Progress So Far

Well its nearly the end of February and so far this year I have recorded a total of 364 cycling miles.

Although this is no great amount , I am more than happy with this figure considering it’s only early in the year and it’s a big improvement on last year’s figure of 232 miles for same time period . My target for this year is a simple one , it’s to improve on last year’s total of 2266 miles yet still enjoy those extra miles . The back bone of my miles are commuting ones at just over 6 miles a day for 4 days a week on average any extra miles are normally done whilst the rest of ours and many other households are still in bed .

bed

As the year rolls on and the weather improves I would like to think I will be out doing more early morning rides than I have been doing just lately . I would like to think a weekly average of 60 – 70 miles a week is well within my grasp especially as the mornings get lighter . At the moment I tend to be riding the same route on most rides but then saying that there are a couple of extensions I can add to the route that would increase it up to 20 miles easily . I have another route ready but waiting till I can ride it in daylight to see where all the potholes are , so I can try and remember their location when I trundle around the next time in the dark .

So far this year I have used the following bikes Ian May the 2nd , Jim Soens , Raleigh Royal , Olmo and the recently sold Hardisty . Well as of this weekend the Olmo will sprout a set of SKS race blades to help winterize it ready to be used as the main stay commuter of the fleet till I either sell it or decide to have the seized seat post surgically removed . With the recent decision that Ian May the 2nd is too big to warrant being kept just for the sake of it along with the re arrival of the Blue Soens back in the fleet with some extra gears to help my weary legs push it along .

soens2

The main reason I enjoy commuting by bike and doing some short leisure rides is to help with my fitness level , save money by not using the car as much and also it gives me a good chance to test my bikes before I put them up for sale . After all, I cannot expect to sell a used bike if I can’t say it has been proven and tested . All of the bikes I offer for sale have normally been tested for a minimum of 100 miles by myself over a mixture of short daily commutes and longer early am rides .

Why do I test my bikes before offering them for sale I hear you ask ? Well simple answer is I want my customers to get a product that I know I would be happy to purchase , the majority of any mechanical work that is required on my sales bikes is carried out by Local Bike Shop C E Adkins in Wellingborough who I have a very good working relationship with .

The below Carlton Corsair was taken into them for the bottom bracket , wheel bearings , headset and a general once over before I did the more mundane fitting of new tyres and brake pads and cables where required . It was then used by me during November and December as my main commuting bike . It’s an ideal bike for using as a commuting machine or even retro touring and would be ideal for Erioca Britannia 2015 .

Carlton corsair & Apollo 002

If the above bike is what you are looking for please feel free to contact me on biggs682@hotmail.com or if not please feel free to advise me of your needs and I will see what I can offer you.

What do you i enjoy

So apart from Cycling what else do I enjoy ?

One thing for sure is spending quality time with the rest of my family.

I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days last week with both my partner and daughter having some quality time together , rather than just spending a snatched hour here and another there .

One day was spent on my daughter’s request taking in the delights of The Bullring Shopping Centre , although this was neither mine or my partners idea of a good day out we did enjoy ourselves . We found the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery just a few minutes walk from the Bullring .

bull

The second day was spent at The Cotswold Wildlife Park which must rank as one our most favourite days out destinations apart from going to the seaside . For those who have either never heard of it or even been there it is located just south of Burford in Oxfordshire . We first visited about 4 years ago and have been at least once or twice a year ever since .

Its not your normal kind of Wildlife or Zoo destination for quite a few reasons , the main one being that once you arrive and park your car the rest of your visit is either spent on foot or using the park’s own Train that winds its way around the wildlife park . The park is nice and flat with solid paths so should provide easy access to prams,buggies or wheelchairs so that all can see the animals .

park-map

There is a varied selection of animals that range from Lions to Penguins and Rhinos grazing in front of the stately house to the cute Red Pandas amongst many other animals . Our latest visit provided our closest view yet of the Red Pandas as they are normally fast asleep half way up a tree just out of range , but this time all 3 of them were actively moving around their enclosure .

Red Panda

The park also has a nice large area right in front of the house where the Rhino’s wander around , it must be a lovely to look out of a window and see a Rhino or two wandering across the horizon ! We had the joy last year of visiting just after a baby Rhino was born and to see it wandering around with its mother was very nice .

rhino

The Madagascar enclosure is real treat as the ring tailed Lemurs quite happily wander around the enclosure as visitors make their way around it , we have even witnessed them coming right up close to visitors and some times they keep their distance from all .

