Review : : @huntbikewheels 4 Season Dura Road wheelset

I don’t know technical wheel speak or the science behind wheel construction so these are my straight forward thoughts on Hunt Wheels 4 Season Dura Road wheelset;

I’ve been using these wheels since November on my Condor Super Acciaio as an all round winter wheelset for Cycle to Cannes (MIPIM) training. They are about 1500 miles in and have been out in all conditions with minimal cleaning and maintenance. I’ll say up front I think they have been a great choice so far and if they keep performing they represent excellent value for money.

They weigh more than 300 grams heavier than my Dura-Ace C24 carbon laminate wheelset.  Not a great deal really just a 1/3 of a bag of sugar.  The Hunt wheels feel strong and robust with 24 spokes at the front and 28 at the back.  They give a good sense of security should the inevitable pothole take you by surprise.

I’m very happy with braking performance on the aluminium alloy rim. There are deep grooves in the rim which makes braking in the wet super dependable including in the worst of  London’s road grim. We’ll keep an eye on rim wear over the next few months.

The hubs have been smooth even in the worst of the weather. The noise made by the ratchet when not pedaling is a comfort on the commute for increased pedestrian awareness.  The spokes all seem firm and I haven’t detected any issues with tension.

I  like the graphics used on the rims of the wheels which are monochromatic and minimal.

The wheels are tubeless ready but I run them with inner tubes currently. Interestingly they came with tubeless rim tape specified as default (I didn’t notice).  The rim tape did give way to the inner tube causing a blowout on the rear where it pushed through  into the spoke hole. I have now fitted Vitorria rim tape which is much higher quality and resolves the issue.  The guys at Hunt also offered to sort it all out; good customer service ; )

The wheels continue to be highly durable and the double sealed bearings are great for the bad weather months.  They are most definitely a fit and forget heavy duty training and commuting wheelset which I’m confident will survive until the warm months arrive.

160223_Hunt wheels

Sponsors : : Make #CycletoMIPIM 2016 jersey

Thank you to all our cycle jersey sponsors for their support and donations to Coram the childrens Charity.  Our 2016 Cycle to MIPIM jersey is now in manufacture and we can’t wait to see the results.  The jersey uses iconography which draws inspiration from a selection of Make’s fantastic architecture projects; now you just have to guess which ones!

160113_MIPIMCycling Jersey_Artwork Pattern

160113_MIPIMCycling-white logos

Food : : The Ultimate Granola

When training on the bike bars and gels are convenient food but they can contain high levels of fructose which can upset stomachs – real foods such as bananas, raisins, fig rolls, sandwiches and my personal favorite homemade granola are just as good. Super tasty with the oats helping to regulate the sugar release of mostly slower burning sugars.  Pop in a small food-bag shove in your jersey and eat out on the bike.  You can mix and match the nuts and dried fruits below to your own ideal.  Enjoy!

Granola

Ingredients

  • 80g clear honey
  • 80g butter
  • 40g  apricot spread or marmalade
  • 40g golden syrup
  • 150g jumbo rolled oats
  • 80g brown/demerara sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tbsp natural vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 30g pumpkin seeds
  • 30g sunflower seeds
  • 30g linseeds
  • 30g whole almonds
  • 30g blanched hazelnuts
  • 30g walnut pieces
  • 40g dried apricots
  • 40g raisins or sultanas

(makes 1kg ish)

Methodolgy

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Now line a baking tray with grease-proof baking paper and thinly smear butter on the inside of it.
  2. In a large saucepan melt the butter, honey, sugar, golden syrup and marmalade together on a medium heat, stirring until dissolved. Now bring it to the boil and cook for two minutes so that the sugar caramelises, making it a super sticky sauce.
  3. Throw in the jumbo oats and mix. Now pour in everything else and thoroughly mix.  Transfer into your baking tray and flatten down with a spatula. Pop the tray in the oven on the middle or lower shelf.
  4. Cook for 12 minutes until browning off until set. Leave to cool on a rack, then slice into wedges perfect rectangles – pizza slice works well.  Store in a lunchbox in a cool dry place.  Pop into a small sandwich or food bag for eating on the bike.

 

Visit : : Coram and The Foundling Museum #drawingonchildhood

We still need your sponsorship for the Cycle to Cannes so if you’d like to know more about the charity, Coram, for who we are raising money then visit the Foundling Museum. There’s lots of exhibits and displays including the #drawingonchildhood illustrations which are beautiful and thought provoking.

Quentin-Blake
Quentin Blake, cover illustration from James and the Giant Peach, 2002 (c) Quentin Blake

The museum tells the rich history of children’s charity Coram, from its beginnings in 1739 as the Foundling Hospital, London’s first home for abandoned children, to the present day.

Through its collections, it charts the work of Captain Thomas Coram who tirelessly campaigned to set up an institution dedicated to the care and education of ‘foundlings’, the children he saw abandoned on London’s streets.

 

 

 

 

Training : : Spooky Richmond Park

A very misty Tuesday morning training with @ClubPeloton in Richmond Park for the Legal and General Cycle to MIPIM.  Reminded how much fog and mist can vary the temperature and the need for a good layer system.

