Wednesday, 13 February 2019

February 2019.

February 13th: After two weeks of cold, wet, windy weather an area of high pressure has settled over the UK and I could finally get out for a ride! I took Awesom-O out to do the usual and ended up having a rather strange start to my ride. As I was cycling up the bypass, I saw two guys on mountain bikes heading towards me riding two abreast. I was sure they would see me and move into single file so I squeezed to the left of the path to make room. As it turned out, they didn't move into single file and the right hand of one of them crashed into my right arm as we passed. The guy let out a rather startled "OOF!" so I suspect, rather than anything malicious, he just hadn't been watching where he was going. Anyhow, no one came off so I carried on going expecting a reasonable bruise on my arm in the morning. The ride itself was fine, a barn owl swooped across the path ahead of me which was cool, and it was reasonably warm at around 8 °C without much wind and my legs felt pretty reasonable despite the enforced break. 25.1 miles to finally start February off.

February 15th: It was a bit of an unusual ride today. My colleague Adam and I were doing a big office reshuffle at work so we decided to start at lunchtime and work into the evening. This left the morning free so I took Awesom-O out to do the usual. As a bit of an experiment, I had a pizza for breakfast just before I set out to see how it would affect how I felt on the ride. Anyhow, it was cold. The BBC weather site said it would be 5 °C rising to 8 °C but it felt a lot colder when I set off. Other than the cold, it was a gorgeous late winter day with blue skies and the sun feeling quote warm.

The wind ruined it slightly with a pretty consistent southerly wind that didn't let up at all. The wind, combined with riding straight after a meal, meant I never really felt like I got going properly and it wasn't the most enjoyable ride ever. It was tempered slightly by another cool wild life encounter though. As I was doing the last 'down', something made me look up to my left and there was a young buzzard flying along side me and we look at each other for a few seconds as we paralleled each other which was really cool. Anyhow, I only noticed when updating my spreadsheet that this was the ride that took Awesom-O over the 5,000 mile mark and another 25.0 miles for February.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

January 2019.

2nd Jan: I was feeling a bit partied out today after all the festivities so I took Awesom-O out for a spin to clear my head. It was overcast and pretty cold so I donned the stolen goat and headed out. Weirdly, despite being hungover and not having eaten, my legs felt better than they have for years and I absolutely flew the whole ride. I had a couple of very cool wild life encounters on the ride as well. At one point, I was cycling along watching a flock of at least 30 goldfinches swarming up to land on a telephone wire when they changed their minds because there was a kestrel already sitting on the wire, cool! At a later stage of the ride, I was cycling back down the track when a flock of 4- to 500 starlings lifted into the air ahead of me and could decided which side of the path to alight on so I was cycling along with a massive half torus of starlings in front of me. That was extremely cool and it happened again on a subsequent 'down'. Anyhow, a fun, fast ride and 25.1 miles to kick the ride off with.

6th Jan: Awesom-O was absolutely filthy before today's ride, virtually every square centimetre was covered in dried mud, so I gave him a good wash. I also t-shirted the cassette, gave the chain a really good wipe to get any grit and excess oil off and treated all the pivots on the rear mech to a drop of Purple Extreme. That done, we headed off to the farm track. There was barely any wind and it was around 8 °C so not particularly cold and quite a fun ride. There were a lot of corvids around for some reason, there was a murder of maybe 5- or 600 hundred crows on one of the fields because the farmer was tilling it as I rode and most of them lifted into the air each time I went past. After two ups and downs, I headed to Holt Green and there was freshly tilled field on the right hand side there with 2- or 300 rooks mixed in with a few crows so a very corvid rich ride! Anyhow, it was a fun ride and another 25.2 miles.

20th January: It's been a mad couple of weeks recently which meant I haven't been out on the bike for ages. I had a crazy week at work including a lot of travel and an overnight stay and then we had a week of windy, rainy weather afterwards. Anyhow, I managed to take Awesom-O out for a ride today. Because he has mudguards, it isn't easy to see what state his tyres are in so I flipped him upside down and took a look. The front was fine but the back tyre was quite flat and fairly cut up with a couple of holes where you could clearly see the anti-puncture belt under the tread. Coincidentally, the next morning I was sitting in the car looking at Instagram on my phone when I saw an ad showing Sigma Sports were doing the same tyres for thirty quid each so I ordered a couple.

