Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The wind beneath my wheels ....

Today's forecast, which is usually loose at best was for a calm morning, offset by severe rain and thunder storms in the afternoon, which would in light of the heat and humidity be a good thing. 

James and I embarked down to Steve's mid morning where we concluded a sharp hilly ride the order of the day, throwing in Haytor at the half way point or so. The issue is that the aforementioned forecast did not predict what I consider to be brutal winds in and around Dartmoor, which in turn felt on top of us, despite every turn, as ever, the usual omni wind. That said, we still monstered the ride and put some good efforts into the bikes. James and Steve climbed Haytor as lively as ever. Sadly, I was 2 minutes slower than my last effort, which annoys me, but in the grand scheme of being a recreational bike rider is not really worth worrying about.  The crazy thing is that by looking at my data, I was less than 1 mile an hour slower going up, which turns into 2 minutes logged. This does of course bring the Tour De France into context and the every second counts ethos the big guns bring to the party. Wind may have played a part as the hedges were swirling about en-route to the top.

The beauty of today as that as ever, what goes up must come down and it was a lot of fun hammering the bike down some super fast steep to gradual descents. Turns out I maxed the bike out at 40mph (pic below) on the flat caning it into the top end of Newton Abbot near Stover, coming back inbound on a graduated flat. Nice.  

Have said it several times, but the Pinarello F8 has two modes. On and off. It is a 'good' climbing bike but as a 'race' bike, frankly, it eggs the rider on, constantly asking the rider for more. I have never ridden a bike like it.  Seriously it is insane. People call it a weapon, though a weapon of choice. Gun to a knife fight and all that. I am aware of the reckless hyperbole abound the internet on bike reviews and subjective or objective opinions, but to me, this thing is simply incredible. Incredible in the sense that it begs for more, more more, faster, faster, faster, attack, attack, attack.  It turns rides into wanton effort which I suppose is both good and bad. I suppose you are out there in the least giving it your best. To me as ever when the road lights up and begs the rider for effort, in that sense, I have yet to ride a bike like it. It makes sense how at last years Tour De France Team SKY effectively became a descending attack team (remember Froome sat on the top tube) as well as a 'climb in a pack team' as this bike descending at pro speed must give them so much confidence. Read these words as you will, but do understand that at 45, I have ridden a decent bunch of 'superbikes' and this thing trumps them all. In all honesty, I would like the box fresh build weight of a Giant TCR unpainted but in cycling terms well it is hard to convey what an F8 can do til you ride one for prolonged periods.  Caveat emptor however; It is super unerringly stiff thus super efficient. Stiffness can be offset by 5 less psi in the front tyre.

It was again a cracking ride with the Tuesday boys and though we were greeted by a down pour getting back into Newton, we concluded the blast with coffee and food at Steve's. A top bobbin day. 45 Strava based PB's over 32 miles of which 30 odd were gold. Not a bad return.

Monday, 10 July 2017

The road to Perdition ....

The Road to Perdition , sorry I mean Tiverton as it is known locally, is frankly, a joke. 

I blogged in my last piece about how I felt a bit fatigued at mid summer, I had not clocked enough base miles and whilst the mind was willing, the legs it seems were not. So, over four rides, I bagged 200 miles doing the same loop from my village to Perdition, across country and back down via the 'villages' that bisect the M5 south criss-crossing the motorway four or five times. It should read like and be an excellent ride and in mileage terms it is. A couple of rises up and down, but on the whole, it lends itself to tempo riding with a couple of solid climbs at the start to warm the legs and lungs.  You can attain solid milage crawling back into Exeter via Pinhoe and the hoard who sacked it some years ago after arriving in Exmouth in long ships. Interestingly, hoe means 'top of the hill' in Saxon dialect and I can confirm that there is a small rise up into a very busy Pinhoe at the 43 mile mark to test the legs. I would love to see the Devon of yesteryear - beautiful country lanes, quiet and calm, not destroyed by the influx of traffic and utter mayhem on a daily level. I would imagine that Devon less than 100 years ago was just idyllic. You cannot stop progress however tragic it is. Brand new housing estates galore on the corner of every road now. The villages merge into a sprawling mess known as Exeter. Shame.

The caveat to the Perdition, sorry Tiverton loop however is that the tarmac both ways is quite literally the worst road surface I have ever ever come across. The amount of road buzz the surface generates is somewhat uncanny and testament to how bad the surface is and how it makes the bike feel over the course of four rides it shook the pinch bolts loose on my left hand crank arm, thus rendering it out of the bottom bracket ! Small mercy's for multi tools eh ? Thankfully it was still attached to my shoe.  My co-rider Steve could himself not believe how bad the road is and had his first experience of bicycle white finger driven by road buzz. Post ride fettling and nipping up required.

Interestingly,  post Tiverton, this week I put a much higher quality of inner tube on the front and back of the bike and it has already had a huge impact on the ride feel, lessened the excessive road buzz and taken the bike to another level. The mid summer base miles have paid off and I will continue to monster them out as and when I can. I threw Estuary loop 2 into the mix Saturday evening and hammered it going the 29 miles hilly miles in 1.44 - three minutes faster than my PB and some solid golds attained on Strava.  Have said it before, but time can be a useful barometer for us mere mortals on push bikes. Overall I have taken 8 minutes off the loop this year (images attached) Far to many variables to answer how and why, but usually, just fitness.

Finally, I went up Clapham again last week. Utterly crazy hill. I will blog about the 'hinterland' some other time.