Previous Posts

  • Moon Comet-X Rear Light April 19, 2020Teocalli4030

    I came across these a while back while looking at seat rail brackets for rear lights.  Well, I finally took the plunge and bought one.

    First impressions out of the packing were good.  It comes with a belt hook, seat post fitting and the seat rail fitting and charge cable (not shown below) as standard and the light itself seems to be of solid construction and can be mounted horizontally or vertically in any of the mounts supplied.  The light has a mini USB charge port and on/off button on the back.

    Moon Comet-X Pack

     

    Boasting multiple modes it has 3 Modes for steady light (10/15/25 Lumen) and 3 Flash modes (10/25/25 Lumen) plus a Day Flash mode (50 Lumen) giving a double flash.  In day flash mode it has a quoted battery life of 19:30 hours.

    Fitting to the seat rails was simple but I discovered a bonus in that if you fit it upside down on the rising part of the seat rails at the rear it tucks nicely under the saddle.  Net is a really neat rear end.  If you were wearing a jacket with a drop tail in bad weather it would likely obscure the light – but as I rarely ride #1 in bad weather with my Perfetto jacket this is not really a draw back in mounting it that way.  Plus in bad weather I tend to fit an additional seat post light anyway.

    Given the lockdown I can’t ask my buddy how bright it is from the rear but it looks pretty decent from standing in the garden looking at its effect.

    I call that a tidy rear end.

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  • Spring Mk 2 April 10, 2020Teocalli4019

    Spring is sprung,

    The grass is riz,

    I wonder where the birdies is.

    I’ve just discovered that the above is known as The Brooklyn National Anthem and it perhaps should be “boidies” by way of pronunciation.  This is despite me knowing it for as long as I can remember and thinking is was an old Yorkshire saying!  It also has a number of additional lines depending on which version you may know.

    Anyway per ChrisO’s post it’s definitely Spring here and bright white flesh is starting to be uncovered.  Times of spitting out flies are back too, so it must be Spring.

    Much of Europe is in a total lockdown and many of the pro riders are limited to indoor training.  Other’s have had to go Private on Strava as they were getting abuse when posting longish (for us mortals) training rides (e.g. Oliver Naesen).

    In the UK we are allowed out once per day for your chosen form of exercise.  Most folk I know are cutting back on outdoor mileage and limiting rides per week and extending indoor Winter training through the current challenges.

    This week’s picture is just outside a small village called Shackleford not far from home.  I always think it has a timeless quality as if there is a little country lane winding down past the pond.  In reality that track goes up to the farm and no further and it joins the lane I ride at the pond.  In the Summer the pond is virtually covered flowering lilies.  A very pretty spot in my opinion.

    The Butler in the same spot in suitable vintage tones.

     

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  • Spring??!??!??!! April 5, 2020Quasar4013
    IMG_6597.jpeg4B04EC74-8CC2-4C92-AB81-9684804D7088.jpeg

    Right. I’ll just keep Zwifting then…

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  • Riding in the Lockdown March 30, 2020Teocalli4005

    Currently we are allowed out once per day for exercise but I have decided to ration myself to once per week – ok maybe 2 if another day turns out to be stunning weather.  I have decided to plot routes via somewhere local with a scenic shot.  First up is this old bridge just outside Elstead.

    IMG_2046.JPG

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  • Losing weight – new and old March 29, 2020Teocalli3882

    A mate recently bought a new-old bike, a vintage Collage complete with Drillium chainrings.  It started me thinking about the contrast in visible approach between then and now.

    I mean, one black tube is much the same as another.  OK you can admire the carbon layup where the manufacturer leaves the weave visible – and I have seen some pretty dreadful examples in the area of the seat tube to top tube joint and head tube integration – but that aside, how do you admire or even tell one tube from another?

    Back in the day it was very different.  Drillium was plain to see both in the quality of the workmanship down to the “how far dare you go”.  Chainrings and brake levers were fair game and even rear mechs but I’ve also see seat posts drilled to a hairsbreadth from oblivion and also stems.  Not sure I’d want to go that far!

