Daylight Saving!

How is it October already?!?! It’s been a big 2016 of changes for me and this year seems to have flown by at rocket ship pace. It feels like only last week I was cycle commuting through Surrey in minus 5 degree C winter darkness. It’s about time I got some summer.

Daylight savings kicked in here in the south today. The clocks went forward an hour overnight so that means those long summer evenings are on their way. Hopefully there’ll be plenty of opportunities for an after-work cycle or two. It’s definitely time to build up those miles again!

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Oh and a big shout out to my girl Elz (The Lonely Cyclist) who had a big off on the road last week. Rest up, heal quick and see you back on two wheels soon!

Pimp my winter ride!

After my fair share of commute miles back and forth on the Ribble, I thought it was about time I pimped out my commute bike. There’s always room for one more horse in the stable, right? I’d been eyeing off one of these babies for a month or two since seeing our expert mechanic build a few for customers. Staff pricing made it a bit of a steal so I just HAD to have one!

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It’s technically a cyclocross bike, but don’t worry I won’t be riding any of that dirty muddy cross stuff! I’ve dialled it similar to my summer road bike and switched out that chunky CX wheelset for my svelte Fulcrum Racing 3’s shod with Conti GP 4 Season tyres. The Ultegra Di2 shifting (although only 10-speed) is totally lush!

So now my “summer” bike has Shimano 105 and my “winter/commute” bike rocks super sexy Ultegra Di2. Haha! #pimpmyride

Five tips from my first 2000 miles of cycle commuting

Commuting to/from work by bike five days a week over the past few months has been quite the learning experience. I’ve witnessed beautiful sunrises, ridden in complete darkness, been caught in lashing rain, battled gale force headwinds and suffered the odd mechanical or two along the way. I love being on my bike and thanks to the commute, cycling has become an integral part of my daily routine.

Although it’s not that far (about an hour each way) the miles soon add up and you quickly learn how to smooth out the process. Here’s five tips little I’ve picked up along the way…

Be prepared. Pack a thin rain jacket or gilet on every ride. This is more for those in the UK where the weather can change in a matter of minutes. An extra layer can be a Godsend if you suffer a mechanical or get surprised by a sudden rain shower. I’m a fan of the Sportful Hot Pack 5 as it packs down to the size of an apple for easy storage.

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Ride confidently, but not aggressively. Get out of the gutter, take the lane if you need to, signal clearly and make your intentions known. Be safe out there – you’ll still get the odd close call. If you do have an incident, think about what YOU could have done to possibly avoid the situation. And most of all, don’t be a dick…

Invest in some decent lights. If you need to see clearly on unlit roads at speed I’d suggest 400 lumens is the minimum brightness necessary.

image4Pay attention to run times as a light rated at 400 lumens may only last on that high setting for an hour (or less). Work out how bright you need your front light to be, then buy something brighter! Choose from a reputable brand such as Cateye, Lezyne and Exposure and don’t skimp out with a cheaper set. If you buy cheap, you’ll buy twice!

Set up a charging dock. You’re probably going to need to charge multiple lights and your Garmin when you get home at night. The last thing you want to do is go hunting around for all those cables! Set up one wall plug in a convenient location where you can leave all your devices plugged in to charge. This will streamline the whole process saving you time when you get home after dark!

IMG_0593Clean your bike. If you are riding in all conditions, your bike WILL get filthy. Very, very quickly! Be sure to keep on top of your maintenance. Consumables such as chains, cassettes, cables and brake pads will wear out much faster if you don’t attend to that mucky drivetrain and grime splattered rear end! Also it pays to check the condition of your tyres on a regular basis. Check for cuts and anything stuck in the rubber.

Well there’s my first five. I’ve got a few more, but I’ll save them until I’ve clocked up a few more winter miles. I’m still new to this game so if you’ve got any cycle commuting gems, please leave them in the comments section below! #enjoytheride

Already November!

Wow, it’s been a month since my last post on here! It’s not that I’ve been ignoring you lovely lot, but more that I’ve been busy riding my bike. More to the point, I’ve been busy riding my bike to/from work (that’s 160 miles per week) sandwiching in a full day’s work on my feet in between and then trying to squeeze in a longer or more intense ride on the weekends.

CRx61VHWUAA2nRWSince the clocks went back the commute home has been completely after sunset. Fortunately my 1200 lumen Lezyne front light has performed faultlessly and certainly scorches up the road in front, even on half power! I actually quite like cycling at night once I’m away from the peak hour traffic.

I still get to see a spectacular sunrise as I cycle over Walton Bridge most mornings which makes for a superb start to the day. To make things even better the weather has been unseasonably warm (albeit windy) for November. We’ve not even had a single morning’s frost so far. Hard to believe it’s only around four weeks until the shortest day of the year. Where does the time go?!?!

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That said, from tomorrow it’s about to get sub-zero!!! #keepcycling

Freshening up the winter steed

We’re over half way through Octover now, so it’s officially time to start thinking about winter. Today I pulled out the tired-looking Ribble (which had been sulking in the corner with a broken gear cable) and gave it a good freshen up ready to tackle the forthcoming foul weather commuting duties. I’d been putting it off, riding to and from work on my Kinesis Aithein instead as it’s much more fun.

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Firstly on went the Continental GP 4 Season tyres. I’ve found these to be a fantastic winter road bike tyre; grippy, heard wearing and with excellent puncture resistance without giving up too much in the way of speed. I really should just use them all year round. Then new gear cables, new rear brake, new chain and cassette.

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The winter steed runs a workhorse 10-speed groupset, 50/39/30 up front and 12-27 out the back. The rear wheel is a bombproof (read: heavy and slow) 32-spoke Mavic rim laced to my Powertap SL+ hub. As I won’t be setting many Strava PB’s, training to power keeps me motivated.

image4No winter bike would be complete without a good set of lights. I run two rear lights (one flashing, one constant) and now that it’s dark enough a seriously bright 1200 lumen Lezyne Super Drive XXL on the bars. I’ll be able to spot those suicidal squirrels a mile off with this beast!

Yes I’m aware there’s no mudguards so it’s not a “true” winter bike, but unfortunately the Ribble doesn’t have eyelets or much clearance. I have a set of SKS Raceblades I throw on when it rains. They’re no match for proper full length guards, but they’re good enough. Now here’s hoping the weather stays fine for a while longer!

September Wrap Up

Well that’s September done and dusted. Where does the time go? Now begins the slide into the chilly and dark depths of the British winter.

Photogram-20150930060101This month has been a big one for me on the bike. A shade over 900 miles in total, riding every day except four.

My legs were pretty shot over the first half of the month but they’ve almost gotten used to the regular mileage now. Just got to keep going forwards! I’m looking forward to some Autumn commuting – one of my favourite seasons – and plan to continue riding as much as possible through the winter months and cycle commuting to work as long as the weather permits. Here’s what my cycling month looked like:

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#keepcycling