Sight’s seen on today’s ride.

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These ornate gate’s are one of my favourite set’s of gates I see on my various rides .

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I also saw this very faint stonemasons circle on St James the Strong Church.

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I have often thought about going up to Gayhurst and I was not disappointed at all .

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These cow’s seemed quite happy to see my and my Hardisty .

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Purple Hardisty Arrival

Latest arrival in the garage is this Geordie built Hardisty built with Reynolds 531 competition tubing and a mixture of mainly Shimano 105 components from the mid 1990’s and a much more modern 105 triple crankset .

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I love the Purple paintwork and it reminds me a lot of a Mark 1 Escort Mexico i had many moons ago that had been specially ordered in purple velvet by it’s original owner .

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What with a triple crankset and a 7 speed megarange rear cassette , i should be able to climb all the local hills that Northamptonshire has to offer .

Sales Frustration

Why do I get so frustrated every so often?

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I shall tell you why…… , on a regular basis I get an e mail from an on line division of a well-known Cycle shop based in the UK.

I don’t always go through the special offers but quite often I do just to see what is on offer.

So today when the e mail notification turned up in my in box I clicked the link to see what deals they had on Guards. The 3 sets that fitted the bill for colour and size were surprise surprise non stock items …it’s no wonder they were so cheap as nobody would be able to take advantage of such a good offer . This seems to be the norm for this web site .

Now I could do a website offering bits and bobs cheap and then mark them all out of stock when customers want to order them but that seems totally the wrong way to do business to me , but loads of retailers get away with it all the time .

So for today only I am offering a brand new “ What’s it Flopper” for the remarkable special price of £1.99 and that is an amazing 48% saving off the normal retail price , but be quick as stock is very very limited !!!

You Choose

If I was in a position to have a frame commissioned for myself there are two things I would specify over the basic requirements list:

The first would be chromed rear stays and front forks .

Hardisty Pics of Hardisty rear stays

Hardisty

The second would be some nice hand cut lugs , not really fussy what style just as long as they are a bit fancy.

Dunelt Frame After Refinishing

For some reason I just think chrome gives a bike a timeless classy look, where as other chromed items can look a bit tacky and over kill to me but not on a nice steel bike frame .

The cut out lugs all add to the classy look that the chrome gives, so what would chromed lugs look like if the rest of the frame was painted , I think it would or could look stunning and I don’t think it would need any luglining either .

Hardisty's Chromed Headstock lugs

This kind of craftmanship is normally only seen on steel rather than alloy or carbon machines and I should think it goes a long way towards making steel bikes even more individual compared to the masses of Alloy framed bikes that only seem to change colour with each new model year introduction .

My other must haves would be mudguard eyes front and rear along with at least one set of bottle cage mounts on the seat tube rather than the downtube and I always think brazed on front mechanisms look nicer than the clamp around variety. I would also like a pr of pump pegs on the rear stays and the ability to run up to 700c x 28 tyres and down tube lever mounts these are all personal things .

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I think this about makes my ideal bike an Audax style machine rather than an out and out race machine but not quite a relaxed touring bike .

I have no preferance over caliper , v type or disc style brakes mainly because most of my riding has been done with single or dual pull calipers and very little experience of the other two styles . In fact the only bike I have ridden with disc brakes is our family Tandem .

As for tube material it would have to be steel , so would I go for Reynolds , Columbus or one of the Japanese variety like Tange never mind all the other brands of steel tubing you can have offered to you . Not really sure if my experience or expertise is good enough to tell the difference between any of them .

Charge Juicer 012

What colour paintwork would I go for ? Now this is really a hard choice and a difficult one to say but my thoughts are a nice shiny deep red but most definitely not white as for some strange reason I do not like like white bikes . I think I would have to have a plain colour panel on the seat tube or even a barbers pole . Seat post and handlebar stem would be chromed to match the chromed forks and stays .

As for groupset and wheels I have no favourite and not even sure if I would go for sti’s over downtube shifters , I think Shimano groupset would be my choice but no idea which one .

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 .

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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 .

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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 .

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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 .

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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 .

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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