Parking brake

There’s many ideas on internet how to block rear brake on bicycle. Below is mine, used bungee cord (from my R.I.P¬†Severne sail ūüôĀ which didn’t survive one hardcore session), plus some washers, screw and Ritchey¬†handlebar end plug. Pictures are self explanatory.

Cheap bastard…

I went yesterday to hunt for some thermal base layer and spotted half price neoprene gloves. 5 pounds doesn’t sound terrible so took them. The idea is try them on the bike despite original purpose. In my case I can use them anyway for windsurfing, even if they won’t be suitable for cycling (autumn looks quite windy this year).

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After close inspection and reading some reviews on Internet it looks like there’s no difference between cycling neoprene gloves and surfing gloves. The biggest difference is price as you can see below :-). I’ve picked up for comparison the dearest available on the market, but even cheaper has same construction. Imagine spending 60 quid and then realize that is not what you’ve been looking for… Neoprene looks like good material for British weather. Anyway what people are saying in reviews is despite warm hands you’ll have them wet anyway because of sweat.

Now posh solutions: Castelli Estremo & Castelli Diluvio
CRC РCastelli Estremo gloves 65 quid   Wiggle РCastelli Diluvio gloves 35 quid

I’ll ping a message once they’ll be used on the road.
Keep them rolling.

How smooth is your stroke – winter song

Minor tweaks to Bee Gees song and here we are. Song for winter trainings on rollers “How smooth is your stroke”

I know your eyes in the morning sun
I feel you touch me in the pouring rain
And the moment that you wander far from me
I wanna feel you in my saddle again

And you come to me on a summer breeze
Keep me warm in your love and then softly leave
And it’s me you need to show

How deep is your stroke
I really need to learn
Cause were living in a world of cars
Breaking us down
When they all should let us be
We belong to you and me

I believe in you
You know the door to my very soul
Youre the light in my deepest darkest hour
Youre my saviour when I fall
And you may not think
I care for you
When you know down inside
That I really do
And it’s me you need to show



Vaelominati rule no 12 stays:

“While the minimum number of bikes one should own is¬†three, the correct number is¬†n+1, where¬†n¬†is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as¬†s-1, where¬†s¬†is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.”

So here it is, next one.

Giant Defy N+1
Giant Defy N+1

Continue reading “n+1”

Micro adventure

Long bank holiday weekend pushed me outdoors. Initial plan was Dartmoor (possibly Project Eden) but I’ve ended up just touching outskirts of Dartmoor.

Anyway, as always lack of planning is a plan for disaster. The links to with routes are just as an example, I’ve done each day from 110-120km circling around towns or trying to find better way, or trying to find shops etc..

Day 1

Day 1 – reality

I was in rush as I ended earlier on Friday and still had to change tyres, change pedals, tighten crank buy a food etc, etc… Effectively I forgot couple bits and pieces and climbed quite a hills on National Cycle Route no 2 on the way back, plus insane hills just before Cerne Abbas itself. In some places the road is insanely steep reaching (from my Garmin) 18%. Not funny with trailer and panniers, but what won’t kill you will make you stronger.

Day 2

Day 2 – reality

Between Devon and Dorset Route no 2 is in some places just magic…

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… but very steep in some places which makes problems with climbing, but as the rule no 2¬†saying:¬†harden the fuck up. On the other side you can reach easily 70kmh going downhill. Not good at all… As a result after Alps and this trip brake blocks are not existent.

Day 3

Started with brill weather as you can see…

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… and then gradually was darker, and darker and of course started pissing. I thought will be worse so turned back and decided to shorten whole trip one day and get back on Monday.

On the way back I took ferry which saved me probably an hour or so. Ended up, after painstaking hill, on the posh camping near Sidmouth feeling slightly strange between campers worth 50k quid ;-).

Day 4

The steepest and probably hardest hill on the last day Eggardon Hill, but the view was rewarding. On top, one guy just asked¬†Don’t tell me you cycled all the way up?!


Gear camping and some thoughts.

I’ve tested couple of things as always. At first of all what works.

Coffee maker – coffee sack ;-). Basically I’ve made simple method for coffee on the go. I made small sack made of synthetic (polyester?) fine netting fabric. Whole procedure is similar to making tea from leaves and the sack can be used for that purpose as well. Weighs nothing can be squeezed and stored anywhere. Quality of coffee is more less same like from french press.