I fitted them yesterday and boy were they a pig! Anyhow, I used lots of talc on everything and managed to get them fitted without sacrificing any inner tubes and was looking forward to the riding the smooth new rubber today. It was an OK day, overcast but bright and not too cold at around 5 °C and barely any wind, so I did a lap of the fishing pond followed by the usual. I saw quite an odd thing bolted to a telephone pole on the last 'down' so I stopped and took a pic. It had a laser warning sticker on so I guess it's something to do with broadband? Anyhow, a quite enjoyable 26.0 miles.

28th January: I read an article on a while back about dealing with smelly cycling clothing. One of the things they mentioned was gloves. This bamboozled me slightly because I thought 'How can gloves stink'? As it turns out, my gloves do stink. The odour is rather reminiscent of smelly feet so they're definitely going in the wash after this ride! Anyhow, It's been another long break from the bike, we've had some snow and a couple of really freezing nights and yesterday was incredibly windy, but I managed to take Awesom-O out for a spin today. By happy coincidence I'd booked the day off and it was a beautiful day, around 4 °C with clear blue skies and not too much wind. I only did the usual but, apart from a close pass by a prat in a Range Rover who'd obviously taken umbrage with me moving to the centre of the road to turn right at a t-junction, it was a very enjoyable ride. I felt a bit meh initially but I soon perked up and it was another 25.1 miles.

Well, another poor month. It snowed on Wednesday which made getting to work an adventure! They hadn't gritted the village, the bypass or the East Lancs so every traffic lights was 'am I going to be able to get moving again?' which was nerve racking. It's been around freezing since and there's still snow remnants everywhere so I've been stuck indoors. Anyhow, the monthly total was a poor 101.4 miles. Here's hoping it warms up soon...

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Review: Disco Brakes Triple compound road bike brake pads.

I thought I'd start this winter season with new brake pads for Awesom-O as the Swissstops have done two seasons and were looking a bit tired. I was somewhat dismayed to see the Swissstop green pads seem to have been discontinued so I decided to try a different, cheaper option. I've used Clark triple compound pads before and been very impressed so I took a chance and ordered these pads from the Disco brakes website. They cost £12.24 for four packs of two ie two complete sets which is a lot cheaper than the Swissstop pads. Anyhow, I got them fitted and have done a lot of dry riding and one wet one and have been quite impressed overall. In the dry they lack the immediacy of the Swissstop pads but there's no shortage of stopping power.

If you need to, and grab a handful of brake lever, you can stop from 20 mph is under 20 feet perfectly easily. It's also worth mentioning that these pads never, ever make a noise. They stay silent in all conditions which can only be a good thing. In the wet they work just as well. I did notice a lot more grey sludge (which is a mixture of microscopic rubber and aluminium particles) on the rims after the ride than you get with the Swissstop pads but I guess it's the research at Swissstop around making pads efficient but rim friendly at the same time that makes their pads much more expensive than these ones. Anyway, overall? I'd say these are way better than stock Tektro pads, slightly better than stock Shimano pads but not as good as the superb Swissstop product. A solid four stars!

December 2018.

1st December: My neck's feeling a lot better now so I decided to take Awesom-O out for a spin. It wasn't too cold, around 10 °C with very little wind, but it was threatening to rain which at least meant I'd be able to do the brake block review I've been waiting ages to do. I did the usual, three ups and downs of the farm track, and ended up really enjoying the ride. It didn't rain but there was a constant heavy drizzle so the brake blocks finally got a test in the rain. I was wearing my Climb and Conquer jacket and Sealskinz windproof gloves so I was perfectly warm although the gloves do make your hands very sweaty. Anyhow, it was great to finally get a ride in and 25.3 miles to start December.

4th December: It was the first properly cold night of the year tonight, 4 dropping to 3 °C, so I girded my loins and took Awesom-O out for a spin. I was going to do three ups and downs of the track as usual but, although the rest of me was warm, my toes were absolutely freezing so I did two and headed back in via the kebab shop, ahem... I'm going to look into ways of keeping my toes warm in this sort of weather. My toes get so cold they actually go dead, numb and grey and need a good ten minutes in a hot bath to come back to life.

I believe kitchen foil comes into the equation somewhere so that's a handy research project if it's quiet at work tomorrow. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, I was cycling along Outlet Lane on the first 'up' when a barn owl that must have been perched on the barbed wire a couple of feet to my left took off and flew along in front of me for a few yards before jinking right and disappearing into the trees which was pretty cool! A rather enjoyable 19.6 miles.

