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

IMG_1174
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

Posted by: audaxing | April 16, 2016

New old bike stuff

New old bike

First, I noticed an ad on my favourite bike forum ( yacf ) and I seem to have bought a second hand Dawes Galaxy. It’s 7 speed with bar end shifters

Dawes Galaxy

Dawes Galaxy

Dawes Galaxy

Dawes Galaxy

The only things I did to it after getting it was removing the toestraps and cleaning the braking surface on the rims

Cleaning the rims

Cleaning the rims

Old new tyres

I was also taking the ice tyres off the single speed. Little risk of snow/ice now in the SW. I fitted some “new old stock” 30mm Schwalbe CX tyres I bought a few years ago but I’d never used

Now with new tyres

Now with new tyres

Inbred Single Speed

Inbred Single Speed

Posted by: audaxing | April 10, 2016

Two rides, snow and sunshine

Last weekend, “The Valley of the Rocks” 200km in Devon. This weekend “Yr Elenydd” 300km in Wales
Lots of quality riding and more weather than you’d like!

On both rides I was on my Specialized Roubaix with a 30-40-50 x 12-30, Michelin Endurance 25mm and a Luxo hub powered light

Valley of the Rocks

This ride goes via the Blackdown Hills and Exmoor to the striking “Valley of the Rocks” above Lynton on the North Devon Coast. The return to Honiton is via South Molton and Crediton
Left home at 6:45am. rode to the start at Honiton. Lower back playing up all the way round. Weather looked “threatening” especially when on the top of Exmoor. Did not manage to climb the feared Lynmouth to Lynton without walking. By later on as we got to the North Devon coast the sun came out. Worked with a small group against the head wind as we went south again. Finished with a time of almost 13h but this was better than last year. Rode home, back before 11pm

Winsford Hill

Winsford Hill on the way to the Valley of the Rocks

Yr Elenydd

This ride goes to Shobdon Airfield,Builth Wells, Tregaron via a mountain, back to Rhydader via another mountain road and returning to Shropshire over the Long Myndd
Left work the night before on a train. Camped over night in the field next to the start at Upton Magma near Shrewsbury. It rained overnight but was clear in the morning. Set off with the 3rd group. Made a steady pace to Shobdon. Great coffee at Shobdon. Steady again to Builth. Another great coffee. Snow on the start of the mountain road before the checkpoint at Abergwesyn but bizarrely it then cleared to show blue sky over the Devils Staircase

snow on the mountain road near Abergwesyn

snow on the mountain road near Abergwesyn

Blue sky over the Devils StaircaseBlue sky over the Devils Staircase

Blue sky over the Devils Staircase

Richard peaks the Devil's Staircase

Richard peaks the Devil’s Staircase

To end the mountain road to Tregaron there is a marvellous descent which had been resurfaced. I didn’t take it at max speed as the road was damp but : most exhilarating.
Just before reaching the control at Tregaron bowls club the skies dumped down a lot of hail

A lot of hail

A lot of hail


Fortunately the hail didn’t stick to the road and we carried on back to Rhyader via another sun lit mountain road! It was so warm I took my heavy commuting coat off for the first time that day!
Had a bad patch on the final hills getting back to Shrewsbury and finally finished just after midnight. Much slower than last year
Overnight in the tent it was very cold. The tent was already covered in droplets of ice when I went to sleep.
The morning after
.

Posted by: audaxing | March 27, 2016

Fettling before the Valley of the Rocks

Yikes! It’s the “Valley of the Rocks” 200km next weekend. My bike needs to be in first class condition for it but I’ve been riding it all winter. So some TLC is required

  • tighten up the lockring on the cassette
  • rear wheel off

    rear wheel off

  • fit new brake blocks front and rear
  • New Brake Blocks

    New Brake Blocks

  • new chain
  • New Chain

    New Chain

  • finally got around to cutting down the steerer
  • fresh grease in the headset
  • fitted a star fangled washer instead of the some what flaky Hope Hed Doctor
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