Archive | July, 2012

Sunny Day Commute

24 Jul


In winter crossing Cardiff barrage can be very wet and windy but during the summer everyone is out commuting enjoying the great views across Cardiff bay and the Bristol Channel.

If your crossing on the hour its likely your going to get caught by the barrage, luckily it only takes a few minutes and at least in summer there is no sideways hail stones.

Hunstanton to London in a day

19 Jul

I took a few days to visit a friend in Hunstanton, Norfolk.  I took the train from Kings Cross London to Kings Lynn and from there I cycled the 16 miles to Hunstanton.  After a couple of days it was time to make my return journey, I hadn’t put much planning into it so I decided to follow the National Cycle Network Route 11 to Cambridge and from there I knew the route back to London.

A couple of miles from Hunstanton I joined NCN Route 1 which took me past Sandringham palace along some quiet country lanes and towards Kings Lynn.  Somehow on my arrival on the outskirts of the town I managed to miss a turning on the cycle route and ended up far from the route I intended to follow.  With what I thought to be 114 miles to go before arriving at my destination I was a little frustrated but after consulting my phone I was back on route and following the Great Ouse river out of town.


On the outskirts of Kings Lynn

From Hunstanton Route 1 and Route 11 follow the same route before splitting, I would be following Route 11 to Cambridge.  After a few miles of great countryside I passed through a couple of little villages including Watlington and onto the town of Downham.  From here the route embarked on what seemed like an endless straight flat road named Hundred Foot Bank, with a headwind it was hard going and with the flat landscape the scenery was unchanging and the ride started to take its toll.  I was only 40 miles into the trip and still had 95 miles remaining.


I managed to keep up my moving average speed of 13 mph throughout the day

Finally I got to Ely, the route took me right up to the Cathedral which was  a great sight after the relentlessly flat landscape I had travelled through, I stopped to take a quick photo and I was on my way again, keen to get to the other side of town I followed the blue NCN signs, but as I left the town I started to recognise the route, somehow I had entered the town centre and managed to follow a  route out towards the way I had come in.  After a second try I successfully managed to find my way to the correct side of town and I was following the river.

The route along the river became traffic free and tarmaced which was great for my Tifosi with only 25mm tyres, after passing over a couple of cattle grids I passed some cows along the route, all was well until I quietly crept passed the final three, as I was side by side with the final standing cow I realised there was large bull with a ring in his nose laying down on my right, I tried to accelerate but the bike only seemed to wobble more, I brushed past the standing cow and for a moment thought of stopping to take a photo but with many miles ahead and a large bull behind I decided to press on.  Further on the tarmac ended and I was on a gravel path which slowed my progress, worryingly I passed a sign saying “Tractors only”, luckily the path didn’t become that rough and I was able to ride the whole route.

Not the type of sign you want to see when your tyres are only 25mm wide

After 60 miles my right knee started to hurt, but according to my calculations Cambridge must be close by now, upon approaching a sign I was made aware there was another 21 miles between me and Cambridge.

Twenty Six miles later I was on the outskirts of Cambridge and in familiar territory, I decided to stop at a village shop I have used before.  It was my first real stop of the day, the bar bag filled with cake and snickers bars had kept me going until now with only the occasional photo stop required.

Almost at Cambridge

Riding along familiar territory gave me a release of energy but with only 15 miles until my destination my legs gave in, I had cycled 125 miles, mainly along flat roads but with two panniers and a bar bag weighed down with cake.  Luckily the last part of my route was a 5 mile gentle descent which I spent free wheeling in the rain.  I eventually arrived at Buckhurst Hill completing my longest ride to date of 135 miles, the bike was covered with mud and I wasn’t any cleaner, my legs had decided they no longer wanted to work so I dragged the bike inside and settled down for a well earned rest.

Goodbye Tifosi Hello Tifosi

13 Jul

Last Year I built Kate a Tifosi Ck7 Road bike.  It had only been used a handful of times as she is either commuting on her single speed or out on a touring bike.  Now she has a new Surly Disc Trucker which is a lot more comfortable and with some light weight wheels its not too bad on the hills, so her Tifosi is going to get used even less.

Kates Tifosi

In May I sold my road bike a Trek 1200 so I have been without a road bike, as I have been riding Audax’s this year I have had my eye on Kate’s Tifosi but the frame is too big.  I eventually decided to order an extra small frame, when I ordered it I found out it is now available in green with the classic look.

I picked up the frame from Schmoos Cycles in Swansea, its a great shop and the owner Julian is always very helpful.

Building the new Tifosi

Building the Tifosi didn’t go very smoothly.  First of all I didn’t have my bottom bracket tool in my toolbox so I couldn’t remove the cranks or bottom bracket from the old frame.  I am due to go away in a couple of days so I was keen to get it completed, so reluctantly I went to the nearest bike shop where I purchased a new tool for the job,  I also managed to damage the rear brake cable whilst cutting the outer for the new frame size.  I don’t have any spare brake inner cables so I am going to have to pop into town tomorrow and pick one up.

Tifosi CK7

Tifosi CK7

The finished bike has a classic look, the white Cinelli Vai Bianca Stem, Handle Bars and Seat post look great, I love the Cinelli logo.  The quality of the Cinelli parts is good, but they are heavy for the money, the Vai is the entry level line of parts.

The bike has Shimano 105 parts throughout, here you can see the rack mounted to the seat stay.  The rack is designed to be mounted to the bridge where the brake is mounted but this involved bending the connecting rod, I plan on buying some seatstay mounts later.