9th December: We've had a few days of strong winds and heavy rain but the weather wasn't too bad today, windy but dry, so I took Awesom-O out for a spin. Because my toes got so cold the other night, I'd ordered some merino socks from Tredz. I wore them today and also wrapped the front of my shoes with foil to keep the wind out. It wasn't cold today, around 10 °C, but my toes definitely stayed warm, it'll be interesting to see if my toes stay warm when it gets really cold. Anyhow, I was on my first down when I saw a couple of horsists up ahead so I diverted to Holt Green and back and then did a last up and down before heading home. Following all the recent rain the second puddle is starting to form again so Awesom-O was filthy when I got in but it was a windy ride but enjoyable overall and another 24.6 miles.

16th December: We've had some really crappy weather recently, including storm Deirdre yesterday, but the weather was relatively pleasant today so I took a 'filthy from the last ride' Awesom-O out for a spin. I didn't do anything interesting, just a lap of the fishing pond and the usual three ups and downs of the farm path, but it was a pleasant enough ride despite getting close passed by some tool in an Evoque on the way back through the village. The wind wasn't too bad and it was around 7 °C which was no challenge to my stolen goat jacket. One issue I haven't solved is getting frozen toes. I tried wrapping the end of my shoes with foil before I put my overshoes on but it didn't make a lot of difference. I suspect I need new overshoes, the Sealskinz ones I have now are thin and open bottomed. The basic thick neoprene ones I had previously from Wiggle were much better. Anyhow, another 25.9 miles.

23rd December: It was raining constantly today but I'm short of mileage for the month and there was hardly any wind so I took Awesom-O out for a spin. I was going to do the fishing pond and the usual three ups and downs of the farm path but on the second 'up' I saw at least four girls on horses on the path ahead so I turned around and decided to do the 27 instead. In a bid to keep my toes warm I was wearing merino socks, foil over the end of my shoes and my new DHB overshoes but alas, this was not to be a ride of warm feet... As I was heading down barrow Nook Lane, I noticed that the whole left hand lane was under water right up to the white line. Me being me, I decided to cycle through it but hadn't realised it was a good four inches deep and my right shoe immediately filled up with water! Anyhow, it wasn't particularly cold, around 7 °C, so my feet were actually OK and it was quite an enjoyable ride overall and another 26.9 miles.

26th December: The area of high pressure is still sitting over the UK at the moment so although it was overcast and misty, there was little wind and the temperature was around 6 °C. I took Awesom-O out to do the usual and had quite an enjoyable ride burning off some of the festive season excesses. I wasn't the only one either, there were quite a few roadies out which was good to see.

There were no horsists out this time but I am getting rather bored of doing the farm track so I did two ups and downs and then the road to Holt Green and back for 25.2 miles. I did notice the day after this ride that the chain was really rusty and barely turned. I think that what happens is that as the chain dries, all the crushed grit and silt in the chain dries and wicks all the oil out of the links. Anyhow, easy enough to apply more lube.

28th December: I'm still feeling a bit jaded with doing the farm track all the time so I did something a bit different today. I carried on until the end of the bypass and decided to do part of the route towards Leisure Lakes but then changed my mind part of the way and ended up in Newburgh. I soon realised there was no circular route back because you basically end up in Skem so I turned around. It wasn't a particularly fun ride, I got close passed so many times I lost count, I really don't know how people commute with going postal occasionally. Also, although it wasn't warm, around 10 °C, I was absolutely boiling, even with my jacket open. Anyhow, I survived and it was another 23.6 more miles.

30th December: I don't need too many miles to complete the year so I decided to split it into two rides and just do a quickie today. It was overcast and around 10 °C so after boiling myself on the last ride I wore me castelli Alpha over my merino and took Awesom-O out for a spin. I set off up the bypass, did a lap of the fishing pond and then to the end of the farm track then added a mile or so by heading up Simonswood Lane and looping back via Back Lane and then home via Hall Lane through Bickerstaffe. It was quite a fun ride, I felt just right temperature-wise, and another 15.5 miles.

31st December: It's been dry for a couple of days now so I decided to take the Strael out and do the ride I did yesterday again. It was relatively warm and not too windy so it was quite a pleasant ride overall and the 13.8 miles meant I finished the year with a satisfying total of 2,404.8 miles.

Monday, 5 November 2018

November 2018.