    All this ignores the question as to whether drilling holes in things makes them less aero anyway and so may actually have a negative impact.  Whatever, many examples were and are works of art that we don’t really see with carbon.

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  • Ride the Casbah – by ChrisO March 22, 2020ChrisO3967

    If there’s one place where you could forget that the sky is falling, it must be a mountain range named for the deity who held the heavens on his shoulders.

    These mountains really do seem like the universe might be resting on them.

    The climbing is very steady, and there’s little relief but it never seems impossible – only later do you realise you reached 1400m, not far off cols like Aravis, Colombiere or Joux Plane. On longer tours deep into the mountains there are passes above 2200m.

    Up in every direction

    And yet it feels like you’ve barely penetrated the foothills. The massive snow-capped bulk of Toubkal looms above, daring you to keep climbing and mocking the meters you’ve gained with such pain. At more than 4000m it would tower over any European summit except Mont Blanc.

    I was in Morocco on business but with the season fast approaching a two-week trip in March with no riding was potentially ruining a winter of good training.

     

    In case opportunity arose I packed a set of kit and shoes. No power pedals, no gels, no computer or HR and I always go sans casque anyway. With luck I managed to arrange to be in Marrakech for the weekend, feeling sure there would be some way to get a ride.

     

    Sure enough I found Bike Morocco which promised various tours and holidays and more importantly rented decent Cannondale road bikes. I emailed to say I’d like to get out in the hills for the two days and needed a bike. Sure, they said, and a quick PayPal later it was all done.

    Day 1: Tamazoute, Ourika. 108km, 952m climbed

    I’d been told to turn up at 9. They didn’t tag inshallah on but I should have checked… handy Arabic tip, when someone says ‘X will happen, inshallah’ your response should be ‘Akeed?” which means “Really? For sure?”. It usually gets a knowing laugh and they may give you a real time.

    To be fair this was a bad morning. Coronavirus was cutting a swathe through tour bookings and the shop had many changes and cancellations – the worst was still to come. Nevertheless you feel a bit awkward standing outside a closed shop in a small side street wondering if you’d misunderstood something.

    Eventually they arrived and started busying around. It turned out this was very much a bespoke tour. I was introduced to Abdellah, who would be my ride partner, and Ayoub who would drive with us. All for me. Yallah… let’s go.

    Outside the old city, Marrakech has pretty wide, modern roads extending around and out from the centre with a bike-moped lane at the side.

    Me and Abdellah

    Abdellah, while clearly an experienced cyclist had as much English as I had Arabic, and about the same in French. Happily some basic cycling terms and comments are universal so we settled into a tempo, riding side by side, as the roads became longer and straighter. It wasn’t hard but it wasn’t easy. Later I worked out that it was just a continuous false flat – a real bastard in fact, about 30km at 1% where you just had to keep the pedals turning. Good thing I’d done all that track training.

    Soon though, around the hour mark, the mountains came into view and after another 15 minutes we turned off the main road heading in the right direction. We stopped for bananas and a minor saddle adjustment for me. After this, Abdellah said, it was uphill.

    The temperature had also been climbing. It was mid 20s and after a London winter that seems hot, so I suffered as we started to climb. I’m pretty good at judging my own pace  and I just kept going while Abdellah danced ahead and occasionally slowed for me. Looking back I see the climb, to Tamazoute, was nearly 10km at an average 4%. With a couple of easier sections I’d say it was mostly 6-7% and there were parts up to 14%. Incredibly I’m on the Strava KOM podium but I’m assuming that’s a sign that not many people use it.

    After a few more rollers we finally got to what Abdellah assured me was the end of the climbing for today. We descended through some very tight turns which he knew well but the dusty roads and my skinny tyres made sure I didn’t relax too much, giving one or two hairy moments on the way down.