The Tubus Fly rack is apparently only 400 grams in weight but will carry 18 kilograms

Tubus racks are excellent quality, we now have two rear racks and two front racks on different bikes.  This Tifosi isn’t going to get a huge amount of use with panniers so I didn’t want to fit a large rack.  The Tubus Fly is light weight yet is still capable of carrying a lot, probably far more than the wheels can handle.

The bike has Shimano 105 spec

I have fitted a double chain ring to the bike but I will probably regret that at some point.  I will either need to get a smaller ring for the chainset or change the  rear cassette, I need to check the specification but I am hoping the 10 speed rear dérailleur will be compatible with a 30 tooth rear cassette.

I have fitted a Sigma computer to the bike.  On my old trek I had a Shimano Flight Deck computer which could be controlled via the buttons on the brake levers.  It was a great piece of kit but I decided it was too expensive to fit this time around.

The computer ruins the look of the stem, I will eventually find another solution to where it is fitted, at the moment there isn’t enough room on the handle bars.

The rear wheel has plenty of clearance and it should be easy to fit a rear mudguard, unfortunately I forgot to pick one up from Schmoos so I will have to sort it out later.

The Rear rack has some nice details and it is possible to fit rear mudguards from the rack.

I have wanted an Ortlieb bar bag for some time.  There are always rides when a pannier is too much and this will be perfect for those mid ride snacks and the 1/2 dozen snickers bars I often have in my back pocket and end up dropping all over the road.

Unfortunately I had to fit this ugly mount for the bar bag and I had to add an extension for it to clear the STI levers.  The good thing about the mount is that it is possible to lock the bag to the bike.

The Tifosi logo is a bit dull but the colour of the frame and the classic looks make it an attractive bike.

Kate’s old Tifosi CK7 is still with us, its a 54 cm so its far too big for me.  She is keen to rebuild it with some flat bars so it might be a future bike project.

Route 82 Lon Las Ogwen

11 Jul

I woke up early and at 7 am it was a beautiful morning full of sunshine.  By the time I ate breakfast and left the hotel it was getting cloudy.  My route was a return journey along Route 82 also known as Lon Las Ogwen.

Bangor Pier outside the hotel. The pier seems almost like an incomplete bridge across the Menai Strait when you stand at the end.

Lon Las Ogwen is a route still under development which I am told will eventually lead to Betws y Coed although completion is far off in the future.  The section that does exist has some of the best scenery I have encountered along a National Cycle Route and also a mixture of terrain which I fully enjoyed on the Surly Troll.

Starting off from Bangor there was this stream with deep grass surrounding it.

A bridge has been installed over a busy road on the route.

The first section of the route follows an old railway line until it gets to a tunnel. The tunnel is currently not use able and you are directed over a steep hillside. Maybe this will change in the future.

There were some great waterfalls along the route which were helped by the rain coming down!

The route made its way through some old slate tips.  The slate was piled into what seemed like mountains which made for an impressive landscape.  The route had started to climb fairly steeply at this point and the path was now gravel.

Surly Troll with the slate tips behind

The mountains in the distance were impressive with the tops covered by the clouds.  The weather was steadily getting worse but the landscape was becoming more impressive as the route continued.

Looking back down the valley at where I had cycled from

Towards the end of the route it became quite steep, I only averaged about 7 mph going up the route, on my return journey I averaged about 12 mph.  It was quite a leisurely ride in the rain with plenty of photo stops.

There were a a lot of steep climbs on this route

It might have been wet but there were some great waterfalls

Last climb to the reservoir

At the top of the hill the Llyn Ogwen reservoir is located.  It had been a fairly hard climb to the top but fully enjoyable.  I stocked up on snacks from the little shop and made my return journey to Bangor which was much easier descending but very wet.

Llandudno and Conwy

9 Jul

When I set out for a ride around the Great Orme  I wasn’t intending for it to be an all day ride but just a short one until maybe lunch time.  50 miles and 9 hours later I was arriving at Bangor having cycled some great routes and even found time for a stop in a pub en route.

The Orme is a limestone headland with fantastic views over the bay and Llandudno.  The road is relatively quiet as cars have to pay to use it so you can enjoy the road in peace.   Along the way there were several climbers on the limestone cliffs and the occasional Kashmir Goat, I am told the Welsh Guards come here to select their regimental goat which then leads the battalion in ceremonial duties.

Riding around the Great Orme from Llandudno

Llandudno Pier

Riding around the Orme had some great views, the hill wasn’t too steep going up but as we got around the headland the wind picked up before a fast decent towards Deganwy.  There was a cafe on the top but we continued to the bottom where we stopped for some coffee and cake.

From the Orme we continued on to Conwy where we stopped for lunch on the quay.  Alongside the quay is the smallest house in Britain, it measures 3 metres by 1.8 metres, apparently the last owner was a fisherman measuring 1.9 metres tall, its rumoured he slept with his feet sticking out the window.

The smallest house in Britain

From Conwy the National Cycle Route 5 continues to Bangor.  Just outside Conwy there are some major improvements going on where a new bridge is being installed, when the work is completed the cycle route will continue along the coast avoiding a narrow section of pavement alongside the A55.  From here the  route continues along the coast, often between the railway line and A55.  Although the route is far from picturesque it is impressive none the less.

Not far from Bangor it poured down with rain and I got soaked, but as I arrived at the hotel the weather started to clear.  The hotel was located overlooking the pier and had some great views.

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