Posted by: audaxing | January 17, 2016

tubeless update

Using the Kool Stop Tyre Mate bead jack on the last bit of tyre

Using the Kool Stop Tyre Mate bead jack on the last bit of tyre

I’ve been running tubeless tyres now on the Ridley for 1400km. Yesterday, near the end of a 200km ride the rear tyre went down. I reinflated it with a co2 cartridge and it was fine for the rest of the ride. A lot easier than changing a tyre. Punctures aren’t good but this shows that tubeless+sealant works for me

Ridley Aeron


Here’s my previous article about Going tubeless

Posted by: audaxing | January 17, 2016

Wells the cold way


Richard came round about 7:30 and we set off. It was predawn light. It was the coldest I’ve felt this winter. The sun came up at Tiverton and it started to slowly warm a little. As the back lanes would be treacherous we stuck to the main road up to Bampton. Notable sights: a large dead deer


It was so cold that I managed to wear my down gilet, a winter weight windproof jacket and two base layers all day. And I never felt over warm. Next bit was Bampton -> Wiveliscombe -> Taunton. Not much to report other than the cafe at Wiveliscombe was actually open


After Taunton, down the A361 to Glastonbury. By the time we got to the levels there had been enough sun that there was no ice on the road at all. There was some flooding but it was in fields not the road. Dead fox in Taunton

Thawing out

When we got to Wells about 1pm we felt like proper lunch. Last time we had a quick pasty but I guess the extra calories burned by the cold had to be replaced.

Evening arrives

Then it was back again via Chard and lots of villages with Sandstone houses

Richard on the A30

Richard on the A30

Loverly Sunset

Loverly Sunset

Last bit was climbing out of Yarcombe to the main road. The main road was busier than expected. Richard got home via super secret back lanes and paths. To finish the 200km I had to go home via a bit of a detour to Collumpton but adding on a few km was ok, I was warmed up. Except for my toes.

Another good day out, the sun, lack of rain and gales and company made it good.

Posted by: audaxing | January 11, 2016

Super C Rackbag

This rack top bag sits at the back of the bike, it’s water proof and rugged

Carradice Super C Rackbag on the bike

Carradice Super C Rackbag on the bike

plastic buckles

plastic buckles

Opening and shutting is is with large plastic buckles that can be used with heavy gloves on. These buckles are similar to cycle helmet strap buckles

velco to attach to rack

velco to attach to rack

To hold the bag firmly in place there are four velcro straps, one at each corner. These seem to work well, don’t come undone with weight or vibration

The inside of a Carradice Super C rackbag

The inside

Internally there is a pull cord and liner around the top. All Carradice bags are finished by hand in a factory in Lancashire and this one was made by Kelly, as you can see on the label!

Covered in Hail

Covered in Hail

In the real world of rides in the rain (and hail) this British made bike luggage copes fine with all weather

Posted by: audaxing | January 1, 2016

New Years Day 100 miler

I do usually try and do 100 miles on New Years day. Usually it is cold but this year the weather was everything else but cold.

Leaving at 7:30

Leaving at 7:30

There wasn’t really a sunrise as such the sky just went slightly red in the east and it got lighter. First thing I did was climb the Blackdown Hills so I was nicely warmed up. It didn’t start raining until I got to Crewkerne and then it just tipped it down all day. Also the wind picked up from “stiff breeze” to “yikes”
At Honiton I wasn’t going to stop but decided that half an hour drinking coffee and eating a sausage baps might not stop the rain but it might ease a bit as it couldn’t get any heavier
There were plenty of flooded roads

Flooding on the old A30

Flooding on the old A30

I only had to divert my route in one place due to impassable road though

I got drenched a couple of times by drivers coming the other way and hitting floods

Posted by: audaxing | December 31, 2015

Top Tip for Winter rides with friends

I went for a great 200km with Richard the other day. But as part of the prep before leaving onto the damp roads of Somerset and Devon I added an easy, cheap bit of DIY improvement to my bike. If you have mudguards on your winter bike you can try this too

home made mudflap

home made mudflap

The addition is an extra length mudflap. This might not look much but if you are following a wheel on a wet road it makes all the difference.

