If your chainring teeth look more “pointy” or sharp than they should be or look blunted and smaller than they should be then the chainring is starting to get worn. If you are having difficulties with setting up indexing to work consistently that you didn’t have when the chainset was new – then it may be time to replace it. It’s always best to change stuff at the first sign of trouble on your distance bike
With endurance events, one thing you have to learn to cope with is “having a bad patch”
At the weekend I rode the excellent Elenydd 300km event. There were 104 starters and 103 finishers on the event. The main problem factor on the Elenydd, which explores the mountain passes in mid Wales, is the weather. This year the weather was quite benign.
However, I did experience some difficulties. The event started at 7am and there was a marvellous vista of the sunrise as we came around the first bend. I was going ok to start with. However, after just a few km I started to get a gut ache. Additionally, my GPS unit was playing up. So while I had a route sheet too and I was happy with the route sheet, I couldn’t retrace the laney route at the start easily. I had to press on. I tried to sort myself out at the first control* at Shobdon Airfield but the pain continued.
The trouble is with something like this is that you don’t feel like going fast at all. When a useful group of riders passes you, instead of hopping on the back and getting a tow, you just let them go. This is one of the problems with a bad patch. Probably if I pushed myself I could keep with the passing fast group. The nature of the “bad patch” is that it messes with your level of motivation. Whatever the cause, the outcome is less “get up and go”
In Builth Wells, I had a planned stop for food. I had the most rotten cup of coffee of the year so far. However, after this my body decided it would work again. By the time I got to the feared “Devil’s Staircase” ascent on the Tregaron mountain road I was able to go up the whole thing without walking. And all the subsequent climbs on that road. The bowls club at Tregaron was, as usual, a marvellous experience. This is the turn around point. All day we’d had a bit of a headwind. And for once, riding back we had a tailwind! At Rhayader things got even better. I had a really good coffee at the Strand cafe- good thing one. I tried my GPS again. This time it started to work properly – good thing two. After that the ride back was fast and not difficult. Having a working GPS helps with speed, especially in the dark. You can “see” the turns on the GPS before they are visible.
So I had a bad patch for the first 100km. But I kept rolling and it went away. This is what happens with a lot of discouraging things on long rides. It just so happened that I had my bad bit at the start. Keep moving, keep eating and drinking – the bad patch will end.
* yes this is a euphemism
The Valley it’s self is a steep sided valley near the sea. The rocks have corroded in an odd way, it doesn’t look like anywhere else. To add to the weirdness, it is home to a flock of wild goats.
The route goes to Lynmouth before the Valley of the Rocks so it’s necessary to ascend what is probably the steepest sustained hill in Devon. After about 100 metres of maybe 16% it kicks up and there is a section even steeper than that. Once again I wasn’t able to ride up it and had to push. This is the only hill that regularly defeats me!
After stopping at the cafe in the Valley of the Rocks I set off, only to realise my back tyre was flat. Closer examination showed that the rear tyre was worn, with lots of nicks and cuts. This is todays top tip: before taking the winter bike out with last years tyres on do check that the tyres are still good.
I got to the last control before the finish and asked Simon what the time was. 7pm he replied. Hmm. I’d hoped to be finished by 7:30pm but it was still over 40km of more hills. I eventually rolled in to the finish at 9pm. On the plus side I felt good on the last section.
Riding home in the rain was surprisingly pleasant
It was my first proper distance ride of the year this weekend
I can’t tell you what I learned from this
But I can tell you what came back to me, again
First of all, when I was setting off I seemed to have to stop every 50 metres to adjust something or other. But then I “got going” and I was surprised when I got to the halfway point ahead of my expected time. I thought – I must be going really well!
What I’d forgotten was, when you think you are going really well it is simply the effects of a tailwind. The next thing is that you are riding into a headwind. And this is indeed what happened.
Another thing I’d forgotten is those little aches and pains. To avoid achey toes I have often gone to great lengths to keep my feet warm early on in the ride. I missed out on this – result hurty feet. But I got away with this to a great extent as it was only 200km and the feet warmed up in the afternoon. I was back home before it got cold
Lastly, I remembered that often the narrow way, the back road, the poor track is sometimes the best way to take. As I got towards the end, riding into that headwind, I wasn’t feeling so great. I much prefer hills to headwinds. So on a couple of occasions I avoided my planned flatter, wider and better surfaced (but windier) route in favour of a terrible narrow lane up a hill. And I felt better for it.
That’s my first 200km ride of the year out of the way! Hopefully it will be good prep for the 300km Elenydd in a few weeks.
At long last the weather has switched to loverly and sunny with dry roads
And it was a weekend too
So the carbon bike got off the hook in the garage, the tyres were checked, the mold wiped off the saddle and the GPS clip was fitted on it
For once I’d managed to put the bike into storage in a clean and fully working order, so there wasn’t much to do
I went off around Exmoor, it was beautiful to be out on the moors again
“If audax is all about long distance cycling”, a wag once wrote, “why are the car parks full at events?”
The answer of course is that we all lead busy lives and at the same time want to enter events in interesting places. Often there isn’t time to cycle many miles to an event
So what sort of cars are good for travelling to events? One with enough room for a bike in the back. One that’s relatively cheap – we don’t want to waste resources on a car
When I got a new car recently I took all this into account and got a Citroen Berlingo
1) Long Distance Ride Bike Fit Tips
These brief notes on bike fitting matters are still proving popular
2) Lightweight Saddlebag Substitute
People want light saddlebags!!
3) About Audaxing
The notes on what it’s all about
4) Big Tyres
Schwalbe Ultremo ZX with pictures
5) My best bike part4 : A new bike?
How I picked a bike
6) Common Mechanical Problems On London Edinburgh London
Being a bike mechanic on a 1300km event
7) Spa Cycles Saddle
People want cheap saddles
8) Audax A-Z
The alphabetic guide
9) National 400
Photo report on this years official AUK National 400km event
10) London Edinburgh London
Photos from LEL