Previous Posts

  • Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2020 February 21, 2020Teocalli3875

    Photo – Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2020

    The OTRL is back for 2020, will we see a changing of the guard this year or will age and treachery win over youth and skill – though I’d hardly count some of the current generation as lacking in skill!  Somehow I doubt we will be seeing as much dust on this year’s Classics as in previous years.  So we could be in for some classic photo shots.

    The OTR Classics season starts on Saturday 29th February with the 75th edition of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.  With the Pro Peloton moving North back to Europe from the warmer climes of the Southern Hemisphere, Omloop is the first race of the Belgian cycling calendar and includes a number of climbs from the Tour of Flanders.  Starting in Ghent, the race is over roughly 200 Km and finishes in Ninove.

    2019 saw Zdenek Stybar take the win with Greg van Avermaet second after taking the honours in 2017 and 2016.  Top 5 from last year were as below (Event results from 2019 can also be found on the Peloton page).

    1. Zdenek Stybar
    2. Greg van Avermaet
    3. Tim Wellens
    4. Alexey Lutsenko
    5. Dylan Teuns

    Full details of 2020 entrants can be found here.

    This year we also have what will be the 15th edition of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Femmes. The race is over a distance of a little over 125 Km also starting in Ghent and finishing in Ninove taking in many of the same climbs as the men.

    Annemiek van Vleuten looks to aim to hit the cobbles at maximum as apparently she had done more training miles this year than anyone else in the Peloton Femmes.  So she seems to be aiming to better her 4th place last year.

    Best list of Femme’s riders I can find here.

    The top 5 from 2019 were as below

    1. Chantal Blaak
    2. Marta Bastianelli
    3. Jip van den Bos
    4. Annemiek van Vleuten
    5. Alexis Ryan



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  • I think I’m getting nesh February 15, 2020Teocalli3847

    Photo Local stream overflowing by Teocalli.

    First I guess I need to explain the word Nesh having my origins in South Yorkshire.

    Nesh is an English dialect adjective meaning ‘unusually susceptible to cold weather’ and there is no synonym for this use. Usage in the 21st Century has been recorded in Staffordshire, the East Midlands, Lancashire, North Wales, South Yorkshire and Shropshire. There is a similar term nish used in Newfoundland.

    Lately, well pretty much the whole of this winter to be honest, I’ve ridden way more miles indoor vs outdoor.  Our winters in the Southern UK are not harsh by world standards and this winter has been pretty mild in the overall scheme of things but it has been wet, wet and wet.  Too often I have looked outside and shunned slightly inclement weather for the rollers indoor.  Maybe it’s because I’m getting (even) older.

    I have a decent excuse the last two weekends as storm Ciara and now Dennis steam in over the Atlantic and heading out on a bike in just about the whole of the UK would be ill advised or grounds of general safety.

    This is all by way of being reminded of a couple of Youtube videos of riders on Mt Ventoux one of which is below – riding over the last 2 weekends would have been much like this in quite a bit of the UK.

    Having a winter bike is one thing, choosing discretion over valour is quite another.

    Roll on Spring – the odds must be on a wet run through The Classics this year.

    PS – how did those riders get down?  It’s a heck of a walk!

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  • E-Bikes and Gran Fondos, a perspective February 8, 2020Teocalli3825

    Photo: Wilier Cento Hybrid

    The first time I came across e-bikes on a organised event was on the 2018 Gran Fondo Strade Bianche.  I spotted a couple of Mountain Bikes with E-drives which struck me as a bit “off” as in Italy Gran Fondos are full on races with UCI points allocated.  OK so riders such as myself are not in the ride for UCI points but how/where do you draw the line?

    Interestingly, for a good 50% of the ride there was another chap (not in the event) riding along on a steel racer that had been converted with an e-drive.  He was not a youngster (neither am I!) but was net riding around the same pace as me.  He’d come by on the climbs but I’d catch him on the next descent or flat section.  It all became quite amusing and I came to believe he was thoroughly enjoying himself by winding up people around him – though I didn’t notice anyone having a go at him.  He was even dressed in street clothes and the bike had a pannier!

    Back to organised events, are there risks involved with the difference in performance of e-bikes?  Assuming that someone is riding one to perform (speed or distance) at a level they would not normally achieve then you would expect the sort of position swapping I encountered with the gent on the Strade Bianche.  In general, I’m not sure that is too much of a problem given that there are always differences in performance within a pack on a mass ride anyway.  However, I can see this could be a problem where a rider on an e-bike became able to mix it with a high speed race group but with speed limiters on e-bikes I’m not sure that is really very likely – at least not after the initial settling period after the start of a mass ride.  Even without e-bikes the first 15 Km or so of Strade Bianche is manic as start positions are not seeded but are based on when you booked your entry.  So e-bikes really would not have been an issue in that phase as it is manic anyway.