To make and fit is a 5 minute job:

  • Drill a couple of holes at the back of the mudguard. On my SKS plastic guards I used a very sharp wood drill bit. To save removing the back wheel I stuffed a bit of wood between the tyre and the mudguard to avoid any damage from the drill on the tyre
  • Cut a piece of junk plastic into a strip 10 to 15cm long and slightly narrower than the mudguard. I used a bit of old milk carton.
  • Drill holes in the plastic strip so they match the holes in the mudguard. Use the existing holes as a guide to mark with a pencil
  • Put the plastic strip on the inside of the mudguard with the holes lining up and thread a small cable tie through both holes. Pull it tight and you are done
  • You can find a great list of general winter ride tips from Bradley Wiggins here on the bbc web site

Posted by: audaxing | December 29, 2015

To Wells

I got out of the house before dawn. The dawn breaking wasn’t much to see, the sky went a dull red. It was very cloudy. There was a stiff headwind to Honiton. I found Richard’s road and we left in the direction of Chard. For this leg up to Wells there would be some kind of tailwind. Better than a headwind.

This bit of the route looked like it could be pretty in the summer. But on a grey day, the views were washed by murk. The rain held off though.

We got to Chard and then Somerton. In Somerton we were looking for somewhere to stop but the whole town was having the day off. In Street we found a coffee, a good coffee and then pressed on to the furthest point at Wells. A bit of lunch in Wells and then the turn around.

I was dubious about the ride out of Wells into the wind but it had dropped during the day and it was ok

On the A361

On the A361

We pounded across the levels, up over the top of Taunton to Bishop’s Lydeard. It was perhaps a tactical error to leave the section with the most ascent to the end of the ride. But at least the road from Milverton to Wiveliscombe is fast.

The rain started as we left Tiverton, so only 10 miles for me in very uncommitted rain. Richard had a bit of Christmas cake at my place and then left to go on the last bit back to his house. Alas, I found out later he got two punctures just getting back in the rain

But we agreed that overall we had great weather and an enjoyable time. 200km in the bag.

Posted by: audaxing | October 28, 2015

Going Tubeless Not Made Easy

Tubeless tyres are the latest innovation in the endless fight of the cyclist against punctures.

When the wheels on my second best training, commuting and pub visiting bike looked like they needed replacement I decided to take the opportunity to build up some wheels suitable for tubeless

Getting all the bits and pieces involved was quite a job. I got parts from Star bike in Germany,, Spa Cycles in Harrogate, AllTricks in France and High on Bikes of Southport

I got all of the bits delivered to work which lead to my first problem, getting the rims back home

getting the new rims back from Bristol

getting the new rims back from Bristol

The rims are Son H Plus Archetypes These rims have a good reputation for being strong, they are only moderately expensive and quite pretty. The only downside I can see now they are on the bike is that the braking surface is andonised and doesn’t seem as effective at brake gripping as a machined surface.

For the rear I bought a new Ultegra Hub. The old 105 hub has a few miles left in in but has seen better days.

New rear wheel, laced up

New rear wheel, laced up

Once the rear was built I was having a go at fitting the tubeless tyres. The system is quite different to the tyres I’ve used before. There is no inner tube just a tight fitting outer tyre, air tight tape and sealant

Bottle of Isoproyl

Bottle of Isoproyl

The tape goes across the top of the holes for the spoke attachments. To clean the inside of the rim to ensure good adhesion Isoproyl alcohol is used.

New tyre and conversion kit

New tyre and conversion kit

The tyres I was using were Hutchinson Intensive and the tape and sealant is a kit made by Stan’s Tubeless. Both of these are market leaders in tubeless. There isn’t so much choice in tubeless tyres as in clinchers but the Hutchinson Intensive seem the best choice for winter riding and lots of miles. When they are fitted they are actually narrower than 25mm. Even on the wide 23mm rims they measure 24mm.

