Posted by: audaxing | August 22, 2016

Taking the S-Ones for a ride

After months of waiting, I finally fitted some Schwalbe S-One 30mm tubeless. There’s not a lot to say about fitting them. I used BOR 20.9mm tubeless tape in a double layer. The tyre took only a little pursuasion with the bead jack getting the initial bead on and then at the last bit. One pumped up straight with a track pump and the other needed CO2

S-One fitted

S-One fitted

S-One fitted

S-One fitted

Halfway up Culm Davey

Halfway up Culm Davey

Only been for one ride. I had the tyres at 80psi/5.5 bar. They seemed more comfortable than the previous 30mm Strada Bianca at 90 psi. Speedwise, it’s difficult to say but I did get a PB on a hill. Grip seemed good, I had to jump a pothole sideways on a wet road while already cornering quite fast and there was no sliding at all

Posted by: audaxing | July 31, 2016

Gravel vs. Cobbles: two bikes for long distance

I’ve had a Specialized Roubaix since 2010, done a number of nice long rides on it including PBP 2011 and 5 SR series. The Genesis Datum is a new arrival, had it about 6 weeks, I’ve just ridden one K&SW 600 and 300km in the North of England on it. But this is enough to do a fairly superficial comparison. Both bikes as I use them are pretty much stock except they have custom wheels and Brooks B17. Both have Schmidt SON generator hubs and B&M lights. Both have mudguards. The Roubaix is a 30-40-50 x 12-30 triple and the Datum is a 50-34 x 32-10

Genesis Datum just after k&sw 600

Genesis Datum just after k&sw 600

Roubaix with 28mm Ultremo ZX fitted

Roubaix with 28mm Ultremo ZX fitted

Handling cornering etc

When I first rode the Roubaix I thought “this handles like a boat. It’s the one for me” It’s super stable rather than responsive. The Datum is not a super responsive bike but compared to the Roubaix it is. I could probably push the Datum tighter around corners but I just don’t have that style of riding. The bigger tyres on the Datum make handling more confident on bad surfaces

Speed

In terms of what is the faster bike, probably the Roubaix feels slightly faster as it is a slightly lower riding position. But there is not much in it. The greater tyre width doesn’t make much difference.

Power transmission

As the frame on the Datum is stiffer, the power transmission on it feels better. If I ride the two bikes back to back the Roubaix almost feels bendy

Comfort

The Roubaix is very comfortable. The frame has various features to make it flex over poor surfaces. Considering it will only take 25mm with ‘guards it’s remarkable how good it is on rough roads. Of course the Datum has room for much bigger tyres, I am running it with 30mm Strada Bianca. The higher air volume makes up for the stiffer frame. The Specialized stock build also includes a carbon post and “phat” bar tape aimed at better levels of comfort

Pothole hits

If either bike meets a pothole they both cope well. The Roubaix flexes and the Datum bounces but the net result is ok. The entire back end of the Roubaix flexes like rubber. The larger tyres on the Datum absorb a lot of the shock when this happens

Tyre sizes

The Roubaix will take 25mm with mudguards or 28mm without. I rode PBP 2011 on 28mm Schwalbe Ultremo, excellent tyres for that job. The Datum is supplied with 33mm tyres, I currently have 30mm on it. It would probably take a big 35mm tyre without ‘

Weight

Roubaix is 10.6Kg and the Datum is 10.5Kg. This is surprising, the larger tyres on the Datum + the disks make it look like this would be heavier but it’s a tie

Ascending

When climbing the lighter rotating weight of the Roubaix wheels works in it’s favour. But the stiffer frame on the Datum works better. So I’d say on balance the Datum is slightly better

Climbing a hill in the Lake District

Genesis Datum Climbing a hill in the Lake District

Descending

On descents, the Roubaix is super stable. If there is a long straight section tuck in and enjoy. The Datum is not as stable. If the speed goes above 60kph you must grip the top tube between your legs to avoid vibrations or speed wobble. If there are corners on the descent both bikes are good but the Datum’s disk brakes and wider tyres give it a definite advantage

Off road

For those gravel path sections or bits of mislabeled Sustrans “cycle routes” that are actually mud the Datum is the clear winner. You can usually ride any bike on almost any surface but slightly wider tyres give better grip

Fitting luggage and guards

The Datum’s great clearance and proper mudguard eyelets give it the mudguard advantage here. It has full length SKS Longboards with the 30mm tyres. The Roubaix will only just take a Crud Road Race guard which attaches with rubber bands. Crud Road Race are good guards but they are not as durable as an SKS guard. The super tight clearance also increases wear, I am lucky to get 1500km out of a set. Neither bike is particularly great for luggage. I’ve experimented with Carradice bags using SQR or the bagman supports and also attaching dry bags. Both bikes have a Ortlieb Ultimate 5 klick mount on the front – front barbags aren’t to everyones liking but they suit me.