Ring Tailed Lemur

Our recent visit also gave us the delight of seeing the Wildlife parks 7 short clawed Otters being fed by the keepers , again this was the first time we had seen this being done and was also the first time we had seen the Otters fairly close up , such amazing creatures .

otter

So all in all I can highly recommend a visit to this great place , not only do you have the animals to gaze at there are also large areas of gardens to look at some just contain wild grasses whilst others do have some exotic plants along with British native plants

To B17 Or Not To B17

For some strange reason or another the word Brooks can have the same effect on cyclists as Marmite does on a lot of people .

I know I don’t like Marmite but on the other hand I don’t ever remember trying it !

I have tried Brooks saddles a few times mainly B17’S and B67’S the strange sensation of riding on a saddle that moved on the springs as I rode was one sensation I didn’t enjoy at all . The various B17’s have been comfy enough and look the part on the vast majority of bikes but also on the other hand I have felt they looked a bit too big and cumbersome against the svelte lines of some road bikes .

Brooks b17

About 3 years ago I was diagnosed with having an enlarged prostate , so began searching what if any saddles were recommended with this condition as quite a lot of articles warned about the danger of cycling with this condition . I contacted a few saddle company’s to see what there view was and what options they offered . Charge came back saying they were aware of the issue but as of then none of the saddles they offered were deemed to be Prostate friendly , I also got a similar answer from Brooks although they did offer a B17 with a channel cut out to alleviate pressure for long distance cyclists . The only company who offered a full range seem to have been Selle Smp and looking at their website it showed that a lot of research had been done by them on this issue .

I also found a few other companies were offering totally nose-less saddles but these all seemed to be aimed at the “ time trial” market rather than the leisure cyclist that I classify myself as . Plus in all fairness the general appearance of these just looked a bit strange to me .

Rido Saddle

I finally decided that a Selle Smp product was the way forward but just what model was the next hard decision , my partner and I decided that it was worth paying for whichever one I decided on as they vary in price from £40 to well over £150 each depending on what model I chose . Some of the more basic versions offered a more padded saddle than some others but seeing as I liked a firm saddle they were straight out of the question . I finally decided on the Lite 209 model but seeing the price of these I contacted the UK importers as they offered a free trial period . Due to the weather this trial period was extended and I soon decided this was a comfy saddle and ideal for my needs , so ordered two of them , one in red and one in black .

smp-selle-lite-209-

The only hurdle I have come against in using these saddle is the normal little saddle bags that attach to the seat rails would not on these, but hey I can live with that problem . One of these saddle’s have been ridden almost every day since they were fitted as I try to use my bike every day for commuting duties and leisure rides and at the weekend .

I would quite happily recommend the Selle smp range to anybody that asks about what saddle to use no matter if they have enlarged prostate or not . I have been well and truly impressed with the comfort and durability offered by these fantastic saddles . They still look as good as the day I took them out of the box

Hardisty

Size Matters

What a difference an inch or two makes to the average cyclist.

I am normally fairly happy riding older style roads bikes with frame sizes ranging from 21.5” to 24” as long as I can get fairly comfortable using one of my Selle smp lite 209 saddles . It sometimes amazes me how much difference there is between a 22” sized frame that runs on either 700c wheels and older style 27” ones .

Pink Mercian

Green Mercian

I finished building my Jim Soens earlier this week. I already knew that the 50mm quill stem was way too short so swapped that for a 90mm version and thought that would be long enough , but once out on the open road I realized that I felt all cramped up on the bike when riding on the hoods .

First thing was to check that I had set the bike up with the 3 base measurements I always use , which I had, so I raised the saddle an extra 1” to see how that felt, it certainly felt better. Next job was the position of the bars . I tried a 100mm version first and still found I wasn’t looking through the front axle centre line so that wasn’t long enough. Next up was a nice shiny Cinelli one at 105mm and hey presto that had me looking down at the centre line spot on and also felt right once I got the height correct .

Now all the above adjustments and swaps have been made, the bike rides really nicely and no longer feels cramped when down on the hoods . OK I suppose I could have paid for a professional bike fit to be done .

I prefer to have a play with what different length stems i have in the garage and a bit of tial and error adjustments

Seat Post Drama’s

How can such a simple thing as a stuck seat post cause so much aggro?

I am not sure how many people have actually experienced having a bike which has got a seat post that will not move in any format, some will say that it’s not a problem because it’s more than likely stuck in a position that does not cause them any issues.

Having just bought a bike with a seized seat post, I am enjoying the experience of trying to work out what is the best way of removing it. I can hear many of you shouting why did you buy it when you already knew it was in that condition , simple answer was the sum of parts fitted on the bike are worth more than what I paid for the whole bike .

