Tuesday, 3 September 2019

September 2019.

1st September: Apart from a couple of motons, it was a fairly good ride today. My dad's had a leg removed so I had to be free to push him to the pub for lunch at 2 o'clock so I decided to get out for a fairly early ride. Awesom-O's had some minor surgery, a replacement right-hand shifter lever, new inner brake and gear cables and new bar tape, so I was happy to take him out for a late summer spin. It was warmish but extremely windy, heading out and up the track extremely windy - I was struggling to maintain 13 mph at times but coming back down the track was great fun with the wind behind me.



I did two ups and downs of the farm track and headed back through the village. I had a minor close pass from a van on the way out but as I was cycling through the village a woman in a large white car waiting to turn right waited until I was almost on her to pull out in front of me. I don't think she'll forget me bellowing "MORON!!!" through her window as she passed me in a hurry! Anyhow, an early start to September in more way than one and 19.4 miles.

7th September: After a ridiculous amount of rain recently it was a gorgeous early autumn day today so I took the Strael out for a spin. It was fairly warm and sunny without much wind but it's that time of year when you can feel a bit chilly at the start of a ride so I've ordered a cheap long sleeved jersey from B'Twin which I'll review after a couple of rides. There was definitely a bit of the 'autumn's here' in the air because there were lots of cyclists out enjoying the sun while they could. Anyhow, a very pleasant ride and 20.1 more miles.

14th September: After several days of yet more rain it was a gorgeous early autumn day today, warm and sunny and not too windy so the Strael got a run out. I was going to get back to doing the usual three ups and downs of the path but made something of a clothing mistake that rendered that unwise. Being autumn I decided to wear my new B'Twin 500 long sleeved top thinking it was just a light weight jersey. It isn't, the material is quite thick and it's brushed on the inside so I basically ended up melting and ended up cycling with it half unzipped.


Aside from that, I had one of the cutest animal encounters I've ever had. I was heading down a bosky section of the path i call insect alley when I saw a small grey squirrel and two juveniles on the path about eight feet in front of me. They didn't seem remotely concerned with the two young ones clambering over each other playing. I stood still and they all started walking towards me in a line. They eventually all walked right past me and dived back into the trees at the side of the path and disappeared - amazing! Anyhow, another 20.1 miles.

Photo credit: Joel Sartore.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

August 2019.

2nd August: We've had a bizarre amount of rain for the time of year recently, a small town in the UK, Whaley Bridge, has been evacuated because a dam's been damaged and there are roads washed away in Yorkshire but today was actually quite pleasant. It was semi-overcast and around 22 °C so I took Awesom-O for another spin as I wasn't sure how much standing water would still be around. As it turns out, I could have taken the Strael as it was pretty dry overall. It was a pretty uneventful ride and a nice chance to top off the tan a bit. 25.0 miles.

3rd August: Another overcast warm day today so, knowing it was dry, I took the Strael out for a spin. I obviously wasn't the only person who decided to take advantage of the nice weather. The farmers were out harvesting the wheat and baling the straw and there were other cyclists and people walking on the path. On a side note, I think I've sorted the angle on my new Specialized saddle.



It's now pointing ever so slightly up and it's not perfect but it's liveable with. Anyhow an enjoyable ride and another cool 'wildlife' encounter. There are a couple of Buddleia bushes growing out of the hedge near the house where I found the rabbit a couple of winters ago. I thought I saw something moving and when I went to take a look, they were covered with Red Admiral and Peacock butterflies which was amazing to see. Another 25.0 miles.

Photo credit: Jessica Godfrey.

17th August: The weather this year is proving to be rather odd. We've had tons of rain over the last few days, I've lost count of the number of commutes up the M6 recently where the rain is pouring and everyone's driving through the spray with their headlights on (except for a lot of Ford drivers, obviously). Anyhow, today was overcast but reasonably warm so, anticipating a lot of standing water, I took Awsom-O out for a spin. It was very windy, around 15 mph according to the BBC website, but it was still an enjoyable ride. The wind was in my face heading up the track so at least it would be with me on the way home. Around half way through the ride a lot of the clouds seemed to dissipate and it was actually a gorgeous sunny day and a very enjoyable ride. 25.1 miles.

