So the bike wasn't submerged for long, maybe less than a minute but long enough to potentially write off some of the less obviously waterproof components.
- Shimano Alfine 11 Speed Hub - the hub continued to run perfectly for the remainder of the journey home though I had visions that some small amount of water would have found it's way into the internals. But there was no need to worry, as a quick check I opened up the oil fill port and inverted the hub and there trace of water or emulsified oil. A few weeks I did a full oil change, again with no sign of water ingress. Good job Shimano!
- AXA Luxx 70 Plus Steady Auto front light - the construction of this light does not readily inspire confidence in its waterproofness, the switch and light shroud are not sealed as you might expect in an all-weather light. However, I can only assume that the protection has been applied to the electronics rather than the housing as it survived the dunking, and the open design seems to allow any water ingress to drain away as the lense didn't mist.
- SPA CYCLES Nidd Leather Saddle - I've ruined a Brooks B17 saddle by riding it in heavy rain where the leather quickly became sodden and ended up permanently mis-shaped. The Nid survived the soaking thanks to the waterproof fabric lining that is applied to the underside of the saddle. This and the extra thickness of leather on the Nidd makes it a challenge to break-in but makes for a far cheaper and more robust alternative to Brooks.
- Garmin Touring Edge - It's marketed as waterproof and it is!
Earlier this year I managed to ride my bike into the River Kennett, it was an unplanned episode on a narrow section of the shared footpath just outside Reading town centre. It was an accident and I’m not looking to blame the other cyclist, lack of decent cycle infrastructure or even Reading City Council. Even at the time it was pretty hilarious, both bike and I were submerged for only a second or two, I wasn’t hurt and was able to continue the journey home with only a few strange looks from people witnessing a very wet cyclist on a warm summer’s day. But the incident has given me time to reflect on how the chances of rider and bike surviving the perils of the daily commute can be improved; so, this will be the theme for some future posts. In the meantime and in the absence of a youtube video which would be significantly more entertaining, see if you can spot the amphibious segment on Strava?
I stumbled across this series of podcasts this week and can't believe that I hadn't heard about it before now, it's been broadcast since 2004 and is a really well conceived show with extremely broad appeal! Resonance 104.4fm's weekly radio show and podcast is presented by Jack Thurston and continues to cover and uncover the intersections of cycling, culture, society and creativity. From Tour de France to roller-racing, from Brompton commuters to bicycle messengers, from Kraftwerk to hip hop, from urban design to countryside trips. Literature, history, travel, art, music, sport in a weekly half-hour show.
|My long distance cycling buddy|
The route had been modified from the original to avoid main roads that have now become too hazardous for cyclists. With controls placed at Eynsham, Chipping Campden, Belbroughton, Muxton, Chester, Upton Magna, and Chalgrove the route took in the very best of rural Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Cotswolds, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Cheshire.
Although I've become reasonably comfortable in completing 300km rides, I purposefully avoiding any sort of training beyond 300km. So it was a true adventure in the sense that as I set off from Windsor with the other 70 odd riders, I was not entirely certain if the outcome would be a success.
The outbound 300km to Chester was a blast, aware of all of the pitfalls that can scupper a long ride, I arrived at the control in reasonable shape. At one point during the final run towards Chester I thought that maybe I was more tired than I felt when I shouted "frogs!" for the group to avoid a mass amphibious road crossing. It was later confirmed that I wasn't hallucinating and that there was indeed a nocturnal frog road crossing activity. However to later find this photograph of me asleep in the Chester control with other riders and a teddy bear does confirm the fact that night riding can be a very strange affair indeed.
|a very strange affair...|
Getting back on the bike was not as nearly as painful as I'd expected, but exactly as I had expected it began to rain in biblical proportions. My extravagance earlier in the year in buying the best in full waterproofs was now justified and I couldn't help feeling
The final stages back to Windsor were a slog, but the rain stopped for long enough to pack the goretex away and the AUK gods took more pity and provided an astonishing tailwind up and over the Cotswolds into the familiar terrain of South Oxfordshire. My back tyre had become prolapsed following a reckless descent on a rutted road and was the only thing that threatened to prevent me from finishing within the 40 hour time limit. A fellow rider at Chalgrove, had given me his tyre repair boot in a typical act of selfless Audax generosity, but by now my arms felt they had lost the strength to effect any sort of repair, so I offered a quick prayer to Saint Vittoria and promised that I would forever buy her tyres, if only this one did not let me down. And it didn't.
|Arrivée at Chester - 38hrs 20 mins|
With sincere thanks to Keith Harrison and Sue Gatehouse for organising this ride, all of the "saints", all fellow riders and Audax UK
|The Route - Click here for more detail|
62 Miles of great riding and sightseeing by bike. Here are my pictures from the London Sightseer 100km Audax ride.
|View from the Emirates Cable Car across the Thames|
This unlikely looking gadget could be the future of Bike GPS Navigation. Hammerhead is used in conjunction with a Smartphone and displays turn information via a simple array of LEDs. The advantage this provides is that the smartphone can be stowed safely in the pocket with the screen turned off preserving battery life. The unit is powered by a battery, chargeable through a micro USB port to provide around 20hrs operation between charges. The Hammerhead also also doubles as a bike light for night visibility, incorporating a headlight and two side lights.
Hammerhead is a crowd funded project, to find out more and back this project visit https://www.dragoninnovation.com/projects/23-hammerhead
This was my 4th calendar event and I was getting used to the pre-ride drill the night before of generally faffing about with the bike, double checking the gps and making up rations. I try and aim only to take essentials like tools, tubes and food but do find room for a few luxuries like my camera and mp3 player. The latter might surprise a few people but I do find listening to music or the radio through a single open earpiece to be completely safe and does help to get through those times when the weather or terrain conspire against you . It is also really useful in preventing a random and annoying song getting stuck in your head for hours on end... Lena Del Rey has a lot to answer for.
I headed off with the first riders at 6am on the 300km “long way home” with thoughts of reaching my destination just 30km from the start at Chalfont St Peter at some time before the early hours of Sunday morning. I had set the gps to display distance traveled rather than distance to destination, this way it is easy to check distance to the next control stage. Audax control points tend to be planned at 50 km intervals and this was true for the first control at Little Henry’s Café at Pangbourne.
|Bozedown Alpaca Farm - Whitchurch|
|Control Point at Little Henry's - Pangbourne|
|Kimbridge - photo by Mike Hecken|
|New Forest Ponies|
|Arlesford's infamous toilet|
Decided to take a chance on the scenic route to work for the first time since the flooding in November. It's still looking more like the Thames Estuary than the Thames Valley Park, I'm just glad that the ground was frozen.
|Meadowland at Thames Valley Park - 19 Feb|
|Thames Valley Park Foot/Cycle Path - 26 Nov|