Ok so a 100km ride isn’t really long distance but it was fun
Photo by Graham Brodie
“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
I recently bought two Smart Lunar R1 lights. They are small, lightweight devices but extremely bright. I got them for two purposes:
When I got them out of the box and looked at how they worked I was impressed at the “modes” available. The light has some small LEDs and one large big LED. The 3 modes, which are selected by pressing one switch are big light, small lights only, alternate/flash big/little. The big LED is too powerful for group riding but is impossible to miss, even in daylight. The little lights are good for group riding and the batteries will last longer. So being able to select big or little as alternatives is great.
The “big” and little lights modes
The pair of lights, fitted on the rear stays of the bike
I put them on the bike about a month ago.
However, the lights were too good to be true. During the second of two wet days/nights out one of the lights refused to switch off after use. Later in the same ride the other light refused to switch on. I left them over the fireplace overnight, they dried out and started working again.
I asked around and apparently this is a known problem with this type of light. The design flaw is that the switch is placed at the bottom of the light. Any water that penetrates the seal pools near the switch and causes it to go wrong.
The “smart” (see what I did there) thing to do at this point would have been to return the lights to the retailer as unfit for use. Apparently Astrum and Radobot lights have the switch in a different place and do not have this problem. But sadly I am not sensible enough for this.
To try and mitigate the design flaw I have taken the following counter measures
Will it work and render the light reliable in rainy weather? I don’t know. I suspect I will be finding out quite soon though.
It’s now the end of the loverly summer and I am looking forward to riding around in a lot of rain and mud. I’ll be using my winter bikes.
My best bike, the black Specialized Roubaix and my second best summer bike, the Orbea are both hung up in the garage. The Specialized might be brought out if it’s a nice day and if I want to go a long distance but these two have pretty much gone into hibernation.
The Setavento and the Karate Monkey are going to keep going in the winter. They only have themselves to blame with their indestructible tyres and robust drive trains
Both have Fizik under bar tape padding and a clip to take the Garmin eTrex 20 and Shimano M540 pedals. Both have mudguards and racks. But there are many differences….
This is a proper audax type of bike and I have ridden a couple of proper long distance events on it. I would favour this bike for better roads and longer distance, if a lot of rain is expected.
The wheels have cheap Ridga rims 32h front, 36h rear. Rear has a 105 hub. Spokes have 3m reflectors on them.
At the moment the RH shifter/brake is a Ultegra and the LH is a Microshift
The frame is custom Titanium. With bonus welded repairs.
The frame is steel and moderately heavy. Not super heavy, just strong.
The Karate Monkey has a battery powered rear light fitted and if I am going out after dark I put a front battery light on. I am not planning to go vast distances on this. The furthest it’s been so far is a tiny 92km.
The wide, heavy tyres are comfy but add some drag. For the uphills this is makes it a bit slower and tougher. On the downhills it’s top speed is lower. But to be honest, in the winter I don’t want to take muddy, wet downhill corners fast. I was surprised that it’s normal cruising speed on the flat is only a tiny bit lower than the Setavento.
If it snows or is icey then this is the bike that will have the ice tyres on. I have some 35mm Schwalbe Marathon Winters in the garage ready to fit to keep riding in that kind of weather.
The front wheel is a cheap 32h Ridga 29er wheel. The rear is a 36h Alfine with a welded Mavic 29er rim, maybe overkill!
To sum it up, the Setvento is faster but the Karate Monkey feels more capable on poor road surfaces.
Both are great bikes in their own way!
So on Sunday I got up early and after a brief bit of faffing (I’d put the GPS mount on upside down) I was off into the mostly grey dawn.
It was pretty in a “early morning up a hill” kind of way on the Blackdowns. Can you spot the deer in the picture below?
I was using the “DIY by GPS” system for the ride. I wasn’t actually that bothered about getting AUK points but I have a GPS unit so I thought I’d enter and see how it went.
The ride went great, the route seemed pretty nice until I got to the A371 near Castle Cary railway station. The bridge on the A371 was closed. I knew from the map that this was the best road route to get where I needed to go next. Any alternative would require a diversion of several km. However, I could see the station from the wrong side of the bridge. I could see that the station had a foot bridge over the railway. So after crossing a muddy field on foot I was back on course.