24th August: Well, after more rain than you'd ever expect to see in August, an area of high pressure has finally moved in and it was hot and sunny today. I took the Strael out to do the usual and ended up having another odd animal encounter. There's an area of hard standing at the end of the farm track that appears to have been created as a caravan park. As I was starting my first 'down', a soaking wet black pug puppy ran under the gate and onto the path. It was extremely friendly and ran straight towards me so I lay the Strael down in the grass and managed to pick it up and hand it back to it's owner who'd walked over. A nice rescue but my gloves stank of wet dog for the rest of the ride and went straight in the wash when I got back. Despite the warmth, 26 °c according to the Wahoo, it was very windy so I decided to cut the ride to two ups and downs and get more, shorter rides in because I've booked next week off work. Anyhow, 19.4 hot and sweaty miles.

25th August: I forgot to write this ride up but I remember that it was warm but overcast and very windy. I went out on the Strael to do the usual but for some reason there cars and tractors all over the place so I did a complete up and down of the path and then did the road to Holt Green and back. A windy ride but satisfying. 21.2 miles.

30th August: The BBC had been threatening 40 mph winds today but my dad challenged me to get out for a ride. It was windy but nowhere near 40 mph so I grabbed the Strael and headed out. I did two ups and downs of the farm path and a lap of the pond at Siding Lane to add a bit of distance on the way home. It wasn't 40 mph the wind but it was extremely windy, at some points going up the track I was either leaning the bike into wind or it was dancing around underneath me. This has been a very weird August for weather, most of it has been more like November so I hope we get an Indian summer! 20.3 miles.

Well I got all togged up on the 31st and headed out at my usual time just as the heavens open. It wasn't a particularly warm day and I was wearing my summer gear so I called her a cigrit and headed back in. Not a great month at 136.0 miles but not too bad given the state of the year so now I'm really hoping for an Indian summer!

Sunday, 7 July 2019

July 2019.

6th July: Well, the big project at work is in the tidying up phase so it was definitely time to give more thought to riding. It had been a rather strange day so far, raining and cold for July but it had dried off and brightened up by the afternoon so I decided to take the Strael out for a spin. As I set off it struck me that although it was fairly sunny, the air itself felt fairly cold for the time of year. I guess it depends on where the general air mass over an area is coming in from; anyhow, I carried on and soon forgot the cold. I did the usual three ups and downs and then came back via the OCR.



I made the big mistake of stopping for a pee on the side of the road and getting my legs shredded by the brambles, my legs felt like I was bathing in acid when I had my post-ride bath. One cool thing worth adding was that as I was coming back up the path at the part where Outlet Lane run both ways around a couple of houses, there was a beautiful young fox standing on the path in front of me! He took off and a fair rate of speed along the tree-line but an amazing thing to see! 25.4 miles to start July off.

Photo credit: Tambako The Jaguar.

13th July: After a few days of not very July-like weather it was quite pleasant today, overcast with the odd patch of blue sky appearing so I took the Strael out for a ride. It was pleasant enough although very windy on the 'up' part of the farm path and I saw a few other roadies out enjoying the weather. I'm still not sure about my new Toupe saddle. It definitely makes my bum ache but I think that's exacerbated by my Orro shorts which aren't much good at all. Anyhow, the bolt on the Hope seat-post keeps coming undone so, whilst removing the bolt to apply some blue Loctite, I tilted it down slightly more than it was to see if that helps at all. Another 25.3 miles.

21st July: Well after a couple of days of heavy rain I finally managed to get out today. I decided to take Awesom-O out for a rare summer ride in case there was stranding water everywhere but I needn't have worried. It was overcast with the occasional blue patch and not too windy so it started out as a quite enjoyable ride. I say started because the ride quickly went downhill. As I was heading around the corner onto Lodge lane I noticed my front tyre was rapidly going down. I stopped on the corner to change the tube but in my haste I think I shredded the tube as the CO2 just whooshed straight out the tyre again. As I was changing the tube, I noticed several large black mosquitoes buzzing around but didn't think anything of it. I had a tube and a CO2 left but I couldn't be arsed fitting another one so decided to walk the 1.8 miles home. I didn't notice anything that afternoon but the next day I had six huge mosquito bites! I'm definitely applying some Jungle Formula before the next ride... Anyhow, a final total of 25.3 miles.

24th July: It's been pretty warm today, I drove home from work with my air-con on full blast which I don't like doing, so I was determined to get out for a ride. Awesom-O is still out of action with a punctured front wheel so I took the Strael out figuring it must be dry after all this heat. It was breezy but not too bad and overcast with a fair bit of blue sky so a pretty pleasant ride overall. I'd slathered myself in Jungle Formula No.4 mosquito repellent after getting bitten last time. I felt a bit like a greased pig but I didn't get bitten. One thing i wanted to mention on here is that I switched to using a safety razor a few weeks ago and have been absolutely loving it! A good razor can be bought for £8-£40, lasts forever, and involves zero plastic packaging as they, and the blades, are packaged in paper and card.