A pair of merino glove liners in your jersey pocket can help getting caught out with cold hands.

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Review : : Up your sock game

Its that festive  time of year where socks come into the limelight for better or worse.  As far as cycling goes they are instrumental in the battle for warm feet during the cold months.  Luckily I’ve been testing a pair of Defeet Woolie Boolie on the bike and I’m pleased to report that my cold feet nightmare has drawn to a close.  This is a super warm pair of socks and when used in conjunction with an overshoe keeps things nice and toasty.  Now its been fairly mild recently (for December) so I’m also keeping a Sealskinz thermal liner socks as a back-up for the sub zero days. These can be worn underneath the Woolie Boolie for extra warmth.  Now I just need a Woolie Boolie with some colour, the charcoal is a bit dull.

Awarded | Kit Bag | for CycleTo MIPIM

 

 

Review : : Condor Super Acciaio the 10,000 mile bike

So I noticed last week that my Condor Super Acciaio had notched up more than 10,000 miles since I bought it new from @CondorCycles of London a couple of years ago.  The Super Acciaio is steel frame bike nothing like those of previous eras instead sporting carbon like geometry including a tapered head tube and stiff bottom bracket.

It’s a testament to the bike that it’s lasted this long as usually it would have gone by the way of boredom or broken.  It has survived punishing winters both in London and Yorkshire, being thrashed in road and circuit racing and munched up the miles on the daily commuting. It’s been a fantastic do anything bike and fast when I’ve needed it to be.

Its a stiff bike and is pretty sharp on acceleration with a rock solid front end spurred on by the carbon blade forks. I ran it on 23mm tyres for a long time but I’m currently rating the 25mm tyres which give a bit more comfort and confidence in the corners.

The head tube is a sculpted tapered unit, a rarity in steel, and houses a tapered 1.5in to 1.125in carbon fork..  This does however seem to attract the dirt so I’ve made myself proficient in servicing it myself.  The bottom bracket is an oversized modern pressfit design (BB30). The bearings, which press directly into the frame, are cheap to replace but they also seem to need refreshing more often than those of most bottom brackets.

The Shimano Ultegra di2 has also held up reasonably well. A failed front shifter in the early days was replaced under warranty and more a recently a worn out rear derailleur. I was a little bereaved that Madison wouldn’t replace the derailleur on the grounds it had a scratch which allowed them attribute the wear to damage – hmmm. More alarmingly access to the older Ultegra di2 groupset (6770) is now winding up as parts are at the time of writing are difficult to find now that it’s been replaced by 11 speed (6870).

The Super Acciaio is now furnished with a new set of winter wheels as the cold weather approaches.  I’m very optimistic of the Hunt Wheels which have replaced the existing; more about these later. It will also be strapped with mud guards for those wet and filthy days.  I’ve no doubt it will make it through another grimy winter into 2016 and being easily maintainable I’ve really got no excuses.

Here are some of the details of my Super Acciaio which continue to make think its a keeper;

Training : : Stages Cycling power meter

The opportunity has finally arrived to train with a power meter; a Stages Cycling Ultegra power meter which takes the form of the left hand crank arm replacing the original.  There are lots of options in the market place for training with power both more and less expensive than the Stages offering. Some are based in the rear wheel hub and others in the crank itself.  I am sure it won’t be too long before a company like Shimano actually builds it in as an integrated option.

The installation of the Stages power meter is straight forward and simply a case of removing the existing left crank arm and replacing it with the Stages power meter crank arm.  Note I have the Stages Ultegra 6800 as the colour matched my Ultegra 6770 groupset; there are no compatibility issues  The power meter includes a battery which requires a slip of plastic removing in order for it to make contact.  Note that there does seem to be an issue with clearance for some bikes so Stages offers a diagram which shows a 10mm hex wrench inserted between the crank arm and chain-stay as a check for clearance.

There has also been issues with the product and water penetration so it is clearly pointed out that the battery door must be correctly inserted and the o-ring type seal in the correct position.

After installing the crank I followed the set up instruction for pairing with a Garmin Edge 500 and ran through the calibration.  The Stages unit communicates with Garmin through Ant+  but also has Bluetooth to communicate with fitness apps on your phone such as Strava.  The first couple of rides out on the road the signal would continuously drop and the power reading would hit ‘0’ and then three dashes  (‘- – -‘)  would appear before a few seconds of nothing and then the reading would come back but only to drop off again.

Stages have a good list of potential fixes in their support section so after updating the firmware for the power meter via an app on my iPhone and updating the software on the Garmin I tried again.  Sadly no luck.

Finally I switched my Garmin ‘out front’ bracket which holds the Edge 500 in front of the handlebars to the standard bracket which holds it in place on top of the stem with rubber bands.  Hey presto no signal drop off between Garmin and the Stages and all is well with the power readings.  I would guess that due to the position of the Garmin unit with the out front bracket that the handlebar itself is attributing to interrupting the signal.

Now onto the fun bit which is to make good use of the data while training. Back soon….