Stopping for Supplies

Genesis Datum Stopping for Supplies

So which is best?

Both bikes have their own strengths. Generally the comfort level of the Roubaix is better but the Genesis is faster. The Genesis disk brakes and larger tyres are nice to have, as is the concealed cable routing. The stability of the Roubaix gives it a feel of a real long distance bike. I will be using both and favouring the Genesis, simply because it is newer.

Posted by: audaxing | July 27, 2016

New Bike setup

The Genesis Datum is a great bike! For maximum long distance fun though I added a few bits and pieces to it..

mudguards

Adding the mudguards required an especially long (65mm) bolt. When I added the light as well this was increased to 70mm.
IMG_0998

IMG_1001

Then there was the usual fiddling and faffing getting the fit just right. I used loctite on all the mudguard bolts
IMG_1002

IMG_1014

Wheels and tyres

I had a pair of wheels made with a higher spoke count than the factory wheels the bike came with. The new wheels are 32 front and 32 rear. Despite being tubeless profiled rims initially I was going to put clinchers on, so on goes the rim tape
IMG_1017

IMG_1019
I did try putting the Strada Bianca tyres onto the tubeless rims but this proved impossible

IMG_1034
So I fitted them onto some old wheels with easier to fit, much narrower channels. I left them hung up in the garage for a week to stretch

IMG_1041

IMG_1044
Now the wheels would take the Strada Bianca tyres

IMG_1045
It was still quite a job getting them on

IMG_1046

IMG_1047

IMG_1048

IMG_1049

IMG_1051

IMG_1052

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lights

The front wheel has a SON generator hub. So I put a B&M IQ-X on the fork crown at the front.

Lezyne Micro Drive

Lezyne Micro Drive

At the back I put a Lezyne Micro Drive

Brake pads

One upgrade I should have made before trying to ride the bike around the Lake District and the Pennines were the brake pads. The RS 505 calipers came fitted with resin pads. These last 500 to 1000km. In my case after 1100km they had worn back to the metal and destroyed the front rotor. After this little disaster I fitted sintered pads which should be able to get through a few rides before changing. I also have learned the hard way what a worn out pad sounds like.

Luggage

I put an Ortlieb Ultimate 5 Klick fix on the handlebars. My old Ortlieb bag is still good. I also made a home brew drybag “saddlebag” holder with velcro straps and corrugated plastic. Should be writing up the “saddlebag” in another blog post

Posted by: audaxing | July 25, 2016

New Bike Electronics

Audax bikes might be propelled solely by human effort but they have various electronic devices on them: GPS, Lights, a generator, maybe a battery pack

A lot of riders (including myself) waste too much time trying to get an optimal electronic setup.

My last bike, the Roubaix had a Schmidt generator hub. This generator powered front and rear lights. The GPS was a eTrex 20 which runs off AA batteries. The front light was a Luxos which had a USB power output. After a while I discovered that the eTrex would run directly off the USB from the Luxos – even when lights were running. I had low powered backup lights too. I usually carry a mobile phone. The Luxos could also charge this, albeit slowly and it couldn’t charge the phone and run the GPS at the same time.

Failed

However, this set up failed and lost me a 300km when the Luxos failed – it was wet – and the backup light would have been inadequate for riding in the dark and rain. The lesson here really is always carry an adequate backup light. The Luxos and other B&M generator lights I’ve used have been very reliable on the whole but you never know what will happen..

With my new bike I am taking a different approach

Front light

The main, front light is a B&M IQ-X. This is the latest B&M offering with 100 Lux output. Compared with the 70 Lux from the Luxos. Like all new lights when they are new it seems to offer a vast improvement on the old. In this case the beam is both wider and longer. The IQ-X is simpler in design to the Luxos, with no USB power output and better water proofing

Rear light

The rear light is a rechargeable Lezyne Micro Drive. This is extremely bright and has various power “modes”. Even in the lowest mode that supposedly lasts for 24 hours the light is very very bright compared to an average light. The build quality is also good. To recharge it, the rear cover unscrews showing a USB plug. It will charge off any USB power source.