    Now at this point I should also mention he wasn’t even on a road bike. A good 10kg lighter than me, Abdellah had been cruising along on a gravel bike. As we headed back to Marrakech he suggested we swap turns and while I did my share I could see he was well within his limits. I shuddered to think what he would be like on some aero carbon.

    Thou false flat, thou liest. Day 2 profile.

     

    Day 2: Moulay Brahim, Ouazgita. 120km, 1415m climbed

    Jemma el Fna, the Marrakech marketplace surrounded by the maze of alleys that form the souk

    I’d refuelled after the previous day in the amazing souk at the heart of Marrakech. Some chicken kebabs and a banana, date and avocado smoothie followed by mint tea and fruit with the local yoghurt was perfect.

    The riad – perfect for drying kit

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    My hotel was a lovely riad, one of the traditional styles in Marrakech, with rooms around a central courtyard. Right at the edge of the old city, it was so quiet I woke to the sound of Mosque prayers and birdsong.

    Pocketing some dates at breakfast was my best move all day because it was just me and Abdellah for this one, no support. I’d been given the route after the previous day’s ride and knew we had a bigger climb and would be into the mountains.

     

    Again we set off on that horrible false flat – about 40km to gain 600 meters – but then we were into what felt like real mountains from Tagun to Moulay Brahim and across to Ouazgita. The climbs themselves were not that difficult; some sections at 6-8% but nothing dreadful and the day was cooler. But I certainly had more sense of being in the mountains with this rugged bare landscape rising up on every side and falling to valleys below.

    At the first summit we stopped for a photo and Abdellah pointed to a town far above in the distance where the tower of the Mosque could be seen. I’m not religious but prayer seemed like a good thing.

    See that Mosque…

    ‘Up to Mosque’ he said ‘but down first.’ The descents here were fast and open – a confident rider knowing the roads could really take it at speed. I didn’t.

    After the climb to the Mosque it was really a long plateau with a smaller crest at the end. Constantly at 1200-1300m we felt the chill and as we started to descend we were in quite heavy cloud, compromising both visibility and traction. A long winding descent and we reached a town for coffee and food before the last hour back to Marrakech.

    These cafes are present in every town and village – it’s very much part of the social fabric here. And the flat slightly-sweet Moroccan bread served with jam and cheese is a great fuel. Also highly recommended is ‘nuss-nuss’, which literally means half-half (espresso and milk), like a cortado. If you want a simple espresso ask for ‘un Italien’.

    Over coffee I’d asked Abdellah ‘Avez-vous un equipe?’ as well as ‘Quelle age?” It turns out his team was ‘l’equipe national’ as he showed me his results from the Tour of Morocco and other pro races in Spain and the region. And at 28 he was little more than half my age.

     

    So I felt it was only fair to let him do 80% of the work on the way back. It would make him feel good 😉 Although the false flat was in our favour now it was also a headwind and my two days had been quite an effort. Here’s riding with you, kid.

    Back in Marrakech I showered and packed ready for the drive back to Casablanca and another week of work. While we were out however the world seemed to have gone coronavirus crazy – word was all flights would stop that night so it was a mad scramble to find a way out, on a 15 hour trip via Istanbul to cover the 3 hours direct from Casablanca to London.

    Mind you the thought of not getting out and having to spend a few weeks in the mountains was tempting. Quel dommage. I’d love to go back and do one of the longer tours that really penetrate the mountains, if only because I wouldn’t have to face that false flat every day.

    If that plane left the ground and I wasn’t on it, I’m not so sure how much I would have regretted it today, or tomorrow but certainly not for the rest of my life.

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  • Rose Tinted Glasses? – by Wiscot March 15, 2020Teocalli3864

    Photo:   Oakley

    The old adage says “there’s nothing new under the sun.” Sometimes that’s false, sometimes it’s true. A very good case in point is Oakley’s recent issue of some new sunglasses that they claim pay homage to their early ventures in cycling sunglasses. They call them the “Sutros Origins Collection,” claiming kinship with their 35 year old Eyeshades model. Basically, they are Sutros with some holes drilled along the top edge and an old school logo on the legs. Now don’t get me wrong here. I own a pair of Sutros. Maybe it’s the size and shape of my face/head/nose but they are superbly comfortable on me and once in place, stay put. What difference holes will make, I have no idea. They’ll look ever cooler I guess.