JavaSack ;-) JavaSack ;-) JavaSack ;-)

JavaSack ;-) JavaSack ;-) JavaSack ;-)

New sleeping bag Vango F10 Catalyst 250 goose down (95/5). Just delighted with that thing. Spent 120 quid (RRP ¬£200!), quite a money for me, but I’ll be sorted for early spring and autumn. I must admit was slightly too warm, as in the night was about 14C. Only one night been col enough to zip it up.
New tent Terra Nova Zephyros 2. Seems to be quite ok tent for the price – double skin, under 2kg, spacious tent for around ¬£100. I’ve made two mods: replaced lines with dynema and line-loks and replaced 60cm end masts with foldable ones same length as main pole (43cm) which effectively reduced whole package to almost half size. Terra Nova is claiming that is two person, but really you need to be close with someone to count it as 2 person tent ;-). I’ll call it man-with-a-dog-tent. Plenty of space inside for one person, and in bad weather I believe will be able to cook inside. I’ll post some pictures in the future.
Gearing in front double 46-34 on the back (10 sp) 11-36. Basically mix of Deore DynaSys with FSA Omega crankset SLX Cassette. Works really well with trailer, quite happy with that setup. Can’t see any reason changing to anything else.Allows me to climb even steepest hills (the 36T cassette looks absolutely ridiculous ;-))

What wasn’t work

Pegs from my new tent. Fucking joke! Almost half of them bent after first use.
Bloody Garmin and 705 calculating route 2o minutes, soooo annoying.
My planning skills sucks. No major mistakes but plenty smaller quite annoying (that’s why I haven’t got output from GPS- batter died and I didn’t have cable to charge it…).

Keep them rolling.

cable pull

I found on internet info about rear dérailleur cable pull. Might be quite handy sometimes.

Shimano 8s — 22 mm
Shimano 9s — 23 mm
Shimano 10s — 23 mm
Shimano 10s (Dyna Sys) — 36 mm
SRAM 9s (1:1) — 35,5 mm

Almost the same pull for SRAM and Sh Dyna Sys which means theoretically you can couple SRAM – Shimano systems or replace some components…

2013 TdF trip (La Maurienne Valley)

This year I decided to see TdF in Alps. Plans for slow touring in Normandy been abandoned, and after quick research me and friend of mine decided to book camp.
We stayed on Camping des Grand Cols (map) in the heart of Maurienne Valley. The camp is made for cyclists, and probably 99% there are road cyclists, specially during TdF time. The main objective was to climb most (or all) of the iconic climbs around and have a good time (means not boot camp but keep the wheels rolling every day). Below you can see sign on the way out from the camping, with altitude and approx distance to the top of climbs.


So we did almost all of them (apart from Le Mont Cenis). Numbers in brackets means how many times they’ve been ridden in TdF.
Col de l’Iseran¬†(9), Col du T√©l√©graphe¬†(18), Col du Galibier¬†(31), Col de la Croix de Fer¬†(16), Col du Glandon¬†(13), Col de la Madeleine¬†(24) plus Alpe d’Huez¬†(28) on the day of 18th stage 2013 Tdf. What is more classic than 100th Tour de France and Alpe d’Huez climb?

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Bicycle climbing in Alps means you need to be prepared for not as crazy steep ascents, but steady 6-10% very long stretches of roads. Time is the killer, not steepness. Anyway after finding your rhythm everything becoming easier and whole experience is “mind clearing”. Don’t be afraid you see the pictures and even middle age doughnut like me was able to do it. We’ve been in super minority with our bikes, as I took touring bike, and Woytek had mtb with slicks. Normally 99% of the people riding road bikes, occasionally you can see touring bikes with panniers. In terms of MTB, for some reason (ski lifts?) exist as downhill mostly.

Gearing and some thoughts about riding.
I’ve seen some people riding Col du Galibier on racers with 39/25, but you need to be confident (skinny and fit) to do it. On a racer I would say 34/30 or more standard 34/28 easiest combination will be just right (again I’m doughnut you need to remember). That will give some extra gearing if you want to recover at some point, rather than pushing big gear all the time. Eating and drinking is quite important and again I would prefer 2X750ml, but is really a personal preference, and in most villages you can find tap with water so you’ll need to carry isotonic tabs. As always it’s nice to have something sweet to eat as the climb is literally sucking the juice out of you. Clothes. I recommend arm warmers as well as wind shell. Ascents are usually warm-and-sweaty but descents are completely different story. Descending means usually 15 minutes ride down and you’ll freezing at the bottom. I was always surprised that I actually rode the whole way up, and how long it takes to get back down.