    One issue may be where a rider hacks the speed limiter but in doing so they will severely reduce their range and I’m sure I would not want to have to pedal a “dead” e-bike on 25-50% of a Grand Fondo – especially one like Strade Bianche.

    Whatever the rights or wrongs, or just differences of opinion, e-bikes are here to stay and for many through age or disability will permit people to continue to ride where otherwise they may have to give up.

    Personally, I think the key is for events to permit e-bikes but be specific of them belonging to a different category and publish results accordingly.  Back to the Strade Bianche though, entry conditions state that all riders may be subjected to doping control and any offenders would be subject to a UCI ban.  Given that e-bikes are clearly in the category of mechanical doping it ought to follow that, at least in Italy, they should either be banned or listed in a specific category.

    This article from VeloNews gives an interesting perspective on the issue.


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  • Cars, Bike Transport and Rule #25 February 3, 2020Teocalli3531

    Notwithstanding Rule #25 on looking for a new car it seems a good idea to try to get my bike(s) inside the car when we are travelling.  Previously I’ve either laid the bike on top of the luggage or removed the seat post to fit the bike upright in the car (an estate / station wagon).   That’s not too bad when travelling with my Vintage bikes but on a Carbon bike I prefer not to be removing the seat post too frequently.

    It helps being on the shorter side of normal but it still seemed to be a bit of a challenge without buying a MPV or SUV.  So I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could (just) achieve the required result in a Golf Estate.

    First step was to acquire some brackets to support the forks and fix these to a board that attaches to the back of the seat.  I have both QR and Through Axle for my main buddy’s bike.

    Next I have to remove the load space floor over the spare wheel.  This comes out easily in the Golf.

    Conveniently there is a recess over the spare wheel where it appears that VW may have intended putting a lower load compartment.  I have cut a sheet of Ply with slots for the rear wheel.

    With the bike firmly attached by the fork bracket and that in turn attached to the child seat attachment point in the back of the rear seat, the whole is nicely secure.  You can also get a disc fork version of the mount.

    Not only therefore, do I have a technical avoidance of Rule #25 but also with the bike inside the car it is considerably more secure (I hope) when I’m travelling and better for the bike vs laying it on top of our luggage.  Finally I can load 2 bikes in the car without laying one on top of the other.

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  • JAFBP or just another f*ing bike pic February 2, 2020chuckp3812

    Did a “photoshoot” yesterday for upcoming PEZ piece (will share when it’s published) and thought I’d share one of the pics. Cheers!

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  • The Spinning Machine Saga – Part 2 January 24, 2020Teocalli3793

    Photo – BB with broken drive side axle

    Well, the Windscreen Wiper Puller didn’t fit, not enough space between the Crank and the Frame.  I very much doubt that it would have been able to apply enough pressure anyway to get the Crank of the taper.  I tried my 3 leg bearing puller but it was not possible to get that engaged on the crank as the arm gets in the way of the third leg.

    So after consulting with another mechanic I returned armed with some “not advised on your bike” techniques involving Paint Stripper, a Dremel with Wire Brush attachment plus a slightly worn Crank Extractor (to give a bit more leeway on the thread).  I also rang a gym equipment parts supplier and they confirmed it should be a Shimano BB with British Thread – good to know as I was expecting the thing to be well tight after the years it had been in there.

    Using the somewhat “don’t try this on your best bike” approach plus a bit of extra oomph the LHS Crank was duly extracted.

    Given the age of the machine and the time the BB had been in there I was expecting some issues getting the Cartridge BB out.  So I had also returned with a suitably long lever extension to my socket wrench plus a can of penetrating oil.

    Oil applied and take a coffee break.

    Gnnnnnnnnnnnn – hmm.  Was on the point of asking the lady that runs the gym for a bit of extra power when I had a thought……….

    The nice thing about Spinning Machines (if there is one!) is that they are build like the proverbial Brick Sh*t house.  So laid the thing on it’s side and braced my leg on the frame for extra leverage, applied a good heave and managed to get the BB out.


    So it is a standard Shimano BB.  Part ordered from my LBS and duly fitted.  Funny how these things are so simple and easy to put back together vs take apart.

    Bit of a saga but pleased that the darned thing did not defeat me.

    If you have a Spinning Machine that needs servicing, don’t ring me!

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  • Life behind bars January 20, 2020chuckp3786

    Did bike maintenance over the weekend. New brake and derailleur cables. Even though bottom bracket and headset are sealed cartridge bearings, put a new layer of grease on them. Installed a new bling gold KMC chain. And a new (to me … take-offs from one of the guys at LBS) Bontrager Elite Aero handlebars.  Alloy, not carbon. BTW, internal cable routing is a minor PITA. But I’m happy with the result. Trek claim up to 23 seconds savings over an hour versus regular handlebars. I’m skeptical at best and don’t really care. It’s all about how they look!

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  • The Spinning Machine Saga – Part 1 January 19, 2020Teocalli3773

    This could probably be subtitled “never volunteer for anything”……….