Fitting the tyre

Fitting the tyre

Fitting the tyre is not easy, as the super strong bead to prevent air leaking is difficult to slip over the rim

Bead Jack Instructions

Bead Jack Instructions

I got a special tool to assist with this tyre fitting ,challenge, a Kool Stop “Tyre Mate” which is a type of “bead jack”

Using the Kool Stop Tyre Mate bead jack on the last bit of tyre

Using the Kool Stop Tyre Mate bead jack on the last bit of tyre

Using the soap spray

Using the soap spray

After the tyre is fully mounted the next difficulty is to inflate it. Normally with clinchers the inflating step is easy with a track pump. However, with tubeless it’s necessary to spray the tyre with soap solution so that the bead can slip into position easier and to use either a compressor or a CO2 cartridge to suddenly supply a massive amount of pressure to pop the tyre into place.
Before doing this it is necessary to remove the valve core and to add some sealant, which is a latex based rubber solution. On the rear wheel this was easy, I used the official Stan’s injector.

Complete rear wheel

Complete rear wheel

pulling the old front wheel apart

pulling the old front wheel apart

I am reusing the front hub. It is a Shimano generator hub and in good condition.
After I’d built the front wheel, it was time to fit another tubeless tyre. This time inserting the sealant was not as straight forward. The valve core appeared to clog with the sealant, the injector sprayed it all over the wheel building stand and eventually I had to remove part of the tyre to get the sealant in

At this point I have two new wheels with tubeless rim tape and tubeless tyres installed. Both wheels also have sealant in them.

I was aiming to get the 25mm tyres inflated to a modest 90 psi (6 bar). They were not initially too successful at holding this pressure. Overnight the pressure would drop to 40 psi. However, I did use them for a couple of short trips.

The finished wheels on the bike

The finished wheels on the bike

So I tried to address the problem of getting the tyres to hold a workable pressure. The tyres are rated at over 100 psi but are only managing to hold less than half of that pressure

I tried adding some more sealant to the rear tyre. It had approximately double the recommended amount in it. This did not work but when the tyres were pumped up to over 90 psi, sealant could be seen leaking from the nipples. This indicated that the tape covering the holes inside was not working correctly. Fortunately I had a spare reel of wide (21mm) tape. I’d bought this half thinking I might need to add more. But not having done this before….Anyway, I added two more layers of the wider tape and it worked. Overnight the pressure holds at 80psi+. It’s a usable bike again.

Some people have suggested to me that it was a mistake not using a “tubeless specific” rim. But the Son HPlus Archetype is said to be “tubeless friendly”. It is a wide 23mm external width rim and as you can see from the picture a similar profile to the leading Stan’s rim.

Stan's Alpha and Son H Plus Archetype comparison.

Stan’s Alpha and Son H Plus Archetype comparison. Approximately to scale

I would guess that the Stan’s rim is easier to mount tubeless tyres on but once the tyre is mounted it’s the same

The only real problem I had was with the Stan’s conversion kit and the so called “universal” tape. This is only 12mm wide and I would guess it would work fine with some rims. Or if it was layered in a slightly different way. I did apply it to the wheels “by the book” ( or by the youtube video to be more exact!) I suppose there is no incentive for Stan’s to sell conversion kits with accurate advice on what to do with different rim types as they sell their own rims. If people believe that Stan’s Alpha Rims “work best” with tubeless then they will sell more of them.

My experience is, for Son H Plus Archetypes, don’t use the 12mm universal tape. Get some 21mm tape instead.

Other lessons learnt: I wish I’d built a compressor with a plastic 1 litre Coke bottle (google it if you are interested) as I used up most of my stock of CO2 cartridges

Look forward to using the nice new wheels on some long rides soon!

Posted by: audaxing | October 27, 2015

Dartmoor Devil – with sun!

After a fairly cold start we were faced with the unusual experience of a warm, sunny and windless Dartmoor Devil 100km cycling event

On the Moors

Pepperdon Hill
Of course the route still goes up and down some difficult terrain. Pepperdon Hill was as impossible to ride up as usual. The combination of much debris of leaves, sticks and mud on the road combined with the 20% gradient makes it a long walk.