Lezyne Micro Drive

Lezyne Micro Drive

My previous rear lights have always had replaceable batteries in them. By preference these were AA batteries. The idea was that I could carry spares or even buy them from a garage if the light ran out

The eTrex 20 is now running off AA batteries all the time and not using the generator. With Sonyo Black XX batteries (now branded as “Panasonic  Eneloop Pro”) it runs for over 24 hours, depending on the exact use it is getting. Carrying a few sets of spares is not a problem for the typical audax event (ie a 600km over 40 hours)

I still carry a phone though. If the phone gets any kind of use – looking for an open shop in the area or for train times – then the battery is rapidly drained. So I needed some way of recharging it in the wild

USB cache battery

The solution was a Portapow 10200mAh portable charger. On 600km events there is often a drop bag service and the charger can go in there. Otherwise, it’s not super heavy and can come on the bike
It is able to charge the phone and the Lezyne Micro drive at the same time

Portapow charging Micro Drive light and phone at the same time

Portapow charging Micro Drive light and phone at the same time

Finally, I have got a new backup light. It’s only a cheap item from Wilcos but much more powerful than the previous light. Hopefully it is good enough to ride for extended periods in the dark and wet. Although I hope I don’t have to find out!

Posted by: audaxing | July 4, 2016

Brake fail, ride fail

Mille Pennines Event

The Mille Pennines is a 1010km AUK ride starting in Blackpool. There are 3 days of hard riding and a final easy section. The event uses the “Low Mill Outdoor Centre” in Askrigg as the base and the major stages all begin and/or end there.

The Lake District

Day one begins by leaving Blackpool and heading north to the Lake District. The first 100km is easy and I think most of the field of 90 did this in under four hours. After this, the mountainous beauty of the Lakes was covered, then we were at the seaside in Seascale. For the bike, so far so good

Fry an egg

Next we went up the Hard Knott pass. I rode up some of it but walked a long way. Then we had to come down the other side. It was at this point that the disks made some different sounds of tortured metal. I stopped and noted that the cooling fins were hot enough to fry an egg. But I didn’t have an egg so I pressed on. The front brake disk started to make a rattling noise all the time. After this, it was up the next bit and then some easier, better roads to Windermere and then back to Askrigg. At some point the brakes stopped rattling. I rolled into Askrigg at 00:40am and got one of the last bunk beds

Time to get a train

Next day I set off at 5am, full of Weetabix. There was a stiff climb to start but on the top the reward was some tremendous views

Pennines

Pennines

The brakes however made more and more worrying noises. I found if I pulled the lever a little bit they were silent running, so I did this.
At the Stanthope control stop, I took the front wheel out. There was scarring on the front disk. I tried cleaning the pads without removing them, using a wetwipe, they seemed smooth.

Then, not far from Hexham after braking hard for a corner the front wheel caliper seized up completely.
I wasn’t too sure what to do but fortunately another rider stopped (thank you Simon) and helped me remove the front caliper. The bike now had no front brake and wasn’t safe on steep, wet roads. I half rode, half walked down to Hexham and found the train station

What I guess happened…

The Shimano BR-RS505 calipers had only done a 600km ride prior to the event. They were new, on a new bike before that. After the 600km the bike went in for a service specifically to get the brakes adjusted, because the rear had been vibrating.

What I hadn’t checked is the type of pad that the brakes come with out of the box, they seem to come with resin pads. My other bikes have sintered pads. Resin pads don’t last as long as sintered, it seems that a normal 600km ride is a good distance for them. Also the extreme conditions of descending the narrow, very steep, twisting track on the back of the Hard Knott would have put paid to any brake pad on the verge of wearing out

So the lesson is, fit sintered pads and check them for wear before starting

The caliper is destroyed, it is full of mangled shavings from the rotor. The rotor is also dead. The hydraulic fluid for the front brake will also need redoing