The whole trip was epic. Camping, very good. Views stunning. We’re slightly disappointed with food this time. Quite a hassle to find something open in “normal” hours.

Second objective was TdF.

Same as last year TdF was slightly boring, because of Sky team domination, but that’s how it is. “Froome train” was spinning steady towards win. Nobody was talking about his gregari, nobody knows who they are. The main actor stayed untouched from stage 9.

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Quite impressive was Quintana, ended with two jerseys (white and polka-dot), and that was probably the best part of TdF this year. This guy is just killer in mountains, reminds me Marco Pantani. Below is Pantani statue on the way to Col du Galibier where this year Giro d’Italia stuck because of snow. If he’ll only be able to ride TT better, Froome might be not as comfortable as he was. Ok, there are people which knows better the sport and more clever analytics than myself. We’ve been there to feel the buzz, atmosphere and excitement of “le Tour” not to analyse.

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Couple of words about journey to and back from France.
I’ve decided to go by train this year and I must say that was a mistake. Each way was couple stages: home->Poole(by bicycle), Poole->London Waterloo(train), commute by bicycle in London to St Pancras (terrible traffic, and even more terrible roads), London St Pancras->Paris Gare du Nord(Eurostar), commute in Paris to Gare du Lyon, and eventually train (SNCF) to Grenoble. Same procedure on the way back. I’ve choose train because I thought will be less hassle with the bike than flying. In fact is the same annoying procedure with Eurostar as with plane. I sacrificed one pannier for bike bag (padded) which proven to be very useful as in France bike needs to be in the bag otherwise you’ll need to pay. Eurostar charging ¬£30 for assembled bike ¬£10 for bike in bike bag, Paris-London is more expensive as I paid 15 Euro. Why? French labour more expensive? Don’t ask me.
On the way back Eurostar didn’t expect so many cyclists (apparently was 80 people with bikes appeared on the station). Effectively I spent 2.5h waiting for my bike and nearly missed last train to Poole. Ended 1:20am in Poole with 30km ride home. ūüėČ

Hint’s for people want to travel by train anyway.
1# Don’t book whole journey trough Eurostar webpage. It’s not cheaper, price is the same. Even more important, you can decide how much time do you need for commuting between stations (if you doing so) (BTW, you don’t want to go to tube/metro with you bike in bike bag believe me).
Normally when you’re booking on Eurostar page, the standard commute time is 50-90 minutes. 50 minutes is really tight with bike (unpack-assemble-ride-disassemble-pack), and you’ll need to be very well organized. In 50 minutes scenario you haven’t got any time for chain drop, or flat tyre. Personally I would rather wait longer, than changing tyre with shaking hands in central London. The other thing is that dispatch office is always some distance from main gate, so it’s waste of time walking up and down.
2# Buy cheap not padded bike bag. For padding use pipe insulation and put them on the frame. To keep together bike use standard bungee cords. With that setup you’ll save 50% of volume in the panniers comparing to padded bike bag.
3# Protect chainrings with some rubber or old piece of tyre.
4# Be organized. I used two 30l panniers. That’s plenty of space and is really handy to just stick panniers on the bike and ride, rather than fiddling with some other stuff attached to the frame.
5# Think about rucksack. In some circumstances, rucksack is more handy than panniers. You can survive 5-7km commute in cities and if necessary even 30km ride is doable. If the plan is staying in one place and riding around (like we’ve done) this might be the best solution.

Next time some camping tips, stay tuned…

Some pictures

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Normandy short (D-Day) trip

That wasn’t the planned, but the first night on a ferry I realised that the short trip to France will be exactly following the beaches where Allies troops landed in 1944. The exact date was 6th July, so was really close to 69th anniversary. Riding along the coast and seeing all museums, memorials,¬†cemeteries¬†makes you think how lucky you’re to be there, and how unlucky was those boys storming Normandy beaches, and how much you owing them.

Ok the trip. The timing was just perfect, as day before weather was a disaster (strong wind and rain), and last 5km before arriving back home started pissing again. Nevertheless nice sunny weather, temperature was around 15C. In fact this year is one of the coldest in last 100 years. I slept with all my clothes, wrapped completely in sleeping bag. I bet in the night was something like 3-4C (is nearly June for god sake what is going on?!).