    But I digress. Holes in lenses. Nothing new. In 1979, the early leader of the Tour de France was the Dutch hard man Jan Raas. He wore glasses and they had holes in them. When I think of the big man, I think solid, hardcore rider who won Milan-San Remo in 1977,  the World road race championship in 1979, Flanders in 1979 and 83, Paris-Roubaix in 82 and ten stages of the Tour. He won the Amstel Gold race five times. In all he rode Monuments twenty-three times, winning four and finishing third six times. He couldn’t climb very well in the mountains, but give him some hills that required power and he was always a threat. I also don’t think of Raas as being trendy or a follower of fashion, so I imagine drilling the holes was done for practical rather than pretentious reasons.

    The late 70s was a time when riders wore glasses because they needed them to see: Raas, Gerrie Knetemann, Marc Gomez, Marcel Tinazzi. And they weren’t cool, cycling specific glasses – oh no, they were their street glasses. I guess some had issues with fogging up so in the case of Raas he did the sensible thing: drilled a bunch of holes of varying diameters in them.

    Did they make him look cool? I don’t know. It’s hard to make someone wearing Ti-Raleigh colors and a proper cycling cap standing on the top of a podium look ever cooler than he already is.

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  • Best day of the year March 8, 2020Quasar3929

    That would be New Bike Day, of course! Now I just need that damned snow to melt so my new friend can go out to play…

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  • Paris – Nice 2020 March 5, 2020Teocalli3922

    Lead Photo – Paris Nice (2019)

    This Sunday sees the 78th edition of Paris-Nice to finish on Sunday 15 March. The 8 stages serve up a mix of opportunities for the sprinters men and breakaways but the GC-battle is likely to come down to an ITT at the mid point and a mountainous final weekend.

    Top 5 from 2019 were:

    1.  Egan Bernal
    2. Nairo Quintana
    3. Michal Kwiatkowski
    4. Jack Haig
    5. Roman Bardet

    Watch out for teams who’ve withdrawn but rider details can be found here.

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  • Strade Bianche 2020 March 1, 2020Teocalli3908

    Photo by Sportgraf

    Saturday, the 7th of March 2020 is the 14th edition of the Strade Bianche (men).  However, the event is under thread due to the Coronavirus outbreak in Lombardy.  Hoping all involved there get well and best wishes to everyone as the situation develops.  In the interim, picks will be open pending official confirmation one way or another.

    The Italian race has quickly become a popular race with a seemingly historic background greater than its years (the first edition was 2007) placing it amongst The Classics. As I’m sure you know, Strade Bianche means ‘White Roads’ in Italian and refers to the sections of unpaved roads, I can vouch for them not being smooth and being very muddy, and slippery, in the wet.  This year it looks like being back to the mud of 2018 when Tiesj Benoot broke away to take a memorable win.

    The race starts by the Fortezza Medicea and finishes on the Piazza del Campo back in Siena.

    The women race and the Strade Bianche Sportif follow the same 136 Km route with the mens race being a bit longer at 184 Km.

    The 2019 podiums were as below (Event results from 2018 can also be found on the Peloton page).

    Men

    1.  Julian Alaphilippe
    2. Jakob Fuglsang
    3. Wout Van Aert
    4. Zdenek Štybar
    5. Tiesj Benoot

    Women

    1. Annemiek Van Vleuten
    2. Annika Langvad
    3. Katarzyna Niewiadoma
    4. Marta Bastianelli
    5. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig

    Entrant details can be found here for Men and here Women.

    To change your picks simply submit a new set and we will pick up your latest set.

     

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