Monthly Archives: July 2012

Allez Wiggo

What an incredible 3 weeks we’ve just witnessed.

Brad might have been marked as the favourite for GC but did anyone really believe that he would win, and by such a margin, and from another Sky rider, and that Brits would win 1 in 3 of the stages …

It’s been reported on in detail in the press but I think what has appealed most is Brad’s lack of media training, his outburst and swearing came across as an athlete with passion.

I spent all my days during the last 3 weeks avoiding all media so I could follow the live coverage recorded from ITV4 and then my evening staying up late watching it unfold. Decent cycling coverage has been sadly lacking the past decade or so and so the benefits of digital are helping with mainstream coverage. I spent 3 hours on Sunday glued to the TV with Wife and Daughter – watching history unfold – all of us gripped to a niche sport on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Amazing,

So hats off to: (in order of importance)

  1. the SKY Riders – They have to do the incredible job of riding the miles and being professional when the media tried to show cracks in the team
  2. Dave Brailsford – for having the dream and making it happen
  3. ITV – for showing so much live coverage

you can’t forget the other teams/riders/support crew  but without the 2 above it woul dhave been just another Tour. They have changed British Cycling, indeed British sport.

Brilliant Gripping and hopefully for a lot of youngsters, life changing.

Shimano MW80 Winter Boot Review

I bought these boots so long ago I’ve forgotten the exact year but it must be around 4 years ago now. My only pair of Sidi dominators didn’t stand up well to winter riding and the choice of decent boots was slim.

First impressions were good. Buying from a local shop, I got them a tad bigger than I would normally wear so I could wear thicker socks and I hate tight shoes. The velcro Shimano MW80straps and neoprene cuff make them easy to get a snug fit. The soles have a decent grip with an aggressive tread and the Goretex lining meant they should be waterproof. They seemed perfect.

They are comfortable to ride in, so much so that I often choose them when the weather is nice, but they are the only ones I wear when it gets wet and cold.

I’ve had mixed experiences in the wet. I did find that water got into the boots and I ended up with freezing feet, to the point of almost throwing them away. I originally put this down to water running down my leg, soaking into the neoprene cuff and entering the boot. More recently though this hasn’t been much of an issue and it’s certainly been very wet the past few months but paired with a decent pair of On-one merino socks my feet have stayed dry and warm on every ride.

Durability

After spending over £100 on boots you want them to last, and last they have. They have been abused a fair bit and often get left full of mud. When they do get cleaned it’s usually with a jetwash  from my Nomad, filled with newspaper and left to dry naturally. I had concerns about the velcro wearing but it’s still OK after all this time and it only has problems if it gets full of mud.

Talking of mud, I wore the boots for all 3 of my laps at Mayhem in 2012. 6.5 hours of riding and walking in ankle deep mud is as good a test of a boot as you’ll get and they were pretty Rather muddy bootsgood. They had decent grip for most of the course and where they struggled everyone else was struggling. By the third lap the velcro had become clogged and was barely working but I didn’t lose a boot and my feet ended up warm and dry.

A quick hose down and they look almost as good as new.

Verdict

I suppose the ultimate test for kit is if you would replace it with the same when it wears out.  As things stand at the moment I probably would, but then Shimano might nit make them any more when they need replacing.

Monday night quick spin

With legs tired from Sundays 36miles and a frustrating day of work, I took off after dinner for a quick spin on the road bike.

I did a variation of the quick 30min loop I often do when I’ve not got a lot of time and tried to pace myself rather than the usual ride-like-I-stole-it pace.

My mojo is still high and being fit and strong enough to sprint up some of the hills (small that they are) is such an exhilarating feeling.

Roll on another ride in a day or 2.

Ride details

Sunday’s Road ride

Whenever Pete can’t ride I’m left with a dilemma as to what and where to ride and this Sunday it was laziness and Wiggo that prompted the choice of a road ride.

The Yeti still has mud tyres on it from Mayhem, the Van Nic wasn’t cleaned after a midweek  evening ride so with the Tour in full flow, the road bike was the only choice at 7am on sunday morning.

I need to fit in some longer, lower  effort rides as most of the time I ride at race pace so this proved a decent opportunity to keep the HR low and enjoy a solo ride on a quiet Sunday morning. I tried to keep my HR in the 140’s and to start with the proved not to difficult, but as I’ve found over the past 18mnths or so I seem to take nearly an hour to get warmed up so the latter half of the ride was at a slightly higher pace.