The trip was a test as well. The first time I went with my¬†Extrawheel¬†trailer and new set of panniers¬†Crosso. Quite overkill for two nights trip, but as I said it was a test, and the advantage was spare space for French cheese, and other good stuff ;-). The other thing I used first time was¬†Karrimor X-lite¬†inflatable¬†sleeping mat.¬†Here you can find a¬†review. Anyway in my opinion, all three things are reasonably priced and doing the job perfectly. It’s hard to say after two day trip anything durability, but the first impression is positive. I must say that touring with trailer, is slightly different experience than¬†ordinary¬†panniers on a rack. At first of all¬†clearance between the ground and pannier is about 20cm, and using same principle “heavy things on the bottom” will give you more stable bicycle. The other major difference is weight put on the rear wheel. Basically if decent wheel is used for trailer (standard 700C wheel with 100mm spindle) and well pumped road tyre (up to 110psi) I would say is same resistance as standard panniers. On one hand trailer is heavier 5kg+wheel than standard setup, but on the other hand there’s less rolling resistance with trailer as tyre is less loaded. So is really in my opinion just a individual preference. I don’t like front panniers, and as I hardly going on¬†off-road¬†I don’t need them. The other benefit is bike choice as is just a matter of replacing existing skewer with extrawheel specific and you ready to roll. So even carbon frame racer can be used if that’s your weapon of choice. The trailer I bought with extra rack (you can see here witch attached bag). I didn’t use the rack, but even without bag, I used top of the rack as a handle which proven to be quite handy.


The best thing about Extrawheel in my case is when you arriving at the destination. Just disconnect the trailer and off you go with clean bicycle. So far I love it.

The other thing was Karrimor sleeping mat and it’s quite an improvement comparing to self inflatable mats I used before. In all aspects comfort, weight, and space as well.


Each trip you’re learning something (and making mistakes). Next time I have to have sun cream, I forgot hay fever pills (big mistake in my case), I was too optimistic about temperature and ended up sleeping with all clothes, even cycling leg warmers (sic!) – a decent sleeping bag liner will do the job this time, but I also need better 3 season sleeping bag. Also I made some discoveries. Chamois cream can be used on lips ;-). I need a 11-34T sprocket on the back for pulling the trailer¬†uphill. I didn’t have any punctures, but I need better tyres next time. I’m thinking about¬†Gatorskin¬†from Conti or¬†Gator Hardshell. As I’m riding on tarmac¬†probably¬†I’ll buy something like 25-28mm.

Some Hints.

#1 Now I’m mastering the route from my town (Blandford Forum) to Portsmouth ferry. I used two ferries this time: Hythe (route to Hythe Pier) and Gospot-Portsmouth (route to Southampton-Gosport) so I’ve minimised route on A35 and A27. The other benefit is time on the Hythe ferry you can use to have a snack, because basically you’ll have at least 20 minutes, and after 70km is just perfect place for first break. Then quick jump to Gosport and you know if you on the schedule or not.

Hint #2. When you boarding on the ferry, and you haven’t got cabin with a bed, get your sleeping bag and sleeping mat with you. also ear plugs will be quite useful ;-). Then you can put your mat anywhere on the floor and have (almost) normal night. Hint #2. Get your towel and shower gel. There’s no feeling like hot shower with over 100km in your legs. (if you’ll add a pint of lager afterwards you’re king).

Gps output:

Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

Some photos:

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What’s inside pedals…

Last week I’ve purchased new platform pedals for my commuter. Because of the price, I’ve¬†chosen¬†diamondback alloy platforms from wheelies. I’m always using the cheapest platforms for commuter, as I don’t want splash 50-60 quid on fancy pedals. Let’s be honest, if you’ll spend 60 quid on pedals how long they’ll last? 5 years? Ok let’s say 5 years. For half of the price, I have every two years, new pair of cheap platforms for ten quid. Anyway, the first thing I’ve noticed after unpacking box, was how tight the bearings are (but hey don’t be fussy, don’t expect 10 quid pedals be ready to rock out of the box). So, I pry the plastic cap and attempted to adjust bearings. Below you can find, what I found inside…


Inside was plenty of alloy fillings (probably left after machining pedal body for dust cap). Just wondering how crap is the procedure that they greasing bearings before boring the hole?! Same both pedals. No comment.
First thing I wanted to do, is just send them back, but that’ll take longer than cleaning, greasing and adjusting…