Posts Tagged ‘Cycling’

Phil and Friends

August 2, 2009

Good and bad news.

Have finished the 150k version of Phil and Friends in under seven hours. Under seven hours! Six hours 58 minutes and 54 seconds to be precise. It was most strange, at one point I was 4th on the road. 4th! Now don’t get me wrong I know it isn’t a race and in fact most of the time I was worried I was going too fast and was going to blow up. Arriving at Edale Youth Hostel at 11.35 I stopped for coffee and beans and toast, and was swiftly back on the road, and then came Winnats…

Who put that there? Winnats Pass Looms

Who put that there? Winnats Pass Looms


Downs and ups

July 14, 2009

Training took a dip this weekend. Had scheduled a big ride in – over Holm Moss and then see how it went. Was just not up to it, cycled out to Bradfield and just knew it wasn’t going to happen. Returned home with a not too impressive 13 miles under my tyres. It did have the advantage that I could a) watch two hours of live Tour de France coverage and b) find this story of cycling redemption on the NY Times website.

Sheffield Hills

June 5, 2009

Sheffield Hills

Recently Chris Rust pondered whether Alpine Road in Upperthorpe is a tougher climb that Hunter House Road in Hunters Bar. The answer is almost certainly Hunter House Road, as both have sections of 14% gradient, but Alpine Road is far shorter. Which led me to do some research more broadly. Hills with such steep inclines are relatively common in Sheffield – to date Walkley Lane is looking one of the toughest climbs in the city.

(Table shows distance, estimated cycling time and metres climbed in the right three columns)

I can do that!

April 22, 2009

Honestly it is not as hard as it looks (but then I am talking about what happens at 13 seconds)

Wear and tear

April 8, 2009

OK so here’s a thing. You buy a new bike and love it. You look after it and keep it for best. In particular you only use it on sunny days. Unfortunately days that start sunny sometimes don’t end that way. This is England after all. But nevertheless when you put the bike away in the autumn you are pleased that you have taken good care of it. You have ridden perhaps 1500 miles and you have only got the bike wet twice, once for 15 miles of a return trip the second time for about 45 miles.

So when you come to retrieve the bike from its nice warm spare bedroom in the spring and inspect it, what do you think you need to replace? Click to see the components which leave you smiling and bouncy and the other one.

a) 10 speed chain
b) Fortezza Tricomp tyre
c) Campag Ultratorque External BB bearings

Grr! And it seems I am not alone, see here

Cycling Infrastructure

March 28, 2009

The Cycling Info blog is a good read. The latest post concerns cycling infrastructure in the Netherlands. While I think we in the UK have a lot to learn from the Dutch on this topic, I am not a fan of over segregation of bikes and over road users. Take this cycle path with its own tunnel under road.


While this might be a good way to avoid a busy road, the design is far from ideal. If you were cycling in the opposite direction you would be approaching a blind corner. Now ask yourself how happy you would feel approaching that corner at night and whether you would prefer to be at road level and pressing a button to halt the traffic – in full view of all the other road users. A more mundane issue is that I know from my cycling in Stevenage, one of the few towns in the UK designed from the start to accommodate cyclists, that tunnels like this attract broken glass on the road. Not sure why, they just do.

Time for a quick chukka anyone?

March 5, 2009

Everything bike is now clearly a la mode, even the BBC have caught up with a short film on that Shoreditch favourite Bike Polo

The trouble with working…

March 3, 2009

…is it seriously cuts into cycling time. However this is clearly not the answer.

Tikit – one year review

February 8, 2009

So I have now had the Tikit for nearly a year and have used it as planned to get to work.


Compared to the cost of driving, the bike-train-bike combination has saved me more than the price of the bike. Here are some usage statistics (road bike in brackets):

Work Trips: 106 (39)
Abandoned Trips: 1 (0)
Falls: 0 (1)

Leaving aside the 1 abandoned trip last week due to the heaviest snow in 20 years, it is clear that the Tikit has proved a reliable and stable means of transport, being used on two and a half times as many occasions as the road bike. It is also the case that the Tikit has endured worse weather than the road bike, so the comments should be read in that context.

Pimping my ride

The saddle was too wide for me so I swapped in a Selle Italia C2 Gel Saddle – about £15 from eBay.


I also put on some Time ATAC pedals, a Cateye front light, two Planet Bike rear blinkies and a cordless computer. The intention was to make the already light and nippy Tikit into something approaching a foldable road bike.After a few days I took the cover and the little bag it sits in off because I couldn’t see me using it and it spoils the line of the bike. Finally I bought some Ergon grips on Vik’s advice but todate have not got round to fitting them. time-atac

Later in the year I tired of carrying a rucksack and bought a rear rack from Bike Friday and an Altura Dryline Rackpack


This bag has only a 7 litre capacity but serves pretty well holding a pump, wet weather over-trousers, reading matter for the train, mobile phone, memory sticks etc. It has a permanent part which straps to the rack and the bag itself is held in place by velcro and 3 clips, which makes removal prior to folding straightforward. It is completely watertight.

Finally, on the advice of the Bike Friday Yak Group I changed the brake blocks for Koolstop Salmon – more of this later.

What I like

The Tikit rides well, it is a bit twitchy compared to a bike with 700c tyres but that is to be expected. With practice it is easily stable enough to ride hands free.

The gear range – one of the things that attracted me in the first place – is more than adequate. The gear shift is smooth and precise.

The fold – slightly bigger than a Brompton – but simple with no fiddly unscrewing and works in seconds once you have the knack. It has meant I can get on trains which otherwise would have been barred to me. Actually Northern Trains aren’t too bad. They have a two bike policy, but the guard usually tolerates more. However the fold guarantees a place.

The fitted tyres – Schwalbe Marathon Plus – seem bomb proof. No punctures in the year. Others have complained about them, but I find they run quite nicely if kept at 85 psi.

Things I don’t like

The brakes. Very early on I decided the Tektro brake blocks were not doing the business on my very steep morning descents. The Koolstop Salmon blocks made an immediate difference, and I have been through two pairs. However this greater stopping efficiency comes at a price. After 11 months I noticed the rear rim was dangerously worn. Look at the concave profile below:-


This came as a serious shock. A replacement 349 rim from St John Street Cycles would only be £11 but it would mean being off the road while the wheel was rebuilt. I ordered a new wheel and rode carefully for a week.

In a way this shouldn’t come as a shock. The much smaller 16 inch wheels are rotating far faster than 700c wheels for any given speed. I was using the bike in very hilly terrain and often on wet days. My riding style is hardly conservative, accelerating fast and then scrubbing off speed. The perfect recipe for wear. Nevertheless it is disappointing. I think it is probably something which is outside of Bike Friday’s control. There is little choice in 349 rims and certainly, to my knowledge, no one making rims with a ceramic coating.

The cleaning The Tikit’s chain line runs very close to the road and picks up the muck. If you want to get reasonable wear out of the chain, cassette and chainring you need to clean that muck off. And keep cleaning it off. Bike Friday make it easy by having a KMC chain with a magic link, but it still gets tiresome.


The Tikit is a great bike. It is a pleasure to ride. For me it has easily paid for itself in the last year. I think if the Seasons Tikit, with its Nexus hub gear, had been around a year ago I would have gone for it to save on cleaning. The brakes would not be an issue anywhere other than the hilliest city in England, but they are here in Sheffield. Which set me to thinking…but that’s another post.