With no plan as to where to go I stopped a couple of times to work out a route on my phone to try and get back home at a reasonable time. It would have been nice to have been out a bit longer … maybe next week,

I’ve been uploading my rides to Strava recently rather than Sporttracks as I can access the rides anywhere and upload as I’m riding if the Garmin runs out of juice. The ride log shows I averaged 17mph which is better than I was expecting as I took it quite easy.

Later on during Sunday I got a headache and felt very tired = not enough fluids and I need to ride more.

 

TdF one week in

What a first week it’s been. I don’t think I’ve been this caught up in a tour since the late 80’s when Greg LeMond won for the first time.

I got slightly disinterested during the Armstrong era but with my renewed interest in road cycling, a British Team and decent TV coverage it’s hard not to get back into it.

Cav looks good with just Bernie to look after him, Wiggo is looking and sounding like a winner, Froome is awesome : bring on the second half of the race.

AQ Audio Smart Speaker

The plan was to limit the content of this blog  to cycling but I just can’t resist posting about my latest gadget – an AQ Audio Smart Speaker.

For a long time I resisted Apple devices but if you want innovative, well designed stuff that just works it’s hard to buy anything else. I’ve been looking at remote airplay speakers for a while and non of them really did what I wanted. Then I saw the AQ Audio Smart Speaker and it ticked all my boxes.

I wanted a speaker to be able to move around the house, to live in either the kitchen, or Smart SPeakerdining room so I can stream audio to it. Wireless is a bonus, airplay a must so I can use the iPad/iPhone to control it. It helps that it looks great and early reviews indicated it sounded better than it’s size might indicate.

I ordered a single unit a few weeks ago when they started taking orders, shipping was due last week and it arrived yesterday having just been flown in. AQ Audio are new to the market and this is their only product so I guess you can expect some teething problems.

First impressions were good – the box had a quality feel to it, the setup instructions were on a quality printed folded sheet. The speaker itself was nicely wrapped in tissue and was larger than I was expecting. The finish says quality as well – a rubberised rear panel and it has a nice weight to it.

Setup can be done in one of 3 ways (well it could if the AQ Connect app was available but it’s not yet) so I used the simple plug it into the iPhone one. The instructions are very clear and go like this – plug it into the iPhone, press both volume buttons, click yes on iPhone to share WiFi settings. That’s it – done.

I tested it by playing ‘Born to Run’ at a wife friendly volume level and it sounded great. I streamed some iPlayer content which worked without a fault and ended up with a Spotify playlist again without fault.

I’m no audiophile but it’s got a great depth and quality to the sound. It’s not cheap but then it’s a high quality wireless remote speaker with 10 hour playtime and works with airplay. I might need to buy another so we can run them in stereo – heck I might try and justify buying a twin pack so I can have them around the house.

Yeti ASR-AL 09 Review – Part 3 The Verdict

My previous 2 review posts on the Yeti were written 3 or so years ago when I had an aborted attempt at blogging. Many miles have been ridden since and this post will try and sum up my experiences with it.

I’ve probably ridden around 3000miles on the Yeti now ( I should try and work it out I guess), I’ve done 3 Mountain Mayhems on it and a few trips to the Peak District and Cannock. I went on a training course to improve my descending and pushed it through the muddy Warwickshire fields and woods.

For most of this time I think it’s been a far better bike than I have been rider although I have had a couple of eureka moments that have seen us get faster.

The first has been sorting the suspension.

Well when I say sorting, I mean playing about with it as I’ve still not worked out the best settings for it. I think my history on very rigid bikes led me to run the suspension harder than I do now and I used to pick my way over the trail so it didn’t work as well as it could. These days I run it a lot softer and tend to ride over things more and the bike works a lot better. I often lock out the rear when the ground isn’t too rough as I get too much wallow but it works quite well as the shock kicks in on more rough stuff if I forget to turn off the pro-pedal. I’m still not 100% happy with it and I guess I need to spend an afternoon riding a piece of trail again to have a more informd

 

The Tour

What a year of sport we’ve got and one of the highlights has to be this years Tour de France.
It’s always exciting and with Wiggins and Cav both now at Sky who have some experience of tours there is real british interest and hope of a GC win.

The prologue timetrial started today and as with most of the tour I’ll have to record it, avoid all media and watch it late at night.

Cracking ride by Wiggo, clearly in good form but a long way to go. Roll on the first stage.