens).

The next bit is wonderful, a scenic ride through the sand dunes. A real delight even with the hills and a very strong headwind. We passed one family with 3 children between the parents bikes (Mum with the younger two and Dad with the older one) working their way up the first long climb. There were lots of bikes all the way along with people of all ages riding them.

We then had an early evening meal at Bergen aan Zee with a sea view which was lovely before a ride back to the campsite on which you pass some really great home designs.

I did 23.3 miles which was probably a mile or two further than the others as I commuted between them 🙂

A great ride to finish the holiday.

Note looking forward to UK roads at all!

 

Some normal sights in the Netherlands

I’m sorry but I’m not much of a photographer so you’ll have to make do with word pictures.

We have now been in the Netherlands for 10 days. Here are just a few of the normal sights around here that you won’t normally (if ever, for most of us) see in the UK

1: An elderly couple out for a ride together. She is on a mobility scooter and he is on an electric assist bike.

2: A mum with a cargobike riding alongside a young child (maybe about 5 years old) who is riding their own bike along the normal cycle infrastructure (at this point a painted lane on the road). When I caught up with them they were stopped at a red traffic light and clearly having a conversation about what that meant and when they would be able to continue.

3: Parents with two children on a normal bike (one in a seat behind the handlebars, the other a seat on the backrack).

4: Teenage girls riding out of town on their own in the late evening.

5: Groups of young people riding about town together, using the safe infrastructure not the pavement or the road.

6: A group of 4 Scouts in uniform on a fully loaded tour

7: Tandems with couples of all ages in normal clothes

8: Couples in full lycra on nice road bikes riding together heading in or out of town

9: People getting off their bike, parking it and taking a walking stick from the basket in order to be able to walk away.

10: Crowds of bikes parked outside every restaurant, cafe, pub, shop in an ordinary town not just a University city.

11. Cash machines at banks that most of the people use them one handed while holding their bike in the other hand

12. People of all ages giving people of all ages rides on their back racks (or sometimes their front racks)

13. Dogs in front baskets, dogs in rear baskets, dogs on leads alongside bikes

14. A gentleman riding home with a huge brass band instrument on his front rack

15: A mum with two maybe 10 year olds in the front of her cargobike (seen halfway between two towns)

16: Bike traffic jams at traffic lights despite it not being rush hour, not being a city and not being a narrow lane.

Cycling to work ‘halves risk of diabetes’ compared to driving

Cycling to work ‘halves risk of diabetes’ compared to driving from road.cc

I hope that Cycling for work has a similar benefit!

What we should not copy from the Netherlands

Our family is united in the opinion that it is a bad idea to allow scooters to use cycle tracks.

They are so much faster than bikes that they are quite intimidating.

So please UK do not allow anyone to think this is a good idea, the Dutch have got this one wrong and we can do better.

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