4th November: It was overcast and quite warm today today with very little wind so I took Awesom-O out to do the usual. I've noticed on the last couple of rides that the Shockstop stem felt a bit soft so, as an experiment, I changed from 60/70 elastomers to 70/80. I did two ups and downs of the farm track and the road to Holt Green and then took the road to the stables and back followed by a lap of the fishing pond on the way home. The stem was much better over really clattery sections but had lost a lot of the compliance over regular bumps so I'm going to try and track down another 70 elastomer and run 70/70. Nothing too exciting then but a decent 26.8 miles to start November off.

10th November: We've had a few days of strong wind and rain over the last few day but today was looking OK so I took Awesom-O out for a spin. I decided to do the fishing pond then a couple of ups and downs of the track and the road to Holt Green and back. It was pretty windy but it was blowing more or less across the track so it wasn't too bad most of the time. I saw a big older chap with a couple of dogs I've waved to a few times and, because one of the dogs was so engrossed in something, I ended up stopping and chatting for a couple of minutes.

He was nice and the dogs were lovely. I think they were labs, one black and one a really dark metallic tan colour that I haven't seen before. The house in Holt Green had the lights on again so I still haven't been able to take another look in the building society boxes but there was a fantastic rainbow on the way back. It faded away really quickly which I didn't know they did so I guess you do learn something new every day! Anyhow, a fairly windy ride but another 25.4 miles.

17th November: We've had a lot of windy weather and some rain recently plus it's been mad busy at work so I've had a lot of can't be bothered evenings recently but I finally managed to get out for a ride today. Before I left, I fitted another 70 elastomer to the new Shockstop stem. I wasn't going to bother as another set of elastomers was £15 plus another £5 for delivery from Amazon. I'm having a trial month of Prime at the moment and noticed that this drops the price to a tenner for some reason, and obviously no delivery charge, so I bought a set. The weather was gorgeous, pure blue skies and around 10 °C without too much wind so generally a very enjoyable ride. The stem is finally spot-on as well, seamlessly absorbing most of the abuse my wrists normally take. I did three ups and downs of the usual so another 25.3 miles.

20th November: I'd booked today off work to dodge a team day out but it was cancelled but I didn't cancel the ride because I'm short of miles this month. It was colder than it has been, around 7 °C, so I wore the Climb and Conquer jacket over my merino under-layer for first time this winter and took Awesome-O out for a spin. It was windy, I had cold fingers and it was spitting a bit so I wasn't in the mood initially so I decided to explore some of the farm lanes around the fishing pond at Siding Lane while my legs warmed up.

It was actually quite fun, we used to go for walks with my parents along these tracks when I was a kid so it was nice to see what they were like. They basically ran around the edge of, and between, fields so a lot of wheel spinning and mud involved but fun nonetheless. Once my legs warmed up my fingers followed suit so I cheered up and did two ups and downs of the track before heading in. I was toasty warm, despite the weather, so an enjoyable ride overall and 23.3 miles.

Well, another poor month on the mileage front. We've had a lot of wet, windy weather recently followed by my pulling a muscle in my neck (which I hate!) so I didn't manage to get out again and so November goes by with a less than ideal 100.8 miles. On the plus side, my neck's better and I'm looking forward to December!

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Review: The Redshift Sports ShockStop stem.

I saw this product on Kickstarter a few months ago so when reviewed it recently, I knew my wallet was in for an imminent kicking. And here it is! It's basically a stem suspended at the steerer end on two cartridge bearings with the centre of the stem housing a pair of elastomers trapped inside with a wedge assembly. The net result is 10-20 mm of shock and buzz reducing travel with no loss of stiffness and a weight penalty of only around 100 grams over a normal stem. I removed the Cinelli Vai stem I had on Awesom-O and prepared to fit the new stem. The elastomers are fitted at the factory so the stem points upwards in the +6° position so this is how I decided to fit it figuring the stem would lower to a more conventional position when it activated and moved downwards. The bike looked a bit odd this way and felt too upright so I decided to swap it to the -6° position.

To do this, you remove the face plate, undo a long bolt that runs through the elastomer wedge and simply remove the elastomers and wedge assembly and refit it the other way up. The manual was very specific about not mis-threading the wedge retaining bolt and advises keeping the bolt head as low as you can and pushing down on the stem to align it optimally. I had no issues with this and the bolt screwed back in with no issues. I tightened this bolt to the recommended 1.5 ft/lbs and reassembled the bike. The faceplate and steerer clamp bolts were all done up to the recommended 5 ft/lbs and the job was a good'un. I haven't ridden it properly yet but I did do a few ups and downs of my rear drive way and I'm certainly intrigued. I'm not sure how it will reduce road buzz but it really removes the jarring you get when you go through a small dip and the bars really punch up into your wrists. I'll take it for a full ride over the weekend and finish this review.