It's way better for your skin causing way fewer ingrowing hairs and shaving spots and it's massively eco-friendly. The blades cost as little as 7p a shot and last 2-6 shaves depending on your beard growth and if you use a synthetic shaving brush and a refillable pot of shaving cream or soap, you aren't exposing your skin to harsh chemicals and there's no steel can to recycle - it's a massive win all-round! The Muhle R89 in the picture was around £32 and is a good, mild razor ideal for people starting shaving with a safety razor. Anyhow, 25.0 pretty enjoyable miles.

27th July: Well today was a good lesson in avoiding puddles when it's raining! It was absolutely pouring down so I decided to take Awesom-O out for a spin. If nothing else, it would be a good test of just how rain resistant my current lube of choice (White Lightning Wet Ride) really was. Anyhow, I decided to do a lap of the fishing pond and as I was riding up Siding Lane there was a huge puddle across the path. As I went to cycle through it, my front wheel hit something and stopped and I got launched off the bike! I think the fact I landed in three inches of water helped as my clothes were fine but I had a real bump on my head and I've grazed down the outside of right calf. Awesom-O was fine but the bar tape on the right hand side is wrecked. It was raining so heavily that I wasn't any wetter than I had been pre-crash so I decided to carry on. I was wearing a bright yellow water-proof jacket that I bought from Go Outdoors a few years ago. It was waterproof but it was soon as wet on the inside from sweat as it was on the outside so I decided a hot bath was a better idea and headed back for a piddly 11.3 miles.

Well, for various reasons, including an unseasonable amount of rain, I didn't manage to get out again so July goes out with a less than ideal 112.6 miles. On the plus side, the White Lightning Wet Ride lube is a keeper. Awesom-O's chain has completely dried out and there isn't a speck of rust on it!

Sunday, 23 June 2019

June 2019.

22nd June: Finally! The huge project at work was finally over so I was looking forward to getting out on the bike but the weather had other ideas. It's rained for the last fortnight and it's been more like a miserable November than June but a high pressure area has arrived and today was hot and fairly sunny. I'd been dying to take the Strael out because I've bought a new saddle for it, a Specialized Toupe expert, so I set out with a slight sense of trepidation. I was worried about my fitness levels after three weeks off the bike but I needn't have worried, my legs felt pretty good and I averaged 16.2 mph which was decent enough. The new saddle initially felt very comfortable, it really eliminates any weight on your gentlemen's bits, but I soon started feeling it where my sit bones contact the saddle so I'll give it a few more rides to let my butt adapt. Anyhow, it was nice to get out on the bike again and 25.4 miles to finally start June off.

Well, that was the lowest monthly mileage ever! We've had a lot of miserable weather and I've had a couple of overnight trips to help the guys out up at Sellafield but our massive project is over and things can get back to normal at last.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

May 2019.

6th May: It was a fairly cool today at around 10 °C but otherwise fairly pleasant so I took Awesom-O out for a spin. It's rained a bit over the last few days and drizzled this morning so I figured it probably wasn't ideal weather for the Strael. Incidentally, I bought a new chain checker recently, a Birzman one that measures 0.5%, 0.75% and 1% wear and when I checked Awesom-O, the 1% tester dropped straight through the chain so I decided to fit a new one. I checked my spreadsheet however and found one more ride would take him over the 1,000 mile mark so I left it on and went for a spin. I wore full winter togs, long bibs, merino, overshoes etc but with mitts rather than gloves and was perfectly dressed for a change. The roads were fairly wet so taking Awesom-O was a good idea. It was a bit windy heading 'up' the track but otherwise a fairly enjoyable ride and 25.1 miles to kick May off.

12th May: After a few days of cold wet weather it was an absolutely gorgeous day today, warm and sunny. Because it was so nice I took the Strael out but I was kind of hoping to take Awesom-O out. I decided to replace his chain recently because the new checker said it was completely pooched so I fitted a new cassette at the same. Anyhow, the test ride can wait until it next rains and the Strael got a run out today. The BBC said it would be around 16 °C so I wore my Castelli jacket over my stolen goat jersey and my new Orro bib shorts but took the jacket off when I got to the track. My arms were a bit chilly for a while and was soon enjoying topping up my sun tan. An uneventful ride and another 25.0 miles.