    So, someone in a social media group posted a cry for help with an issue on a Spinning Machine in the small private Gym they use.  The issue was one of those typical “where is the noise coming from” posts but included some video.  It seemed to me that the chainring was rubbing in the guard for some reason, most likely a worn bearing.  Subsequent diagnostics included the crank being a bit wobbly.  So the potential diagnostic included a loose crank.

    Further chat revealed that they didn’t have anyone who knew enough or had appropriate tools to take a more detailed look but it turned out that the gym was not far from me.  So, interest piqued off I go for a free lunch, sort of.

    Well initially the diagnostics looked simple.  The drive side crank was definitely wobbly and the crank bolt was definitely loose.  So tightened up the crank bolt and gym member started to give it a trial.  All seemed well until they cranked up the resistance and then stood on the pedals.  BANG.  The drive side parted company with the rest of the machine.  Ooooeeerrrr.  Broken axle.

    Seems that the crank had been loose allowing leverage on the end of the spindle which, from observation of the broken surface, had been part broken for a while and the rest gave up the struggle.

    Kinda simple but then the “fun” started.

    In theory these things are standard(ish) and you’d expect them to use standard bike parts/tools.  However, neither of the 2 crank extractors would fit the cranks, despite the manufacturer website clearly showing Park Tools extractor.  So I need to get the broken bit out and also find some way of removing the left side crank to replace the BB.

    The broken bit was solved by resorting to a sacrificial bolt and a bigger hammer.

    The LHS is still to be resolved but I’ve got hold of a windscreen wiper remover that may do the job (but might be too lightweight) and ordered a 2 leg puller that should have more oomph to extract said crank.

    Then there is the BB.  The manufacturer web site shows a custom axle and press fit bearings.  The machine in the gym has a cartridge BB!  So I had not taken any tools to extract a cartridge BB.

    Further investigation shows that the first models of the machine did have cartridge BB and I can get them a replacement but need to get the existing one out to find which type it is.

    Given what I have found so far I’m wondering whether the machine is British or Italian threaded.  Can’t find any details on the manufacturer site so that could be interesting – might have to see if I can get any response from the manufacturer.

    I’d hope it was British (LH thread on RHS of the BB) as I’d suspect a spinning machine to be prone to more procession vs a bike as folk crank up the resistance to a higher level than you might need on a bike – but is that too sophisticated for the tooling to make these things?  I’d rather be able to fit a standard Shimano cartridge BB back in there if possible as they are also way cheaper than the manufacturer’s spare and its a small private gym who do not have oodles of dosh.

    The saga will continue once I return this week with different tools to try to get the BB out……………

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  • Book Review – The Race against the Stasi by Herbie Sykes January 11, 2020Teocalli3746

    As much a view on life in East and West Germany during the Cold War and the impact of the Berlin Wall and border closures on the people as it is a cycling book.

    Dieter Wiedemann was a cyclist in one of the state sponsored cycle clubs of East Germany (GDR) who, as a teenager, struck up a relationship with a girl in West Germany (FDR).  I’ll leave you to read the book to work out whether it had a happy ending but Dieter became one of the elite riders in the GDR and the book documents both his cycling story overlaid with records extracted from Stasi archives.  The tale is told directly by Dieter, his family and friends, and probably some who were not exactly friends.

    I found it a captivating read documented in a unique manner, in the first person of each contributor.  I had heard of The Peace Race before but only vaguely knew of its level of support and prestige away from the core of Professional Cycle Racing in the rest of Europe.  The history of that alone makes it a worthwhile read.

    Given the history of what I’ll term as The Eastern Block it is perhaps not surprising that national feelings could flow to the fore within The Peace Race but it was amusing to read of two events that had competitors wield cycle pumps in defence of their team mates.  One case was alleged, and later denied, but it still makes for an amusing anecdote.  It may be little surprise that in both instances a Russian competitor was on the receiving end, one from a Polish rider Stanislaw Krolak (the alleged incident) and the second from a GDR rider Manfred Weissleder.  Both became known as heroes in Poland.

    I’ll leave you to read the details.  A recommended read.

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  • A Tidy Rear End January 5, 2020Teocalli3740

    I do like to keep my rear end tidy, particularly on #1 and prefer not to put a light on my seat post as in the past I have had issues with the light fixings scuffing the decals on the seat tube.

    The Cateye Saddle Rail Bracket RM-1 is a neat solution to this and also allows me to attach 2 lights when the weather is bad – or on the Winter Bike as here.

    The only issue I have encountered is that it does not attach to some of the Carbon Rail Saddles that I have tried in the past as the spread of the rails at the rear of the saddle is too wide for the Cateye fitting (ie the Brooks Carbon Cambium).

    Still, it’s a good solution but I’m sure that with a bit more thought it could be made a bit more minimalist.

    Given that helmets are now integrating rear lights maybe saddle manufacturers could come up with a way of integrating a rear light too.

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