Tandem Travels!

In almost a polar opposite to my recent power training post, I also absolutely love riding tandem bikes. It’s simply what cycling is all about once you strip away the fast ride politics, the endless number crunching, the Strava files and training plans. Being on a tandem is about getting out there and having fun just enjoying the journey together.

10003662_737741379590434_191494495161767985_oTotally pro…

My wife isn’t a sporting cyclist so riding a tandem allows us to cover much, much more ground than if we were on a bike each. Probably five times as much at least. All with a smile on her face and as you know – happy wife happy life!

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The photo above was taken during a laid back ride through the vineyards and lakes of Hungary a couple of years back. Such a beautiful country. There’s nothing quite like exploring pastures new by bicycle. Plus she can take scenic photos, read maps or guidebooks, pass up glasses of wine, etc. All from the back seat! #winning 

Sometimes though the tandems on offer at the local cycle hire shop are not exactly high tech machines! This particular one below we hired in Slovenia. I had visions of it busting in half with any out-of-the saddle climbs! It did the job though and got us to Croatia and back – even though it was close to 40 degrees C that day. As you can see from the photo I am resting in the shade after some hard graft on one rickety looking contraption…

A hot day for a tandem ride on one strange looking machine.

Sometimes us tandem cyclists even travel in packs! One of my favourite tandem rides was the inaugural Woking CC Tandem Club Ride, where six of us tandem enthusiasts took to the quieter roads of Surrey and Berkshire in search of the finest tea and scones on the county. It was a fantastic day out on two wheels. Needless to say if I had a little more storage space (and Tassie wasn’t so lumpy) I’d buy a tandem tomorrow!

1781515_737741079590464_6114498468907289941_oWoking CC Tandem Club Ride – Outside the cafe stop in Windsor Great Park.

Now for a HUGE announcement!

In a momentous piece of life changing decision making, April and I are upping sticks from England and moving to TASMANIA! It’s not an overnight decision, but it’s certainly been a quick one! Our decade in the UK is finally coming to an end…

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The wife and I have been furiously cleaning, sorting and packing up our belongings to get this move underway. Looking at all our stuff, it’s hard to believe we arrived in the UK with nothing more than a suitcase each containing our entire lives! We still don’t have much in the way of possessions, but it’s a damn sight more than before.

I’ve sold the car, packed all our belongings into boxes ready for shipping and made a good start on cleaning up the house. All but one bike is neatly packaged up for transport via sea and I’ll be relying on a Bike Box Alan to keep my Kinesis Aithein safe on the journey. It’s coming with me on the plane!

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As a very rough guide, Tasmania is about the size of Ireland or if you overlay an outline of the island onto England it looks a little like this:

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Population of England = 53,000,000
Population of Tasmania = 515,000

Apparently the area of Tassie I’m heading for is pretty hilly – there’s not a lot flat roads around the island. I’d better start preparing my mountain climbing legs!

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!

Aviva Tour of Britain 2015

The 2015 Aviva Tour of Britain kicks off today, with the first stage starting from Beaumaris in Wales, before heading around the country through eight stages, with the final stage seeing riders race through the streets of London next Sunday.

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Stage 1, Sunday, September 6, Beaumaris to Wrexham, 178km
Stage 2, Monday, September 7, Clitheroe to Colne, 227km
Stage 3, Tuesday, September 8, Cockermouth to Floors Castle, 216km
Stage 4, Wednesday, September 9, Edinburgh to Blyth, 217km
Stage 5, Thursday, September 10, Prudhoe to Hartside, 166km
Stage 6, Friday, September 11, Stoke-on-Trent to Nottingham, 193km
Stage 7, Saturday, September 12, Fakenham to Ipswich, 227km
Stage 8, Sunday, September 13, London, 87km

There’s some big names on the start list including Alex Dowsett, Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins, Taylor Phinney and Andre Greipel, who will be looking to go head to head with the Manx Missile for a stage or two. It’s a shame there’s no stage coming through the Surrey Hills this year, it was a real blast riding out to see them boss our local climbs over the past couple of years.

tob13_st7_Crocknorth_Road_3Cavendish, Wiggins and Team Sky setting the pace up Crocknorth Road climb!

Wiggo’s Hour Record Attempt

This Sunday will see Bradley Wiggins attempt to smash the hour record. There’s been a huge amount of interest in the record since the UCI relaxed the rules so that you no longer need to ride a Merckx style bike.

hour-bikesEddy Merckx’s 1972 hour record bike compared to Alex Dowsett’s 2015 track bike!

Many people are expecting Wiggins to destroy the record, setting the bar so high that nobody else can touch it. There’s even talk of him going further than Boardman’s 56.375km all time record! I’m hoping that doesn’t happen. I’d like there to be more attempts on the hour for some time still.

I made a prediction back in May of 54.105km for Wiggins.

I’m sticking with that. It will mean easily breaking Dowsett’s 52.937km record but hopefully not putting it “on the shelf” and discouraging other riders from having a crack. I’d like to see Alex Dowsett have another go at it and see if he can break the record a second time! What’s your prediction?

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