So my options are

Leave alone and ride or sell the bike as it’s a near perfect fit for me and many others with the saddle at its current height
Keep spraying copious amounts of releasing agent sprays around the seat tube hole and applying gentle pressure in attempting to move it
Cut the post just proud of the frame entry point and cut slots in to the offending piece left in the frame and try and peel these piece’s out hoping that once a couple of strips have been peeled out the remainder will collapse inwards with a bit of gentle pressure
Drill a hole through the seat post just large enough to insert a decent sized rod through both sides and then use that as leverage to try and twist the post around and release the stuck post
Place seat post in a good strong vise and try and turn the frame around using the frame as leverage
Chop seat post just proud of the frame entry point and drill the remaining seized part out using a good hss drill bit the correct size
Freeze as much of the exposed seat post as possible

All the above are ways I have tried in the past to remove stuck posts some with luck have worked whilst others have not

A customer who comes from an engineering background I deal with at work was given a road bike just before Christmas and told me a while back that it also had a seized post , I am not entirely convinced he believed me when I told him that they don’t come out easily . I think he was hoping his engineering background would show through. Below are a couple of extracts from recent e mails he has sent me

“Good morning Martin,
Seat post still fast after hacksawing down the length of the stem, not sure now if i am cutting into the frame, I will keep you informed on my progress.

Best regards “

And this one today

“Good morning Martin,
Another attempt has failed, used boroscope to view down the inside of the post and you can clearly see that the post is cut thorough in 2 places, (traces of steel showing on a magnet) tried to knock down ,shock treatment using a slide hammer, both without success.
Last night decided to contact the seat post man, highlighting the details of my attempts to remove the post, got a quick response, he did not dismiss doing the job, said it may cost more
Because of my failed attempts but would I please send him photo’s, I have nothing to loose
Otherwise the bike is scrap. I keep you informed on developments.

Best regards “

The only option I didn’t list above is contacting John “TheSeatPostMan” who claims a good success rate of removing stuck posts at a fair cost to his customers , now the mystery is how and what does he do to get them out , and by all accounts a lot of the time the seat post is totally useable .

I am in 2 minds what to do with mine and at present I am just enjoying the experience of riding such a nice bike

Wind Assisted

As we are all aware the force of wind is hugely powerful

It can be harnessed to produce electricity with turbine farms popping up all over the place much to some peoples disgust whilst others are happy to have them nearby .

wind-farm

Well we are not going to discuss wind farms that is for sure

I have just had my second ride of the week on my newly acquired Olmo road bike but this time I had a tail wind rather than a mixture of head and side winds to contend with and as any cyclist is aware they can be hard work . It was a mixture of joy actually being out on a bike as much as the bike I was riding and it going well .

Not sure but for some reason some cyclists are so reliant upon the weather to make there riding either enjoyable or horrid . I struggle to find the point of going for a ride when the ground is covered in snow or ice and not overly keen on strong gusty winds either mainly .

On my daily commute I normally see a gent of about same age as myself on a rather basic mountain bike and dependent on where I see him he is either pushing it up the slightest bit of a gradient he comes across or quite happily making his way along the footpath , imagine my surprise the last few days where I have resorted to the car due to weather conditions he has been riding quite happily in the snow and ice !!

According to the weather app on my phone the weather forecast for 07/02/15 looks like I should be able to get on the bike for a nice early am ride , my normal route is fairly circular so I normally have a mix of head or tail wind . My chosen stead is still to be decided it’s a choice between Ian May the 2nd , Hardisty or the Olmo

My 2nd Ian May

Hardisty

olmo

My current thought is to take the Olmo or Hardisty but then I could take Ian May 2nd , the first 2 are needing some test miles whereas the 3rd one has been tested and proven but does have guards fitted and you are never too sure when it is going to rain !

Whichever machine I choose will give me a nice refreshing ride in the conditions that exist at the time so let’s all look forward to the days ahead where we can all get our Sunday best machines out and really enjoy them

My First Ian May

Life of Cycles

Life has its cycles and cycles have their lives

One of my current stable of bikes has slowly been changing since its arrival

Its gone from a 3 speed sturmey archer equipped bike with a nice set of butterfly bars and sprung leather Brooks saddle

Jim Soens

The first part of its transformation was to check that the existing Centre pull calipers had enough drop to line up with a pair 700c wheels rather than the 27” wheels that it arrived with , thankfully they did so a swap of wheels was the first job to be done .

Its next job was a change to a pair of drop racing bars with a slightly longer quill stem this was done without too much trouble along with fitting new brake cables and routing them correctly along the top tube .

Jim Soens

Once all the easy donkey work was done a trip to my Lbs C E Adkins was planned to get the original Williams cottered crank set swapped over for a double non cottered variety along with cabling up the 105 mechanisms and the down tube levers , this work was all completed without any great fuss by the sound of it as usual . Next stage is to fit some pedals and a saddle and start riding it and if need be swap the quill stem over for a longer or shorter one .

Jim Soens

Hopefully the above should start later this week weather and time permitting