Posted by: audaxing | July 3, 2016

Audacious Photos

First two days of the Mille Pennines 1000km. I packed during day 2

Welcome to Wearside

Welcome to Wearside

Pennines

Pennines

Pennines

Pennines

Pennines

Pennines

Pennines

Pennines

rider walking

rider walking

day 2 super view from moors

day 2 super view from moors

morning day 2

morning day 2

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boat at ambleside

boat at ambleside

Sunny day 1

Sunny day 1

Sunny day 1

Sunny day 1

Neil signing on

Neil signing on

Posted by: audaxing | June 18, 2016

Avalon Sunrise Start

The start of the Avalon Sunrise 400km event, 2016 last night

Signing on

Signing on

Ready to go

Ready to go

Posted by: audaxing | June 13, 2016

News flash: Wales is rainy

Had an enjoyable but wet weekend in Wales, riding. Saturday was Tekesbury, Monmouth, Brecon, Llandovery, Tregaron, Machynlleth, Dolgellau, Beddgelert, Betsy Coed. 3 hours sleep at a bunkhouse then Bala, Lake Vymwy, Newtown, Knighton, Leominster and finally back to the start

canal path near Brecon

canal path near Brecon

The climbing begins

The climbing begins

another view

another view

New Inn, Llandewi Brefi

New Inn, Llandewi Brefi

threatening sky near Devils Bridge

threatening sky near Devils Bridge

Mikey puts on his coat

Mikey puts on his coat

Pendam singletrack

Pendam singletrack

Evening in Barmouth

Evening in Barmouth

Cwm Hirant

Cwm Hirant

Posted by: audaxing | May 30, 2016

Fog and Sunshine

600km ride around Devon, Somerset and Cornwall

The day began for me at 4:05am. Getting out of bed at this time is not easy for me but I don’t like driving, parking, all that car stuff. I was riding to to start of the Kernow and SW 600 event

We set off from Exeter at 6am. It was foggy so as we went up onto the high ground near Holdsworthy there was no view except more fog

Nice view of fog

Nice view of fog

It was still foggy in Bude but it started to clear as we got to Looe. By the time we did the Fowey ferry crossing summer had arrived

On the Fowey ferry

On the Fowey ferry

Selfie

Selfie

But sadly as the day faded so the mist came back. Saint Michael’s Mount looked quite atmospheric.

Richard and St Michael's Mount

Richard and St Michael’s Mount

We left the friendly church hall in Penzance the last in the field. I suppose there were about 15 people riding. The night section is principally a fast blast along the A39 to Bude

In the mist, in the night

In the mist, in the night

The hall at Bude was nice and warm and we got a couple of hours shuteye and were off again at 6am

Sunday was a much nicer, sunny day

Sunday selfie

Sunday selfie

The road to Barnstaple was great, include a perfectly surfaced 5km downhill leading into some woods. We had a second breakfast and a coffee in Barnstaple. Bit of re-routing around a closed bridge with some help from locals and then past South Molton and onto the B3227 towards Black Cat and Wilvescombe.

The aim was to get to the motorway services in Bridgwater ( usual audax glamour locations eh? ) then back the way we came and aim for Seaton. The route to Seaton included one of my favourite roads, the Seven Mile Straight

View from the 7 mile Straight

View from the 7 mile Straight

We reached Seaton at 5pm, had a terrible sandwich then on to the finish in Exeter

no parking

no parking

I was going to ride back but Richard offered me a lift in his van – my legs were happy to accept after the 8000 metres of climbing

Great way to spend a weekend. Glad I have Monday off work though!

Posted by: audaxing | May 8, 2016

Circuit of Loch Awe

If you want mountains and scenery that’s “Awesome” then you need to ride around Loch Awe.

I was staying in the old logging village of Dalavich about 5 hours car driving from Carisle

The last 10 miles of road up to the place were pretty rough but it was metalled so at the first opportunity I got out on my road bike. I was glad that the Specialised Roubaix can deal with really rough surfaces quite well

One thing people always say about the Western Highlands is that the midges make it pretty terrible. However when I was there, first week of May it was warm enough – often sunny – but no midges

The photos below are from my ride around the Loch. The Loch is the largest fresh water loch in Scotland but the route was only 97km. It was mostly overcast and hailed on me once but at the end the sun came out and it got quite warm

If you are passing through this way use the B840 on the eastern side of the loch, it’s a much better and flatter road. There are few facilities except hotels catering for people fishing in the loch

Great place to ride about!

An Angry Sky

An Angry Sky

What happens when you see a rainbow?

What happens when you see a rainbow?

Highland Cattle

Highland Cattle

Loverly waterfall

Loverly waterfall

All the weather in one day

All the weather in one day

From the east side of Loch Awe

From the east side of Loch Awe

Mysterious castle

Mysterious castle

Dalavich from the other shore

Dalavich from the other shore

From the east side of Loch Awe

From the east side of Loch Awe

From the east side of Loch Awe

From the east side of Loch Awe

View from west side of Loch Awe

View from west side of Loch Awe

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