I am thinking of running this route as an event next year so I was interested in the traffic levels. For the most part they were good and low. I might have to go directly through Frome next time from Nunny Hatch and not use the bypass on the A361. It is nice and fast but a bit of a race track.
I took a new road to Marlborough (the A3098 just past Westbury) and saw this magnificent beastie. It is a lot bigger and tidier than the one nearer to Marlborough I would see later
Quick coffee in Marlborough at the Azuza Cafe then back onto the loverly hills.
I got back at about 10pm, so with a 7am start and not going that briskly it seems like the route must be fairly easy to do.
Here’s how to fit full length mudguards onto a difficult bike
My Karate Monkey was a summer acquisition. It’s a 29er MTB frame with horizontal dropouts. It has disk brakes and Alfine gears. It will be good to use in the winter but first it needs mudguards. Full mudguards are a bit tricky to fit around disk calipers. It’s the mudguards stays. Job done though thanks to using a sawn off rear mudguard on the front and a piece of plumping pipe as a shim under the fork crown
I’m fairly happy with it. The only thing that really went wrong was that the “front” mudguard split across an old stress point after I’ve cut it to size. It should have had a forward section, but it doesn’t
Now I’m all set for the Dartmoor Devil at the end of October
Usually this blog is about long distance cycling made easy. However, there are other ways of doing it. Yesterday I entered a 25 mile time trial on a hilly course.
I entered this event last year also. Last year I came dead last. This year I got to the start, pinned my number on and actually managed to warm up a bit before the start. Maybe not enough but I had 10 minutes of riding including pounding up a hill on the A road, which is exactly what the course consists of- up and down on the A38
My disappointing performance last year was the result of exactly 1 weekend of training after a last minute impulse entry to this event, run by the local club I belong to. This time I resolved to take the following measures in order to improve my performance
So how did my prep go? I did train from the early weeks of the year. This fed through into early long distance events I did. Although being faster isn’t everything for those long distances, every little helps. My weight loss program went ok until I went on holiday in France in July and never recovered. I didn’t get around to attempting to improve my position until much too late. I did drop the handlebars lower and this did seem to be faster. But it was unfortunately very uncomfortable at the saddle so I raised them again. I had not left enough time for the necessary experimentation.
As for equipment, my bike was the same as last year
The Brooks saddle on the Roubaix is replaced with an SLR flow with minimal padding and a slot. There are tribars and no bar bag. The handmade wheels are replaced by “race” wheels with the fastest tyres I could find in my garage – 25mm Michelin Pro Race. The mudguards and lights are removed, except the backup light- these types of light are now “recommended” on time trials in the UK
My time to start approached. I was wearing my PBP jersey and the guy holding the bike, who is French, makes chatty remarks about it. Then I’m off trying to get my speed up to 50kph.
As I got to the 5 mile in mark I felt that things were going a bit better. Noone had passed me! On the first event my minute man had sailed by very briskly, seemingly followed by the remainder of the field. Then just after the 5 mile mark, my minute man did appear and pass me on a climb. However I put in an effort and he didn’t vanish up the road immediately, not until after the next big ascent. Another rider went by at the turn around, then another. I wasn’t too discouraged. I was feeling ok and seemed to be going alright. I had forgotten to press the start button on my stop watch on the bike computer so I had no numbers to back this up but this was my impression.
This impression was reinforced as I seemed to be catching a rider in the distance. As he got nearer I realised that this was my minute man. I had started as number 24 and this guy was number 23.
Slowly on the climb I drew nearer and nearer. I was almost upon him when there was a bit of descent. He pulled away. But there was another climb and eventually I went past! Then there was a big descent. At the foot of it another rider (not the minute man) over took me at speed. I upped my velocity but it wasn’t enough to stick with him. My minute man did catch me again of course but as I sprinted for the line he was only seconds ahead of me.
When I saw the results I discovered that my minute man was the only person I’d beaten but I had done it 3 minutes faster than last time so that’s a reasonable success.