At the top of Peppdon Hill
But like so many of the hills today there was a great pay off at the top with amazing views which would normally be obscured by mist and murk at this time of year

Surly Karate Monkey
After the uphill comes the downhill and many of these were steep, potholed and covered in loose material. Because of this I elected to take the Karate Monkey with it’s disk brakes. I put 28mm Marathon Supremes on it to help it climb a bit better. The Alfine gearing gave me a range from 86 to 28 inches.

At the soup stop, Windon Down

At the soup stop, Windon Down

Posted by: audaxing | September 21, 2015

600km fail

It was my last chance to do a 600km this audax season but it didn’t work out
I needed a 600km ride to complete this years Super Randonnuer series before the end of September

I’d planned the ride to do the total of 600km in two days of 300km each
The first day was a more a difficult route and I would be sleeping in my own bed at home. This kind of backdoor 600 is easy to organise and doesn’t involve any travel or stays in hotels. Starting at 7:15am on Saturday would give me until 11:15pm on Sunday to finish. Day one was planned to get me back home before midnight. Then I’d get 5 hours sleep in a comfortable bed and day two was a quicker/easier 300km

But after the first day of 300km I failed to get out on the road again at 6am on day two

The route

The planned route for day one was Ian Hennessay’s Blackdown and Levels I made more use of the B3227 than the route sheet recommends but it’s pretty similar
route day one

What happened on the day

The weather early in the morning was cold and foggy. I put on lots of clothes and made good time to Lyme. The lanes were not too wet and the bigger roads at that time on a Saturday morning were not busy. I had a coffee in Lyme and continued north. The temperatures quickly climbed and by 10am it was around 20 degrees C. I had to remove all the clothes I’d had on first thing. I’d guessed this would happen and had put bigger bag than normal on the back of the bike

late morning in Dorset

As I got nearer to Clevedon, the traffic on the roads was much thicker than I like. But soon I was through the hotspot of the coast near the Bristol channel and out on the Somerset levels

On the Somerset Levels

The route went through Bridgwater and then some obscure villages before hitting the B3227, which is a good road all the way to South Molton. As the sun sank I felt myself slowing up a bit, with still 100km to do before bedtime. The twilight time was subtly beautiful with mist and cloud softening further the soft light.

I made a tactical error near Shillingford by following the route instructions for the perm instead of staying on the B3227. It was maybe 4km shorter but with more climbs and very much worse roads. By now it was quite dark. Doing this had an adverse affect on my psychology, although in hindsight it wouldn’t have taken much longer than sticking to the good road. I have no idea why I took this bad road, it was a moment of madness. Perhaps I was getting so tired I had started making poor judgements

I got home again from South Molton at 00:35, about an hour behind what I hoped but still with plenty of time to sleep

So what went wrong?

So what went wrong and why didn’t I start again the following morning on the easier day 2 to Marlborough and back? The three factors were

  • comfort
  • the opportunity to give up
  • missing some details of preparation.


I’d not ridden much for months, just a few rides of 40 miles or so lately.

On the ride my speed wasn’t good but I only finished about a hour later than I’d hoped for

But there is more than the heart, legs and lungs. On long rides comfort is surprisingly important

One weak point that quickly goes out of condition is the hardened arse that can withstand hours and hours of battering

After just the first planned day I was hurting in this delicate area

If I’d have done more long rides in the months before I might have toughened up

Sun Tzu

If Sun Tzu did audax he would critique my tactics. Just as he said

Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape…Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength.

If I had had no option but to carry on, maybe I would have finished. As it was it was too easy to stay in my nice, warm bed.

Removing the option to stay in bed would have forced me out onto the road


If I’d have used Sudocrem or something similar on my sore backside it probably would have reduced the problem. But I omitted to do this. When the weather is going to be hot(it was) then this always helps. In terms of fitness it would have been better to do a 300km the weekend before. But I had to make do with a couple of 90km rides instead

Better preparation would have helped


There’s always next year…It’s just a bike ride

Posted by: audaxing | September 4, 2015



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