Update and final opinion: We've had some fairly severe winds over the last few days but it's calmed down a bit so I managed to get out last night and test the stem with the 60/70 elastomer combination recommended by Redshift. I was initially going to do the usual but I actually ended up doing the most varied ride I've done for ages. It was a mixture of cycling through woods in the dark, the Old Coach Road which is horrendous, peeling chip seal, the undulations of the farm track and the road to Holt Green which is pretty rough in places. Partly because it was dark and partly because it was so windy, I didn't really notice the stem. I just realised occasionally that while I could feel the imperfections of the road slamming up through the saddle, my hands and wrists were taking virtually no abuse at all. I think this is the beauty of this stem, it does it's job unobtrusively until you get home after a hard ride and realise your hands and wrists don't feel like you've been out on a ride at all. I think if you have any kind of hand, wrist or shoulder ailment, you'd be absolutely mad not to fit one of these as soon as you can. It did feel a little soft just occasionally when hitting larger obstructions so I'd love to try it with 70/70 elastomers but for now? Top product.

The RRP for this product in the UK is £149.99 but I got mine from KIT RADAR who are selling them for £139.99.

Friday, 5 October 2018

October 2018.

3rd October: I forgot to write this ride up at the time but I remember it was fairly windy but dry and not too cold so the Strael got another autumn outing. To avoid the traffic, I didn't set out until half six so I got the first proper night ride of the year so I was running the Exposure Diablo at the front. I did have a rather unusual bird encounter on the second 'up', just as it was getting dark. I was riding along and a silent bird with a white underside came over the hedge to my right, swooped down in front of me and then flew back over the hedge and then did the same thing again. I haven't seen any on the ride before but I guess it was a barn owl. It was a fun ride and I stopped at the kebab shop on the way home for a doner but I haven't had one for ages, honest! Anyhow, 25.1 miles to start October off.

5th October: I took the day off work today so I could get out for a good afternoon ride. I particularly wanted to get out today because the BBC website said there was an 80% chance of rain and I wanted to test out some new brake blocks on Awesom-O. I did a quick lap of the fishing lake at Siding Lane and then did two ups and downs and the road to Holt Green. By the time I got to Holt Green I was dying for a pee so I parked Awesom-O against a tree and walked into the small plantation of huge pine trees I pass next to the weird old house. There were some random tress but the huge pines were definitely planted in a grid pattern, I guess the wood was planted in the 60's or 70's with the promise of being the farmer's retirement pot when the trees were harvested and turned into timber. Needless to say, it didn't rain so the brake block review will have to wait for another day. Anyhow, an enjoyable enough ride and 25.2 miles.

10th October: I was rather late getting out after work this evening because I couldn't find my Wahoo computer. I looked everywhere but it had disappeared so I eventually set off on Awesom-O without it figuring I know the mileage of most of my routes anyway. I ended up doing two ups and downs of the path and the road to Holt Green. I was going to have another look at the contents of the building society boxes in the outhouse but the lights were on in one room of the house which is odd because no one lives there! The weather was another oddity, I set off with my Castelli Alpha over the Stolen Goat jersey but I took the jacket off after the first 'up' because it was so warm, definitely the only time I can remember doing a night ride in summer gear! Anyhow, it was 24.5 miles and I found the Wahoo the next day, it was on my desk under a packet of SwissStop brake pads...

14th October: The Wahoo back on the bike, I decided to take Awesom-O out this afternoon because it's rained a lot recently and I still need to test the new brake blocks. It didn't actually rain but there were a few puddles about so at least the new blocks got a start bedding in with the grit on the rims. I started by doing a lap around the fishing pond and then intended to do the usual three ups and down as of the farm track. As it turned out, the horsists were out so I did one up and down of the track, two laps of the time triallers block and finished with another up and down of the track. On the 'down', I encountered the horsists again so I took the long way home going up to Bickerstaffe along Hall Lane. There were a couple of things to note about this ride; firstly, it was the first ride of the year in my Castelli longs. My bum was super comfortable which does suggest that my Lusso shorts, that have started giving me a numb bum,  are both pooched. Secondly, I kept encountering huge cloud of invisible midges that you only knew were there when you heard them pattering over the front of your jacket and going in your mouth - weird! Anyhow, It was less windy than it has been for absolutely ages so quite a fun ride overall and another 26.9 miles.