Stages Cycling stages-shimano-ultegra-6800-power-meterPrint

Winter cycle training

Photoraph by Graham Watson. The peloton races through a snowstorm in the 2013 Milan San Remo
Photoraph by Graham Watson

Winter is upon us so here are my top tips for riding and training during the cold months.

Ice.  Always check for frost on car windscreens and if in doubt don’t take the risk. Also have a look at the temperature range from your point of departure to your destination.  Your destination maybe 2-3 degrees lower than your start point pushing the temperature below 0.  Also watch out for stretches of road next to lakes and water which may be colder. Avoid shady parts of the roads which may be prone to ice, frozen leaves and other slippy debris.

Tyres. Change to winter tyres with some good grip levels. And remember to stay off wet manhole covers and painted surfaces. Adjust your lean angle too so you’re more upright. Slow down a bit more and increase braking distance.

Layers. Keep warm by layering up. Each layer traps a warm layer of air beneath it so keep testing how many layers work for you.  Numb hands lead to poor brake and gear control. Make sure your hands are warm. If one pair of gloves isn’t suffice isn’t buy a thermal glove inner.

Hydration. It’s easy to forget to drink regularly when it’s cold. Keep sipping at the water bottle.

Lights. Use 2 sets of lights, one as a back up. If you head to work early and back late you may be riding 100% of the time in dark.

Cleaning and checking.  Increase the frequency of your cleaning and check your bike more regularly.  Clear brake blocks of crud and clean wheel rims to maintain a good braking surface.  Wipe down and dry off the bike if you’ve ridden through the rain.

Incentivise. Whether it’s cake or a new accessory think of a way to treat yourself for braving the elements.

Enjoy. Some of the best sunrises and sunsets can be seen during the cold months so don’t forget to enjoy the riding.

Cycle to Cannes MIPIM 2015 : : Completed! 

Cycle to Cannes MIPIM 2015 completed! What an adventure!

I’ve done it! I completed the 1.500km charity cycle ride to Cannes; massive thanks to everyone’s help with donations, training, products, support, and motivation. The harsh winters training paid off with a terrific 6 days riding in sunshine with amazing roads, some good luck, and brilliant comradery. I had no preconceived notion to do all the stage other than to see how things went. However a third of the way through I realised how tremendous it would be to get to the coast after leaving my doorstep in London.

It was a though 6 days that needed a strong will, mental alertness and more food than I would have thought possible to consume. All made possible by a brilliant support team and fabulous support from fellow riders and ride captains.
A brief synopsis of the days;

Note the course and routing can be found on my Strava profile.

Day 1; Nice start in the UK out of London and down to the ferry. Sunny with lots of chat and a fab stop in Leeds Castle (Kent). Great to see everyone come together in one big group. The support bus with all its logos looked the part.  

Day 2; Super early start and super long day in the saddle 6am – 8.45pm riding. Rolling roads of Northern France. Awesome dessert at lunch. I’m finding the speed of turn around between stages hectic; Stop, toilet, coffee, eat, drink, adjust clothing Go (punctuated with a whistle). Knackered and can’t imagine repeating that distance. Pitch black riding into the hotel fired up the adrenalin.

Day 3; Start out of Reims with a cracking sunrise over the vineyards of Champagne. Some petrifying fog and seriously low temperatures. Water bottles frozen and so close to calling it a day as the cold seemed to permeate my mind and ex entire my fatigue. Pushed on and weather improved on the following stages. Some great descending and another hair raising night ride to the hotel in Dijon. Having the motorcycle outriders keeping the traffic islands clear made for some fast turning. At the end of this day I’ve now made my mind up to try and complete every stage. One more long distance day fingers crossed tomorrow goes well.  

Day 4; Dijon to Valence 300km. Long long long. Cakes from Carol of the support team sorted out my doldrums. Fab sunshine and testing hills later in the day. So little time in the evenings to do anything other than eat. Organising your gear the night before seems to be the key in the mornings.

Day 5; actually looking forward to this day, less distance and more hills- my favourite. Great climbs with fab views and monster descents! Witnessed a road bike with disc brakes lock up into a fast right hander. Rider ok but some nasty road rash. 

Day 6; Aix en Provence to Cannes. More climbing and descending. Such a wonderful sunny day with amazing roads and scenery to take in. Disaster! Di2 battery flat so got stuck in outer ring on front -things got interesting. I actually listened to some who said I wouldn’t need to charge it for the whole trip! Stuck a mobile phone back-up battery charger into the charging port to give it some juice at the rest point and carved enough to get me to Cannes.
The ceremonial ride into Cannes was great. Especially to see the harbour and yachts after riding across France.   Thank you to all the welcoming party who cheered us in.

Off the bike and I literally couldn’t talk. Overwhelmed!  Beer, chips and burgers thank you Savills.  Rest time.

The participants and supporters on this trip were all awesome. Given the levels of fatigue it was an immense effort to keep everyone going and in such great spirits.

A whopping £250,000 total sponsorship raised from Cycle to Cannes 2015 and over £2 million in the 10 years of the event running, amazing!