15th May: Another gorgeous sunny day today so the Strael got another spin after work. It had cooled to maybe 16 °C by the time I set off but it was still nice and warm so i wore my stolen goat jersey and short bibs and set off to do the usual. It was a pretty bog standard ride aside from the slightly higher than normal number of cyclists and walkers out and about. One thing I'm starting to get mildly annoyed about is encountering insects as I ride. On this ride I almost got something large and furry in my mouth but just dodged it and I also got whacked in the face under my left eye by something quite weighty which smarted somewhat.



There's been a gauze mesh type device on sale in America for years but it velcros onto the rim of your helmet and I don't wear one so that's out the window. Something like a small dust mask but made out of mesh would work. I might look into the matter further... Oh, and I almost forgot, I saw a young hare cross the path and dive into the vegetation and a buzzard perched on a telegraph pole, both cool encounters. Anyhow, 25.2 miles.

19th May: I don't remember a lot about this ride because it was a few days ago and I've been away on business for a couple of days since but I do remember the BBC website said it was around 15 to 16 °C but my Wahoo said it was 14 °C as we rode along. Either way, I wore my short sleeved top and shorts and, although my arms occasionally felt a bit fresh, it was rather pleasant in the sun. I'm spending five nights up near Sellafield soon with work so I'm planning some potential routes and it will interesting to see what it's like. Anyhow, another 25.0 miles.

25th May: It was cloudy today but warmish and not too windy so the Strael got a run out. We've got a huge project on at work at the moment so I've either been too knackered or working to get as much riding in as I want. Anyhow, I set off with my summer gear on but with the Castelli jacket on top and headed for the farm track. Oddly, as I was cycling along the bypass it started drizzing slightly which wasn't forecast but I like cycling in the rain when it's warm so I carried on. It dried off at the track so I took my jacket off and did my usual three ups and downs. My legs felt good and it was quite an enjoyable ride with a few other cyclists out enjoying the warmer weather. About half way around the ride a constant drizzle started which got me rather damp. I must have looked quite Rule #9 as I stood in the queue waiting to pay for a bag of Hula Hoops in the Co-Op on the way home though! Anyhow, another 25.0 miles.

28th May: After a lot of reading on-line about crank lengths on bikes, when I bought my Ultegra 8000 cranks recently I went with the 170 mm version rather than the 105 ones that were fitted previously which were 172.5 mm. Since then, the seat has felt ever so slightly low so before today's ride I raised it about 3 mm to compensate for the shorter cranks. Surprisingly, and I've had this conversation with my dad, it was extremely noticeable on the bike. It felt more efficient but it also gave me some minor muscle twinges, I think where bike fit is concerned, you really do adapt to a bike and the tiniest change is quite noticeable. Anyhow, it was extremely windy going up the track but pleasantly warm when the sun came out so a quite enjoyable ride overall and another 25.0 more miles.

Well, the final stage of our huge project at work has finally started so we're getting one day a week off and working twelve hour plus days so I didn't manage to get out on the bike again and May finishes with a less than ideal 150.3 miles. The project at work will be over in a couple of weeks so I'm hoping to get back to more regular cycling after that!

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Review: Garbaruk anodised Aheadset stem cap.

I can't remember if I've mentioned this little part but I found it when I was building the Strael. When I bought the Strael, I opted for the optional orange Hope Aheadset and seat clamp so was looking for other orange bits to go with the overall theme.



A quick search on Google images found Garbaruk components who were based in Ukraine when I bought my cap but moved to Poland this year. The cap is CNC-machined from 7075-T651 alloy and are available in anodised orange, yellow, red, blue, green, silver, black or purple. It's a lovely little finishing touch to any bike and at €10.50 from r2-bike.com it won't break the bank!





Friday, 19 April 2019

The reach adjustment screw on Shimano ST-RS685 hydraulic shifters.

Finally! Ever since I read that the ST-RS685 shifters on the Strael do have a reach adjustment feature I've meant to find out how it's actually done. I did a bit of searching this morning on Youtube and finally found where the screw is located.


If you roll the rear of the hood rubber forward as far as you can and then look into the back of the mechanism on the inboard side, you will see a 2 mm screw head. This is the reach adjustment screw, it seems to be glued in but if you use a good quality 2 mm allen key you can crack it loose and and adjust the reach of your levers!