17th October: I took the day off work today because it's been fairly crummy recently and today was supposed to be OK, the leaves are finally beginning to turn on the trees so I figured it would be rather a nice day for a ride. Because there's been a bit of rain recently, I decided to take Awesom-O figuring it would be wet. As it turned out, it was actually pretty pleasant. Not too many puddles around and not too windy.

Before I left, I'd fitted Awesom-O with latex tubes so he was flying along as I did two ups and downs of the path. By that point however, I was dying for a wee and my usual handy spot was no good because there were a lot of cars and dog walkers on the track. I decided to head for the weird house at the end of the road to Holt Green where I had a pee in the conifer foundation. Feeling good again, I headed for home and a ride total of 27.6 miles. Update: I noticed as I was filling in my spreadsheet that this ride took my overall total past the 13,000 mile mark AND the annual total over 2,000 miles!

20th October: With the new Shockstop stem fitted to Awesom-O, I was dying to get out for a ride today. It was overcast but very bright with hardly any wind so it promised to be a fairly decent ride (I ended up taking my jacket off after the first up and just riding in long bibs and my stolen goat top). I was going to do three ups and downs of the farm path but as I was on the first 'down', three girls on horses pulled out of the road that goes to the horse farm. I couldn't be arsed dealing with horsists so I decided to do the local 27 instead as it has some truly terrible roads that would really give the new stem a good workout. I haven't done it for ages and I remembered it came up short of 27 because I don't come in via the Ormskirk road any more so I did a reverse loop of the time triallist loop to add a bit of distance and then headed off down Sineacre Lane towards Kirkby.

I don't know why but the ride felt great and I was holding a good speed, I think the new stem helped. I'm sure the elastomers I fitted were too hard (they recommend 60/70 for my weight but I tried 60/80) but the stem was still brilliant and I'm sure you go faster with it. It isn't really noticeable in use until you realise that nothing on the road gets transmitted into your wrists and arms, I got home and my hands and arms didn't feel like I'd just been out on a ride at all. I'll change the elastomers before I next head out but I'm an absolute convert and would recommend the Shockstop to anyone! 27.6 miles at an average speed of 16.5 mph.

24th October: We've had a lot of very windy weather recently but I was determined to test the new stem with the softer 60/70 elastomers in it so I took Awesom-O out for spin after work. There's an area of cold weather moving in and it felt a bit chilly so it was the first evening of the year wearing my Rapha underlayer under my Castelli jacket and my B'twin full finger gloves. Anyhow, I was going to do the usual but the idiot guard dogs were in the garden and I ended up doing a bit of an odd ride. I ended up doing one up and down of the lane, the road to Holt Green, the road to the horse farm, one lap of the time trialler's block and then a lap of the fishing pond through the woods followed by a kebab on the way home. It was windy but quite a fun ride and the new stem continues to impress! 24.0 more miles.

28th October: A large area of cold air has moved in from the north so today was the first fairly cold day of the year, around 9 °C according to the BBC weather website. Determined to get out and face it, I wore my longs, my merino jersey with the Castelli jacket and my new B'twin full gloves and took Awesom-O out to do the usual. It turned out to a gorgeous day, mainly blue sky and very sunny with the usual wind.

I did three ups and downs, as usual, but got there and back via Dairy Farm road and the Old Coach Road to test the new stem out. The stem was great, my hands and wrists don't feel like I've just done a ride, but I'm going to try and track down another 70 elastomer because it felt slightly soft at times. Anyway, a very enjoyable ride overall and 25.7 miles. On the down side, my toes were freezing when I got in so I guess it's overshoes season again.

31st October: I'd booked today off to visit my dad in hospital but he texted last night to say he was coming home soon anyhow and not to bother visiting so I got a bonus bike ride in today, double good news! It was overcast but with a lot of blue sky and not particularly windy so I took Awesom-O out to do the usual. I don't know why but I decided to carry on up Intake Lane and then turn left down Liverpool Road which eventually takes you to the end of the farm path, a road I used to cycle a lot when I first got Awesom-O. I was going to a couple of ups and downs at this point but realised that I was losing the light after one, I'd forgotten about the clocks going back - doh! Anyhow, as I headed home, I did a lap of the fishing pond at Siding Lane and then got home via the road around the village for a total of 22.7 miles and a not too shabby October total of 229.3 miles.